Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
COMPILED BY YEI THEODORA OZAKI
TO ELEANOR MARION-CRAWFORD.
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK TO YOU AND TO THE SWEET CHILD-FRIENDSHIP THAT YOU
GAVE ME IN THE DAYS SPENT WITH YOU BY THE SOUTHERN SEA, WHEN YOU USED
TO LISTEN WITH UNFEIGNED PLEASURE TO THESE FAIRY STORIES FROM FAR
JAPAN. MAY THEY NOW REMIND YOU OF MY CHANGELESS LOVE AND REMEMBRANCE.
Y. T. O.
This collection of Japanese fairy tales is the outcome of a suggestion
made to me indirectly through a friend by Mr. Andrew Lang. They have
been translated from the modern version written by Sadanami Sanjin.
These stories are not literal translations, and though the Japanese
story and all quaint Japanese expressions have been faithfully
preserved, they have been told more with the view to interest young
readers of the West than the technical student of folk-lore.
Grateful acknowledgment is due to Mr. Y. Yasuoka, Miss Fusa Okamoto, my
brother Nobumori Ozaki, Dr. Yoshihiro Takaki, and Miss Kameko Yamao,
who have helped me with translations.
The story which I have named "The Story of the Man who did not Wish to
Die" is taken from a little book written a hundred years ago by one
Shinsui Tamenaga. It is named Chosei Furo, or "Longevity." "The
Bamboo-cutter and the Moon-child" is taken from the classic "Taketari
Monogatari," and is NOT classed by the Japanese among their fairy
tales, though it really belongs to this class of literature.
The pictures were drawn by Mr. Kakuzo Fujiyama, a Tokio artist.
In telling these stories in English I have followed my fancy in adding
such touches of local color or description as they seemed to need or as
pleased me, and in one or two instances I have gathered in an incident
from another version. At all times, among my friends, both young and
old, English or American, I have always found eager listeners to the
beautiful legends and fairy tales of Japan, and in telling them I have
also found that they were still unknown to the vast majority, and this
has encouraged me to write them for the children of the West.
Y. T. O.
MY LORD BAG OF RICE
THE TONGUE-CUT SPARROW
THE STORY OF URASHIMA TARO, THE FISHER LAD
THE FARMER AND THE BADGER
THE "shinansha," OR THE SOUTH POINTING CARRIAGE
THE ADVENTURES OF KINTARO, THE GOLDEN BOY
THE STORY OF PRINCESS HASE
THE STORY OF THE MAN WHO DID NOT WISH TO DIE
THE BAMBOO-CUTTER AND THE MOON-CHILD
THE MIRROR OF MATSUYAMA
THE GOBLIN OF ADACHIGAHARA
THE SAGACIOUS MONKEY AND THE BOAR
THE HAPPY HUNTER AND THE SKILLFUL FISHER
THE STORY OF THE OLD MAN WHO MADE WITHERED TREES TO FLOWER
THE JELLY FISH AND THE MONKEY
THE QUARREL OF THE MONKEY AND THE CRAB
THE WHITE HARE AND THE CROCODILES
THE STORY OF PRINCE YAMATO TAKE
MOMOTARO, OR THE STORY OF THE SON OF A PEACH
THE OGRE OF RASHOMON
HOW AN OLD MAN LOST HIS WEN
THE STONES OF FIVE COLORS AND THE EMPRESS JOKWA
JAPANESE FAIRY TALES.
MY LORD BAG OF RICE.
Long, 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.
One 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.
At 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.
He 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:
"Was it you that called me just now?"
"Yes, it was I," answered the man: "I have an earnest request to make
to you. Do you think you can grant it to me?"
"If it is in my power to do so I will," answered Hidesato, "but first
tell me who you are?"
"I am the Dragon King of the Lake, and my home is in these waters just
under this bridge."
"And what is it you have to ask of me!" said Hidesato.
"I 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.
"I 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?"
Hidesato 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.
Hidesato 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
Hidesato 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.
"The centipede! The centipede! Those two balls of fire are its eyes. It
is coming for its prey! Now is the time to kill it."
Hidesato 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
Hidesato showed not the least sign of fear. He tried to calm the Dragon
"Don't be afraid. I shall surely kill the centipede. Just bring me my
bow and arrows."
