Yei Theodora Ozaki.

The Japanese fairy book online

. (page 14 of 17)
Online LibraryYei Theodora OzakiThe Japanese fairy book → online text (page 14 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Her garments were dainty and bright, and her skin was white

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 237

as snow, for she had never known what it was to be weary
along the path of duty or to walk in the heat of a summer's
sun. And the Prince was ashamed of his sunburnt wife in her
travel-stained garments, and bade her remain behind while he
went to visit the Princess Miyadzu. Day after day he spent
hours in the gardens and the Palace of his new friend, thinking
only of his pleasure, and caring little for his poor wife who
remained behind to weep in the tent at the misery which had
come into her life. Yet she was so faithful a wife, and her
character so patient, that she never allowed a reproach to
escape her lips, or a frown to mar the sweet sadness of her face,
and she was ever ready with a smile to welcome her husband
back or usher him forth wherever he went.

At last the day came when the Prince Yamato Take must
depart for Idzu and cross over the sea to Kadzusa, and he bade
his wife follow in his retinue as an attendant while he went to
take a ceremonious farewell of the Princess Miyadzu. She
came out to greet him dressed in gorgeous robes, and she
seemed more beautiful than ever, and when Yamato Take saw
her he forgot his wife, his duty, and everything except the joy of
the idle present, and swore that he would return to Owari and
marry her when the war was over. And as he looked up when
he had said these words he met the large almond eyes oi
Ototachibana fixed full upon him in unspeakable sadness and
wonder, and he knew that he had done wrong, but he hardened
his heart and rode on, caring little for the pain he had caused

When they reached the seashore at Idzu his men sought
for boats in which to cross the straits to Kadzusa, but it was

238 Japanese Fairy Book.

difficult to find boats enough to allow all the soldiers to embark.
Then the Prince stood on the beach, and in the pride of his
strength he scoffed and said :

" This is not the sea ! This is only a brook ! Why do
you men want so many boats? I could jump this if I

When at last they had all embarked and were fairly on their
way across the straits, the sky suddenly clouded and a great storm
arose. The waves rose mountains high, the wind howled, the
lightning flashed and the thunder rolled, and the boat which
held Ototachibanaand the Prince and his men was tossed from
crest to crest of the rolling waves, till it seemed that every
moment must be their last and that they must all be swallowed
up in the angry sea. For Rin Jin, the Dragon King of the Sea,
had heard Yamato Take jeer, and had raised this terrible storm
in anger, to show the scoffing Prince how awful the sea could
be though it did but look like a brook.

The terrified crew lowered the sails and looked after the
rudder, and worked for their dear lives' sake, but all in vain
the storm only seemed to increase in violence, and all gave
themselves up for lost. Then the faithful Ototachibana rose,
.and forgetting all the grief that her husband had caused her,
forgetting even that he had wearied of her, in the one great
desire of her love to save him, she determined to sacrifice her
life to rescue him from death if it were possible.

While the waves dashed over the ship and the wind whirled
iround them in fury she stood up and said :

" Surely all this has come because the Prince has
angered Rin Jin, the God of the Sea, by his jesting. If so,

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 239

I, Ototachibana, will appease the wrath of the Sea God
who desires nothing less than my husband's life ! '

Then addressing the sea she said :

" I will take the place of His Augustness, Yamato Take.
I will now cast myself into your outraged depths, giving my
life for his. Therefore hear me and bring him safely to the
shore of Kadzusa."

With these words she leaped quickly into the boisterous
sea, and the waves soon whirled her away and she was lost to
sight. Strange to say, the storm ceased at once, and the sea
became as calm and smooth as the matting on which the
astonished onlookers were sitting. The gods of the sea were
now appeased, and the weather cleared and the sun shone as
on a summer's day.

Yamato Take soon reached the opposite shore and landed
safely, even as his wife Ototachibana had prayed. His prowess
in war was marvellous, and he succeeded after some time in
conquering the Eastern Barbarians, the Ainu.

He ascribed his safe landing wholly to the faithfulness of
his wife, who had so willingly and lovingly sacrificed herself in
the hour of his utmost peril. His heart was softened at the
remembrance of her, and he never allowed her to pass from his
thoughts even for a moment. Too late had he learned to
esteem the goodness of her heart and the greatness of her love
for him.

