Fairy Tales and Kami
Tales translated by Zeluna.net
Oni Tengu Kitsune Tanuki Kami
The Bear Gaurdian
An old man helps a bear which upon their death turns into the Kami of a stone and gaurds a village.
The Tengu's Magic Fan
A tengu gives a lazy man a magic fan who uses it to trick his way into wealth but in the end the man is punished.
The Snow Woman
A snow woman kills one woodsmen but leaves the other alive, forcing him to sware that he'll never reveal what really happened.
Can’t Outsmart a Fox
young man believes that its silly to be afraid of foxes tricks and so
he makes a bet with his friends that he can trick the foxes but they
get the last laugh.
The Greedy Landlady
A greedy innkeeper tries to trick a man out of his treasures.
Jiraiya the Bandit King
a great warrior and prince must flee his home after his father his
murdered. In order to get the money to take his revenge he becomes a
Prince Tosa and the Tanuki
out fishing a Prince and his friends encounter a beautiful girl, but
the Prince is quickly aware she isn't what she seems so he quickly
deals with the situation.
A young man who is afraid of nothing enters a temple haunted by an evil spirit in order to earn his fortune.
The Hunter and the Monkey
A hunter shoots a monkey and feels great guilt about it after.
The Badger and the Snail
A badger races a tricky snail
Prince Jaschima and the Fox
A prince battles two men to rescue a fox.
A cat battles a magical rat to protect a merchants daughter.
The Tengu and the Peasant
A tengu tells a man he is going to eat him but the man being clever tricks the tengu.
The Ghostly Vixen
A prince marries a beautiful princess who may not be what she seems.
A cat drains the blood from and takes the form of a princes wife.
The Greatful Fox
A man buys a fox's freedom and is repaid with a sacrifice from the fox when he grows ill.
Koremotschi and the Oni
A samurai goes out hunting and an Oni lays a trap for him.
The Two Frogs
One frog journies from Kyoto the other from Osaka and they meet on a mountain in the middle.
The Monkey and His Master
A short tale of how to bribe a monkey to do better work
The Oni and the Refugees
A warrior and a servent fall in love but they are forbidden to marry so they flee into the oni haunted mountains.
Sword of the Fox
Japan needs a magical sword to find victory over Korea and so a white fox is sent by the Kami to aid in its creation.
The Tengu and the Boy
A bit of a Flash fairy tale about a Tengu who takes a boy and shows him Japan and teaches him many things.
Kuschige and the Monkey
Kuschige kills a monkey and so another is sent to get revenge.
The White Fox
A young monk rescues a white fox from a prince and his hunters and is in turn rescued by her.
A man with headaches prays to a kami for help and gets a strange revilation.
The Sea Snail
A sea snail grows cocky about their hard shell but even they can be eaten.
The Foxes Wedding
Two white foxes are married.
The Snakes Revenge
A man kills a snake who's spirit gets revenge
The Priest and the Kami's Cave
A man enters a secret and sacred cave, but overwhelmed with pride at this he gets into trouble.
The Tanuki and the Priest
A priest takes in a cold Tanuki one winters day who keeps returning and soon the two become close friends.
A river kami who loves saki and will give everlating jugs of sake to kind hearted people.
An old man rescues a crane in the mountains who then seeks to repay his kindness.
The Enchanted Cup
A man is too proud of his family heirloom and suffers for it.
The Sparrow and the Kingfisher
In Japanese fairy tales sparrows are good and kind but the kingfisher is self involved.
Lovers of Pine
Two young people flee into the woods to be alone and so they are alone forever after.
The Witch of the Mountain
The witch has a child and so needs the villages help to get enough food for it.
The Thunder Kami
An old man and his granddaughter seek out a thunder kami to make it rain so they don't loose their crops.
The Clever Officers Test
Believing his police to be incompetent the Emperor of Korea sets a task before them.
Envy Brings Suffering
A poor good man has a dog which brings him many treasures. A greedy old man kidnaps the dog.
The Mountain Kami and the Ugly Fish
A mountain kami sees his reflection in the water and runs off in shame at what he sees.
The Soul in the Form of a Butterfly.
A dying old man waits for his long dead love.
Japanse Folk Tales For Children
Japanese Folk Tales from other Sources
The Princesses Choice
beautiful princess refuses to marry so all young men of a sutable age
are required to present themselves to her to see if She will choose any
The Sworded Falcon
Falcon with a tail of swords continues to attack people, carrying women
off to its nest to eat. Upset the people seek a hero to slay it.
The Phantom Cats
A young Samurai stays the night in a haunted shrine.
The Boastful Bamboo
A bamboo is pride of how tall and strong it grows, but pride is a dangerous thing.
The Angel's Robe
A heavenly being comes down to earth to raise a child and a fisherman takes her robe preventing her return from heaven.
The Moon and the Cuckoo
The Emperor of Japan is sick and dying
The Hung Up Money Tree
woman goes climbing up a mountain to pray for her banished husband, but
a man tries to trick her so she hangs money on the wrong tree. The man
tries to steal it so the Kami turn the tree into a giant snake.
Kami of the Green Growing Things
How the Kami of the Green Growing Things came to be honored in Japan.
The Knightly Waste Paper Man
The Adventures of a Poor Ronin
The Princess Moonbeam
A poor woman prays to the mountain for a child.
The Hunter and the Priest
A hunter shows a priest that sometimes common sense is more important then study.
The Single Lantern of Yamato
The offering of one poor woman is worth more then the large offerings of the rich.
The Soul of the Samurai
A samurai makes a great sacrifice to appease the kami
The Dream of the Golden Box
The Princess of the Sea
The story of a sea princess who falls in love with the world of the shore
The Firefly of Matsui
A firefly like light flies around a man on a snowy day.
The Mountain Rose
Ota Dakwan was a noble daimio who had everything he could want, but he learns an important lesson.
The Painter of Cats
The tale of a boy who works obsessively to paint the perfect picture of cats.
The Coming of Benton Sama
The Waterfall Which Flowed Sake
The Boy and the Spirit of Things
The Daughter of the Samurai
The Fishes of the Boiling Spring
The Goblin Tree
The Man Who Became a Serpant
The Laughing Dumpling
The Two Brothers
A Japanese folk tale which explains the importance of respecting ones ancestors.
The Princess and The Baby Fox
JAPANESE FAIRY TALES.
MY LORD BAG OF RICE.
long ago there lived, in Japan a brave warrior known to all as Tawara
Toda, or "My Lord Bag of Rice." His true name was Fujiwara Hidesato,
and there is a very interesting story of how he came to change his name.
day he sallied forth in search of adventures, for he had the nature of
a warrior and could not bear to be idle. So he buckled on his two
swords, took his huge bow, much taller than himself, in his hand, and
slinging his quiver on his back started out. He had not gone far when
he came to the bridge of Seta-no-Karashi spanning one end of the
beautiful Lake Biwa. No sooner had he set foot on the bridge than he
saw lying right across his path a huge serpent-dragon. Its body was so
big that it looked like the trunk of a large pine tree and it took up
the whole width of the bridge. One of its huge claws rested on the
parapet of one side of the bridge, while its tail lay right against the
other. The monster seemed to be asleep, and as it breathed, fire and
smoke came out of its nostrils.
first Hidesato could not help feeling alarmed at the sight of this
horrible reptile lying in his path, for he must either turn back or
walk right over its body. He was a brave man, however, and putting
aside all fear went forward dauntlessly. Crunch, crunch! he stepped now
on the dragon's body, now between its coils, and without even one
glance backward he went on his way.
had only gone a few steps when he heard some one calling him from
behind. On turning back he was much surprised to see that the monster
dragon had entirely disappeared and in its place was a strange-looking
man, who was bowing most ceremoniously to the ground. His red hair
streamed over his shoulders and was surmounted by a crown in the shape
of a dragon's head, and his sea-green dress was patterned with shells.
Hidesato knew at once that this was no ordinary mortal and he wondered
much at the strange occurrence. Where had the dragon gone in such a
short space of time? Or had it transformed itself into this man, and
what did the whole thing mean? While these thoughts passed through his
mind he had come up to the man on the bridge and now addressed him:
it you that called me just now?"
it was I," answered the man: "I have an earnest request to make to you.
Do you think you can grant it to me?"
it is in my power to do so I will," answered Hidesato, "but first tell
me who you are?"
am the Dragon King of the Lake, and my home is in these waters just
under this bridge."
what is it you have to ask of me!" said Hidesato.
want you to kill my mortal enemy the centipede, who lives on the
mountain beyond," and the Dragon King pointed to a high peak on the
opposite shore of the lake.
have lived now for many years in this lake and I have a large family of
children and grand-children. For some time past we have lived in
terror, for a monster centipede has discovered our home, and night
after night it comes and carries off one of my family. I am powerless
to save them. If it goes on much longer like this, not only shall I
lose all my children, but I myself must fall a victim to the monster. I
am, therefore, very unhappy, and in my extremity I determined to ask
the help of a human being. For many days with this intention I have
waited on the bridge in the shape of the horrible serpent-dragon that
you saw, in the hope that some strong brave man would come along. But
all who came this way, as soon as they saw me were terrified and ran
away as fast as they could. You are the first man I have found able to
look at me without fear, so I knew at once that you were a man of great
courage. I beg you to have pity upon me. Will you not help me and kill
my enemy the centipede?"
felt very sorry for the Dragon King on hearing his story, and readily
promised to do what he could to help him. The warrior asked where the
centipede lived, so that he might attack the creature at once. The
Dragon King replied that its home was on the mountain Mikami, but that
as it came every night at a certain hour to the palace of the lake, it
would be better to wait till then. So Hidesato was conducted to the
palace of the Dragon King, under the bridge. Strange to say, as he
followed his host downwards the waters parted to let them pass, and his
clothes did not even feel damp as he passed through the flood. Never
had Hidesato seen anything so beautiful as this palace built of white
marble beneath the lake. He had often heard of the Sea King's palace at
the bottom of the sea, where all the servants and retainers were
salt-water fishes, but here was a magnificent building in the heart of
Lake Biwa. The dainty goldfishes, red carp, and silvery trout, waited
upon the Dragon King and his guest.
was astonished at the feast that was spread for him. The dishes were
crystallized lotus leaves and flowers, and the chopsticks were of the
rarest ebony. As soon as they sat down, the sliding doors opened and
ten lovely goldfish dancers came out, and behind them followed ten
red-carp musicians with the koto and the samisen. Thus the hours flew
by till midnight, and the beautiful music and dancing had banished all
thoughts of the centipede. The Dragon King was about to pledge the
warrior in a fresh cup of wine when the palace was suddenly shaken by a
tramp, tramp! as if a mighty army had begun to march not far away.
and his host both rose to their feet and rushed to the balcony, and the
warrior saw on the opposite mountain two great balls of glowing fire
coming nearer and nearer. The Dragon King stood by the warrior's side
trembling with fear.
centipede! The centipede! Those two balls of fire are its eyes. It is
coming for its prey! Now is the time to kill it."
looked where his host pointed, and, in the dim light of the starlit
evening, behind the two balls of fire he saw the long body of an
enormous centipede winding round the mountains, and the light in its
hundred feet glowed like so many distant lanterns moving slowly towards
showed not the least sign of fear. He tried to calm the Dragon King.
be afraid. I shall surely kill the centipede. Just bring me my bow and
Dragon King did as he was bid, and the warrior noticed that he had only
three arrows left in his quiver. He took the bow, and fitting an arrow
to the notch, took careful aim and let fly.
arrow hit the centipede right in the middle of its head, but instead of
penetrating, it glanced off harmless and fell to the ground.
daunted, Hidesato took another arrow, fitted it to the notch of the bow
and let fly. Again the arrow hit the mark, it struck the centipede
right in the middle of its head, only to glance off and fall to the
ground. The centipede was invulnerable to weapons! When the Dragon King
saw that even this brave warrior's arrows were powerless to kill the
centipede, he lost heart and began to tremble with fear.
warrior saw that he had now only one arrow left in his quiver, and if
this one failed he could not kill the centipede. He looked across the
waters. The huge reptile had wound its horrid body seven times round
the mountain and would soon come down to the lake. Nearer and nearer
gleamed fireballs of eyes, and the light of its hundred feet began to
throw reflections in the still waters of the lake.
suddenly the warrior remembered that he had heard that human saliva was
deadly to centipedes. But this was no ordinary centipede. This was so
monstrous that even to think of such a creature made one creep with
horror. Hidesato determined to try his last chance. So taking his last
arrow and first putting the end of it in his mouth, he fitted the notch
to his bow, took careful aim once more and let fly.
time the arrow again hit the centipede right in the middle of its head,
but instead of glancing off harmlessly as before, it struck home to the
creature's brain. Then with a convulsive shudder the serpentine body
stopped moving, and the fiery light of its great eyes and hundred feet
darkened to a dull glare like the sunset of a stormy day, and then went
out in blackness. A great darkness now overspread the heavens, the
thunder rolled and the lightning flashed, and the wind roared in fury,
and it seemed as if the world were coming to an end. The Dragon King
and his children and retainers all crouched in different parts of the
palace, frightened to death, for the building was shaken to its
foundation. At last the dreadful night was over. Day dawned beautiful
and clear. The centipede was gone from the mountain.
Hidesato called to the Dragon King to come out with him on the balcony,
for the centipede was dead and he had nothing more to fear.
all the inhabitants of the palace came out with joy, and Hidesato
pointed to the lake. There lay the body of the dead centipede floating
on the water, which was dyed red with its blood.
gratitude of the Dragon King knew no bounds. The whole family came and
bowed down before the warrior, calling him their preserver and the
bravest warrior in all Japan.
feast was prepared, more sumptuous than the first. All kinds of fish,
prepared in every imaginable way, raw, stewed, boiled and roasted,
served on coral trays and crystal dishes, were put before him, and the
wine was the best that Hidesato had ever tasted in his life. To add to
the beauty of everything the sun shone brightly, the lake glittered
like a liquid diamond, and the palace was a thousand times more
beautiful by day than by night.
host tried to persuade the warrior to stay a few days, but Hidesato
insisted on going home, saying that he had now finished what he had
come to do, and must return. The Dragon King and his family were all
very sorry to have him leave so soon, but since he would go they begged
him to accept a few small presents (so they said) in token of their
gratitude to him for delivering them forever from their horrible enemy
the warrior stood in the porch taking leave, a train of fish was
suddenly transformed into a retinue of men, all wearing ceremonial
robes and dragon's crowns on their heads to show that they were
servants of the great Dragon King. The presents that they carried were
a large bronze bell.
Second, a bag of rice.
Third, a roll of silk.
Fourth, a cooking pot.
Fifth, a bell.
did not want to accept all these presents, but as the Dragon King
insisted, he could not well refuse.
Dragon King himself accompanied the warrior as far as the bridge, and
then took leave of him with many bows and good wishes, leaving the
procession of servants to accompany Hidesato to his house with the
warrior's household and servants had been very much concerned when they
found that he did not return the night before, but they finally
concluded that he had been kept by the violent storm and had taken
shelter somewhere. When the servants on the watch for his return caught
sight of him they called to every one that he was approaching, and the
whole household turned out to meet him, wondering much what the retinue
of men, bearing presents and banners, that followed him, could mean.
soon as the Dragon King's retainers had put down the presents they
vanished, and Hidesato told all that had happened to him.
presents which he had received from the grateful Dragon King were found
to be of magic power. The bell only was ordinary, and as Hidesato had
no use for it he presented it to the temple near by, where it was hung
up, to boom out the hour of day over the surrounding neighborhood.
single bag of rice, however much was taken from it day after day for
the meals of the knight and his whole family, never grew less—the
supply in the bag was inexhaustible.
roll of silk, too, never grew shorter, though time after time long
pieces were cut off to make the warrior a new suit of clothes to go to
Court in at the New Year.
cooking pot was wonderful, too. No matter what was put into it, it
cooked deliciously whatever was wanted without any firing—truly a
fame of Hidesato's fortune spread far and wide, and as there was no
need for him to spend money on rice or silk or firing, he became very
rich and prosperous, and was henceforth known as My Lord Bag of Rice.
THE TONGUE-CUT SPARROW.
long ago in Japan there lived an old man and his wife. The old man was
a good, kind-hearted, hard-working old fellow, but his wife was a
regular cross-patch, who spoiled the happiness of her home by her
scolding tongue. She was always grumbling about something from morning
to night. The old man had for a long time ceased to take any notice of
her crossness. He was out most of the day at work in the fields, and as
he had no child, for his amusement when he came home, he kept a tame
sparrow. He loved the little bird just as much as if she had been his
he came back at night after his hard day's work in the open air it was
his only pleasure to pet the sparrow, to talk to her and to teach her
little tricks, which she learned very quickly. The old man would open
her cage and let her fly about the room, and they would play together.
Then when supper-time came, he always saved some tit-bits from his meal
with which to feed his little bird.
one day the old man went out to chop wood in the forest, and the old
woman stopped at home to wash clothes. The day before, she had made
some starch, and now when she came to look for it, it was all gone; the
bowl which she had filled full yesterday was quite empty.
she was wondering who could have used or stolen the starch, down flew
the pet sparrow, and bowing her little feathered head—a trick
had been taught by her master—the pretty bird chirped and said:
is I who have taken the starch. I thought it was some food put out for
me in that basin, and I ate it all. If I have made a mistake I beg you
to forgive me! tweet, tweet, tweet!"
see from this that the sparrow was a truthful bird, and the old woman
ought to have been willing to forgive her at once when she asked her
pardon so nicely. But not so.
old woman had never loved the sparrow, and had often quarreled with her
husband for keeping what she called a dirty bird about the house,
saying that it only made extra work for her. Now she was only too
delighted to have some cause of complaint against the pet. She scolded
and even cursed the poor little bird for her bad behavior, and not
content with using these harsh, unfeeling words, in a fit of rage she
seized the sparrow—who all this time had spread out her wings and
her head before the old woman, to show how sorry she was—and
the scissors and cut off the poor little bird's tongue.
suppose you took my starch with that tongue! Now you may see what it is
like to go without it!" And with these dreadful words she drove the
bird away, not caring in the least what might happen to it and without
the smallest pity for its suffering, so unkind was she!
old woman, after she had driven the sparrow away, made some more
rice-paste, grumbling all the time at the trouble, and after starching
all her clothes, spread the things on boards to dry in the sun, instead
of ironing them as they do in England.
the evening the old man came home. As usual, on the way back he looked
forward to the time when he should reach his gate and see his pet come
flying and chirping to meet him, ruffling out her feathers to show her
joy, and at last coming to rest on his shoulder. But to-night the old
man was very disappointed, for not even the shadow of his dear sparrow
was to be seen.
quickened his steps, hastily drew off his straw sandals, and stepped on
to the veranda. Still no sparrow was to be seen. He now felt sure that
his wife, in one of her cross tempers, had shut the sparrow up in its
cage. So he called her and said anxiously:
is Suzume San (Miss Sparrow) today?"
old woman pretended not to know at first, and answered:
sparrow? I am sure I don't know. Now I come to think of it, I haven't
seen her all the afternoon. I shouldn't wonder if the ungrateful bird
had flown away and left you after all your petting!"
at last, when the old man gave her no peace, but asked her again and
again, insisting that she must know what had happened to his pet, she
confessed all. She told him crossly how the sparrow had eaten the
rice-paste she had specially made for starching her clothes, and how
when the sparrow had confessed to what she had done, in great anger she
had taken her scissors and cut out her tongue, and how finally she had
driven the bird away and forbidden her to return to the house again.
the old woman showed her husband the sparrow's tongue, saying:
is the tongue I cut off! Horrid little bird, why did it eat all my
could you be so cruel? Oh! how could you so cruel?" was all that the
old man could answer. He was too kind-hearted to punish his be shrew of
a wife, but he was terribly distressed at what had happened to his poor
a dreadful misfortune for my poor Suzume San to lose her tongue!" he
said to himself. "She won't be able to chirp any more, and surely the
pain of the cutting of it out in that rough way must have made her ill!
Is there nothing to be done?"
old man shed many tears after his cross wife had gone to sleep. While
he wiped away the tears with the sleeve of his cotton robe, a bright
thought comforted him: he would go and look for the sparrow on the
morrow. Having decided this he was able to go to sleep at last.
next morning he rose early, as soon as ever the day broke, and
snatching a hasty breakfast, started out over the hills and through the
woods, stopping at every clump of bamboos to cry:
oh where does my tongue-cut sparrow stay? Where, oh where, does my
tongue-cut sparrow stay!"
never stopped to rest for his noonday meal, and it was far on in the
afternoon when he found himself near a large bamboo wood. Bamboo groves
are the favorite haunts of sparrows, and there sure enough at the edge
of the wood he saw his own dear sparrow waiting to welcome him. He
could hardly believe his eyes for joy, and ran forward quickly to greet
her. She bowed her little head and went through a number of the tricks
her master had taught her, to show her pleasure at seeing her old
friend again, and, wonderful to relate, she could talk as of old. The
old man told her how sorry he was for all that had happened, and
inquired after her tongue, wondering how she could speak so well
without it. Then the sparrow opened her beak and showed him that a new
tongue had grown in place of the old one, and begged him not to think
any more about the past, for she was quite well now. Then the old man
knew that his sparrow was a fairy, and no common bird. It would be
difficult to exaggerate the old man's rejoicing now. He forgot all his
troubles, he forgot even how tired he was, for he had found his lost
sparrow, and instead of being ill and without a tongue as he had feared
and expected to find her, she was well and happy and with a new tongue,
and without a sign of the ill-treatment she had received from his wife.
And above all she was a fairy.
sparrow asked him to follow her, and flying before him she led him to a
beautiful house in the heart of the bamboo grove. The old man was
utterly astonished when he entered the house to find what a beautiful
place it was. It was built of the whitest wood, the soft cream-colored
mats which took the place of carpets were the finest he had ever seen,
and the cushions that the sparrow brought out for him to sit on were
made of the finest silk and crape. Beautiful vases and lacquer boxes
adorned the tokonoma of every room.
sparrow led the old man to the place of honor, and then, taking her
place at a humble distance, she thanked him with many polite bows for
all the kindness he had shown her for many long years.
the Lady Sparrow, as we will now call her, introduced all her family to
the old man. This done, her daughters, robed in dainty crape gowns,
brought in on beautiful old-fashioned trays a feast of all kinds of
delicious foods, till the old man began to think he must be dreaming.
In the middle of the dinner some of the sparrow's daughters performed a
wonderful dance, called the "suzume-odori" or the "Sparrow's dance," to
amuse the guest.
had the old man enjoyed himself so much. The hours flew by too quickly
in this lovely spot, with all these fairy sparrows to wait upon him and
to feast him and to dance before him.
the night came on and the darkness reminded him that he had a long way
to go and must think about taking his leave and return home. He thanked
his kind hostess for her splendid entertainment, and begged her for his
sake to forget all she had suffered at the hands of his cross old wife.
He told the Lady Sparrow that it was a great comfort and happiness to
him to find her in such a beautiful home and to know that she wanted
for nothing. It was his anxiety to know how she fared and what had
really happened to her that had led him to seek her. Now he knew that
all was well he could return home with a light heart. If ever she
wanted him for anything she had only to send for him and he would come
Lady Sparrow begged him to stay and rest several days and enjoy the
change, but the old man said he must return to his old wife—who
probably be cross at his not coming home at the usual time—and to
work, and there-fore, much as he wished to do so, he could not accept
her kind invitation. But now that he knew where the Lady Sparrow lived
he would come to see her whenever he had the time.
the Lady Sparrow saw that she could not persuade the old man to stay
longer, she gave an order to some of her servants, and they at once
brought in two boxes, one large and the other small. These were placed
before the old man, and the Lady Sparrow asked him to choose whichever
he liked for a present, which she wished to give him.
old man could not refuse this kind proposal, and he chose the smaller
am now too old and feeble to carry the big and heavy box. As you are so
kind as to say that I may take whichever I like, I will choose the
small one, which will be easier for me to carry."
the sparrows all helped him put it on his back and went to the gate to
see him off, bidding him good-by with many bows and entreating him to
come again whenever he had the time. Thus the old man and his pet
sparrow separated quite happily, the sparrow showing not the least
ill-will for all the unkindness she had suffered at the hands of the
old wife. Indeed, she only felt sorrow for the old man who had to put
up with it all his life.
the old man reached home he found his wife even crosser than usual, for
it was late on in the night and she had been waiting up for him for a
have you been all this time?" she asked in a big voice. "Why do you
come back so late?"
old man tried to pacify her by showing her the box of presents he had
brought back with him, and then he told her of all that had happened to
him, and how wonderfully he had been entertained at the sparrow's house.
let us see what is in the box," said the old man, not giving her time
to grumble again. "You must help me open it." And they both sat down
before the box and opened it.
their utter astonishment they found the box filled to the brim with
gold and silver coins and many other precious things. The mats of their
little cottage fairly glittered as they took out the things one by one
and put them down and handled them over and over again. The old man was
overjoyed at the sight of the riches that were now his. Beyond his
brightest expectations was the sparrow's gift, which would enable him
to give up work and live in ease and comfort the rest of his days.
said: "Thanks to my good little sparrow! Thanks to my good little
sparrow!" many times.
the old woman, after the first moments of surprise and satisfaction at
the sight of the gold and silver were over, could not suppress the
greed of her wicked nature. She now began to reproach the old man for
not having brought home the big box of presents, for in the innocence
of his heart he had told her how he had refused the large box of
presents which the sparrows had offered him, preferring the smaller one
because it was light and easy to carry home.
silly old man," said she, "Why did you not bring the large box? Just
think what we have lost. We might have had twice as much silver and
gold as this. You are certainly an old fool!" she screamed, and then
went to bed as angry as she could be.
old man now wished that he had said nothing about the big box, but it
was too late; the greedy old woman, not contented with the good luck
which had so unexpectedly befallen them and which she so little
deserved, made up her mind, if possible, to get more.
the next morning she got up and made the old man describe the way to
the sparrow's house. When he saw what was in her mind he tried to keep
her from going, but it was useless. She would not listen to one word he
said. It is strange that the old woman did not feel ashamed of going to
see the sparrow after the cruel way she had treated her in cutting off
her tongue in a fit of rage. But her greed to get the big box made her
forget everything else. It did not even enter her thoughts that the
sparrows might be angry with her—as, indeed, they were—and
her for what she had done.
since the Lady Sparrow had returned home in the sad plight in which
they had first found her, weeping and bleeding from the mouth, her
whole family and relations had done little else but speak of the
cruelty of the old woman. "How could she," they asked each other,
"inflict such a heavy punishment for such a trifling offense as that of
eating some rice-paste by mistake?" They all loved the old man who was
so kind and good and patient under all his troubles, but the old woman
they hated, and they determined, if ever they had the chance, to punish
her as she deserved. They had not long to wait.
walking for some hours the old woman had at last found the bamboo grove
which she had made her husband carefully describe, and now she stood
before it crying out:
is the tongue-cut sparrow's house? Where is the tongue-cut sparrow's
last she saw the eaves of the house peeping out from amongst the bamboo
foliage. She hastened to the door and knocked loudly.
the servants told the Lady Sparrow that her old mistress was at the
door asking to see her, she was somewhat surprised at the unexpected
visit, after all that had taken place, and she wondered not a little at
the boldness of the old woman in venturing to come to the house. The
Lady Sparrow, however, was a polite bird, and so she went out to greet
the old woman, remembering that she had once been her mistress.
old woman intended, however, to waste no time in words, she went right
to the point, without the least shame, and said:
need not trouble to entertain me as you did my old man. I have come
myself to get the box which he so stupidly left behind. I shall soon
take my leave if you will give me the big box—that is all I want!"
Lady Sparrow at once consented, and told her servants to bring out the
big box. The old woman eagerly seized it and hoisted it on her back,
and without even stopping to thank the Lady Sparrow began to hurry
box was so heavy that she could not walk fast, much less run, as she
would have liked to do, so anxious was she to get home and see what was
inside the box, but she had often to sit down and rest herself by the
she was staggering along under the heavy load, her desire to open the
box became too great to be resisted. She could wait no longer, for she
supposed this big box to be full of gold and silver and precious jewels
like the small one her husband had received.
last this greedy and selfish old woman put down the box by the wayside
and opened it carefully, expecting to gloat her eyes on a mine of
wealth. What she saw, however, so terrified her that she nearly lost
her senses. As soon as she lifted the lid, a number of horrible and
frightful looking demons bounced out of the box and surrounded her as
if they intended to kill her. Not even in nightmares had she ever seen
such horrible creatures as her much-coveted box contained. A demon with
one huge eye right in the middle of its forehead came and glared at
her, monsters with gaping mouths looked as if they would devour her, a
huge snake coiled and hissed about her, and a big frog hopped and
croaked towards her.
old woman had never been so frightened in her life, and ran from the
spot as fast as her quaking legs would carry her, glad to escape alive.
When she reached home she fell to the floor and told her husband with
tears all that had happened to her, and how she had been nearly killed
by the demons in the box.
she began to blame the sparrow, but the old man stopped her at once,
blame the sparrow, it is your wickedness which has at last met with its
reward. I only hope this may be a lesson to you in the future!"
old woman said nothing more, and from that day she repented of her
cross, unkind ways, and by degrees became a good old woman, so that her
husband hardly knew her to be the same person, and they spent their
last days together happily, free from want or care, spending carefully
the treasure the old man had received from his pet, the tongue-cut
THE STORY OF URASHIMA TARO, THE FISHER LAD.
long ago in the province of Tango there lived on the shore of Japan in
the little fishing village of Mizu-no-ye a young fisherman named
Urashima Taro. His father had been a fisherman before him, and his
skill had more than doubly descended to his son, for Urashima was the
most skillful fisher in all that country side, and could catch more
Bonito and Tai in a day than his comrades could in a week.
in the little fishing village, more than for being a clever fisher of
the sea was he known for his kind heart. In his whole life he had never
hurt anything, either great or small, and when a boy, his companions
had always laughed at him, for he would never join with them in teasing
animals, but always tried to keep them from this cruel sport.
soft summer twilight he was going home at the end of a day's fishing
when he came upon a group of children. They were all screaming and
talking at the tops of their voices, and seemed to be in a state of
great excitement about something, and on his going up to them to see
what was the matter he saw that they were tormenting a tortoise. First
one boy pulled it this way, then another boy pulled it that way, while
a third child beat it with a stick, and the fourth hammered its shell
with a stone.
Urashima felt very sorry for the poor tortoise and made up his mind to
rescue it. He spoke to the boys:
here, boys, you are treating that poor tortoise so badly that it will
boys, who were all of an age when children seem to delight in being
cruel to animals, took no notice of Urashima's gentle reproof, but went
on teasing it as before. One of the older boys answered:
cares whether it lives or dies? We do not. Here, boys, go on, go on!"
they began to treat the poor tortoise more cruelly than ever. Urashima
waited a moment, turning over in his mind what would be the best way to
deal with the boys. He would try to persuade them to give the tortoise
up to him, so he smiled at them and said:
am sure you are all good, kind boys! Now won't you give me the
tortoise? I should like to have it so much!"
we won't give you the tortoise," said one of the boys. "Why should we?
We caught it ourselves."
you say is true," said Urashima, "but I do not ask you to give it to me
for nothing. I will give you some money for it—in other words,
Ojisan (Uncle) will buy it of you. Won't that do for you, my boys?" He
held up the money to them, strung on a piece of string through a hole
in the center of each coin. "Look, boys, you can buy anything you like
with this money. You can do much more with this money than you can with
that poor tortoise. See what good boys you are to listen to me."
boys were not bad boys at all, they were only mischievous, and as
Urashima spoke they were won by his kind smile and gentle words and
began "to be of his spirit," as they say in Japan. Gradually they all
came up to him, the ringleader of the little band holding out the
tortoise to him.
well, Ojisan, we will give you the tortoise if you will give us the
money!" And Urashima took the tortoise and gave the money to the boys,
who, calling to each other, scampered away and were soon out of sight.
Urashima stroked the tortoise's back, saying as he did so:
you poor thing! Poor thing!—there, there! you are safe now! They
that a stork lives for a thousand years, but the tortoise for ten
thousand years. You have the longest life of any creature in this
world, and you were in great danger of having that precious life cut
short by those cruel boys. Luckily I was passing by and saved you, and
so life is still yours. Now I am going to take you back to your home,
the sea, at once. Do not let yourself be caught again, for there might
be no one to save you next time!"
the time that the kind fisherman was speaking he was walking quickly to
the shore and out upon the rocks; then putting the tortoise into the
water he watched the animal disappear, and turned homewards himself,
for he was tired and the sun had set.
next morning Urashima went out as usual in his boat. The weather was
fine and the sea and sky were both blue and soft in the tender haze of
the summer morning. Urashima got into his boat and dreamily pushed out
to sea, throwing his line as he did so. He soon passed the other
fishing boats and left them behind him till they were lost to sight in
the distance, and his boat drifted further and further out upon the
blue waters. Somehow, he knew not why, he felt unusually happy that
morning; and he could not help wishing that, like the tortoise he set
free the day before, he had thousands of years to live instead of his
own short span of human life.
was suddenly startled from his reverie by hearing his own name called:
as a bell and soft as the summer wind the name floated over the sea.
stood up and looked in every direction, thinking that one of the other
boats had overtaken him, but gaze as he might over the wide expanse of
water, near or far there was no sign of a boat, so the voice could not
have come from any human being.
and wondering who or what it was that had called him so clearly, he
looked in all directions round about him and saw that without his
knowing it a tortoise had come to the side of the boat. Urashima saw
with surprise that it was the very tortoise he had rescued the day
Mr. Tortoise," said Urashima, "was it you who called my name just now?"
tortoise nodded its head several times and said:
it was I. Yesterday in your honorable shadow (o kage sama de) my life
was saved, and I have come to offer you my thanks and to tell you how
grateful I am for your kindness to me."
said Urashima, "that is very polite of you. Come up into the boat. I
would offer you a smoke, but as you are a tortoise doubtless you do not
smoke," and the fisherman laughed at the joke.
laughed the tortoise; "sake (rice wine) is my favorite refreshment, but
I do not care for tobacco."
said Urashima, "I regret very much that I have no "sake" in my boat to
offer you, but come up and dry your back in the sun—tortoises
love to do that."
the tortoise climbed into the boat, the fisherman helping him, and
after an exchange of complimentary speeches the tortoise said:
you ever seen Rin Gin, the Palace of the Dragon King of the Sea,
fisherman shook his head and replied; "No; year after year the sea has
been my home, but though I have often heard of the Dragon King's realm
under the sea I have never yet set eyes on that wonderful place. It
must be very far away, if it exists at all!"
that really so? You have never seen the Sea King's Palace? Then you
have missed seeing one of the most wonderful sights in the whole
universe. It is far away at the bottom of the sea, but if I take you
there we shall soon reach the place. If you would like to see the Sea
King's land I will be your guide."
should like to go there, certainly, and you are very kind to think of
taking me, but you must remember that I am only a poor mortal and have
not the power of swimming like a sea creature such as you are—"
the fisherman could say more the tortoise stopped him, saying:
You need not swim yourself. If you will ride on my back I will take you
without any trouble on your part."
said Urashima, "how is it possible for me to ride on your small back?"
may seem absurd to you, but I assure you that you can do so. Try at
once! Just come and get on my back, and see if it is as impossible as
the tortoise finished speaking, Urashima looked at its shell, and
strange to say he saw that the creature had suddenly grown so big that
a man could easily sit on its back.
is strange indeed!" said Urashima; "then. Mr. Tortoise, with your kind
permission I will get on your back. Dokoisho!" he exclaimed as he
tortoise, with an unmoved face, as if this strange proceeding were
quite an ordinary event, said:
we will set out at our leisure," and with these words he leapt into the
sea with Urashima on his back. Down through the water the tortoise
dived. For a long time these two strange companions rode through the
sea. Urashima never grew tired, nor his clothes moist with the water.
At last, far away in the distance a magnificent gate appeared, and
behind the gate, the long, sloping roofs of a palace on the horizon.
exclaimed Urashima. "That looks like the gate of some large palace just
appearing! Mr. Tortoise, can you tell what that place is we can now
is the great gate of the Rin Gin Palace, the large roof that you see
behind the gate is the Sea King's Palace itself."
we have at last come to the realm of the Sea King and to his Palace,"
indeed," answered the tortoise, "and don't you think we have come very
quickly?" And while he was speaking the tortoise reached the side of
the gate. "And here we are, and you must please walk from here."
tortoise now went in front, and speaking to the gatekeeper, said:
is Urashima Taro, from the country of Japan. I have had the honor of
bringing him as a visitor to this kingdom. Please show him the way."
the gatekeeper, who was a fish, at once led the way through the gate
red bream, the flounder, the sole, the cuttlefish, and all the chief
vassals of the Dragon King of the Sea now came out with courtly bows to
welcome the stranger.