The 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.
The arrow hit the centipede right in the middle of its head, but
instead of penetrating, it glanced off harmless and fell to the ground.
Nothing 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.
The 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.
Then 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.
This 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.
Then 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.
Then 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.
The 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.
Another 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.
His 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
As 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
First, a large bronze bell.
Second, a bag of rice.
Third, a roll of silk.
Fourth, a cooking pot.
Fifth, a bell.
Hidesato did not want to accept all these presents, but as the Dragon
King insisted, he could not well refuse.
The 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
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.
As soon as the Dragon King's retainers had put down the presents they
vanished, and Hidesato told all that had happened to him.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The cooking pot was wonderful, too. No matter what was put into it, it
cooked deliciously whatever was wanted without any firing--truly a very
The 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, 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
When 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.
Now 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.
While she was wondering who could have used or stolen the starch, down
flew the pet sparrow, and bowing her little feathered head--a trick
which she had been taught by her master--the pretty bird chirped and
"It 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!"
You 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.
The 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
bowed her head before the old woman, to show how sorry she was--and
fetched the scissors and cut off the poor little bird's tongue.
"I 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!
The 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.
In 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.
He 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:
"Where is Suzume San (Miss Sparrow) today?"
The old woman pretended not to know at first, and answered:
"Your 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!"
But 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.
Then the old woman showed her husband the sparrow's tongue, saying:
"Here is the tongue I cut off! Horrid little bird, why did it eat all
"How 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 little sparrow.
"What 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?"
The 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.
The 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:
"Where, oh where does my tongue-cut sparrow stay? Where, oh where, does
my tongue-cut sparrow stay!"
He 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.
The 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.
 An alcove where precious objects are displayed.
The 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.
Then 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.
Never 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.
But 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 at once.
The 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 would
probably be cross at his not coming home at the usual time--and to his
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.
When 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.
The old man could not refuse this kind proposal, and he chose the
smaller box, saying:
"I 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."
Then 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.
When 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 long time.
"Where have you been all this time?" she asked in a big voice. "Why do
you come back so late?"
The 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
"Now 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.
To 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.
He said: "Thanks to my good little sparrow! Thanks to my good little
sparrow!" many times.
But 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.
"You 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.
The 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.
Early 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
might punish her for what she had done.
Ever 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.
After 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:
"Where is the tongue-cut sparrow's house? Where is the tongue-cut
At last she saw the eaves of the house peeping out from amongst the
bamboo foliage. She hastened to the door and knocked loudly.
When 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
The old woman intended, however, to waste no time in words, she went
right to the point, without the least shame, and said:
"You 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!"
The 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
The 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
While 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.
At 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.
The 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.
Then she began to blame the sparrow, but the old man stopped her at
"Don't 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!"
The 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, 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.
But 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.
One 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.
Now Urashima felt very sorry for the poor tortoise and made up his mind
to rescue it. He spoke to the boys:
"Look here, boys, you are treating that poor tortoise so badly that it
will soon die!"
The 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:
"Who cares whether it lives or dies? We do not. Here, boys, go on, go
And 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:
"I am sure you are all good, kind boys! Now won't you give me the
tortoise? I should like to have it so much!"
"No, we won't give you the tortoise," said one of the boys. "Why should
we? We caught it ourselves."
"What 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,
the 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."
The 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.
"Very 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
Then Urashima stroked the tortoise's back, saying as he did so:
"Oh, you poor thing! Poor thing!--there, there! you are safe now! They
say 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!"
All 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.
The 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.
He was suddenly startled from his reverie by hearing his own name
Clear as a bell and soft as the summer wind the name floated over the
He 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.
Startled, 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 before.
"Well, Mr. Tortoise," said Urashima, "was it you who called my name
The tortoise nodded its head several times and said:
"Yes, 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."
"Indeed," 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.
"He-he-he-he!" laughed the tortoise; "sake (rice wine) is my favorite
refreshment, but I do not care for tobacco."
"Indeed," 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 always love to do that."
So the tortoise climbed into the boat, the fisherman helping him, and
after an exchange of complimentary speeches the tortoise said:
"Have you ever seen Rin Gin, the Palace of the Dragon King of the Sea,
The 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!"
