Japanese Fairy World - Stories from the Wonder-Lore of Japan
by William Elliot Griffis
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


The use of the macron above the letter "O" in names throughout the book is inconsistent. The same name may appear either with or without a macron or the macron may appear above different letters when the same name is printed in different places through the book. This has been left as printed in the original book.

In the plain text version, macrons are indicated by ō in place of the letter "O" with the macron above it. Macrons do not appear above any letter other than "O".

For further transcriber's notes, please see the end of the text.












The thirty-four stories included within this volume do not illustrate the bloody, revengeful or licentious elements, with which Japanese popular, and juvenile literature is saturated. These have been carefully avoided.

It is also rather with a view to the artistic, than to the literary, products of the imagination of Japan, that the selection has been made. From my first acquaintance, twelve years ago, with Japanese youth, I became an eager listener to their folk lore and fireside stories. When later, during a residence of nearly four years among the people, my eyes were opened to behold the wondrous fertility of invention, the wealth of literary, historic and classic allusion, of pun, myth and riddle, of heroic, wonder, and legendary lore in Japanese art, I at once set myself to find the source of the ideas expressed in bronze and porcelain, on lacquered cabinets, fans, and even crape paper napkins and tidies. Sometimes I discovered the originals of the artist's fancy in books, sometimes only in the mouths of the people and professional story-tellers. Some of these stories I first read on the tattooed limbs and bodies of the native foot-runners, others I first saw in flower-tableaux at the street floral shows of Tokio. Within this book the reader will find translations, condensations of whole books, of interminable romances, and a few sketches by the author embodying Japanese ideas, beliefs and superstitions. I have taken no more liberty, I think, with the native originals, than a modern story-teller of Tokio would himself take, were he talking in an American parlor, instead of at his bamboo-curtained stand in Yanagi Cho, (Willow Street,) in the mikado's capital.

Some of the stories have appeared in English before, but most of them are printed for the first time. A few reappear from The Independent and other periodicals.

The illustrations and cover-stamp, though engraved in New York by Mr. Henry W. Troy, were, with one exception, drawn especially for this work, by my artist-friend, Ozawa Nankoku, of Tokio. The picture of Yorimasa, the Archer, was made for me by one of my students in Tokio.

Hoping that these harmless stories that have tickled the imagination of Japanese children during untold generations, may amuse the big and little folks of America, the writer invites his readers, in the language of the native host as he points to the chopsticks and spread table, O agari nasai W.E.G. SCHENECTADY, N.Y., Sept. 28th, 1880.


I. The Meeting of the Star Lovers.

II. The Travels of Two Frogs.

III. The Child of the Thunder.

IV. The Tongue-cut Sparrow.

V. The Fire-fly's Lovers.

VI. The Battle of the Ape and the Crab.

VII. The Wonderful Tea-Kettle.

VIII. Peach-Prince and the Treasure Island.

IX. The Fox and the Badger.

X. The Seven Patrons of Happiness.

XI. Daikoku and the Oni.

XII. Benkei and the Bell.

XIII. Little Silver's Dream of the Shoji.

XIV. The Tengus, or the Elves with Long Noses.

XV. Kintaro, or the Wild Baby.

XVI. Jiraiya, or the Magic Frog.

XVII. How the Jelly-Fish Lost its Shell.

XVIII. Lord Cuttle-Fish Gives a Concert.

XIX. Yorimasa, the Brave Archer.

XX. Watanabe cuts off the Oni's Arm.

XXI. Watanabe Kills the Great Spider.

XXII. Raiko and the Shi Ten Doji.

XXIII. The Sazaye and the Tai.

XXIV. Smells and Jingles.

XXV. The Lake of the Lute and the Matchless Mountain.

The Waterfall of Yoro, or the Fountain of Youth.