Sama, Urashima Sama! welcome to the Sea Palace, the home of the Dragon
King of the Sea. Thrice welcome are you, having come from such a
distant country. And you, Mr. Tortoise, we are greatly indebted to you
for all your trouble in bringing Urashima here." Then, turning again to
Urashima, they said, "Please follow us this way," and from here the
whole band of fishes became his guides.
being only a poor fisher lad, did not know how to behave in a palace;
but, strange though it was all to him, he did not feel ashamed or
embarrassed, but followed his kind guides quite calmly where they led
to the inner palace. When he reached the portals a beautiful Princess
with her attendant maidens came out to welcome him. She was more
beautiful than any human being, and was robed in flowing garments of
red and soft green like the under side of a wave, and golden threads
glimmered through the folds of her gown. Her lovely black hair streamed
over her shoulders in the fashion of a king's daughter many hundreds of
years ago, and when she spoke her voice sounded like music over the
water. Urashima was lost in wonder while he looked upon her, and he
could not speak. Then he remembered that he ought to bow, but before he
could make a low obeisance the Princess took him by the hand and led
him to a beautiful hall, and to the seat of honor at the upper end, and
bade him be seated.
Taro, it gives me the highest pleasure to welcome you to my father's
kingdom," said the Princess. "Yesterday you set free a tortoise, and I
have sent for you to thank you for saving my life, for I was that
tortoise. Now if you like you shall live here forever in the land of
eternal youth, where summer never dies and where sorrow never comes,
and I will be your bride if you will, and we will live together happily
as Urashima listened to her sweet words and gazed upon her lovely face
his heart was filled with a great wonder and joy, and he answered her,
wondering if it was not all a dream:
you a thousand times for your kind speech. There is nothing I could
wish for more than to be permitted to stay here with you in this
beautiful land, of which I have often heard, but have never seen to
this day. Beyond all words, this is the most wonderful place I have
he was speaking a train of fishes appeared, all dressed in ceremonial,
trailing garments. One by one, silently and with stately steps, they
entered the hall, bearing on coral trays delicacies of fish and
seaweed, such as no one can dream of, and this wondrous feast was set
before the bride and bridegroom. The bridal was celebrated with
dazzling splendor, and in the Sea King's realm there was great
rejoicing. As soon as the young pair had pledged themselves in the
wedding cup of wine, three times three, music was played, and songs
were sung, and fishes with silver scales and golden tails stepped in
from the waves and danced. Urashima enjoyed himself with all his heart.
Never in his whole life had he sat down to such a marvelous feast.
the feast was over the Princes asked the bridegroom if he would like to
walk through the palace and see all there was to be seen. Then the
happy fisherman, following his bride, the Sea King's daughter, was
shown all the wonders of that enchanted land where youth and joy go
hand in hand and neither time nor age can touch them. The palace was
built of coral and adorned with pearls, and the beauties and wonders of
the place were so great that the tongue fails to describe them.
to Urashima, more wonderful than the palace was the garden that
surrounded it. Here was to be seen at one time the scenery of the four
different seasons; the beauties of summer and winter, spring and
autumn, were displayed to the wondering visitor at once.
when he looked to the east, the plum and cherry trees were seen in full
bloom, the nightingales sang in the pink avenues, and butterflies
flitted from flower to flower.
to the south all the trees were green in the fullness of summer, and
the day cicala and the night cricket chirruped loudly.
to the west the autumn maples were ablaze like a sunset sky, and the
chrysanthemums were in perfection.
to the north the change made Urashima start, for the ground was silver
white with snow, and trees and bamboos were also covered with snow and
the pond was thick with ice.
each day there were new joys and new wonders for Urashima, and so great
was his happiness that he forgot everything, even the home he had left
behind and his parents and his own country, and three days passed
without his even thinking of all he had left behind. Then his mind came
back to him and he remembered who he was, and that he did not belong to
this wonderful land or the Sea King's palace, and he said to himself:
dear! I must not stay on here, for I have an old father and mother at
home. What can have happened to them all this time? How anxious they
must have been these days when I did not return as usual. I must go
back at once without letting one more day pass." And he began to
prepare for the journey in great haste.
he went to his beautiful wife, the Princess, and bowing low before her
I have been very happy with you for a long time, Otohime Sama" (for
that was her name), "and you have been kinder to me than any words can
tell. But now I must say good-by. I must go back to my old parents."
Otohime Sama began to weep, and said softly and sadly:
it not well with you here, Urashima, that you wish to leave me so soon?
Where is the haste? Stay with me yet another day only!"
Urashima had remembered his old parents, and in Japan the duty to
parents is stronger than everything else, stronger even than pleasure
or love, and he would not be persuaded, but answered:
I must go. Do not think that I wish to leave you. It is not that. I
must go and see my old parents. Let me go for one day and I will come
back to you."
said the Princess sorrowfully, "there is nothing to be done. I will
send you back to-day to your father and mother, and instead of trying
to keep you with me one more day, I shall give you this as a token of
our love—please take it back with you;" and she brought him a
lacquer box tied about with a silken cord and tassels of red silk.
had received so much from the Princess already that he felt some
compunction in taking the gift, and said:
does not seem right for me to take yet another gift from you after all
the many favors I have received at your hands, but because it is your
wish I will do so," and then he added:
me what is this box?"
answered the Princess "is the tamate-bako (Box of the Jewel Hand), and
it contains something very precious. You must not open this box,
whatever happens! If you open it something dreadful will happen to you!
Now promise me that you will never open this box!"
Urashima promised that he would never, never open the box whatever
bidding good-by to Otohime Sama he went down to the seashore, the
Princess and her attendants following him, and there he found a large
tortoise waiting for him.
quickly mounted the creature's back and was carried away over the
shining sea into the East. He looked back to wave his hand to Otohime
Sama till at last he could see her no more, and the land of the Sea
King and the roofs of the wonderful palace were lost in the far, far
distance. Then, with his face turned eagerly towards his own land, he
looked for the rising of the blue hills on the horizon before him.
last the tortoise carried him into the bay he knew so well, and to the
shore from whence he had set out. He stepped on to the shore and looked
about him while the tortoise rode away back to the Sea King's realm.
what is the strange fear that seizes Urashima as he stands and looks
about him? Why does he gaze so fixedly at the people that pass him by,
and why do they in turn stand and look at him? The shore is the same
and the hills are the same, but the people that he sees walking past
him have very different faces to those he had known so well before.
what it can mean he walks quickly towards his old home. Even that looks
different, but a house stands on the spot, and he calls out:
I have just returned!" and he was about to enter, when he saw a strange
man coming out.
my parents have moved while I have been away, and have gone somewhere
else," was the fisherman's thought. Somehow he began to feel strangely
anxious, he could not tell why.
me," said he to the man who was staring at him, "but till within the
last few days I have lived in this house. My name is Urashima Taro.
Where have my parents gone whom I left here?"
very bewildered expression came over the face of the man, and, still
gazing intently on Urashima's face, he said:
Are you Urashima Taro?"
said the fisherman, "I am Urashima Taro!"
ha!" laughed the man, "you must not make such jokes. It is true that
once upon a time a man called Urashima Taro did live in this village,
but that is a story three hundred years old. He could not possibly be
Urashima heard these strange words he was frightened, and said:
please, you must not joke with me, I am greatly perplexed. I am really
Urashima Taro, and I certainly have not lived three hundred years. Till
four or five days ago I lived on this spot. Tell me what I want to know
without more joking, please."
the man's face grew more and more grave, and he answered:
may or may not be Urashima Taro, I don't know. But the Urashima Taro of
whom I have heard is a man who lived three hundred years ago. Perhaps
you are his spirit come to revisit your old home?"
do you mock me?" said Urashima. "I am no spirit! I am a living
you not see my feet;" and "don-don," he stamped on the ground, first
with one foot and then with the other to show the man. (Japanese ghosts
have no feet.)
Urashima Taro lived three hundred years ago, that is all I know; it is
written in the village chronicles," persisted the man, who could not
believe what the fisherman said.
was lost in bewilderment and trouble. He stood looking all around him,
terribly puzzled, and, indeed, something in the appearance of
everything was different to what he remembered before he went away, and
the awful feeling came over him that what the man said was perhaps
true. He seemed to be in a strange dream. The few days he had spent in
the Sea King's palace beyond the sea had not been days at all: they had
been hundreds of years, and in that time his parents had died and all
the people he had ever known, and the village had written down his
story. There was no use in staying here any longer. He must get back to
his beautiful wife beyond the sea.
made his way back to the beach, carrying in his hand the box which the
Princess had given him. But which was the way? He could not find it
alone! Suddenly he remembered the box, the tamate-bako.
Princess told me when she gave me the box never to open it—that
contained a very precious thing. But now that I have no home, now that
I have lost everything that was dear to me here, and my heart grows
thin with sadness, at such a time, if I open the box, surely I shall
find something that will help me, something that will show me the way
back to my beautiful Princess over the sea. There is nothing else for
me to do now. Yes, yes, I will open the box and look in!"
so his heart consented to this act of disobedience, and he tried to
persuade himself that he was doing the right thing in breaking his
very slowly, he untied the red silk cord, slowly and wonderingly he
lifted the lid of the precious box. And what did he find? Strange to
say only a beautiful little purple cloud rose out of the box in three
soft wisps. For an instant it covered his face and wavered over him as
if loath to go, and then it floated away like vapor over the sea.
who had been till that moment like a strong and handsome youth of
twenty-four, suddenly became very, very old. His back doubled up with
age, his hair turned snowy white, his face wrinkled and he fell down
dead on the beach.
Urashima! because of his disobedience he could never return to the Sea
King's realm or the lovely Princess beyond the sea.
children, never be disobedient to those who are wiser than you for
disobedience was the beginning of all the miseries and sorrows of life.
THE FARMER AND THE BADGER
long ago, there lived an old farmer and his wife who had made their
home in the mountains, far from any town. Their only neighbor was a bad
and malicious badger. This badger used to come out every night and run
across to the farmer's field and spoil the vegetables and the rice
which the farmer spent his time in carefully cultivating. The badger at
last grew so ruthless in his mischievous work, and did so much harm
everywhere on the farm, that the good-natured farmer could not stand it
any longer, and determined to put a stop to it. So he lay in wait day
after day and night after night, with a big club, hoping to catch the
badger, but all in vain. Then he laid traps for the wicked animal.
farmer's trouble and patience was rewarded, for one fine day on going
his rounds he found the badger caught in a hole he had dug for that
purpose. The farmer was delighted at having caught his enemy, and
carried him home securely bound with rope. When he reached the house
the farmer said to his wife:
have at last caught the bad badger. You must keep an eye on him while I
am out at work and not let him escape, because I want to make him into
this, he hung the badger up to the rafters of his storehouse and went
out to his work in the fields. The badger was in great distress, for he
did not at all like the idea of being made into soup that night, and he
thought and thought for a long time, trying to hit upon some plan by
which he might escape. It was hard to think clearly in his
uncomfortable position, for he had been hung upside down. Very near
him, at the entrance to the storehouse, looking out towards the green
fields and the trees and the pleasant sunshine, stood the farmer's old
wife pounding barley. She looked tired and old. Her face was seamed
with many wrinkles, and was as brown as leather, and every now and then
she stopped to wipe the perspiration which rolled down her face.
lady," said the wily badger, "you must be very weary doing such heavy
work in your old age. Won't you let me do that for you? My arms are
very strong, and I could relieve you for a little while!"
you for your kindness," said the old woman, "but I cannot let you do
this work for me because I must not untie you, for you might escape if
I did, and my husband would be very angry if he came home and found you
the badger is one of the most cunning of animals, and he said again in
a very sad, gentle, voice:
are very unkind. You might untie me, for I promise not to try to
escape. If you are afraid of your husband, I will let you bind me again
before his return when I have finished pounding the barley. I am so
tired and sore tied up like this. If you would only let me down for a
few minutes I would indeed be thankful!"
old woman had a good and simple nature, and could not think badly of
any one. Much less did she think that the badger was only deceiving her
in order to get away. She felt sorry, too, for the animal as she turned
to look at him. He looked in such a sad plight hanging downwards from
the ceiling by his legs, which were all tied together so tightly that
the rope and the knots were cutting into the skin. So in the kindness
of her heart, and believing the creature's promise that he would not
run away, she untied the cord and let him down.
old woman then gave him the wooden pestle and told him to do the work
for a short time while she rested. He took the pestle, but instead of
doing the work as he was told, the badger at once sprang upon the old
woman and knocked her down with the heavy piece of wood. He then killed
her and cut her up and made soup of her, and waited for the return of
the old farmer. The old man worked hard in his fields all day, and as
he worked he thought with pleasure that no more now would his labor be
spoiled by the destructive badger.
sunset he left his work and turned to go home. He was very tired, but
the thought of the nice supper of hot badger soup awaiting his return
cheered him. The thought that the badger might get free and take
revenge on the poor old woman never once came into his mind.
badger meanwhile assumed the old woman's form, and as soon as he saw
the old farmer approaching came out to greet him on the veranda of the
little house, saying:
you have come back at last. I have made the badger soup and have been
waiting for you for a long time."
old farmer quickly took off his straw sandals and sat down before his
tiny dinner-tray. The innocent man never even dreamed that it was not
his wife but the badger who was waiting upon him, and asked at once for
the soup. Then the badger suddenly transformed himself back to his
natural form and cried out:
wife-eating old man! Look out for the bones in the kitchen!"
loudly and derisively he escaped out of the house and ran away to his
den in the hills. The old man was left behind alone. He could hardly
believe what he had seen and heard. Then when he understood the whole
truth he was so scared and horrified that he fainted right away. After
a while he came round and burst into tears. He cried loudly and
bitterly. He rocked himself to and fro in his hopeless grief. It seemed
too terrible to be real that his faithful old wife had been killed and
cooked by the badger while he was working quietly in the fields,
knowing nothing of what was going on at home, and congratulating
himself on having once for all got rid of the wicked animal who had so
often spoiled his fields. And oh! the horrible thought; he had very
nearly drunk the soup which the creature had made of his poor old
woman. "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!" he wailed aloud. Now, not far away
there lived in the same mountain a kind, good-natured old rabbit. He
heard the old man crying and sobbing and at once set out to see what
was the matter, and if there was anything he could do to help his
neighbor. The old man told him all that had happened. When the rabbit
heard the story he was very angry at the wicked and deceitful badger,
and told the old man to leave everything to him and he would avenge his
wife's death. The farmer was at last comforted, and, wiping away his
tears, thanked the rabbit for his goodness in coming to him in his
rabbit, seeing that the farmer was growing calmer, went back to his
home to lay his plans for the punishment of the badger.
next day the weather was fine, and the rabbit went out to find the
badger. He was not to be seen in the woods or on the hillside or in the
fields anywhere, so the rabbit went to his den and found the badger
hiding there, for the animal had been afraid to show himself ever since
he had escaped from the farmer's house, for fear of the old man's wrath.
rabbit called out:
are you not out on such a beautiful day? Come out with me, and we will
go and cut grass on the hills together."
badger, never doubting but that the rabbit was his friend, willingly
consented to go out with him, only too glad to get away from the
neighborhood of the farmer and the fear of meeting him. The rabbit led
the way miles away from their homes, out on the hills where the grass
grew tall and thick and sweet. They both set to work to cut down as
much as they could carry home, to store it up for their winter's food.
When they had each cut down all they wanted they tied it in bundles and
then started homewards, each carrying his bundle of grass on his back.
This time the rabbit made the badger go first.
they had gone a little way the rabbit took out a flint and steel, and,
striking it over the badger's back as he stepped along in front, set
his bundle of grass on fire. The badger heard the flint striking, and
is that noise. 'Crack, crack'?"
that is nothing." replied the rabbit; "I only said 'Crack, crack'
because this mountain is called Crackling Mountain."
fire soon spread in the bundle of dry grass on the badger's back. The
badger, hearing the crackle of the burning grass, asked, "What is that?"
we have come to the 'Burning Mountain,'" answered the rabbit.
this time the bundle was nearly burned out and all the hair had been
burned off the badger's back. He now knew what had happened by the
smell of the smoke of the burning grass. Screaming with pain the badger
ran as fast as he could to his hole. The rabbit followed and found him
lying on his bed groaning with pain.
an unlucky fellow you are!" said the rabbit. "I can't imagine how this
happened! I will bring you some medicine which will heal your back
rabbit went away glad and smiling to think that the punishment upon the
badger had already begun. He hoped that the badger would die of his
burns, for he felt that nothing could be too bad for the animal, who
was guilty of murdering a poor helpless old woman who had trusted him.
He went home and made an ointment by mixing some sauce and red pepper
carried this to the badger, but before putting it on he told him that
it would cause him great pain, but that he must bear it patiently,
because it was a very wonderful medicine for burns and scalds and such
wounds. The badger thanked him and begged him to apply it at once. But
no language can describe the agony of the badger as soon as the red
pepper had been pasted all over his sore back. He rolled over and over
and howled loudly. The rabbit, looking on, felt that the farmer's wife
was beginning to be avenged.
badger was in bed for about a month; but at last, in spite of the red
pepper application, his burns healed and he got well. When the rabbit
saw that the badger was getting well, he thought of another plan by
which he could compass the creature's death. So he went one day to pay
the badger a visit and to congratulate him on his recovery.
the conversation the rabbit mentioned that he was going fishing, and
described how pleasant fishing was when the weather was fine and the
badger listened with pleasure to the rabbit's account of the way he
passed his time now, and forgot all his pains and his month's illness,
and thought what fun it would be if he could go fishing too; so he
asked the rabbit if he would take him the next time he went out to
fish. This was just what the rabbit wanted, so he agreed.
he went home and built two boats, one of wood and the other of clay. At
last they were both finished, and as the rabbit stood and looked at his
work he felt that all his trouble would be well rewarded if his plan
succeeded, and he could manage to kill the wicked badger now.
day came when the rabbit had arranged to take the badger fishing. He
kept the wooden boat himself and gave the badger the clay boat. The
badger, who knew nothing about boats, was delighted with his new boat
and thought how kind it was of the rabbit to give it to him. They both
got into their boats and set out. After going some distance from the
shore the rabbit proposed that they should try their boats and see
which one could go the quickest. The badger fell in with the proposal,
and they both set to work to row as fast as they could for some time.
In the middle of the race the badger found his boat going to pieces,
for the water now began to soften the clay. He cried out in great fear
to the rabbit to help him. But the rabbit answered that he was avenging
the old woman's murder, and that this had been his intention all along,
and that he was happy to think that the badger had at last met his
deserts for all his evil crimes, and was to drown with no one to help
him. Then he raised his oar and struck at the badger with all his
strength till he fell with the sinking clay boat and was seen no more.
at last he kept his promise to the old farmer. The rabbit now turned
and rowed shorewards, and having landed and pulled his boat upon the
beach, hurried back to tell the old farmer everything, and how the
badger, his enemy, had been killed.
old farmer thanked him with tears in his eyes. He said that till now he
could never sleep at night or be at peace in the daytime, thinking of
how his wife's death was unavenged, but from this time he would be able
to sleep and eat as of old. He begged the rabbit to stay with him and
share his home, so from this day the rabbit went to stay with the old
farmer and they both lived together as good friends to the end of their
THE shinansha, OR THE SOUTH POINTING CARRIAGE.
compass, with its needle always pointing to the North, is quite a
common thing, and no one thinks that it is remarkable now, though when
it was first invented it must have been a wonder.
long ago in China, there was a still more wonderful invention called
the shinansha. This was a kind of chariot with the figure of a man on
it always pointing to the South. No matter how the chariot was placed
the figure always wheeled about and pointed to the South.
curious instrument was invented by Kotei, one of the three Chinese
Emperors of the Mythological age. Kotei was the son of the Emperor
Yuhi. Before he was born his mother had a vision which foretold that
her son would be a great man.
summer evening she went out to walk in the meadows to seek the cool
breezes which blow at the end of the day and to gaze with pleasure at
the star-lit heavens above her. As she looked at the North Star,
strange to relate, it shot forth vivid flashes of lightning in every
direction. Soon after this her son Kotei came into the world.
in time grew to manhood and succeeded his father the Emperor Yuhi. His
early reign was greatly troubled by the rebel Shiyu. This rebel wanted
to make himself King, and many were the battles which he fought to this
end. Shiyu was a wicked magician, his head was made of iron, and there
was no man that could conquer him.
last Kotei declared war against the rebel and led his army to battle,
and the two armies met on a plain called Takuroku. The Emperor boldly
attacked the enemy, but the magician brought down a dense fog upon the
battlefield, and while the royal army were wandering about in
confusion, trying to find their way, Shiyu retreated with his troops,
laughing at having fooled the royal army.
matter however strong and brave the Emperor's soldiers were, the rebel
with his magic could always escape in the end.
returned to his Palace, and thought and pondered deeply as to how he
should conquer the magician, for he was determined not to give up yet.
After a long time he invented the shinansha with the figure of a man
always pointing South, for there were no compasses in those days. With
this instrument to show him the way he need not fear the dense fogs
raised up by the magician to confound his men.
again declared war against Shiyu. He placed the shinansha in front of
his army and led the way to the battlefield.
battle began in earnest. The rebel was being driven backward by the
royal troops when he again resorted to magic, and upon his saying some
strange words in a loud voice, immediately a dense fog came down upon
this time no soldier minded the fog, not one was confused. Kotei by
pointing to the shinansha could find his way and directed the army
without a single mistake. He closely pursued the rebel army and drove
them backward till they came to a big river. This river Kotei and his
men found was swollen by the floods and impossible to cross.
by using his magic art quickly passed over with his army and shut
himself up in a fortress on the opposite bank.
Kotei found his march checked he was wild with disappointment, for he
had very nearly overtaken the rebel when the river stopped him.
could do nothing, for there were no boats in those days, so the Emperor
ordered his tent to be pitched in the pleasantest spot that the place
day he stepped forth from his tent and after walking about for a short
time he came to a pond. Here he sat down on the bank and was lost in
was autumn. The trees growing along the edge of the water were shedding
their leaves, which floated hither and thither on the surface of the
pond. By and by, Kotei's attention was attracted to a spider on the
brink of the water. The little insect was trying to get on to one of
the floating leaves near by. It did so at last, and was soon floating
over the water to the other side of the pond.
little incident made the clever Emperor think that he might try to make
something that could carry himself and his men over the river in the
same way that the leaf had carried over the spider. He set to work and
persevered till he invented the first boat. When he found that it was a
success he set all his men to make more, and in time there were enough
boats for the whole army.
now took his army across the river, and attacked Shiyu's headquarters.
He gained a complete victory, and so put an end to the war which had
troubled his country for so long.
wise and good Emperor did not rest till he had secured peace and
prosperity throughout his whole land. He was beloved by his subjects,
who now enjoyed their happiness of peace for many long years under him.
He spent a great deal of time in making inventions which would benefit
his people, and he succeeded in many besides the boat and the South
had reigned about a hundred years when one day, as Kotei was looking
upwards, the sky became suddenly red, and something came glittering
like gold towards the earth. As it came nearer Kotei saw that it was a
great Dragon. The Dragon approached and bowed down its head before the
Emperor. The Empress and the courtiers were so frightened that they ran
the Emperor only smiled and called to them to stop, and said:
not be afraid. This is a messenger from Heaven. My time here is
finished!" He then mounted the Dragon, which began to ascend towards
the Empress and the courtiers saw this they all cried out together:
a moment! We wish to come too." And they all ran and caught hold of the
Dragon's beard and tried to mount him.
it was impossible for so many people to ride on the Dragon. Several of
them hung on to the creature's beard so that when it tried to mount the
hair was pulled out and they fell to the ground.
the Empress and a few of the courtiers were safely seated on the
Dragon's back. The Dragon flew up so high in the heavens that in a
short time the inmates of the Palace, who had been left behind
disappointed, could see them no more.
some time a bow and an arrow dropped to the earth in the courtyard of
the Palace. They were recognized as having belonged to the Emperor
Kotei. The courtiers took them up carefully and preserved them as
sacred relics in the Palace.
THE ADVENTURES OF KINTARO, THE GOLDEN BOY.
long ago there lived in Kyoto a brave soldier named Kintoki. Now he
fell in love with a beautiful lady and married her. Not long after
this, through the malice of some of his friends, he fell into disgrace
at Court and was dismissed. This misfortune so preyed upon his mind
that he did not long survive his dismissal—he died, leaving
his beautiful young wife to face the world alone. Fearing her husband's
enemies, she fled to the Ashigara Mountains as soon as her husband was
dead, and there in the lonely forests where no one ever came except
woodcutters, a little boy was born to her. She called him Kintaro or
the Golden Boy. Now the remarkable thing about this child was his great
strength, and as he grew older he grew stronger and stronger, so that
by the time he was eight years of age he was able to cut down trees as
quickly as the woodcutters. Then his mother gave him a large ax, and he
used to go out in the forest and help the woodcutters, who called him
"Wonder-child," and his mother the "Old Nurse of the Mountains," for
they did not know her high rank. Another favorite pastime of Kintaro's
was to smash up rocks and stones. You can imagine how strong he was!
unlike other boys, Kintaro, grew up all alone in the mountain wilds,
and as he had no companions he made friends with all the animals and
learned to understand them and to speak their strange talk. By degrees
they all grew quite tame and looked upon Kintaro as their master, and
he used them as his servants and messengers. But his special retainers
were the bear, the deer, the monkey and the hare.
bear often brought her cubs for Kintaro to romp with, and when she came
to take them home Kintaro would get on her back and have a ride to her
cave. He was very fond of the deer too, and would often put his arms
round the creature's neck to show that its long horns did not frighten
him. Great was the fun they all had together.
day, as usual, Kintaro went up into the mountains, followed by the
bear, the deer, the monkey, and the hare. After walking for some time
up hill and down dale and over rough roads, they suddenly came out upon
a wide and grassy plain covered with pretty wild flowers.
indeed, was a nice place where they could all have a good romp
together. The deer rubbed his horns against a tree for pleasure, the
monkey scratched his back, the hare smoothed his long ears, and the
bear gave a grunt of satisfaction.
said, "Here is a place for a good game. What do you all say to a
bear being the biggest and the oldest, answered for the others:
will be great fun," said she. "I am the strongest animal, so I will
make the platform for the wrestlers;" and she set to work with a will
to dig up the earth and to pat it into shape.
right," said Kintaro, "I will look on while you all wrestle with each
other. I shall give a prize to the one who wins in each round."
fun! we shall all try to get the prize," said the bear.
deer, the monkey and the hare set to work to help the bear raise the
platform on which they were all to wrestle. When this was finished,
Kintaro cried out:
begin! the monkey and the hare shall open the sports and the deer shall
be umpire. Now, Mr. Deer, you are to be umpire!"
he!" answered the deer. "I will be umpire. Now, Mr. Monkey and Mr.
Hare, if you are both ready, please walk out and take your places on
the monkey and the hare both hopped out, quickly and nimbly, to the
wrestling platform. The deer, as umpire, stood between the two and
Red-back!" (this to the monkey, who has a red back in Japan). "Are you
he turned to the hare:
Long-ears! are you ready?"
the little wrestlers faced each other while the deer raised a leaf on
high as signal. When he dropped the leaf the monkey and the hare rushed
upon each other, crying "Yoisho, yoisho!"
the monkey and the hare wrestled, the deer called out encouragingly or
shouted warnings to each of them as the hare or the monkey pushed each
other near the edge of the platform and were in danger of falling over.
Red-back! stand your ground!" called out the deer.
Long-ears! be strong, be strong—don't let the monkey beat you!"
grunted the bear.
the monkey and the hare, encouraged by their friends, tried their very
hardest to beat each other. The hare at last gained on the monkey. The
monkey seemed to trip up, and the hare giving him a good push sent him
flying off the platform with a bound.
poor monkey sat up rubbing his back, and his face was very long as he
screamed angrily. "Oh, oh! how my back hurts—my back hurts me!"
the monkey in this plight on the ground, the deer holding his leaf on
round is finished—the hare has won."
then opened his luncheon box and taking out a rice-dumpling, gave it to
the hare saying:
is your prize, and you have earned, it well!"
the monkey got up looking very cross, and as they say in Japan "his
stomach stood up," for he felt that he had not been fairly beaten. So
he said to Kintaro and the others who were standing by:
have not been fairly beaten. My foot slipped and I tumbled. Please give
me another chance and let the hare wrestle with me for another round."
Kintaro consenting, the hare and the monkey began to wrestle again.
Now, as every one knows, the monkey is a cunning animal by nature, and
he made up his mind to get the best of the hare this time if it were
possible. To do this, he thought that the best and surest way would be
to get hold of the hare's long ear. This he soon managed to do. The
hare was quite thrown off his guard by the pain of having his long ear
pulled so hard, and the monkey seizing his opportunity at last, caught
hold of one of the hare's legs and sent him sprawling in the middle of
the dais. The monkey was now the victor and received, a rice-dumpling
from Kintaro, which pleased him so much that he quite forgot his sore
deer now came up and asked the hare if he felt ready for another round,
and if so whether he would try a round with him, and the hare
consenting, they both stood up to wrestle. The bear came forward as
deer with long horns and the hare with long ears, it must have been an
amusing sight to those who watched this queer match. Suddenly the deer
went down on one of his knees, and the bear with the leaf on high
declared him beaten. In this way, sometimes the one, sometimes the
other, conquering, the little party amused themselves till they were
last Kintaro got up and said:
is enough for to-day. What a nice place we have found for wrestling;
let us come again to-morrow. Now, we will all go home. Come along!" So
saying, Kintaro led the way while the animals followed.
walking some little distance they came out on the banks of a river
flowing through a valley. Kintaro and his four furry friends stood and
looked about for some means of crossing. Bridge there was none. The
river rushed "don, don" on its way. All the animals looked serious,
wondering how they could cross the stream and get home that evening.
a moment. I will make a good bridge for you all in a few minutes."
bear, the deer, the monkey and the hare looked at him to see what he
would do now.
went from one tree to another that grew along the river bank. At last
he stopped in front of a very large tree that was growing at the
water's edge. He took hold of the trunk and pulled it with all his
might, once, twice, thrice! At the third pull, so great was Kintaro's
strength that the roots gave way, and "meri, meri" (crash, crash), over
fell the tree, forming an excellent bridge across the stream.
said Kintaro, "what do you think of my bridge? It is quite safe, so
follow me," and he stepped across first. The four animals followed.
Never had they seen any one so strong before, and they all exclaimed:
strong he is! how strong he is!"
all this was going on by the river a woodcutter, who happened to be
standing on a rock overlooking the stream, had seen all that passed
beneath him. He watched with great surprise Kintaro and his animal
companions. He rubbed his eyes to be sure that he was not dreaming when
he saw this boy pull over a tree by the roots and throw it across the
stream to form a bridge.
woodcutter, for such he seemed to be by his dress, marveled at all he
saw, and said to himself:
is no ordinary child. Whose son can he be? I will find out before this
day is done."
hastened after the strange party and crossed the bridge behind them.
Kintaro knew nothing of all this, and little guessed that he was being
followed. On reaching the other side of the river he and the animals
separated, they to their lairs in the woods and he to his mother, who
was waiting for him.
soon as he entered the cottage, which stood like a matchbox in the
heart of the pine-woods, he went to greet his mother, saying:
(mother), here I am!"
Kimbo!" said his mother with a bright smile, glad to see her boy home
safe after the long day. "How late you are to-day. I feared that
something had happened to you. Where have you been all the time?"
took my four friends, the bear, the deer, the monkey, and the hare, up
into the hills, and there I made them try a wrestling match, to see
which was the strongest. We all enjoyed the sport, and are going to the
same place to-morrow to have another match."
tell me who is the strongest of all?" asked his mother, pretending not
mother," said Kintaro, "don't you know that I am the strongest? There
was no need for me to wrestle with any of them."
next to you then, who is the strongest?"
bear comes next to me in strength," answered Kintaro.
after the bear?" asked his mother again.
to the bear it is not easy to say which is the strongest, for the deer,
the monkey, and the hare all seem to be as strong as each other," said
Kintaro and his mother were startled by a voice from outside.
to me, little boy! Next time you go, take this old man with you to the
wrestling match. He would like to join the sport too!"
was the old woodcutter who had followed Kintaro from the river. He
slipped off his clogs and entered the cottage. Yama-uba and her son
were both taken by surprise. They looked at the intruder wonderingly
and saw that he was some one they had never seen before.
are you?" they both exclaimed.
the woodcutter laughed and said:
does not matter who I am yet, but let us see who has the strongest
arm—this boy or myself?"
Kintaro, who had lived all his life in the forest, answered the old man
without any ceremony, saying:
will have a try if you wish it, but you must not be angry whoever is
Kintaro and the woodcutter both put out their right arms and grasped
each other's hands. For a long time Kintaro and the old man wrestled
together in this way, each trying to bend the other's arm, but the old
man was very strong, and the strange pair were evenly matched. At last
the old man desisted, declaring it a drawn game.
are, indeed, a very strong child. There are few men who can boast of
the strength of my right arm!" said the woodcutter. "I saw you first on
the hanks of the river a few hours ago, when you pulled up that large
tree to make a bridge across the torrent. Hardly able to believe what I
saw I followed you home. Your strength of arm, which I have just tried,
proves what I saw this afternoon. When you are full-grown you will
surely be the strongest man in all Japan. It is a pity that you are
hidden away in these wild mountains."
he turned to Kintaro's mother:
you, mother, have you no thought of taking your child to the Capital,
and of teaching him to carry a sword as befits a samurai (a Japanese
are very kind to take so much interest in my son." replied the mother;
"but he is as you see, wild and uneducated, and I fear it would be very
difficult to do as you say. Because of his great strength as an infant
I hid him away in this unknown part of the country, for he hurt every
one that came near him. I have often wished that I could, one day, see
my boy a knight wearing two swords, but as we have no influential
friend to introduce us at the Capital, I fear my hope will never come
need not trouble yourself about that. To tell you the truth I am no
woodcutter! I am one of the great generals of Japan. My name is
Sadamitsu, and I am a vassal of the powerful Lord Minamoto-no-Raiko. He
ordered me to go round the country and look for boys who give promise
of remarkable strength, so that they may be trained as soldiers for his
army. I thought that I could best do this by assuming the disguise of a
woodcutter. By good fortune, I have thus unexpectedly come across your
son. Now if you really wish him to be a SAMURAI (a knight), I will take
him and present him to the Lord Raiko as a candidate for his service.
What do you say to this?"
the kind general gradually unfolded his plan the mother's heart was
filled with a great joy. She saw that here was a wonderful chance of
the one wish of her life being fulfilled—that of seeing Kintaro a
SAMURAI before she died.
her head to the ground, she replied:
will then intrust my son to you if you really mean what you say."
had all this time been sitting by his mother's side listening to what
they said. When his mother finished speaking, he exclaimed:
joy! joy! I am to go with the general and one day I shall be a SAMURAI!"
Kintaro's fate was settled, and the general decided to start for the
Capital at once, taking Kintaro with him. It need hardly be said that
Yama-uba was sad at parting with her boy, for he was all that was left
to her. But she hid her grief with a strong face, as they say in Japan.
She knew that it was for her boy's good that he should leave her now,
and she must not discourage him just as he was setting out. Kintaro
promised never to forget her, and said that as soon as he was a knight
wearing two swords he would build her a home and take care of her in
her old age.
the animals, those he had tamed to serve him, the bear, the deer, the
monkey, and the hare, as soon as they found out that he was going away,
came to ask if they might attend him as usual. When they learned that
he was going away for good they followed him to the foot of the
mountain to see him off.
said his mother, "mind and be a good boy."
Kintaro," said the faithful animals, "we wish you good health on your
they all climbed a tree to see the last of him, and from that height
they watched him and his shadow gradually grow smaller and smaller,
till he was lost to sight.
general Sadamitsu went on his way rejoicing at having so unexpectedly
found such a prodigy as Kintaro.
arrived at their destination the general took Kintaro at once to his
Lord, Minamoto-no-Raiko, and told him all about Kintaro and how he had
found the child. Lord Raiko was delighted with the story, and having
commanded Kintaro to be brought to him, made him one of his vassals at
Raiko's army was famous for its band called "The Four Braves." These
warriors were chosen by himself from amongst the bravest and strongest
of his soldiers, and the small and well-picked band was distinguished
throughout the whole of Japan for the dauntless courage of its men.
