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could blow upon him.

This Man had a kind Heart and looked at the Hare very pityingly.

But as the wind blew and dried him, his skin became drawn
and hardened, and the salt increased the pain so much that he
rolled on the sand in his agony and cried aloud.

22O Japanese Fairy Book.

Just then another King's son passed by, carrying a great
bag on his back. He saw the hare, and stopped and asked
why he was crying so loudly.

But the poor hare, remembering that he had been deceived
by one very like the man who now spoke to him, did not
answer, but continued to cry.

But this man had a kind heart, and looked at the hare very
pityingly, and said :

" You poor thing ! I see that your fur is all pulled out
and that your skin is quite bare. Who can have treated you
so cruelly ? '

When the hare heard these kind words he felt very grateful
to the man, and encouraged by his gentle manner the hare told
him all that had befallen him. The little animal hid nothing
from his friend, but told him frankly how he had played a trick
on the crocodiles and how he had come across the bridge they
had made, thinking that he wished to count their number ; how
he had jeered at them for their stupidity, and then how the
crocodiles had revenged themselves on him. Then he went
on to say how he had been deceived by a party of men who
looked very like his kind friend ; and the hare ended his long
tale of woe by begging the man to give him some medicine
that would cure him and make his fur grow again.

When the hare had finished his story, the man was full of
pity towards him, and said :

" I am very sorry for all you have suffered, but remember,
it was only the consequence of the deceit you practised on the

" I know," answered the sorrowful hare, u but I have

The White Hare and the Crocodiles. 221

repented and made up my mind never to use deceit again, so I
beg you to show me how I may cure my sore body and make
the fur grow again."

" Then I will tell you of a good remedy," said the man.
" First go and bathe well in that pond over there and try to
wash all the salt from your body. Then pick some of those
kaba flowers that are growing near the edge of the water,
spread them on the ground and roll yourself on them. If you
do this the pollen will cause your fur to grow again, and you
will be quite well in a little while."

The hare was very glad to be told what to do, so kindly.
He crawled to the pond pointed out to him, bathed well in it,
and then picked the kaba flowers growing near the water, and
rolled himself on them.

To his amazement, even while he was doing this, he saw his
nice white fur growing again, the pain ceased, and he felt just
as he had done before all his misfortunes.

The hare was overjoyed at his quick recovery, and went
hopping joyfully towards the young man who had so helped
him, and kneeling down at his feet, said :

" I cannot express my thanks for all you have done for me !
It is my earnest wish to do something for you in return.
Please tell me who you are ? '

" I am no King's son as you think me. I am a fairy, and
my name is Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto," answered the man, "and
those beings who passed here before me are my brothers.
They have heard of a beautiful Princess called Yakami who
lives in this province of Inaba, and they are on their way to>
find her and to ask her to marry one of them. But on this


Japanese Fairy Book.

expedition I am only an attendant, so I am walking behind
them with this great big bag on my back.'


When the Princess had looked at the kind Brother's face she went straight

up to him.

The hare humbled himself before this great fairy Okuni-
nushi-no-Mikoto, whom many in that part of the land
worshipped as a god.

The White Hare and the Crocodiles. 223

" Oh, I did not know that you were Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto.
How kind you have been to me ! It is impossible to believe
that that unkind fellow who sent me to bathe in the sea is one
of your brothers. I am quite sure that the Princess, whom
your brothers have gone to seek, will refuse to be the bride of
any of them, and will prefer you for your goodness of heart. I
am quite sure that you will win her heart without intending to
do so, and she will ask to be your bride."

Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto took no notice of what the hare
said, but bidding the little animal good-bye, went on his way
quickly and soon overtook his brothers. He found them just
entering the Princess's gate.

Just as the hare had said, the Princess could not be per-
suaded to become the bride of any of the brothers, but when
she looked at the kind brother's face she went straight up to
him and said :

" To you I give myself," and so they were married.

This is the end of the story. Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto is
worshipped by the people in some parts of Japan, as a god, and
the hare has become famous as " The White Hare of Inaba."
But what became of the crocodiles nobody knows.