As he was returning on his homeward way he came to the
high pass of the Usui Toge, and here he stood and gazed at the
wonderful prospect beneath him. The country, from this great
elevation, all lay open to his sight, a vast panorama of mountain

240 Japanese Fairy Book.

and plain and forest, with rivers winding like silver ribbons
through the land ; then far off he saw the distant sea, which
shimmered like a luminous mist in the great distance, where
Ototachibana had given her life for him, and as he turned
towards it he stretched out his arms, and thinking of her love
which he had scorned and his faithlessness to her, his heart
burst out into a sorrowful and bitter cry :

" Azuma, Azuma, Ya ! ' (Oh! my wife, my wife!) And
to this day there is a district in Tokio called Azuma, which
commemorates the words of Prince Yamato Take, and the
place where his faithful wife leapt into the sea to save him is
still pointed out. So, though in life the Princess Ototachi-
bana was unhappy, history keeps her memory green, and
the story of her unselfishness and heroic death will never
pass away.

Yamato Take had now fulfilled all his father's orders, he
had subdued all rebels, and rid the land of all robbers and
enemies to the peace, and his renown was great, for in the
whole land there was no one who could stand up against him,
he was so strong in battle and wise in council.

He was about to return straight for home by the way he
had come, when the thought struck him that he would find
it more interesting to take another route, so he passed through
the province of Owari and came to the province of Omi.

When the Prince reached Omi he found the people in a
state of great excitement and fear. In many houses as he
passed along he saw the signs of mourning and heard loud
lamentations. On inquiring the cause of this he was told that
a terrible monster had appeared in the mountains, who daily

The Story of Prince Yamato Take.


came down from thence and made raids on the villages,
devouring whoever he could seize. Many homes had been

A Monster Serpent appeared.

made desolate and the men were afraid to go out to their daily
work in the fields, or the women to go to the rivers to wash
their rice.

F.B. R

242 Japanese Fairy Book.

When Yamato Take heard this his wrath was kindled, and
he said fiercely :

" From the western end of Kiushiu to the eastern corner
of Yezo I have subdued all the King's enemies there is no one
who dares to break the laws or to rebel against the King. It
is indeed a matter for wonder that here in this place, so near
the capital, a wicked monster has dared to take up its abode
and be the terror of the King's subjects. Not long shall it find
pleasure in devouring innocent folk. I will start out and kill
it at once."

With these words he set out for the Ibuki Mountain, where
the monster was said to live. He climbed up a good distance,
when all of a sudden, at a winding in the path, a monster serpent
appeared before him and stopped the way.

u This must be the monster," said the Prince ; "I do not
need my sword for a serpent. I can kill him with my hands."

He thereupon sprang upon the serpent and tried to strangle
it to death with his bare arms. It was not long before his pro-
digious strength gained the mastery and the serpent lay dead at
his feet. Now a sudden darkness came over the mountain and
rain began to fall, so that for the gloom and the rain the Prince
could hardly see which way to take. In a short time, however,
while he was groping his way down the pass, the weather
cleared, and our brave hero was able to make his way quickly
down the mountain.

When he got back he began to feel ill and to have
burning pains in his feet, so he knew that the serpent had
poisoned him. So great was his suffering that he could hardly,
move, much less walk, so he had himself carried to a place in

The Story of Prince Yamato Take. 243

the mountains famous for its hot mineral springs, which rose
bubbling out of the earth, and almost boiling from the
volcanic fires beneath.

Yamato Take bathed daily in these waters, and gradually
he felt his strength come again, and the pains left him, till at
last one day he found with great joy that he was quite recovered.
He now hastened to the temples of Ise, where you will remem-
ber that he prayed before undertaking this long expedition.
His aunt, priestess of the shrine, who had blessed him on his
setting out, now came to welcome him back. He told her of
the many dangers he had encountered and of how marvellously
his life had been preserved through all and she praised his
courage and his warrior's prowess, and then putting on her
most magnificent robes she returned thanks to their ancestress
the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, to whose protection they both
ascribed the Prince's wonderful preservation.

Here ends the story of Prince Yamato Take of Japan.

