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Title: Old-World Japan - Legends of the Land of the Gods
Author: Rinder, Frank
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



            Old-World Japan

       Legends of the Land of the
       Gods + + Re-told by Frank
      Rinder + With Illustrations
          by T. H. Robinson


     "The spirit of Japan is as the
  fragrance of the wild cherry-blossom
           in the dawn of the
              rising sun"


          London: George Allen
         156 Charing Cross Road
                  1895



  Old-World Japan

  [Illustration: Publisher's device]



  Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
  At the Ballantyne Press



Preface


History and mythology, fact and fable, are closely interwoven in the
texture of Japanese life and thought; indeed, it is within relatively
recent years only that exact comparative criticism has been able, with
some degree of accuracy, to divide the one from the other. The
accounts of the God-period contained in the Kojiki and the
Nihongi--"Records of Ancient Matters" compiled in the eighth century
of the Christian era--profess to outline the events of the vast cycles
of years from the time of Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-kami's birth in the
Plain of High Heaven, "when the earth, young and like unto floating
oil, drifted about medusa-like," to the death of the Empress Suiko,
A.D. 628.

The first six tales in this little volume are founded on some of the
most significant and picturesque incidents of this God-period. The
opening legend gives a brief relation of the birth of several of the
great Shinto deities, of the creation of Japan and of the world, of
the Orpheus-like descent of Izanagi to Hades, and of his subsequent
fight with the demons.

That Chinese civilisation has exercised a profound influence on that
of Japan, cannot be doubted. A scholar of repute has indicated that
evidence of this is to be found even in writings so early as the
Kojiki and the Nihongi. To give a single instance only: the curved
jewels, of which the remarkable necklace of Ama-terasu was made, have
never been found in Japan, whereas the stones are not uncommon in
China.

This is not the place critically to consider the wealth of myth,
legend, fable, and folk-tale to be found scattered throughout Japanese
literature, and represented in Japanese art: suffice it to say, that
to the student and the lover of primitive romance, there are here
vast fields practically unexplored.

The tales contained in this volume have been selected with a view
rather to their beauty and charm of incident and colour, than with the
aim to represent adequately the many-sided subject of Japanese lore.
Moreover, those only have been chosen which are not familiar to the
English-reading public. Several of the classic names of Japan have
been interpolated in the text. It remains to say that, in order not to
weary the reader, it has been found necessary to abbreviate the
many-syllabled Japanese names.

The sources from which I have drawn are too numerous to particularise.
To Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain, whose intimate and scholarly
knowledge of all matters Japanese is well known, my thanks are
especially due, as also the expression of my indebtedness to other
writers in English, from Mr. A. B. Mitford to Mr. Lafcadio Hearn,
whose volumes on "Unfamiliar Japan" appeared last year. The careful
text of Dr. David Brauns, and the studies of F. A. Junker von
Langegg, have also been of great service. The works of numerous French
writers on Japanese art have likewise been consulted with advantage.

                                                   FRANK RINDER.



Contents


                                              PAGE
    THE BIRTH-TIME OF THE GODS                   1

    THE SUN-GODDESS                             15

    THE HEAVENLY MESSENGERS                     25

    PRINCE RUDDY-PLENTY                         35

    THE PALACE OF THE OCEAN-BED                 45

    AUTUMN AND SPRING                           57

    THE STAR-LOVERS                             67

    THE ISLAND OF ETERNAL YOUTH                 77

    RAI-TARO, THE SON OF THE THUNDER-GOD        87

    THE SOULS OF THE CHILDREN                   97

    THE MOON-MAIDEN                            103

    THE GREAT FIR TREE OF TAKASAGO             113

    THE WILLOW OF MUKOCHIMA                    121

    THE CHILD OF THE FOREST                    129

    THE VISION OF TSUNU                        141

    PRINCESS FIRE-FLY                          151

    THE SPARROW'S WEDDING                      161

    THE LOVE OF THE SNOW-WHITE FOX             171

    NEDZUMI                                    181

    KOMA AND GON                               189



List of Illustrations


                                                                PAGE
    Heading to "The Birth-Time of the Gods"                        3

      _When he had so said, he plunged his jewelled spear
          into the seething mass below_                            5

    Heading to "The Sun-Goddess"                                  17

      _Ama-terasu gazed into the mirror, and wondered greatly
          when she saw therein a goddess of exceeding beauty_     21

    Heading to "The Heavenly Messengers"                          27

      _As the Young Prince alighted on the sea-shore, a
          beautiful earth-spirit, Princess Under-Shining,
          stood before him_                                       29

    Heading to "Prince Ruddy-Plenty"                              37

      _But the fair Uzume went fearlessly up to the giant,
          and said: "Who is it that thus impedes our descent
          from heaven?"_                                          39

    Heading to "The Palace of the Ocean-Bed"                      47

      _Suddenly she saw the reflection of Prince Fire-Fade
          in the water_                                           51

    Heading to "Autumn and Spring"                                59

      _One after the other returned sorrowfully home, for
          none found favour in her eyes_                          63

    Heading to "The Star Lovers"                                  69

      _The lovers were wont, standing on the banks of the
          celestial stream, to waft across it sweet and
          tender messages_                                        71

    Heading to "The Island of Eternal Youth"                      79

      _Soon he came to its shores, and landed as one in a
          dream_                                                  83

    Heading to "Rai-Taro, the Son of the Thunder-God"             89

      _The birth of Rai-taro_                                     93

    Heading to "The Souls of the Children"                        99

    Heading to "The Moon-Maiden"                                 105

      _At one moment she skimmed the surface of the sea, the
          next her tiny feet touched the topmost branches of
          the tall pine trees_                                   109

    Heading to "The Great Fir Tree of Takasago"                  115

    Heading to "The Willow of Mukochima"                         123

    Heading to "The Child of the Forest"                         131

      _Kintaro reigned as prince of the forest, beloved of
          every living creature_                                 135

    Heading to "The Vision of Tsunu"                             143

      _On a plot of mossy grass beyond the thicket, sat two
          maidens of surpassing beauty_                          147

    Heading to "Princess Fire-Fly"                               153

      _But the Princess whispered to herself, "Only he who
          loves me more than life shall call me bride"_          155

    Heading to "The Sparrow's Wedding"                           163

    Heading to "The Love of the Snow-White Fox"                  173

      _With two mighty strokes, he felled his adversaries to
          the ground_                                            177

    Heading to "Nedzumi"                                         183

    Heading to "Koma and Gon"                                    191



The Birth-Time of the Gods


  [Illustration: _The Birth-Time of the Gods_]


Before time was, and while yet the world was uncreated, chaos reigned.
The earth and the waters, the light and the darkness, the stars and
the firmament, were intermingled in a vapoury liquid. All things were
formless and confused. No creature existed; phantom shapes moved as
clouds on the ruffled surface of a sea. It was the birth-time of the
gods. The first deity sprang from an immense bulrush-bud, which rose,
spear-like, in the midst of the boundless disorder. Other gods were
born, but three generations passed before the actual separation of the
atmosphere from the more solid earth. Finally, where the tip of the
bulrush points upward, the Heavenly Spirits appeared.

From this time their kingdom was divided from the lower world where
chaos still prevailed. To the fourth pair of gods it was given to
create the earth. These two beings were the powerful God of the Air,
Izanagi, and the fair Goddess of the Clouds, Izanami. From them sprang
all life.

Now Izanagi and Izanami wandered on the Floating Bridge of Heaven.
This bridge spanned the gulf between heaven and the unformed world; it
was upheld in the air, and it stood secure. The God of the Air spoke
to the Goddess of the Clouds: "There must needs be a kingdom beneath
us, let us visit it." When he had so said, he plunged his jewelled
spear into the seething mass below. The drops that fell from the point
of the spear congealed and became the island of Onogoro. Thereupon
the Earth-Makers descended, and called up a high mountain peak, on
whose summit could rest one end of the Heavenly Bridge, and around
which the whole world should revolve.

  [Illustration: When he had so said, he plunged his jewelled spear
    into the seething mass below.]

The Wisdom of the Heavenly Spirit had decreed that Izanagi should be a
man, and Izanami a woman, and these two deities decided to wed and
dwell together on the earth. But, as befitted their august birth, the
wooing must be solemn. Izanagi skirted the base of the mountain to the
right, Izanami turned to the left. When the Goddess of the Clouds saw
the God of the Air approaching afar off, she cried, enraptured: "Ah,
what a fair and lovely youth!" Then Izanagi exclaimed, "Ah, what a
fair and lovely maiden!" As they met, they clasped hands, and the
marriage was accomplished. But, for some unknown cause, the union did
not prove as happy as the god and goddess had hoped. They continued
their work of creation, but Awaji, the island that rose from the deep,
was little more than a barren waste, and their first-born son, Hiruko,
was a weakling. The Earth-Makers placed him in a little boat woven of
reeds, and left him to the mercy of wind and tide.

In deep grief, Izanagi and Izanami recrossed the Floating Bridge, and
came to the place where the Heavenly Spirits hold eternal audience.
From them they learned that Izanagi should have been the first to
speak, when the gods met round the base of the Pillar of Earth. They
must woo and wed anew. On their return to earth, Izanagi, as before,
went to the right, and Izanami to the left of the mountain, but now,
when they met, Izanagi exclaimed: "Ah, what a fair and lovely maiden!"
and Izanami joyfully responded, "Ah, what a fair and lovely youth!"
They clasped hands once more, and their happiness began. They created
the eight large islands of the Kingdom of Japan; first the luxuriant
Island of the Dragon-fly, the great Yamato; then Tsukushi, the
White-Sun Youth; Iyo, the Lovely Princess, and many more. The rocky
islets of the archipelago were formed by the foam of the rolling
breakers as they dashed on the coast-lines of the islands already
created. Thus China and the remaining lands and continents of the
world came into existence.

Now were born to Izanagi and Izanami, the Ruler of the Rivers, the
Deity of the Mountains, and, later, the God of the Trees, and a
goddess to whom was entrusted the care of tender plants and herbs.

Then Izanagi and Izanami said: "We have created the mighty Kingdom of
the Eight Islands, with mountains, rivers, and trees; yet another
divinity there must be, who shall guard and rule this fair world."

As they spoke, a daughter was born to them. Her beauty was dazzling,
and her regal bearing betokened that her throne should be set high
above the clouds. She was none other than Ama-terasu, The
Heaven-Illuminating Spirit. Izanagi and Izanami rejoiced greatly when
they beheld her face, and exclaimed, "Our daughter shall dwell in the
Blue Plain of High Heaven, and from there she shall direct the
universe." So they led her to the summit of the mountain, and over the
wondrous bridge. The Heavenly Spirits were joyful when they saw
Ama-terasu, and said: "You shall mount into the soft blue of the sky,
your brilliancy shall illumine, and your sweet smile shall gladden,
the Eternal Land, and all the world. Fleecy clouds shall be your
handmaidens, and sparkling dewdrops your messengers of peace."

The next child of Izanagi and Izanami was a son, and as he also was
beautiful, with the dream-like beauty of the evening, they placed him
in the heavens, as co-ruler with his sister Ama-terasu. His name was
Tsuku-yomi, the Moon-God. The god Susa-no-o is another son of the two
deities who wooed and wed around the base of the Pillar of Earth.
Unlike his brother and his sister, he was fond of the shadow and the
gloom. When he wept, the grass on the mountainside withered, the
flowers were blighted, and men died. Izanagi had little joy in this
son, nevertheless he made him ruler of the ocean.

Now that the world was created, the happy life of the God of the Air
and the Goddess of the Clouds was over. The consumer, the God of
Fire, was born, and Izanami died. She vanished into the deep solitudes
of the Kingdom of the Trees, in the country of Kii, and disappeared
thence into the lower regions.