Kintaro grew up to be a man his master made him the Chief of the Four
Braves. He was by far the strongest of them all. Soon after this event,
news was brought to the city that a cannibal monster had taken up his
abode not far away and that people were stricken with fear. Lord Raiko
ordered Kintaro to the rescue. He immediately started off, delighted at
the prospect of trying his sword.
the monster in its den, he made short work of cutting off its great
head, which he carried back in triumph to his master.
now rose to be the greatest hero of his country, and great was the
power and honor and wealth that came to him. He now kept his promise
and built a comfortable home for his old mother, who lived happily with
him in the Capital to the end of her days.
not this the story of a great hero?
THE STORY OF PRINCESS HASE.
A STORY OF OLD JAPAN.
many years ago there lived in Nara, the ancient Capital of Japan, a
wise State minister, by name Prince Toyonari Fujiwara. His wife was a
noble, good, and beautiful woman called Princess Murasaki (Violet).
They had been married by their respective families according to
Japanese custom when very young, and had lived together happily ever
since. They had, however, one cause for great sorrow, for as the years
went by no child was born to them. This made them very unhappy, for
they both longed to see a child of their own who would grow up to
gladden their old age, carry on the family name, and keep up the
ancestral rites when they were dead. The Prince and his lovely wife,
after long consultation and much thought, determined to make a
pilgrimage to the temple of Hase-no-Kwannon (Goddess of Mercy at Hase),
for they believed, according to the beautiful tradition of their
religion, that the Mother of Mercy, Kwannon, comes to answer the
prayers of mortals in the form that they need the most. Surely after
all these years of prayer she would come to them in the form of a
beloved child in answer to their special pilgrimage, for that was the
greatest need of their two lives. Everything else they had that this
life could give them, but it was all as nothing because the cry of
their hearts was unsatisfied.
the Prince Toyonari and his wife went to the temple of Kwannon at Hase
and stayed there for a long time, both daily offering incense and
praying to Kwannon, the Heavenly Mother, to grant them the desire of
their whole lives. And their prayer was answered.
daughter was born at last to the Princess Murasaki, and great was the
joy of her heart. On presenting the child to her husband, they both
decided to call her Hase-Hime, or the Princess of Hase, because she was
the gift of the Kwannon at that place. They both reared her with great
care and tenderness, and the child grew in strength and beauty.
the little girl was five years old her mother fell dangerously ill and
all the doctors and their medicines could not save her. A little before
she breathed her last she called her daughter to her, and gently
stroking her head, said:
do you know that your mother cannot live any longer? Though I die, you
must grow up a good girl. Do your best not to give trouble to your
nurse or any other of your family. Perhaps your father will marry again
and some one will fill my place as your mother. If so do not grieve for
me, but look upon your father's second wife as your true mother, and be
obedient and filial to both her and your father. Remember when you are
grown up to be submissive to those who are your superiors, and to be
kind to all those who are under you. Don't forget this. I die with the
hope that you will grow up a model woman."
listened in an attitude of respect while her mother spoke, and promised
to do all that she was told. There is a proverb which says "As the soul
is at three so it is at one hundred," and so Hase-Hime grew up as her
mother had wished, a good and obedient little Princess, though she was
now too young to understand how great was the loss of her mother.
long after the death of his first wife, Prince Toyonari married again,
a lady of noble birth named Princess Terute. Very different in
character, alas! to the good and wise Princess Murasaki, this woman had
a cruel, bad heart. She did not love her step-daughter at all, and was
often very unkind to the little motherless girl, saving to herself:
is not my child! this is not my child!"
Hase-Hime bore every unkindness with patience, and even waited upon her
step-mother kindly and obeyed her in every way and never gave any
trouble, just as she had been trained by her own good mother, so that
the Lady Terute had no cause for complaint against her.
little Princess was very diligent, and her favorite studies were music
and poetry. She would spend several hours practicing every day, and her
father had the most proficient of masters he could find to teach her
the koto (Japanese harp), the art of writing letters and verse. When
she was twelve years of age she could play so beautifully that she and
her step-mother were summoned to the Palace to perform before the
was the Festival of the Cherry Flowers, and there were great
festivities at the Court. The Emperor threw himself into the enjoyment
of the season, and commanded that Princess Hase should perform before
him on the koto, and that her mother Princess Terute should accompany
her on the flute.
Emperor sat on a raised dais, before which was hung a curtain of
finely-sliced bamboo and purple tassels, so that His Majesty might see
all and not be seen, for no ordinary subject was allowed to looked upon
his sacred face.
was a skilled musician though so young, and often astonished her
masters by her wonderful memory and talent. On this momentous occasion
she played well. But Princess Terute, her step-mother, who was a lazy
woman and never took the trouble to practice daily, broke down in her
accompaniment and had to request one of the Court ladies to take her
place. This was a great disgrace, and she was furiously jealous to
think that she had failed where her step-daughter succeeded; and to
make matters worse the Emperor sent many beautiful gifts to the little
Princess to reward her for playing so well at the Palace.
was also now another reason why Princess Terute hated her
step-daughter, for she had had the good fortune to have a son born to
her, and in her inmost heart she kept saying:
only Hase-Hime were not here, my son would have all the love of his
never having learned to control herself, she allowed this wicked
thought to grow into the awful desire of taking her step-daughter's
one day she secretly ordered some poison and poisoned some sweet wine.
This poisoned wine she put into a bottle. Into another similar bottle
she poured some good wine. It was the occasion of the Boys' Festival on
the fifth of May, and Hase-Hime was playing with her little brother.
All his toys of warriors and heroes were spread out and she was telling
him wonderful stories about each of them. They were both enjoying
themselves and laughing merrily with their attendants when his mother
entered with the two bottles of wine and some delicious cakes.
are both so good and happy." said the wicked Princess Terute with a
smile, "that I have brought you some sweet wine as a reward—and
are some nice cakes for my good children."
she filled two cups from the different bottles.
never dreaming of the dreadful part her step-mother was acting, took
one of the cups of wine and gave to her little step brother the other
that had been poured out for him.
wicked woman had carefully marked the poisoned bottle, but on coming
into the room she had grown nervous, and pouring out the wine hurriedly
had unconsciously given the poisoned cup to her own child. All this
time she was anxiously watching the little Princess, but to her
amazement no change whatever took place in the young girl's face.
Suddenly the little boy screamed and threw himself on the floor,
doubled up with pain. His mother flew to him, taking the precaution to
upset the two tiny jars of wine which she had brought into the room,
and lifted him up. The attendants rushed for the doctor, but nothing
could save the child—he died within the hour in his mother's
Doctors did not know much in those ancient times, and it was thought
that the wine had disagreed with the boy, causing convulsions of which
was the wicked woman punished in losing her own child when she had
tried to do away with her step-daughter; but instead of blaming herself
she began to hate Hase-Hime more than ever in the bitterness and
wretchedness of her own heart, and she eagerly watched for an
opportunity to do her harm, which was, however, long in coming.
Hase-Hime was thirteen years of age, she had already become mentioned
as a poetess of some merit. This was an accomplishment very much
cultivated by the women of old Japan and one held in high esteem.
was the rainy season at Nara, and floods were reported every day as
doing damage in the neighborhood. The river Tatsuta, which flowed
through the Imperial Palace grounds, was swollen to the top of its
banks, and the roaring of the torrents of water rushing along a narrow
bed so disturbed the Emperor's rest day and night, that a serious
nervous disorder was the result. An Imperial Edict was sent forth to
all the Buddhist temples commanding the priests to offer up continuous
prayers to Heaven to stop the noise of the flood. But this was of no
it was whispered in Court circles that the Princess Hase, the daughter
of Prince Toyonari Fujiwara, second minister at Court, was the most
gifted poetess of the day, though still so young, and her masters
confirmed the report. Long ago, a beautiful and gifted maiden-poetess
had moved Heaven by praying in verse, had brought down rain upon a land
famished with drought—so said the ancient biographers of the
Ono-no-Komachi. If the Princess Hase were to write a poem and offer it
in prayer, might it not stop the noise of the rushing river and remove
the cause of the Imperial illness? What the Court said at last reached
the ears of the Emperor himself, and he sent an order to the minister
Prince Toyonari to this effect.
indeed was Hase-Hime's fear and astonishment when her father sent for
her and told her what was required of her. Heavy, indeed, was the duty
that was laid on her young shoulders—that of saving the Emperor's
by the merit of her verse.
last the day came and her poem was finished. It was written on a
leaflet of paper heavily flecked with gold-dust. With her father and
attendants and some of the Court officials, she proceeded to the bank
of the roaring torrent and raising up her heart to Heaven, she read the
poem she had composed, aloud, lifting it heavenwards in her two hands.
indeed it seemed to all those standing round. The waters ceased their
roaring, and the river was quiet in direct answer to her prayer. After
this the Emperor soon recovered his health.
Majesty was highly pleased, and sent for her to the Palace and rewarded
her with the rank of Chinjo—that of Lieutenant-General—to
her. From that time she was called Chinjo-hime, or the
Lieutenant-General Princess, and respected and loved by all.
was only one person who was not pleased at Hase-Hime's success. That
one was her stepmother. Forever brooding over the death of her own
child whom she had killed when trying to poison her step-daughter, she
had the mortification of seeing her rise to power and honor, marked by
Imperial favor and the admiration of the whole Court. Her envy and
jealousy burned in her heart like fire. Many were the lies she carried
to her husband about Hase-Hime, but all to no purpose. He would listen
to none of her tales, telling her sharply that she was quite mistaken.
last the step-mother, seizing the opportunity of her husband's absence,
ordered one of her old servants to take the innocent girl to the Hibari
Mountains, the wildest part of the country, and to kill her there. She
invented a dreadful story about the little Princess, saying that this
was the only way to prevent disgrace falling upon the family—by
her vassal, was bound to obey his mistress. Anyhow, he saw that it
would be the wisest plan to pretend obedience in the absence of the
girl's father, so he placed Hase-Hime in a palanquin and accompanied
her to the most solitary place he could find in the wild district. The
poor child knew there was no good in protesting to her unkind
step-mother at being sent away in this strange manner, so she went as
she was told.
the old servant knew that the young Princess was quite innocent of all
the things her step-mother had invented to him as reasons for her
outrageous orders, and he determined to save her life. Unless he killed
her, however, he could not return to his cruel task-mistress, so he
decided to stay out in the wilderness. With the help of some peasants
he soon built a little cottage, and having sent secretly for his wife
to come, these two good old people did all in their power to take care
of the now unfortunate Princess. She all the time trusted in her
father, knowing that as soon as he returned home and found her absent,
he would search for her.
Toyonari, after some weeks, came home, and was told by his wife that
his daughter Hime had done something wrong and had run away for fear of
being punished. He was nearly ill with anxiety. Every one in the house
told the same story—that Hase-Hime had suddenly disappeared, none
them knew why or whither. For fear of scandal he kept the matter quite
and searched everywhere he could think of, but all to no purpose.
day, trying to forget his terrible worry, he called all his men
together and told them to make ready for a several days' hunt in the
mountains. They were soon ready and mounted, waiting at the gate for
their lord. He rode hard and fast to the district of the Hibari
Mountains, a great company following him. He was soon far ahead of
every one, and at last found himself in a narrow picturesque valley.
round and admiring the scenery, he noticed a tiny house on one of the
hills quite near, and then he distinctly heard a beautiful clear voice
reading aloud. Seized with curiosity as to who could be studying so
diligently in such a lonely spot, he dismounted, and leaving his horse
to his groom, he walked up the hillside and approached the cottage. As
he drew nearer his surprise increased, for he could see that the reader
was a beautiful girl. The cottage was wide open and she was sitting
facing the view. Listening attentively, he heard her reading the
Buddhist scriptures with great devotion. More and more curious, he
hurried on to the tiny gate and entered the little garden, and looking
up beheld his lost daughter Hase-Hime. She was so intent on what she
was saying that she neither heard nor saw her father till he spoke.
he cried, "it is you, my Hase-Hime!"
by surprise, she could hardly realize that it was her own dear father
who was calling her, and for a moment she was utterly bereft of the
power to speak or move.
father, my father! It is indeed you—oh, my father!" was all she
say, and running to him she caught hold of his thick sleeve, and
burying her face burst into a passion of tears.
father stroked her dark hair, asking her gently to tell him all that
had happened, but she only wept on, and he wondered if he were not
the faithful old servant Katoda came out, and bowing himself to the
ground before his master, poured out the long tale of wrong, telling
him all that had happened, and how it was that he found his daughter in
such a wild and desolate spot with only two old servants to take care
Prince's astonishment and indignation knew no bounds. He gave up the
hunt at once and hurried home with his daughter. One of the company
galloped ahead to inform the household of the glad news, and the
step-mother hearing what had happened, and fearful of meeting her
husband now that her wickedness was discovered, fled from the house and
returned in disgrace to her father's roof, and nothing more was heard
old servant Katoda was rewarded with the highest promotion in his
master's service, and lived happily to the end of his days, devoted to
the little Princess, who never forgot that she owed her life to this
faithful retainer. She was no longer troubled by an unkind step-mother,
and her days passed happily and quietly with her father.
Prince Toyonari had no son, he adopted a younger son of one of the
Court nobles to be his heir, and to marry his daughter Hase-Hime, and
in a few years the marriage took place. Hase-Hime lived to a good old
age, and all said that she was the wisest, most devout, and most
beautiful mistress that had ever reigned in Prince Toyonari's ancient
house. She had the joy of presenting her son, the future lord of the
family, to her father just before he retired from active life.
this day there is preserved a piece of needle-work in one of the
Buddhist temples of Kioto. It is a beautiful piece of tapestry, with
the figure of Buddha embroidered in the silky threads drawn from the
stem of the lotus. This is said to have been the work of the hands of
the good Princess Hase.
THE STORY OF THE MAN WHO DID NOT WISH TO DIE.
long ago there lived a man called Sentaro. His surname meant
"Millionaire," but although he was not so rich as all that, he was
still very far removed from being poor. He had inherited a small
fortune from his father and lived on this, spending his time
carelessly, without any serious thoughts of work, till he was about
thirty-two years of age.
day, without any reason whatsoever, the thought of death and sickness
came to him. The idea of falling ill or dying made him very wretched.
should like to live," he said to himself, "till I am five or six
hundred years old at least, free from all sickness. The ordinary span
of a man's life is very short."
wondered whether it were possible, by living simply and frugally
henceforth, to prolong his life as long as he wished.
knew there were many stories in ancient history of emperors who had
lived a thousand years, and there was a Princess of Yamato, who, it was
said, lived to the age of five hundred This was the latest story of a
very long life record.
had often heard the tale of the Chinese King named Shin-no-Shiko. He
was one of the most able and powerful rulers in Chinese history. He
built all the large palaces, and also the famous great wall of China.
He had everything in the world he could wish for, but in spite of all
his happiness and the luxury and the splendor of his Court, the wisdom
of his councilors and the glory of his reign, he was miserable because
he knew that one day he must die and leave it all.
Shin-no-Shiko went to bed at night, when he rose in the morning, as he
went through his day, the thought of death was always with him. He
could not get away from it. Ah—if only he could find the "Elixir
Life," he would be happy.
Emperor at last called a meeting of his courtiers and asked them all if
they could not find for him the "Elixir of Life" of which he had so
often read and heard.
old courtier, Jofuku by name, said that far away across the seas there
was a country called Horaizan, and that certain hermits lived there who
possessed the secret of the "Elixir of Life." Whoever drank of this
wonderful draught lived forever.
Emperor ordered Jofuku to set out for the land of Horaizan, to find the
hermits, and to bring him back a phial of the magic elixir. He gave
Jofuku one of his best junks, fitted it out for him, and loaded it with
great quantities of treasures and precious stones for Jofuku to take as
presents to the hermits.
sailed for the land of Horaizan, but he never returned to the waiting
Emperor; but ever since that time Mount Fuji has been said to be the
fabled Horaizan and the home of hermits who had the secret of the
elixir, and Jofuku has been worshiped as their patron god.
Sentaro determined to set out to find the hermits, and if he could, to
become one, so that he might obtain the water of perpetual life. He
remembered that as a child he had been told that not only did these
hermits live on Mount Fuji, but that they were said to inhabit all the
very high peaks.
he left his old home to the care of his relatives, and started out on
his quest. He traveled through all the mountainous regions of the land,
climbing to the tops of the highest peaks, but never a hermit did he
last, after wandering in an unknown region for many days, he met a
you tell me," asked Sentaro, "where the hermits live who have the
Elixir of Life?"
said the hunter; "I can't tell you where such hermits live, but there
is a notorious robber living in these parts. It is said that he is
chief of a band of two hundred followers."
odd answer irritated Sentaro very much, and he thought how foolish it
was to waste more time in looking for the hermits in this way, so he
decided to go at once to the shrine of Jofuku, who is worshiped as the
patron god of the hermits in the south of Japan.
reached the shrine and prayed for seven days, entreating Jofuku to show
him the way to a hermit who could give him what he wanted so much to
midnight of the seventh day, as Sentaro knelt in the temple, the door
of the innermost shrine flew open, and Jofuku appeared in a luminous
cloud, and calling to Sentaro to come nearer, spoke thus:
desire is a very selfish one and cannot be easily granted. You think
that you would like to become a hermit so as to find the Elixir of
Life. Do you know how hard a hermit's life is? A hermit is only allowed
to eat fruit and berries and the bark of pine trees; a hermit must cut
himself off from the world so that his heart may become as pure as gold
and free from every earthly desire. Gradually after following these
strict rules, the hermit ceases to feel hunger or cold or heat, and his
body becomes so light that he can ride on a crane or a carp, and can
walk on water without getting his feet wet."
Sentaro, are fond of good living and of every comfort. You are not even
like an ordinary man, for you are exceptionally idle, and more
sensitive to heat and cold than most people. You would never be able to
go barefoot or to wear only one thin dress in the winter time! Do you
think that you would ever have the patience or the endurance to live a
answer to your prayer, however, I will help you in another way. I will
send you to the country of Perpetual Life, where death never
comes—where the people live forever!"
this, Jofuku put into Sentaro's hand a little crane made of paper,
telling him to sit on its back and it would carry him there.
obeyed wonderingly. The crane grew large enough for him to ride on it
with comfort. It then spread its wings, rose high in the air, and flew
away over the mountains right out to sea.
was at first quite frightened; but by degrees he grew accustomed to the
swift flight through the air. On and on they went for thousands of
miles. The bird never stopped for rest or food, but as it was a paper
bird it doubtless did not require any nourishment, and strange to say,
neither did Sentaro.
several days they reached an island. The crane flew some distance
inland and then alighted.
soon as Sentaro got down from the bird's back, the crane folded up of
its own accord and flew into his pocket.
Sentaro began to look about him wonderingly, curious to see what the
country of Perpetual Life was like. He walked first round about the
country and then through the town. Everything was, of course, quite
strange, and different from his own land. But both the land and the
people seemed prosperous, so he decided that it would be good for him
to stay there and took up lodgings at one of the hotels.
proprietor was a kind man, and when Sentaro told him that he was a
stranger and had come to live there, he promised to arrange everything
that was necessary with the governor of the city concerning Sentaro's
sojourn there. He even found a house for his guest, and in this way
Sentaro obtained his great wish and became a resident in the country of
the memory of all the islanders no man had ever died there, and
sickness was a thing unknown. Priests had come over from India and
China and told them of a beautiful country called Paradise, where
happiness and bliss and contentment fill all men's hearts, but its
gates could only be reached by dying. This tradition was handed down
for ages from generation to generation—but none knew exactly what
was except that it led to Paradise.
unlike Sentaro and other ordinary people, instead of having a great
dread of death, they all, both rich and poor, longed for it as
something good and desirable. They were all tired of their long, long
lives, and longed to go to the happy land of contentment called
Paradise of which the priests had told them centuries ago.
this Sentaro soon found out by talking to the islanders. He found
himself, according to his ideas, in the land of Topsyturvydom.
Everything was upside down. He had wished to escape from dying. He had
come to the land of Perpetual Life with great relief and joy, only to
find that the inhabitants themselves, doomed never to die, would
consider it bliss to find death.
he had hitherto considered poison these people ate as good food, and
all the things to which he had been accustomed as food they rejected.
Whenever any merchants from other countries arrived, the rich people
rushed to them eager to buy poisons. These they swallowed eagerly,
hoping for death to come so that they might go to Paradise.
what were deadly poisons in other lands were without effect in this
strange place, and people who swallowed them with the hope of dying,
only found that in a short time they felt better in health instead of
they tried to imagine what death could be like. The wealthy would have
given all their money and all their goods if they could but shorten
their lives to two or three hundred years even. Without any change to
live on forever seemed to this people wearisome and sad.
the chemist shops there was a drug which was in constant demand,
because after using it for a hundred years, it was supposed to turn the
hair slightly gray and to bring about disorders of the stomach.
was astonished to find that the poisonous globe-fish was served up in
restaurants as a delectable dish, and hawkers in the streets went about
selling sauces made of Spanish flies. He never saw any one ill after
eating these horrible things, nor did he ever see any one with as much
as a cold.
was delighted. He said to himself that he would never grow tired of
living, and that he considered it profane to wish for death. He was the
only happy man on the island. For his part he wished to live thousands
of years and to enjoy life. He set himself up in business, and for the
present never even dreamed of going back to his native land.
years went by, however, things did not go as smoothly as at first. He
had heavy losses in business, and several times some affairs went wrong
with his neighbors. This caused him great annoyance.
passed like the flight of an arrow for him, for he was busy from
morning till night. Three hundred years went by in this monotonous way,
and then at last he began to grow tired of life in this country, and he
longed to see his own land and his old home. However long he lived
here, life would always be the game, so was it not foolish and
wearisome to stay on here forever?
in his wish to escape from the country of Perpetual Life, recollected
Jofuku, who had helped him before when he was wishing to escape from
death—and he prayed to the saint to bring him back to his own
sooner did he pray than the paper crane popped out of his pocket.
Sentaro was amazed to see that it had remained undamaged after all
these years. Once more the bird grew and grew till it was large enough
for him to mount it. As he did so, the bird spread its wings and flew,
swiftly out across the sea in the direction of Japan.
was the willfulness of the man's nature that he looked back and
regretted all he had left behind. He tried to stop the bird in vain.
The crane held on its way for thousands of miles across the ocean.
a storm came on, and the wonderful paper crane got damp, crumpled up,
and fell into the sea. Sentaro fell with it. Very much frightened at
the thought of being drowned, he cried out loudly to Jofuku to save
him. He looked round, but there was no ship in sight. He swallowed a
quantity of sea-water, which only increased his miserable plight. While
he was thus struggling to keep himself afloat, he saw a monstrous shark
swimming towards him. As it came nearer it opened its huge mouth ready
to devour him. Sentaro was all but paralyzed with fear now that he felt
his end so near, and screamed out as loudly as ever he could to Jofuku
to come and rescue him.
and behold, Sentaro was awakened by his own screams, to find that
during his long prayer he had fallen asleep before the shrine, and that
all his extraordinary and frightful adventures had been only a wild
dream. He was in a cold perspiration with fright, and utterly
a bright light came towards him, and in the light stood a messenger.
The messenger held a book in his hand, and spoke to Sentaro:
am sent to you by Jofuku, who in answer to your prayer, has permitted
you in a dream to see the land of Perpetual Life. But you grew weary of
living there, and begged to be allowed to return to your native land so
that you might die. Jofuku, so that he might try you, allowed you to
drop into the sea, and then sent a shark to swallow you up. Your desire
for death was not real, for even at that moment you cried out loudly
and shouted for help."
is also vain for you to wish to become a hermit, or to find the Elixir
of Life. These things are not for such as you—your life is not
enough. It is best for you to go back to your paternal home, and to
live a good and industrious life. Never neglect to keep the
anniversaries of your ancestors, and make it your duty to provide for
your children's future. Thus will you live to a good old age and be
happy, but give up the vain desire to escape death, for no man can do
that, and by this time you have surely found out that even when selfish
desires are granted they do not bring happiness."
this book I give you there are many precepts good for you to
you study them, you will be guided in the way I have pointed out to
angel disappeared as soon as he had finished speaking, and Sentaro took
the lesson to heart. With the book in his hand he returned to his old
home, and giving up all his old vain wishes, tried to live a good and
useful life and to observe the lessons taught him in the book, and he
and his house prospered henceforth.
THE BAMBOO-CUTTER AND THE MOON-CHILD.
long ago, there lived an old bamboo wood-cutter. He was very poor and
sad also, for no child had Heaven sent to cheer his old age, and in his
heart there was no hope of rest from work till he died and was laid in
the quiet grave. Every morning he went forth into the woods and hills
wherever the bamboo reared its lithe green plumes against the sky. When
he had made his choice, he would cut down these feathers of the forest,
and splitting them lengthwise, or cutting them into joints, would carry
the bamboo wood home and make it into various articles for the
household, and he and his old wife gained a small livelihood by selling
morning as usual he had gone out to his work, and having found a nice
clump of bamboos, had set to work to cut some of them down. Suddenly
the green grove of bamboos was flooded with a bright soft light, as if
the full moon had risen over the spot. Looking round in astonishment,
he saw that the brilliance was streaming from one bamboo. The old man,
full of wonder, dropped his ax and went towards the light. On nearer
approach he saw that this soft splendor came from a hollow in the green
bamboo stem, and still more wonderful to behold, in the midst of the
brilliance stood a tiny human being, only three inches in height, and
exquisitely beautiful in appearance.
must be sent to be my child, for I find you here among the bamboos
where lies my daily work," said the old man, and taking the little
creature in his hand he took it home to his wife to bring up. The tiny
girl was so exceedingly beautiful and so small, that the old woman put
her into a basket to safeguard her from the least possibility of being
hurt in any way.
old couple were now very happy, for it had been a lifelong regret that
they had no children of their own, and with joy they now expended all
the love of their old age on the little child who had come to them in
so marvelous a manner.
this time on, the old man often found gold in the notches of the
bamboos when he hewed them down and cut them up; not only gold, but
precious stones also, so that by degrees he became rich. He built
himself a fine house, and was no longer known as the poor bamboo
woodcutter, but as a wealthy man.
months passed quickly away, and in that time the bamboo child had,
wonderful to say, become a full-grown girl, so her foster-parents did
up her hair and dressed her in beautiful kimonos. She was of such
wondrous beauty that they placed her behind the screens like a
princess, and allowed no one to see her, waiting upon her themselves.
It seemed as if she were made of light, for the house was filled with a
soft shining, so that even in the dark of night it was like daytime.
Her presence seemed to have a benign influence on those there. Whenever
the old man felt sad, he had only to look upon his foster-daughter and
his sorrow vanished, and he became as happy as when he was a youth.
last the day came for the naming of their new-found child, so the old
couple called in a celebrated name-giver, and he gave her the name of
Princess Moonlight, because her body gave forth so much soft bright
light that she might have been a daughter of the Moon God.
three days the festival was kept up with song and dance and music. All
the friends and relations of the old couple were present, and great was
their enjoyment of the festivities held to celebrate the naming of
Princess Moonlight. Everyone who saw her declared that there never had
been seen any one so lovely; all the beauties throughout the length and
breadth of the land would grow pale beside her, so they said. The fame
of the Princess's loveliness spread far and wide, and many were the
suitors who desired to win her hand, or even so much as to see her.
from far and near posted themselves outside the house, and made little
holes in the fence, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Princess
as she went from one room to the other along the veranda. They stayed
there day and night, sacrificing even their sleep for a chance of
seeing her, but all in vain. Then they approached the house, and tried
to speak to the old man and his wife or some of the servants, but not
even this was granted them.
in spite of all this disappointment they stayed on day after day, and
night after night, and counted it as nothing, so great was their desire
to see the Princess.
last, however, most of the men, seeing how hopeless their quest was,
lost heart and hope both, and returned to their homes. All except five
Knights, whose ardor and determination, instead of waning, seemed to
wax greater with obstacles. These five men even went without their
meals, and took snatches of whatever they could get brought to them, so
that they might always stand outside the dwelling. They stood there in
all weathers, in sunshine and in rain.
they wrote letters to the Princess, but no answer was vouchsafed to
them. Then when letters failed to draw any reply, they wrote poems to
her telling her of the hopeless love which kept them from sleep, from
food, from rest, and even from their homes. Still Princes Moonlight
gave no sign of having received their verses.
this hopeless state the winter passed. The snow and frost and the cold
winds gradually gave place to the gentle warmth of spring. Then the
summer came, and the sun burned white and scorching in the heavens
above and on the earth beneath, and still these faithful Knights kept
watch and waited. At the end of these long months they called out to
the old bamboo-cutter and entreated him to have some mercy upon them
and to show them the Princess, but he answered only that as he was not
her real father he could not insist on her obeying him against her
five Knights on receiving this stern answer returned to their several
homes, and pondered over the best means of touching the proud
Princess's heart, even so much as to grant them a hearing. They took
their rosaries in hand and knelt before their household shrines, and
burned precious incense, praying to Buddha to give them their heart's
desire. Thus several days passed, but even so they could not rest in
again they set out for the bamboo-cutter's house. This time the old man
came out to see them, and they asked him to let them know if it was the
Princess's resolution never to see any man whatsoever, and they
implored him to speak for them and to tell her the greatness of their
love, and how long they had waited through the cold of winter and the
heat of summer, sleepless and roofless through all weathers, without
food and without rest, in the ardent hope of winning her, and they were
willing to consider this long vigil as pleasure if she would but give
them one chance of pleading their cause with her.
old man lent a willing ear to their tale of love, for in his inmost
heart he felt sorry for these faithful suitors and would have liked to
see his lovely foster-daughter married to one of them. So he went in to
Princess Moonlight and said reverently:
you have always seemed to me to be a heavenly being, yet I have had the
trouble of bringing you up as my own child and you have been glad of
the protection of my roof. Will you refuse to do as I wish?"
Princess Moonlight replied that there was nothing she would not do for
him, that she honored and loved him as her own father, and that as for
herself she could not remember the time before she came to earth.
old man listened with great joy as she spoke these dutiful words. Then
he told her how anxious he was to see her safely and happily married
before he died.
am an old man, over seventy years of age, and my end may come any time
now. It is necessary and right that you should see these five suitors
and choose one of them."
why," said the Princess in distress, "must I do this? I have no wish to
found you," answered the old man, "many years ago, when you were a
little creature three inches high, in the midst of a great white light.
The light streamed from the bamboo in which you were hid and led me to
you. So I have always thought that you were more than mortal woman.
While I am alive it is right for you to remain as you are if you wish
to do so, but some day I shall cease to be and who will take care of
you then? Therefore I pray you to meet these five brave men one at a
time and make up your mind to marry one of them!"
the Princess answered that she felt sure that she was not as beautiful
as perhaps report made her out to be, and that even if she consented to
marry any one of them, not really knowing her before, his heart might
change afterwards. So as she did not feel sure of them, even though her
father told her they were worthy Knights, she did not feel it wise to
you say is very reasonable," said the old man, "but what kind of men
will you consent to see? I do not call these five men who have waited
on you for months, light-hearted. They have stood outside this house
through the winter and the summer, often denying themselves food and
sleep so that they may win you. What more can you demand?"
Princess Moonlight said she must make further trial of their love
before she would grant their request to interview her. The five
warriors were to prove their love by each bringing her from distant
countries something that she desired to possess.
same evening the suitors arrived and began to play their flutes in
turn, and to sing their self-composed songs telling of their great and
tireless love. The bamboo-cutter went out to them and offered them his
sympathy for all they had endured and all the patience they had shown
in their desire to win his foster-daughter. Then he gave them her
message, that she would consent to marry whosoever was successful in
bringing her what she wanted. This was to test them.
five all accepted the trial, and thought it an excellent plan, for it
would prevent jealousy between them.
Moonlight then sent word to the First Knight that she requested him to
bring her the stone bowl which had belonged to Buddha in India.
Second Knight was asked to go to the Mountain of Horai, said to be
situated in the Eastern Sea, and to bring her a branch of the wonderful
tree that grew on its summit. The roots of this tree were of silver,
the trunk of gold, and the branches bore as fruit white jewels.
Third Knight was told to go to China and search for the fire-rat and to
bring her its skin.
Fourth Knight was told to search for the dragon that carried on its
head the stone radiating five colors and to bring the stone to her.
Fifth Knight was to find the swallow which carried a shell in its
stomach and to bring the shell to her.
old man thought these very hard tasks and hesitated to carry the
messages, but the Princess would make no other conditions. So her
commands were issued word for word to the five men who, when they heard
what was required of them, were all disheartened and disgusted at what
seemed to them the impossibility of the tasks given them and returned
to their own homes in despair.
after a time, when they thought of the Princess, the love in their
hearts revived for her, and they resolved to make an attempt to get
what she desired of them.
First Knight sent word to the Princess that he was starting out that
day on the quest of Buddha's bowl, and he hoped soon to bring it to
her. But he had not the courage to go all the way to India, for in
those days traveling was very difficult and full of danger, so he went
to one of the temples in Kyoto and took a stone bowl from the altar
there, paying the priest a large sum of money for it. He then wrapped
it in a cloth of gold and, waiting quietly for three years, returned
and carried it to the old man.
Moonlight wondered that the Knight should have returned so soon. She
took the bowl from its gold wrapping, expecting it to make the room
full of light, but it did not shine at all, so she knew that it was a
sham thing and not the true bowl of Buddha. She returned it at once and
refused to see him. The Knight threw the bowl away and returned to his
home in despair. He gave up now all hopes of ever winning the Princess.
Second Knight told his parents that he needed change of air for his
health, for he was ashamed to tell them that love for the Princess
Moonlight was the real cause of his leaving them. He then left his
home, at the same time sending word to the Princess that he was setting
out for Mount Horai in the hope of getting her a branch of the gold and
silver tree which she so much wished to have. He only allowed his
servants to accompany him half-way, and then sent them back. He reached
the seashore and embarked on a small ship, and after sailing away for
three days he landed and employed several carpenters to build him a
house contrived in such a way that no one could get access to it. He
then shut himself up with six skilled jewelers, and endeavored to make
such a gold and silver branch as he thought would satisfy the Princess
as having come from the wonderful tree growing on Mount Horai. Every
one whom he had asked declared that Mount Horai belonged to the land of
fable and not to fact.
the branch was finished, he took his journey home and tried to make
himself look as if he were wearied and worn out with travel. He put the
jeweled branch into a lacquer box and carried it to the bamboo-cutter,
begging him to present it to the Princess.
old man was quite deceived by the travel-stained appearance of the
Knight, and thought that he had only just returned from his long
journey with the branch. So he tried to persuade the Princess to
consent to see the man. But she remained silent and looked very sad.
The old man began to take out the branch and praised it as a wonderful
treasure to be found nowhere in the whole land. Then he spoke of the
Knight, how handsome and how brave he was to have undertaken a journey
to so remote a place as the Mount of Horai.
Moonlight took the branch in her hand and looked at it carefully. She
then told her foster-parent that she knew it was impossible for the man
to have obtained a branch from the gold and silver tree growing on
Mount Horai so quickly or so easily, and she was sorry to say she
believed it artificial.
old man then went out to the expectant Knight, who had now approached
the house, and asked where he had found the branch. Then the man did
not scruple to make up a long story.
years ago I took a ship and started in search of Mount Horai. After
going before the wind for some time I reached the far Eastern Sea. Then
a great storm arose and I was tossed about for many days, losing all
count of the points of the compass, and finally we were blown ashore on
an unknown island. Here I found the place inhabited by demons who at
one time threatened to kill and eat me. However, I managed to make
friends with these horrible creatures, and they helped me and my
sailors to repair the boat, and I set sail again. Our food gave out,
and we suffered much from sickness on board. At last, on the
five-hundredth day from the day of starting, I saw far off on the
horizon what looked like the peak of a mountain. On nearer approach,
this proved to be an island, in the center of which rose a high
mountain. I landed, and after wandering about for two or three days, I
saw a shining being coming towards me on the beach, holding in his
hands a golden bowl. I went up to him and asked him if I had, by good
chance, found the island of Mount Horai, and he answered:"
this is Mount Horai!'"
much difficulty I climbed to the summit, here stood the golden tree
growing with silver roots in the ground. The wonders of that strange
land are many, and if I began to tell you about them I could never
stop. In spite of my wish to stay there long, on breaking off the
branch I hurried back. With utmost speed it has taken me four hundred
days to get back, and, as you see, my clothes are still damp from
exposure on the long sea voyage. I have not even waited to change my
raiment, so anxious was I to bring the branch to the Princess quickly."
at this moment the six jewelers, who had been employed on the making of
the branch, but not yet paid by the Knight, arrived at the house and
sent in a petition to the Princess to be paid for their labor. They
said that they had worked for over a thousand days making the branch of
gold, with its silver twigs and its jeweled fruit, that was now
presented to her by the Knight, but as yet they had received nothing in
payment. So this Knight's deception was thus found out, and the
Princess, glad of an escape from one more importunate suitor, was only
too pleased to send back the branch. She called in the workmen and had
them paid liberally, and they went away happy. But on the way home they
were overtaken by the disappointed man, who beat them till they were
nearly dead, for letting out the secret, and they barely escaped with
their lives. The Knight then returned home, raging in his heart; and in
despair of ever winning the Princess gave up society and retired to a
solitary life among the mountains.
the Third Knight had a friend in China, so he wrote to him to get the
skin of the fire-rat. The virtue of any part of this animal was that no
fire could harm it. He promised his friend any amount of money he liked
to ask if only he could get him the desired article. As soon as the
news came that the ship on which his friend had sailed home had come
into port, he rode seven days on horseback to meet him. He handed his
friend a large sum of money, and received the fire-rat's skin. When he
reached home he put it carefully in a box and sent it in to the
Princess while he waited outside for her answer.
bamboo-cutter took the box from the Knight and, as usual, carried it in
to her and tried to coax her to see the Knight at once, but Princess
Moonlight refused, saying that she must first put the skin to test by
putting it into the fire. If it were the real thing it would not burn.