F 2




LONG, long ago there lived an old man and an old woman;
they were peasants, and had to work hard to earn their daily
rice. The old man used to go and cut grass for the farmers
around, and while he was gone the old woman, his wife, did the
work of the house and worked in their own little rice field.

One day the old man went to the hills as usual to cut grass
and the old woman took some clothes to the river to wash.

It was nearly summer, and the country was very beautiful
to see in its fresh greenness as the two old people went on
their way to work. The grass on the banks of the river looked
like emerald velvet, and the pussy willows along the edge of
the water were shaking out their soft tassels.

The breezes blew and ruffled the smooth surface of the
water into wavelets, and passing on touched the cheeks of the
old couple who, for some reason they could not explain, felt
very happy that morning.

The old woman at last found a nice spot by the river bank
and put her basket down. Then she set to work to wash the
clothes ; she took them one by one out of the basket and
washed them in the river and rubbed them on the stones. The
water was as clear as crystal, and she could see the tiny fish
swimming to and fro, and the pebbles at the bottom.

Momotaro, or the Story of the Son of a Peach. 245

As she was busy washing her clothes a great peach came
bumping down the stream. The old woman looked up from

She set to Work to Wash the Clothes.

her work and saw this large peach. She was sixty years ot age,
yet in all her life she had never seen such a big peach as this.

" How delicious that peach must be ! " she said to herself.
" I must certainly get it and take it home to my old man."

She stretched out her arm to try and get it, but it was
quite out of her reach. She looked about for a stick, but there

246 Japanese Fairy Book.

was not one to be seen, and if she went to look for one she
would lose the peach.

Stopping a moment to think what she would do, she
remembered an old charm-verse. Now she began to clap her
hands to keep time to the rolling of the peach down stream,
and while she clapped she sang this song :

" Distant water is bitter,
The near water is sweet ;
Pass by the distant water
And come into the sweet."

Strange to say, as soon as she began to repeat this little
song the peach began to come nearer and nearer the bank
where the old woman was standing, till at last it stopped just
in front of her so that she was able to take it up in her hands.
The old woman was delighted. She could not go on with her
work, so happy and excited was she, so she put all the clothes
back in her bamboo basket, and with the basket on her back
and the peach in her hand she hurried homewards.

It seemed a very long time to her to wait till her husband
returned. The old man at last came back as the sun was
setting, with a big bundle of grass on his back so big that he
was almost hidden and she could hardly see him. He seemed
very tired and used the scythe for a walking stick, leaning on it
as he walked along.

As soon as the old woman saw him she called out :

" O JiiSan! (old man) I have been waiting for you to come
home for such a long time to-day ! '

" What is the matter ? Why are you so impatient?" asked
the old man, wondering at her unusual eagerness. " Has
anything happened while I have been away ? "

Momotaro, or the Story of the Son of a Peach. 247

" Oh, no ! " answered the old woman, " nothing has
happened, only I have found a nice present for you ! "

The Peach split in Two of itself.

" That is good," said the old man. He then washed his
feet in a basin of water and stepped up to the verandah.

The old woman now ran into the little room and brought

248 Japanese Fairy Book.

out from the cupboard the big peach. It felt even heavier
than before. She held it up to him, saying:

" Just look at this ! Did you ever see such a large peach
in all your life ? '

When the old man looked at the peach he was greatly
astonished and said :

" This is indeed the largest peach I have ever seen !
Wherever did you buy it ? '

" I did not buy it," answered the old woman. " I found it
in the river where I was washing." And she told him the whole

" I am very glad that you have found it. Let us eat it
now, for I am hungry," said the O Jii San.

He brought out the kitchen knife, and, placing the peach
on a board, was about to cut it when, wonderful to tell, the
peach split in two of itself and a clear voice said :

" Waitabit, old man!" and out stepped a beautiful little child.

The old man and his wife were both so astonished at what
they saw that they fell to the ground. The child spoke
again :

" Don't be afraid. I am no demon or fairy. I will tell
you the truth. Heaven has had compassion on you. Every
day and every night you have lamented that you had no child.
Your cry has been heard and I am sent to be the son of your
old age ! "

On hearing this the old man and his wife were very happy.
They had cried night and day for sorrow at having no child to
help them in their lonely old age, and now that their prayer
was answered they were so lost with joy that they did not

Momotaro, or the Story of the Son of a Peach. 249

know where to put their hands or their feet. First the old
man took the child up in his arms, and then the old woman
did the same ; and they named him Momotaro, or Son of a
Peach, because he had come out of a peach.