THE insignia of the great Japanese Empire is composed of
three treasures which have been considered sacred, and guarded
with jealous care from time immemorial. These are the Yatano-
no-Kagami or the Mirror of Yata, the Yasakami-no-Magatama or
the Jewel of Yasakami, and the Murakuino-no-Tsurugi or the
Sword of Murakumo.

Of these three treasures of the Empire, the sword of
Murakumo, afterwards known as Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, or the
, grass-cleaving sword, is considered the most precious and most
highly to be honoured, for it is the symbol of strength to this
nation of warriors and the talisman of invincibility for the
Emperor, while he holds it sacred in the shrine of his ancestors.

Nearly two thousand years ago this sword was kept at the
shrines of Ite, the temples dedicated to the worship of Amate-
rasu, the great and beautiful Sun Goddess from whom the
Japanese Emperors are said to be descended.

There is a story of knightly adventure and daring which
explains why the name of the sword was changed from that of
Murakumo to Kusanagi, which means grass cleaving.

Once, many, many years ago, there was born a son to the
Emperor Keiko, the twelfth in descent from the great Jimmu,
the founder of the Japanese dynasty. This Prince was the
second son of the Emperor Keiko, and he was named Yamato.

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 225

From his childhood he proved himself to be of remarkable
strength, wisdom and courage, and his father noticed with
pride that he gave promise of great things, and he loved him
even more than he did his elder son.

Now when Prince Yamato had grown to manhood (in the
olden days of Japanese history, a boy was considered to have
reached man's estate at the early age of sixteen) the realm
was much troubled by a band of outlaws whose chiefs were two
brothers, Kumaso and Takeru. These rebels seemed to delight
in rebelling against the King, in breaking the laws and defying
all authority.

At last King Reiko ordered his younger son Prince Yamato
to subdue the brigands and, if possible, to rid the land of their
evil lives. Prince Yamato was only sixteen years of age, he
had but reached his manhood according to the law, yet though
he was such a youth in years he possessed the dauntless spirit
of a warrior of fuller age and knew not what fear was. Even
then there was no man who could rival him for courage and
bold deeds, and he received his father's command with great joy.

He at once made ready to start, and great was the stir in
the precincts of the Palace as he and his trusty followers
gathered together and prepared for the expedition, and polished
up their armour and donned it. Before he left his father's
Court he went to pray at the shrines of Ise and to take leave of
his aunt the Princess Yamato, for his heart was somewhat
heavy at the thought of the dangers he had to face, and he
felt that he needed the protection of his ancestress, Amaterasu,
the Sun Goddess. The Princess his aunt came out to give
him glad welcome, and congratulated him on being trusted
F.B. Q

226 Japanese Fairy Book.

with so great a mission by his father the King. She then
gave him one of her gorgeous robes as a keepsake to go with
him and to bring him good luck, saying that it would surely
be of service to him on this adventure. She then wished him
all success in his undertaking and bade him good speed.

The young Prince bowed low before his aunt, and received
her gracious gift with much pleasure and many respectful bows.

" I will now set out," said the Prince, and returning to the
Palace he put himself at the head of his troops. Thus cheered
by his aunt's blessing, he felt ready for all that might befall,
and marching through the land he went down to the Southern
Island of Kiushiu, the home of the brigands.

Before many days had passed he reached the Southern
Island, and then slowly but surely made his way to the head-
quarters of the chiefs Kumaso and Takeru. He now met with
great difficulties, for he found the country exceedingly wild and
rough. The mountains were high and steep, the valleys dark
and deep, and huge trees and boulders of rock blocked up the
road and stopped the progress of his army. It was all but
impossible to go on.

Though the Prince was but a youth he had the wisdom of
years, and, seeing that it was vain to try and lead his men
further, he said to himself:

" To attempt to fight a battle in this impassable country
unknown to my men only rnakes my task harder. We cannot
clear the roads and fight as well. It is wiser for me to resort
to stratagem and come upon my enemies unawares. In that
way I may be able to kill them without much exertion."