Izanagi was sorely troubled because Izanami had been taken from him,
and he descended in pursuit of her to the portals of the shadowy
kingdom where sunshine is unknown. Izanami would fain have left that
place to rejoin Izanagi on the beautiful earth. Her spirit came to
meet him, and in urgent and tender words besought him not to seek her
in those cavernous regions. But the bold god would not be warned. He
pressed forward, and, by the light struck from his comb, he sought for
his loved one long and earnestly. Grim forms rose to confront him, but
he passed them by with kingly disdain. Sounds as of the wailing of
lost souls struck his ear, but still he persisted. After endless
search, he found his Izanami lying in an attitude of untold despair,
but so changed was she, that he gazed intently into her eyes ere he
could recognise her. Izanami was angry that Izanagi had not listened
to her commands, for she knew how fruitless would be his efforts.
Without the sanction of the ruler of the under-world, she could not
return to earth, and this consent she had tried in vain to obtain.

Izanagi, hard pressed by the eight monsters who guard the Land of
Gloom, had to flee for his life. He defended himself valiantly with
his sword; then he threw down his head-dress, and it was transformed
into bunches of purple grapes; he also cast behind him the comb, by
means of which he had obtained light, and from it sprang tender shoots
of bamboo. While the monsters eagerly devoured the luscious grapes and
tender shoots, Izanagi gained the broad flight of steps which led back
to earth. At the top he paused and cried to Izanami: "All hope of our
reunion is now at an end. Our separation must be eternal."

Stretching far beyond Izanagi lay the ocean, and on its surface was
reflected the face of his well-beloved daughter, Ama-terasu. She
seemed to speak, and beseech him to purify himself in the great waters
of the sea. As he bathed, his wounds were healed, and a sense of
infinite peace stole over him.

The life-work of the Earth-Maker was done. He bestowed the world upon
his children, and afterwards crossed, for the last time, the
many-coloured Bridge of Heaven. The God of the Air now spends his days
with the Heaven-Illuminating Spirit in her sun-glorious palace.



The Sun-Goddess


  [Illustration: _The Sun-Goddess_]


Ama-terasu, the Sun-Goddess, was seated in the Blue Plain of Heaven.
Her light came as a message of joy to the celestial deities. The
orchid and the iris, the cherry and the plum blossom, the rice and the
hemp fields answered to her smile. The Inland Sea was veiled in soft
rich colour.

Susa-no-o, the brother of Ama-terasu, who had resigned his ocean
sceptre and now reigned as the Moon-God, was jealous of his sister's
glory and world-wide sway. The Heaven-Illuminating Spirit had but to
whisper and she was heard throughout her kingdom, even in the depths
of the clear pool and in the heart of the crystal. Her rice-fields,
whether situated on hill-side, in sheltered valley, or by running
stream, yielded abundant harvests, and her groves were laden with
fruit. But the voice of Susa-no-o was not so clear, his smile was not
so radiant. The undulating fields which lay around his palace were now
flooded, now parched, and his rice crops were often destroyed. The
wrath and jealousy of the Moon-God knew no bounds, yet Ama-terasu was
infinitely patient and forgave him many things.

Once, as was her wont, the Sun-Goddess sat in the central court of her
glorious home. She plied her shuttle. Celestial weaving maidens
surrounded a fountain whose waters were fragrant with the heavenly
lotus-bloom: they sang softly of the clouds and the wind and the lift
of the sky. Suddenly, the body of a piebald horse fell through the
vast dome at their feet: the "Beloved of the Gods" had been "flayed
with a backward flaying" by the envious Susa-no-o. Ama-terasu,
trembling at the horrible sight, pricked her finger with the weaving
shuttle, and, profoundly indignant at the cruelty of her brother,
withdrew into a cave and closed behind her the door of the Heavenly
Rock Dwelling.

The universe was plunged in darkness. Joy and goodwill, serenity and
peace, hope and love, waned with the waning light. Evil spirits, who
heretofore had crouched in dim corners, came forth and roamed abroad.
Their grim laughter and discordant tones struck terror into all
hearts.

Then it was that the gods, fearful for their safety and for the life of
every beautiful thing, assembled in the bed of the tranquil River of
Heaven, whose waters had been dried up. One and all knew that Ama-terasu
alone could help them. But how allure the Heaven-Illuminating Spirit to
set foot in this world of darkness and strife? Each god was eager to
aid, and a plan was finally devised to entice her from her hiding-place.

Ame-no-ko uprooted the holy _sakaki_ trees which grow on the Mountain
of Heaven, and planted them around the entrance of the cave. High on
the upper branches were hung the precious string of curved jewels
which Izanagi had bestowed upon the Sun-Goddess. From the middle
branches drooped a mirror wrought of the rare metals of the celestial
mine. Its polished surface was as the dazzling brilliancy of the sun.
Other gods wove, from threads of hemp and paper mulberry, an imperial
robe of white and blue, which was placed, as an offering for the
goddess, on the lower branches of the _sakaki_. A palace was also
built, surrounded by a garden in which the Blossom-God called forth
many delicate plants and flowers.

  [Illustration: Ama-terasu gazed into the mirror, and wondered
    greatly when she saw therein a goddess of exceeding beauty.]

Now all was ready. Ame-no-ko stepped forward, and, in a loud voice,
entreated Ama-terasu to show herself. His appeal was in vain. The
great festival began. Uzume, the goddess of mirth, led the dance and
song. Leaves of the spindle tree crowned her head; club-moss, from the
heavenly mount Kagu, formed her sash; her flowing sleeves were bound
with the creeper-vine; and in her hand she carried leaves of the
wild bamboo and waved a wand of sun-grass hung with tiny melodious
bells. Uzume blew on a bamboo flute, while the eight hundred myriad
deities accompanied her on wooden clappers and instruments formed of
bow-strings, across which were rapidly drawn stalks of reed and grass.
Great fires were lighted around the cave, and, as these were reflected
in the face of the mirror, "the long-singing birds of eternal night"
began to crow as if the day dawned. The merriment increased. The dance
grew wilder and wilder, and the gods laughed until the heavens shook
as if with thunder.

Ama-terasu, in her quiet retreat, heard, unmoved, the crowing of the
cocks and the sounds of music and dancing, but when the heavens shook
with the laughter of the gods, she peeped from her cave and said:
"What means this? I thought heaven and earth were dark, but now there
is light. Uzume dances and all the gods laugh." Uzume answered: "It is
true that I dance and that the gods laugh, because in our midst is a
goddess whose splendour equals your own. Behold!" Ama-terasu gazed
into the mirror, and wondered greatly when she saw therein a goddess
of exceeding beauty. She stepped from her cave and forthwith a cord of
rice-straw was drawn across the entrance. Darkness fled from the
Central Land of Reed-Plains, and there was light. Then the eight
hundred myriad deities cried: "O, may the Sun-Goddess never leave us
again."



The Heavenly Messengers


  [Illustration: _The Heavenly Messengers_]


The gods looked down from the Plain of High Heaven and saw that
wicked earth-spirits peopled the lower world. Neither by day nor by
night was there peace. Oshi-homi, whose name is His Augustness
Heavenly-Great-Great-Ears, was commanded to go down and govern the
earth. As he set foot on the Floating Bridge, he heard the sounds of
strife and confusion, so he returned, and said, "I would have you
choose another deity to do this work." Then the Great Heavenly Spirit
and Ama-terasu called together the eight hundred myriad deities in
the bed of the Tranquil River of Heaven. The Sun-Goddess spoke: "In
the Central Land of Reed-Plains there is trouble and disorder. A
deity must descend to prepare the earth for our grandson Prince
Ruddy-Plenty, who is to rule over it. Whom shall we send?" The eight
hundred myriad deities replied, "Let Ame-no-ho go to the earth."

Now Ame-no-ho descended to the lower world. There he was so happy that
the charge of the heavenly deities passed out of his mind. He lived
with the earth-spirits, and confusion still reigned.

  [Illustration: As the Young Prince alighted on the sea-shore, a
    beautiful earth-spirit, Princess Under-Shining, stood before him.]

For three years the Great Heavenly Spirit and Ama-terasu waited for
tidings, but none came. Then they said: "We will send Ame-waka, the
Heavenly Young Prince. He will surely do our bidding." Into his hands
they gave the great heavenly deer-bow and the heavenly feathered
arrows which fly straight to the mark. "With these you shall war
against the wicked earth-spirits, and bring order into the land." But
as the Young Prince alighted on the sea-shore, a beautiful
earth-spirit, Princess Under-Shining, stood before him. Her loveliness
bewitched him. He looked upon her, and could not withdraw his eyes.
Soon they were wedded. Eight years passed. The Young Prince spent the
time in revelry and feasting. Not once did he attempt to establish
peace and order; moreover, he desired to place himself at the head of
the earth-spirits, to defy the heavenly deities, and to rule over the
Land of Reed-Plains.

Again the eight hundred myriad deities assembled in the bed of the
Tranquil River of Heaven. The Sun-Goddess spoke: "Our messenger has
tarried in the lower world. Whom shall we send to inquire the cause of
this?" Then the gods commanded a faithful pheasant hen: "Go to
Ame-waka, and say, 'The Heavenly Deities sent you to the Central Land
of Reed-Plains to subdue and pacify the deities of that land. For
eight years you have been silent. What is the cause?'" The pheasant
flew swiftly to earth, and perched on the branches of a wide-spreading
cassia tree which stood at the gate of the Prince's palace. She spoke
every word of her message, but no reply came. Again she repeated the
words of the gods, again there was no answer. Now Ama-no-sagu, the
Heavenly Spying-Woman, heard the call of the pheasant; she went to the
Young Prince, and said, "The cry of this bird bodes ill. Take thy bow
and arrows and kill it." Then Ame-waka, in wrath, shot the bird
through the heart.

The heavenly arrow fled upward and onward. Swift as the wind it sped
through the air, it pierced the clouds and fell at the feet of the
Sun-Goddess as she sat on her throne.

Ama-terasu saw that it was one of the arrows that had been entrusted
to the Young Prince, and that the feathers were stained with blood.
Then she took the arrow in her hands and sent it forth: "If this be an
arrow shot by our messenger at the evil spirits, let it not hit the
Heavenly Prince. If he has a foul heart, let him perish."

At this moment Ame-waka was resting after the harvest feast. The arrow
flew straight to its mark, and pierced him to the heart as he slept.
Princess Under-Shining cried aloud when she saw the dead body of the
Young Prince. Her cries rose to the heavens. Then the father of
Ame-waka raised a mighty storm, and the wind carried the body of the
Young Prince to the Blue Plain. A great mourning-house was built, and
for eight days and eight nights there was wailing and lamentation. The
wild goose of the river, the heron, the kingfisher, the sparrow and
the pheasant mourned with a great mourning.

When Aji-shi-ki came to weep for his brother, his face was so like
that of the Young Prince that his parents fell upon him, and said: "My
child is not dead, no! My lord is not dead, no!" But Aji-shi-ki was
wroth because they had taken him for his dead brother. He drew his
ten-grasp sabre and cut down the mourning-house, and scattered the
fragments to the winds.

Then the heavenly deities said: "Take-Mika shall go down and subdue
this unruly land." In company with Tori-bune he set forth and came to
the shore of Inasa, in the country of Idzumo. They drew their swords
and placed them on a crest of the waves. On the points of the swords
Take-Mika and Tori-bune sat, cross-legged: thus they made war against
the earth-spirits, and thus subdued them. The land once pacified,
their mission was accomplished, and they returned to the Plain of High
Heaven.



Prince Ruddy-Plenty


  [Illustration: _Prince Ruddy-Plenty_]


Ama-terasu, from her sun-glorious palace, spoke to her grandson, Ninigi,
Prince Rice-Ear-Ruddy-Plenty: "You must descend from your Heavenly Rock
Seat and go to rule the luxuriant Land-of-Fresh-Rice-Ears." She gave him
many presents; precious stones from the mountain steps of heaven,
crystal balls of purest whiteness, and the cloud-sword which her
brother, Susa-no-o, had drawn from the tail of the terrible dragon. She
also entrusted to Ninigi the mirror whose splendour had enticed her from
the cave, and said: "Guard this mirror faithfully; when you look into it
you shall see my face." A number of deities were commanded to accompany
Prince Ruddy-Plenty, among them the beautiful Uzume, who had danced till
the heavens shook with the laughter of the gods.

