Dedicated to the study of fairy tales and folktales of the world.

Fairy Tales Home

Norse-Franco-German Fairy Tales
Norse Franco German Fairies
Gernan Fairy Tales
Swedish Fairy Tales
Norwegian Fairy Tales

French Fairy Tales
& More tales

Celtic Fairy Tales
Celtic Fairies
Welsh Fairy Tales
Irish Fairy Tales
& More Tales

Fairy Blog
Fairy Songs
Origins of Europes Fairies
& More Fairy Articles

Finno-Baltic-Siberian Fairy Tales
Finno-Baltic-Siberian Fairies
Finnish Mythology
Estonian Mythology
Mari-el Fairy Tales
& More Tales

Greco-Roman Mythology
Greco-Roman Fairies
Greek Fairy Tales
Roman Mythology

Slavic Mythology
Slavic Fairies
Russian Fairy Tales
Polish Fairy Tales
& More Tales

Tales of Other Lands
Fairies of Other Lands
Japanese Fairy Tales
Chinese Folktales
& More Tales

Fairy Tales for Kids
Children's Dutch Fairy Tales
Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

Fairy Tale Stories      Children's Fairy Tales      Fairies       Faery Woodlands Magazine      Blog     About
Japanese fairy tales

THE Hunter and the Priest

There was once a hunter who dwelt in the village of Kyoto and sought his game upon the mountain of Atagoyama. He was proud of being so mighty a hunter, for he never came empty-handed from the forest; yet at times he felt ill at ease. This was because he made a daily business of killing, and so he was displeasing to the Buddha.1
To set his conscience at rest, therefore, he often made offerings of rice and fruit to a certain holy priest who dwelt in a little shrine upon the mountain-side.
The priest was very good. Studying the sacred books he dwelt in the solitude of the forest. He was so far from the homes of men that he would have fared ill had it not been for the visits of the hunter who brought to him supplies of things to eat.
One day the hunter came to the temple.
"Honorable one," he said politely, " I have brought you a bag of rice. May each grain be a prayer for me."
"Good friend," said the priest, "I thank you, and in return I will show you a miracle. For many years I have read and studied and reflected upon the Holy Books and it may be that I am receiving my reward. Know then, that each night the Buddha comes to me, here at the temple, riding upon an elephant. Do you not believe? Then tarry and see."
Speaking respectfully to the priest, the hunter said, "I long to see this wonderful thing." But in his heart he said to himself, "This thing can not be true."
Then he turned to the little temple boy and asked, "Have you seen this marvel?"
"Six times I have seen Fugen Bosatsu and fallen before him," said the boy; and the hunter marveled again.
Dark and silent was the night, save for the wind spirit who swept through the trees, now whispering softly, now moaning as if in pain. Behind the clouds the moon hid herself, throwing now and again fitful gleams across the little shrine at the door of which knelt the priest and his acolyte. Behind them stood the hunter, his heart filled with unbelief. No word was spoken and only a quick indrawing of the hunter's breath betokened his amazement as the vision came.
In the east arose a star, which grew and grew until the whole mountain-side seemed light; and then there appeared a snow-white elephant with six huge tusks. Upon his back was a rider, and as the figures neared
the temple, the priest and the temple boy threw themselves upon the ground, praying aloud to the Fugen Bosatsu.
But the hunter had no prayer within his soul. This thing seemed to him not holy but accursed, and, springing in front of the priest, he set a shaft, drew his bow to the full, and sent his arrow straight to the heart of the Buddha. Straight to the heart it went, clear to the feathers of the shaft, and lo! a terrible cry rent the air. No longer was there white light over the mountain. All was darkness.
"Demon in human form!" cried the priest. "Is it not enough that you spend your vile life destroying God's creatures upon the earth? To this sin, must you add that of destroying Buddha himself?"
"Not so," replied the hunter. "Be not so rash. Judgment of others is far too great a sin for one so holy as yourself. Listen, and I will explain what I have done. I have not destroyed the Buddha. You have been deceived. Do you think it is possible that I could see Fugen Bosatsu? I am a mighty hunter, stained with the blood of living creatures. This is displeasing to the Buddha. Now then, would he reveal himself to me? The boy too is but a lad, and why should he see holy visions? You think because you have read and studied much, and because you are of a pure life and a truthful tongue that the Buddha desires to do you honor and reveal to you Fugen Bosatsu. No, good sir, for were this true, you alone could see the vision and it would not be vouchsafed to two sinful ones beside.
"Indeed, you saw not Fugen Bosatsu, but something deceiving and false; and when the morning comes I will prove to you that I speak the truth."
So when the morning broke in golden streams across the mountain-top the hunter and the priest looked long and carefully, and they found a spot of blood where had stood the vision of the night. Another and another they found, forming a slender trail which led deep into the forest, and ever the crimson trail grew larger and larger until at last they found a pool of blood beside the body of a huge badger which lay dead, pierced by an arrow.
"See," said the hunter. "You have been deceived though you are far holier than I. All your study can not teach you what I was taught by common sense."