So he now bade his army halt by the way. His wife,

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 227

the Princess Ototachibana, had accompanied him,' and he bade
her bring him the robe his aunt the priestess of Ise had given
him, and to help him attire himself as a woman. With her
help he put on the robe, and let his hair down till it flowed over
his shoulders. Ototachibana then brought him her comb, which
he put in his black tresses, and then adorned himself with
strings of strange jewels just as you see in the picture. When
he had finished his unusual toilet, Ototachibana brought him
her mirror. He smiled as he gazed at himself the disguise
was so perfect.

He hardly knew himself, so changed was he. All traces of
the warrior had disappeared, and in the shining surface only
a beautiful lady looked back at him.

Thus completely disguised, he set out for the enemy's camp
alone. In the folds of his silk gown, next his strong heart, was
hidden a sharp dagger.

The two chiefs Kumaso and Takeru were sitting in their
tent, resting in the cool of the evening, when the Prince
approached. They were talking of the news which had
recently been carried to them, that the King's son had entered
their country with a large army determined to exterminate
their band. They had both heard of the young warrior's
renown, and for the first time in their wicked lives they felt
afraid. In a pause in their talk they happened to look up, and
saw through the door of the tent a beautiful woman robed in
sumptuous garments coming towards them. Like an appari-
tion of loveliness she appeared in the soft twilight. Little did
they dream that it was their enemy whose coming they so

dreaded who now stood before them in this disguise.

Q 2

228 Japanese Fairy Book.

" What a beautiful woman ! Where has she come from ? "
said the astonished Kumaso, forgetting war and council and
everything as he looked at the gentle intruder.

He beckoned to the disguised Prince and bade him sit down
and serve them with wine. Yamato Take felt his heart swell
with a fierce glee for he now knew that his plan would succeed.
However, he dissembled cleverly, and putting on a sweet air of
shyness he approached the rebel chief with slow steps and eyes
glancing like a frightened deer. Charmed to distraction by the
girl's loveliness, Kumaso drank cup after cup of wine for the
pleasure of seeing her pour it out for him, till at last he was
quite overcome with the quantity he had drunk.

This was the moment for which the brave Prince had been
waiting. Flinging down the wine jar, he seized the tipsy and
astonished Kumaso and quickly stabbed him to death with the
dagger which he had secretly carried hidden in his breast.

Takeru, the brigand's brother, was terror-struck as soon as
he saw what was happening and tried to escape, but Prince
Yamato was too quick for him. Ere he could reach the tent
door the Prince was at his heel, his garments were clutched by
a hand of iron, and a dagger flashed before his eyes and he lay
stabbed to the earth, dying but not yet dead.

"Wait one moment!" gasped the brigand painfully, and
he seized the Prince's hand.

Yamato relaxed his hold somewhat and said :

" Why should I pause, thou villain ? '

The brigand raised himself fearfully and said :

" Tell me from whence you come, and whom I have the
honour of addressing ? Hitherto I believed that my dead

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 229

brother and I were the strongest men in the land, and that
there was no one who could overcome us. Alone you have
ventured into our stronghold, alone you have attacked and
killed us ! Surely you are more than mortal ? "

Then the young Prince answered with a proud smile :
" I am the son of the King and my name is Yamato, and I
have been sent by my father as the avenger of evil to bring
death to all rebels ! No longer shall robbery and murder
hold my people in terror ! " and he held the dagger dripping
red above the rebel's head.

"Ah," gasped the dying man with a great effort, "I
have often heard of you. You are indeed a strong man
to have so easily overcome us. Allow me to give you a
new name. From henceforth you shall be known as Yamato
Take. Our title I bequeath to you as the bravest man in

And with these noble words, Takeru fell back and died.

The Prince having thus successfully put an end to his father's
enemies in the West, now prepared to return to the capital.
On the way back he passed through the province of Idzumo.
Here he met with another outlaw named Idzumo Takeru
who he knew had done much harm in the land. He again
resorted to stratagem, and feigned friendship with the rebel
under an assumed name. Having done this he made a sword
of wood and jammed it tightly in the sheath of his own steel
sword. This he purposely buckled to his side and wore on
every occasion when he expected to meet the third robber

He now invited Takeru to the bank of the River Hinokawa,


Japanese Fairy Book.

A Dagger flashed before his Eyes.

