Part 3 out of 4
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
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 other fishing.
One day the Happy Hunter came to his brother, the Skillful Fisher,
"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 fisher.
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
"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 place?"
"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
"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 boat.
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
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 to him.
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
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 deeply:
"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
"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 Hunter anxiously.
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 home."
"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 mortals.
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
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
"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
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
"I think the TAI (the red bream) must be the thief who has stolen
"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
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 pardon me."
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
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,
praising the virtues of the Happy Hunter.
Now that the hook was found the Happy Hunter had nothing to keep him
in Ryn Gu, and he was anxious to get back to his own kingdom and to
make peace with his angry brother, the Skillful Fisher; but the Sea
King, who had learnt to love him and would fain have kept him as a
son, begged him not to go so soon, but to make the Sea Palace his
home as long as ever he liked. While the Happy Hunter was still
hesitating, the two lovely Princesses, Tayotama and Tamayori, came,
and with the sweetest of bows and voices joined with their father in
pressing him to stay, so that without seeming ungracious he could
not say them "Nay," and was obliged to stay on for some time.
Between the Sea Realm and the Earth there was no difference in the
night of time, and the Happy Hunter found that three years went
fleeting quickly by in this delightful land. The years pass swiftly
when any one is truly happy. But though the wonders of that
enchanted land seemed to be new every day, and though the Sea King's
kindness seemed rather to increase than to grow less with time, the
Happy Hunter grew more and more homesick as the days passed, and he
could not repress a great anxiety to know what had happened to his
home and his country and his brother while he had been away.
So at last he went to the Sea King and said:
"My stay with you here has been most happy and I am very grateful to
you for all your kindness to me, but I govern Japan, and, delightful
as this place is, I cannot absent myself forever from my country. I
must also return the fishing hook to my brother and ask his
forgiveness for having deprived him of it for so long. I am indeed
very sorry to part from you, but this time it cannot be helped. With
your gracious permission, I will take my leave to-day. I hope to
make you another visit some day. Please give up the idea of my
staying longer now."
King Ryn Jin was overcome with sorrow at the thought that he must
lose his friend who had made a great diversion in the Palace of the
Sea, and his tears fell fast as he answered:
"We are indeed very sorry to part with you, Mikoto, for we have
enjoyed your stay with us very much. You have been a noble and
honored guest and we have heartily made you welcome. I quite
understand that as you govern Japan you ought to be there and not
here, and that it is vain for us to try and keep you longer with us,
much as we would like to have you stay. I hope you will not forget
us. Strange circumstances have brought us together and I trust the
friendship thus begun between the Land and the Sea will last and
grow stronger than it has ever been before."
When the Sea King had finished speaking he turned to his two
daughters and bade them bring him the two Tide-Jewels of the Sea.
The two Princesses bowed low, rose and glided out of the hall. In a
few minutes they returned, each one carrying in her hands a flashing
gem which filled the room with light. As the Happy Hunter looked at
them he wondered what they could be. The Sea King took them from his
daughters and said to his guest:
"These two valuable talismans we have inherited from our ancestors
from time immemorial. We now give them to you as a parting gift in
token of our great affection for you. These two gems are called the
nanjiu and the kanjiu."
The Happy Hunter bowed low to the ground and said:
"I can never thank you enough for all your kindness to me. And now
will you add one more favor to the rest and tell me what these
jewels are and what I am to do with them?"
"The nanjiu," answered the Sea King, "is also called the Jewel of
the Flood Tide, and whoever holds it in his possession can command
the sea to roll in and to flood the land at any time that he wills.
The kanjiu is also called the Jewel of the Ebbing Tide, and this gem
controls the sea and the waves thereof, and will cause even a tidal
wave to recede."
Then Ryn Jin showed his friend how to use the talismans one by one
and handed them to him. The Happy Hunter was very glad to have these
two wonderful gems, the Jewel of the Flood Tide and the Jewel of the
Ebbing Tide, to take back with him, for he felt that they would
preserve him in case of danger from enemies at any time. After
thanking his kind host again and again, he prepared to depart. The
Sea King and the two Princesses, Tayotama and Tamayori, and all the
inmates of the Palace, came out to say "Good-by," and before the
sound of the last farewell had died away the Happy Hunter passed out
from under the gateway, past the well of happy memory standing in
the shade of the great KATSURA trees on his way to the beach.
Here he found, instead of the queer basket on which he had come to
the Realm of Ryn Gu, a large crocodile waiting for him. Never had he
seen such a huge creature. It measured eight fathoms in length from
the tip of its tail to the end of its long mouth. The Sea King had
ordered the monster to carry the Happy Hunter back to Japan. Like
the wonderful basket which Shiwozuchino Okina had made, it could
travel faster than any steamboat, and in this strange way, riding on
the back of a crocodile, the Happy Hunter returned to his own land.
As soon as the crocodile landed him, the Happy Hunter hastened to
tell the Skillful Fisher of his safe return. He then gave him back
the fishing hook which had been found in the mouth of the TAI and
which had been the cause of so much trouble between them. He
earnestly begged his brother's forgiveness, telling him all that had
happened to him in the Sea King's Palace and what wonderful
adventures had led to the finding of the hook.
Now the Skillful Fisher had used the lost hook as an excuse for
driving his brother out of the country. When his brother had left
him that day three years ago, and had not returned, he had been very
glad in his evil heart and had at once usurped his brother's place
as ruler of the land, and had become powerful and rich. Now in the
midst of enjoying what did not belong to him, and hoping that his
brother might never return to claim his rights, quite unexpectedly
there stood the Happy Hunter before him.
The Skillful Fisher feigned forgiveness, for he could make no more
excuses for sending his brother away again, but in his heart he was
very angry and hated his brother more and more, till at last be
could no longer bear the sight of him day after day, and planned and
watched for an opportunity to kill him.
One day when the Happy Hunter was walking in the rice fields his
brother followed him with a dagger. The Happy Hunter knew that his
brother was following him to kill him, and he felt that now, in this
hour of great danger, was the time to use the Jewels of the Flow and
Ebb of the Tide and prove whether what the Sea King had told him was
true or not.
So he took out the Jewel of the Flood Tide from the bosom of his
dress and raised it to his forehead. Instantly over the fields and
over the farms the sea came rolling in wave upon wave till it
reached the spot where his brother was standing. The Skillful Fisher
stood amazed and terrified to see what was happening. In another
minute he was struggling in the water and calling on his brother to
save him from drowning.
The Happy Hunter had a kind heart and could not bear the sight of
his brother's distress. He at once put back the Jewel of the Flood
Tide and took out the Jewel of the Ebb Tide. No sooner did he hold
it up as high as his forehead than the sea ran back and back, and
ere long the tossing rolling floods had vanished, and the farms and
fields and dry land appeared as before.
The Skillful Fisher was very frightened at the peril of death in
which he had stood, and was greatly impressed by the wonderful
things he had seen his brother do. He learned now that he was making
a fatal mistake to set himself against his brother, younger than he
thought he was, for he now had become so powerful that the sea would
flow in and the tide ebb at his word of command. So he humbled
himself before the Happy Hunter and asked him to forgive him all the
wrong he had done him. The Skillful Fisher promised to restore his
brother to his rights and also swore that though the Happy Hunter
was the younger brother and owed him allegiance by right of birth,
that he, the Skillful Fisher, would exalt him as his superior and
bow before him as Lord of all Japan.