"Is 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."
"I 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--"
Before the fisherman could say more the tortoise stopped him, saying:
"What? You need not swim yourself. If you will ride on my back I will
take you without any trouble on your part."
"But," said Urashima, "how is it possible for me to ride on your small
"It 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
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.
"This is strange indeed!" said Urashima; "then. Mr. Tortoise, with your
kind permission I will get on your back. Dokoisho!" he exclaimed as
he jumped on.
 "All right" (only used by lower classes).
The tortoise, with an unmoved face, as if this strange proceeding were
quite an ordinary event, said:
"Now 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
"Ya," 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 see?"
"That 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."
"Then we have at last come to the realm of the Sea King and to his
Palace," said Urashima.
"Yes, 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."
The tortoise now went in front, and speaking to the gatekeeper, said:
"This 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."
Then the gatekeeper, who was a fish, at once led the way through the
gate before them.
The 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.
"Urashima 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.
Urashima, 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.
"Urashima 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 forever afterwards!"
And 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:
"Thank 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
While 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.
When 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.
But, 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.
First, 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.
Looking to the south all the trees were green in the fullness of
summer, and the day cicala and the night cricket chirruped loudly.
Looking to the west the autumn maples were ablaze like a sunset sky,
and the chrysanthemums were in perfection.
Looking 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.
And 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:
"O 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.
Then he went to his beautiful wife, the Princess, and bowing low before
her he said:
"Indeed, 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."
Then Otohime Sama began to weep, and said softly and sadly:
"Is 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!"
But 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:
"Indeed, 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."
"Then," 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
beautiful lacquer box tied about with a silken cord and tassels of red
Urashima had received so much from the Princess already that he felt
some compunction in taking the gift, and said:
"It 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:
"Tell me what is this box?"
"That," 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!"
And Urashima promised that he would never, never open the box whatever
Then 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.
He 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.
At 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
But 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.
Wondering 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:
"Father, I have just returned!" and he was about to enter, when he saw
a strange man coming out.
"Perhaps 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.
"Excuse 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?"
A very bewildered expression came over the face of the man, and, still
gazing intently on Urashima's face, he said:
"What? Are you Urashima Taro?"
"Yes," said the fisherman, "I am Urashima Taro!"
"Ha, 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 alive now!"
When Urashima heard these strange words he was frightened, and said:
"Please, 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."
But the man's face grew more and more grave, and he answered:
"You 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?"
"Why do you mock me?" said Urashima. "I am no spirit! I am a living
man--do 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.)
"But 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.
Urashima 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.
He 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.
"The Princess told me when she gave me the box never to open it--that
it 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!"
And 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
Slowly, 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.
Urashima, 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.
Poor Urashima! because of his disobedience he could never return to the
Sea King's realm or the lovely Princess beyond the sea.
Little children, never be disobedient to those who are wiser than you
for disobedience was the beginning of all the miseries and sorrows of
THE FARMER AND THE BADGER
Long, 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
The 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:
"I 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 soup to-night."
Saying 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.
"Dear 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!"
"Thank 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 gone."
Now, the badger is one of the most cunning of animals, and he said
again in a very sad, gentle, voice:
"You 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!"
The 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.
The 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.
Towards 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.
The 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:
"So you have come back at last. I have made the badger soup and have
been waiting for you for a long time."
The 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:
"You wife-eating old man! Look out for the bones in the kitchen!"
Laughing 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
The rabbit, seeing that the farmer was growing calmer, went back to his
home to lay his plans for the punishment of the badger.
The 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.
The rabbit called out:
"Why are you not out on such a beautiful day? Come out with me, and we
will go and cut grass on the hills together."
The 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.
When 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,
"What is that noise. 'Crack, crack'?"
"Oh, that is nothing." replied the rabbit; "I only said 'Crack, crack'
because this mountain is called Crackling Mountain."
The 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
"Now we have come to the 'Burning Mountain,'" answered the rabbit.
By 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.
"What 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
The 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
He 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.
The 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.
During the conversation the rabbit mentioned that he was going fishing,
and described how pleasant fishing was when the weather was fine and
the sea smooth.
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.
Then 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
The 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.
Thus 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.
The 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 days.
THE shinansha, OR THE SOUTH POINTING CARRIAGE.