XXVI. The Earthquake Fish.

XXVII. The Dream Story of Gojiro.

XXVIII. The Procession of Lord Long-Legs.

XXIX. Kiyohime, or the Power of Love.

XXX. The Fisherman and the Moon-Maiden.

XXXI. The Jewels of the Ebbing and the Flowing Tide.

XXXII. Kai Riu O, or the Dragon King of the World Under the Sea.

XXXIII. The Creation of Heaven and Earth.

XXXIV. How the Sun Goddess was Enticed out of her Cave.


1. Kaname holding down the great Earthquake Fish, Stamp on cover.

2. How the Sun-goddess was enticed out of her Cave, Frontispiece.

3. The Star-lovers Meeting on the Bridge of Birds, Faces page 6.

4. The Egg, Wasp and Mortar attack the Monkey, " " 54.

5. The Oni submitting to Peach Prince " " 70.

6. The Monkeys in Grief, " " 150.

7. Yorimasa and the Night-beast, " " 176.

8. The Fish Stall in Tokio, " " 204.

9. A Jingle for a Sniff, " " 206.

10. The Ascent of the Dragon's Gate, " " 234.

11. The Sorceress Melting the Bell, " " 262.

12. The Dragon King's Gift of the Tide Jewels, " " 288.


One of the greatest days in the calendar of old Japan was the seventh of July; or, as the Japanese people put it, "the seventh day of the seventh month." It was a vermilion day in the almanacs, to which every child looked forward with eyes sparkling, hands clapping, and fingers counting, as each night rolled the time nearer. All manner of fruits and other eatable vegetables were prepared, and cakes baked, in the household. The boys plucked bamboo stalks, and strung on their branches bright-colored ribbons, tinkling bells, and long streamers of paper, on which poetry was written. On this night, mothers hoped for wealth, happiness, good children, and wisdom. The girls made a wish that they might become skilled in needlework. Only one wish a year, however, could be made. So, if any one wanted several things—health, wealth, skill in needlework, wisdom, etc.—they must wait many years before all the favors could be granted. Above all things, rainy weather was not desired. It was a "good sign" when a spider spun his web over a melon, or, if put in a square box he should weave a circular web. Now, the cause of all this preparation was that on the seventh of July the Herd-boy star and the Spinning Maiden star cross the Milky Way to meet each other. These are the stars which we call Capricornus and Alpha Lyra. These stars that shine and glitter so far up in the zenith, are the boy with an ox and the girl with a shuttle, about whom the story runs as follows:

* * * * *

On the banks of the Silver River of Heaven (which we call the Milky Way) there lived a beautiful maiden, who was the daughter of the sun. Her name was Shokujo. She did not care for games or play, like her companions, and, thinking nothing of vain display, wore only the simplest of dress. Yet she was very diligent, and made many garments for others. Indeed, so busy was she that all called her the Weaving or Spinning Princess.

The sun-king noticed the serious disposition and close habits of his daughter, and tried in various ways to get her to be more lively. At last he thought to marry her. As marriages in the star-land are usually planned by the parents, and not by the foolish lover-boys and girls, he arranged the union without consulting his daughter. The young man on whom the sun-king thus bestowed his daughter's hand was Kingin, who kept a herd of cows on the banks of the celestial stream. He had always been a good neighbor, and, living on the same side of the river, the father thought he would get a nice son-in-law, and at the same time improve his daughter's habits and disposition.

No sooner did the maiden become wife than her habits and character utterly changed for the worse, and the father had a very vexatious case of tadashiku suguru ("too much of a good thing") on his hands. The wife became not only very merry and lively, but utterly forsook loom and needle. She gave up her nights and days to play and idleness, and no silly lover could have been more foolish than she.

The sun-king became very much offended at all this, and thinking that the husband was the cause of it, he determined to separate the couple. So he ordered the husband to remove to the other side of the river of stars, and told him that hereafter they should meet only once a year, on the seventh night of the seventh month. To make a bridge over the flood of stars, the sun-king called myriads of magpies, which thereupon flew together, and, making a bridge, supported him on their wings and backs as if it were a roadway of solid land. So, bidding his weeping wife farewell, the lover-husband sorrowfully crossed the River of Heaven. No sooner had he set foot on the opposite side than the magpies flew away, filling all the heavens with their chatter. The weeping wife and lover-husband stood for a long time wistfully gazing at each other from afar. Then they separated, the one to lead his ox, the other to ply her shuttle during the long hours of the day with diligent toil. Thus they filled the hours, and the sun-king again rejoiced in his daughter's industry.