Then the Happy Hunter said that he would forgive his brother if he
would throw into the receding tide all his evil ways. The Skillful
Fisher promised and there was peace between the two brothers. From
this time he kept his word and became a good man and a kind brother.
The Happy Hunter now ruled his Kingdom without being disturbed by
family strife, and there was peace in Japan for a long, long time.
Above all the treasures in his house he prized the wonderful Jewels
of the Flow and Ebb of the Tide which had been given him by Ryn Jin,
the Dragon King of the Sea.
This is the congratulatory ending of the Happy Hunter and the
THE STORY OF THE OLD MAN WHO MADE WITHERED TREES TO FLOWER.
Long, long ago there lived an old man and his wife who supported
themselves by cultivating a small plot of land. Their life had been
a very happy and peaceful one save for one great sorrow, and this
was they had no child. Their only pet was a dog named Shiro, and on
him they lavished all the affection of their old age. Indeed, they
loved him so much that whenever they had anything nice to eat they
denied themselves to give it to Shiro. Now Shiro means "white," and
he was so called because of his color. He was a real Japanese dog,
and very like a small wolf in appearance.
The happiest hour of the day both for the old man and his dog was
when the man returned from his work in the field, and having
finished his frugal supper of rice and vegetables, would take what
he had saved from the meal out to the little veranda that ran round
the cottage. Sure enough, Shiro was waiting for his master and the
evening tit-bit. Then the old man said "Chin, chin!" and Shiro sat
up and begged, and his master gave him the food. Next door to this
good old couple there lived another old man and his wife who were
both wicked and cruel, and who hated their good neighbors and the
dog Shiro with all their might. Whenever Shiro happened to look into
their kitchen they at once kicked him or threw something at him,
sometimes even wounding him.
One day Shiro was heard barking for a long time in the field at the
back of his master's house. The old man, thinking that perhaps some
birds were attacking the corn, hurried out to see what was the
matter. As soon as Shiro saw his master he ran to meet him, wagging
his tail, and, seizing the end of his kimono, dragged him under a
large yenoki tree. Here he began to dig very industriously with his
paws, yelping with joy all the time. The old man, unable to
understand what it all meant, stood looking on in bewilderment. But
Shiro went on barking and digging with all his might.
The thought that something might be hidden beneath the tree, and
that the dog had scented it, at last struck the old man. He ran back
to the house, fetched his spade and began to dig the ground at that
spot. What was his astonishment when, after digging for some time,
he came upon a heap of old and valuable coins, and the deeper he dug
the more gold coins did he find. So intent was the old man on his
work that he never saw the cross face of his neighbor peering at him
through the bamboo hedge. At last all the gold coins lay shining on
the ground. Shiro sat by erect with pride and looking fondly at his
master as if to say, "You see, though only a dog, I can make some
return for all the kindness you show me."
The old man ran in to call his wife, and together they carried home
the treasure. Thus in one day the poor old man became rich. His
gratitude to the faithful dog knew no bounds, and he loved and
petted him more than ever, if that were possible.
The cross old neighbor, attracted by Shiro's barking, had been an
unseen and envious witness of the finding of the treasure. He began
to think that he, too, would like to find a fortune. So a few days
later he called at the old man's house and very ceremoniously asked
permission to borrow Shiro for a short time.
Shiro's master thought this a strange request, because he knew quite
well that not only did his neighbor not love his pet dog, but that
he never lost an opportunity of striking and tormenting him whenever
the dog crossed his path. But the good old man was too kind-hearted
to refuse his neighbor, so he consented to lend the dog on condition
that he should be taken great care of.
The wicked old man returned to his home with an evil smile on his
face, and told his wife how he had succeeded in his crafty
intentions. He then took his spade and hastened to his own field,
forcing the unwilling Shiro to follow him. As soon as he reached a
yenoki tree, he said to the dog, threateningly:
"If there were gold coins under your master's tree, there must also
be gold coins under my tree. You must find them for me! Where are
they? Where? Where?"
And catching hold of Shiro's neck he held the dog's head to the
ground, so that Shiro began to scratch and dig in order to free
himself from the horrid old man's grasp.
The old man was very pleased when he saw the dog begin to scratch
and dig, for he at once supposed that some gold coins lay buried
under his tree as well as under his neighbor's, and that the dog had
scented them as before; so pushing Shiro away he began to dig
himself, but there was nothing to be found. As he went on digging a
foul smell was noticeable, and he at last came upon a refuse heap.
The old man's disgust can be imagined. This soon gave way to anger.
He had seen his neighbor's good fortune, and hoping for the same
luck himself, he had borrowed the dog Shiro; and now, just as he
seemed on the point of finding what he sought, only a horrid
smelling refuse heap had rewarded him for a morning's digging.
Instead of blaming his own greed for his disappointment, he blamed
the poor dog. He seized his spade, and with all his strength struck
Shiro and killed him on the spot. He then threw the dog's body into
the hole which he had dug in the hope of finding a treasure of gold
coins, and covered it over with the earth. Then he returned to the
house, telling no one, not even his wife, what be had done.
After waiting several days, as the dog Shiro did not return, his
master began to grow anxious. Day after day went by and the good old
man waited in vain. Then he went to his neighbor and asked him to
give him back his dog. Without any shame or hesitation, the wicked
neighbor answered that he had killed Shiro because of his bad
behavior. At this dreadful news Shiro's master wept many sad and
bitter tears. Great indeed, was his woful surprise, but he was too
good and gentle to reproach his bad neighbor. Learning that Shiro
was buried under the yenoki tree in the field, he asked the old man
to give him the tree, in remembrance of his poor dog Shiro.
Even the cross old neighbor could not refuse such a simple request,
so he consented to give the old man the tree under which Shiro lay
buried. Shiro's master then cut the tree down and carried it home.
Out of the trunk he made a mortar. In this his wife put some rice,
and he began to pound it with the intention of making a festival to
the memory of his dog Shiro.
A strange thing happened! His wife put the rice into the mortar, and
no sooner had he begun to pound it to make the cakes, than it began
to increase in quantity gradually till it was about five times the
original amount, and the cakes were turned out of the mortar as if
an invisible hand were at work.
When the old man and his wife saw this, they understood that it was
a reward to them from Shiro for their faithful love to him. They
tasted the cakes and found them nicer than any other food. So from
this time they never troubled about food, for they lived upon the
cakes with which the mortar never ceased to supply them.
The greedy neighbor, hearing of this new piece of good luck, was
filled with envy as before, and called on the old man and asked
leave to borrow the wonderful mortar for a short time, pretending
that he, too, sorrowed for the death of Shiro, and wished to make
cakes for a festival to the dog's memory.
The old man did not in the least wish to lend it to his cruel
neighbor, but he was too kind to refuse. So the envious man carried
home the mortar, but he never brought it back.
Several days passed, and Shiro's master waited in vain for the
mortar, so he went to call on the borrower, and asked him to be good
enough to return the mortar if he had finished with it. He found him
sitting by a big fire made of pieces of wood. On the ground lay what
looked very much like pieces of a broken mortar. In answer to the
old man's inquiry, the wicked neighbor answered haughtily:
"Have you come to ask me for your mortar? I broke it to pieces, and
now I am making a fire of the wood, for when I tried to pound cakes
in it only some horrid smelling stuff came out."
The good old man said:
"I am very sorry for that. It is a great pity you did not ask me for
the cakes if you wanted them. I would have given you as many as ever
you wanted. Now please give me the ashes of the mortar, as I wish to
keep them in remembrance of my dog."