The great company broke through the clouds. Before them, at the
eight-forked road of Heaven, stood a deity of gigantic stature, with
his large and fiery eyes. The courage of the gods failed at sight of
him, and they turned backward. But the fair Uzume went fearlessly up
to the giant, and said: "Who is it that thus impedes our descent from
heaven?" The deity, well pleased at the gracious mien of the goddess,
made answer: "I am a friendly earth-spirit, the Deity of the
Field-Paths. I come to meet Ninigi that I may pay homage to him and be
his guide. Return and say to the august god that the Prince of Saruta
greets him. I am this Prince, O Uzume." The Goddess of Mirth rejoiced
greatly when she heard these words, and said: "The company of gods
shall proceed to earth; there will Ninigi be made known to you." Then
the Deity of the Field-Paths spoke: "Let the army of gods alight on
the mountain of Takachihi, in the country of Tsukushi. On its peak I
shall await them."

  [Illustration: But the fair Uzume went fearlessly up to the giant,
    and said: "Who is it that thus impedes our descent from heaven?"]

Uzume returned to the gods and delivered the message. When Prince
Ruddy-Plenty heard her words he again broke through the eightfold
spreading cloud, and floated on the Bridge of Heaven to the summit of
Takachihi.

Now Ninigi, with the Prince of Saruta as his guide, travelled
throughout the kingdom over which he was to rule. He saw the mountain
ranges and the lakes, the great reed plains and the vast pine forests,
the rivers and the valleys. Then he said: "It is a land whereon the
morning sun shines straight, a land which the evening sun illumines.
So this place is an exceeding good place." When he had thus spoken, he
built a palace. The pillars rested on the nethermost rock-bottom, and
the cross-beams rose to the Plain of High Heaven. In this palace he
dwelt.

Again Ninigi spoke: "The God of the Field-Paths shall return to his
home. He has been our guide, therefore he shall wed the beautiful
goddess, Uzume, and she shall be priestess in his own mountain." Uzume
obeyed the commands of Ninigi, and is greatly honoured in Saruta for
her courage, her mirth, and her beauty.

It happened that as the Son of the Gods walked along the sea-coast, he
saw a maiden of exceeding loveliness. He spoke to her, and said: "By
what name are you known?" She replied: "I am the daughter of the Deity
Great-Mountain-Possessor, and my name is Ko-no-hane, Princess
Tree-Blossom." Ninigi loved the fair Princess. He went to the Spirit
of the Mountains, and asked for her hand. But Oho-yama had an elder
daughter, Iha-naga, Princess Long-as-the-Rocks, who was less fair than
her sister. He desired that the offspring of Prince Ruddy-Plenty
should live eternally like unto the rocks, and flourish as the blossom
of the trees. Therefore Oho-yama sent both his daughters to Ninigi in
rich attire and with many rare presents. Ninigi loved the beautiful
Princess Ko-no-hane. He would not look upon Iha-naga. She cried out in
wrath: "Had you chosen me, you and your children would have lived long
on earth; but as you love my sister all your descendants will perish
rapidly as the blossom of the trees." Thus it is that human life is so
short compared with that of the earlier peoples that were gods.

For some time, Ninigi dwelt happily with Princess Tree-Blossom: then a
cloud came over their lives. Ko-no-hane had the delicate grace, the
morning freshness, the subtle charm of the cherry blossom. She loved
the sunshine and the soft west wind. She loved the cool rain, and the
quiet summer night. But Ninigi grew jealous. In anger Princess
Tree-Blossom retired to her palace, closed up the entrance, and set it
on fire. The flames rose higher and higher. Ninigi watched anxiously.
As he looked, three little boys sprang merrily out of the flames and
called for their father. Prince Ruddy-Plenty was glad once more, and
when he saw Ko-no-hane, unharmed, move towards him, he asked her
forgiveness. They named their sons Ho-deri, Fire-Flash; Ho-suseri,
Fire-Climax; and Ho-wori, Fire-Fade.

After many years, Ninigi divided his kingdom between two of his sons.
Then Prince Ruddy-Plenty returned to the Plain of High Heaven.



The Palace of the Ocean-Bed


  [Illustration: _The Palace of the Ocean-Bed_]


Ho-wori, Prince Fire-Fade, the son of Ninigi, was a great hunter. He
caught 'things rough of hair and things soft of hair.' His elder
brother Ho-deri, Prince Fire-Flash, was a fisher who caught 'things
broad of fin and things narrow of fin.' But, often, when the wind
blew and the waves ran high, he would spend hours on the sea and catch
no fish. When the Storm God was abroad, Ho-deri had to stay at home,
while at nightfall Ho-wori returned laden with spoil from the
mountains. Ho-deri spoke to his brother, and said: "I would have your
bow and arrows and become a hunter. You shall have my fish-hook." At
first Ho-wori would not consent, but finally the exchange was made.

Now Prince Fire-Flash was no hunter. He could not track the game, nor
run swiftly, nor take good aim. Day after day Prince Fire-Fade went
out to sea. In vain he threw his line; he caught no fish. Moreover,
one day, he lost his brother's fish-hook. Then Ho-deri came to
Ho-wori, and said: "There is the luck of the mountain and there is the
luck of the sea. Let each restore to the other his luck." Ho-wori
replied: "I did not catch a single fish with your hook, and now it is
lost in the sea." The elder brother was very angry, and, with many
hard words, demanded the return of his treasure. Prince Fire-Fade was
unhappy. He broke in pieces his good sword and made five hundred
fish-hooks which he offered to his brother. But this did not appease
the wrath of Prince Fire-Flash, who still raged and asked for his own
hook.

Ho-wori could find neither comfort nor help. He sat one day by the
shore and heaved a deep sigh. The old Man of the Sea heard the sigh,
and asked the cause of his sorrow. Ho-wori told him of the loss of the
fish-hook, and of his brother's displeasure. Thereupon the wise man
promised to give his help. He plaited strips of bamboo so tightly
together that the water could not pass through, and fashioned
therewith a stout little boat. Into this boat Ho-wori jumped, and was
carried far out to sea.

After a time, as the old man had foretold, his boat began to sink.
Deeper and deeper it sank, until at last he came to a glittering
palace of fishes' scales. In front of it was a well, shaded by a great
cassia tree. Prince Fire-Fade sat among the wide-spreading branches.
He looked down, and saw a maiden approach the well; in her hand she
carried a jewelled bowl. She was the lovely Toyo-tama, Peerless
Jewel, the daughter of Wata-tsu-mi, the Sea-King. Ho-wori was
spellbound by her strange wave-like beauty, her long flowing hair, her
soft deep blue eyes. The maiden stooped to fill her bowl. Suddenly,
she saw the reflection of Prince Fire-Fade in the water; she dropped
the precious bowl, and it fell in a thousand pieces. Toyo-tama
hastened to her father, and exclaimed, "A man, with the grace and
beauty of a god, sits in the branches of the cassia tree. I have seen
his picture in the waters of the well." The Sea-King knew that it must
be the great hunter, Prince Fire-Fade.

Then Wata-tsu-mi went forth and stood under the cassia tree. He looked
up to Ho-wori, and said: "Come down, O Son of the Gods, and enter my
Palace of the Ocean-Bed." Ho-wori obeyed, and was led into the palace
and seated on a throne of sea-asses' skins. A banquet was prepared in
his honour. The _hashi_ were delicate branches of coral, and the
plates were of silvery mother-of-pearl. The clear-rock wine was sipped
from cup-shaped ocean blooms with long slender stalks. Ho-wori
thought that never before had there been such a banquet. When it was
ended he went with Toyo-tama to the roof of the palace. Dimly, through
the blue waters that moved above, he could discern the Sun-Goddess. He
saw the mountains and valleys of ocean, the waving forests of tall
sea-plants, the homes of the _shaké_ and the _kani_.

  [Illustration: Suddenly, she saw the reflection of Prince Fire-Fade
    in the water.]

Ho-wori told Wata-tsu-mi of the loss of the fish-hook. Then the
Sea-King called all his subjects together and questioned them. No fish
knew aught of the hook, but, said the lobster: "As I sat one day in my
crevice among the rocks, the _tai_ passed near me. His mouth was
swollen, and he went by without giving me greeting." Wata-tsu-mi then
noticed that the _tai_ had not answered his summons. A messenger,
fleet of fin, was sent to fetch him. When the _tai_ appeared, the lost
fish-hook was found in his poor wounded mouth. It was restored to
Ho-wori, and he was happy. Toyo-tama became his bride, and they lived
together in the cool fish-scale palace.

Prince Fire-Fade came to understand the secrets of the ocean, the
cause of its anger, the cause of its joy. The Storm-Spirit of the
upper sea did not rule in the ocean-bed, and night after night Ho-wori
was rocked to sleep by the gentle motion of the waters.

Many tides had ebbed and flowed, when, in the quiet of the night,
Ho-wori heaved a deep sigh. Toyo-tama was troubled, and told her
father that, as Ho-wori dreamt of his home on the earth, a great
longing had come over him to visit it once more. Then Wata-tsu-mi gave
into Ho-wori's hands two great jewels, the one to rule the flow, the
other to rule the ebb of the tide. He spoke thus: "Return to earth on
the head of my trusted sea-dragon. Restore the lost fish-hook to
Ho-deri. If he is still wroth with you, bring forth the tide-flowing
jewel, and the waters shall cover him. If he asks your forgiveness,
bring forth the tide-ebbing jewel, and it shall be well with him."

Ho-wori left the Palace of the Ocean-Bed, and was carried swiftly to
his own land. As he set foot on the shore, he ungirded his sword, and
tied it round the neck of the sea-dragon. Then he said: "Take this to
the Sea-King as a token of my love and gratitude."



Autumn and Spring


  [Illustration: _Autumn & Spring_]


A fair maiden lay asleep in a rice-field. The sun was at its height,
and she was weary. Now a god looked down upon the rice-field. He knew
that the beauty of the maiden came from within, that it mirrored the
beauty of heavenly dreams. He knew that even now, as she smiled, she
held converse with the spirit of the wind or the flowers.

The god descended and asked the dream-maiden to be his bride. She
rejoiced, and they were wed. A wonderful red jewel came of their
happiness.

Long, long afterwards, the stone was found by a farmer, who saw that
it was a very rare jewel. He prized it highly, and always carried it
about with him. Sometimes, as he looked at it in the pale light of the
moon, it seemed to him that he could discern two sparkling eyes in its
depths. Again, in the stillness of the night, he would awaken and
think that a clear soft voice called him by name.

One day, the farmer had to carry the mid-day meal to his workers in
the field. The sun was very hot, so he loaded a cow with the bowls of
rice, the millet dumplings, and the beans. Suddenly, Prince Ama-boko
stood in the path. He was angry, for he thought that the farmer was
about to kill the cow. The Prince would hear no word of denial; his
wrath increased. The farmer became more and more terrified, and,
finally, took the precious stone from his pocket and presented it as
a peace-offering to the powerful Prince. Ama-boko marvelled at the
brilliancy of the jewel, and allowed the man to continue his journey.

The Prince returned to his home. He drew forth the treasure, and it
was immediately transformed into a goddess of surpassing beauty. Even
as she rose before him, he loved her, and ere the moon waned they were
wed. The goddess ministered to his every want. She prepared delicate
dishes, the secret of which is known only to the gods. She made wine
from the juice of a myriad herbs, wine such as mortals never taste.

But, after a time, the Prince became proud and overbearing. He began
to treat his faithful wife with cruel contempt. The goddess was sad,
and said: "You are not worthy of my love. I will leave you and go to
my father." Ama-boko paid no heed to these words, for he did not
believe that the threat would be fulfilled. But the beautiful goddess
was in earnest. She escaped from the palace and fled to Naniwa, where
she is still honoured as Akaru-hime, the Goddess of Light.

Now the Prince was wroth when he heard that the goddess had left him,
and set out in pursuit of her. But when he neared Naniwa, the gods
would not allow his vessel to enter the haven. Then he knew that his
priceless red jewel was lost to him for ever. He steered his ship
towards the north coast of Japan, and landed at Tajima. Here he was
well received, and highly esteemed on account of the treasures which
he brought with him. He had costly strings of pearls, girdles of
precious stones, and a mirror which the wind and the waves obeyed.
Prince Ama-boko remained at Tajima, and was the father of a mighty
race.