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 231

and persuaded him to try a swim with him in the cool refreshing
waters of the river.

As it was a hot summer's day, the rebel was nothing
loth to take a plunge in the river. While his enemy was
still swimming down the stream the Prince turned back
and landed with all possible haste. Unperceived, he managed
to change swords, putting his wooden one in place of the keen
steel sword of Takeru.

Knowing nothing of this, the brigand came up to the bank
shortly. As soon as he had landed and donned his clothes, the
Prince came forward and asked him to cross swords with him
to prove his skill, saying :

" Let us two prove which is the better swordsman of
the two ! "

The robber agreed with delight, feeling certain of victory,
for he was famous as a fencer in his province and he did not
know who his adversary was. He seized quickly what he
thought was his sword and stood on guard to defend himself.
Alas ! for the rebel, the sword was the wooden one of the
young Prince, and in vain Takeru tried to unsheathe it it was
jammed fast, not all his exerted strength could move it.
Even if his efforts had been successful the sword would have
been of no use to him for it was of wood. Yamato Take saw
that his enemy was in his power, and swinging high the sword
he had taken from Takeru he brought it down with great might
and dexterity and cut off the robber's head.

In this way, sometimes by using his wisdom and sometimes
by using his bodily strength, and at other times by resorting to
craftiness, which was as much esteemed in those days as it

232 Japanese Fairy Book.

is despised in these, he prevailed against all the King's foes
one by one, and brought peace and rest to the land and the

When he returned to the capital the King praised him for
his brave deeds, and held a feast in the Palace in honour of
his safe coming home and presented him with many rare gifts.
From this time forth the King loved him more than ever and
would not let Yamato Take go from his side, for he said that
his son was now as precious to him as one of his arms.

But the Prince was not allowed to live an idle life long.
When he was about thirty years old, news was brought that
the Ainu race, the aborigines of the islands of Japan, who had
been conquered and pushed northwards by the Japanese, had
rebelled in the Eastern provinces, and leaving the vicinity which
had been allotted to them were causing great trouble in the
land. The King decided that it was necessary to send an army
to do battle with them and bring them to reason. But who
was to lead the men ?

Prince Yamato Take at once offered to go and bring the
newly-arisen rebels into subjection. Now as the King loved
the Prince dearly, and could not bear to have him go out of his
sight even for the length of one day, he was of course very
loth to send him on his dangerous expedition. But in the
whole army there was no warrior so strong or so brave as the
Prince his son, so that His Majesty, unable to do otherwise,
reluctantly complied with Yamato's wish.

When the time came for the Prince to start, the King gave
him a spear called the Eight-Arms-Length-Spear of the Holly
Tree (the handle was probably made from the wood of the holly

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 233

tree), and ordered him to set out to subjugate the Eastern
Barbarians as the Ainu were then called.

The Eight-Arms-Length-Spear of the Holly Tree of those
old days, was prized by warriors just as much as the Standard
or Banner is valued by a regiment in these modern days,
when given by the King to his soldiers on the occasion of setting
out for war.

The Prince respectfully and with great reverence received
the King's spear, and leaving the capital, marched with his
army to the East. On his way he visited first of all the temples
of Ise for worship, and his aunt the Princess of Yamato and
High Priestess came out to greet him. She it was who had
given him her robe which had proved such a boon to him before
in helping him to overcome and slay the brigands of the West.

He told her all that had happened to him, and of the great
part her keepsake had played in the success of his previous
undertaking, and thanked her very heartily. When she heard
that he was starting out once again to do battle with his father's
enemies, she went into the temple, and reappeared bearing a
sword and a beautiful bag which she had made herself, and
which was full of flints, which in those times people used
instead of matches for making fire. These she presented to
him as a parting gift.

The sword was the sword of Murakumo, one of the three
sacred treasures which comprise the insignia of the Imperial
House of Japan. No more auspicious talisman of luck and
success could she have given her nephew, and she bade him use
it in the hour of his greatest need.