The neighbor consented at once, and the old man carried home a
basket full of ashes.
Not long after this the old man accidentally scattered some of the
ashes made by the burning of the mortar on the trees of his garden.
A wonderful thing happened!
It was late in autumn and all the trees had shed their leaves, but
no sooner did the ashes touch their branches than the cherry trees,
the plum trees, and all other blossoming shrubs burst into bloom, so
that the old man's garden was suddenly transformed into a beautiful
picture of spring. The old man's delight knew no bounds, and he
carefully preserved the remaining ashes.
The story of the old man's garden spread far and wide, and people
from far and near came to see the wonderful sight.
One day, soon after this, the old man heard some one knocking at his
door, and going to the porch to see who it was he was surprised to
see a Knight standing there. This Knight told him that he was a
retainer of a great Daimio (Earl); that one of the favorite cherry
trees in this nobleman's garden had withered, and that though every
one in his service had tried all manner of means to revive it, none
took effect. The Knight was sore perplexed when he saw what great
displeasure the loss of his favorite cherry tree caused the Daimio.
At this point, fortunately, they had heard that there was a
wonderful old man who could make withered trees to blossom, and that
his Lord had sent him to ask the old man to come to him.
"And," added the Knight, "I shall be very much obliged if you will
come at once."
The good old man was greatly surprised at what he heard, but
respectfully followed the Knight to the nobleman's Palace.
The Daimio, who had been impatiently awaiting the old man's coming,
as soon as he saw him asked him at once:
"Are you the old man who can make withered trees flower even out of
The old man made an obeisance, and replied:
"I am that old man!"
Then the Daimio said:
"You must make that dead cherry tree in my garden blossom again by
means of your famous ashes. I shall look on."
Then they all went into the garden--the Daimio and his retainers and
the ladies-in waiting, who carried the Daimio's sword.
The old man now tucked up his kimono and made ready to climb the
tree. Saying "Excuse me," he took the pot of ashes which he had
brought with him, and began to climb the tree, every one watching
his movements with great interest.
At last he climbed to the spot where the tree divided into two great
branches, and taking up his position here, the old man sat down and
scattered the ashes right and left all over the branches and twigs.
Wonderful, indeed, was the result! The withered tree at once burst
into full bloom! The Daimio was so transported with joy that he
looked as if he would go mad. He rose to his feet and spread out his
fan, calling the old man down from the tree. He himself gave the old
man a wine cup filled with the best SAKE, and rewarded him with much
silver and gold and many other precious things. The Daimio ordered
that henceforth the old man should call himself by the name of Hana-
Saka-Jijii, or "The Old Man who makes the Trees to Blossom," and
that henceforth all were to recognize him by this name, and he sent
him home with great honor.
The wicked neighbor, as before, heard of the good old man's fortune,
and of all that had so auspiciously befallen him, and he could not
suppress all the envy and jealousy that filled his heart. He called
to mind how he had failed in his attempt to find the gold coins, and
then in making the magic cakes; this time surely he must succeed if
he imitated the old man, who made withered trees to flower simply by
sprinkling ashes on them. This would be the simplest task of all.
So he set to work and gathered together all the ashes which remained
in the fire-place from the burning of the wonderful mortar. Then he
set out in the hope of finding some great man to employ him, calling
out loudly as he went along:
"Here comes the wonderful man who can make withered trees blossom!
Here comes the old man who can make dead trees blossom!"
The Daimio in his Palace heard this cry, and said:
"That must be the Hana-Saka-Jijii passing. I have nothing to do to-
day. Let him try his art again; it will amuse me to look on."
So the retainers went out and brought in the impostor before their
Lord. The satisfaction of false old man can now be imagined.
But the Daimio looking at him, thought it strange that he was not at
all like the old man he had seen before, so he asked him:
"Are you the man whom I named Hana-Saka-Jijii?"
And the envious neighbor answered with a lie:
"Yes, my Lord!"
"That is strange!" said the Daimio. "I thought there was only one
Hana-Saka-Jijii in the world! Has he now some disciples?"
"I am the true Hana-Saka-Jijii. The one who came to you before was
only my disciple!" replied the old man again.
"Then you must be more skillful than the other. Try what you can do
and let me see!"
The envious neighbor, with the Daimio and his Court following, then
went into the garden, and approaching a dead tree, took out a
handful of the ashes which he carried with him, and scattered them
over the tree.
But not only did the tree not burst into flower, but not even a bud
came forth. Thinking that he had not used enough ashes, the old man
took handfuls and again sprinkled them over the withered tree. But
all to no effect. After trying several times, the ashes were blown
into the Daimio's eyes. This made him very angry, and he ordered his
retainers to arrest the false Hana-Saka-Jijii at once and put him in
prison for an impostor. From this imprisonment the wicked old man
was never freed. Thus did he meet with punishment at last for all
his evil doings.
The good old man, however, with the treasure of gold coins which
Shiro had found for him, and with all the gold and the silver which
the Daimio had showered on him, became a rich and prosperous man in
his old age, and lived a long and happy life, beloved and respected
THE JELLY FISH AND THE MONKEY.
Long, long ago, in old Japan, the Kingdom of the Sea was governed by
a wonderful King. He was called Rin Jin, or the Dragon King of the
Sea. His power was immense, for he was the ruler of all sea
creatures both great and small, and in his keeping were the Jewels
of the Ebb and Flow of the Tide. The Jewel of the Ebbing Tide when
thrown into the ocean caused the sea to recede from the land, and
the Jewel of the Flowing Tide made the waves to rise mountains high
and to flow in upon the shore like a tidal wave.
The Palace of Rin Jin was at the bottom of the sea, and was so
beautiful that no one has ever seen anything like it even in dreams.
The walls were of coral, the roof of jadestone and chrysoprase, and
the floors were of the finest mother-of-pearl. But the Dragon King,
in spite of his wide-spreading Kingdom, his beautiful Palace and all
its wonders, and his power which none disputed throughout the whole
sea, was not at all happy, for he reigned alone. At last he thought
that if he married he would not only be happier, but also more
powerful. So he decided to take a wife. Calling all his fish
retainers together, he chose several of them as ambassadors to go
through the sea and seek for a young Dragon Princess who would be
At last they returned to the Palace bringing with them a lovely
young dragon. Her scales were of glittering green like the wings of
summer beetles, her eyes threw out glances of fire, and she was
dressed in gorgeous robes. All the jewels of the sea worked in with
embroidery adorned them.
The King fell in love with her at once, and the wedding ceremony was
celebrated with great splendor. Every living thing in the sea, from
the great whales down to the little shrimps, came in shoals to offer
their congratulations to the bride and bridegroom and to wish them a
long and prosperous life. Never had there been such an assemblage or
such gay festivities in the Fish-World before. The train of bearers
who carried the bride's possessions to her new home seemed to reach
across the waves from one end of the sea to the other. Each fish
carried a phosphorescent lantern and was dressed in ceremonial
robes, gleaming blue and pink and silver; and the waves as they rose
and fell and broke that night seemed to be rolling masses of white
and green fire, for the phosphorus shone with double brilliancy in
honor of the event.
Now for a time the Dragon King and his bride lived very happily.