The years passed quickly by and the child grew to be fifteen
years of age. He was taller and far stronger than any other
boys of his own age, he had a handsome face and a heart full
of courage, and he was very wise for his years. The old
couple's pleasure was very great when they looked at him, for
he was just what they thought a hero ought to be like.

One day Momotaro came to his foster-father and said
solemnly :

"Father, by a strange chance we have become father and
son. Your goodness to me has been higher than the mountain
grasses which it was your daily work to cut, and deeper than
the river where my mother washes the clothes. I do not know
how to thank you enough."

" Why," answered the old man, " it is a matter of course
that a father should bring up his son. When you are older it
will be your turn to take care of us, so after all there will be
no profit or loss between us all will be equal. Indeed, I am
rather surprised that you should thank me in this way! " and
the old man looked bothered.

" I hope you will be patient with me," said Momotaro ;
" but before I begin to pay back your goodness to me I have a
request to make which I hope you will grant me above
everything else."

"I will let you do whatever you wish, for you are quite
different to all other boys ! '

250 Japanese Fairy Book.


" Then let me go away at once !

" What do you say ? Do you \vish to leave your old father
and mother and go away from your old home ? "

" I will surely come back again, if you let me go now ! "

" Where are you going ? '

" You must think it strange that I want to go away," said
Momotaro, " because I have not yet told you my reason. Far
away from here to the north-east of Japan there is an island in
the sea. This island is the stronghold of a band of devils. I
have often heard how they invade this land, kill and rob the
people, and carry off all they can find. They are not only very
wicked but they are disloyal to our Emperor and disobey his
laws. They are also cannibals, for they kill and eat some of
the poor people who are so unfortunate as to fall into their
hands. These devils are very hateful beings. I must go and
conquer them and bring back all the plunder of which they
have robbed this land. It is for this reason that I want to go
away for a short time ! "

The old man was much surprised at hearing all this from a
mere boy of fifteen. He thought it best to let the boy go. He
was strong and fearless, and besides all this, the old man knew
he was no common child, for he had been sent to them as a
gift from Heaven, and he felt quite sure that the devils would
be powerless to harm him.

" All you say is very interesting, Momotaro," said the old
man. " I will not hinder you in your determination. You
may go if you wish. Go to the island as soon as ever you like
and destroy the demons and bring peace to the land."

" Thank you, for all your kindness," said Momotaro, who

Momotaro, or the Story of the Son of a Peach. 251

began to get ready to go that very day. He was full of
courage and did not know what fear was.

The old man and woman at once set to work to pound rice
in the kitchen mortar to make cakes for Momotaro to take with
him on his journey.

At last the cakes were made and Momotaro ready to start
on his long journey.

Parting is always sad. So it was now. The eyes of the
two old people were filled with tears and their voices trembled
as they said :

" Go with all care and speed. We expect you back
victorious ! '

Momotaro was very sorry to leave his old parents, (though
he knew he was coming back as soon as he could) for he thought
of how lonely they would be while he was away. But he said
" Good-bye ! " quite bravely.

" I am going now. Take good care of yourselves while I
am away. Good-bye ! " And he stepped quickly out of the
house. In silence the eyes of Momotaro and his parents met
in farewell.

Momotaro now hurried on his way till it was midday. He
began to feel hungry, so he opened his bag and took out one
of the rice-cakes and sat down under a tree by the side of the
road to eat it. While he was thus having his lunch a dog
almost as large as a colt came running out from the high
grass. He made straight for Momotaro, and showing his
teeth, said in a fierce way:

" You are a rude man to pass my field without asking
permission first. If you leave me all the cakes you have

252 Japanese Fairy Book.

in your bag you may go ; otherwise I will bite you till I kill
you ! "

Momotaro only laughed scornfully :

" What is that you are saying ? Do you know who I am ?
I am Momotaro, and I am on my way to subdue the devils in
their island stronghold in the north-east of Japan. If you try
to stop me on my way there I will cut you in two from the
head downwards ! '

The dog's manner at once changed. His tail dropped
between his legs, and coming near he bowed so low that his
forehead touched the ground.