So she took off the crape wrapper and opened the box, and then threw
the skin into the fire. The skin crackled and burnt up at once, and the
Princess knew that this man also had not fulfilled his word. So the
Third Knight failed also.
the Fourth Knight was no more enterprising than the rest. Instead of
starting out on the quest of the dragon bearing on its head the
five-color-radiating jewel, he called all his servants together and
gave them the order to seek for it far and wide in Japan and in China,
and he strictly forbade any of them to return till they had found it.
numerous retainers and servants started out in different directions,
with no intention, however, of obeying what they considered an
impossible order. They simply took a holiday, went to pleasant country
places together, and grumbled at their master's unreasonableness.
Knight meanwhile, thinking that his retainers could not fail to find
the jewel, repaired to his house, and fitted it up beautifully for the
reception of the Princess, he felt so sure of winning her.
year passed away in weary waiting, and still his men did not return
with the dragon-jewel. The Knight became desperate. He could wait no
longer, so taking with him only two men he hired a ship and commanded
the captain to go in search of the dragon; the captain and the sailors
refused to undertake what they said was an absurd search, but the
Knight compelled them at last to put out to sea.
they had been but a few days out they encountered a great storm which
lasted so long that, by the time its fury abated, the Knight had
determined to give up the hunt of the dragon. They were at last blown
on shore, for navigation was primitive in those days. Worn out with his
travels and anxiety, the fourth suitor gave himself up to rest. He had
caught a very heavy cold, and had to go to bed with a swollen face.
governor of the place, hearing of his plight, sent messengers with a
letter inviting him to his house. While he was there thinking over all
his troubles, his love for the Princess turned to anger, and he blamed
her for all the hardships he had undergone. He thought that it was
quite probable she had wished to kill him so that she might be rid of
him, and in order to carry out her wish had sent him upon his
this point all the servants he had sent out to find the jewel came to
see him, and were surprised to find praise instead of displeasure
awaiting them. Their master told them that he was heartily sick of
adventure, and said that he never intended to go near the Princess's
house again in the future.
all the rest, the Fifth Knight failed in his quest—he could not
find the swallow's shell.
this time the fame of Princess Moonlight's beauty had reached the ears
of the Emperor, and he sent one of the Court ladies to see if she were
really as lovely as report said; if so he would summon her to the
Palace and make her one of the ladies-in-waiting.
the Court lady arrived, in spite of her father's entreaties, Princess
Moonlight refused to see her. The Imperial messenger insisted, saying
it was the Emperor's order. Then Princess Moonlight told the old man
that if she was forced to go to the Palace in obedience to the
Emperor's order, she would vanish from the earth.
the Emperor was told of her persistence in refusing to obey his
summons, and that if pressed to obey she would disappear altogether
from sight, he determined to go and see her. So he planned to go on a
hunting excursion in the neighborhood of the bamboo-cutter's house, and
see the Princess himself. He sent word to the old man of his intention,
and he received consent to the scheme. The next day the Emperor set out
with his retinue, which he soon managed to outride. He found the
bamboo-cutter's house and dismounted. He then entered the house and
went straight to where the Princess was sitting with her attendant
had he seen any one so wonderfully beautiful, and he could not but look
at her, for she was more lovely than any human being as she shone in
her own soft radiance. When Princess Moonlight became aware that a
stranger was looking at her she tried to escape from the room, but the
Emperor caught her and begged her to listen to what he had to say. Her
only answer was to hide her face in her sleeves.
Emperor fell deeply in love with her, and begged her to come to the
Court, where he would give her a position of honor and everything she
could wish for. He was about to send for one of the Imperial palanquins
to take her back with him at once, saying that her grace and beauty
should adorn a Court, and not be hidden in a bamboo-cutter's cottage.
the Princess stopped him. She said that if she were forced to go to the
Palace she would turn at once into a shadow, and even as she spoke she
began to lose her form. Her figure faded from his sight while he looked.
Emperor then promised to leave her free if only she would resume her
former shape, which she did.
was now time for him to return, for his retinue would be wondering what
had happened to their Royal master when they missed him for so long. So
he bade her good-by, and left the house with a sad heart. Princess
Moonlight was for him the most beautiful woman in the world; all others
were dark beside her, and he thought of her night and day. His Majesty
now spent much of his time in writing poems, telling her of his love
and devotion, and sent them to her, and though she refused to see him
again she answered with many verses of her own composing, which told
him gently and kindly that she could never marry any one on this earth.
These little songs always gave him pleasure.
this time her foster-parents noticed that night after night the
Princess would sit on her balcony and gaze for hours at the moon, in a
spirit of the deepest dejection, ending always in a burst of tears. One
night the old man found her thus weeping as if her heart were broken,
and he besought her to tell him the reason of her sorrow.
many tears she told him that he had guessed rightly when he supposed
her not to belong to this world—that she had in truth come from
moon, and that her time on earth would soon be over. On the fifteenth
day of that very month of August her friends from the moon would come
to fetch her, and she would have to return. Her parents were both
there, but having spent a lifetime on the earth she had forgotten them,
and also the moon-world to which she belonged. It made her weep, she
said, to think of leaving her kind foster-parents, and the home where
she had been happy for so long.
her attendants heard this they were very sad, and could not eat or
drink for sadness at the thought that the Princess was so soon to leave
Emperor, as soon as the news was carried to him, sent messengers to the
house to find out if the report were true or not.
old bamboo-cutter went out to meet the Imperial messengers. The last
few days of sorrow had told upon the old man; he had aged greatly, and
looked much more than his seventy years. Weeping bitterly, he told them
that the report was only too true, but he intended, however, to make
prisoners of the envoys from the moon, and to do all he could to
prevent the Princess from being carried back.
men returned and told His Majesty all that had passed. On the fifteenth
day of that month the Emperor sent a guard of two thousand warriors to
watch the house. One thousand stationed themselves on the roof, another
thousand kept watch round all the entrances of the house. All were well
trained archers, with bows and arrows. The bamboo-cutter and his wife
hid Princess Moonlight in an inner room.
old man gave orders that no one was to sleep that night, all in the
house were to keep a strict watch, and be ready to protect the
Princess. With these precautions, and the help of the Emperor's
men-at-arms, he hoped to withstand the moon-messengers, but the
Princess told him that all these measures to keep her would be useless,
and that when her people came for her nothing whatever could prevent
them from carrying out their purpose. Even the Emperors men would be
powerless. Then she added with tears that she was very, very sorry to
leave him and his wife, whom she had learned to love as her parents,
that if she could do as she liked she would stay with them in their old
age, and try to make some return for all the love and kindness they had
showered upon her during all her earthly life.
night wore on! The yellow harvest moon rose high in the heavens,
flooding the world asleep with her golden light. Silence reigned over
the pine and the bamboo forests, and on the roof where the thousand
the night grew gray towards the dawn and all hoped that the danger was
over—that Princess Moonlight would not have to leave them after
Then suddenly the watchers saw a cloud form round the moon—and
they looked this cloud began to roll earthwards. Nearer and nearer it
came, and every one saw with dismay that its course lay towards the
a short time the sky was entirely obscured, till at last the cloud lay
over the dwelling only ten feet off the ground. In the midst of the
cloud there stood a flying chariot, and in the chariot a band of
luminous beings. One amongst them who looked like a king and appeared
to be the chief stepped out of the chariot, and, poised in air, called
to the old man to come out.
time has come," he said, "for Princess Moonlight to return to the moon
from whence she came. She committed a grave fault, and as a punishment
was sent to live down here for a time. We know what good care you have
taken of the Princess, and we have rewarded you for this and have sent
you wealth and prosperity. We put the gold in the bamboos for you to
have brought up this Princess for twenty years and never once has she
done a wrong thing, therefore the lady you are seeking cannot be this
one," said the old man. "I pray you to look elsewhere."
the messenger called aloud, saying:
Moonlight, come out from this lowly dwelling. Rest not here another
these words the screens of the Princess's room slid open of their own
accord, revealing the Princess shining in her own radiance, bright and
wonderful and full of beauty.
messenger led her forth and placed her in the chariot. She looked back,
and saw with pity the deep sorrow of the old man. She spoke to him many
comforting words, and told him that it was not her will to leave him
and that he must always think of her when looking at the moon.
bamboo-cutter implored to be allowed to accompany her, but this was not
allowed. The Princess took off her embroidered outer garment and gave
it to him as a keepsake.
of the moon beings in the chariot held a wonderful coat of wings,
another had a phial full of the Elixir of Life which was given the
Princess to drink. She swallowed a little and was about to give the
rest to the old man, but she was prevented from doing so.
robe of wings was about to be put upon her shoulders, but she said:
a little. I must not forget my good friend the Emperor. I must write
him once more to say good-by while still in this human form."
spite of the impatience of the messengers and charioteers she kept them
waiting while she wrote. She placed the phial of the Elixir of Life
with the letter, and, giving them to the old man, she asked him to
deliver them to the Emperor.
the chariot began to roll heavenwards towards the moon, and as they all
gazed with tearful eyes at the receding Princess, the dawn broke, and
in the rosy light of day the moon-chariot and all in it were lost
amongst the fleecy clouds that were now wafted across the sky on the
wings of the morning wind.
Moonlight's letter was carried to the Palace. His Majesty was afraid to
touch the Elixir of Life, so he sent it with the letter to the top of
the most sacred mountain in the land. Mount Fuji, and there the Royal
emissaries burnt it on the summit at sunrise. So to this day people say
there is smoke to be seen rising from the top of Mount Fuji to the
THE MIRROR OF MATSUYAMA
A STORY OF OLD JAPAN.
years ago in old Japan there lived in the Province of Echigo, a very
remote part of Japan even in these days, a man and his wife. When this
story begins they had been married for some years and were blessed with
one little daughter. She was the joy and pride of both their lives, and
in her they stored an endless source of happiness for their old age.
golden letter days in their memory were these that had marked her
growing up from babyhood; the visit to the temple when she was just
thirty days old, her proud mother carrying her, robed in ceremonial
kimono, to be put under the patronage of the family's household god;
then her first dolls festival, when her parents gave her a set of
dolls' and their miniature belongings, to be added to as year succeeded
year; and perhaps the most important occasion of all, on her third
birthday, when her first OBI (broad brocade sash) of scarlet and gold
was tied round her small waist, a sign that she had crossed the
threshold of girlhood and left infancy behind. Now that she was seven
years of age, and had learned to talk and to wait upon her parents in
those several little ways so dear to the hearts of fond parents, their
cup of happiness seemed full. There could not be found in the whole of
the Island Empire a happier little family.
day there was much excitement in the home, for the father had been
suddenly summoned to the capital on business. In these days of railways
and jinrickshas and other rapid modes of traveling, it is difficult to
realize what such a journey as that from Matsuyama to Kyoto meant. The
roads were rough and bad, and ordinary people had to walk every step of
the way, whether the distance were one hundred or several hundred
miles. Indeed, in those days it was as great an undertaking to go up to
the capital as it is for a Japanese to make a voyage to Europe now.
the wife was very anxious while she helped her husband get ready for
the long journey, knowing what an arduous task lay before him. Vainly
she wished that she could accompany him, but the distance was too great
for the mother and child to go, and besides that, it was the wife's
duty to take care of the home.
was ready at last, and the husband stood in the porch with his little
family round him.
not be anxious, I will come back soon," said the man. "While I am away
take care of everything, and especially of our little daughter."
we shall be all right—but you—you must take care of
yourself and delay
not a day in coming back to us," said the wife, while the tears fell
like rain from her eyes.
little girl was the only one to smile, for she was ignorant of the
sorrow of parting, and did not know that going to the capital was at
all different from walking to the next village, which her father did
very often. She ran to his side, and caught hold of his long sleeve to
keep him a moment.
I will be very good while I am waiting for you to come back, so please
bring me a present."
the father turned to take a last look at his weeping wife and smiling,
eager child, he felt as if some one were pulling him back by the hair,
so hard was it for him to leave them behind, for they had never been
separated before. But he knew that he must go, for the call was
imperative. With a great effort he ceased to think, and resolutely
turning away he went quickly down the little garden and out through the
gate. His wife, catching up the child in her arms, ran as far as the
gate, and watched him as he went down the road between the pines till
he was lost in the haze of the distance and all she could see was his
quaint peaked hat, and at last that vanished too.
father has gone, you and I must take care of everything till he comes
back," said the mother, as she made her way back to the house.
I will be very good," said the child, nodding her head, "and when
father comes home please tell him how good I have been, and then
perhaps he will give me a present."
is sure to bring you something that you want very much. I know, for I
asked him to bring you a doll. You must think of father every day, and
pray for a safe journey till he comes back."
yes, when he comes home again how happy I shall be," said the child,
clapping her hands, and her face growing bright with joy at the glad
thought. It seemed to the mother as she looked at the child's face that
her love for her grew deeper and deeper.
she set to work to make the winter clothes for the three of them. She
set up her simple wooden spinning-wheel and spun the thread before she
began to weave the stuffs. In the intervals of her work she directed
the little girl's games and taught her to read the old stories of her
country. Thus did the wife find consolation in work during the lonely
days of her husband's absence. While the time was thus slipping quickly
by in the quiet home, the husband finished his business and returned.
would have been difficult for any one who did not know the man well to
recognize him. He had traveled day after day, exposed to all weathers,
for about a month altogether, and was sunburnt to bronze, but his fond
wife and child knew him at a glance, and flew to meet him from either
side, each catching hold of one of his sleeves in their eager greeting.
Both the man and his wife rejoiced to find each other well. It seemed a
very long time to all till—the mother and child helping—his
sandals were untied, his large umbrella hat taken off, and he was again
in their midst in the old familiar sitting-room that had been so empty
while he was away.
soon as they had sat down on the white mats, the father opened a bamboo
basket that he had brought in with him, and took out a beautiful doll
and a lacquer box full of cakes.
he said to the little girl, "is a present for you. It is a prize for
taking care of mother and the house so well while I was away."
you," said the child, as she bowed her head to the ground, and then put
out her hand just like a little maple leaf with its eager wide-spread
fingers to take the doll and the box, both of which, coming from the
capital, were prettier than anything she had ever seen. No words can
tell how delighted the little girl was—her face seemed as if it
melt with joy, and she had no eyes and no thought for anything else.
the husband dived into the basket, and brought out this time a square
wooden box, carefully tied up with red and white string, and handing it
to his wife, said:
this is for you."
wife took the box, and opening it carefully took out a metal disk with
a handle attached. One side was bright and shining like a crystal, and
the other was covered with raised figures of pine-trees and storks,
which had been carved out of its smooth surface in lifelike reality.
Never had she seen such a thing in her life, for she had been born and
bred in the rural province of Echigo. She gazed into the shining disk,
and looking up with surprise and wonder pictured on her face, she said:
see somebody looking at me in this round thing! What is it that you
have given me?"
husband laughed and said:
it is your own face that you see. What I have brought you is called a
mirror, and whoever looks into its clear surface can see their own form
reflected there. Although there are none to be found in this out of the
way place, yet they have been in use in the capital from the most
ancient times. There the mirror is considered a very necessary
requisite for a woman to possess. There is an old proverb that 'As the
sword is the soul of a samurai, so is the mirror the soul of a woman,'
and according to popular tradition, a woman's mirror is an index to her
own heart—if she keeps it bright and clear, so is her heart pure
good. It is also one of the treasures that form the insignia of the
Emperor. So you must lay great store by your mirror, and use it
wife listened to all her husband told her, and was pleased at learning
so much that was new to her. She was still more pleased at the precious
gift—his token of remembrance while he had been away.
the mirror represents my soul, I shall certainly treasure it as a
valuable possession, and never will I use it carelessly." Saying so,
she lifted it as high as her forehead, in grateful acknowledgment of
the gift, and then shut it up in its box and put it away.
wife saw that her husband was very tired, and set about serving the
evening meal and making everything as comfortable as she could for him.
It seemed to the little family as if they had not known what true
happiness was before, so glad were they to be together again, and this
evening the father had much to tell of his journey and of all he had
seen at the great capital.
passed away in the peaceful home, and the parents saw their fondest
hopes realized as their daughter grew from childhood into a beautiful
girl of sixteen. As a gem of priceless value is held in its proud
owner's hand, so had they reared her with unceasing love and care: and
now their pains were more than doubly rewarded. What a comfort she was
to her mother as she went about the house taking her part in the
housekeeping, and how proud her father was of her, for she daily
reminded him of her mother when he had first married her.
alas! in this world nothing lasts forever. Even the moon is not always
perfect in shape, but loses its roundness with time, and flowers bloom
and then fade. So at last the happiness of this family was broken up by
a great sorrow. The good and gentle wife and mother was one day taken
the first days of her illness the father and daughter thought that it
was only a cold, and were not particularly anxious. But the days went
by and still the mother did not get better; she only grew worse, and
the doctor was puzzled, for in spite of all he did the poor woman grew
weaker day by day. The father and daughter were stricken with grief,
and day or night the girl never left her mother's side. But in spite of
all their efforts the woman's life was not to be saved.
day as the girl sat near her mother's bed, trying to hide with a cheery
smile the gnawing trouble at her heart, the mother roused herself and
taking her daughter's hand, gazed earnestly and lovingly into her eyes.
Her breath was labored and she spoke with difficulty:
daughter. I am sure that nothing can save me now. When I am dead,
promise me to take care of your dear father and to try to be a good and
mother," said the girl as the tears rushed to her eyes, "you must not
say such things. All you have to do is to make haste and get
will bring the greatest happiness to father and myself."
I know, and it is a comfort to me in my last days to know how greatly
you long for me to get better, but it is not to be. Do not look so
sorrowful, for it was so ordained in my previous state of existence
that I should die in this life just at this time; knowing this, I am
quite resigned to my fate. And now I have something to give you whereby
to remember me when I am gone."
her hand out, she took from the side of the pillow a square wooden box
tied up with a silken cord and tassels. Undoing this very carefully,
she took out of the box the mirror that her husband had given her years
you were still a little child your father went up to the capital and
brought me back as a present this treasure; it is called a mirror. This
I give you before I die. If, after I have ceased to be in this life,
you are lonely and long to see me sometimes, then take out this mirror
and in the clear and shining surface you will always see me—so
be able to meet with me often and tell me all your heart; and though I
shall not be able to speak, I shall understand and sympathize with you,
whatever may happen to you in the future." With these words the dying
woman handed the mirror to her daughter.
mind of the good mother seemed to be now at rest, and sinking back
without another word her spirit passed quietly away that day.
bereaved father and daughter were wild with grief, and they abandoned
themselves to their bitter sorrow. They felt it to be impossible to
take leave of the loved woman who till now had filled their whole lives
and to commit her body to the earth. But this frantic burst of grief
passed, and then they took possession of their own hearts again,
crushed though they were in resignation. In spite of this the
daughter's life seemed to her desolate. Her love for her dead mother
did not grow less with time, and so keen was her remembrance, that
everything in daily life, even the falling of the rain and the blowing
of the wind, reminded her of her mother's death and of all that they
had loved and shared together. One day when her father was out, and she
was fulfilling her household duties alone, her loneliness and sorrow
seemed more than she could bear. She threw herself down in her mother's
room and wept as if her heart would break. Poor child, she longed just
for one glimpse of the loved face, one sound of the voice calling her
pet name, or for one moment's forgetfulness of the aching void in her
heart. Suddenly she sat up. Her mother's last words had rung through
her memory hitherto dulled by grief.
my mother told me when she gave me the mirror as a parting gift, that
whenever I looked into it I should be able to meet her—to see
had nearly forgotten her last words—how stupid I am; I will get
mirror now and see if it can possibly be true!"
dried her eyes quickly, and going to the cupboard took out the box that
contained the mirror, her heart beating with expectation as she lifted
the mirror out and gazed into its smooth face. Behold, her mother's
words were true! In the round mirror before her she saw her mother's
face; but, oh, the joyful surprise! It was not her mother thin and
wasted by illness, but the young and beautiful woman as she remembered
her far back in the days of her own earliest childhood. It seemed to
the girl that the face in the mirror must soon speak, almost that she
heard the voice of her mother telling her again to grow up a good woman
and a dutiful daughter, so earnestly did the eyes in the mirror look
back into her own.
is certainly my mother's soul that I see. She knows how miserable I am
without her and she has come to comfort me. Whenever I long to see her
she will meet me here; how grateful I ought to be!"
from this time the weight of sorrow was greatly lightened for her young
heart. Every morning, to gather strength for the day's duties before
her, and every evening, for consolation before she lay down to rest,
did the young girl take out the mirror and gaze at the reflection which
in the simplicity of her innocent heart she believed to be her mother's
soul. Daily she grew in the likeness of her dead mother's character,
and was gentle and kind to all, and a dutiful daughter to her father.
year spent in mourning had thus passed away in the little household,
when, by the advice of his relations, the man married again, and the
daughter now found herself under the authority of a step-mother. It was
a trying position; but her days spent in the recollection of her own
beloved mother, and of trying to be what that mother would wish her to
be, had made the young girl docile and patient, and she now determined
to be filial and dutiful to her father's wife, in all respects.
Everything went on apparently smoothly in the family for some time
under the new regime; there were no winds or waves of discord to ruffle
the surface of every-day life, and the father was content.
it is a woman's danger to be petty and mean, and step-mothers are
proverbial all the world over, and this one's heart was not as her
first smiles were. As the days and weeks grew into months, the
step-mother began to treat the motherless girl unkindly and to try and
come between the father and child.
she went to her husband and complained of her step-daughter's behavior,
but the father knowing that this was to be expected, took no notice of
her ill-natured complaints. Instead of lessening his affection for his
daughter, as the woman desired, her grumblings only made him think of
her the more. The woman soon saw that he began to show more concern for
his lonely child than before. This did not please her at all, and she
began to turn over in her mind how she could, by some means or other,
drive her step-child out of the house. So crooked did the woman's heart
watched the girl carefully, and one day peeping into her room in the
early morning, she thought she discovered a grave enough sin of which
to accuse the child to her father. The woman herself was a little
frightened too at what she had seen.
she went at once to her husband, and wiping away some false tears she
said in a sad voice:
give me permission to leave you today."
man was completely taken by surprise at the suddenness of her request,
and wondered whatever was the matter.
you find it so disagreeable," he asked, "in my house, that you can stay
no! it has nothing to do with you—even in my dreams I have never
thought that I wished to leave your side; but if I go on living here I
am in danger of losing my life, so I think it best for all concerned
that you should allow me to go home!"
the woman began to weep afresh. Her husband, distressed to see her so
unhappy, and thinking that he could not have heard aright, said:
me what you mean! How is your life in danger here?"
will tell you since you ask me. Your daughter dislikes me as her
step-mother. For some time past she has shut herself up in her room
morning and evening, and looking in as I pass by, I am convinced that
she has made an image of me and is trying to kill me by magic art,
cursing me daily. It is not safe for me to stay here, such being the
case; indeed, indeed, I must go away, we cannot live under the same
roof any more."
husband listened to the dreadful tale, but he could not believe his
gentle daughter guilty of such an evil act. He knew that by popular
superstition people believed that one person could cause the gradual
death of another by making an image of the hated one and cursing it
daily; but where had his young daughter learned such
thing was impossible. Yet he remembered having noticed that his
daughter stayed much in her room of late and kept herself away from
every one, even when visitors came to the house. Putting this fact
together with his wife's alarm, he thought that there might be
something to account for the strange story.
heart was torn between doubting his wife and trusting his child, and he
knew not what to do. He decided to go at once to his daughter and try
to find out the truth. Comforting his wife and assuring her that her
fears were groundless, he glided quietly to his daughter's room.
girl had for a long time past been very unhappy. She had tried by
amiability and obedience to show her goodwill and to mollify the new
wife, and to break down that wall of prejudice and misunderstanding
that she knew generally stood between step-parents and their
step-children. But she soon found that her efforts were in vain. The
step-mother never trusted her, and seemed to misinterpret all her
actions, and the poor child knew very well that she often carried
unkind and untrue tales to her father. She could not help comparing her
present unhappy condition with the time when her own mother was alive
only a little more than a year ago—so great a change in this
time! Morning and evening she wept over the remembrance. Whenever she
could she went to her room, and sliding the screens to, took out the
mirror and gazed, as she thought, at her mother's face. It was the only
comfort that she had in these wretched days.
father found her occupied in this way. Pushing aside the fusama, he saw
her bending over something or other very intently. Looking over her
shoulder, to see who was entering her room, the girl was surprised to
see her father, for he generally sent for her when he wished to speak
to her. She was also confused at being found looking at the mirror, for
she had never told any one of her mother's last promise, but had kept
it as the sacred secret of her heart. So before turning to her father
she slipped the mirror into her long sleeve. Her father noting her
confusion, and her act of hiding something, said in a severe manner:
what are you doing here? And what is that that you have hidden in your
girl was frightened by her father's severity. Never had he spoken to
her in such a tone. Her confusion changed to apprehension, her color
from scarlet to white. She sat dumb and shamefaced, unable to reply.
were certainly against her; the young girl looked guilty, and the
father thinking that perhaps after all what his wife had told him was
true, spoke angrily:
is it really true that you are daily cursing your step-mother and
praying for her death? Have you forgotten what I told you, that
although she is your step-mother you must be obedient and loyal to her?
What evil spirit has taken possession of your heart that you should be
so wicked? You have certainly changed, my daughter! What has made you
so disobedient and unfaithful?"
the father's eyes filled with sudden tears to think that he should have
to upbraid his daughter in this way.
on her part did not know what he meant, for she had never heard of the
superstition that by praying over an image it is possible to cause the
death of a hated person. But she saw that she must speak and clear
herself somehow. She loved her father dearly, and could not bear the
idea of his anger. She put out her hand on his knee deprecatingly:
father! do not say such dreadful things to me. I am still your obedient
child. Indeed, I am. However stupid I may be, I should never be able to
curse any one who belonged to you, much less pray for the death of one
you love. Surely some one has been telling you lies, and you are dazed,
and you know not what you say—or some evil spirit has taken
of YOUR heart. As for me I do not know—no, not so much as a
of the evil thing of which you accuse me."
the father remembered that she had hidden something away when he first
entered the room, and even this earnest protest did not satisfy him. He
wished to clear up his doubts once for all.
why are you always alone in your room these days? And tell me what is
that that you have hidden in your sleeve—show it to me at once."
the daughter, though shy of confessing how she had cherished her
mother's memory, saw that she must tell her father all in order to
clear herself. So she slipped the mirror out from her long sleeve and
laid it before him.
she said, "is what you saw me looking at just now."
he said in great surprise, "this is the mirror that I brought as a gift
to your mother when I went up to the capital many years ago! And so you
have kept it all this time? Now, why do you spend so much of your time
before this mirror?"
she told him of her mother's last words, and of how she had promised to
meet her child whenever she looked into the glass. But still the father
could not understand the simplicity of his daughter's character in not
knowing that what she saw reflected in the mirror was in reality her
own face, and not that of her mother.
do you mean?" he asked. "I do not understand how you can meet the soul
of your lost mother by looking in this mirror?"
is indeed true," said the girl: "and if you don't believe what I say,
look for yourself," and she placed the mirror before her. There,
looking back from the smooth metal disk, was her own sweet face. She
pointed to the reflection seriously:
you doubt me still?" she asked earnestly, looking up into his face.
an exclamation of sudden understanding the father smote his two hands
stupid I am! At last I understand. Your face is as like your mother's
as the two sides of a melon—thus you have looked at the
your face ail this time, thinking that you were brought face to face
with your lost mother! You are truly a faithful child. It seems at
first a stupid thing to have done, but it is not really so, It shows
how deep has been your filial piety, and how innocent your heart.
Living in constant remembrance of your lost mother has helped you to
grow like her in character. How clever it was of her to tell you to do
this. I admire and respect you, my daughter, and I am ashamed to think
that for one instant I believed your suspicious step-mother's story and
suspected you of evil, and came with the intention of scolding you
severely, while all this time you have been so true and good. Before
you I have no countenance left, and I beg you to forgive me."
here the father wept. He thought of how lonely the poor girl must have
been, and of all that she must have suffered under her step-mother's
treatment. His daughter steadfastly keeping her faith and simplicity in
the midst of such adverse circumstances—bearing all her troubles
so much patience and amiability—made him compare her to the lotus
rears its blossom of dazzling beauty out of the slime and mud of the
moats and ponds, fitting emblem of a heart which keeps itself unsullied
while passing through the world.
step-mother, anxious to know what would happen, had all this while been
standing outside the room. She had grown interested, and had gradually
pushed the sliding screen back till she could see all that went on. At
this moment she suddenly entered the room, and dropping to the mats,
she bowed her head over her outspread hands before her step-daughter.
am ashamed! I am ashamed!" she exclaimed in broken tones. "I did not
know what a filial child you were. Through no fault of yours, but with
a step-mother's jealous heart, I have disliked you all the time. Hating
you so much myself, it was but natural that I should think you
reciprocated the feeling, and thus when I saw you retire so often to
your room I followed you, and when I saw you gaze daily into the mirror
for long intervals, I concluded that you had found out how I disliked
you, and that you were out of revenge trying to take my life by magic
art. As long as I live I shall never forget the wrong I have done you
in so misjudging you, and in causing your father to suspect you. From
this day I throw away my old and wicked heart, and in its place I put a
new one, clean and full of repentance. I shall think of you as a child
that I have borne myself. I shall love and cherish you with all my
heart, and thus try to make up for all the unhappiness I have caused
you. Therefore, please throw into the water all that has gone before,
and give me, I beg of you, some of the filial love that you have
hitherto given to your own lost mother."
did the unkind step-mother humble herself and ask forgiveness of the
girl she had so wronged.
was the sweetness of the girl's disposition that she willingly forgave
her step-mother, and never bore a moment's resentment or malice towards
her afterwards. The father saw by his wife's face that she was truly
sorry for the past, and was greatly relieved to see the terrible
misunderstanding wiped out of remembrance by both the wrong-doer and
this time on, the three lived together as happily as fish in water. No
such trouble ever darkened the home again, and the young girl gradually
forgot that year of unhappiness in the tender love and care that her
step-mother now bestowed on her. Her patience and goodness were
rewarded at last.
THE GOBLIN OF ADACHIGAHARA.
long ago there was a large plain called Adachigahara, in the province
of Mutsu in Japan. This place was said to be haunted by a cannibal
goblin who took the form of an old woman. From time to time many
travelers disappeared and were never heard of more, and the old women
round the charcoal braziers in the evenings, and the girls washing the
household rice at the wells in the mornings, whispered dreadful stories
of how the missing folk had been lured to the goblin's cottage and
devoured, for the goblin lived only on human flesh. No one dared to
venture near the haunted spot after sunset, and all those who could,
avoided it in the daytime, and travelers were warned of the dreaded
day as the sun was setting, a priest came to the plain. He was a
belated traveler, and his robe showed that he was a Buddhist pilgrim
walking from shrine to shrine to pray for some blessing or to crave for
forgiveness of sins. He had apparently lost his way, and as it was late
he met no one who could show him the road or warn him of the haunted
had walked the whole day and was now tired and hungry, and the evenings
were chilly, for it was late autumn, and he began to be very anxious to
find some house where he could obtain a night's lodging. He found
himself lost in the midst of the large plain, and looked about in vain
for some sign of human habitation.
last, after wandering about for some hours, he saw a clump of trees in
the distance, and through the trees he caught sight of the glimmer of a
single ray of light. He exclaimed with joy:
surely that is some cottage where I can get a night's lodging!"
the light before his eyes he dragged his weary, aching feet as quickly
as he could towards the spot, and soon came to a miserable-looking
little cottage. As he drew near he saw that it was in a tumble-down
condition, the bamboo fence was broken and weeds and grass pushed their
way through the gaps. The paper screens which serve as windows and
doors in Japan were full of holes, and the posts of the house were bent
with age and seemed scarcely able to support the old thatched roof. The
hut was open, and by the light of an old lantern an old woman sat
pilgrim called to her across the bamboo fence and said:
Baa San (old woman), good evening! I am a traveler! Please excuse me,
but I have lost my way and do not know what to do, for I have nowhere
to rest to-night. I beg you to be good enough to let me spend the night
under your roof."
old woman as soon as she heard herself spoken to stopped spinning, rose
from her seat and approached the intruder.
am very sorry for you. You must indeed be distressed to have lost your
way in such a lonely spot so late at night. Unfortunately I cannot put
you up, for I have no bed to offer you, and no accommodation whatsoever
for a guest in this poor place!"
that does not matter," said the priest; "all I want is a shelter under
some roof for the night, and if you will be good enough just to let me
lie on the kitchen floor I shall be grateful. I am too tired to walk
further to-night, so I hope you will not refuse me, otherwise I shall
have to sleep out on the cold plain." And in this way he pressed the
old woman to let him stay.
seemed very reluctant, but at last she said:
well, I will let you stay here. I can offer you a very poor welcome
only, but come in now and I will make a fire, for the night is cold."
pilgrim was only too glad to do as he was told. He took off his sandals
and entered the hut. The old woman then brought some sticks of wood and
lit the fire, and bade her guest draw near and warm himself.
must be hungry after your long tramp," said the old woman. "I will go
and cook some supper for you." She then went to the kitchen to cook
the priest had finished his supper the old woman sat down by the
fire-place, and they talked together for a long time. The pilgrim
thought to himself that he had been very lucky to come across such a
kind, hospitable old woman. At last the wood gave out, and as the fire
died slowly down he began to shiver with cold just as he had done when
see you are cold," said the old woman; "I will go out and gather some
wood, for we have used it all. You must stay and take care of the house
while I am gone."
no," said the pilgrim, "let me go instead, for you are old, and I
cannot think of letting you go out to get wood for me this cold night!"
old woman shook her head and said:
must stay quietly here, for you are my guest." Then she left him and
a minute she came back and said:
must sit where you are and not move, and whatever happens don't go near
or look into the inner room. Now mind what I tell you!"
you tell me not to go near the back room, of course I won't," said the
priest, rather bewildered.
old woman then went out again, and the priest was left alone. The fire
had died out, and the only light in the hut was that of a dim lantern.
For the first time that night he began to feel that he was in a weird
place, and the old woman's words, "Whatever you do don't peep into the
back room," aroused his curiosity and his fear.
hidden thing could be in that room that she did not wish him to see?
For some time the remembrance of his promise to the old woman kept him
still, but at last he could no longer resist his curiosity to peep into
the forbidden place.
got up and began to move slowly towards the back room. Then the thought
that the old woman would be very angry with him if he disobeyed her
made him come back to his place by the fireside.
the minutes went slowly by and the old woman did not return, he began
to feel more and more frightened, and to wonder what dreadful secret
was in the room behind him. He must find out.
will not know that I have looked unless I tell her. I will just have a
peep before she comes back," said the man to himself.
these words he got up on his feet (for he had been sitting all this
time in Japanese fashion with his feet under him) and stealthily crept
towards the forbidden spot. With trembling hands he pushed back the
sliding door and looked in. What he saw froze the blood in his veins.