They loved each other dearly, and the bridegroom day after day took
delight in showing his bride all the wonders and treasures of his
coral Palace, and she was never tired of wandering with him through
its vast halls and gardens. Life seemed to them both like a long
Two months passed in this happy way, and then the Dragon Queen fell
ill and was obliged to stay in bed. The King was sorely troubled
when he saw his precious bride so ill, and at once sent for the fish
doctor to come and give her some medicine. He gave special orders to
the servants to nurse her carefully and to wait upon her with
diligence, but in spite of all the nurses' assiduous care and the
medicine that the doctor prescribed, the young Queen showed no signs
of recovery, but grew daily worse.
Then the Dragon King interviewed the doctor and blamed him for not
curing the Queen. The doctor was alarmed at Rin Jin's evident
displeasure, and excused his want of skill by saying that although
he knew the right kind of medicine to give the invalid, it was
impossible to find it in the sea.
"Do you mean to tell me that you can't get the medicine here?" asked
the Dragon King.
"It is just as you say!" said the doctor.
"Tell me what it is you want for the Queen?" demanded Rin Jin.
"I want the liver of a live monkey!" answered the doctor.
"The liver of a live monkey! Of course that will be most difficult
to get," said the King.
"If we could only get that for the Queen, Her Majesty would soon
recover," said the doctor.
"Very well, that decides it; we MUST get it somehow or other. But
where are we most likely to find a monkey?" asked the King.
Then the doctor told the Dragon King that some distance to the south
there was a Monkey Island where a great many monkeys lived.
"If only you could capture one of these monkeys?" said the doctor.
"How can any of my people capture a monkey?" said the Dragon King,
greatly puzzled. "The monkeys live on dry land, while we live in the
water; and out of our element we are quite powerless! I don't see
what we can do!"
"That has been my difficulty too," said the doctor. "But amongst
your innumerable servants you surely can find one who can go on
shore for that express purpose!"
"Something must be done," said the King, and calling his chief
steward he consulted him on the matter.
The chief steward thought for some time, and then, as if struck by a
sudden thought, said joyfully:
"I know what we must do! There is the kurage (jelly fish). He is
certainly ugly to look at, but he is proud of being able to walk on
land with his four legs like a tortoise. Let us send him to the
Island of Monkeys to catch one."
The jelly fish was then summoned to the King's presence, and was
told by His Majesty what was required of him.
The jelly fish, on being told of the unexpected mission which was to
be intrusted to him, looked very troubled, and said that he had
never been to the island in question, and as he had never had any
experience in catching monkeys he was afraid that he would not be
able to get one.
"Well," said the chief steward, "if you depend on your strength or
dexterity you will never catch a monkey. The only way is to play a
trick on one!"
"How can I play a trick on a monkey? I don't know how to do it,"
said the perplexed jelly fish.
"This is what you must do," said the wily chief steward. "When you
approach the Island of Monkeys and meet some of them, you must try
to get very friendly with one. Tell him that you are a servant of
the Dragon King, and invite him to come and visit you and see the
Dragon King's Palace. Try and describe to him as vividly as you can
the grandeur of the Palace and the wonders of the sea so as to
arouse his curiosity and make him long to see it all!"
"But how am I to get the monkey here? You know monkeys don't swim?"
said the reluctant jelly fish.
"You must carry him on your back. What is the use of your shell if
you can't do that!" said the chief steward.
"Won't he be very heavy?" queried kurage again.
"You mustn't mind that, for you are working for the Dragon King,"
replied the chief steward.
"I will do my best then," said the jelly fish, and he swam away from
the Palace and started off towards the Monkey Island. Swimming
swiftly he reached his destination in a few hours, and landed by a
convenient wave upon the shore. On looking round he saw not far away
a big pine-tree with drooping branches and on one of those branches
was just what he was looking for--a live monkey.
"I'm in luck!" thought the jelly fish. "Now I must flatter the
creature and try to entice him to come back with me to the Palace,
and my part will be done!"
So the jelly fish slowly walked towards the pine-tree. In those
ancient days the jelly fish had four legs and a hard shell like a
tortoise. When he got to the pine-tree he raised his voice and said:
"How do you do, Mr. Monkey? Isn't it a lovely day?"
"A very fine day," answered the monkey from the tree. "I have never
seen you in this part of the world before. Where have you come from
and what is your name?"
"My name is kurage or jelly fish. I am one of the servants of the
Dragon King. I have heard so much of your beautiful island that I
have come on purpose to see it," answered the jelly fish.
"I am very glad to see you," said the monkey.
"By the bye," said the jelly fish, "have you ever seen the Palace of
the Dragon King of the Sea where I live?"
"I have often heard of it, but I have never seen it!" answered the
"Then you ought most surely to come. It is a great pity for you to
go through life without seeing it. The beauty of the Palace is
beyond all description--it is certainly to my mind the most lovely
place in the world," said the jelly fish.
"Is it so beautiful as all that?" asked the monkey in astonishment.
Then the jelly fish saw his chance, and went on describing to the
best of his ability the beauty and grandeur of the Sea King's
Palace, and the wonders of the garden with its curious trees of
white, pink and red coral, and the still more curious fruits like
great jewels hanging on the branches. The monkey grew more and more
interested, and as he listened he came down the tree step by step so
as not to lose a word of the wonderful story.
"I have got him at last!" thought the jelly fish, but aloud he said:
"Mr. Monkey. I must now go back. As you have never seen the Palace
of the Dragon King, won't you avail yourself of this splendid
opportunity by coming with me? I shall then be able to act as guide
and show you all the sights of the sea, which will be even more
wonderful to you--a land-lubber."
"I should love to go," said the monkey, "but how am I to cross the
water! I can't swim, as you surely know!"
"There is no difficulty about that. I can carry you on my back."
"That will be troubling you too much," said the monkey.
"I can do it quite easily. I am stronger than I look, so you needn't
hesitate," said the jelly fish, and taking the monkey on his back he
stepped into the sea.
"Keep very still, Mr. monkey," said the jelly fish. "You mustn't
fall into the sea; I am responsible for your safe arrival at the
"Please don't go so fast, or I am sure I shall fall off," said the
Thus they went along, the jelly fish skimming through the waves with
the monkey sitting on his back. When they were about half-way, the
jelly fish, who knew very little of anatomy, began to wonder if the
monkey had his liver with him or not!
"Mr. Monkey, tell me, have you such a thing as a liver with you?"
The monkey was very much surprised at this queer question, and asked
what the jelly fish wanted with a liver.
"That is the most important thing of all," said the stupid jelly
fish, "so as soon as I recollected it, I asked you if you had yours
"Why is my liver so important to you?" asked the monkey.
"Oh! you will learn the reason later," said the jelly fish.
The monkey grew more and more curious and suspicious, and urged the
jelly fish to tell him for what his liver was wanted, and ended up
by appealing to his hearer's feelings by saying that he was very
troubled at what he had been told.
Then the jelly fish, seeing how anxious the monkey looked, was sorry
for him, and told him everything. How the Dragon Queen had fallen
ill, and how the doctor had said that only the liver of a live
monkey would cure her, and how the Dragon King had sent him to find
"Now I have done as I was told, and as soon as we arrive at the
Palace the doctor will want your liver, so I feel sorry for you!"
said the silly jelly fish.
The poor monkey was horrified when he learnt all this, and very
angry at the trick played upon him. He trembled with fear at the
thought of what was in store for him.
But the monkey was a clever animal, and he thought it the wisest
plan not to show any sign of the fear he felt, so he tried to calm
himself and to think of some way by which he might escape.