11 What do I hear ? The name of Momotaro ? Are you
indeed Momotaro ? I have often heard of your great strength.
Not knowing who you were I have behaved in a very stupid
way. Will you please pardon my rudeness ? Are you indeed
on your way to invade the Island of Devils ? If you will take
such a rude fellow with you as one of your followers, I shall be
very grateful to you."

11 I think I can take you with me if you wish to go," said

"Thank you!" said the dog. " By the way, I am very
very hungry. Will you give me one of the cakes you are
carrying ? "

" This is the best kind of cake there is in Japan," said
Momotaro. " I cannot spare you a whole one ; I will give you
half of one."

" Thank you very much," said the dog, taking the piece
thrown to him.

Then Momotaro got up and the dog followed. For a long

*Momotaro, or the Story of the Son of a Peach. 253

time they walked over the hills and through the valleys. As
they were going along an animal came down from a tree a
little ahead of them. The creature soon came up to Momotaro
and said:

"Good morning, Momotaro! You are welcome in this
part of the country. Will you allow me to go with you ? "

The dog answered jealously :

" Momotaro already has a dog to accompany him. Of
what use is a monkey like you in battle ? We are on our way
to fight the devils ! Get away ! "

The dog and the monkey began to quarrel and bite, for
these two animals always hate each other.

" Now, don't quarrel ! " said Momotaro, putting himself
between them. "Wait a moment, dog ! "

" It is not at all dignified for you to have such a creature
as that following you ! " said the dog.

" What do you know about it ? " asked Momotaro ; and
pushing aside the dog, he spoke to the monkey :

" Who are you ? "

" I am a monkey living in these hills," replied the monkey.
" I heard of your expedition to the Island of Devils, and I have
come to go with you. Nothing will please me more than to
follow you ! "

" Do you really wish to go to the Island of Devils and
fight with me ?"

" Yes, sir," replied the monkey.

" I admire your courage," said Momotaro. " Here is a
piece of one of my fine rice-cakes. Come along ! '

So the monkey joined Momotaro. The dog and the

254 Japanese Fairy Book.

monkey did not get on well together. They were always
snapping at each other as they went along, and always
wanting to have a fight. This made Momotaro very cross,
and at last he'sent the dog on ahead with a flag and put the
monkey behind with a sword, and he placed himself between
them with a war-fan, which is made of iron.

By-and-bye they came to a large field. Here a bird flew
down and alighted on the ground just in front of the little
party. It was the most beautiful bird Momotaro had ever seen.
On its body were five different robes of feathers and its head
was covered with a scarlet cap.

The dog at once ran at the bird and tried to seize and kill
it. But the bird struck out its spurs and flew at the dog's
tail, and the fight went hard with both.

Momotaro, as he looked on, could not help admiring the
bird ; it showed so much spirit in the fight. It would certainly
make a good fighter.

Momotaro went up to the two combatants, and holding the
dog back, said to the bird :

"You rascal ! you are hindering my journey. Surrender at
once, and I will take you with me. If you don't I will set this
dog to bite your head off ! "

Then the bird surrendered at once, and begged to be taken
into Momotaro's company.

" I do not know what excuse to offer for quarrelling with
the dog, your servant, but I did not see you. I am a miserable
bird called a pheasant. It is very generous of you to pardon
my rudeness and to take me with you. Please allow me to
follow you behind the dog and the monkey ! "

Momotaro, or the Story of the Son of a Peach. 255

" I congratulate you on surrendering so soon," said
Momotaro, smiling. " Come and join us in our raid on the

" Are you going to take this bird with you also ? " asked
the dog, interrupting.

" Why do you ask such an unnecessary question ? Didn't you
hear what I said ? I take the bird with me because I wish to ! "

" Humph ! " said the dog.

Then Momotaro stood and gave this order :

" Now all of you must listen to me. The first thing
necessary in an army is harmony. It is a wise saying which
says that ' Advantage on earth is better than advantage in
Heaven ! ' Union amongst ourselves is better than any earthly
gain. When we are not at peace amongst ourselves it is no

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17

Online LibraryYei Theodora OzakiThe Japanese fairy book → online text (page 14 of 17)