Among his children's children was a princess so renowned for her
beauty that eighty suitors sought her hand. One after the other
returned sorrowfully home, for none found favour in her eyes. At last,
two brothers came before her, the young God of the Autumn, and the
young God of the Spring. The elder of the two, the God of Autumn,
first urged his suit. But the princess refused him. He went to his
younger brother, and said: "The princess does not love me, neither
will you be able to win her heart." But the Spring God was full of
hope, and replied: "I will give you a cask of rice wine if I do not
win her, but if she consents to be my bride, you shall give a cask of
_saké_ to me."

  [Illustration: One after the other returned sorrowfully home, for
    none found favour in her eyes.]

Now the God of Spring went to his mother, and told her all. She
promised to aid him. Thereupon she wove, in a single night, a robe and
sandals from the unopened buds of the lilac and white wisteria. Out of
the same delicate flowers she fashioned a bow and arrows. Thus clad,
the God of Spring made his way to the beautiful princess.

As he stepped before the maiden, every bud unfolded, and from the
heart of each blossom came a fragrance that filled the air. The
princess was overjoyed, and gave her hand to the God of the Spring.

The elder brother, the God of Autumn, was filled with rage when he
heard how his brother had obtained the wondrous robe. He refused to
give the promised cask of _saké_. When the mother learned that the god
had broken his word, she placed stones and salt in the hollow of a
bamboo cane, wrapped it round with bamboo leaves, and hung it in the
smoke. Then she uttered a curse upon her first-born son: "As the
leaves wither and fade, so must you. As the salt sea ebbs, so must
you. As the stone sinks, so must you."

The terrible curse fell upon her son. While the God of Spring remains
ever young, ever fragrant, ever full of mirth, the God of Autumn is
old, and withered, and sad.



The Star-Lovers


  [Illustration: _The Star Lovers_]


Shokujo, daughter of the Sun, dwelt with her father on the banks of
the Silver River of Heaven, which we call the Milky Way. She was a
lovely maiden, graceful and winsome, and her eyes were tender as the
eyes of a dove. Her loving father, the Sun, was much troubled because
Shokujo did not share in the youthful pleasures of the daughters of
the air. A soft melancholy seemed to brood over her, but she never
wearied of working for the good of others, and especially did she
busy herself at her loom; indeed she came to be called the Weaving
Princess.

The Sun bethought him, that if he could give his daughter in marriage,
all would be well; her dormant love would be kindled into a flame that
would illumine her whole being and drive out the pensive spirit which
oppressed her. Now there lived, hard by, one Kingen, a right honest
herdsman, who tended his cows on the borders of the Heavenly Stream.
The Sun-King proposed to bestow his daughter on Kingen, thinking in
this way to provide for her happiness and at the same time to keep her
near him. Every star beamed approval, and there was joy in the
heavens.

The love that bound Shokujo and Kingen to one another was a great
love. With its awakening, Shokujo forsook her former occupations, nor
did she any longer labour industriously at the loom, but laughed, and
danced, and sang, and made merry from morn till night. The Sun-King
was sorely grieved, for he had not foreseen so great a change. Anger
was in his eyes, and he said, "Kingen is surely the cause of this,
therefore I will banish him to the other side of the River of Stars."

  [Illustration: The lovers were wont, standing on the banks of the
    celestial stream, to waft across it sweet and tender messages.]

When Shokujo and Kingen heard that they were to be parted, and could
thenceforth, in accordance with the King's decree, meet but once a
year, and that upon the seventh night of the seventh month, their
hearts were heavy. The leave-taking between them was a sad one, and
great tears stood in Shokujo's eyes as she bade farewell to her
lover-husband. In answer to the behest of the Sun-King, myriads of
magpies flocked together, and, outspreading their wings, formed a
bridge, on which Kingen crossed the River of Heaven. The moment that
his foot touched the opposite bank, the birds dispersed with noisy
chatter, leaving poor Kingen a solitary exile. He looked wistfully
towards the weeping figure of Shokujo, who stood on the threshold of
her now desolate home.

Long and weary were the succeeding days, spent as they were by Kingen
in guiding his oxen and by Shokujo in plying her shuttle. The
Sun-King was gladdened by his daughter's industry. When night fell and
the heavens were bright with countless lights, the lovers were wont,
standing on the banks of the celestial stream, to waft across it sweet
and tender messages, while each uttered a prayer for the speedy coming
of the wondrous night.

The long-hoped-for month and day drew nigh, and the hearts of the
lovers were troubled lest rain should fall: for the Silver River, full
at all times, is at that season often in flood, and the bird-bridge
might be swept away.

The day broke cloudlessly bright. It waxed and waned, and one by one
the lamps of heaven were lighted. At nightfall the magpies assembled,
and Shokujo, quivering with delight, crossed the slender bridge and
fell into the arms of her lover. Their transport of joy was as the joy
of the parched flower, when the raindrop falls upon it; but the moment
of parting soon came, and Shokujo sorrowfully retraced her steps.

Year follows year, and the lovers still meet in that far-off starry
land on the seventh night of the seventh month, save when rain has
swelled the Silver River and rendered the crossing impossible. The
hope of a permanent reunion still fills the hearts of the Star-Lovers,
and is to them as a sweet fragrance and a beautiful vision.



The Island of Eternal Youth


  [Illustration: _The Island of Eternal Youth_]


Far beyond the faint grey of the horizon, somewhere in the shadowy
Unknown, lies the Island of Eternal Youth. The dwellers on the rocky
coast of the East Sea of Japan relate that, at times, a wondrous tree
can be discerned rising high above the waves. It is the tree which has
stood for all ages on the loftiest peak of Fusan, the Mountain of
Immortality. Men rejoice when they catch a glimpse of its branches,
though the glimpse be fleeting as a vision at dawn. On the island is
endless spring: the air is ever sweet and the sky blue. Celestial
dews fall softly upon every tree and flower, and carry with them the
secret of eternity. The delicate white bryony never loses its
first-day freshness, the scarlet lily cannot fade. Ethereal pink
blossoms enfold the branches of the _sakuranoki_; the pendulous fruit
of the orange bears no trace of age. Irises, violet and yellow and
blue, fringe the pool on whose surface float the heavenly-coloured
lotus blooms. From day to day the birds sing of love and joy. Sorrow
and pain are unknown, death comes not hither. The Spirit of this
island it is who whispers to the sleeping Spring in every land, and
bids her arise.

Many brave seafarers have sought Horaizan but have not reached its
shores. Some have suffered shipwreck in the attempt, others have
mistaken the heights of Fuji-yama for the blessed Fusan.

Now there once lived a cruel Emperor of China. So tyrannical was he
that the life of his physician, Jofuku, was in constant danger. One
day, Jofuku spoke to the Emperor, and said: "Give me a ship, and I
will sail to the Island of Eternal Youth. There I will pluck the herb
of immortality and bring it back to you, that you may rule over your
kingdom for ever." The despot heard the words with pleasure. Jofuku,
fully equipped, set sail and came to Japan; thence he steered his
course towards the magic tree. Days, months, and years passed. Jofuku
seemed to be drifting on the ocean of heaven, for no land was visible.
At last, far in the distance, rose the dim outline of a hill such as
he had never seen before; and when he perceived a tree on its summit,
Jofuku knew that he neared Horaizan. Soon he came to its shores, and
landed as one in a dream. Every thought of the Emperor, whose days
were to be prolonged by eating of the sacred herb, passed from his
mind. Life upon the beautiful island was so glorious that he had no
wish to return. His story is told by Wasobiowe, a wise man of Japan,
who, alone among mortals, can relate the wonders of that strange land.

Wasobiowe dwelt in the neighbourhood of Nagasaki. He loved nothing
better than to spend his days far out at sea, fishing from a little
boat. Once, when the eighth full moon rose--which in Japan is called
the "bean moon" and is the most beautiful of all--Wasobiowe started on
a long voyage in order to be absent from Nagasaki during the festivals
of the season. Leisurely he skirted the coast, and rejoiced in the
bold outlines of the rocks seen by the light of the moon. But, without
warning, black clouds gathered overhead. The storm burst, the rain
poured down, and darkness fell. The waves were lashed into fury, and
the little boat was driven swift as an arrow before the wind. For
three days and nights the hurricane raged. As dawn broke on the fourth
morning, the wind was stilled, the sea grew calm. Wasobiowe, who knew
the course of the stars, saw that he was far from his home in Japan.
He was at the mercy of the god of the tides. For months Wasobiowe ate
the fish which he caught in his net, until his boat drifted into those
black waters where no fish can live. He rowed and rowed; his strength
was almost spent. Hope had left him, when, suddenly, a fragrant wind
from the land played about his temples. He seized the oars, and
soon his boat reached the coast of Horaizan. Even as he landed, all
remembrance of the dangers and privations of the voyage vanished.

  [Illustration: Soon he came to its shores, and landed as one in a
    dream.]

Everything spoke of joy and sunlight. The hum of the cicala, the whirr
of the darting dragon-fly, the call of the bright-green tree-frog
sounded in his ear. Sweet scents came from the pine-covered hills;
everywhere was a flood of glowing colour.

Presently a man approached him. It was none other than Jofuku. He
spoke to Wasobiowe, and told how the elect of the gods, who peopled
those remote shores, filled their days with music and laughter and
song.

Wasobiowe lived contentedly on the Island of Eternal Youth. He knew
nothing of the flight of years, for where there is no birth, no death,
time passes unheeded.

But, after many hundred years, the wise man of Nagasaki wearied of
this blissful existence. He longed for death, but the dark river does
not flow through Horaizan. He would wistfully follow the outward
flight of the birds, till they became mere specks in the sky. One day
he spoke to a pure white stork: "I know that the birds alone can leave
this island. Carry me, I pray you, to my home in Japan. I would see it
once more and die." Then he mounted upon the outstretched wings of the
stork, and was carried across the sea and through many strange lands,
peopled by giants and dwarfs and men with white faces. When he had
visited all the countries of the earth, he came to his beloved Japan.
In his hand he bore a branch of the orange which he planted. The tree
still flourishes in the Mikado's Empire.



Rai-Taro, the Son of the Thunder-God


  [Illustration: _Rai-Taro the Son of the Thunder God_]


At the foot of the snowy mountain of Haku-san, in the province of
Echizen, lived a peasant and his wife. They were very poor, for their
little strip of barren mountain-land yielded but one scanty crop a
year, while their neighbours in the valley gathered two rich harvests.
With unceasing patience, Bimbo worked from cock-crow until the barking
of the foxes warned him that night had fallen. He laid out his plot of
ground in terraces, surrounded them with dams, and diverted the course
of the mountain stream that it might flood his fields. But when no
rain came to swell the brook, Bimbo's harvest failed. Often as he sat
in his hut with his wife, after a long day of hard work, he would
speak of their troubles. The peasants were filled with grief that a
child had not been given to them. They longed to adopt a son, but, as
they had barely enough for their own simple wants, the dream could not
be realised.

An evil day came when the land of Echizen was parched. No rain fell.
The brook was dried up. The young rice-sprouts withered. Bimbo sighed
heavily over his work. He looked up to the sky and entreated the gods
to take pity on him.

After many weeks of sunshine, the sky was overcast. Single clouds came
up rapidly from the west, and gathered in angry masses. A strange
silence filled the air. Even the voice of the cicalas, who had chirped
in the trees during the heat of the day, was stilled. Only the cry of
the mountain hawk was audible. A murmur passed over valley and hill, a
faint rustling of leaves, a whispering sigh in the needles of the fir.
Fu-ten, the Storm-Spirit, and Rai-den, the Thunder-God, were abroad.
Deeper and deeper sank the clouds under the weight of the thunder
dragon. The rain came at first in large cool drops, then in torrents.

Bimbo rejoiced, and worked steadily to strengthen the dams and open
the conduits of his farm.