The room was full of dead men's bones and the walls were splashed and
the floor was covered with human blood. In one corner skull upon skull
rose to the ceiling, in another was a heap of arm bones, in another a
heap of leg bones. The sickening smell made him faint. He fell
backwards with horror, and for some time lay in a heap with fright on
the floor, a pitiful sight. He trembled all over and his teeth
chattered, and he could hardly crawl away from the dreadful spot.
horrible!" he cried out. "What awful den have I come to in my travels?
May Buddha help me or I am lost. Is it possible that that kind old
woman is really the cannibal goblin? When she comes back she will show
herself in her true character and eat me up at one mouthful!"
these words his strength came back to him and, snatching up his hat and
staff, he rushed out of the house as fast as his legs could carry him.
Out into the night he ran, his one thought to get as far as he could
from the goblin's haunt. He had not gone far when he heard steps behind
him and a voice crying: "Stop! stop!"
ran on, redoubling his speed, pretending not to hear. As he ran he
heard the steps behind him come nearer and nearer, and at last he
recognized the old woman's voice which grew louder and louder as she
stop, you wicked man, why did you look into the forbidden room?"
priest quite forgot how tired he was and his feet flew over the ground
faster than ever. Fear gave him strength, for he knew that if the
goblin caught him he would soon be one of her victims. With all his
heart he repeated the prayer to Buddha:
Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu."
after him rushed the dreadful old hag, her hair flying in the wind, and
her face changing with rage into the demon that she was. In her hand
she carried a large blood-stained knife, and she still shrieked after
him, "Stop! stop!"
last, when the priest felt he could run no more, the dawn broke, and
with the darkness of night the goblin vanished and he was safe. The
priest now knew that he had met the Goblin of Adachigahara, the story
of whom he had often heard but never believed to be true. He felt that
he owed his wonderful escape to the protection of Buddha to whom he had
prayed for help, so he took out his rosary and bowing his head as the
sun rose he said his prayers and made his thanksgiving earnestly. He
then set forward for another part of the country, only too glad to
leave the haunted plain behind him.
THE SAGACIOUS MONKEY AND THE BOAR.
long ago, there lived in the province of Shinshin in Japan, a traveling
monkey-man, who earned his living by taking round a monkey and showing
off the animal's tricks.
evening the man came home in a very bad temper and told his wife to
send for the butcher the next morning.
wife was very bewildered and asked her husband:
do you wish me to send for the butcher?"
no use taking that monkey round any longer, he's too old and forgets
his tricks. I beat him with my stick all I know how, but he won't dance
properly. I must now sell him to the butcher and make what money out of
him I can. There is nothing else to be done."
woman felt very sorry for the poor little animal, and pleaded for her
husband to spare the monkey, but her pleading was all in vain, the man
was determined to sell him to the butcher.
the monkey was in the next room and overheard ever word of the
conversation. He soon understood that he was to be killed, and he said
indeed, is my master! Here I have served him faithfully for years, and
instead of allowing me to end my days comfortably and in peace, he is
going to let me be cut up by the butcher, and my poor body is to be
roasted and stewed and eaten? Woe is me! What am I to do. Ah! a bright
thought has struck me! There is, I know, a wild bear living in the
forest near by. I have often heard tell of his wisdom. Perhaps if I go
to him and tell him the strait I am in he will give me his counsel. I
will go and try."
was no time to lose. The monkey slipped out of the house and ran as
quickly as he could to the forest to find the boar. The boar was at
home, and the monkey began his tale of woe at once.
Mr. Boar, I have heard of your excellent wisdom. I am in great trouble,
you alone can help me. I have grown old in the service of my master,
and because I cannot dance properly now he intends to sell me to the
butcher. What do you advise me to do? I know how clever you are!"
boar was pleased at the flattery and determined to help the monkey. He
thought for a little while and then said:
your master a baby?"
yes," said the monkey, "he has one infant son."
it lie by the door in the morning when your mistress begins the work of
the day? Well, I will come round early and when I see my opportunity I
will seize the child and run off with it."
then?" said the monkey.
the mother will be in a tremendous scare, and before your master and
mistress know what to do, you must run after me and rescue the child
and take it home safely to its parents, and you will see that when the
butcher comes they won't have the heart to sell you."
monkey thanked the boar many times and then went home. He did not sleep
much that night, as you may imagine, for thinking of the morrow. His
life depended on whether the boar's plan succeeded or not. He was the
first up, waiting anxiously for what was to happen. It seemed to him a
very long time before his master's wife began to move about and open
the shutters to let in the light of day. Then all happened as the boar
had planned. The mother placed her child near the porch as usual while
she tidied up the house and got her breakfast ready.
child was crooning happily in the morning sunlight, dabbing on the mats
at the play of light and shadow. Suddenly there was a noise in the
porch and a loud cry from the child. The mother ran out from the
kitchen to the spot, only just in time to see the boar disappearing
through the gate with her child in its clutch. She flung out her hands
with a loud cry of despair and rushed into the inner room where her
husband was still sleeping soundly.
sat up slowly and rubbed his eyes, and crossly demanded what his wife
was making all that noise about. By the time that the man was alive to
what had happened, and they both got outside the gate, the boar had got
well away, but they saw the monkey running after the thief as hard as
his legs would carry him.
the man and wife were moved to admiration at the plucky conduct of the
sagacious monkey, and their gratitude knew no bounds when the faithful
monkey brought the child safely back to their arms.
said the wife. "This is the animal you want to kill—if the monkey
hadn't been here we should have lost our child forever."
are right, wife, for once," said the man as he carried the child into
the house. "You may send the butcher back when he comes, and now give
us all a good breakfast and the monkey too."
the butcher arrived he was sent away with an order for some boar's meat
for the evening dinner, and the monkey was petted and lived the rest of
his days in peace, nor did his master ever strike him again.
THE HAPPY HUNTER AND THE SKILLFUL FISHER.
long ago Japan was governed by Hohodemi, the fourth Mikoto (or
Augustness) in descent from the illustrious Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess.
He was not only as handsome as his ancestress was beautiful, but he was
also very strong and brave, and was famous for being the greatest
hunter in the land. Because of his matchless skill as a hunter, he was
called "Yama-sachi-hiko" or "The Happy Hunter of the Mountains."
elder brother was a very skillful fisher, and as he far surpassed all
rivals in fishing, he was named "Unii-sachi-hiko" or the "Skillful
Fisher of the Sea." The brothers thus led happy lives, thoroughly
enjoying their respective occupations, and the days passed quickly and
pleasantly while each pursued his own way, the one hunting and the
day the Happy Hunter came to his brother, the Skillful Fisher, and said:
my brother, I see you go to the sea every day with your fishing rod in
your hand, and when you return you come laden with fish. And as for me,
it is my pleasure to take my bow and arrow and to hunt the wild animals
up the mountains and down in the valleys. For a long time we have each
followed our favorite occupation, so that now we must both be tired,
you of your fishing and I of my hunting. Would it not be wise for us to
make a change? Will you try hunting in the mountains and I will go and
fish in the sea?"
Skillful Fisher listened in silence to his brother, and for a moment
was thoughtful, but at last he answered:
yes, why not? Your idea is not a bad one at all. Give me your bow and
arrow and I will set out at once for the mountains and hunt for game."
the matter was settled by this talk, and the two brothers each started
out to try the other's occupation, little dreaming of all that would
happen. It was very unwise of them, for the Happy Hunter knew nothing
of fishing, and the Skillful Fisher, who was bad tempered, knew as much
Happy Hunter took his brother's much-prized fishing hook and rod and
went down to the seashore and sat down on the rocks. He baited his hook
and then threw it into the sea clumsily. He sat and gazed at the little
float bobbing up and down in the water, and longed for a good fish to
come and be caught. Every time the buoy moved a little he pulled up his
rod, but there was never a fish at the end of it, only the hook and the
bait. If he had known how to fish properly, he would have been able to
catch plenty of fish, but although he was the greatest hunter in the
land he could not help being the most bungling fisher.
whole day passed in this way, while he sat on the rocks holding the
fishing rod and waiting in vain for his luck to turn. At last the day
began to darken, and the evening came; still he had caught not a single
fish. Drawing up his line for the last time before going home, he found
that he had lost his hook without even knowing when he had dropped it.
now began to feel extremely anxious, for he knew that his brother would
be angry at his having lost his hook, for, it being his only one, he
valued it above all other things. The Happy Hunter now set to work to
look among the rocks and on the sand for the lost hook, and while he
was searching to and fro, his brother, the Skillful Fisher, arrived on
the scene. He had failed to find any game while hunting that day, and
was not only in a bad temper, but looked fearfully cross. When he saw
the Happy Hunter searching about on the shore he knew that something
must have gone wrong, so he said at once:
are you doing, my brother?"
Happy Hunter went forward timidly, for he feared his brother's anger,
my brother, I have indeed done badly."
is the matter?—what have you done?" asked the elder brother
have lost your precious fishing hook—"
he was still speaking his brother stopped him, and cried out fiercely:
my hook! It is just what I expected. For this reason, when you first
proposed your plan of changing over our occupations I was really
against it, but you seemed to wish it so much that I gave in and
allowed you to do as you wished. The mistake of our trying unfamiliar
tasks is soon seen! And you have done badly. I will not return you your
bow and arrow till you have found my hook. Look to it that you find it
and return it to me quickly."
Happy Hunter felt that he was to blame for all that had come to pass,
and bore his brother's scornful scolding with humility and patience. He
hunted everywhere for the hook most diligently, but it was nowhere to
be found. He was at last obliged to give up all hope of finding it. He
then went home, and in desperation broke his beloved sword into pieces
and made five hundred hooks out of it.
took these to his angry brother and offered them to him, asking his
forgiveness, and begging him to accept them in the place of the one he
had lost for him. It was useless; his brother would not listen to him,
much less grant his request.
Happy Hunter then made another five hundred hooks, and again took them
to his brother, beseeching him to pardon him.
you make a million hooks," said the Skillful Fisher, shaking his head,
"they are of no use to me. I cannot forgive you unless you bring me
back my own hook."
would appease the anger of the Skillful Fisher, for he had a bad
disposition, and had always hated his brother because of his virtues,
and now with the excuse of the lost fishing hook he planned to kill him
and to usurp his place as ruler of Japan. The Happy Hunter knew all
this full well, but he could say nothing, for being the younger he owed
his elder brother obedience; so he returned to the seashore and once
more began to look for the missing hook. He was much cast down, for he
had lost all hope of ever finding his brother's hook now. While he
stood on the beach, lost in perplexity and wondering what he had best
do next, an old man suddenly appeared carrying a stick in his hand. The
Happy Hunter afterwards remembered that he did not see from whence the
old man came, neither did he know how he was there—he happened to
up and saw the old man coming towards him.
are Hohodemi, the Augustness, sometimes called the Happy Hunter, are
you not?" asked the old man. "What are you doing alone in such a place?"
I am he," answered the unhappy young man. "Unfortunately, while fishing
I lost my brother's precious fishing hook. I have hunted this shore all
over, but alas! I cannot find it, and I am very troubled, for my
brother won't forgive me till I restore it to him. But who are you?"
name is Shiwozuchino Okina, and I live near by on this shore. I am
sorry to hear what misfortune has befallen you. You must indeed be
anxious. But if I tell you what I think, the hook is nowhere
either at the bottom of the sea or in the body of some fish who has
swallowed it, and for this reason, though you spend your whole life in
looking for it here, you will never find it."
what can I do?" asked the distressed man.
had better go down to Ryn Gu and tell Ryn Jin, the Dragon King of the
Sea, what your trouble is and ask him to find the hook for you. I think
that would be the best way."
idea is a splendid one," said the Happy Hunter, "but I fear I cannot
get to the Sea King's realm, for I have always heard that it is
situated at the bottom of the sea."
there will be no difficulty about your getting there," said the old
man; "I can soon make something for you to ride on through the sea."
you," said the Happy Hunter, "I shall be very grateful to you if you
will be so kind."
old man at once set to work, and soon made a basket and offered it to
the Happy Hunter. He received it with joy, and taking it to the water,
mounted it, and prepared to start. He bade good by to the kind old man
who had helped him so much, and told him that he would certainly reward
him as soon as he found his hook and could return to Japan without fear
of his brother's anger. The old man pointed out the direction he must
take, and told him how to reach the realm of Ryn Gu, and watched him
ride out to sea on the basket, which resembled a small boat.
Happy Hunter made all the haste he could, riding on the basket which
had been given him by his friend. His queer boat seemed to go through
the water of its own accord, and the distance was much shorter than he
had expected, for in a few hours he caught sight of the gate and the
roof of the Sea King's Palace. And what a large place it was, with its
numberless sloping roofs and gables, its huge gateways, and its gray
stone walls! He soon landed, and leaving his basket on the beach, he
walked up to the large gateway. The pillars of the gate were made of
beautiful red coral, and the gate itself was adorned with glittering
gems of all kinds. Large katsura trees overshadowed it. Our hero had
often heard of the wonders of the Sea King's Palace beneath the sea,
but all the stories he had ever heard fell short of the reality which
he now saw for the first time.
Happy Hunter would have liked to enter the gate there and then, but he
saw that it was fast closed, and also that there was no one about whom
he could ask to open it for him, so he stopped to think what he should
do. In the shade of the trees before the gate he noticed a well full of
fresh spring water. Surely some one would come out to draw water from
the well some time, he thought. Then he climbed into the tree
overhanging the well, and seated himself to rest on one of the
branches, and waited for what might happen. Ere long he saw the huge
gate swing open, and two beautiful women came out. Now the Mikoto
(Augustness) had always heard that Ryn Gu was the realm of the Dragon
King under the Sea, and had naturally supposed that the place was
inhabited by dragons and similar terrible creatures, so that when he
saw these two lovely princesses, whose beauty would be rare even in the
world from which he had just come, he was exceedingly surprised, and
wondered what it could mean.
said not a word, however, but silently gazed at them through the
foliage of the trees, waiting to see what they would do. He saw that in
their hands they carried golden buckets. Slowly and gracefully in their
trailing garments they approached the well, standing in the shade of
the katsura trees, and were about to draw water, all unknowing of the
stranger who was watching them, for the Happy Hunter was quite hidden
among the branches of the tree where he had posted himself.
the two ladies leaned over the side of the well to let down their
golden buckets, which they did every day in the year, they saw
reflected in the deep still water the face of a handsome youth gazing
at them from amidst the branches of the tree in whose shade they stood.
Never before had they seen the face of mortal man; they were
frightened, and drew back quickly with their golden buckets in their
hands. Their curiosity, however, soon gave them courage, and they
glanced timidly upwards to see the cause of the unusual reflection, and
then they beheld the Happy Hunter sitting in the tree looking down at
them with surprise and admiration. They gazed at him face to face, but
their tongues were still with wonder and could not find a word to say
the Mikoto saw that he was discovered, he sprang down lightly from the
tree and said:
am a traveler, and as I was very thirsty I came to the well in the
hopes of quenching my thirst, but I could find no bucket with which to
draw the water. So I climbed into the tree, much vexed, and waited for
some one to come. Just at that moment, while I was thirstily and
impatiently waiting, you noble ladies appeared, as if in answer to my
great need. Therefore I pray you of your mercy give me some water to
drink, for I am a thirsty traveler in a strange land."
dignity and graciousness overruled their timidity, and bowing in
silence they both once more approached the well, and letting down their
golden buckets drew up some water and poured it into a jeweled cup and
offered it to the stranger.
received it from them with both hands, raising it to the height of his
forehead in token of high respect and pleasure, and then drank the
water quickly, for his thirst was great. When he had finished his long
draught he set the cup down on the edge of the well, and drawing his
short sword he cut off one of the strange curved jewels (magatama), a
necklace of which hung round his neck and fell over his breast. He
placed the jewel in the cup and returned it to them, and said, bowing
is a token of my thanks!"
two ladies took the cup, and looking into it to see what he had put
inside—for they did not yet know what it was—they gave a
surprise, for there lay a beautiful gem at the bottom of the cup.
ordinary mortal would give away a jewel so freely. Will you not honor
us by telling us who you are?" said the elder damsel.
said the Happy Hunter, "I am Hohodemi, the fourth Mikoto, also called
in Japan, the Happy Hunter."
you indeed Hohodemi, the grandson of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess?" asked
the damsel who had spoken first. "I am the eldest daughter of Ryn Jin,
the King of the Sea, and my name is Princess Tayotama."
said the younger maiden, who at last found her tongue, "I am her
sister, the Princess Tamayori."
you indeed the daughters of Ryn Jin, the King of the Sea? I cannot tell
you how glad I am to meet you," said the Happy Hunter. And without
waiting for them to reply he went on:
other day I went fishing with my brother's hook and dropped it, how, I
am sure I can't tell. As my brother prizes his fishing hook above all
his other possessions, this is the greatest calamity that could have
befallen me. Unless I find it again I can never hope to win my
brother's forgiveness, for he is very angry at what I have done. I have
searched for it many, many times, but I cannot find it, therefore I am
much troubled. While I was hunting for the hook, in great distress, I
met a wise old man, and he told me that the best thing I could do was
to come to Ryn Gu, and to Ryn Jin, the Dragon King of the Sea, and ask
him to help me. This kind old man also showed me how to come. Now you
know how it is I am here and why. I want to ask Ryn Jin, if he knows
where the lost hook is. Will you be so kind as to take me to your
father? And do you think he will see me?" asked the Happy Hunter
Tayotama listened to this long story, and then said:
only is it easy for you to see my father, but he will be much pleased
to meet you. I am sure he will say that good fortune has befallen him,
that so great and noble a man as you, the grandson of Amaterasu, should
come down to the bottom of the sea." And then turning to her younger
sister, she said:
you not think so, Tamayori?"
indeed," answered the Princess Tamayori, in her sweet voice. "As you
say, we can know no greater honor than to welcome the Mikoto to our
I ask you to be so kind as to lead the way," said the Happy Hunter.
to enter, Mikoto (Augustness)," said both the sisters, and bowing low,
they led him through the gate.
younger Princess left her sister to take charge of the Happy Hunter,
and going faster than they, she reached the Sea King's Palace first,
and running quickly to her father's room, she told him of all that had
happened to them at the gate, and that her sister was even now bringing
the Augustness to him. The Dragon King of the Sea was much surprised at
the news, for it was but seldom, perhaps only once in several hundred
years, that the Sea King's Palace was visited by mortals.
Jin at once clapped his hands and summoned all his courtiers and the
servants of the Palace, and the chief fish of the sea together, and
solemnly told them that the grandson of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, was
coming to the Palace, and that they must be very ceremonious and polite
in serving the august visitor. He then ordered them all to the entrance
of the Palace to welcome the Happy Hunter.
Jin then dressed himself in his robes of ceremony, and went out to
welcome him. In a few moments the Princess Tayotama and the Happy
Hunter reached the entrance, and the Sea King and his wife bowed to the
ground and thanked him for the honor he did them in coming to see them.
The Sea King then led the Happy Hunter to the guest room, and placing
him in the uppermost seat, he bowed respectfully before him, and said:
am Ryn Jin, the Dragon King of the Sea, and this is my wife. Condescend
to remember us forever!"
you indeed Ryn Jin, the King of the Sea, of whom I have so often
heard?" answered the Happy Hunter, saluting his host most
ceremoniously. "I must apologize for all the trouble I am giving you by
my unexpected visit." And he bowed again, and thanked the Sea King.
need not thank me," said Ryn Jin. "It is I who must thank you for
coming. Although the Sea Palace is a poor place, as you see, I shall be
highly honored if you will make us a long visit."
was much gladness between the Sea King and the Happy Hunter, and they
sat and talked for a long time. At last the Sea King clapped his hands,
and then a huge retinue of fishes appeared, all robed in ceremonial
garments, and bearing in their fins various trays on which all kinds of
sea delicacies were served. A great feast was now spread before the
King and his Royal guest. All the fishes-in-waiting were chosen from
amongst the finest fish in the sea, so you can imagine what a wonderful
array of sea creatures it was that waited upon the Happy Hunter that
day. All in the Palace tried to do their best to please him and to show
him that he was a much honored guest. During the long repast, which
lasted for hours, Ryn Jin commanded his daughters to play some music,
and the two Princesses came in and performed on the KOTO (the Japanese
harp), and sang and danced in turns. The time passed so pleasantly that
the Happy Hunter seemed to forget his trouble and why he had come at
all to the Sea King's Realm, and he gave himself up to the enjoyment of
this wonderful place, the land of fairy fishes! Who has ever heard of
such a marvelous place? But the Mikoto soon remembered what had brought
him to Ryn Gu, and said to his host:
your daughters have told you, King Ryn Jin, that I have come here to
try and recover my brother's fishing hook, which I lost while fishing
the other day. May I ask you to be so kind as to inquire of all your
subjects if any of them have seen a fishing hook lost in the sea?"
said the obliging Sea King, "I will immediately summon them all here
and ask them."
soon as he had issued his command, the octopus, the cuttlefish, the
bonito, the oxtail fish, the eel, the jelly fish, the shrimp, and the
plaice, and many other fishes of all kinds came in and sat down before
Ryn Jin their King, and arranged themselves and their fins in order.
Then the Sea King said solemnly:
visitor who is sitting before you all is the august grandson of
Amaterasu. His name is Hohodemi, the fourth Augustness, and he is also
called the Happy Hunter of the Mountains. While he was fishing the
other day upon the shore of Japan, some one robbed him of his brother's
fishing hook. He has come all this way down to the bottom of the sea to
our Kingdom because he thought that one of you fishes may have taken
the hook from him in mischievous play. If any of you have done so you
must immediately return it, or if any of you know who the thief is you
must at once tell us his name and where he is now."
the fishes were taken by surprise when they heard these words, and
could say nothing for some time. They sat looking at each other and at
the Dragon King. At last the cuttlefish came forward and said:
think the TAI (the red bream) must be the thief who has stolen the
is your proof?" asked the King.
yesterday evening the TAI has not been able to eat anything, and he
seems to be suffering from a bad throat! For this reason I think the
hook may be in his throat. You had better send for him at once!"
the fish agreed to this, and said:
is certainly strange that the TAI is the only fish who has not obeyed
your summons. Will you send for him and inquire into the matter. Then
our innocence will be proved."
said the Sea King, "it is strange that the TAI has not come, for he
ought to be the first to be here. Send for him at once!"
waiting for the King's order the cuttlefish had already started for the
TAI'S dwelling, and he now returned, bringing the TAI with him. He led
him before the King.
TAI sat there looking frightened and ill. He certainly was in pain, for
his usually red face was pale, and his eyes were nearly closed and
looked but half their usual size.
O TAI!" cried the Sea King, "why did you not come in answer to my
have been ill since yesterday," answered the TAI; "that is why I could
say another word!" cried out Ryn Jin angrily. "Your illness is the
punishment of the gods for stealing the Mikoto's hook."
is only too true!" said the TAI; "the hook is still in my throat, and
all my efforts to get it out have been useless. I can't eat, and I can
scarcely breathe, and each moment I feel that it will choke me, and
sometimes it gives me great pain. I had no intention of stealing the
Mikoto's hook. I heedlessly snapped at the bait which I saw in the
water, and the hook came off and stuck in my throat. So I hope you will
cuttlefish now came forward, and said to the King:
I said was right. You see the hook still sticks in the TAI'S throat. I
hope to be able to pull it out in the presence of the Mikoto, and then
we can return it to him safely!"
please make haste and pull it out!" cried the TAI, pitifully, for he
felt the pains in his throat coming on again; "I do so want to return
the hook to the Mikoto."
right, TAI SAN," said his friend the cuttlefish, and then opening the
TAI'S mouth as wide as he could and putting one of his feelers down the
TAI'S throat, he quickly and easily drew the hook out of the sufferer's
large mouth. He then washed it and brought it to the King.
Jin took the hook from his subject, and then respectfully returned it
to the Happy Hunter (the Mikoto or Augustness, the fishes called him),
who was overjoyed at getting back his hook. He thanked Ryn Jin many
times, his face beaming with gratitude, and said that he owed the happy
ending of his quest to the Sea King's wise authority and kindness.
Jin now desired to punish the TAI, but the Happy Hunter begged him not
to do so; since his lost hook was thus happily recovered he did not
wish to make more trouble for the poor TAI. It was indeed the TAI who
had taken the hook, but he had already suffered enough for his fault,
if fault it could be called. What had been done was done in
heedlessness and not by intention. The Happy Hunter said he blamed
himself; if he had understood how to fish properly he would never have
lost his hook, and therefore all this trouble had been caused in the
first place by his trying to do something which he did not know how to
do. So he begged the Sea King to forgive his subject.
could resist the pleading of so wise and compassionate a judge? Ryn Jin
forgave his subject at once at the request of his august guest. The TAI
was so glad that he shook his fins for joy, and he and all the other
fish went out from the presence of their King, praising the virtues of
the Happy Hunter.
that the hook was found the Happy Hunter had nothing to keep him in Ryn
Gu, and he was anxious to get back to his own kingdom and to make peace
with his angry brother, the Skillful Fisher; but the Sea King, who had
learnt to love him and would fain have kept him as a son, begged him
not to go so soon, but to make the Sea Palace his home as long as ever
he liked. While the Happy Hunter was still hesitating, the two lovely
Princesses, Tayotama and Tamayori, came, and with the sweetest of bows
and voices joined with their father in pressing him to stay, so that
without seeming ungracious he could not say them "Nay," and was obliged
to stay on for some time.
the Sea Realm and the Earth there was no difference in the night of
time, and the Happy Hunter found that three years went fleeting quickly
by in this delightful land. The years pass swiftly when any one is
truly happy. But though the wonders of that enchanted land seemed to be
new every day, and though the Sea King's kindness seemed rather to
increase than to grow less with time, the Happy Hunter grew more and
more homesick as the days passed, and he could not repress a great
anxiety to know what had happened to his home and his country and his
brother while he had been away.
at last he went to the Sea King and said:
stay with you here has been most happy and I am very grateful to you
for all your kindness to me, but I govern Japan, and, delightful as
this place is, I cannot absent myself forever from my country. I must
also return the fishing hook to my brother and ask his forgiveness for
having deprived him of it for so long. I am indeed very sorry to part
from you, but this time it cannot be helped. With your gracious
permission, I will take my leave to-day. I hope to make you another
visit some day. Please give up the idea of my staying longer now."
Ryn Jin was overcome with sorrow at the thought that he must lose his
friend who had made a great diversion in the Palace of the Sea, and his
tears fell fast as he answered:
are indeed very sorry to part with you, Mikoto, for we have enjoyed
your stay with us very much. You have been a noble and honored guest
and we have heartily made you welcome. I quite understand that as you
govern Japan you ought to be there and not here, and that it is vain
for us to try and keep you longer with us, much as we would like to
have you stay. I hope you will not forget us. Strange circumstances
have brought us together and I trust the friendship thus begun between
the Land and the Sea will last and grow stronger than it has ever been
the Sea King had finished speaking he turned to his two daughters and
bade them bring him the two Tide-Jewels of the Sea. The two Princesses
bowed low, rose and glided out of the hall. In a few minutes they
returned, each one carrying in her hands a flashing gem which filled
the room with light. As the Happy Hunter looked at them he wondered
what they could be. The Sea King took them from his daughters and said
to his guest:
two valuable talismans we have inherited from our ancestors from time
immemorial. We now give them to you as a parting gift in token of our
great affection for you. These two gems are called the nanjiu and the
Happy Hunter bowed low to the ground and said:
can never thank you enough for all your kindness to me. And now will
you add one more favor to the rest and tell me what these jewels are
and what I am to do with them?"
nanjiu," answered the Sea King, "is also called the Jewel of the Flood
Tide, and whoever holds it in his possession can command the sea to
roll in and to flood the land at any time that he wills. The kanjiu is
also called the Jewel of the Ebbing Tide, and this gem controls the sea
and the waves thereof, and will cause even a tidal wave to recede."
Ryn Jin showed his friend how to use the talismans one by one and
handed them to him. The Happy Hunter was very glad to have these two
wonderful gems, the Jewel of the Flood Tide and the Jewel of the Ebbing
Tide, to take back with him, for he felt that they would preserve him
in case of danger from enemies at any time. After thanking his kind
host again and again, he prepared to depart. The Sea King and the two
Princesses, Tayotama and Tamayori, and all the inmates of the Palace,
came out to say "Good-by," and before the sound of the last farewell
had died away the Happy Hunter passed out from under the gateway, past
the well of happy memory standing in the shade of the great KATSURA
trees on his way to the beach.
he found, instead of the queer basket on which he had come to the Realm
of Ryn Gu, a large crocodile waiting for him. Never had he seen such a
huge creature. It measured eight fathoms in length from the tip of its
tail to the end of its long mouth. The Sea King had ordered the monster
to carry the Happy Hunter back to Japan. Like the wonderful basket
which Shiwozuchino Okina had made, it could travel faster than any
steamboat, and in this strange way, riding on the back of a crocodile,
the Happy Hunter returned to his own land.
soon as the crocodile landed him, the Happy Hunter hastened to tell the
Skillful Fisher of his safe return. He then gave him back the fishing
hook which had been found in the mouth of the TAI and which had been
the cause of so much trouble between them. He earnestly begged his
brother's forgiveness, telling him all that had happened to him in the
Sea King's Palace and what wonderful adventures had led to the finding
of the hook.
the Skillful Fisher had used the lost hook as an excuse for driving his
brother out of the country. When his brother had left him that day
three years ago, and had not returned, he had been very glad in his
evil heart and had at once usurped his brother's place as ruler of the
land, and had become powerful and rich. Now in the midst of enjoying
what did not belong to him, and hoping that his brother might never
return to claim his rights, quite unexpectedly there stood the Happy
Hunter before him.
Skillful Fisher feigned forgiveness, for he could make no more excuses
for sending his brother away again, but in his heart he was very angry
and hated his brother more and more, till at last he could no longer
bear the sight of him day after day, and planned and watched for an
opportunity to kill him.
day when the Happy Hunter was walking in the rice fields his brother
followed him with a dagger. The Happy Hunter knew that his brother was
following him to kill him, and he felt that now, in this hour of great
danger, was the time to use the Jewels of the Flow and Ebb of the Tide
and prove whether what the Sea King had told him was true or not.
he took out the Jewel of the Flood Tide from the bosom of his dress and
raised it to his forehead. Instantly over the fields and over the farms
the sea came rolling in wave upon wave till it reached the spot where
his brother was standing. The Skillful Fisher stood amazed and
terrified to see what was happening. In another minute he was
struggling in the water and calling on his brother to save him from
Happy Hunter had a kind heart and could not bear the sight of his
brother's distress. He at once put back the Jewel of the Flood Tide and
took out the Jewel of the Ebb Tide. No sooner did he hold it up as high
as his forehead than the sea ran back and back, and ere long the
tossing rolling floods had vanished, and the farms and fields and dry
land appeared as before.
Skillful Fisher was very frightened at the peril of death in which he
had stood, and was greatly impressed by the wonderful things he had
seen his brother do. He learned now that he was making a fatal mistake
to set himself against his brother, younger than he thought he was, for
he now had become so powerful that the sea would flow in and the tide
ebb at his word of command. So he humbled himself before the Happy
Hunter and asked him to forgive him all the wrong he had done him. The
Skillful Fisher promised to restore his brother to his rights and also
swore that though the Happy Hunter was the younger brother and owed him
allegiance by right of birth, that he, the Skillful Fisher, would exalt
him as his superior and bow before him as Lord of all Japan.
the Happy Hunter said that he would forgive his brother if he would
throw into the receding tide all his evil ways. The Skillful Fisher
promised and there was peace between the two brothers. From this time
he kept his word and became a good man and a kind brother.
Happy Hunter now ruled his Kingdom without being disturbed by family
strife, and there was peace in Japan for a long, long time. Above all
the treasures in his house he prized the wonderful Jewels of the Flow
and Ebb of the Tide which had been given him by Ryn Jin, the Dragon
King of the Sea.
is the congratulatory ending of the Happy Hunter and the Skillful
THE STORY OF THE OLD MAN WHO MADE WITHERED
long ago there lived an old man and his wife who supported themselves
by cultivating a small plot of land. Their life had been a very happy
and peaceful one save for one great sorrow, and this was they had no
child. Their only pet was a dog named Shiro, and on him they lavished
all the affection of their old age. Indeed, they loved him so much that
whenever they had anything nice to eat they denied themselves to give
it to Shiro. Now Shiro means "white," and he was so called because of
his color. He was a real Japanese dog, and very like a small wolf in
happiest hour of the day both for the old man and his dog was when the
man returned from his work in the field, and having finished his frugal
supper of rice and vegetables, would take what he had saved from the
meal out to the little veranda that ran round the cottage. Sure enough,
Shiro was waiting for his master and the evening tit-bit. Then the old
man said "Chin, chin!" and Shiro sat up and begged, and his master gave
him the food. Next door to this good old couple there lived another old
man and his wife who were both wicked and cruel, and who hated their
good neighbors and the dog Shiro with all their might. Whenever Shiro
happened to look into their kitchen they at once kicked him or threw
something at him, sometimes even wounding him.
day Shiro was heard barking for a long time in the field at the back of
his master's house. The old man, thinking that perhaps some birds were
attacking the corn, hurried out to see what was the matter. As soon as
Shiro saw his master he ran to meet him, wagging his tail, and, seizing
the end of his kimono, dragged him under a large yenoki tree. Here he
began to dig very industriously with his paws, yelping with joy all the
time. The old man, unable to understand what it all meant, stood
looking on in bewilderment. But Shiro went on barking and digging with
all his might.
thought that something might be hidden beneath the tree, and that the
dog had scented it, at last struck the old man. He ran back to the
house, fetched his spade and began to dig the ground at that spot. What
was his astonishment when, after digging for some time, he came upon a
heap of old and valuable coins, and the deeper he dug the more gold
coins did he find. So intent was the old man on his work that he never
saw the cross face of his neighbor peering at him through the bamboo
hedge. At last all the gold coins lay shining on the ground. Shiro sat
by erect with pride and looking fondly at his master as if to say, "You
see, though only a dog, I can make some return for all the kindness you
old man ran in to call his wife, and together they carried home the
treasure. Thus in one day the poor old man became rich. His gratitude
to the faithful dog knew no bounds, and he loved and petted him more
than ever, if that were possible.
cross old neighbor, attracted by Shiro's barking, had been an unseen
and envious witness of the finding of the treasure. He began to think
that he, too, would like to find a fortune. So a few days later he
called at the old man's house and very ceremoniously asked permission
to borrow Shiro for a short time.
master thought this a strange request, because he knew quite well that
not only did his neighbor not love his pet dog, but that he never lost
an opportunity of striking and tormenting him whenever the dog crossed
his path. But the good old man was too kind-hearted to refuse his
neighbor, so he consented to lend the dog on condition that he should
be taken great care of.
wicked old man returned to his home with an evil smile on his face, and
told his wife how he had succeeded in his crafty intentions. He then
took his spade and hastened to his own field, forcing the unwilling
Shiro to follow him. As soon as he reached a yenoki tree, he said to
the dog, threateningly:
there were gold coins under your master's tree, there must also be gold
coins under my tree. You must find them for me! Where are they? Where?
catching hold of Shiro's neck he held the dog's head to the ground, so
that Shiro began to scratch and dig in order to free himself from the
horrid old man's grasp.
old man was very pleased when he saw the dog begin to scratch and dig,
for he at once supposed that some gold coins lay buried under his tree
as well as under his neighbor's, and that the dog had scented them as
before; so pushing Shiro away he began to dig himself, but there was
nothing to be found. As he went on digging a foul smell was noticeable,
and he at last came upon a refuse heap.
old man's disgust can be imagined. This soon gave way to anger. He had
seen his neighbor's good fortune, and hoping for the same luck himself,
he had borrowed the dog Shiro; and now, just as he seemed on the point
of finding what he sought, only a horrid smelling refuse heap had
rewarded him for a morning's digging. Instead of blaming his own greed
for his disappointment, he blamed the poor dog. He seized his spade,
and with all his strength struck Shiro and killed him on the spot. He
then threw the dog's body into the hole which he had dug in the hope of
finding a treasure of gold coins, and covered it over with the earth.
Then he returned to the house, telling no one, not even his wife, what
he had done.
waiting several days, as the dog Shiro did not return, his master began
to grow anxious. Day after day went by and the good old man waited in
vain. Then he went to his neighbor and asked him to give him back his
dog. Without any shame or hesitation, the wicked neighbor answered that
he had killed Shiro because of his bad behavior. At this dreadful news
Shiro's master wept many sad and bitter tears. Great indeed, was his
woful surprise, but he was too good and gentle to reproach his bad
neighbor. Learning that Shiro was buried under the yenoki tree in the
field, he asked the old man to give him the tree, in remembrance of his
poor dog Shiro.
the cross old neighbor could not refuse such a simple request, so he
consented to give the old man the tree under which Shiro lay buried.