The 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.
Now 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.
This 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.
One 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.
Kotei 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.
At 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.
No matter however strong and brave the Emperor's soldiers were, the
rebel with his magic could always escape in the end.
Kotei 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.
Kotei again declared war against Shiyu. He placed the shinansha in
front of his army and led the way to the battlefield.
The 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
But 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.
Shiyu by using his magic art quickly passed over with his army and shut
himself up in a fortress on the opposite bank.
When Kotei found his march checked he was wild with disappointment, for
he had very nearly overtaken the rebel when the river stopped him.
He 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
One 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
It 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.
This 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.
Kotei 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.
This 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
He 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
But the Emperor only smiled and called to them to stop, and said:
"Do not be afraid. This is a messenger from Heaven. My time here is
finished!" He then mounted the Dragon, which began to ascend towards
When the Empress and the courtiers saw this they all cried out together:
"Wait a moment! We wish to come too." And they all ran and caught hold
of the Dragon's beard and tried to mount him.
But 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.
Meanwhile 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.
After 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, 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 behind him
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!
Quite 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.
The 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.
One 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.
Here, 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.
Kintaro said, "Here is a place for a good game. What do you all say to
a wrestling match?"
The bear being the biggest and the oldest, answered for the others:
"That 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.
"All 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."
"What fun! we shall all try to get the prize," said the bear.
The 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:
"Now 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, 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
Then 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! Red-back!" (this to the monkey, who has a red back in
Japan). "Are you ready?"
Then he turned to the hare:
"Long-ears! Long-ears! are you ready?"
Both 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!"
While 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! Red-back! stand your ground!" called out the deer.
"Long-ears! Long-ears! be strong, be strong--don't let the monkey beat
you!" grunted the bear.
So 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.
The 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!"
Seeing the monkey in this plight on the ground, the deer holding his
leaf on high said:
"This round is finished--the hare has won."
Kintaro then opened his luncheon box and taking out a rice-dumpling,
gave it to the hare saying:
"Here is your prize, and you have earned, it well!"
Now 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:
"I 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
Then 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 back.
The 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
The 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
At last Kintaro got up and said:
"This 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.
After 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
Kintaro, however, said:
"Wait a moment. I will make a good bridge for you all in a few minutes."
The bear, the deer, the monkey and the hare looked at him to see what
he would do now.
Kintaro 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.
"There," 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
"How strong he is! how strong he is!"
While 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.
The woodcutter, for such he seemed to be by his dress, marveled at all
he saw, and said to himself:
"This is no ordinary child. Whose son can he be? I will find out before
this day is done."
He 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.
As 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:
"Okkasan (mother), here I am!"
"O, 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?"
"I 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."
"Now tell me who is the strongest of all?" asked his mother, pretending
not to know.
"Oh, mother," said Kintaro, "don't you know that I am the strongest?
There was no need for me to wrestle with any of them."
"But next to you then, who is the strongest?"
"The bear comes next to me in strength," answered Kintaro.
"And after the bear?" asked his mother again.
"Next 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,"
Suddenly Kintaro and his mother were startled by a voice from outside.
"Listen 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!"
It 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.
"Who are you?" they both exclaimed.
Then the woodcutter laughed and said:
"It does not matter who I am yet, but let us see who has the strongest
arm--this boy or myself?"
Then Kintaro, who had lived all his life in the forest, answered the
old man without any ceremony, saying:
"We will have a try if you wish it, but you must not be angry whoever
Then 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.
"You 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."
Then he turned to Kintaro's mother:
"And 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
"You 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 true."
"You 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?"
As 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.
Bowing her head to the ground, she replied:
"I will then intrust my son to you if you really mean what you say."
Kintaro had all this time been sitting by his mother's side listening
to what they said. When his mother finished speaking, he exclaimed:
"Oh, joy! joy! I am to go with the general and one day I shall be a
Thus 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.
All 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.
"Kimbo," said his mother, "mind and be a good boy."
"Mr. Kintaro," said the faithful animals, "we wish you good health on
Then 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.
The general Sadamitsu went on his way rejoicing at having so
unexpectedly found such a prodigy as Kintaro.
Having 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 once.
Lord 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.
When 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.