A vivid flash of lightning, a mighty roar of thunder! Terrified,
almost blinded, Bimbo fell on his knees. He thought that the claws of
the thunder dragon were about him. But he was unharmed, and he offered
thanks to Kwan-non, the Goddess of Pity, who protects mortals from the
wrath of the Thunder-God. On the spot where the lightning struck the
ground, lay a little rosy boy full of life, who held out his arms and
lisped. Bimbo was greatly amazed, and his heart was glad, for he knew
that the gods had heard and answered his never-uttered prayer. The
happy peasant took the child up, and carried him under his rice-straw
coat to the hut. He called to his wife, "Rejoice, our wish is
fulfilled. The gods have sent us a child. We will call him Rai-taro,
the Son of the Thunder-God, and bring him up as our own."

The good woman fondly tended the boy. Rai-taro loved his
foster-parents, and grew up dutiful and obedient. He did not care to
play with other children, but was always happy to work in the fields
with Bimbo, where he would watch the flight of the birds, and listen
to the sound of the wind. Long-before Bimbo could discern any sign of
an approaching storm, Rai-taro knew that it was at hand. When it drew
near, he fixed his eyes intently on the gathering clouds, he listened
eagerly to the roll of the thunder, the rush of the rain, and he
greeted each flash of lightning with a shout of joy.

  [Illustration: The birth of Rai-taro.]

Rai-taro had come as a ray of sunshine into the lives of the poor
peasants. Good fortune followed the farmer from the day that he
carried the little boy home in his raincoat. The mountain stream was
never dry. The land was fertile, and he gathered rich harvests of rice
and abundant crops of millet. Year by year, his prosperity increased,
until from Bimbo, 'the poor,' he became Kane-mochi, 'the prosperous.'

About eighteen summers passed, and Rai-taro still lived with his
foster-parents. Suddenly, they knew not why, he became thoughtful and
sad. Nothing would rouse him. The peasants determined to hold a feast
in honour of his birthday. They called together the neighbours, and
there was much rejoicing. Bimbo told many tales of other days, and,
finally, of how Rai-taro came to him out of the storm. As he ceased, a
strange far-off look was in the eyes of the Son of the Thunder-God. He
stood before his foster-parents, and said: "You have loved me well.
You have been faithful and kind. But the time has come for me to leave
you. Farewell."

In a moment Rai-taro was gone. A white cloud floated upward towards
the heights of Haku-san. As it neared the summit of the mountain, it
took the form of a white dragon. Higher still the dragon soared,
until, at last, it vanished into a castle of clouds.

The peasants looked wistfully up to the sky. They hoped that Rai-taro
might return, but he had joined his father, Rai-den, the Thunder-God,
and was seen no more.



The Souls of the Children


  [Illustration: _The Souls of the Children_]


Sai-no-Kawara, the Dry Bed of the River of Souls. Far below the roots
of the mountains, far below the bottom of the sea is the course of
this river. Ages ago its current bore the souls of the blessed dead to
the Land of Eternal Peace. The wicked _oni_ were angry when they saw
the good spirits pass out of their reach on the breast of the river.
They muttered curses in their throats as the stream flowed on day by
day, year by year. The snow-white soul of a tender child came to the
bank. A cup-shaped lotus bloom waited to carry the little one swiftly,
through the dark cavernous region, to the kingdom of joy. The _oni_
gnashed their teeth. The spirit of a kindly old man, whose heart was
young, would thread his way unharmed, through the horde of demons, and
float on the Heavenly-Bird-Boat to the unknown world. The _oni_ looked
on in wrath.

But the _oni_ stemmed the River of Souls at its source, and now the
spirits of the dead must wend their way, unaided, to the country that
lies far beyond.

Jizo, The Never-Slumbering, is the god who guards the souls of little
children. He is full of pity, his voice is gentle as the voice of the
doves on Mount Hasa, his love is infinite as the waters of the sea. To
him every child in the Land of the Gods calls for succour and
protection.

In Sai-no-Kawara, The Dry Bed of the River of Souls, are the spirits
of countless children. Babes of two and three years old, babes of four
and five, children of eight and ten. Their wailing is pitiful to hear.
They cry for the mother who bore them. They cry for the father who
cherished them. They cry for the brother and sister whom they love.
Their cry is heard throughout Sai-no-Kawara, a cry that rises and
falls, and falls and rises, rhythmic, unceasing. These are the words
that they cry--

"Chichi koishi! haha koishi!----"

Their voices grow hoarse as they cry, and still they cry on--

"Chichi koishi! haha koishi!----"

While day lasts, they cry and they gather stones from the bed of the
river, and heap them together as prayers.

A Tower of Prayer for the sweet mother, as they cry:

A Tower of Prayer for the father, as they cry:

A Tower of Prayer for brother and sister, as they cry:

From morning till evening they cry--

"Chichi koishi! haha koishi!----" and heap up the stones of prayer.

At nightfall come the _oni_, the demons, and say: "Why do you cry, why
do you pray? Your parents in the Shaba-World cannot hear you. Your
prayers are lost in the strife of tongues. The lamentation of your
parents on earth is the cause of all your sorrow." So saying, the
wicked _oni_ cast down the Towers of Prayer, every one, and dash the
stones into great caverns of the rocks.

But Jizo, with a great love in his eyes, comes and enfolds the little
ones in his robe. To the babes who cannot walk, he stretches forth his
_shakujo_. The children in Sai-no-Kawara gather round him, and he
speaks sweet words of comfort. He lifts them in his arms and caresses
them, for Jizo is father and mother to the little ones who dwell in
the Dry Bed of the River of Souls.

Then they cease from their crying: they cease to build the Towers of
Prayer. Night has come, and the souls of the children sleep
peacefully, while The Never-Slumbering Jizo watches over them.



The Moon-Maiden


  [Illustration: _The Moon Maiden_]


It was early spring on the coast of Suruga. Tender green flushed the
bamboo thickets. A rose-tinged cloud from heaven had fallen softly on
the branches of the cherry tree. The pine forests were fragrant of the
spring. Save for the lap of the sea, there was silence on that remote
shore.

A far-off sound became audible: it might be the song of falling
waters, it might be the voice of the awakening wind, it might be the
melody of the clouds. The strange sweet music rose and fell: the
cadence was as the cadence of the sea. Slowly, imperceptibly, the
music came nearer.

Above the lofty heights of Fuji-yama a snow-white cloud floated
earthwards. Nearer and nearer came the music. A low clear voice could
be heard chanting a lay that breathed of the peace and tranquillity of
the moonlight. The fleecy cloud was borne towards the shore. For one
moment it seemed to rest upon the sand, and then it melted away.

By the sea stood a glistening maiden. In her hand she carried a
heart-shaped instrument, and, as her fingers touched the strings, she
sang a heavenly song. She wore a robe of feathers, white and spotless
as the breast of the wild swan. The maiden looked at the sea. Then she
moved towards the belt of pine trees that fringed the shore. Birds
flocked around her; they perched on her shoulder, and rubbed their
soft heads against her cheek. She stroked them gently and they flew
away full of joy. The maiden hung her robe of feathers on a pine
branch, and went to bathe in the sea.

It was mid-day. A fisher sat down among the pines to eat his dumpling.
Suddenly, his eye fell on the dazzling white robe. "Perhaps it is a
gift from the gods," said Hairukoo as he went up to it. The robe was
so fragile that he almost feared to touch it, but at last he took it
down. The feathers were wondrously woven together, and slender curved
wings sprang from above the shoulder. "I will take it home, and we
shall be happy," he thought.

Now the maiden came from the sea. Hairukoo heard no sound until she
stood before him. Then a soft voice spoke: "The robe is mine, good
fisher, pray give it to me." The man stood awestruck, for never had he
seen so lovely a being. She seemed to come from another world. He
said, "What is your name, beautiful maiden, and whence do you come?"
She answered, "I am one of the virgins who attend the moon. I come
with a message of peace to the ocean. I have whispered it into his
ear, and now I must fly heavenward." But Hairukoo replied, "I would
see you dance before you leave me." The moon-maiden answered: "Give me
my feather robe, and I will dance a celestial dance." The peasant
refused. "Dance and I will give you your robe." Then the glittering
virgin was angry: "The wicked _oni_ will take you for their own, if
you doubt the word of a goddess. I cannot dance without my robe. Each
feather has been given to me by the Heavenly Birds. Their love and
trust support me." As she thus spoke the fisher was ashamed, and said,
"I have done wrong, and I ask your forgiveness." Then he gave the robe
into her hands. The moon-maiden put it around her.

And now she rose from the ground. She touched the stringed instrument
and sang. Clear and infinitely sweet came the notes. It was her
farewell to the earth and the sea. It ceased. She broke into a merry
trilling song, and began to dance. At one moment she skimmed the
surface of the sea, the next her tiny feet touched the topmost
branches of the tall pine trees. Then she sped past the fisher and
smiled as the long grass rustled beneath her. She swept through the
air, in and out among the trees, over the bamboo thicket, and under
the branches of the blossoming cherry. Still the music went on. Still
the maiden danced. Hairukoo looked on in wonder: he thought it must
all be a beautiful dream.

  [Illustration: At one moment she skimmed the surface of the sea, the
    next her tiny feet touched the topmost branches of the tall pine
    trees.]

But now the music changed. It was no longer merry. The dance ended.
The maiden sang of the moonlight, and of the quiet of evening.

She began to circle in the air. Slowly at first, then more swiftly,
she floated over the woods towards the distant mountain. The music and
the song rang in the ears of the fisher. The maiden was wafted farther
and farther away. Hairukoo watched until he could no longer discern
her snow-white form in the sky. But still the music reached him on the
breeze. At last it too died away. The fisher was left alone: alone
with the sound of the sea, and the fragrance of the pines.



The Great Fir Tree of Takasago


  [Illustration: _The Great Fir Tree of Takasago_]


The cherry tree has blossomed many times since O-Matsue lived with her
father and mother on the sandy coast of the Inland Sea. The home at
Takasago was sheltered by a tall fir tree of great age; a god had
planted it as he passed that way. O-Matsue was beautiful, for her
mother had taught her to love the sea, and the birds, the trees, and
every living thing. Her eyes were like a clear deep ocean-pool on a
summer day. Her smile was as the sunshine on the surface of Lake Biwa.

The fallen needles of the fir made a soft couch on which O-Matsue sat
for hours at a time, plying her shuttle, weaving robes for the
peasants around. Sometimes, she would go to sea with the fishers, and
peer into the depths to try and catch a glimpse of the Palace of the
Ocean Bed; the fishers would tell her the story of the poor jelly-fish
who lost his shell, or of the Blessed Island of Eternal Youth, whose
tree could at times be discerned from the coast.

The steep shore of Sumi-no-ye is many leagues distant from Takasago,
but a youth who dwelt there took a long journey. Teoyo said, "I will
see what lies beyond the mountains. I will see the country to which
the heron wings his way across the plain." He travelled through many
provinces, and at last came to the land of Harima. One day he passed
by Takasago. O-Matsue sat in the shade of the fir tree. She was
weaving, and sang as she worked. These are the words of her song:--

    "No man so callous but he heaves a sigh
      When o'er his head the withered Cherry flowers
      Come fluttering down. Who knows? the Spring's soft showers
    May be but tears shed by the sorrowing sky."

Teoyo heard the sweet song, and said, "It is like the song of a
spirit,--and how beautiful the maiden is!" For some time he watched
her as she wove. Then her song ceased, he moved towards her, and
spoke: "I have travelled far. I have seen many fair maidens, but not
one so fair as you. Take me to your father and mother that I may speak
with them." Teoyo asked the peasants for the hand of their daughter,
and they gave their consent.

There was great rejoicing. O-Matsue received many presents, and, as
the wedding-day approached, a great feast was prepared. Bride and
bridegroom drank thrice of three cups of _saké_ which made them man
and wife, and the feast went on.

Now Teoyo said, "This country of Harima is a good land. Let us stay
here with your father and mother." O-Matsue was glad. So they dwelt
with the old people under the great fir tree. At last, the father and
mother died. O-Matsue and Teoyo still lived beneath the shelter of the
tree. They were very happy. Summer, autumn and winter passed over the
land of Harima many times. Their love was always in its spring. The
"waves of age" furrowed their brows, but their hearts remained young
and tender, green as the needles of the pine. Even when their eyes had
grown dim, they went to the shore to listen to the waters of the
Inland Sea, or together they gathered, with rakes of bamboo, the
fallen needles of the fir.