Shiro's master then cut the tree down and carried it home. Out of the
trunk he made a mortar. In this his wife put some rice, and he began to
pound it with the intention of making a festival to the memory of his
strange thing happened! His wife put the rice into the mortar, and no
sooner had he begun to pound it to make the cakes, than it began to
increase in quantity gradually till it was about five times the
original amount, and the cakes were turned out of the mortar as if an
invisible hand were at work.
the old man and his wife saw this, they understood that it was a reward
to them from Shiro for their faithful love to him. They tasted the
cakes and found them nicer than any other food. So from this time they
never troubled about food, for they lived upon the cakes with which the
mortar never ceased to supply them.
greedy neighbor, hearing of this new piece of good luck, was filled
with envy as before, and called on the old man and asked leave to
borrow the wonderful mortar for a short time, pretending that he, too,
sorrowed for the death of Shiro, and wished to make cakes for a
festival to the dog's memory.
old man did not in the least wish to lend it to his cruel neighbor, but
he was too kind to refuse. So the envious man carried home the mortar,
but he never brought it back.
days passed, and Shiro's master waited in vain for the mortar, so he
went to call on the borrower, and asked him to be good enough to return
the mortar if he had finished with it. He found him sitting by a big
fire made of pieces of wood. On the ground lay what looked very much
like pieces of a broken mortar. In answer to the old man's inquiry, the
wicked neighbor answered haughtily:
you come to ask me for your mortar? I broke it to pieces, and now I am
making a fire of the wood, for when I tried to pound cakes in it only
some horrid smelling stuff came out."
good old man said:
am very sorry for that. It is a great pity you did not ask me for the
cakes if you wanted them. I would have given you as many as ever you
wanted. Now please give me the ashes of the mortar, as I wish to keep
them in remembrance of my dog."
neighbor consented at once, and the old man carried home a basket full
long after this the old man accidentally scattered some of the ashes
made by the burning of the mortar on the trees of his garden. A
wonderful thing happened!
was late in autumn and all the trees had shed their leaves, but no
sooner did the ashes touch their branches than the cherry trees, the
plum trees, and all other blossoming shrubs burst into bloom, so that
the old man's garden was suddenly transformed into a beautiful picture
of spring. The old man's delight knew no bounds, and he carefully
preserved the remaining ashes.
story of the old man's garden spread far and wide, and people from far
and near came to see the wonderful sight.
day, soon after this, the old man heard some one knocking at his door,
and going to the porch to see who it was he was surprised to see a
Knight standing there. This Knight told him that he was a retainer of a
great Daimio (Earl); that one of the favorite cherry trees in this
nobleman's garden had withered, and that though every one in his
service had tried all manner of means to revive it, none took effect.
The Knight was sore perplexed when he saw what great displeasure the
loss of his favorite cherry tree caused the Daimio. At this point,
fortunately, they had heard that there was a wonderful old man who
could make withered trees to blossom, and that his Lord had sent him to
ask the old man to come to him.
added the Knight, "I shall be very much obliged if you will come at
good old man was greatly surprised at what he heard, but respectfully
followed the Knight to the nobleman's Palace.
Daimio, who had been impatiently awaiting the old man's coming, as soon
as he saw him asked him at once:
you the old man who can make withered trees flower even out of season?"
old man made an obeisance, and replied:
am that old man!"
the Daimio said:
must make that dead cherry tree in my garden blossom again by means of
your famous ashes. I shall look on."
they all went into the garden—the Daimio and his retainers and
the ladies-in waiting, who carried the Daimio's sword.
old man now tucked up his kimono and made ready to climb the tree.
Saying "Excuse me," he took the pot of ashes which he had brought with
him, and began to climb the tree, every one watching his movements with
last he climbed to the spot where the tree divided into two great
branches, and taking up his position here, the old man sat down and
scattered the ashes right and left all over the branches and twigs.
indeed, was the result! The withered tree at once burst into full
bloom! The Daimio was so transported with joy that he looked as if he
would go mad. He rose to his feet and spread out his fan, calling the
old man down from the tree. He himself gave the old man a wine cup
filled with the best SAKE, and rewarded him with much silver and gold
and many other precious things. The Daimio ordered that henceforth the
old man should call himself by the name of Hana-Saka-Jijii, or "The Old
Man who makes the Trees to Blossom," and that henceforth all were to
recognize him by this name, and he sent him home with great honor.
wicked neighbor, as before, heard of the good old man's fortune, and of
all that had so auspiciously befallen him, and he could not suppress
all the envy and jealousy that filled his heart. He called to mind how
he had failed in his attempt to find the gold coins, and then in making
the magic cakes; this time surely he must succeed if he imitated the
old man, who made withered trees to flower simply by sprinkling ashes
on them. This would be the simplest task of all.
he set to work and gathered together all the ashes which remained in
the fire-place from the burning of the wonderful mortar. Then he set
out in the hope of finding some great man to employ him, calling out
loudly as he went along:
comes the wonderful man who can make withered trees blossom! Here comes
the old man who can make dead trees blossom!"
Daimio in his Palace heard this cry, and said:
must be the Hana-Saka-Jijii passing. I have nothing to do to-day. Let
him try his art again; it will amuse me to look on."
the retainers went out and brought in the impostor before their Lord.
The satisfaction of false old man can now be imagined.
the Daimio looking at him, thought it strange that he was not at all
like the old man he had seen before, so he asked him:
you the man whom I named Hana-Saka-Jijii?"
the envious neighbor answered with a lie:
is strange!" said the Daimio. "I thought there was only one
Hana-Saka-Jijii in the world! Has he now some disciples?"
am the true Hana-Saka-Jijii. The one who came to you before was only my
disciple!" replied the old man again.
you must be more skillful than the other. Try what you can do and let
envious neighbor, with the Daimio and his Court following, then went
into the garden, and approaching a dead tree, took out a handful of the
ashes which he carried with him, and scattered them over the tree.
not only did the tree not burst into flower, but not even a bud came
forth. Thinking that he had not used enough ashes, the old man took
handfuls and again sprinkled them over the withered tree. But all to no
effect. After trying several times, the ashes were blown into the
Daimio's eyes. This made him very angry, and he ordered his retainers
to arrest the false Hana-Saka-Jijii at once and put him in prison for
an impostor. From this imprisonment the wicked old man was never freed.
Thus did he meet with punishment at last for all his evil doings.
good old man, however, with the treasure of gold coins which Shiro had
found for him, and with all the gold and the silver which the Daimio
had showered on him, became a rich and prosperous man in his old age,
and lived a long and happy life, beloved and respected by all.
THE JELLY FISH AND THE MONKEY.
long ago, in old Japan, the Kingdom of the Sea was governed by a
wonderful King. He was called Rin Jin, or the Dragon King of the Sea.
His power was immense, for he was the ruler of all sea creatures both
great and small, and in his keeping were the Jewels of the Ebb and Flow
of the Tide. The Jewel of the Ebbing Tide when thrown into the ocean
caused the sea to recede from the land, and the Jewel of the Flowing
Tide made the waves to rise mountains high and to flow in upon the
shore like a tidal wave.
Palace of Rin Jin was at the bottom of the sea, and was so beautiful
that no one has ever seen anything like it even in dreams. The walls
were of coral, the roof of jadestone and chrysoprase, and the floors
were of the finest mother-of-pearl. But the Dragon King, in spite of
his wide-spreading Kingdom, his beautiful Palace and all its wonders,
and his power which none disputed throughout the whole sea, was not at
all happy, for he reigned alone. At last he thought that if he married
he would not only be happier, but also more powerful. So he decided to
take a wife. Calling all his fish retainers together, he chose several
of them as ambassadors to go through the sea and seek for a young
Dragon Princess who would be his bride.
last they returned to the Palace bringing with them a lovely young
dragon. Her scales were of glittering green like the wings of summer
beetles, her eyes threw out glances of fire, and she was dressed in
gorgeous robes. All the jewels of the sea worked in with embroidery
King fell in love with her at once, and the wedding ceremony was
celebrated with great splendor. Every living thing in the sea, from the
great whales down to the little shrimps, came in shoals to offer their
congratulations to the bride and bridegroom and to wish them a long and
prosperous life. Never had there been such an assemblage or such gay
festivities in the Fish-World before. The train of bearers who carried
the bride's possessions to her new home seemed to reach across the
waves from one end of the sea to the other. Each fish carried a
phosphorescent lantern and was dressed in ceremonial robes, gleaming
blue and pink and silver; and the waves as they rose and fell and broke
that night seemed to be rolling masses of white and green fire, for the
phosphorus shone with double brilliancy in honor of the event.
for a time the Dragon King and his bride lived very happily. They loved
each other dearly, and the bridegroom day after day took delight in
showing his bride all the wonders and treasures of his coral Palace,
and she was never tired of wandering with him through its vast halls
and gardens. Life seemed to them both like a long summer's day.
months passed in this happy way, and then the Dragon Queen fell ill and
was obliged to stay in bed. The King was sorely troubled when he saw
his precious bride so ill, and at once sent for the fish doctor to come
and give her some medicine. He gave special orders to the servants to
nurse her carefully and to wait upon her with diligence, but in spite
of all the nurses' assiduous care and the medicine that the doctor
prescribed, the young Queen showed no signs of recovery, but grew daily
the Dragon King interviewed the doctor and blamed him for not curing
the Queen. The doctor was alarmed at Rin Jin's evident displeasure, and
excused his want of skill by saying that although he knew the right
kind of medicine to give the invalid, it was impossible to find it in
you mean to tell me that you can't get the medicine here?" asked the
is just as you say!" said the doctor.
me what it is you want for the Queen?" demanded Rin Jin.
want the liver of a live monkey!" answered the doctor.
liver of a live monkey! Of course that will be most difficult to get,"
said the King.
we could only get that for the Queen, Her Majesty would soon recover,"
said the doctor.
well, that decides it; we MUST get it somehow or other. But where are
we most likely to find a monkey?" asked the King.
the doctor told the Dragon King that some distance to the south there
was a Monkey Island where a great many monkeys lived.
only you could capture one of these monkeys?" said the doctor.
can any of my people capture a monkey?" said the Dragon King, greatly
puzzled. "The monkeys live on dry land, while we live in the water; and
out of our element we are quite powerless! I don't see what we can do!"
has been my difficulty too," said the doctor. "But amongst your
innumerable servants you surely can find one who can go on shore for
that express purpose!"
must be done," said the King, and calling his chief steward he
consulted him on the matter.
chief steward thought for some time, and then, as if struck by a sudden
thought, said joyfully:
know what we must do! There is the kurage (jelly fish). He is certainly
ugly to look at, but he is proud of being able to walk on land with his
four legs like a tortoise. Let us send him to the Island of Monkeys to
jelly fish was then summoned to the King's presence, and was told by
His Majesty what was required of him.
jelly fish, on being told of the unexpected mission which was to be
intrusted to him, looked very troubled, and said that he had never been
to the island in question, and as he had never had any experience in
catching monkeys he was afraid that he would not be able to get one.
said the chief steward, "if you depend on your strength or dexterity
you will never catch a monkey. The only way is to play a trick on one!"
can I play a trick on a monkey? I don't know how to do it," said the
perplexed jelly fish.
is what you must do," said the wily chief steward. "When you approach
the Island of Monkeys and meet some of them, you must try to get very
friendly with one. Tell him that you are a servant of the Dragon King,
and invite him to come and visit you and see the Dragon King's Palace.
Try and describe to him as vividly as you can the grandeur of the
Palace and the wonders of the sea so as to arouse his curiosity and
make him long to see it all!"
how am I to get the monkey here? You know monkeys don't swim?" said the
reluctant jelly fish.
must carry him on your back. What is the use of your shell if you can't
do that!" said the chief steward.
he be very heavy?" queried kurage again.
mustn't mind that, for you are working for the Dragon King," replied
the chief steward.
will do my best then," said the jelly fish, and he swam away from the
Palace and started off towards the Monkey Island. Swimming swiftly he
reached his destination in a few hours, and landed by a convenient wave
upon the shore. On looking round he saw not far away a big pine-tree
with drooping branches and on one of those branches was just what he
was looking for—a live monkey.
in luck!" thought the jelly fish. "Now I must flatter the creature and
try to entice him to come back with me to the Palace, and my part will
the jelly fish slowly walked towards the pine-tree. In those ancient
days the jelly fish had four legs and a hard shell like a tortoise.
When he got to the pine-tree he raised his voice and said:
do you do, Mr. Monkey? Isn't it a lovely day?"
very fine day," answered the monkey from the tree. "I have never seen
you in this part of the world before. Where have you come from and what
is your name?"
name is kurage or jelly fish. I am one of the servants of the Dragon
King. I have heard so much of your beautiful island that I have come on
purpose to see it," answered the jelly fish.
am very glad to see you," said the monkey.
the bye," said the jelly fish, "have you ever seen the Palace of the
Dragon King of the Sea where I live?"
have often heard of it, but I have never seen it!" answered the monkey.
you ought most surely to come. It is a great pity for you to go through
life without seeing it. The beauty of the Palace is beyond all
description—it is certainly to my mind the most lovely place in
world," said the jelly fish.
it so beautiful as all that?" asked the monkey in astonishment.
the jelly fish saw his chance, and went on describing to the best of
his ability the beauty and grandeur of the Sea King's Palace, and the
wonders of the garden with its curious trees of white, pink and red
coral, and the still more curious fruits like great jewels hanging on
the branches. The monkey grew more and more interested, and as he
listened he came down the tree step by step so as not to lose a word of
the wonderful story.
have got him at last!" thought the jelly fish, but aloud he said:
Monkey. I must now go back. As you have never seen the Palace of the
Dragon King, won't you avail yourself of this splendid opportunity by
coming with me? I shall then be able to act as guide and show you all
the sights of the sea, which will be even more wonderful to you—a
should love to go," said the monkey, "but how am I to cross the water!
I can't swim, as you surely know!"
is no difficulty about that. I can carry you on my back."
will be troubling you too much," said the monkey.
can do it quite easily. I am stronger than I look, so you needn't
hesitate," said the jelly fish, and taking the monkey on his back he
stepped into the sea.
very still, Mr. monkey," said the jelly fish. "You mustn't fall into
the sea; I am responsible for your safe arrival at the King's Palace."
don't go so fast, or I am sure I shall fall off," said the monkey.
they went along, the jelly fish skimming through the waves with the
monkey sitting on his back. When they were about half-way, the jelly
fish, who knew very little of anatomy, began to wonder if the monkey
had his liver with him or not!
Monkey, tell me, have you such a thing as a liver with you?"
monkey was very much surprised at this queer question, and asked what
the jelly fish wanted with a liver.
is the most important thing of all," said the stupid jelly fish, "so as
soon as I recollected it, I asked you if you had yours with you?"
is my liver so important to you?" asked the monkey.
you will learn the reason later," said the jelly fish.
monkey grew more and more curious and suspicious, and urged the jelly
fish to tell him for what his liver was wanted, and ended up by
appealing to his hearer's feelings by saying that he was very troubled
at what he had been told.
the jelly fish, seeing how anxious the monkey looked, was sorry for
him, and told him everything. How the Dragon Queen had fallen ill, and
how the doctor had said that only the liver of a live monkey would cure
her, and how the Dragon King had sent him to find one.
I have done as I was told, and as soon as we arrive at the Palace the
doctor will want your liver, so I feel sorry for you!" said the silly
poor monkey was horrified when he learnt all this, and very angry at
the trick played upon him. He trembled with fear at the thought of what
was in store for him.
the monkey was a clever animal, and he thought it the wisest plan not
to show any sign of the fear he felt, so he tried to calm himself and
to think of some way by which he might escape.
doctor means to cut me open and then take my liver out! Why I shall
die!" thought the monkey. At last a bright thought struck him, so he
said quite cheerfully to the jelly fish:
a pity it was, Mr. Jelly Fish, that you did not speak of this before we
left the island!"
I had told why I wanted you to accompany me you would certainly have
refused to come," answered the jelly fish.
are quite mistaken," said the monkey. "Monkeys can very well spare a
liver or two, especially when it is wanted for the Dragon Queen of the
Sea. If I had only guessed of what you were in need. I should have
presented you with one without waiting to be asked. I have several
livers. But the greatest pity is, that as you did not speak in time, I
have left all my livers hanging on the pine-tree."
you left your liver behind you?" asked the jelly fish.
said the cunning monkey, "during the daytime I usually leave my liver
hanging up on the branch of a tree, as it is very much in the way when
I am climbing about from tree to tree. To-day, listening to your
interesting conversation, I quite forgot it, and left it behind when I
came off with you. If only you had spoken in time I should have
remembered it, and should have brought it along with me!"
jelly fish was very disappointed when he heard this, for he believed
every word the monkey said. The monkey was of no good without a liver.
Finally the jelly fish stopped and told the monkey so.
said the monkey, "that is soon remedied. I am really sorry to think of
all your trouble; but if you will only take me back to the place where
you found me, I shall soon be able to get my liver."
jelly fish did not at all like the idea of going all the way back to
the island again; but the monkey assured him that if he would be so
kind as to take him back he would get his very best liver, and bring it
with him the next time. Thus persuaded, the jelly fish turned his
course towards the Monkey Island once more.
sooner had the jelly fish reached the shore than the sly monkey landed,
and getting up into the pine-tree where the jelly fish had first seen
him, he cut several capers amongst the branches with joy at being safe
home again, and then looking down at the jelly fish said:
many thanks for all the trouble you have taken! Please present my
compliments to the Dragon King on your return!"
jelly fish wondered at this speech and the mocking tone in which it was
uttered. Then he asked the monkey if it wasn't his intention to come
with him at once after getting his liver.
monkey replied laughingly that he couldn't afford to lose his liver: it
was too precious.
remember your promise!" pleaded the jelly fish, now very discouraged.
promise was false, and anyhow it is now broken!" answered the monkey.
Then he began to jeer at the jelly fish and told him that he had been
deceiving him the whole time; that he had no wish to lose his life,
which he certainly would have done had he gone on to the Sea King's
Palace to the old doctor waiting for him, instead of persuading the
jelly fish to return under false pretenses.
course, I won't GIVE you my liver, but come and get it if you can!"
added the monkey mockingly from the tree.
was nothing for the jelly fish to do now but to repent of his
stupidity, and to return to the Dragon King of the Sea and to confess
his failure, so he started sadly and slowly to swim back. The last
thing he heard as he glided away, leaving the island behind him, was
the monkey laughing at him.
the Dragon King, the doctor, the chief steward, and all the servants
were waiting impatiently for the return of the jelly fish. When they
caught sight of him approaching the Palace, they hailed him with
delight. They began to thank him profusely for all the trouble he had
taken in going to Monkey Island, and then they asked him where the
the day of reckoning had come for the jelly fish. He quaked all over as
he told his story. How he had brought the monkey halfway over the sea,
and then had stupidly let out the secret of his commission; how the
monkey had deceived him by making him believe that he had left his
liver behind him.
Dragon King's wrath was great, and he at once gave orders that the
jelly fish was to be severely punished. The punishment was a horrible
one. All the bones were to be drawn out from his living body, and he
was to be beaten with sticks.
poor jelly fish, humiliated and horrified beyond all words, cried out
for pardon. But the Dragon King's order had to be obeyed. The servants
of the Palace forthwith each brought out a stick and surrounded the
jelly fish, and after pulling out his bones they beat him to a flat
pulp, and then took him out beyond the Palace gates and threw him into
the water. Here he was left to suffer and repent his foolish
chattering, and to grow accustomed to his new state of bonelessness.
this story it is evident that in former times the jelly fish once had a
shell and bones something like a tortoise, but, ever since the Dragon
King's sentence was carried out on the ancestor of the jelly fishes,
his descendants have all been soft and boneless just as you see them
to-day thrown up by the waves high upon the shores of Japan.
THE QUARREL OF THE MONKEY AND THE CRAB.
long ago, one bright autumn day in Japan, it happened, that a
pink-faced monkey and a yellow crab were playing together along the
bank of a river. As they were running about, the crab found a
rice-dumpling and the monkey a persimmon-seed.
crab picked up the rice-dumpling and showed it to the monkey, saying:
what a nice thing I have found!"
the monkey held up his persimmon-seed and said:
also have found something good! Look!"
though the monkey is always very fond of persimmon fruit, he had no use
for the seed he had just found. The persimmon-seed is as hard and
uneatable as a stone. He, therefore, in his greedy nature, felt very
envious of the crab's nice dumpling, and he proposed an exchange. The
crab naturally did not see why he should give up his prize for a hard
stone-like seed, and would not consent to the monkey's proposition.
the cunning monkey began to persuade the crab, saying:
unwise you are not to think of the future! Your rice-dumpling can be
eaten now, and is certainly much bigger than my seed; but if you sow
this seed in the ground it will soon grow and become a great tree in a
few years, and bear an abundance of fine ripe persimmons year after
year. If only I could show it to you then with the yellow fruit hanging
on its branches! Of course, if you don't believe me I shall sow it
myself; though I am sure, later on, you will be very sorry that you did
not take my advice."
simple-minded crab could not resist the monkey's clever persuasion. He
at last gave in and consented to the monkey's proposal, and the
exchange was made. The greedy monkey soon gobbled up the dumpling, and
with great reluctance gave up the persimmon-seed to the crab. He would
have liked to keep that too, but he was afraid of making the crab angry
and of being pinched by his sharp scissor-like claws. They then
separated, the monkey going home to his forest trees and the crab to
his stones along the river-side. As soon as the crab reached home he
put the persimmon-seed in the ground as the monkey had told him.
the following spring the crab was delighted to see the shoot of a young
tree push its way up through the ground. Each year it grew bigger, till
at last it blossomed one spring, and in the following autumn bore some
fine large persimmons. Among the broad smooth green leaves the fruit
hung like golden balls, and as they ripened they mellowed to a deep
orange. It was the little crab's pleasure to go out day by day and sit
in the sun and put out his long eyes in the same way as a snail puts
out its horn, and watch the persimmons ripening to perfection.
delicious they will be to eat!" he said to himself.
last, one day, he knew the persimmons must be quite ripe and he wanted
very much to taste one. He made several attempts to climb the tree, in
the vain hope of reaching one of the beautiful persimmons hanging above
him; but he failed each time, for a crab's legs are not made for
climbing trees but only for running along the ground and over stones,
both of which he can do most cleverly. In his dilemma he thought of his
old playmate the monkey, who, he knew, could climb trees better than
any one else in the world. He determined to ask the monkey to help him,
and set out to find him.
crab-fashion up the stony river bank, over the pathways into the
shadowy forest, the crab at last found the monkey taking an afternoon
nap in his favorite pine-tree, with his tail curled tight around a
branch to prevent him from falling off in his dreams. He was soon wide
awake, however, when he heard himself called, and eagerly listening to
what the crab told him. When he heard that the seed which he had long
ago exchanged for a rice-dumpling had grown into a tree and was now
bearing good fruit, he was delighted, for he at once devised a cunning
plan which would give him all the persimmons for himself.
consented to go with the crab to pick the fruit for him. When they both
reached the spot, the monkey was astonished to see what a fine tree had
sprung from the seed, and with what a number of ripe persimmons the
branches were loaded.
quickly climbed the tree and began to pluck and eat, as fast as he
could, one persimmon after another. Each time he chose the best and
ripest he could find, and went on eating till he could eat no more. Not
one would he give to the poor hungry crab waiting below, and when he
had finished there was little but the hard, unripe fruit left.
can imagine the feelings of the poor crab after waiting patiently, for
so long as he had done, for the tree to grow and the fruit to ripen,
when he saw the monkey devouring all the good persimmons. He was so
disappointed that he ran round and round the tree calling to the monkey
to remember his promise. The monkey at first took no notice of the
crab's complaints, but at last he picked out the hardest, greenest
persimmon he could find and aimed it at the crab's head. The persimmon
is as hard as stone when it is unripe. The monkey's missile struck home
and the crab was sorely hurt by the blow. Again and again, as fast as
he could pick them, the monkey pulled off the hard persimmons and threw
them at the defenseless crab till he dropped dead, covered with wounds
all over his body. There he lay a pitiful sight at the foot of the tree
he had himself planted.
the wicked monkey saw that he had killed the crab he ran away from the
spot as fast as he could, in fear and trembling, like a coward as he
the crab had a son who had been playing with a friend not far from the
spot where this sad work had taken place. On the way home he came
across his father dead, in a most dreadful condition—his head was
smashed and his shell broken in several places, and around his body lay
the unripe persimmons which had done their deadly work. At this
dreadful sight the poor young crab sat down and wept.
when he had wept for some time he told himself that this crying would
do no good; it was his duty to avenge his father's murder, and this he
determined to do. He looked about for some clue which would lead him to
discover the murderer. Looking up at the tree he noticed that the best
fruit had gone, and that all around lay bits of peel and numerous seeds
strewn on the ground as well as the unripe persimmons which had
evidently been thrown at his father. Then he understood that the monkey
was the murderer, for he now remembered that his father had once told
him the story of the rice-dumpling and the persimmon-seed. The young
crab knew that monkeys liked persimmons above all other fruit, and he
felt sure that his greed for the coveted fruit had been the cause of
the old crab's death. Alas!
at first thought of going to attack the monkey at once, for he burned
with rage. Second thoughts, however, told him that this was useless,
for the monkey was an old and cunning animal and would be hard to
overcome. He must meet cunning with cunning and ask some of his friends
to help him, for he knew it would be quite out of his power to kill him
young crab set out at once to call on the mortar, his father's old
friend, and told him of all that had happened. He besought the mortar
with tears to help him avenge his father's death. The mortar was very
sorry when he heard the woful tale and promised at once to help the
young crab punish the monkey to death. He warned him that he must be
very careful in what he did, for the monkey was a strong and cunning
enemy. The mortar now sent to fetch the bee and the chestnut (also the
crab's old friends) to consult them about the matter. In a short time
the bee and the chestnut arrived. When they were told all the details
of the old crab's death and of the monkey's wickedness and greed, they
both gladly consented to help the young crab in his revenge.
talking for a long time as to the ways and means of carrying out their
plans they separated, and Mr. Mortar went home with the young crab to
help him bury his poor father.
all this was taking place the monkey was congratulating himself (as the
wicked often do before their punishment comes upon them) on all he had
done so neatly. He thought it quite a fine thing that he had robbed his
friend of all his ripe persimmons and then that he had killed him.
Still, smile as hard as he might, he could not banish altogether the
fear of the consequences should his evil deeds be discovered. IF he
were found out (and he told himself that this could not be for he had
escaped unseen) the crab's family would be sure to bear him hatred and
seek to take revenge on him. So he would not go out, and kept himself
at home for several days. He found this kind of life, however,
extremely dull, accustomed as he was to the free life of the woods, and
at last he said:
one knows that it was I who killed the crab! I am sure that the old
thing breathed his last before I left him. Dead crabs have no mouths!
Who is there to tell that I am the murderer? Since no one knows, what
is the use of shutting myself up and brooding over the matter? What is
done cannot be undone!"
this he wandered out into the crab settlement and crept about as slyly
as possible near the crab's house and tried to hear the neighbors'
gossip round about. He wanted to find out what the crabs were saving
about their chief's death, for the old crab had been the chief of the
tribe. But he heard nothing and said to himself:
are all such fools that they don't know and don't care who murdered
did he know in his so-called "monkey's wisdom" that this seeming
unconcern was part of the young crab's plan. He purposely pretended not
to know who killed his father, and also to believe that he had met his
death through his own fault. By this means he could the better keep
secret the revenge on the monkey, which he was meditating.
the monkey returned home from his walk quite content. He told himself
he had nothing now to fear.
fine day, when the monkey was sitting at home, he was surprised by the
appearance of a messenger from the young crab. While he was wondering
what this might mean, the messenger bowed before him and said:
have been sent by my master to inform you that his father died the
other day in falling from a persimmon tree while trying to climb the
tree after fruit. This, being the seventh day, is the first anniversary
after his death, and my master has prepared a little festival in his
father's honor, and bids you come to participate in it as you were one
of his best friends. My master hopes you will honor his house with your
the monkey heard these words he rejoiced in his inmost heart, for all
his fears of being suspected were now at rest. He could not guess that
a plot had just been set in motion against him. He pretended to be very
surprised at the news of the crab's death, and said:
am, indeed, very sorry to hear of your chief's death. We were great
friends as you know. I remember that we once exchanged a rice-dumpling
for a persimmon-seed. It grieves me much to think that that seed was in
the end the cause of his death. I accept your kind invitation with many
thanks. I shall be delighted to do honor to my poor old friend!" And he
screwed some false tears from his eyes.
messenger laughed inwardly and thought, "The wicked monkey is now
dropping false tears, but within a short time he shall shed real ones."
But aloud he thanked the monkey politely and went home.
he had gone, the wicked monkey laughed aloud at what he thought was the
young crab's innocence, and without the least feeling began to look
forward to the feast to be held that day in honor of the dead crab, to
which he had been invited. He changed his dress and set out solemnly to
visit the young crab.
found all the members of the crab's family and his relatives waiting to
receive and welcome him. As soon as the bows of meeting were over they
led him to a hall. Here the young chief mourner came to receive him.
Expressions of condolence and thanks were exchanged between them, and
then they all sat down to a luxurious feast and entertained the monkey
as the guest of honor.
feast over, he was next invited to the tea-ceremony room to drink a cup
of tea. When the young crab had conducted the monkey to the tearoom he
left him and retired. Time passed and still he did not return. At last
the monkey became impatient. He said to himself:
tea ceremony is always a very slow affair. I am tired of waiting so
long. I am very thirsty after drinking so much sake at the dinner!"
then approached the charcoal fire-place and began to pour out some hot
water from the kettle boiling there, when something burst out from the
ashes with a great pop and hit the monkey right in the neck. It was the
chestnut, one of the crab's friends, who had hidden himself in the
fireplace. The monkey, taken by surprise, jumped backward, and then
started to run out of the room.
bee, who was hiding outside the screens, now flew out and stung him on
the cheek. The monkey was in great pain, his neck was burned by the
chestnut and his face badly stung by the bee, but he ran on screaming
and chattering with rage.
the stone mortar had hidden himself with several other stones on the
top of the crab's gate, and as the monkey ran underneath, the mortar
and all fell down on the top of the monkey's head. Was it possible for
the monkey to bear the weight of the mortar falling on him from the top
of the gate? He lay crushed and in great pain, quite unable to get up.
As he lay there helpless the young crab came up, and, holding his great
claw scissors over the monkey, he said:
you now remember that you murdered my father?"
you—are—my—enemy?" gasped the monkey brokenly.
course," said the young crab.
gasped the unrepentant monkey.
you still lie? I will soon put an end to your breath!" and with that he
cut off the monkey's head with his pitcher claws. Thus the wicked
monkey met his well-merited punishment, and the young crab avenged his
is the end of the story of the monkey, the crab, and the persimmon-seed.
THE WHITE HARE AND THE CROCODILES
long ago, when all the animals could talk, there lived in the province
of Inaba in Japan, a little white hare. His home was on the island of
Oki, and just across the sea was the mainland of Inaba.
the hare wanted very much to cross over to Inaba. Day after day he
would go out and sit on the shore and look longingly over the water in
the direction of Inaba, and day after day he hoped to find some way of
day as usual, the hare was standing on the beach, looking towards the
mainland across the water, when he saw a great crocodile swimming near
is very lucky!" thought the hare. "Now I shall be able to get my wish.
I will ask the crocodile to carry me across the sea!"
he was doubtful whether the crocodile would consent to do what wanted.
So he thought instead of asking a favor he would try to get what he
wanted by a trick.
with a loud voice he called to the crocodile, and said:
Mr. Crocodile, isn't it a lovely day?"
crocodile, who had come out all by itself that day to enjoy the bright
sunshine, was just beginning to feel a bit lonely when the hare's
cheerful greeting broke the silence. The crocodile swam nearer the
shore, very pleased to hear some one speak.
wonder who it was that spoke to me just now! Was it you, Mr. Hare? You
must be very lonely all by yourself!"
no, I am not at all lonely," said the hare, "but as it was such a fine
day I came out here to enjoy myself. Won't you stop and play with me a
crocodile came out of the sea and sat on the shore, and the two played
together for some time. Then the hare said:
Crocodile, you live in the sea and I live on this island, and we do not
often meet, so I know very little about you. Tell me, do you think the
number of your company is greater than mine?"
course, there are more crocodiles than hares," answered the crocodile.
"Can you not see that for yourself? You live on this small island,
while I live in the sea, which spreads through all parts of the world,
so if I call together all the crocodiles who dwell in the sea you hares
will be as nothing compared to us!" The crocodile was very conceited.
hare, who meant to play a trick on the crocodile, said:
you think it possible for you to call up enough crocodiles to form a
line from this island across the sea to Inaba?"
crocodile thought for a moment and then answered:
course, it is possible."
do try," said the artful hare, "and I will count the number from here!"
crocodile, who was very simple-minded, and who hadn't the least idea
that the hare intended to play a trick on him, agreed to do what the
hare asked, and said:
a little while I go back into the sea and call my company together!"
crocodile plunged into the sea and was gone for some time. The hare,
meanwhile, waited patiently on the shore. At last the crocodile
appeared, bringing with him a large number of other crocodiles.
Mr. Hare!" said the crocodile, "it is nothing for my friends to form a
line between here and Inaba. There are enough crocodiles to stretch
from here even as far as China or India. Did you ever see so many
the whole company of crocodiles arranged themselves in the water so as
to form a bridge between the Island of Oki and the mainland of Inaba.
When the hare saw the bridge of crocodiles, he said:
splendid! I did not believe this was possible. Now let me count you
all! To do this, however, with your permission, I must walk over on
your backs to the other side, so please be so good as not to move, or
else I shall fall into the sea and be drowned!"
the hare hopped off the island on to the strange bridge of crocodiles,
counting as he jumped from one crocodile's back to the other:
keep quite still, or I shall not be able to count. One, two, three,
four, five, six, seven, eight, nine—"
the cunning hare walked right across to the mainland of Inaba. Not
content with getting his wish, he began to jeer at the crocodiles
instead of thanking them, and said, as he leapt off the last one's back:
you stupid crocodiles, now I have done with you!"
he was just about to run away as fast as he could. But he did not
escape so easily, for so soon as the crocodiles understood that this
was a trick played upon them by the hare so as to enable him to cross
the sea, and that the hare was now laughing at them for their
stupidity, they became furiously angry and made up their minds to take
revenge. So some of them ran after the hare and caught him. Then they
all surrounded the poop little animal and pulled out all his fur. He
cried out loudly and entreated them to spare him, but with each tuft of
fur they pulled out they said:
the crocodiles had pulled out the last bit of fur, they threw the poor
hare on the beach, and all swam away laughing at what they had done.
hare was now in a pitiful plight, all his beautiful white fur had been
pulled out, and his bare little body was quivering with pain and
bleeding all over. He could hardly move, and all he could do was to lie
on the beach quite helpless and weep over the misfortune that had
befallen him. Notwithstanding that it was his own fault that had
brought all this misery and suffering upon the white hare of Inaba, any
one seeing the poor little creature could not help feeling sorry for
him in his sad condition, for the crocodiles had been very cruel in
at this time a number of men, who looked like King's sons, happened to
pass by, and seeing the hare lying on the beach crying, stopped and
asked what was the matter.
hare lifted up his head from between his paws, and answered them,
had a fight with some crocodiles, but I was beaten, and they pulled out
all my fur and left me to suffer here—that is why I am crying."
one of these young men had a bad and spiteful disposition. But he
feigned kindness, and said to the hare:
feel very sorry for you. If you will only try it, I know of a remedy
which will cure your sore body. Go and bathe yourself in the sea, and
then come and sit in the wind. This will make your fur grow again, and
you will be just as you were before."
all the young men passed on. The hare was very pleased, thinking that
he had found a cure. He went and bathed in the sea and then came out
and sat where the wind could blow upon him.
as the wind blew and dried him, his skin became drawn and hardened, and
the salt increased the pain so much that he rolled on the sand in his
agony and cried aloud.
then another King's son passed by, carrying a great bag on his back. He
saw the hare, and stopped and asked why he was crying so loudly.
the poor hare, remembering that he had been deceived by one very like
the man who now spoke to him, did not answer, but continued to cry.
this man had a kind heart, and looked at the hare very pityingly, and
poor thing! I see that your fur is all pulled out and that your skin is
quite bare. Who can have treated you so cruelly?"
the hare heard these kind words he felt very grateful to the man, and
encouraged by his gentle manner the hare told him all that had befallen
him. The little animal hid nothing from his friend, but told him
frankly how he had played a trick on the crocodiles and how he had come
across the bridge they had made, thinking that he wished to count their
number: how he had jeered at them for their stupidity, and then how the
crocodiles had revenged themselves on him. Then he went on to say how
he had been deceived by a party of men who looked very like his kind
friend: and the hare ended his long tale of woe by begging the man to
give him some medicine that would cure him and make his fur grow again.
the hare had finished his story, the man was full of pity towards him,
am very sorry for all you have suffered, but remember, it was only the
consequence of the deceit you practiced on the crocodiles."
know," answered the sorrowful hare, "but I have repented and made up my
mind never to use deceit again, so I beg you to show me how I may cure
my sore body and make the fur grow again."