Surprising the monster in its den, he made short work of cutting off
its great head, which he carried back in triumph to his master.
Kintaro 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.
Is not this the story of a great hero?
THE STORY OF PRINCESS HASE.
A STORY OF OLD JAPAN.
Many, 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.
So 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.
A 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.
When 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:
"Hase-Hime, 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."
Hase-Hime 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
Not 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:
"This is not my child! this is not my child!"
But 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.
The 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 Emperor.
It 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.
The 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.
Hase-Hime 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.
There 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:
"If only Hase-Hime were not here, my son would have all the love of his
And never having learned to control herself, she allowed this wicked
thought to grow into the awful desire of taking her step-daughter's
So 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.
"You 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 here
are some nice cakes for my good children."
And she filled two cups from the different bottles.
Hase-Hime, 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.
The 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 arms.
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
Thus 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.
When 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.
It 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
Then 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 poetess
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.
Great 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
life by the merit of her verse.
At 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.
Strange 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.
His Majesty was highly pleased, and sent for her to the Palace and
rewarded her with the rank of Chinjo--that of Lieutenant-General--to
distinguish her. From that time she was called Chinjo-hime, or the
Lieutenant-General Princess, and respected and loved by all.
There 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.
At 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 killing her.
Katoda, 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.
But 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.
Prince 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 of 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
One 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.
Looking 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
"Hase-Hime!" he cried, "it is you, my Hase-Hime!"
Taken 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.
"My father, my father! It is indeed you--oh, my father!" was all she
could say, and running to him she caught hold of his thick sleeve, and
burying her face burst into a passion of tears.
Her 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
Then 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 of her.
The 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
The 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.
As 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.
To 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, 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.
One day, without any reason whatsoever, the thought of death and
sickness came to him. The idea of falling ill or dying made him very
"I 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."
He wondered whether it were possible, by living simply and frugally
henceforth, to prolong his life as long as he wished.
He 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.
Sentaro 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.
When 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 of
Life," he would be happy.
The 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.
One 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.
The 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.
Jofuku 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.
Now 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.
So 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
At last, after wandering in an unknown region for many days, he met a
"Can you tell me," asked Sentaro, "where the hermits live who have the
Elixir of Life?"
"No." 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."
This 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.
Sentaro 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 find.
At 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:
"Your 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."
"You, 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
"In 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!"
Saying 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.
Sentaro 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.
Sentaro 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.
After several days they reached an island. The crane flew some distance
inland and then alighted.
As soon as Sentaro got down from the bird's back, the crane folded up
of its own accord and flew into his pocket.
Now 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.
The 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
Within 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
death was except that it led to Paradise.
Quite 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.
All 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.
What 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.
But 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
Vainly 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.
In 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.
Sentaro 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.
Sentaro 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.
As 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.
Time 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?
Sentaro, 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 land again.
No 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.
Such 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.
Then 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.
Lo, 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
Suddenly 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:
"I 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."
"It 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
austere 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."
"In this book I give you there are many precepts good for you to
know--if you study them, you will be guided in the way I have pointed
out to you."
The 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, 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
One 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.
"You 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.
The 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.
From 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.
Three 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.
At 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.
For 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.
Suitors 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.
Still, 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.
At 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.
Sometimes 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.
In 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
The 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
So 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.
The 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:
"Although 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
Then 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.
The 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.
"I 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."
"Oh, why," said the Princess in distress, "must I do this? I have no
wish to marry now."
"I 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!"
Then 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 see them.
"All 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?"
Then 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.
That 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.
The five all accepted the trial, and thought it an excellent plan, for
it would prevent jealousy between them.
Princess Moonlight then sent word to the First Knight that she
requested him to bring her the stone bowl which had belonged to Buddha
The 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.
The Third Knight was told to go to China and search for the fire-rat
and to bring her its skin.
The 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.
The Fifth Knight was to find the swallow which carried a shell in its
stomach and to bring the shell to her.
The 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.
But 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.
The 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.
Princess 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.
The 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.
When 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.
The 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.
Princess 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.
The 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.
"Two 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:"
"'Yes, this is Mount Horai!'"
"With 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."
Just 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.
Now 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.
The 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.
Now 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.
His 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
The 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.
One 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.
When 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.
The 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
At 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.