"The doctor means to cut me open and then take my liver out! Why I
shall die!" thought the monkey. At last a bright thought struck him,
so he said quite cheerfully to the jelly fish:
"What a pity it was, Mr. Jelly Fish, that you did not speak of this
before we left the island!"
"If I had told why I wanted you to accompany me you would certainly
have refused to come," answered the jelly fish.
"You are quite mistaken," said the monkey. "Monkeys can very well
spare a liver or two, especially when it is wanted for the Dragon
Queen of the Sea. If I had only guessed of what you were in need. I
should have presented you with one without waiting to be asked. I
have several livers. But the greatest pity is, that as you did not
speak in time, I have left all my livers hanging on the pine-tree."
"Have you left your liver behind you?" asked the jelly fish.
"Yes," said the cunning monkey, "during the daytime I usually leave
my liver hanging up on the branch of a tree, as it is very much in
the way when I am climbing about from tree to tree. To-day,
listening to your interesting conversation, I quite forgot it, and
left it behind when I came off with you. If only you had spoken in
time I should have remembered it, and should have brought it along
The jelly fish was very disappointed when he heard this, for he
believed every word the monkey said. The monkey was of no good
without a liver. Finally the jelly fish stopped and told the monkey
"Well," said the monkey, "that is soon remedied. I am really sorry
to think of all your trouble; but if you will only take me back to
the place where you found me, I shall soon be able to get my liver."
The jelly fish did not at all like the idea of going all the way
back to the island again; but the monkey assured him that if he
would be so kind as to take him back he would get his very best
liver, and bring it with him the next time. Thus persuaded, the
jelly fish turned his course towards the Monkey Island once more.
No sooner had the jelly fish reached the shore than the sly monkey
landed, and getting up into the pine-tree where the jelly fish had
first seen him, he cut several capers amongst the branches with joy
at being safe home again, and then looking down at the jelly fish
"So many thanks for all the trouble you have taken! Please present
my compliments to the Dragon King on your return!"
The jelly fish wondered at this speech and the mocking tone in which
it was uttered. Then he asked the monkey if it wasn't his intention
to come with him at once after getting his liver.
The monkey replied laughingly that he couldn't afford to lose his
liver: it was too precious.
"But remember your promise!" pleaded the jelly fish, now very
"That promise was false, and anyhow it is now broken!" answered the
monkey. Then he began to jeer at the jelly fish and told him that he
had been deceiving him the whole time; that he had no wish to lose
his life, which he certainly would have done had he gone on to the
Sea King's Palace to the old doctor waiting for him, instead of
persuading the jelly fish to return under false pretenses.
"Of course, I won't GIVE you my liver, but come and get it if you
can!" added the monkey mockingly from the tree.
There was nothing for the jelly fish to do now but to repent of his
stupidity, and to return to the Dragon King of the Sea and to
confess his failure, so he started sadly and slowly to swim back.
The last thing he heard as he glided away, leaving the island behind
him, was the monkey laughing at him.
Meanwhile the Dragon King, the doctor, the chief steward, and all
the servants were waiting impatiently for the return of the jelly
fish. When they caught sight of him approaching the Palace, they
hailed him with delight. They began to thank him profusely for all
the trouble he had taken in going to Monkey Island, and then they
asked him where the monkey was.
Now the day of reckoning had come for the jelly fish. He quaked all
over as he told his story. How he had brought the monkey halfway
over the sea, and then had stupidly let out the secret of his
commission; how the monkey had deceived him by making him believe
that he had left his liver behind him.
The Dragon King's wrath was great, and he at once gave orders that
the jelly fish was to be severely punished. The punishment was a
horrible one. All the bones were to be drawn out from his living
body, and he was to be beaten with sticks.
The poor jelly fish, humiliated and horrified beyond all words,
cried out for pardon. But the Dragon King's order had to be obeyed.
The servants of the Palace forthwith each brought out a stick and
surrounded the jelly fish, and after pulling out his bones they beat
him to a flat pulp, and then took him out beyond the Palace gates
and threw him into the water. Here he was left to suffer and repent
his foolish chattering, and to grow accustomed to his new state of
From this story it is evident that in former times the jelly fish
once had a shell and bones something like a tortoise, but, ever
since the Dragon King's sentence was carried out on the ancestor of
the jelly fishes, his descendants have all been soft and boneless
just as you see them to-day thrown up by the waves high upon the
shores of Japan.
THE QUARREL OF TEE MONKEY AND THE CRAB.
Long, long ago, one bright autumn day in Japan, it happened, that a
pink-faced monkey and a yellow crab were playing together along the
bank of a river. As they were running about, the crab found a rice-
dumpling and the monkey a persimmon-seed.
The crab picked up the rice-dumpling and showed it to the monkey,
"Look what a nice thing I have found!"
Then the monkey held up his persimmon-seed and said:
"I also have found something good! Look!"
Now though the monkey is always very fond of persimmon fruit, he had
no use for the seed he had just found. The persimmon-seed is as hard
and uneatable as a stone. He, therefore, in his greedy nature, felt
very envious of the crab's nice dumpling, and he proposed an
exchange. The crab naturally did not see why he should give up his
prize for a hard stone-like seed, and would not consent to the
Then the cunning monkey began to persuade the crab, saying:
"How unwise you are not to think of the future! Your rice-dumpling
can be eaten now, and is certainly much bigger than my seed; but if
you sow this seed in the ground it will soon grow and become a great
tree in a few years, and bear an abundance of fine ripe persimmons
year after year. If only I could show it to you then with the yellow
fruit hanging on its branches! Of course, if you don't believe me I
shall sow it myself; though I am sure, later on, you will be very
sorry that you did not take my advice."
The simple-minded crab could not resist the monkey's clever
persuasion. He at last gave in and consented to the monkey's
proposal, and the exchange was made. The greedy monkey soon gobbled
up the dumpling, and with great reluctance gave up the persimmon-
seed to the crab. He would have liked to keep that too, but he was
afraid of making the crab angry and of being pinched by his sharp
scissor-like claws. They then separated, the monkey going home to
his forest trees and the crab to his stones along the river-side. As
soon as the crab reached home he put the persimmon-seed in the
ground as the monkey had told him.
In the following spring the crab was delighted to see the shoot of a
young tree push its way up through the ground. Each year it grew
bigger, till at last it blossomed one spring, and in the following
autumn bore some fine large persimmons. Among the broad smooth green
leaves the fruit hung like golden balls, and as they ripened they
mellowed to a deep orange. It was the little crab's pleasure to go
out day by day and sit in the sun and put out his long eyes in the
same way as a snail puts out its horn, and watch the persimmons
ripening to perfection.
"How delicious they will be to eat!" he said to himself.
At last, one day, he knew the persimmons must be quite ripe and he
wanted very much to taste one. He made several attempts to climb the
tree, in the vain hope of reaching one of the beautiful persimmons
hanging above him; but he failed each time, for a crab's legs are
not made for climbing trees but only for running along the ground
and over stones, both of which he can do most cleverly. In his
dilemma he thought of his old playmate the monkey, who, he knew,
could climb trees better than any one else in the world. He
determined to ask the monkey to help him, and set out to find him.