I will tell you of a good remedy," said the man. "First go and bathe
well in that pond over there and try to wash all the salt from your
body. Then pick some of those kaba flowers that are growing near the
edge of the water, spread them on the ground and roll yourself on them.
If you do this the pollen will cause your fur to grow again, and you
will be quite well in a little while."
hare was very glad to be told what to do, so kindly. He crawled to the
pond pointed out to him, bathed well in it, and then picked the kaba
flowers growing near the water, and rolled himself on them.
his amazement, even while he was doing this, he saw his nice white fur
growing again, the pain ceased, and he felt just as he had done before
all his misfortunes.
hare was overjoyed at his quick recovery, and went hopping joyfully
towards the young man who had so helped him, and kneeling down at his
cannot express my thanks for all you have done for me! It is my earnest
wish to do something for you in return. Please tell me who you are?"
am no King's son as you think me. I am a fairy, and my name is
Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto," answered the man, "and those beings who passed
here before me are my brothers. They have heard of a beautiful Princess
called Yakami who lives in this province of Inaba, and they are on
their way to find her and to ask her to marry one of them. But on this
expedition I am only an attendant, so I am walking behind them with
this great big bag on my back."
hare humbled himself before this great fairy Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto,
whom many in that part of the land worshiped as a god.
I did not know that you were Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto. How kind you have
been to me! It is impossible to believe that that unkind fellow who
sent me to bathe in the sea is one of your brothers. I am quite sure
that the Princess, whom your brothers have gone to seek, will refuse to
be the bride of any of them, and will prefer you for your goodness of
heart. I am quite sure that you will win her heart without intending to
do so, and she will ask to be your bride."
took no notice of what the hare said, but bidding the little animal
goodby, went on his way quickly and soon overtook his brothers. He
found them just entering the Princess's gate.
as the hare had said, the Princess could not be persuaded to become the
bride of any of the brothers, but when she looked at the kind brother's
face she went straight up to him and said:
you I give myself," and so they were married.
is the end of the story. Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto is worshiped by the
people in some parts of Japan, as a god, and the hare has become famous
as "The White Hare of Inaba." But what became of the crocodiles nobody
THE STORY OF PRINCE YAMATO TAKE.
insignia of the great Japanese Empire is composed of three treasures
which have been considered sacred, and guarded with jealous care from
time immemorial. These are the Yatano-no-Kagami or the Mirror of Yata,
the Yasakami-no-Magatama or the Jewel of Yasakami, and the
Murakumo-no-Tsurugi or the Sword of Murakumo.
these three treasures of the Empire, the sword of Murakumo, afterwards
known as Kusanagi-no-Tsrugugi, or the grass-cleaving sword, is
considered the most precious and most highly to be honored, for it is
the symbol of strength to this nation of warriors and the talisman of
invincibility for the Emperor, while he holds it sacred in the shrine
of his ancestors.
two thousand years ago this sword was kept at the shrines of Ite, the
temples dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu, the great and beautiful
Sun Goddess from whom the Japanese Emperors are said to be descended.
is a story of knightly adventure and daring which explains why the name
of the sword was changed from that of Murakumo to Kasanagi, which means
many, many years ago, there was born a son to the Emperor Keiko, the
twelfth in descent from the great Jimmu, the founder of the Japanese
dynasty. This Prince was the second son of the Emperor Keiko, and he
was named Yamato. From his childhood he proved himself to be of
remarkable strength, wisdom and courage, and his father noticed with
pride that he gave promise of great things, and he loved him even more
than he did his elder son.
when Prince Yamato had grown to manhood (in the olden days of Japanese
history, a boy was considered to have reached man's estate at the early
age of sixteen) the realm was much troubled by a band of outlaws whose
chiefs were two brothers, Kumaso and Takeru. These rebels seemed to
delight in rebelling against the King, in breaking the laws and defying
last King Keiko ordered his younger son Prince Yamato to subdue the
brigands and, if possible, to rid the land of their evil lives. Prince
Yamato was only sixteen years of age, he had but reached his manhood
according to the law, yet though he was such a youth in years he
possessed the dauntless spirit of a warrior of fuller age and knew not
what fear was. Even then there was no man who could rival him for
courage and bold deeds, and he received his father's command with great
at once made ready to start, and great was the stir in the precincts of
the Palace as he and his trusty followers gathered together and
prepared for the expedition, and polished up their armor and donned it.
Before he left his father's Court he went to pray at the shrine of Ise
and to take leave of his aunt the Princess Yamato, for his heart was
somewhat heavy at the thought of the dangers he had to face, and he
felt that he needed the protection of his ancestress, Amaterasu, the
Sun Goddess. The Princess his aunt came out to give him glad welcome,
and congratulated him on being trusted with so great a mission by his
father the King. She then gave him one of her gorgeous robes as a
keepsake to go with him and to bring him good luck, saying that it
would surely be of service to him on this adventure. She then wished
him all success in his undertaking and bade him good speed.
young Prince bowed low before his aunt, and received her gracious gift
with much pleasure and many respectful bows.
will now set out," said the Prince, and returning to the Palace he put
himself at the head of his troops. Thus cheered by his aunt's blessing,
he felt ready for all that might befall, and marching through the land
he went down to the Southern Island of Kiushiu, the home of the
many days had passed he reached the Southern Island, and then slowly
but surely made his way to the head-quarters of the chiefs Kumaso and
Takeru. He now met with great difficulties, for he found the country
exceedingly wild and rough. The mountains were high and steep, the
valleys dark and deep, and huge trees and bowlders of rock blocked up
the road and stopped the progress of his army. It was all but
impossible to go on.
the Prince was but a youth he had the wisdom of years, and, seeing that
it was vain to try and lead his men further, he said to himself:
attempt to fight a battle in this impassable country unknown to my men
only makes my task harder. We cannot clear the roads and fight as well.
It is wiser for me to resort to stratagem and come upon my enemies
unawares. In that way I may be able to kill them without much exertion."
he now bade his army halt by the way. His wife, the Princess
Ototachibana, had accompanied him, and he bade her bring him the robe
his aunt the priestess of Ise had given him, and to help him attire
himself as a woman. With her help he put on the robe, and let his hair
down till it flowed over his shoulders. Ototachibana then brought him
her comb, which he put in his black tresses, and then adorned himself
with strings of strange jewels just as you see in the picture. When he
had finished his unusual toilet, Ototachibana brought him her mirror.
He smiled as he gazed at himself—the disguise was so perfect.
hardly knew himself, so changed was he. All traces of the warrior had
disappeared, and in the shining surface only a beautiful lady looked
back at him.
completely disguised, he set out for the enemy's camp alone. In the
folds of his silk gown, next his strong heart, was hidden a sharp
two chiefs Kumaso and Takeru wore sitting in their tent, resting in the
cool of the evening, when the Prince approached. They were talking of
the news which had recently been carried to them, that the King's son
had entered their country with a large army determined to exterminate
their band. They had both heard of the young warrior's renown, and for
the first time in their wicked lives they felt afraid. In a pause in
their talk they happened to look up, and saw through the door of the
tent a beautiful woman robed in sumptuous garments coming towards them.
Like an apparition of loveliness she appeared in the soft twilight.
Little did they dream that it was their enemy whose coming they so
dreaded who now stood before them in this disguise.
a beautiful woman! Where has she come from?" said the astonished
Kumaso, forgetting war and council and everything as he looked at the
beckoned to the disguised Prince and bade him sit down and serve them
with wine. Yamato Take felt his heart swell with a fierce glee for he
now knew that his plan would succeed. However, he dissembled cleverly,
and putting on a sweet air of shyness he approached the rebel chief
with slow steps and eyes glancing like a frightened deer. Charmed to
distraction by the girl's loveliness Kumaso drank cup after cup of wine
for the pleasure of seeing her pour it out for him, till at last he was
quite overcome with the quantity he had drunk.
was the moment for which the brave Prince had been waiting. Flinging
down the wine jar, he seized the tipsy and astonished Kumaso and
quickly stabbed him to death with the dagger which he had secretly
carried hidden in his breast.
the brigand's brother, was terror-struck as soon as he saw what was
happening and tried to escape, but Prince Yamato was too quick for him.
Ere he could reach the tent door the Prince was at his heel, his
garments were clutched by a hand of iron, and a dagger flashed before
his eyes and he lay stabbed to the earth, dying but not yet dead.
one moment!" gasped the brigand painfully, and he seized the Prince's
relaxed his hold somewhat and said.
should I pause, thou villain?"
brigand raised himself fearfully and said:
me from whence you come, and whom I have the honor of addressing?
Hitherto I believed that my dead brother and I were the strongest men
in the land, and that there was no one who could overcome us. Alone you
have ventured into our stronghold, alone you have attacked and killed
us! Surely you are more than mortal?"
the young Prince answered with a proud smile:—"I am the son of
and my name is Yamato, and I have been sent by my father as the avenger
of evil to bring death to all rebels! No longer shall robbery and
murder hold my people in terror!" and he held the dagger dripping red
above the rebel's head.
gasped the dying man with a great effort, "I have often heard of you.
You are indeed a strong man to have so easily overcome us. Allow me to
give you a new name. From henceforth you shall be known as Yamato Take.
Our title I bequeath to you as the bravest man in Yamato."
with these noble words, Takeru fell back and died.
Prince having thus successfully put an end to his father's enemies in
the world, was prepared to return to the capital. On the way back he
passed through the province of Idum. Here he met with another outlaw
named Idzumo Takeru who he knew had done much harm in the land. He
again resorted to stratagem, and feigned friendship with the rebel
under an assumed name. Having done this he made a sword of wood and
jammed it tightly in the shaft of his own strong sword. This he
purposedly buckled to his side and wore on every occasion when he
expected to meet the third robber Takeru.
now invited Takeru to the bank of the River Hinokawa, and persuaded him
to try a swim with him in the cool refreshing waters of the river.
it was a hot summer's day, the rebel was nothing loath to take a plunge
in the river, while his enemy was still swimming down the stream the
Prince turned back and landed with all possible haste. Unperceived, he
managed to change swords, putting his wooden one in place of the keen
steel sword of Takeru.
nothing of this, the brigand came up to the bank shortly. As soon as he
had landed and donned his clothes, the Prince came forward and asked
him to cross swords with him to prove his skill, saying:
us two prove which is the better swordsman of the two!"
robber agreed with delight, feeling certain of victory, for he was
famous as a fencer in his province and he did not know who his
adversary was. He seized quickly what he thought was his sword and
stood on guard to defend himself. Alas! for the rebel the sword was the
wooden one of the young Prince and in vain Takeru tried to unsheathe
it—it was jammed fast, not all his exerted strength could move
if his efforts had been successful the sword would have been of no use
to him for it was of wood. Yamato Take saw that his enemy was in his
power, and swinging high the sword he had taken from Takeru he brought
it down with great might and dexterity and cut off the robber's head.
this way, sometimes by using his wisdom and sometimes by using his
bodily strength, and at other times by resorting to craftiness, which
was as much esteemed in those days as it is despised in these, he
prevailed against all the King's foes one by one, and brought peace and
rest to the land and the people.
he returned to the capital the King praised him for his brave deeds,
and held a feast in the Palace in honor of his safe coming home and
presented him with many rare gifts. From this time forth the King loved
him more than ever and would not let Yamato Take go from his side, for
he said that his son was now as precious to him as one of his arms.
the Prince was not allowed to live an idle life long. When he was about
thirty years old, news was brought that the Ainu race, the aborigines
of the islands of Japan, who had been conquered and pushed northwards
by the Japanese, had rebelled in the Eastern provinces, and leaving the
vicinity which had been allotted to them were causing great trouble in
the land. The King decided that it was necessary to send an army to do
battle with them and bring them to reason. But who was to lead the men?
Yamato Take at once offered to go and bring the newly arisen rebels
into subjection. Now as the King loved the Prince dearly, and could not
bear to have him go out of his sight even for the length of one day, he
was of course very loath to send him on his dangerous expedition. But
in the whole army there was no warrior so strong or so brave as the
Prince his son, so that His Majesty, unable to do otherwise,
reluctantly complied with Yamato's wish.
the time came for the Prince to start, the King gave him a spear called
the Eight-Arms-Length-Spear of the Holly Tree (the handle was probably
made from the wood of the holly tree), and ordered him to set out to
subjugate the Eastern Barbarians as the Ainu were then called.
Eight-Arms-Length-Spear of the Holly Tree of those old days, was prized
by warriors just as much as the Standard or Banner is valued by a
regiment in these modern days, when given by the King to his soldiers
on the occasion of setting out for war.
Prince respectfully and with great reverence received the King's spear,
and leaving the capital, marched with his army to the East. On his way
he visited first of all the temples of Ise for worship, and his aunt
the Princess of Yamato and High Priestess came out to greet him. She it
was who had given him her robe which had proved such a boon to him
before in helping him to overcome and slay the brigands of the West.
told her all that had happened to him, and of the great part her
keepsake had played in the success of his previous undertaking, and
thanked her very heartily. When she heard that he was starting out once
again to do battle with his father's enemies, she went into the temple,
and reappeared bearing a sword and a beautiful bag which she had made
herself, and which was full of flints, which in those times people used
instead of matches for making fire. These she presented to him as a
sword was the sword of Murakumo, one of the three sacred treasures
which comprise the insignia of the Imperial House of Japan. No more
auspicious talisman of luck and success could she have given her
nephew, and she bade him use it in the hour of his greatest need.
Take now bade farewell to his aunt, and once more placing himself at
the head of his men he marched to the farthest East through the
province of Owari, and then he reached the province of Suruga. Here the
governor welcomed the Prince right heartily and entertained him royally
with many feasts. When these were over, the governor told his guest
that his country was famous for its fine deer, and proposed a deer hunt
for the Prince's amusement. The Prince was utterly deceived by the
cordiality of his host, which was all feigned, and gladly consented to
join in the hunt.
governor then led the Prince to a wild and extensive plain where the
grass grew high and in great abundance. Quite ignorant that the
governor had laid a trap for him with the desire to compass his death,
the Prince began to ride hard and hunt down the deer, when all of a
sudden to his amazement he saw flames and smoke bursting out from the
bush in front of him. Realizing his danger he tried to retreat, but no
sooner did he turn his horse in the opposite direction than he saw that
even there the prairie was on fire. At the same time the grass on his
left and right burst into flames, and these began to spread swiftly
towards him on all sides. He looked round for a chance of escape. There
was none. He was surrounded by fire.
deer hunt was then only a cunning trick of the enemy!" said the Prince,
looking round on the flames and the smoke that crackled and rolled in
towards him on every side. "What a fool I was to be lured into this
trap like a wild beast!" and he ground his teeth with rage as he
thought of the governor's smiling treachery.
as was his situation now, the Prince was not in the least confounded.
In his dire extremity he remembered the gifts his aunt had given him
when they parted, and it seemed to him as if she must, with prophetic
foresight, have divined this hour of need. He coolly opened the
flint-bag that his aunt had given him and set fire to the grass near
him. Then drawing the sword of Murakumo from its sheath he set to work
to cut down the grass on either side of him with all speed. He
determined to die, if that were necessary, fighting for his life and
not standing still waiting for death to come to him.
to say the wind began to change and to blow from the opposite
direction, and the fiercest portion of the burning bush which had
hitherto threatened to come upon him was now blown right away from him,
and the Prince, without even a scratch on his body or a single hair
burned, lived to tell the tale of his wonderful escape, while the wind
rising to a gale overtook the governor, and he was burned to death in
the flames he had set alight to kill Yamato Take.
the Prince ascribed his escape entirely to the virtue of the sword of
Murakumo, and to the protection of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess of Ise,
who controls the wind and all the elements and insures the safety of
all who pray to her in the hour of danger. Lifting the precious sword
he raised it above his head many times in token of his great respect,
and as he did this he re-named it Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or the
Grass-Cleaving Sword, and the place where he set fire to the grass
round him and escaped from death in the burning prairie, he called
Yaidzu. To this day there is a spot along the great Tokaido railway
named Yaidzu, which is said to be the very place where this thrilling
event took place.
did the brave Prince Yamato Take escape out of the snare laid for him
by his enemy. He was full of resource and courage, and finally
outwitted and subdued all his foes. Leaving Yaidzu he marched eastward,
and came to the shore at Idzu from whence he wished to cross to Kadzusa.
these dangers and adventures he had been followed by his faithful
loving wife the Princess Ototachibana. For his sake she counted the
weariness of the long journeys and the dangers of war as nothing, and
her love for her warrior husband was so great that she felt well repaid
for all her wanderings if she could but hand him his sword when he
sallied forth to battle, or minister to his wants when he returned
weary to the camp.
the heart of the Prince was full of war and conquest and he cared
little for the faithful Ototachibana. From long exposure in traveling,
and from care and grief at her lord's coldness to her, her beauty had
faded, and her ivory skin was burnt brown by the sun, and the Prince
told her one day that her place was in the Palace behind the screens at
home and not with him upon the warpath. But in spite of rebuffs and
indifference on her husband's part, Ototachibana could not find it in
her heart to leave him. But perhaps it would have been better for her
if she had done so, for on the way to Idzu, when they came to Owari,
her heart was well-nigh broken.
dwelt in a Palace shaded by pine-trees and approached by imposing
gates, the Princess Miyadzu, beautiful as the cherry blossom in the
blushing dawn of a spring morning. Her garments were dainty and bright,
and her skin was white as snow, for she had never known what it was to
be weary along the path of duty or to walk in the heat of a summer's
sun. And the Prince was ashamed of his sunburnt wife in her
travel-stained garments, and bade her remain behind while he went to
visit the Princess Miyadzu. Day after day he spent hours in the gardens
and the Palace of his new friend, thinking only of his pleasure, and
caring little for his poor wife who remained behind to weep in the tent
at the misery which had come into her life. Yet she was so faithful a
wife, and her character so patient, that she never allowed a reproach
to escape her lips, or a frown to mar the sweet sadness of her face,
and she was ever ready with a smile to welcome her husband back or
usher him forth wherever he went.
last the day came when the Prince Yamato Take must depart for Idzu and
cross over the sea to Kadzusa, and he bade his wife follow in his
retinue as an attendant while he went to take a ceremonious farewell of
the Princess Miyadzu. She came out to greet him dressed in gorgeous
robes, and she seemed more beautiful than ever, and when Yamato Take
saw her he forgot his wife, his duty, and everything except the joy of
the idle present, and swore that he would return to Owari and marry her
when the war was over. And as he looked up when he had said these words
he met the large almond eyes of Ototachibana fixed full upon him in
unspeakable sadness and wonder, and he knew that he had done wrong, but
he hardened his heart and rode on, caring little for the pain he had
they reached the seashore at Idzu his men sought for boats in which to
cross the straits to Kadzusa, but it was difficult to find boats enough
to allow all the soldiers to embark. Then the Prince stood on the
beach, and in the pride of his strength he scoffed and said:
is not the sea! This is only a brook! Why do you men want so many
boats? I could jump this if I would."
at last they had all embarked and were fairly on their way across the
straits, the sky suddenly clouded and a great storm arose. The waves
rose mountains high, the wind howled, the lightning flashed and the
thunder rolled, and the boat which held Ototachibana and the Prince and
his men was tossed from crest to crest of the rolling waves, till it
seemed that every moment must be their last and that they must all be
swallowed up in the angry sea. For Kin Jin, the Dragon King of the Sea,
had heard Yamato Take jeer, and had raised this terrible storm in
anger, to show the scoffing Prince how awful the sea could be though it
did but look like a brook.
terrified crew lowered the sails and looked after the rudder, and
worked for their dear lives' sake, but all in vain—the storm only
seemed to increase in violence, and all gave themselves up for lost.
Then the faithful Ototachibana rose, and forgetting all the grief that
her husband had caused her, forgetting even that he had wearied of her,
in the one great desire of her love to save him, she determined to
sacrifice her life to rescue him from death if it were possible.
the waves dashed over the ship and the wind whirled round them in fury
she stood up and said:
all this has come because the Prince has angered Rin Jin, the God of
the Sea, by his jesting. If so, I, Ototachibana, will appease the wrath
of the Sea God who desires nothing less than my husband's life!"
addressing the sea she said:
will take the place of His Augustness, Yamato Take. I will now cast
myself into your outraged depths, giving my life for his. Therefore
hear me and bring him safely to the shore of Kadzusa."
these words she leaped quickly into the boisterous sea, and the waves
soon whirled her away and she was lost to sight. Strange to say, the
storm ceased at once, and the sea became as calm and smooth as the
matting on which the astonished onlookers were sitting. The gods of the
sea were now appeased, and the weather cleared and the sun shone as on
a summer's day.
Take soon reached the opposite shore and landed safely, even as his
wife Ototachibana had prayed. His prowess in war was marvelous, and he
succeeded after some time in conquering the Eastern Barbarians, the
ascribed his safe landing wholly to the faithfulness of his wife, who
had so willingly and lovingly sacrificed herself in the hour of his
utmost peril. His heart was softened at the remembrance of her, and he
never allowed her to pass from his thoughts even for a moment. Too late
had he learned to esteem the goodness of her heart and the greatness of
her love for him.
he was returning on his homeward way he came to the high pass of the
Usui Toge, and here he stood and gazed at the wonderful prospect
beneath him. The country, from this great elevation, all lay open to
his sight, a vast panorama of mountain and plain and forest, with
rivers winding like silver ribbons through the land; then far off he
saw the distant sea, which shimmered like a luminous mist in the great
distance, where Ototachibana had given her life for him, and as he
turned towards it he stretched out his arms, and thinking of her love
which he had scorned and his faithlessness to her, his heart burst out
into a sorrowful and bitter cry:
Azuma, Ya!" (Oh! my wife, my wife!) And to this day there is a district
in Tokio called Azuma, which commemorates the words of Prince Yamato
Take, and the place where his faithful wife leapt into the sea to save
him is still pointed out. So, though in life the Princess Ototachibana
was unhappy, history keeps her memory green, and the story of her
unselfishness and heroic death will never pass away.
Take had now fulfilled all his father's orders, he had subdued all
rebels, and rid the land of all robbers and enemies to the peace, and
his renown was great, for in the whole land there was no one who could
stand up against him, he was so strong in battle and wise in council.
was about to return straight for home by the way he had come, when the
thought struck him that he would find it more interesting to take
another route, so he passed through the province of Owari and came to
the province of Omi.
the Prince reached Omi he found the people in a state of great
excitement and fear. In many houses as he passed along he saw the signs
of mourning and heard loud lamentations. On inquiring the cause of this
he was told that a terrible monster had appeared in the mountains, who
daily came down from thence and made raids on the villages, devouring
whoever he could seize. Many homes had been made desolate and the men
were afraid to go out to their daily work in the fields, or the women
to go to the rivers to wash their rice.
Yamato Take heard this his wrath was kindled, and he said fiercely:
the western end of Kiushiu to the eastern corner of Yezo I have subdued
all the King's enemies—there is no one who dares to break the
to rebel against the King. It. is indeed a matter for wonder that here
in this place, so near the capital, a wicked monster has dared to take
up his abode and be the terror of the King's subjects. Not long shall
it find pleasure in devouring innocent folk. I will start out and kill
it at once."
these words he set out for the Ibuki Mountain, where the monster was
said to live. He climbed up a good distance, when all of a sudden, at a
winding in the path, a monster serpent appeared before him and stopped
must be the monster," said the Prince; "I do not need my sword for a
serpent. I can kill him with my hands."
thereupon sprang upon the serpent and tried to strangle it to death
with his bare arms. It was not long before his prodigious strength
gained the mastery and the serpent lay dead at his feet. Now a sudden
darkness came over the mountain and rain began to fall, so that for the
gloom and the rain the Prince could hardly see which way to take. In a
short time, however, while he was groping his way down the pass, the
weather cleared, and our brave hero was able to make his way quickly
down the mountain.
he got back he began to feel ill and to have burning pains in his feet,
so he knew that the serpent had poisoned him. So great was his
suffering that he could hardly move, much less walk, so he had himself
carried to a place in the mountains famous for its hot mineral springs,
which rose bubbling out of the earth, and almost boiling from the
volcanic fires beneath.
Take bathed daily in these waters, and gradually he felt his strength
come again, and the pains left him, till at last one day he found with
great joy that he was quite recovered. He now hastened to the temples
of Ise, where you will remember that he prayed before undertaking this
long expedition. His aunt, priestess of the shrine, who had blessed him
on his setting out, now came to welcome him back. He told her of the
many dangers he had encountered and of how marvelously his life had
been preserved through all—and she praised his courage and his
warrior's prowess, and then putting on her most magnificent robes she
returned thanks to their ancestress the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, to whose
protection they both ascribed the Prince's wonderful preservation.
ends the story of Prince Yamato Take of Japan.
MOMOTARO, OR THE STORY OF THE SON OF A PEACH.
long ago there lived, an old man and an old woman; they were peasants,
and had to work hard to earn their daily rice. The old man used to go
and cut grass for the farmers around, and while he was gone the old
woman, his wife, did the work of the house and worked in their own
little rice field.
day the old man went to the hills as usual to cut grass and the old
woman took some clothes to the river to wash.
was nearly summer, and the country was very beautiful to see in its
fresh greenness as the two old people went on their way to work. The
grass on the banks of the river looked like emerald velvet, and the
pussy willows along the edge of the water were shaking out their soft
breezes blew and ruffled the smooth surface of the water into wavelets,
and passing on touched the cheeks of the old couple who, for some
reason they could not explain, felt very happy that morning.
old woman at last found a nice spot by the river bank and put her
basket down. Then she set to work to wash the clothes; she took them
one by one out of the basket and washed them in the river and rubbed
them on the stones. The water was as clear as crystal, and she could
see the tiny fish swimming to and fro, and the pebbles at the bottom.
she was busy washing her clothes a great peach came bumping down the
stream. The old woman looked up from her work and saw this large peach.
She was sixty years of age, yet in all her life she had never seen such
a big peach as this.
delicious that peach must be!" she said to herself. "I must certainly
get it and take it home to my old man."
stretched out her arm to try and get it, but it was quite out of her
reach. She looked about for a stick, but there was not one to be seen,
and if she went to look for one she would lose the peach.
a moment to think what she would do, she remembered an old charm-verse.
Now she began to clap her hands to keep time to the rolling of the
peach down stream, and while she clapped she sang this song:
water is bitter,
The near water is sweet;
Pass by the distant water
And come into the sweet."
to say, as soon as she began to repeat this little song the peach began
to come nearer and nearer the bank where the old woman was standing,
till at last it stopped just in front of her so that she was able to
take it up in her hands. The old woman was delighted. She could not go
on with her work, so happy and excited was she, so she put all the
clothes back in her bamboo basket, and with the basket on her back and
the peach in her hand she hurried homewards.
seemed a very long time to her to wait till her husband returned. The
old man at last came back as the sun was setting, with a big bundle of
grass on his back—so big that he was almost hidden and she could
see him. He seemed very tired and used the scythe for a walking stick,
leaning on it as he walked along.
soon as the old woman saw him she called out:
Fii San! (old man) I have been waiting for you to come home for such a
long time to-day!"
is the matter? Why are you so impatient?" asked the old man, wondering
at her unusual eagerness. "Has anything happened while I have been
no!" answered the old woman, "nothing has happened, only I have found a
nice present for you!"
is good," said the old man. He then washed his feet in a basin of water
and stepped up to the veranda.
old woman now ran into the little room and brought out from the
cupboard the big peach. It felt even heavier than before. She held it
up to him, saying:
look at this! Did you ever see such a large peach in all your life?"
the old man looked at the peach he was greatly astonished and said:
is indeed the largest peach I have ever seen! Wherever did you buy it?"
did not buy it," answered the old woman. "I found it in the river where
I was washing." And she told him the whole story.
am very glad that you have found it. Let us eat it now, for I am
hungry," said the O Fii San.
brought out the kitchen knife, and, placing the peach on a board, was
about to cut it when, wonderful to tell, the peach split in two of
itself and a clear voice said:
a bit, old man!" and out stepped a beautiful little child.
old man and his wife were both so astonished at what they saw that they
fell to the ground. The child spoke again:
be afraid. I am no demon or fairy. I will tell you the truth. Heaven
has had compassion on you. Every day and every night you have lamented
that you had no child. Your cry has been heard and I am sent to be the
son of your old age!"
hearing this the old man and his wife were very happy. They had cried
night and day for sorrow at having no child to help them in their
lonely old age, and now that their prayer was answered they were so
lost with joy that they did not know where to put their hands or their
feet. First the old man took the child up in his arms, and then the old
woman did the same; and they named him MOMOTARO, OR SON OF A PEACH,
because he had come out of a peach.
years passed quickly by and the child grew to be fifteen years of age.
He was taller and far stronger than any other boys of his own age, he
had a handsome face and a heart full of courage, and he was very wise
for his years. The old couple's pleasure was very great when they
looked at him, for he was just what they thought a hero ought to be
day Momotaro came to his foster-father and said solemnly:
by a strange chance we have become father and son. Your goodness to me
has been higher than the mountain grasses which it was your daily work
to cut, and deeper than the river where my mother washes the clothes. I
do not know how to thank you enough."
answered the old man, "it is a matter of course that a father should
bring up his son. When you are older it will be your turn to take care
of us, so after all there will be no profit or loss between
be equal. Indeed, I am rather surprised that you should thank me in
this way!" and the old man looked bothered.
hope you will be patient with me," said Momotaro; "but before I begin
to pay back your goodness to me I have a request to make which I hope
you will grant me above everything else."
will let you do whatever you wish, for you are quite different to all
let me go away at once!"
do you say? Do you wish to leave your old father and mother and go away
from your old home?"
will surely come back again, if you let me go now!"
are you going?"
must think it strange that I want to go away," said Momotaro, "because
I have not yet told you my reason. Far away from here to the northeast
of Japan there is an island in the sea. This island is the stronghold
of a band of devils. I have often heard how they invade this land, kill
and rob the people, and carry off all they can find. They are not only
very wicked but they are disloyal to our Emperor and disobey his laws.
They are also cannibals, for they kill and eat some of the poor people
who are so unfortunate as to fall into their hands. These devils are
very hateful beings. I must go and conquer them and bring back all the
plunder of which they have robbed this land. It is for this reason that
I want to go away for a short time!"
old man was much surprised at hearing all this from a mere boy of
fifteen. He thought it best to let the boy go. He was strong and
fearless, and besides all this, the old man knew he was no common
child, for he had been sent to them as a gift from Heaven, and he felt
quite sure that the devils would be powerless to harm him.
you say is very interesting, Momotaro," said the old man. "I will not
hinder you in your determination. You may go if you wish. Go to the
island as soon as ever you like and destroy the demons and bring peace
to the land."
you, for all your kindness," said Momotaro, who began to get ready to
go that very day. He was full of courage and did not know what fear was.
old man and woman at once set to work to pound rice in the kitchen
mortar to make cakes for Momotaro to take with him on his journey.
last the cakes were made and Momotaro was ready to start on his long
is always sad. So it was now. The eyes of the two old people were
filled with tears and their voices trembled as they said:
with all care and speed. We expect you back victorious!"
was very sorry to leave his old parents (though he knew he was coming
back as soon as he could), for he thought of how lonely they would be
while he was away. But he said "Good-by!" quite bravely.
am going now. Take good care of yourselves while I am away. Good-by!"
And he stepped quickly out of the house. In silence the eyes of
Momotaro and his parents met in farewell.
now hurried on his way till it was midday. He began to feel hungry, so
he opened his bag and took out one of the rice-cakes and sat down under
a tree by the side of the road to eat it. While he was thus having his
lunch a dog almost as large as a colt came running out from the high
grass. He made straight for Momotaro, and showing his teeth, said in a
are a rude man to pass my field without asking permission first. If you
leave me all the cakes you have in your bag you may go; otherwise I
will bite you till I kill you!"
only laughed scornfully:
is that you are saying? Do you know who I am? I am Momotaro, and I am
on my way to subdue the devils in their island stronghold in the
northeast of Japan. If you try to stop me on my way there I will cut
you in two from the head downwards!"
dog's manner at once changed. His tail dropped between his legs, and
coming near he bowed so low that his forehead touched the ground.
do I hear? The name of Momotaro? Are you indeed Momotaro? I have often
heard of your great strength. Not knowing who you were I have behaved
in a very stupid way. Will you please pardon my rudeness? Are you
indeed on your way to invade the Island of Devils? If you will take
such a rude fellow with you as one of your followers, I shall be very
grateful to you."
think I can take you with me if you wish to go," said Momotaro.
you!" said the dog. "By the way, I am very very hungry. Will you give
me one of the cakes you are carrying?"
is the best kind of cake there is in Japan," said Momotaro. "I cannot
spare you a whole one; I will give you half of one."
you very much," said the dog, taking the piece thrown to him.
Momotaro got up and the dog followed. For a long time they walked over
the hills and through the valleys. As they were going along an animal
came down from a tree a little ahead of them. The creature soon came up
to Momotaro and said:
morning, Momotaro! You are welcome in this part of the country. Will
you allow me to go with you?"
dog answered jealously:
already has a dog to accompany him. Of what use is a monkey like you in
battle? We are on our way to fight the devils! Get away!"
dog and the monkey began to quarrel and bite, for these two animals
always hate each other.
don't quarrel!" said Momotaro, putting himself between them. "Wait a
is not at all dignified for you to have such a creature as that
following you!" said the dog.
do you know about it?" asked Momotaro; and pushing aside the dog, he
spoke to the monkey:
am a monkey living in these hills," replied the monkey. "I heard of
your expedition to the Island of Devils, and I have come to go with
you. Nothing will please me more than to follow you!"
you really wish to go to the Island of Devils and fight with me?"
sir," replied the monkey.
admire your courage," said Momotaro. "Here is a piece of one of my fine
rice-cakes. Come along!"
the monkey joined Momotaro. The dog and the monkey did not get on well
together. They were always snapping at each other as they went along,
and always wanting to have a fight. This made Momotaro very cross, and
at last he sent the dog on ahead with a flag and put the monkey behind
with a sword, and he placed himself between them with a war-fan, which
is made of iron.
and by they came to a large field. Here a bird flew down and alighted
on the ground just in front of the little party. It was the most
beautiful bird Momotaro had ever seen. On its body were five different
robes of feathers and its head was covered with a scarlet cap.
dog at once ran at the bird and tried to seize and kill it. But the
bird struck out its spurs and flew at the dog's tail, and the fight
went hard with both.
as he looked on, could not help admiring the bird; it showed so much
spirit in the fight. It would certainly make a good fighter.
went up to the two combatants, and holding the dog back, said to the
rascal! you are hindering my journey. Surrender at once, and I will
take you with me. If you don't I will set this dog to bite your head
the bird surrendered at once, and begged to be taken into Momotaro's
do not know what excuse to offer for quarreling with the dog, your
servant, but I did not see you. I am a miserable bird called a
pheasant. It is very generous of you to pardon my rudeness and to take
me with you. Please allow me to follow you behind the dog and the
congratulate you on surrendering so soon," said Momotaro, smiling.
"Come and join us in our raid on the devils."
you going to take this bird with you also?" asked the dog, interrupting.
do you ask such an unnecessary question? Didn't you hear what I said? I
take the bird with me because I wish to!"
said the dog.