Like all the rest, the Fifth Knight failed in his quest--he could not
find the swallow's shell.
By 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.
When 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.
When 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
Never 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.
The 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.
But 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
The Emperor then promised to leave her free if only she would resume
her former shape, which she did.
It 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.
At 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.
With 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 the 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.
When 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
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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
Then 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
all. Then suddenly the watchers saw a cloud form round the moon--and
while 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 house.
In 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.
"The 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 find."
"I 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."
Then the messenger called aloud, saying:
"Princess Moonlight, come out from this lowly dwelling. Rest not here
At 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.
The 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.
The 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.
One 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.
The robe of wings was about to be put upon her shoulders, but she said:
"Wait 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."
In 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.
Then 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.
Princess 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 clouds.
THE MIRROR OF MATSUYAMA
A STORY OF OLD JAPAN.
Long 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
What 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.
One 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.
So 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.
All was ready at last, and the husband stood in the porch with his
little family round him.
"Do 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."
"Yes, 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.
The 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.
"Father, I will be very good while I am waiting for you to come back,
so please bring me a present."
As 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.
"Now 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.
"Yes, 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."
"Father 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."
"O, 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.
Then 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
It 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 straw 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.
As 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.
"Here," 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."
"Thank 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 would melt with joy, and she had no eyes and no thought for anything
Again 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:
"And this is for you."
The 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:
"I see somebody looking at me in this round thing! What is it that you
have given me?"
The husband laughed and said:
"Why, 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 and
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
The 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.
"If 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.
The 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.
Time 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.
But, 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
In 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.
One 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:
"My 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
"Oh, 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
well--that will bring the greatest happiness to father and myself."
"Yes, 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."
Putting 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 ago.
"When 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
will you 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.
The mind of the good mother seemed to be now at rest, and sinking back
without another word her spirit passed quietly away that day.
The 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.
"Oh! 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
her. I had nearly forgotten her last words--how stupid I am; I will get
the mirror now and see if it can possibly be true!"
She 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.
"It 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!"
And 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
A 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.
But 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.
Sometimes 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 become.
She 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.
So she went at once to her husband, and wiping away some false tears
she said in a sad voice:
"Please give me permission to leave you today."
The man was completely taken by surprise at the suddenness of her
request, and wondered whatever was the matter.
"Do you find it so disagreeable," he asked, "in my house, that you can
stay no longer?"
"No! 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!"
And the woman began to weep afresh. Her husband, distressed to see her
so unhappy, and thinking that he could not have heard aright, said:
"Tell me what you mean! How is your life in danger here?"
"I 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."
The 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 knowledge?--the
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.
His 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
The 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 short
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.
Her 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:
"Daughter, what are you doing here? And what is that that you have
hidden in your sleeve?"
The 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.
Appearances 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:
"Then, 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?"
And the father's eyes filled with sudden tears to think that he should
have to upbraid his daughter in this way.
She 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! 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 possession of YOUR heart. As for me I do not know--no, not so
much as a dew-drop, of the evil thing of which you accuse me."
But 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.
"Then 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
Then 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.
"This," she said, "is what you saw me looking at just now."
"Why," 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?"
Then 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.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "I do not understand how you can meet the
soul of your lost mother by looking in this mirror?"
"It 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:
"Do you doubt me still?" she asked earnestly, looking up into his face.
With an exclamation of sudden understanding the father smote his two
"How 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
reflection of 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."
And 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 with so much patience and amiability--made him compare her to
the lotus which 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.
The 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
"I 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."
Thus did the unkind step-mother humble herself and ask forgiveness of
the girl she had so wronged.
Such 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
From 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, 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
One 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
He 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.
At 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:
"Oh. surely that is some cottage where I can get a night's lodging!"
Keeping 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 industriously spinning.
The pilgrim called to her across the bamboo fence and said:
"O 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."
The old woman as soon as she heard herself spoken to stopped spinning,
rose from her seat and approached the intruder.
"I 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!"
"Oh, 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.
She seemed very reluctant, but at last she said:
"Very 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
The 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.
"You 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
After 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
"I 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, 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!"
The old woman shook her head and said:
"You must stay quietly here, for you are my guest." Then she left him
and went out.
In a minute she came back and said:
"You 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!"