A crane came and built in the topmost branches of the tree, and for
many years they watched the birds rear their young. A tortoise also
dwelt beside them. O-Matsue said, "We are blessed with a fir tree, a
crane, and a tortoise. The God of Long Life has taken us under his
care."

When, at last, at the same moment, Teoyo and O-Matsue died, their
spirits withdrew into the tree which had for so long been the witness
of their happiness. To this day the pine tree is called "The Pine of
the Lovers."

On moonbright nights, when the coast wind whispers in the branches of
the tree, O-Matsue and Teoyo may sometimes be seen, with bamboo rakes
in their hands, gathering together the needles of the fir.

Despite the storms of time, the old tree stands to this hour eternally
green on the high shore of Takasago.



The Willow of Mukochima


  [Illustration: _The Willow of Mukochima_]


Not far from Matsue, the great city of the Province of the Gods, there
once dwelt a widow and her son. Their wooden hut looked upon the
Shinji Lake set in a framework of mountain peaks. Ayame was true to
the old religion, the worship of the descendants of Izanagi and
Izanami. Long ere the sun rose above the chain of hills, she was up,
and, with Umewaki's hand clasped closely in her own, went down to the
verge of the lake. First they laved their faces in the cool water,
then, turning towards the east, they clapped their hands four times
and saluted the sun. "Konnichi Sama! All hail to thee, Day-Maker.
Shine and bring joy to the Place of the Issuing of Clouds." Then,
having turned towards the west, mother and son blessed the holy,
immemorial shrine of Kitzuki; towards the north and the south they
turned and prayed to the gods, unto each one, who dwell in the blue
Plain of High Heaven.

Umewaki's father had been dead many years, and the love of the mother
was centred upon her son. He was in the open air from sunrise to
nightfall; sometimes by Ayame's side, sometimes alone, watching the
heron or the crane, or listening to the sweet call of the _yamabato_.
The hut was in a remote spot, but Ayame felt that her son was safe in
the keeping of the good gods.

It was a beautiful summer morning. Ayame and Umewaki awakened soon
after dawn. Hand in hand they went to the shore of Lake Shinji. It
still slept beneath the faintly-tinged haze. The Lady of Fire had not
whispered of her approach to the soft mists that veiled the hills.
Mother and son waited patiently. As the Day-Maker appeared, they
cried, "Konnichi Sama! Great Goddess, shine upon thy land. Give it
beauty and peace and joy." Then mother and son returned to the hut.
Ayame plied her shuttle, and Umewaki left her to wander in the woods.

Noon came. "My boy has met some woodcutter; he talks with him in the
shade of the pine trees," she thought. As the evening drew on, she
said, "He is with little Kime, his playmate, but I shall soon hear his
soft footstep." Night fell. "Once only has he been so late; when he
went to Matsue with the good Shijo." She looked through the paper
window, and then stepped out. The hills cast a mysterious shadow on
the surface of the lake. Still there was no sign of Umewaki. The
mother called his name. No response came save the echo of her own
voice. Now she searched far and near. To every peasant she put the
question, "Have you seen my Umewaki?" But she always received the same
answer. At last she returned home weary: "He may be there waiting for
me," she thought. It was midnight: the hut was empty. Ayame was heavy
at heart, and as she lay upon her mat she wept bitterly, and cried to
the gods to give her back her son. So the night passed. In the morning
she learned that a band of robbers had been seen among the mountains.

Poor Umewaki had, in truth, been stolen by the robbers. He was watched
night and day, and had no chance of escape. From town to town they
travelled. Through strange villages where the name of Buddha was upon
the lips of the people, across great plains unsheltered by mountains.
The summer passed, and autumn came. Still the men would not let
Umewaki go. They treated him cruelly, and he began to pine away. Then
the robbers knew that he was of no use to them. As they neared Yedo,
they left him, faint and weary, on the roadside. A kind man of
Mukochima found the poor little fellow and carried him to his home.
But Umewaki had not long to live. On the fifteenth day of the third
month, the day sacred to the awakening of the Spring, he opened his
eyes, and called to the good woman who tended him, "Tell my dear
mother that I love her, and would stay with her, but the Lady of the
Great Light calls me, and I must obey."

Ayame had left her quiet hut by the lake of Shinji to follow the men
who had stolen her son. The autumn and the winter had gone by, and
still she persevered. As she passed through Mukochima, she heard that
a poor boy was dead, and soon found that it was her son. She went to
the house where he had been cared for, and the woman gave her
Umewaki's message.

In the evening, when all was quiet, Ayame crept to the graveside of
her child. Near it a sacred willow was planted. The slender tree moved
in the wind. There was a whispered sound: the voice of Umewaki
speaking softly to the mother from his place of rest. She was happy.

Every evening she came to listen to the sighing of the willow. Every
evening she lay down happy to have spoken to her son.

On the fifteenth day of the third month, the day of the awakening of
the Spring, many pilgrims visit the resting-place of Umewaki. If it
rains on that day, the people say, "Umewaki weeps."

The willow is under the protection of the gods. Storm and rain can do
it no hurt.



The Child of the Forest


  [Illustration: _The Child of the Forest_]


Sakato-no-toki-yuki was a brave warrior at the court of Kyōto. He
fought for the Minamoto against the Taira, but the Minamoto were
defeated, and Sakato's last days were spent as a wandering exile. He
died of a broken heart. His widow, the daughter of a noble house,
escaped from Kyōto, and fled eastward to the rugged Ashigara
mountains. No one knew of her hiding-place, and she had no enemies to
fear save the wild beasts who lived in the forest. At night she found
shelter in a rocky cave.

A son was born to her whom she named Kintaro, the Golden Boy. He was a
sturdy little fellow, with ruddy cheeks and merry laughing eyes. Even
as he lay crowing in his bed among the fern, the birds that alighted
on his shoulder peeped trustfully into his eyes, and he smiled. Thus
early the child and the birds were comrades. The butterfly and the
downy moth would settle upon his breast, and tread softly over his
little brown body.

Kintaro was not as other children--there was something strange about
him. When he fell, he would laugh cheerily; if he wandered far into
the wood, he could always find his way home; and, when little more
than a chubby babe, he could swing a heavy axe in circles round his
head. In the remote hills he had no human companions, but the animals
were his constant playfellows. He was gentle and kind-hearted, and
would not willingly hurt any living creature; therefore it was that
the birds and all the forest people looked upon Kintaro as one of
themselves.

Among Kintaro's truest friends were the bears who dwelt in the woods.
A mother bear often carried him on her back to her home. The cubs ran
out and greeted him joyfully, and they romped and played together for
hours. They wrestled and strove in friendly rivalry. Sometimes Kintaro
would clamber up the smooth-barked monkey tree, sit on the topmost
branch, and laugh at the vain attempts of the shaggy little fellows to
follow him. Then came supper-time and the feast of liquid honey.

But the Golden Boy loved best of all to fly through the air with his
arms round the neck of a gentle-eyed stag. Soon after dawn, the deer
came to awaken the sleeper, and, with a farewell kiss to his mother
and a morning caress to the stag, Kintaro sprang on his back and was
carried, with swift bounds, up mountain side, through valley and
thicket, until the sun was high in the heavens. When they came to a
leafy spot in the woods and heard the sound of falling water, the stag
grazed among the high fern while Kintaro bathed in the foaming
torrent.

Thus mother and son lived securely in their home among the mountains.
They saw no human being save the few woodcutters who penetrated thus
far into the forest, and these simple peasants did not guess their
noble birth. The mother was known as Yama-uba-San, "The Wild Nurse of
the Mountain," and her son as "Little Wonder."

Kintaro reigned as prince of the forest, beloved of every living
creature. When he held his court, the bear and the wolf, the fox and
the badger, the marten and the squirrel, and many other courtiers were
seated around him. The birds, too, flocked at his call. The eagle and
the hawk flew down from the distant heights; the crane and the heron
swept over the plain, and feathered friends without number thronged
the branches of the cedars. He listened as they told of their joys and
their sorrows, and spoke graciously to all, for Kintaro had learned
the language and lore of the beasts, and the birds, and the flowers,
from the Tengus, the wood-elves.

  [Illustration: Kintaro reigned as prince of the forest, beloved of
    every living creature.]

The Tengus, who live in the rocky heights of the mountains and in the
topmost branches of lofty trees, befriended Kintaro and became his
teachers. As he was truthful and good, he had nothing to fear from
them; but the Tengus are dreaded by deceitful boys, whose tongues they
pull out by their roots and carry away.

These elves are strange beings: with the body of a man, the head of a
hawk, long, long noses, and two powerful claws on their hairy hands
and feet. They are hatched from eggs, and, in their youth, have
feathers and wings: later, they moult and wear the garb of men. On
their feet are stilt-like clogs about twelve inches high. They stalk
proudly along with crossed arms, head thrown back, and long nose held
high in the air; hence the proverb, "He has become a Tengu."

The headquarters of the tribe are in the Ōyama mountain, where lives
the Dai-Tengu, their leader, whom all obey. He is even more proud and
overbearing than his followers, and his nose is so long that one of
his ministers always precedes him that it may not be injured. A long
grey beard reaches to his girdle, and moustaches hang from his mouth
to his chin. His sceptre is a fan of seven feathers, which he carries
in his left hand. He rarely speaks, and is thus accounted wondrous
wise. The Raven-Tengu is his chief minister; instead of a nose and
mouth, he has a long beak. Over the left shoulder is slung an
executioners axe, and in his hand he bears the book of Tengu wisdom.

The Tengus are fond of games, and their long noses are useful in many
ways. They serve as swords for fencing, and as poles on the point of
which to balance bowls of water with gold-fish. Two noses joined
together form a tight-rope on which a young Tengu, sheltered by a
paper umbrella and leading a little dog, dances and jumps through
hoops; the while an old Tengu sings a dance-tune and another beats
time with a fan. Some among the older Tengus are very wise. The most
famous of all is he who dwells on the Kurama mountain, but hardly less
wise is the Tengu who undertook the education of Kintaro. At
nightfall he carried the boy to the nest in the high rocks. Here he
was taught the wisdom of the elves, and the speech of all the forest
tribes.

One day, Little Wonder was at play with some young Tengus, but they
grew tired and flew up to their nest, leaving Kintaro alone. He was
angry with them, and shook the tree with all his strength, so that the
nest fell to the ground. The mother soon returned, and was in great
distress at the loss of her children. Kintaro's kind heart was
touched, and, with the little ones in his arms, he swarmed up the tree
and asked pardon. Happily they were unhurt, and soon recovered from
their fright. Kintaro helped to rebuild the nest, and brought presents
to his playfellows.

Now it happened that, as the hero Raiko, who had fought so bravely
against the _oni_, passed through the forest, he came upon Little
Wonder wrestling with a powerful bear. An admiring circle of friends
stood around. Raiko, as he looked, was amazed at the strength and
courage of the boy. The combat over, he asked Kintaro his name and his
story, but the child could only lead him to his mother. When she
learned that the man before her was indeed Raiko, the mighty warrior,
she told him of her flight from Kyōto, of the birth of Kintaro, and of
their secluded life among the mountains. Raiko wished to take the boy
away and train him in arms, but Kintaro loved the forest. When,
however, his mother spoke, he was ready to obey. He called together
his friends, the beasts and the birds, and, in words that are
remembered to this day, bade them all farewell.

The mother would not follow her son to the land of men, but Kintaro,
when he became a great hero, often came to see her in the home of his
childhood.

The peasants of the Ashigara still tell of The Wild Nurse of the
Mountains and Little Wonder.



The Vision of Tsunu


  [Illustration: _The Vision of Tsunu_]


When the five tall pine trees on the windy heights of Mionoseki were
but tiny shoots, there lived in the Kingdom of the Islands a pious
man. His home was in a remote hamlet surrounded by mountains and great
forests of pine. Tsunu had a wife and sons and daughters. He was a
woodman, and his days were spent in the forest and on the hillsides.
In summer he was up at cock-crow, and worked patiently, in the soft
light under the pines, until nightfall. Then, with his burden of logs
and branches, he went slowly homeward. After the evening meal, he
would tell some old story or legend. Tsunu was never weary of relating
the wondrous tales of the Land of the Gods. Best of all he loved to
speak of Fuji-yama, the mountain that stood so near his home.