Running crab-fashion up the stony river bank, over the pathways into
the shadowy forest, the crab at last found the monkey taking an
afternoon nap in his favorite pine-tree, with his tail curled tight
around a branch to prevent him from falling off in his dreams. He
was soon wide awake, however, when he heard himself called, and
eagerly listening to what the crab told him. When he heard that the
seed which he had long ago exchanged for a rice-dumpling had grown
into a tree and was now bearing good fruit, he was delighted, for he
at once devised a cunning plan which would give him all the
persimmons for himself.
He consented to go with the crab to pick the fruit for him. When
they both reached the spot, the monkey was astonished to see what a
fine tree had sprung from the seed, and with what a number of ripe
persimmons the branches were loaded.
He quickly climbed the tree and began to pluck and eat, as fast as
he could, one persimmon after another. Each time he chose the best
and ripest he could find, and went on eating till he could eat no
more. Not one would he give to the poor hungry crab waiting below,
and when he had finished there was little but the hard, unripe fruit
You can imagine the feelings of the poor crab after waiting
patiently, for so long as he had done, for the tree to grow and the
fruit to ripen, when he saw the monkey devouring all the good
persimmons. He was so disappointed that he ran round and round the
tree calling to the monkey to remember his promise. The monkey at
first took no notice of the crab's complaints, but at last he picked
out the hardest, greenest persimmon he could find and aimed it at
the crab's head. The persimmon is as hard as stone when it is
unripe. The monkey's missile struck home and the crab was sorely
hurt by the blow. Again and again, as fast as he could pick them,
the monkey pulled off the hard persimmons and threw them at the
defenseless crab till he dropped dead, covered with wounds all over
his body. There he lay a pitiful sight at the foot of the tree he
had himself planted.
When the wicked monkey saw that he had killed the crab he ran away
from the spot as fast as he could, in fear and trembling, like a
coward as he was.
Now the crab had a son who had been playing with a friend not far
from the spot where this sad work had taken place. On the way home
he came across his father dead, in a most dreadful condition--his
head was smashed and his shell broken in several places, and around
his body lay the unripe persimmons which had done their deadly work.
At this dreadful sight the poor young crab sat down and wept.
But when he had wept for some time he told himself that this crying
would do no good; it was his duty to avenge his father's murder, and
this he determined to do. He looked about for some clue which would
lead him to discover the murderer. Looking up at the tree he noticed
that the best fruit had gone, and that all around lay bits of peel
and numerous seeds strewn on the ground as well as the unripe
persimmons which had evidently been thrown at his father. Then he
understood that the monkey was the murderer, for he now remembered
that his father had once told him the story of the rice-dumpling and
the persimmon-seed. The young crab knew that monkeys liked
persimmons above all other fruit, and he felt sure that his greed
for the coveted fruit had been the cause of the old crab's death.
He at first thought of going to attack the monkey at once, for he
burned with rage. Second thoughts, however, told him that this was
useless, for the monkey was an old and cunning animal and would be
hard to overcome. He must meet cunning with cunning and ask some of
his friends to help him, for he knew it would be quite out of his
power to kill him alone.
The young crab set out at once to call on the mortar, his father's
old friend, and told him of all that had happened. He besought the
mortar with tears to help him avenge his father's death. The mortar
was very sorry when he heard the woful tale and promised at once to
help the young crab punish the monkey to death. He warned him that
he must be very careful in what he did, for the monkey was a strong
and cunning enemy. The mortar now sent to fetch the bee and the
chestnut (also the crab's old friends) to consult them about the
matter. In a short time the bee and the chestnut arrived. When they
were told all the details of the old crab's death and of the
monkey's wickedness and greed, they both gladly consented to help
the young crab in his revenge.
After talking for a long time as to the ways and means of carrying
out their plans they separated, and Mr. Mortar went home with the
young crab to help him bury his poor father.
While all this was taking place the monkey was congratulating
himself (as the wicked often do before their punishment comes upon
them) on all he had done so neatly. He thought it quite a fine thing
that he had robbed his friend of all his ripe persimmons and then
that he had killed him. Still, smile as hard as he might, he could
not banish altogether the fear of the consequences should his evil
deeds be discovered. IF he were found out (and he told himself that
this could not be for he had escaped unseen) the crab's family would
be sure to bear him hatred and seek to take revenge on him. So he
would not go out, and kept himself at home for several days. He
found this kind of life, however, extremely dull, accustomed as he
was to the free life of the woods, and at last he said:
"No one knows that it was I who killed the crab! I am sure that the
old thing breathed his last before I left him. Dead crabs have no
mouths! Who is there to tell that I am the murderer? Since no one
knows, what is the use of shutting myself up and brooding over the
matter? What is done cannot be undone!"
With this he wandered out into the crab settlement and crept about
as slyly as possible near the crab's house and tried to hear the
neighbors' gossip round about. He wanted to find out what the crabs
were saving about their chief's death, for the old crab had been the
chief of the tribe. But he heard nothing and said to himself:
"They are all such fools that they don't know and don't care who
murdered their chief!"
Little did he know in his so-called "monkey's wisdom" that this
seeming unconcern was part of the young crab's plan. He purposely
pretended not to know who killed his father, and also to believe
that he had met his death through his own fault. By this means he
could the better keep secret the revenge on the monkey, which he was
So the monkey returned home from his walk quite content. He told
himself he had nothing now to fear.
One fine day, when the monkey was sitting at home, he was surprised
by the appearance of a messenger from the young crab. While he was
wondering what this might mean, the messenger bowed before him and
"I have been sent by my master to inform you that his father died
the other day in falling from a persimmon tree while trying to climb
the tree after fruit. This, being the seventh day, is the first
anniversary after his death, and my master has prepared a little
festival in his father's honor, and bids you come to participate in
it as you were one of his best friends. My master hopes you will
honor his house with your kind visit."
When the monkey heard these words he rejoiced in his inmost heart,
for all his fears of being suspected were now at rest. He could not
guess that a plot had just been set in motion against him. He
pretended to be very surprised at the news of the crab's death, and
"I am, indeed, very sorry to hear of your chief's death. We were
great friends as you know. I remember that we once exchanged a rice-
dumpling for a persimmon-seed. It grieves me much to think that that
seed was in the end the cause of his death. I accept your kind
invitation with many thanks. I shall be delighted to do honor to my
poor old friend!" And he screwed some false tears from his eyes.
The messenger laughed inwardly and thought, "The wicked monkey is
now dropping false tears, but within a short time he shall shed real
ones." But aloud he thanked the monkey politely and went home.
When he had gone, the wicked monkey laughed aloud at what he thought
was the young crab's innocence, and without the least feeling began
to look forward to the feast to be held that day in honor of the
dead crab, to which he had been invited. He changed his dress and
set out solemnly to visit the young crab.
He found all the members of the crab's family and his relatives
waiting to receive and welcome him. As soon as the bows of meeting
were over they led him to a hall. Here the young chief mourner came
to receive him. Expressions of condolence and thanks were exchanged
between them, and then they all sat down to a luxurious feast and
entertained the monkey as the guest of honor.
The feast over, he was next invited to the tea-ceremony room to
drink a cup of tea. When the young crab had conducted the monkey to
the tearoom he left him and retired. Time passed and still he did
not return. At last the monkey became impatient. He said to himself:
"This tea ceremony is always a very slow affair. I am tired of
waiting so long. I am very thirsty after drinking so much sake at
He then approached the charcoal fire-place and began to pour out
some hot water from the kettle boiling there, when something burst
out from the ashes with a great pop and hit the monkey right in the
neck. It was the chestnut, one of the crab's friends, who had hidden
himself in the fireplace. The monkey, taken by surprise, jumped
backward, and then started to run out of the room.