"If you tell me not to go near the back room, of course I won't," said
the priest, rather bewildered.
The 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.
What 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.
He 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.
As 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.
"She 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.
With 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.
"How 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!"
With 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!"
He 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! stop, you wicked man, why did you look into the forbidden room?"
The 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:
"Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu."
And 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!"
At 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, 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.
One evening the man came home in a very bad temper and told his wife to
send for the butcher the next morning.
The wife was very bewildered and asked her husband:
"Why do you wish me to send for the butcher?"
"It's 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."
The 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.
Now 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
"Barbarous, 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."
There 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.
"Good 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!"
The boar was pleased at the flattery and determined to help the monkey.
He thought for a little while and then said:
"Hasn't your master a baby?"
"Oh, yes," said the monkey, "he has one infant son."
"Doesn't 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."
"What then?" said the monkey.
"Why 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."
The 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.
The 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.
He 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.
Both 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.
"There!" 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."
"You 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."
When 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, 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."
His 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
One day the Happy Hunter came to his brother, the Skillful Fisher, and
"Well, 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?"
The Skillful Fisher listened in silence to his brother, and for a
moment was thoughtful, but at last he answered:
"O 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
So 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 about hunting.
The 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
The 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.
He 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:
"What are you doing, my brother?"
The Happy Hunter went forward timidly, for he feared his brother's
anger, and said:
"Oh, my brother, I have indeed done badly."
"What is the matter?--what have you done?" asked the elder brother
"I have lost your precious fishing hook--"
While he was still speaking his brother stopped him, and cried out
"Lost 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."
The 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.
He 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.
The Happy Hunter then made another five hundred hooks, and again took
them to his brother, beseeching him to pardon him.
"Though 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."
Nothing 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 look up and saw the old man coming towards him.
"You are Hohodemi, the Augustness, sometimes called the Happy Hunter,
are you not?" asked the old man. "What are you doing alone in such a
"Yes, 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?"
"My 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 here--it
is 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."
"Then what can I do?" asked the distressed man.
"You 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."
"Your 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."
"Oh, 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."
"Thank you," said the Happy Hunter, "I shall be very grateful to you if
you will be so kind."
The 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
The 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.
The 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.
He 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.
As 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
When the Mikoto saw that he was discovered, he sprang down lightly from
the tree and said:
"I 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."
His 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.
He 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
"This is a token of my thanks!"
The 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 start of
surprise, for there lay a beautiful gem at the bottom of the cup.
"No ordinary mortal would give away a jewel so freely. Will you not
honor us by telling us who you are?" said the elder damsel.
"Certainly," said the Happy Hunter, "I am Hohodemi, the fourth Mikoto,
also called in Japan, the Happy Hunter."
"Are 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."
"And," said the younger maiden, who at last found her tongue, "I am her
sister, the Princess Tamayori."
"Are 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:
"The 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
Princess Tayotama listened to this long story, and then said:
"Not 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:
"Do you not think so, Tamayori?"
"Yes, 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
"Then I ask you to be so kind as to lead the way," said the Happy
"Condescend to enter, Mikoto (Augustness)," said both the sisters, and
bowing low, they led him through the gate.
The 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
Ryn 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.
Ryn 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:
"I am Ryn Jin, the Dragon King of the Sea, and this is my wife.
Condescend to remember us forever!"
"Are 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.
"You 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."
There 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:
"Perhaps 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?"
"Certainly," said the obliging Sea King, "I will immediately summon
them all here and ask them."
As 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:
"Our 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."
All 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:
"I think the TAI (the red bream) must be the thief who has stolen the
"Where is your proof?" asked the King.
"Since 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!"
All the fish agreed to this, and said:
"It 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."
"Yes," 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!"
Without 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.
The 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.
"Answer, O TAI!" cried the Sea King, "why did you not come in answer to
my summons today?"
"I have been ill since yesterday," answered the TAI; "that is why I
could not come."
"Don't say another word!" cried out Ryn Jin angrily. "Your illness is
the punishment of the gods for stealing the Mikoto's hook."
"It 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
The cuttlefish now came forward, and said to the King:
"What 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!"
"O 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."
"All 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.
Ryn 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.
Ryn 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.
Who 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, prais
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