In times gone by, there was no mountain where now the sacred peak
reaches up to the sky; only a far-stretching plain bathed in sunlight
all day. The peasants in the district were astonished, one morning, to
behold a mighty hill where before had been the open plain. It had
sprung up in a single night, while they slept. Flames and huge stones
were hurled from its summit; the peasants feared that the demons from
the under-world had come to wreak vengeance upon them. But for many
generations there have been peace and silence on the heights. The good
Sun-Goddess loves Fuji-yama. Every evening she lingers on his summit,
and when at last she leaves him, his lofty crest is bathed in soft
purple light. In the evening the Matchless Mountain seems to rise
higher and higher into the skies, until no mortal can tell the place
of his rest. Golden clouds enfold Fuji-yama in the early morning.
Pilgrims come from far and near, to gain blessing and health for
themselves and their families from the sacred mountain.

On the self-same night that Fuji-yama rose out of the earth, a strange
thing happened in the mountainous district near Kyōto. The inhabitants
were awakened by a terrible roar, which continued throughout the
night. In the morning every mountain had disappeared; not one of the
hills that they loved was to be seen. A blue lake lay before them. It
was none other than the lute-shaped Lake Biwa. The mountains had, in
truth, travelled under the earth for more than a hundred miles, and
now form the sacred Fuji-yama.

As Tsunu stepped out of his hut in the morning, his eyes sought the
Mountain of the Gods. He saw the golden clouds, and the beautiful
story was in his mind as he went to his work.

One day the woodman wandered farther than usual into the forest. At
noon he was in a very lonely spot. The air was soft and sweet, the sky
so blue that he looked long at it, and then took a deep breath. Tsunu
was happy.

  [Illustration: On a plot of mossy grass beyond the thicket, sat two
    maidens of surpassing beauty.]

Now his eye fell on a little fox who watched him curiously from the
bushes; The creature ran away when it saw that the man's attention had
been attracted. Tsunu thought, "I will follow the little fox and see
where she goes." Off he started in pursuit. He soon came to a bamboo
thicket. The smooth slender stems waved dreamily, the pale green
leaves still sparkled with the morning dew. But it was not this which
caused the woodman to stand spellbound. On a plot of mossy grass
beyond the thicket, sat two maidens of surpassing beauty. They were
partly shaded by the waving bamboos, but their faces were lit up by
the sunlight. Not a word came from their lips, yet Tsunu knew that the
voices of both must be sweet as the cooing of the wild dove. The
maidens were graceful as the slender willow, they were fair as the
blossom of the cherry tree. Slowly they moved the chess-men which lay
before them on the grass. Tsunu hardly dared to breathe, lest he
should disturb them. The breeze caught their long hair, the sunlight
played upon it.... The sun still shone.... The chess-men were still
slowly moved to and fro.... The woodman gazed enraptured.

       *       *       *       *       *

"But now," thought Tsunu, "I must return, and tell those at home of
the beautiful maidens." Alas, his knees were stiff and weak. "Surely I
have stood here for many hours," he said. He leaned for support upon
his axe; it crumbled into dust. Looking down, he saw that a flowing
white beard hung from his chin.

For many hours the poor woodman tried in vain to reach his home.
Fatigued and wearied, he came at last to a hut. But all was changed.
Strange faces peered curiously at him. The speech of the people was
unfamiliar. "Where are my wife and my children?" he cried. But no one
knew his name.

Finally, the poor woodman came to understand that seven generations
had passed since he bade farewell to his dear ones in the early
morning. While he had gazed at the beautiful maidens, his wife, his
children, and his children's children, had lived and died.

The few remaining years of Tsunu's life were spent as a pious pilgrim
to Fuji-yama, his well-loved mountain.

Since his death he has been honoured as a saint who brings prosperity
to the people of his native country.



Princess Fire-Fly


  [Illustration: _Princess Fire-Fly_]


Deep in the pinky petals of a lotus bloom that grew in the castle
moats of Fukui, in Echizen, lived Hi-O, the King of the Fire-Flies. In
this beautiful flower his daughter, the Princess Hotaru, passed her
childhood exploring every shady nook and fragrant corner of the
bell-like palace, listening to the buzz of life around, and peeping
over the edge of the petals at the wonderful world which lay
mysteriously beyond. Hotaru-Himé had few youthful companions, but, as
she daily bade her father farewell, she dreamed of the time when she,
too, would fly abroad, and her brilliant light would attract universal
admiration.

Gradually, a beautiful sheen o'erspread her body; night by night it
became brighter, until at last her home, in the hours of darkness, was
as a globe of coral wherein shone a lamp of gold. So glorious was her
light that the stars paled before it, and the bright sickle moon
withdrew behind a cloud from jealousy.

Himé was now allowed to fly from her home, to loiter among the
pleasant rice fields, and to explore the indigo meadows which lay far
off on the horizon. She had no lack of friends and would-be lovers;
thousands of insects, attracted by her magic light, came and offered
their homage, but Himé never forgot that she was of royal blood, and,
while she haughtily thanked her many suitors, none found a way into
her heart.

  [Illustration: But the Princess whispered to herself, "Only he who
    loves me more than life shall call me bride."]

One evening the Princess, seated on a throne formed by the heart of
the lotus, held her court. Soon the faint roseate petals of the flower
were thronged with a host of ardent lovers. But the Princess whispered
to herself, "Only he who loves me more than life shall call me bride."

The golden beetle laid his fortunes at her feet, the cockchafer wooed
her in passionate words, the dragon-fly proudly proffered his hand,
and the hawk-moth humbly, yet persistently, addressed her. Countless
other insects gained audience, but her answer was ever the same, "Go,
and bring me fire, and I will be your bride."

One by one they took wing, enraptured by the hope of success, and
unconscious that they were all bent on the self-same errand. The
hawk-moth entered the Buddhist Temple and circled round and round the
tall wax lights, until, in an ecstasy of love, he flew into the flame,
exclaiming, "Now to win the Princess or meet my death!" His poor
singed body fell heavily to the ground. The beetle watched intently,
for a moment or two, the log fire crackling on the hearth, and then,
regardless of his fate, boldly caught at a tongue of flame he hoped to
carry to Himé--but his end was that of the hawk-moth. The dragon-fly,
notwithstanding his sunlit splendours, could not fulfil the bidding of
the Lady of the Lotus Bloom; he also fell a prey to her imperious
command. Other lovers there were who tried to steal from the diamond
his heart of fire, who winged their way to the summit of Fukui, or
sped to the depths of the valleys in search of the talisman that was
to make Himé their bride. The sun rose in morning splendour over
untold numbers of dead bodies, which alone remained to tell of the
great devotion that had inspired the lovers of Princess Hotaru.

Now tidings came to Hi-Maro, a Prince of the Fire-Flies living hard
by, that the Princess Hotaru was exceedingly beautiful; whereupon he
flew swiftly to her home among the lotus flowers. Even as, with a
flood of golden light, he entered, the charms of Himé were not dimmed.
One look passed between the youth and the maiden, and then each felt
that a great love filled their hearts. Hi-Maro wooed and wed, and for
many years lived happily with Hotaru-Himé in the castle moats of
Fukui.

Centuries have passed since Hi-Maro won his bride, and still the
dazzling fire-fly Princesses send their insect lovers in search of
fire.



The Sparrow's Wedding


  [Illustration: _The Sparrow's Wedding_]


In the heart of a forest of pine-trees that lay in a remote corner of
the Land of the Dragon-Fly, dwelt Chiyotaro, a prosperous sparrow, who
was honoured and beloved alike by his family and friends. He had many
beautiful children, but not one with manners more distinguished, or
heart more true, than Tschiotaro. He was the life of the little
household; merry as the summer-day is long, and talkative as only a
sparrow can be.

Tschiotaro would fly afar through the woods, and across the
surrounding plains; indeed, at times, he would even come within sight
of the towering peaks of the Matchless Mountain. With the first
whisper of the approach of sundown, he would wing his way homeward, to
delight the loved ones in the pine forest with the story of his day's
adventures. Laughter and sounds of glee echoed through the twilight,
as the sparrow family listened to Tschiotaro's chatter. Then came the
hush of night, and there was silence in the depths of the wood.

One sunny morning Tschiotaro chirped his farewell, and flew off he
knew not whither. At last, he alighted in the shadowy bamboo grove
where Kosuzumi, the tongue-cut sparrow, dwelt. Truly the gods had
favoured him in guiding his flight to this spot. Kosuzumi was
beautiful, but her daughter Osuzu was even more lovely. She was
blithe, warm-hearted, and winsome; simple, too, was the maiden whose
days had been spent in the cool shade of the bamboo thicket.
Tschiotaro had only to see her to love her. At first, it is true, he
was a little shy, and hopped around the beautiful one with mute appeal
in his tiny sparkling eyes; but when he saw that Osuzu smiled and
peeped coyly at him, he grew bolder, and even ventured to address her.
Little by little the talk became more animated: reserve vanished, and
mutual confidences passed. Tschiotaro and Osuzu had, in truth, entered
the Garden of Bliss, which is known in the feathered world of Japan as
_Okugi_. Time sped apace, and the hour of parting came all too
quickly. Tschiotaro assured Osuzu that he would soon return. As he
travelled through the summer air, laden with the fragrance of myriad
flowers, a deep joy filled his heart and added zest to his flight.
Osuzu, happy in her new-found love, was rocked peacefully to sleep by
the swaying of the bamboo branches in the soft breeze.

Tschiotaro lost no time in making known to his father his love for
the beautiful daughter of Kosuzumi, and declared that she, and none
other, should be his bride. The old one heard the news with surprise.
Rich and respected as he was, he could not permit his son to marry the
first maiden with whom he fell in love; but as Chiyotaro sat
contentedly in a quiet nook of his rustling home, his love for his
son, and the desire to see him happy, outweighed all other
considerations. He said, "If Osuzu be good and true, I will not refuse
to give my consent." Even before he heard that Osuzu belonged to a
family honoured far and wide, that her home was dainty, and that her
mother was the famous tongue-cut sparrow, Chiyotaro had determined
that nothing should cloud his son's happiness.

After the lapse of a day or two, Tschiotaro's glowing story was
confirmed by the wise ones among the sparrows. Father and mother were
content, and, according to old custom, an envoy was despatched to the
parents of Osuzu with a formal offer of marriage. The family in the
bamboo thicket, after due deliberation, consented to meet Chiyotaro.
All went well. The wedding day was speedily fixed, and all manner of
preparations were made for the auspicious event.

The home that was to shelter Tschiotaro and Osuzu was built with the
greatest care in the upper branches of a beautiful cherry tree, whose
pure white petals in blossom-time would lend fragrance and peace to
the happy retreat. Many were the gifts which arrived to adorn, and add
comfort to, the new abode. Sparrows from far and near vied with one
another in the delicacy and variety of their offerings, until the
dwelling was wondrously enticing.

Just before the wedding day, Osuzu rejoiced at the arrival of rare
gifts from her beloved Tschiotaro. An _obi_ of dewdrops, which held in
them the secrets of the sun; a head-dress, fashioned of the slender
petals of a mountain flower; and tiny moss sandals, so soft and
exquisite that she donned them at once for very love and pride; these
and many other gifts did Tschiotaro bestow. Nor were Osuzu's parents
unmindful of their duties. A grand robe of ceremony, woven of the
pinky blossom of the peach, as well as _saké_ and luscious fruit, were
sent to Tschiotaro.

The morning of the marriage dawned. By the time the sun touched with
glory the peak of Fusi-yama, the sparrow families were busy preparing
for the day's festivities. Long ere the purple shadows had lifted from
the valleys, the wedding procession had assembled from copse, and
hedgerow, and woodland. Never before had such a concourse of sparrows
been seen. Tschiotaro was widely beloved, and the beauty of Osuzu had
become noised abroad.