Yamato Take now bade farewell to his aunt, and once more

234 Japanese Fairy Book.

placing himself at the head of his men he marched to the
farthest East through the province of Chvari, and then he
reached the province of Suruga. Here the governor welcomed
the Prince right heartily, and entertained him royally with
many feasts. When these were over, the governor told his
guest that his country was famous for its fine deer, and
proposed a deer hunt for the Prince's amusement. The Prince
was utterly deceived by the cordiality of his host, which was all'
feigned, and gladly consented to join in the hunt.

The governor then led the Prince to a wild and extensive
plain where the grass grew high and in great abundance.
Quite ignorant that the governor had laid a trap for him with
the desire to compass his death, the Prince began to ride hard
and hunt down the deer, when all of a sudden to his amaze-
ment he saw flames and smoke bursting out from the bush in
front of him. Realising his danger he tried to retreat, but no
sooner did he turn his horse in the opposite direction than he
saw that even there the prairie was on fire. At the same
time the grass on his left and right burst into flames, and
these began to spread swiftly towards him on all sides. He
looked round for a chance of escape. There was none. He
was surrounded by fire.

11 This deer hunt was then only a cunning trick of the
enemy ! " said the Prince, looking round on the flames and the
smoke that crackled and rolled in towards him on every side.
"What a fool I was to be lured into this trap ,like a wild
beast ! " and he ground his teeth with rage as he thought of
the governor's smiling treachery.

Dangerous as was his situation now, the Prince was not in

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 235

the least confounded. In his dire extremity he remembered
the gitts his aunt had given him when they parted, and it
seemed to him as if she must, with prophetic foresight, have
divined this hour of need. He coolly opened the flint-bag that
his aunt had given him and set fire to the grass near him.
Then drawing the sword of Murakumo from its sheath he set
to work to cut down the grass on either side of him with all
speed. He determined to die, if that were necessary, fighting for
his life and not standing still waiting for death to come to him.

Strange to say the wind began to change and to blow from the
opposite direction, and the fiercest portion of the burning bush
which had hitherto threatened to come upon him was now
blown right away from him, and the Prince, without even
a scratch on his body or a single hair burned, lived to tell the
tale of his wonderful escape, while the wind rising to a gale
overtook the governor, and he was burned to death in the flames
he had set alight to kill Yamato Take.

Now the Prince ascribed his escape entirely to the virtue of
the sword of Murakumo, and to the protection of Amaterasu,
the Sun Goddess of Ise, who controls the wind and all the
elements and ensures the safety of all who pray to her in the
hour of danger. Lifting the precious sword he raised it above
his head many times in token of his great respect, and as he did
this he re-named it Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or the Grass-Cleaving
Sword, and the place where he set fire to the grass round him
and escaped from death in the burning prairie, he called Yaidzu.
To this day there is a spot along the great Tokaido railway
named Yaidzu, which is said to be the very place where this
thrilling event took place.

236 Japanese Fairy Book.

Thus did the brave Prince Yamato Take escape out of the
snare laid for him by his enemy. He was full of resource
and courage, and finally outwitted and subdued all his foes.
Leaving Yaidzu he marched eastward, and came to the shore at
Idzu from whence he wished to cross to Kadzusa.

In these dangers and adventures he had been followed
by his faithful loving wife the Princess Ototachibana. For
his sake she counted the weariness of the long journeys and
the dangers of war as nothing, and her love for her warrior
husband was so great that she felt well repaid for all her
wanderings if she could but hand him his sword when he sallied
forth to battle, or minister to his wants when he returned weary
to the camp.

But the heart of the Prince was full of war and conquest
and he cared little for the faithful Ototachibana. From long
exposure in travelling, and from care and grief at her lord's
coldness to her, her beauty had faded, and her ivory skin
was burnt brown by the sun, and the Prince told her one
day that her place was in the Palace behind the screens
at home and not with him upon the warpath. But in spite
of rebuffs and indifference on her husband's part, Ototachibana
could not find it in her heart to leave him. But perhaps
it would have been better for her if she had done so, for on the
way to Idzu, when they came to Owari, her heart was well
nigh broken.

Here dwelt in a Palace shaded by pine-trees and approached
by imposing gates, the Princess Miyadzu, beautiful as the
cherry blossom in the blushing dawn of a spring morning.

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