The bee, who was hiding outside the screens, now flew out and stung
him on the cheek. The monkey was in great pain, his neck was burned
by the chestnut and his face badly stung by the bee, but he ran on
screaming and chattering with rage.
Now the stone mortar had hidden himself with several other stones on
the top of the crab's gate, and as the monkey ran underneath, the
mortar and all fell down on the top of the monkey's head. Was it
possible for the monkey to bear the weight of the mortar falling on
him from the top of the gate? He lay crushed and in great pain,
quite unable to get up. As he lay there helpless the young crab came
up, and, holding his great claw scissors over the monkey, he said:
"Do you now remember that you murdered my father?"
"Then you--are--my--enemy?" gasped the monkey brokenly.
"Of course," said the young crab.
"It--was--your--father's--fault--not--mine!" gasped the unrepentant
"Can you still lie? I will soon put an end to your breath!" and with
that he cut off the monkey's head with his pitcher claws. Thus the
wicked monkey met his well-merited punishment, and the young crab
avenged his father's death.
This is the end of the story of the monkey, the crab, and the
THE WHITE HARE AND THE CROCODILES
Long, long ago. when all the animals could talk, there lived in the
province of Inaba in Japan, a little white hare. His home was on the
island of Oki, and just across the sea was the mainland of Inaba.
Now the hare wanted very much to cross over to Inaba. Day after day
he would go out and sit on the shore and look longingly over the
water in the direction of Inaba. and day after day he hoped to find
some way of getting across.
One day as usual, the hare was standing on the beach, looking
towards the mainland across the water, when he saw a great crocodile
swimming near the island.
"This is very lucky!" thought the hare. "Now I shall be able to get
my wish. I will ask the crocodile to carry me across the sea!"
But he was doubtful whether the crocodile would consent to do what
wanted. So he thought instead of asking a favor he would try to get
what he wanted by a trick.
So with a loud voice he called to the crocodile, and said:
"Oh, Mr. Crocodile, isn't it a lovely day?"
The crocodile, who had come out all by itself that day to enjoy the
bright sunshine, was just beginning to feel a bit lonely when the
hare's cheerful greeting broke the silence. The crocodile swam
nearer the shore, very pleased to hear some one speak.
"I wonder who it was that spoke to me just now! Was it you, Mr.
Hare? You must be very lonely all by yourself!"
"Oh, no, I am not at all lonely," said the hare, "but as it was such
a fine day I came out here to enjoy myself. Won't you stop and play
with me a little while?"
The crocodile came out of the sea and sat on the shore, and the two
played together for some time. Then the hare said:
"Mr. Crocodile, you live in the sea and I live on this island, and
we do not often meet, so I know very little about you. Tell me, do
you think the number of your company is greater than mine?"
"Of course, there are more crocodiles than hares," answered the
crocodile. "Can you not see that for yourself? You live on this
small island, while I live in the sea, which spreads through all
parts of the world, so if I call together all the crocodiles who
dwell in the sea you hares will be as nothing compared to us!" The
crocodile was very conceited.
The hare, who meant to play a trick on the crocodile, said:
"Do you think it possible for you to call up enough crocodiles to
form a line from this island across the sea to Inaba?"
The crocodile thought for a moment and then answered:
"Of course, it is possible."
"Then do try," said the artful hare, "and I will count the number
The crocodile, who was very simple-minded, and who hadn't the least
idea that the hare intended to play a trick on him, agreed to do
what the hare asked, and said:
"Wait a little while I go back into the sea and call my company
The crocodile plunged into the sea and was gone for some time. The
hare, meanwhile, waited patiently on the shore. At last the
crocodile appeared, bringing with him a large number of other
"Look, Mr. Hare!" said the crocodile, "it is nothing for my friends
to form a line between here and Inaba. There are enough crocodiles
to stretch from here even as far as China or India. Did you ever see
so many crocodiles?"
Then the whole company of crocodiles arranged themselves in the
water so as to form a bridge between the Island of Oki and the
mainland of Inaba. When the hare saw the bridge of crocodiles, he
"How splendid! I did not believe this was possible. Now let me count
you all! To do this, however, with your permission, I must walk over
on your backs to the other side, so please be so good as not to
move, or else I shall fall into the sea and be drowned!"
So the hare hopped off the island on to the strange bridge of
crocodiles, counting as he jumped from one crocodile's back to the
"Please keep quite still, or I shall not be able to count. One, two,
three, four, five, six. seven, eight, nine--"
Thus the cunning hare walked right across to the mainland of Inaba.
Not content with getting his wish, he began to jeer at the
crocodiles instead of thanking them, and said, as he leapt off the
last one's back:
"Oh! you stupid crocodiles, now I have done with you!"
And he was just about to run away as fast as he could. But he did
not escape so easily, for so soon as the crocodiles understood that
this was a trick played upon them by the hare so as to enable him to
cross the sea, and that the hare was now laughing at them for their
stupidity, they became furiously angry and made up their minds to
take revenge. So some of them ran after the hare and caught him.
Then they all surrounded the poop little animal and pulled out all
his fur. He cried out loudly and entreated them to spare him, but
with each tuft of fur they pulled out they said:
"Serve you right!"
When the crocodiles had pulled out the last bit of fur, they threw
the poor hare on the beach, and all swam away laughing at what they
The hare was now in a pitiful plight, all his beautiful white fur
had been pulled out, and his bare little body was quivering with
pain and bleeding all over. He could hardly move, and all he could
do was to lie on the beach quite helpless and weep over the
misfortune that had befallen him. Notwithstanding that it was his
own fault that had brought all this misery and suffering upon the
white hare of Inaba, any one seeing the poor little creature could
not help feeling sorry for him in his sad condition, for the
crocodiles had been very cruel in their revenge.
Just at this time a number of men, who looked like King's sons,
happened to pass by, and seeing the hare lying on the beach crying,
stopped and asked what was the matter.
The hare lifted up his head from between his paws, and answered
"I had a fight with some crocodiles, but I was beaten, and they
pulled out all my fur and left me to suffer here--that is why I am
Now one of these young men had a bad and spiteful disposition. But
he feigned kindness, and said to the hare:
"I feel very sorry for you. If you will only try it, I know of a
remedy which will cure your sore body. Go and bathe yourself in the
sea, and then come and sit in the wind. This will make your fur grow
again, and you will be just as you were before."
Then all the young men passed on. The hare was very pleased,
thinking that he had found a cure. He went and bathed in the sea and
then came out and sat where the wind could blow upon him.
But as the wind blew and dried him, his skin became drawn and
hardened, and the salt increased the pain so much that he rolled on
the sand in his agony and cried aloud.
Just then another King's son passed by, carrying a great bag on his
back. He saw the hare, and stopped and asked why he was crying so
But the poor hare, remembering that he had been deceived by one very
like the man who now spoke to him, did not answer, but continued to
But this man had a kind heart, and looked at the hare very
pityingly, and said:
"You poor thing! I see that your fur is all pulled out and that your
skin is quite bare. Who can have treated you so cruelly?"
When the hare heard these kind words he felt very grateful to the
man, and encouraged by his gentle manner the hare told him all that
had befallen him. The little animal hid nothing from his friend, but
told him frankly how he had played a trick on the crocodiles and how
he had come across the bridge they had made, thinking that he wished
to count their number: how he had jeered at them for their
stupidity, and then how the crocodiles had revenged themselves on
him. Then he went on to say how he had been deceived by a party of
men who looked very like his kind friend: and the hare ended his
long tale of woe by begging the man to give him some medicine that
would cure him and make his fur grow again.