On arrival at their new home, the bride and bridegroom sipped thrice
of the three cups of rice wine which consecrated their union, and
afterwards the whole company drank freely to the health and well-being
of the newly wedded pair. Sounds of revelry and rejoicing lasted until
the late evening; and long after the sun had bade his daily farewell
to the cherry grove the sparrows still chattered and twittered.

As the moon, with her attendant maidens, rose slowly in the heavens,
the festal sounds died away and silence reigned.

Tschiotaro and Osuzu spent many happy years of wedded sparrowhood.
They had children fair and graceful as themselves, and never had cause
to regret their loving union.



The Love of the Snow-White Fox


  [Illustration: _The Love of the Snow-White Fox_]


In Idzumo, the Province of the Gods, are many foxes. There the wicked
Ninko, in league with the _oni_, prowls about at nightfall and carries
away the souls of little children, he robs the poor man of his rice
and millet, and bewitches the maidens who cross his path. There, too,
is his enemy the Inari fox, who is kind of heart. The Inari loves the
children, and warns the anxious mothers when Ninko is near; he guards
the store of the peasant, and comes to the aid of maidens in distress.

Many centuries ago, there lived a young Inari fox. She was snow-white,
and her eyes were keen and intelligent. She was beloved by all the
good people for miles around. They were glad if, in the evening, she
knocked softly with her tail against the window of their hut; when she
entered she would play with the children, eat of their humble fare,
and then trot away. The god Inari protected those who were kind to
her. The Ninko foxes hated her.

There were hunters in the country of Idzumo who thirsted for the blood
of the beautiful white fox. Once or twice she nearly lost her life at
the hands of these cruel men.

One summer afternoon, she was frisking about in the woods with some
young fox friends, when two men caught sight of her. They were fleet
of foot and had dogs by their side. Off ran the white fox. The men
uttered an excited cry and gave chase. Instead of going towards the
open plain, she made for the Temple of Inari Daim-yojin. "There surely
I will find a safe refuge from my pursuers," she thought.

Now Yaschima, a young prince of the noble house of Abe, was in the
temple, deep in meditation. The white fox, whose strength was almost
spent, ran fearlessly up to him and took refuge beneath the thick
folds of his robe. Yaschima was moved with pity, and did all in his
power to soothe the poor frightened creature. He said, "I will protect
you, little one; you have nothing to fear." The fox looked up at him,
and seemed to understand. She ceased to tremble. Then the Prince went
to the door of the great temple. Two men hastened up to him and asked
if he had seen a pure white fox. "It must have run into the Temple of
Inari. We would have its blood to cure the sickness of one of our
family." But Yaschima, faithful to his promise, answered: "I have been
in the temple praying to the good god, but I can tell you nothing of
the fox." The men were about to leave him, when, behind his robe,
they spied a white bushy tail. Fiercely they demanded that he should
stand aside. The Prince firmly refused. But, intent on their prey, the
men attacked him, and he was obliged to draw his sword in
self-defence. At this moment Yaschima's father, a brave old man, came
up; he rushed upon the enemies of his son, but a deadly blow, which
Yaschima could not avert, struck him down. Then the young Prince was
very wroth, and, with two mighty strokes, he felled his adversaries to
the ground.

The loss of his beloved father filled Yaschima with grief. He did not
break out into loud lamentation, for the sorrow lay too near his
heart.

  [Illustration: With two mighty strokes, he felled his adversaries to
    the ground.]

Then a sweet song fell on his ear. It came from the temple. As he
re-entered the sacred building, a beautiful maiden stood before him.
She turned, and saw that he was in deep trouble. The Prince told her
of the snow-white fox, and the cruel hunters, and the death of his
father whom he loved. The maiden spoke tender words of sympathy; her
voice was so soft and sweet that the sound brought comfort to him.
When Yaschima learned that the maiden was true, that her heart was as
pure and beautiful as her face, he loved her, and asked her to be his
bride. She replied, very gently, "I already love you. I know that you
are good and brave, and I would solace you for the loss of your
father."

They were wed. Yaschima did not forget the death of his father, but he
remembered that his beautiful wife had then been given to him. For
some time they lived happily together. The days passed swiftly.
Yaschima ruled his people wisely, and his fair Princess was ever by
his side. Each morning they went to the temple, and thanked the good
god Inari for the joy that had come to them.

Now a son was born to the Prince and Princess. They gave him the name
of Seimei. Thereafter the Princess became sorely troubled. She sat
alone for hours, and tears sprang to her eyes when Yaschima asked her
the cause of her sorrow. One day she took his hand and said, "Our life
here has been very beautiful. I have given you a son to be with you
always. The god Inari now tells me that I must leave you. He will
guard you as you guarded me from the hunters at the door of the great
temple. I am none other than the snow-white fox whose life you saved."
Once more she looked into his eyes, and then, without a word, she was
gone.

Yaschima and Seimei lived long in the Province of the Gods. They were
greatly beloved, but the snow-white fox was seen no more.



Nedzumi


  [Illustration: _Nedzumi_]


In the Central Land of Reed-Plains dwelt two rats. Their home was in a
lonely farmstead surrounded by rice fields. Here they lived happily
for so many years that the other rats in the district, who had
constantly to change their quarters, believed that their neighbours
were under the special protection of Fukoruku Jin, one of the Seven
Gods of Happiness, and the Patron of Long Life.

These rats had a large family of children. Every summer day they led
the little ones into the rice fields, where, under shelter of the
waving stalks, the young rats learned the history and cunning of their
people. When work was done, they would scamper away and play with
their friends until it was time to return home.

The most beautiful of these children was Nedzumi, the pride of her
parents' heart. She was truly a lovely little creature, with sleek
silvery skin, bright intelligent eyes, tiny upstanding ears, and
pearly white teeth. It seemed to the fond father and mother that no
one was great enough to marry their daughter, but, after much
pondering, they decided that the most powerful being in the whole
universe should be their son-in-law.

The parents discussed the weighty question with a trusted neighbour,
who said, "If you would wed your daughter to the most powerful being
in the universe, you must ask the sun to marry her, for his empire
knows no bounds."

How they mounted through the skies, no rat can tell. The sun gave
them audience and listened graciously as they said, "We would give you
our daughter to wife." He smiled and rejoined, "Your daughter is
indeed beautiful, and I thank you for coming so far to offer her to
me. But, tell me, why have you chosen me out of all the world?" The
rats made answer, "We would marry our Nedzumi to the mightiest being,
and you alone wield world-wide sway." Then the sun replied, "Truly my
kingdom is vast, but oftentimes, when I would illumine the world, a
cloud floats by and covers me. I cannot pierce the cloud; therefore
you must go to him if your wish is to be attained."

In no way discouraged, the rats left the sun and came to a cloud as he
rested after a flight through the air. The cloud received them less
cordially than the sun, and replied to their offer, with a look of
mischief in his dusky eyes, "You are mistaken if you think that I am
the most powerful being. It is true that I sometimes hide the sun, but
I cannot withstand the force of the wind. When he begins to blow I am
driven away, and torn in pieces. My strength is not equal to the power
of the wind."

A little saddened, the rats, intent on their daughter's future
prosperity, waylaid the wind as he swept through a pine forest. He was
about to awaken the plain beyond, to stir the grass and the flowers
into motion. The two anxious parents made known their mission. This
was the whispered reply of the wind: "It is true that I have strength
to drive away the clouds, but I am powerless against the wall which
men build to keep me back. You must go to him if you would have the
mightiest being in the world for your son-in-law. Indeed I am not so
mighty as the wall."

The rats, still persistent in their quest, came to the wall and told
their story. The wall answered, "True, I can withstand the wind, but
the rat undermines me and makes holes through my very heart. To him
you must go if you would wed your daughter to the most powerful being
in the world. I cannot overcome the rat."

And now the parent rats returned to their home in the farmstead.
Nedzumi, their beautiful daughter with the silken coat and sparkling
eyes, rejoiced when she heard that she was to marry one of her own
people, for her heart had already been given to a playfellow of the
rice fields. They were married, and lived for many years as king and
queen of the rat world.



Koma and Gon


  [Illustration: _Koma and Gon_]


Many moons ago, a teacher of music lived not far from Kyōto. A
faithful serving-woman and a beautiful cat were his sole companions.
Gon was a handsome fellow, with sleek coat, bushy tail, and
grass-green eyes that glowed in the darkness. His master loved him,
and would say as the cat purred by his side in the evening, "Nothing
shall part us, old friend."

O-Ume was a happy maiden whose home lay in the midst of the plum
groves. Her chief pet was a little cat. Koma had very winning ways;
her mistress delighted to watch her. She blinked so prettily, she ate
so daintily, she licked her rose-red nose so carefully with her tiny
tongue, that O-Ume would catch her up, and say fondly, "Koma, Koma,
you are a good cat. I am sure your ancestors shed tears when our Lord
Buddha died. You shall never leave me."

It happened that Gon and Koma met, and fell deeply in love with one
another. Gon was so handsome that any of the cats in the district
would gladly have been his mate, but he did not deign to notice one of
them. When he saw the little maid Koma, his heart beat quickly.

The cats were in great distress, for neither the music-master nor
O-Ume would hear of parting with their pet. Gon's master would
willingly have taken Koma to live with him, but O-Ume would not hear
of this; nor were Koma's entreaties more successful.

It was the seventh night of the seventh moon, the night sacred to
lovers in the Land of Great Peace, when Kingen crosses the Silver
River of Heaven and Shakujo joyfully embraces him. Gon and Koma left
their homes and fled together. It was a moonbright night, and the cats
were light of heart as they scampered through the fields of rice and
across the great open plains. When day broke, they were near a palace
which stood in a large park, full of stately old trees and ponds
covered with sweet lotus-blooms. Koma said, "If only we could live in
that palace, how glorious it would be!" As she spoke, a fierce dog
caught sight of the cats, and bounded towards them angrily. Koma gave
a cry of terror, and sprang up a cherry tree. Gon did not stir. "Dear
Koma shall see that I am a hero, and would rather lose my life than
run away." But the dog was powerful, and would have killed Gon. He was
almost upon the brave cat, when a serving-man drove him off, and
carried Gon into the palace. Poor little Koma was left alone to lament
her loss.

The Princess who lived in the palace was overjoyed when Gon was
brought to her. Many days passed before he was allowed out of her
sight. Then he hunted far and near for his fair lover, but all in
vain. "My Koma is lost to me for ever," he sighed.

Now the Princess lived in splendour and happiness. She had but one
trouble; a great snake loved her. At all hours of the day and night
the animal would creep up and try to come near her. A constant guard
was kept, but still the serpent, at times, succeeded in gaining the
door of her chamber. One afternoon, the Princess was playing softly to
herself on the _koto_, when the snake crept unobserved past the guards
and entered her room. In a moment, Gon sprang upon its neck and bit it
so furiously that the hideous creature soon lay dead. The Princess
heard the noise and looked round. When she saw that Gon had risked his
life for her, she was deeply moved; she stroked him and whispered kind
words into his ear. He was praised by the whole household, and fed
upon the daintiest morsels in the palace. But there was a cloud upon
his happiness: the loss of Koma.

On a summer day he lay sunning himself before the door of the palace.
Half asleep, he looked out upon the world and dreamed of the moonlight
night when he and Koma escaped from their former homes. In the park a
big cat was ill-treating a little one, too fragile to take care of
herself. Gon jumped up and flew to her aid. He soon drove the cruel
cat away; then he turned towards the little one to ask if she were
hurt. Koma, his long-lost love, stood before him! Not the sleek,
beautiful Koma of other days, for she was thin and sad, but her eyes
sparkled when she saw that Gon was her deliverer.

The two cats went to the Princess. They told her the story of their
love, their flight, their separation, and their reunion. She entered
whole-heartedly into their new-found joy.

On the seventh night of the seventh moon Gon and Koma were married.
The Princess watched over them, and they were happy. Many years
passed. One day she found them curled up together. The two faithful
hearts had ceased to beat.


_Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co._

_Edinburgh and London_



Transcriber's Note

Variant spelling is preserved as printed.

Minor punctuation errors have been corrected.

Hyphenation and accent usage have been made consistent.

Illustrations have been moved where necessary so that they are not in
the middle of a paragraph.





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