Momotaro stood and gave this order:
all of you must listen to me. The first thing necessary in an army is
harmony. It is a wise saying which says that 'Advantage on earth is
better than advantage in Heaven!' Union amongst ourselves is better
than any earthly gain. When we are not at peace amongst ourselves it is
no easy thing to subdue an enemy. From now, you three, the dog, the
monkey and the pheasant, must be friends with one mind. The one who
first begins a quarrel will be discharged on the spot!"
the three promised not to quarrel. The pheasant was now made a member
of Momotaro's suite, and received half a cake.
influence was so great that the three became good friends, and hurried
onwards with him as their leader.
on day after day they at last came out upon the shore of the
North-Eastern Sea. There was nothing to be seen as far as the
horizon—not a sign of any island. All that broke the stillness
rolling of the waves upon the shore.
the dog and the monkey and the pheasant had come very bravely all the
way through the long valleys and over the hills, but they had never
seen the sea before, and for the first time since they set out they
were bewildered and gazed at each other in silence. How were they to
cross the water and get to the Island of Devils?
soon saw that they were daunted by the sight of the sea, and to try
them he spoke loudly and roughly:
do you hesitate? Are you afraid of the sea? Oh! what cowards you are!
It is impossible to take such weak creatures as you with me to fight
the demons. It will be far better for me to go alone. I discharge you
all at once!"
three animals were taken aback at this sharp reproof, and clung to
Momotaro's sleeve, begging him not to send them away.
Momotaro!" said the dog.
have come thus far!" said the monkey.
is inhuman to leave us here!" said the pheasant.
are not at all afraid of the sea," said the monkey again.
do take us with you," said the pheasant.
please," said the dog.
had now gained a little courage, so Momotaro said:
then, I will take you with me, but be careful!"
now got a small ship, and they all got on board. The wind and weather
were fair, and the ship went like an arrow over the sea. It was the
first time they had ever been on the water, and so at first the dog,
the monkey and the pheasant were frightened at the waves and the
rolling of the vessel, but by degrees they grew accustomed to the water
and were quite happy again. Every day they paced the deck of their
little ship, eagerly looking out for the demons' island.
they grew tired of this, they told each other stories of all their
exploits of which they were proud, and then played games together; and
Momotaro found much to amuse him in listening to the three animals and
watching their antics, and in this way he forgot that the way was long
and that he was tired of the voyage and of doing nothing. He longed to
be at work killing the monsters who had done so much harm in his
the wind blew in their favor and they met no storms the ship made a
quick voyage, and one day when the sun was shining brightly a sight of
land rewarded the four watchers at the bow.
knew at once that what they saw was the devils' stronghold. On the top
of the precipitous shore, looking out to sea, was a large castle. Now
that his enterprise was close at hand, he was deep in thought with his
head leaning on his hands, wondering how he should begin the attack.
His three followers watched him, waiting for orders. At last he called
to the pheasant:
is a great advantage for us to have you with us." said Momotaro to the
bird, "for you have good wings. Fly at once to the castle and engage
the demons to fight. We will follow you."
pheasant at once obeyed. He flew off from the ship beating the air
gladly with his wings. The bird soon reached the island and took up his
position on the roof in the middle of the castle, calling out loudly:
you devils listen to me! The great Japanese general Momotaro has come
to fight you and to take your stronghold from you. If you wish to save
your lives surrender at once, and in token of your submission you must
break off the horns that grow on your forehead. If you do not surrender
at once, but make up your mind to fight, we, the pheasant, the dog and
the monkey, will kill you all by biting and tearing you to death!"
horned demons looking up and only seeing a pheasant, laughed and said:
wild pheasant, indeed! It is ridiculous to hear such words from a mean
thing like you. Wait till you get a blow from one of our iron bars!"
angry, indeed, were the devils. They shook their horns and their shocks
of red hair fiercely, and rushed to put on tiger skin trousers to make
themselves look more terrible. They then brought out great iron bars
and ran to where the pheasant perched over their heads, and tried to
knock him down. The pheasant flew to one side to escape the blow, and
then attacked the head of first one and then another demon. He flew
round and round them, beating the air with his wings so fiercely and
ceaselessly, that the devils began to wonder whether they had to fight
one or many more birds.
the meantime, Momotaro had brought his ship to land. As they had
approached, he saw that the shore was like a precipice, and that the
large castle was surrounded by high walls and large iron gates and was
landed, and with the hope of finding some way of entrance, walked up
the path towards the top, followed by the monkey and the dog. They soon
came upon two beautiful damsels washing clothes in a stream. Momotaro
saw that the clothes were blood-stained, and that as the two maidens
washed, the tears were falling fast down their cheeks. He stopped and
spoke to them:
are you, and why do you weep?"
are captives of the Demon King. We were carried away from our homes to
this island, and though we are the daughters of Daimios (Lords), we are
obliged to be his servants, and one day he will kill us"—and the
maidens held up the blood-stained clothes—"and eat us, and there
one to help us!"
their tears burst out afresh at this horrible thought.
will rescue you," said Momotaro. "Do not weep any more, only show me
how I may get into the castle."
the two ladies led the way and showed Momotaro a little back door in
the lowest part of the castle wall—so small that Momotaro could
pheasant, who was all this time fighting hard, saw Momotaro and his
little band rush in at the back.
onslaught was so furious that the devils could not stand against him.
At first their foe had been a single bird, the pheasant, but now that
Momotaro and the dog and the monkey had arrived they were bewildered,
for the four enemies fought like a hundred, so strong were they. Some
of the devils fell off the parapet of the castle and were dashed to
pieces on the rocks beneath; others fell into the sea and were drowned;
many were beaten to death by the three animals.
chief of the devils at last was the only one left. He made up his mind
to surrender, for he knew that his enemy was stronger than mortal man.
came up humbly to Momotaro and threw down his iron bar, and kneeling
down at the victor's feet he broke off the horns on his head in token
of submission, for they were the sign of his strength and power.
am afraid of you," he said meekly. "I cannot stand against you. I will
give you all the treasure hidden in this castle if you will spare my
is not like you, big devil, to beg for mercy, is it? I cannot spare
your wicked life, however much you beg, for you have killed and
tortured many people and robbed our country for many years."
Momotaro tied the devil chief up and gave him into the monkey's charge.
Having done this, he went into all the rooms of the castle and set the
prisoners free and gathered together all the treasure he found.
dog and the pheasant carried home the plunder, and thus Momotaro
returned triumphantly to his home, taking with him the devil chief as a
two poor damsels, daughters of Daimios, and others whom the wicked
demon had carried off to be his slaves, were taken safely to their own
homes and delivered to their parents.
whole country made a hero of Momotaro on his triumphant return, and
rejoiced that the country was now freed from the robber devils who had
been a terror of the land for a long time.
old couple's joy was greater than ever, and the treasure Momotaro had
brought home with him enabled them to live in peace and plenty to the
end of their days.
THE OGRE OF RASHOMON.
long ago in Kyoto, the people of the city were terrified by accounts of
a dreadful ogre, who, it was said, haunted the Gate of Rashomon at
twilight and seized whoever passed by. The missing victims were never
seen again, so it was whispered that the ogre was a horrible cannibal,
who not only killed the unhappy victims but ate them also. Now
everybody in the town and neighborhood was in great fear, and no one
durst venture out after sunset near the Gate of Rashomon.
at this time there lived in Kyoto a general named Raiko, who had made
himself famous for his brave deeds. Some time before this he made the
country ring with his name, for he had attacked Oeyama, where a band of
ogres lived with their chief, who instead of wine drank the blood of
human beings. He had routed them all and cut off the head of the chief
brave warrior was always followed by a band of faithful knights. In
this band there were five knights of great valor. One evening as the
five knights sat at a feast quaffing SAKE in their rice bowls and
eating all kinds of fish, raw, and stewed, and broiled, and toasting
each other's healths and exploits, the first knight, Hojo, said to the
you all heard the rumor that every evening after sunset there comes an
ogre to the Gate of Rashomon, and that he seizes all who pass by?"
second knight, Watanabe, answered him, saying:
not talk such nonsense! All the ogres were killed by our chief Raiko at
Oeyama! It cannot be true, because even if any ogres did escape from
that great killing they would not dare to show themselves in this city,
for they know that our brave master would at once attack them if he
knew that any of them were still alive!"
do you disbelieve what I say, and think that I am telling you a
I do not think that you are telling a lie," said Watanabe; "but you
have heard some old woman's story which is not worth believing."
the best plan is to prove what I say, by going there yourself and
finding out yourself whether it is true or not," said Hojo.
the second knight, could not bear the thought that his companion should
believe he was afraid, so he answered quickly:
course, I will go at once and find out for myself!"
Watanabe at once got ready to go—he buckled on his long sword and
on a coat of armor, and tied on his large helmet. When he was ready to
start he said to the others:
me something so that I can prove I have been there!"
one of the men got a roll of writing paper and his box of Indian ink
and brushes, and the four comrades wrote their names on a piece of
will take this," said Watanabe, "and put it on the Gate of Rashomon, so
to-morrow morning will you all go and look at it? I may be able to
catch an ogre or two by then!" and he mounted his horse and rode off
was a very dark night, and there was neither moon nor star to light
Watanabe on his way. To make the darkness worse a storm came on, the
rain fell heavily and the wind howled like wolves in the mountains. Any
ordinary man would have trembled at the thought of going out of doors,
but Watanabe was a brave warrior and dauntless, and his honor and word
were at stake, so he sped on into the night, while his companions
listened to the sound of his horse's hoofs dying away in the distance,
then shut the sliding shutters close and gathered round the charcoal
fire and wondered what would happen—and whether their comrade
encounter one of those horrible Oni.
last Watanabe reached the Gate of Rashomon, but peer as he might
through the darkness he could see no sign of an ogre.
is just as I thought," said Watanabe to himself; "there are certainly
no ogres here; it is only an old woman's story. I will stick this paper
on the gate so that the others can see I have been here when they come
to-morrow, and then I will take my way home and laugh at them all."
fastened the piece of paper, signed by all his four companions, on the
gate, and then turned his horse's head towards home.
he did so he became aware that some one was behind him, and at the same
time a voice called out to him to wait. Then his helmet was seized from
the back. "Who are you?" said Watanabe fearlessly. He then put out his
hand and groped around to find out who or what it was that held him by
the helmet. As he did so he touched something that felt like an
was covered with hair and as big round as the trunk of a tree!
knew at once that this was the arm of an ogre, so he drew his sword and
cut at it fiercely.
was a loud yell of pain, and then the ogre dashed in front of the
eyes grew large with wonder, for he saw that the ogre was taller than
the great gate, his eyes were flashing like mirrors in the sunlight,
and his huge mouth was wide open, and as the monster breathed, flames
of fire shot out of his mouth.
ogre thought to terrify his foe, but Watanabe never flinched. He
attacked the ogre with all his strength, and thus they fought face to
face for a long time. At last the ogre, finding that he could neither
frighten nor beat Watanabe and that he might himself be beaten, took to
flight. But Watanabe, determined not to let the monster escape, put
spurs to his horse and gave chase.
though the knight rode very fast the ogre ran faster, and to his
disappointment he found himself unable to overtake the monster, who was
gradually lost to sight.
returned to the gate where the fierce fight had taken place, and got
down from his horse. As he did so he stumbled upon something lying on
to pick it up he found that it was one of the ogre's huge arms which he
must have slashed off in the fight. His joy was great at having secured
such a prize, for this was the best of all proofs of his adventure with
the ogre. So he took it up carefully and carried it home as a trophy of
he got back, he showed the arm to his comrades, who one and all called
him the hero of their band and gave him a great feast. His wonderful
deed was soon noised abroad in Kyoto, and people from far and near came
to see the ogre's arm.
now began to grow uneasy as to how he should keep the arm in safety,
for he knew that the ogre to whom it belonged was still alive. He felt
sure that one day or other, as soon as the ogre got over his scare, he
would come to try to get his arm back again. Watanabe therefore had a
box made of the strongest wood and banded with iron. In this he placed
the arm, and then he sealed down the heavy lid, refusing to open it for
anyone. He kept the box in his own room and took charge of it himself,
never allowing it out of his sight.
one night he heard some one knocking at the porch, asking for
the servant went to the door to see who it was, there was only an old
woman, very respectable in appearance. On being asked who she was and
what was her business, the old woman replied with a smile that she had
been nurse to the master of the house when he was a little baby. If the
lord of the house were at home she begged to be allowed to see him.
servant left the old woman at the door and went to tell his master that
his old nurse had come to see him. Watanabe thought it strange that she
should come at that time of night, but at the thought of his old nurse,
who had been like a foster-mother to him and whom he had not seen for a
long time, a very tender feeling sprang up for her in his heart. He
ordered the servant to show her in.
old woman was ushered into the room, and after the customary bows and
greetings were over, she said:
the report of your brave fight with the ogre at the Gate of Rashomon is
so widely known that even your poor old nurse has heard of it. Is it
really true, what every one says, that you cut off one of the ogre's
arms? If you did, your deed is highly to be praised!"
was very disappointed," said Watanabe, "that I was not able take the
monster captive, which was what I wished to do, instead of only cutting
off an arm!"
am very proud to think," answered the old woman, "that my master was so
brave as to dare to cut off an ogre's arm. There is nothing that can be
compared to your courage. Before I die it is the great wish of my life
to see this arm," she added pleadingly.
said Watanabe, "I am sorry, but I cannot grant your request."
why?" asked the old woman.
replied Watanabe, "ogres are very revengeful creatures, and if I open
the box there is no telling but that the ogre may suddenly appear and
carry off his arm. I have had a box made on purpose with a very strong
lid, and in this box I keep the ogre's arm secure; and I never show it
to any one, whatever happens."
precaution is very reasonable," said the old woman. "But I am your old
nurse, so surely you will not refuse to show ME the arm. I have only
just heard of your brave act, and not being able to wait till the
morning I came at once to ask you to show it to me."
was very troubled at the old woman's pleading, but he still persisted
in refusing. Then the old woman said:
you suspect me of being a spy sent by the ogre?"
of course I do not suspect you of being the ogre's spy, for you are my
old nurse," answered Watanabe.
you cannot surely refuse to show me the arm any longer." entreated the
old woman; "for it is the great wish of my heart to see for once in my
life the arm of an ogre!"
could not hold out in his refusal any longer, so he gave in at last,
I will show you the ogre's arm, since you so earnestly wish to see it.
Come, follow me!" and he led the way to his own room, the old woman
they were both in the room Watanabe shut the door carefully, and then
going towards a big box which stood in a corner of the room, he took
off the heavy lid. He then called to the old woman to come near and
look in, for he never took the arm out of the box.
is it like? Let me have a good look at it," said the old nurse, with a
came nearer and nearer, as if she were afraid, till she stood right
against the box. Suddenly she plunged her hand into the box and seized
the arm, crying with a fearful voice which made the room shake:
joy! I have got my arm back again!"
from an old woman she was suddenly transformed into the towering figure
of the frightful ogre!
sprang back and was unable to move for a moment, so great was his
astonishment; but recognizing the ogre who had attacked him at the Gate
of Rashomon, he determined with his usual courage to put an end to him
this time. He seized his sword, drew it out of its sheath in a flash,
and tried to cut the ogre down.
quick was Watanabe that the creature had a narrow escape. But the ogre
sprang up to the ceiling, and bursting through the roof, disappeared in
the mist and clouds.
this way the ogre escaped with his arm. The knight gnashed his teeth
with disappointment, but that was all he could do. He waited in
patience for another opportunity to dispatch the ogre. But the latter
was afraid of Watanabe's great strength and daring, and never troubled
Kyoto again. So once more the people of the city were able to go out
without fear even at night time, and the brave deeds of Watanabe have
never been forgotten!
HOW AN OLD MAN LOST HIS WEN.
many years ago there lived a good old man who had a wen like a
tennis-ball growing out of his right cheek. This lump was a great
disfigurement to the old man, and so annoyed him that for many years he
spent all his time and money in trying to get rid of it. He tried
everything he could think of. He consulted many doctors far and near,
and took all kinds of medicines both internally and externally. But it
was all of no use. The lump only grew bigger and bigger till it was
nearly as big as his face, and in despair he gave up all hopes of ever
losing it, and resigned himself to the thought of having to carry the
lump on his face all his life.
day the firewood gave out in his kitchen, so, as his wife wanted some
at once, the old man took his ax and set out for the woods up among the
hills not very far from his home. It was a fine day in the early
autumn, and the old man enjoyed the fresh air and was in no hurry to
get home. So the whole afternoon passed quickly while he was chopping
wood, and he had collected a goodly pile to take back to his wife. When
the day began to draw to a close, he turned his face homewards.
old man had not gone far on his way down the mountain pass when the sky
clouded and rain began to fall heavily. He looked about for some
shelter, but there was not even a charcoal-burner's hut near. At last
he espied a large hole in the hollow trunk of a tree. The hole was near
the ground, so he crept in easily, and sat down in hopes that he had
only been overtaken by a mountain shower, and that the weather would
much to the old man's disappointment, instead of clearing the rain fell
more and more heavily, and finally a heavy thunderstorm broke over the
mountain. The thunder roared so terrifically, and the heavens seemed to
be so ablaze with lightning, that the old man could hardly believe
himself to be alive. He thought that he must die of fright. At last,
however, the sky cleared, and the whole country was aglow in the rays
of the setting sun. The old man's spirits revived when he looked out at
the beautiful twilight, and he was about to step out from his strange
hiding-place in the hollow tree when the sound of what seemed like the
approaching steps of several people caught his ear. He at once thought
that his friends had come to look for him, and he was delighted at the
idea of having some jolly companions with whom to walk home. But on
looking out from the tree, what was his amazement to see, not his
friends, but hundreds of demons coming towards the spot. The more he
looked, the greater was his astonishment. Some of these demons were as
large as giants, others had great big eyes out of all proportion to the
rest of their bodies, others again had absurdly long noses, and some
had such big mouths that they seemed to open from ear to ear. All had
horns growing on their foreheads. The old man was so surprised at what
he saw that he lost his balance and fell out of the hollow tree.
Fortunately for him the demons did not see him, as the tree was in the
background. So he picked himself up and crept back into the tree.
he was sitting there and wondering impatiently when he would be able to
get home, he heard the sounds of gay music, and then some of the demons
began to sing.
are these creatures doing?" said the old man to himself. "I will look
out, it sounds very amusing."
peeping out, the old man saw that the demon chief himself was actually
sitting with his back against the tree in which he had taken refuge,
and all the other demons were sitting round, some drinking and some
dancing. Food and wine was spread before them on the ground, and the
demons were evidently having a great entertainment and enjoying
made the old man laugh to see their strange antics.
amusing this is!" laughed the old man to himself "I am now quite old,
but I have never seen anything so strange in all my life."
was so interested and excited in watching all that the demons were
doing, that he forgot himself and stepped out of the tree and stood
demon chief was just taking a big cup of SAKE and watching one of the
demons dancing. In a little while he said with a bored air:
dance is rather monotonous. I am tired of watching it. Isn't there any
one amongst you all who can dance better than this fellow?"
the old man had been fond of dancing all his life, and was quite an
expert in the art, and he knew that he could do much better than the
I go and dance before these demons and let them see what a human being
can do? It may be dangerous, for if I don't please them they may kill
me!" said the old fellow to himself.
fears, however, were soon overcome by his love of dancing. In a few
minutes he could restrain himself no longer, and came out before the
whole party of demons and began to dance at once. The old man,
realizing that his life probably depended on whether he pleased these
strange creatures or not, exerted his skill and wit to the utmost.
demons were at first very surprised to see a man so fearlessly taking
part in their entertainment, and then their surprise soon gave place to
strange!" exclaimed the horned chief. "I never saw such a skillful
dancer before! He dances admirably!"
the old man had finished his dance, the big demon said:
you very much for your amusing dance. Now give us the pleasure of
drinking a cup of wine with us," and with these words he handed him his
old man thanked him very humbly:
did not expect such kindness from your lordship. I fear I have only
disturbed your pleasant party by my unskillful dancing."
no," answered the big demon. "You must come often and dance for us.
Your skill has given us much pleasure."
old man thanked him again and promised to do so.
will you come again to-morrow, old man?" asked the demon.
I will," answered the old man.
you must leave some pledge of your word with us," said the demon.
you like," said the old man.
what is the best thing he can leave with us as a pledge?" asked the
demon, looking round.
said one of the demon's attendants kneeling behind the chief:
token he leaves with us must be the most important thing to him in his
possession. I see the old man has a wen on his right cheek. Now mortal
men consider such a wen very fortunate. Let my lord take the lump from
the old man's right cheek, and he will surely come to-morrow, if only
to get that back."
are very clever," said the demon chief, giving his horns an approving
nod. Then he stretched out a hairy arm and claw-like hand, and took the
great lump from the old man's right cheek. Strange to say, it came off
as easily as a ripe plum from the tree at the demon's touch, and then
the merry troop of demons suddenly vanished.
old man was lost in bewilderment by all that had happened. He hardly
knew for some time where he was. When he came to understand what had
happened to him, he was delighted to find that the lump on his face,
which had for so many years disfigured him, had really been taken away
without any pain to himself. He put up his hand to feel if any scar
remained, but found that his right cheek was as smooth as his left.
sun had long set, and the young moon had risen like a silver crescent
in the sky. The old man suddenly realized how late it was and began to
hurry home. He patted his right cheek all the time, as if to make sure
of his good fortune in having lost the wen. He was so happy that he
found it impossible to walk quietly—he ran and danced the whole
found his wife very anxious, wondering what had happened to make him so
late. He soon told her all that had passed since he left home that
afternoon. She was quite as happy as her husband when he showed her
that the ugly lump had disappeared from his face, for in her youth she
had prided herself on his good looks, and it had been a daily grief to
her to see the horrid growth.
next door to this good old couple there lived a wicked and disagreeable
old man. He, too, had for many years been troubled with the growth of a
wen on his left cheek, and he, too, had tried all manner of things to
get rid of it, but in vain.
heard at once, through the servant, of his neighbor's good luck in
losing the lump on his face, so he called that very evening and asked
his friend to tell him everything that concerned the loss of it. The
good old man told his disagreeable neighbor all that had happened to
him. He described the place where he would find the hollow tree in
which to hide, and advised him to be on the spot in the late afternoon
towards the time of sunset.
old neighbor started out the very next afternoon, and after hunting
about for some time, came to the hollow tree just as his friend had
described. Here he hid himself and waited for the twilight.
as he had been told, the band of demons came at that hour and held a
feast with dance and song. When this had gone on for some time the
chief of the demons looked around and said:
is now time for the old man to come as he promised us. Why doesn't he
the second old man heard these words he ran out of his hiding-place in
the tree and, kneeling down before the Oni, said:
have been waiting for a long time for you to speak!"
you are the old man of yesterday," said the demon chief. "Thank you for
coming, you must dance for us soon."
old man now stood up and opened his fan and began to dance. But he had
never learned to dance, and knew nothing about the necessary gestures
and different positions. He thought that anything would please the
demons, so he just hopped about, waving his arms and stamping his feet,
imitating as well as he could any dancing he had ever seen.
Oni were very dissatisfied at this exhibition, and said amongst
badly he dances to-day!"
to the old man the demon chief said:
performance to-day is quite different from the dance of yesterday. We
don't wish to see any more of such dancing. We will give you back the
pledge you left with us. You must go away at once."
these words he took out from a fold of his dress the lump which he had
taken from the face of the old man who had danced so well the day
before, and threw it at the right cheek of the old man who stood before
him. The lump immediately attached itself to his cheek as firmly as if
it had grown there always, and all attempts to pull it off were
useless. The wicked old man, instead of losing the lump on his left
cheek as he had hoped, found to his dismay that he had but added
another to his right cheek in his attempt to get rid of the first.
put up first one hand and then the other to each side of his face to
make sure if he were not dreaming a horrible nightmare. No, sure enough
there was now a great wen on the right side of his face as on the left.
The demons had all disappeared, and there was nothing for him to do but
to return home. He was a pitiful sight, for his face, with the two
large lumps, one on each side, looked just like a Japanese gourd.
THE STONES OF FIVE COLORS AND THE EMPRESS
AN OLD CHINESE STORY.
long ago there lived a great Chinese Empress who succeeded her brother
the Emperor Fuki. It was the age of giants, and the Empress Jokwa, for
that was her name, was twenty-five feet high, nearly as tall as her
brother. She was a wonderful woman, and an able ruler. There is an
interesting story of how she mended a part of the broken heavens and
one of the terrestrial pillars which upheld the sky, both of which were
damaged during a rebellion raised by one of King Fuki's subjects.
rebel's name was Kokai. He was twenty-six feet high. His body was
entirely covered with hair, and his face was as black as iron. He was a
wizard and a very terrible character indeed. When the Emperor Fuki
died, Kokai was bitten with the ambition to be Emperor of China, but
his plan failed, and Jokwa, the dead Emperor's sister, mounted the
throne. Kokai was so angry at being thwarted in his desire that he
raised a revolt. His first act was to employ the Water Devil, who
caused a great flood to rush over the country. This swamped the poor
people out of their homes, and when the Empress Jokwa saw the plight of
her subjects, and knew it was Kokai's fault, she declared war against
Jokwa, the Empress, had two young warriors called Hako and Eiko, and
the former she made General of the front forces. Hako was delighted
that the Empress's choice should fall on him, and he prepared himself
for battle. He took up the longest lance he could find and mounted a
red horse, and was just about to set out when he heard some one
galloping hard behind him and shouting:
Stop! The general of the front forces must be I!"
looked back and saw Eiko his comrade, riding on a white horse, in the
act of unsheathing a large sword to draw upon him. Hako's anger was
kindled, and as he turned to face his rival he cried:
wretch! I have been appointed by the Empress to lead the front forces
to battle. Do you dare to stop me?"
answered Eiko. "I ought to lead the army. It is you who should follow
this bold reply Hako's anger burst from a spark into a flame.
you answer me thus? Take that," and he lunged at him with his lance.
Eiko moved quickly aside, and at the same time, raising his sword, he
wounded the head of the General's horse. Obliged to dismount, Hako was
about to rush at his antagonist, when Eiko, as quick as lightning, tore
from his breast the badge of commandership and galloped away. The
action was so quick that Hako stood dazed, not knowing what to do.
Empress had been a spectator of the scene, and she could not but admire
the quickness of the ambitious Eiko, and in order to pacify the rivals
she determined to appoint them both to the Generalship of the front
Hako was made commander of the left wing of the front army, and Eiko of
the right. One hundred thousand soldiers followed them and marched to
put down the rebel Kokai.
a short time the two Generals reached the castle where Kokai had
fortified himself. When aware of their approach, the wizard said:
will blow these two poor children away with one breath." (He little
thought how hard he would find the fight.)
these words Kokai seized an iron rod and mounted a black horse, and
rushed forth like an angry tiger to meet his two foes.
the two young warriors saw him tearing down upon them, they said to
each other: "We must not let him escape alive," and they attacked him
from the right and from the left with sword and with lance. But the
all-powerful Kokai was not to be easily beaten—he whirled his
round like a great water-wheel, and for a long time they fought thus,
neither side gaining nor losing. At last, to avoid the wizard's iron
rod, Hako turned his horse too quickly; the animal's hoofs struck
against a large stone, and in a fright the horse reared as straight on
end as a screen, throwing his master to the ground.
Kokai drew his three-edged sword and was about to kill the prostrate
Hako, but before the wizard could work his wicked will the brave Eiko
had wheeled his horse in front of Kokai and dared him to try his
strength with him, and not to kill a fallen man. But Kokai was tired,
and he did not feel inclined to face this fresh and dauntless young
soldier, so suddenly wheeling his horse round, he fled from the fray.
who had been only slightly stunned, had by this time got upon his feet,
and he and his comrade rushed after the retreating enemy, the one on
foot and the other on horseback.
seeing that he was pursued, turned upon his nearest assailant, who was,
of course, the mounted Eiko, and drawing forth an arrow from the quiver
at his back, fitted it to his bow and drew upon Eiko.
quick as lightning the wary Eiko avoided the shaft, which only touched
his helmet strings, and glancing off, fell harmless against Hako's coat
wizard saw that both his enemies remained unscathed. He also knew that
there was no time to pull a second arrow before they would be upon him,
so to save himself he resorted to magic. He stretched forth his wand,
and immediately a great flood arose, and Jokwa's army and her brave
young Generals were swept away like a falling of autumn leaves on a
and Eiko found themselves struggling neck deep in water, and looking
round they saw the ferocious Kokai making towards them through the
water with his iron rod on high. They thought every moment that they
would be cut down, but they bravely struck out to swim as far as they
could from Kokai's reach. All of a sudden they found themselves in
front of what seemed to be an island rising straight out of the water.
They looked up, and there stood an old man with hair as white as snow,
smiling at them. They cried to him to help them. The old man nodded his
head and came down to the edge of the water. As soon as his feet
touched the flood it divided, and a good road appeared, to the
amazement of the drowning men, who now found themselves safe.
had by this time reached the island which had risen as if by a miracle
out of the water, and seeing his enemies thus saved he was furious. He
rushed through the water upon the old man, and it seemed as if he would
surely be killed. But the old man appeared not in the least dismayed,
and calmly awaited the wizard's onslaught.
Kokai drew near, the old man laughed aloud merrily, and turning into a
large and beautiful white crane, flapped his wings and flew upwards
into the heavens.
Hako and Eiko saw this, they knew that their deliverer was no mere
human being—was perhaps a god in disguise—and they hoped
later on to
find out who the venerable old man was.
the meantime they had retreated, and it being now the close of day, for
the sun was setting, both Kokai and the young warriors gave up the idea
of fighting more that day.
night Hako and Eiko decided that it was useless to fight against the
wizard Kokai, for he had supernatural powers, while they were only
human. So they presented themselves before the Empress Jokwa. After a
long consultation, the Empress decided to ask the Fire King, Shikuyu,
to help her against the rebel wizard and to lead her army against him.
Shikuyu, the Fire King, lived at the South Pole. It was the only safe
place for him to be in, for he burnt up everything around him anywhere
else, but it was impossible to burn up ice and snow. To look at he was
a giant, and stood thirty feet high. His face was just like marble, and
his hair and beard long and as white as snow. His strength was
stupendous, and he was master of all fire just as Kokai was of water.
thought the Empress, "Shikuyu can conquer Kokai." So she sent Eiko to
the South Pole to beg Shikuyu to take the war against Kokai into his
own hands and conquer him once for all.
Fire King, on hearing the Empress's request, smiled and said:
is an easy matter, to be sure! It was none other than I who came to
your rescue when you and your companion were drowning in the flood
raised by Kokai!"
was surprised at learning this. He thanked the Fire King for coming to
the rescue in their dire need, and then besought him to return with him
and lead the war and defeat the wicked Kokai.
did as he was asked, and returned with Eiko to the Empress. She
welcomed the Fire King cordially, and at once told him why she had sent
for him—to ask him to be the Generalissimo of her army. His reply
not have any anxiety. I will certainly kill Kokai."
then placed himself at the head of thirty thousand soldiers, and with
Hako and Eiko showing him the way, marched to the enemy's castle. The
Fire King knew the secret of Kokai's power, and he now told all the
soldiers to gather a certain kind of shrub. This they burned in large
quantities, and each soldier was then ordered to fill a bag full of the
ashes thus obtained.
on the other hand, in his own conceit, thought that Shikuyu was of
inferior power to himself, and he murmured angrily:
though you are the Fire King, I can soon extinguish you."
he repeated an incantation, and the water-floods rose and welled as
high as mountains. Shikuyu, not in the least frightened, ordered his
soldiers to scatter the ashes which he had caused them to make. Every
man did as he was bid, and such was the power of the plant that they
had burned, that as soon as the ashes mingled with the water a stiff
mud was formed, and they were all safe from drowning.
Kokai the wizard was dismayed when he saw that the Fire King was
superior in wisdom to himself, and his anger was so great that he
rushed headlong towards the enemy.
rode to meet him, and the two fought together for some time. They were
well matched in a hand-to-hand combat. Hako, who was carefully watching
the fray, saw that Eiko began to tire, and fearing that his companion
would be killed, he took his place.
Kokai had tired as well, and feeling him self unable to hold out
against Hako, he said artfully:
are too magnanimous, thus to fight for your friend and run the risk of
being killed. I will not hurt such a good man."
he pretended to retreat, turning away the head of his horse. His
intention was to throw Hako off his guard and then to wheel round and
take him by surprise.
Shikuyu understood the wily wizard, and he spoke at once:
are a coward! You cannot deceive me!"
this, the Fire King made a sign to the unwary Hako to attack him. Kokai
now turned upon Shikuyu furiously, but he was tired and unable to fight
well, and he soon received a wound in his shoulder. He now broke from
the fray and tried to escape in earnest.
the fight between their leaders had been going on the two armies had
stood waiting for the issue. Shikuyu now turned and bade Jokwa's
soldiers charge the enemy's forces. This they did, and routed them with
great slaughter, and the wizard barely escaped with his life.
was in vain that Kokai called upon the Water Devil to help him, for
Shikuyu knew the counter-charm. The wizard found that the battle was
against him. Mad with pain, for his wound began to trouble him, and
frenzied with disappointment and fear, he dashed his head against the
rocks of Mount Shu and died on the spot.
was an end of the wicked Kokai, but not of trouble in the Empress
Jokwa's Kingdom, as you shall see. The force with which the wizard fell
against the rocks was so great that the mountain burst, and fire rushed
out from the earth, and one of the pillars upholding the Heavens was
broken so that one corner of the sky dropped till it touched the earth.
the Fire King, took up the body of the wizard and carried it to the
Empress Jokwa, who rejoiced greatly that her enemy was vanquished, and
her generals victorious. She showered all manner of gifts and honors
all this time fire was bursting from the mountain broken by the fall of
Kokai. Whole villages were destroyed, rice-fields burnt up, river beds
filled with the burning lava, and the homeless people were in great
distress. So the Empress left the capital as soon as she had rewarded
the victor Shikuyu, and journeyed with all speed to the scene of
disaster. She found that both Heaven and earth had sustained damage,
and the place was so dark that she had to light her lamp to find out
the extent of the havoc that had been wrought.
ascertained this, she set to work at repairs. To this end she ordered
her subjects to collect stones of five colors—blue, yellow, red,
and black. When she had obtained these, she boiled them with a kind of
porcelain in a large caldron, and the mixture became a beautiful paste,
and with this she knew that she could mend the sky. Now all was ready.
the clouds that were sailing ever so high above her head, she mounted
them, and rode heavenwards, carrying in her hands the vase containing
the paste made from the stones of five colors. She soon reached the
corner of the sky that was broken, and applied the paste and mended it.
Having done this, she turned her attention to the broken pillar, and
with the legs of a very large tortoise she mended it. When this was
finished she mounted the clouds and descended to the earth, hoping to
find that all was now right, but to her dismay she found that it was
still quite dark. Neither the sun shone by day nor the moon by night.
perplexed, she at last called a meeting of all the wise men of the
Kingdom, and asked their advice as to what she should do in this
of the wisest said:
roads of Heaven have been damaged by the late accident, and the Sun and
Moon have been obliged to stay at home. Neither the Sun could make his
daily journey nor the Moon her nightly one because of the bad roads.
The Sun and Moon do not yet know that your Majesty has mended all that
was damaged, so we will go and inform them that since you have repaired
them the roads are safe."
Empress approved of what the wise men suggested, and ordered them to
set out on their mission. But this was not easy, for the Palace of the
Sun and Moon was many, many hundreds of thousands of miles distant into
the East. If they traveled on foot they might never reach the place,
they would die of old age on the road. But Jokwa had recourse to magic.
She gave her two ambassadors wonderful chariots which could whirl
through the air by magic power a thousand miles per minute. They set
out in good spirits, riding above the clouds, and after many days they
reached the country where the Sun and the Moon were living happily
two ambassadors were granted an interview with their Majesties of Light
and asked them why they had for so many days secluded themselves from
the Universe? Did they not know that by doing so they plunged the world
and all its people into uttermost darkness both day and night?
the Sun and the Moon:
you know that Mount Shu has suddenly burst forth with fire, and the
roads of Heaven have been greatly damaged! I, the Sun, found it
impossible to make my daily journey along such rough roads—and
certainly the Moon could not issue forth at night! so we both retired
into private life for a time."
the two wise men bowed themselves to the ground and said:
Empress Jokwa has already repaired the roads with the wonderful stones
of five colors, so we beg to assure your Majesties that the roads are
just as they were before the eruption took place."
the Sun and the Moon still hesitated, saying that they had heard that
one of the pillars of Heaven had been broken as well, and they feared
that, even if the roads had been remade, it would still be dangerous
for them to sally forth on their usual journeys.
need have no anxiety about the broken pillar," said the two
ambassadors. "Our Empress restored it with the legs of a great
tortoise, and it is as firm as ever it was."
the Sun and Moon appeared satisfied, and they both set out to try the
roads. They found that what the Empress's deputies had told them was
the examination of the heavenly roads, the Sun and Moon again gave
light to the earth. All the people rejoiced greatly, and peace and
prosperity were secured in China for a long time under the reign of the
wise Empress Jokwa.