When the hare had finished his story, the man was full of pity
towards him, and said:
"I am very sorry for all you have suffered, but remember, it was
only the consequence of the deceit you practiced on the crocodiles."
"I know," answered the sorrowful hare, "but I have repented and made
up my mind never to use deceit again, so I beg you to show me how I
may cure my sore body and make the fur grow again."
"Then I will tell you of a good remedy," said the man. "First go and
bathe well in that pond over there and try to wash all the salt from
your body. Then pick some of those kaba flowers that are growing
near the edge of the water, spread them on the ground and roll
yourself on them. If you do this the pollen will cause your fur to
grow again, and you will be quite well in a little while."
The hare was very glad to be told what to do, so kindly. He crawled
to the pond pointed out to him, bathed well in it, and then picked
the kaba flowers growing near the water, and rolled himself on them.
To his amazement, even while he was doing this, he saw his nice
white fur growing again, the pain ceased, and he felt just as he had
done before all his misfortunes.
The hare was overjoyed at his quick recovery, and went hopping
joyfully towards the young man who had so helped him, and kneeling
down at his feet, said:
"I cannot express my thanks for all you have done for me! It is my
earnest wish to do something for you in return. Please tell me who
"I am no King's son as you think me. I am a fairy, and my name is
Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto," answered the man, "and those beings who
passed here before me are my brothers. They have heard of a
beautiful Princess called Yakami who lives in this province of
Inaba, and they are on their way to find her and to ask her to marry
one of them. But on this expedition I am only an attendant, so I am
walking behind them with this great big bag on my back."
The hare humbled himself before this great fairy Okuni-nushi-no-
Mikoto, whom many in that part of the land worshiped as a god.
"Oh, I did not know that you were Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto. How kind
you have been to me! It is impossible to believe that that unkind
fellow who sent me to bathe in the sea is one of your brothers. I am
quite sure that the Princess, whom your brothers have gone to seek,
will refuse to be the bride of any of them, and will prefer you for
your goodness of heart. I am quite sure that you will win her heart
without intending to do so, and she will ask to be your bride."
Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto took no notice of what the hare said, but
bidding the little animal goodby, went on his way quickly and soon
overtook his brothers. He found them just entering the Princess's
Just as the hare had said, the Princess could not be persuaded to
become the bride of any of the brothers, but when she looked at the
kind brother's face she went straight up to him and said:
"To you I give myself," and so they were married.
This is the end of the story. Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto is worshiped by
the people in some parts of Japan, as a god, and the hare has become
famous as "The White Hare of Inaba." But what became of the
crocodiles nobody knows.
THE STORY OF PRINCE YAMATO TAKE.
The insignia of the great Japanese Empire is composed of three
treasures which have been considered sacred, and guarded with
jealous care from time immemorial. These are the Yatano-no-Kagami or
the Mirror of Yata, the Yasakami-no-Magatama or the Jewel of
Yasakami, and the Murakumo-no-Tsurugi or the Sword of Murakumo.
Of these three treasures of the Empire, the sword of Murakumo,
afterwards known as Kusanagi-no-Tsrugugi, or the grass-cleaving
sword, is considered the most precious and most highly to be
honored, for it is the symbol of strength to this nation of warriors
and the talisman of invincibility for the Emperor, while he holds it
sacred in the shrine of his ancestors.
Nearly two thousand years ago this sword was kept at the shrines of
Ite, the temples dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu, the great
and beautiful Sun Goddess from whom the Japanese Emperors are said
to be descended.
There is a story of knightly adventure and daring which explains why
the name of the sword was changed from that of Murakumo to Kasanagi,
which means grass clearing.
Once, many, many years ago, there was born a son to the Emperor
Keiko, the twelfth in descent from the great Jimmu, the founder of
the Japanese dynasty. This Prince was the second son of the Emperor
Keiko, and he was named Yamato. From his childhood he proved himself
to be of remarkable strength, wisdom and courage, and his father
noticed with pride that he gave promise of great things, and he
loved him even more than he did his elder son.
Now when Prince Yamato had grown to manhood (in the olden days of
Japanese history, a boy was considered to have reached man's estate
at the early age of sixteen) the realm was much troubled by a band
of outlaws whose chiefs were two brothers, Kumaso and Takeru. These
rebels seemed to delight in rebelling against the King, in breaking
the laws and defying all authority.
At last King Keiko ordered his younger son Prince Yamato to subdue
the brigands and, if possible, to rid the land of their evil lives.
Prince Yamato was only sixteen years of age, he had but reached his
manhood according to the law, yet though he was such a youth in
years he possessed the dauntless spirit of a warrior of fuller age
and knew not what fear was. Even then there was no man who could
rival him for courage and bold deeds, and he received his father's
command with great joy.
He at once made ready to start, and great was the stir in the
precincts of the Palace as he and his trusty followers gathered
together and prepared for the expedition, and polished up their
armor and donned it. Before he left his father's Court he went to
pray at the shrine of Ise and to take leave of his aunt the Princess
Yamato, for his heart was somewhat heavy at the thought of the
dangers he had to face, and he felt that he needed the protection of
his ancestress, Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. The Princess his aunt
came out to give him glad welcome, and congratulated him on being
trusted with so great a mission by his father the King. She then
gave him one of her gorgeous robes as a keepsake to go with him and
to bring him good luck, saying that it would surely be of service to
him on this adventure. She then wished him all success in his
undertaking and bade him good speed.
The young Prince bowed low before his aunt, and received her
gracious gift with much pleasure and many respectful bows.
"I will now set out," said the Prince, and returning to the Palace
he put himself at the head of his troops. Thus cheered by his aunt's
blessing, he felt ready for all that might befall, and marching
through the land he went down to the Southern Island of Kiushiu, the
home of the brigands.
Before many days had passed he reached the Southern Island, and then
slowly but surely made his way to the head-quarters of the chiefs
Kumaso and Takeru. He now met with great difficulties, for he found
the country exceedingly wild and rough. The mountains were high and
steep, the valleys dark and deep, and huge trees and bowlders of
rock blocked up the road and stopped the progress of his army. It
was all but impossible to go on.
Though the Prince was but a youth he had the wisdom of years, and,
seeing that it was vain to try and lead his men further, he said to
"To attempt to fight a battle in this impassable country unknown to
my men only makes my task harder. We cannot clear the roads and
fight as well. It is wiser for me to resort to stratagem and come
upon my enemies unawares. In that way I may be able to kill them
without much exertion."
So he now bade his army halt by the way. His wife, the Princess
Ototachibana, had accompanied him, and he bade her bring him the
robe his aunt the priestess of Ise had given him, and to help him
attire himself as a woman. With her help he put on the robe, and let
his hair down till it flowed over his shoulders. Ototachibana then
brought him her comb, which he put in his black tresses, and then
adorned himself with strings of strange jewels just as you see in
the picture. When he had finished his unusual toilet, Ototachibana
brought him her mirror. He smiled as he gazed at himself--the
disguise was so perfect.
He hardly knew himself, so changed was he. All traces of the warrior
had disappeared, and in the shining surface only a beautiful lady
looked back at him.
Thus completely disguised, he set out for the enemy's camp alone. In
the folds of his silk gown, next his strong heart, was hidden a