But when night fell, and all the lamps of heaven were lighted, the lovers would come and stand by the banks of the starry river, and gaze longingly at each other, waiting for the seventh night of the seventh month.

At last the time drew near, and only one fear possessed the loving wife. Every time she thought of it her heart played pit-a-pat faster. What if it should rain? For the River of Heaven is always full to the brim, and one extra drop of rain causes a flood which sweeps away even the bird-bridge.

But not a drop fell. The seventh month, seventh night, came, and all the heavens were clear. The magpies flew joyfully in myriads, making one way for the tiny feet of the little lady. Trembling with joy, and with heart fluttering more than the bridge of wings, she crossed the River of Heaven, and was in the arms of her husband. This she did every year. The lover-husband stayed on his side of the river, and the wife came to him on the magpie bridge, save on the sad occasion when it rained. So every year the people hope for clear weather, and the happy festival is celebrated alike by old and young.


Forty miles apart, as the cranes fly, stand the great cities of Ozaka and Kioto. The one is the city of canals and bridges. Its streets are full of bustling trade, and its waterways are ever alive with gondolas, shooting hither and thither like the wooden shuttles in a loom. The other is the sacred city of the Mikado's empire, girdled with green hills and a nine-fold circle of flowers. In its quiet, clean streets, laid out like a chessboard, walk the shaven monks and gowned scholars. And very beautiful is Kioto, with pretty girls, and temple gardens, and castle walls, and towers, and moats in which the white lotus blooms.

* * * * *

Long, long ago, in the good old days before the hairy-faced and pale-cheeked men from over the Sea of Great Peace (Pacific Ocean) came to Japan; before the black coal-smoke and snorting engine scared the white heron from the rice-fields; before black crows and fighting sparrows, which fear not man, perched on telegraph wires, or ever a railway was thought of, there lived two frogs—one in a well in Kioto, the other in a lotus-pond in Ozaka.

Now it is a common proverb in the Land of the Gods (Japan) that "the frog in the well knows not the great ocean," and the Kioto frog had so often heard this scornful sneer from the maids who came to draw out water, with their long bamboo-handled buckets that he resolved to travel abroad and see the world, and especially the tai kai (the great ocean).

"I'll see for myself," said Mr. Frog, as he packed his wallet and wiped his spectacles, "what this great ocean is that they talk about. I'll wager it isn't half as deep or wide as well, where I can see the stars even at daylight."

Now the truth was, a recent earthquake had greatly reduced the depth of the well and the water was getting very shallow. Mr. Frog informed his family of his intentions. Mrs. Frog wept a great deal; but, drying her eyes with her paper handkerchief, she declared she would count the hours on her fingers till he came back, and at every morning and evening meal would set out his table with food on it, just as if he were home. She tied up a little lacquered box full of boiled rice and snails for his journey, wrapped it around with a silk napkin, and, putting his extra clothes in a bundle, swung it on his back. Tying it over his neck, he seized his staff and was ready to go.

"Sayonara" ("Good-bye") cried he, as, with a tear in his eye, he walked away.

"Sayonara. Oshidzukani" ("Good-bye. Walk slowly"), croaked Mrs. Frog and the whole family of young frogs in a chorus.

Two of the froggies were still babies, that is, they were yet polywogs, with a half inch of tail still on them; and, of course, were carried about by being strapped on the back of their older brothers.

Mr. Frog being now on land, out of his well, noticed that the other animals did not leap, but walked on their legs. And, not wishing to be eccentric, he likewise began briskly walking upright on his hind legs or waddling on all fours.

Now it happened that about the same time the Ozaka father frog had become restless and dissatisfied with life on the edges of his lotus-ditch. He had made up his mind to "cast the lion's cub into the valley."

"Why! that is tall talk for a frog, I must say," exclaims the reader. "What did he mean?"

I must tell you that the Ozaka frog was a philosopher. Right at the edge of his lotus-pond was a monastery, full of Buddhist monks, who every day studied their sacred rolls and droned over the books of Confucius, to learn them by heart. Our frog had heard them so often that he could (in frog language, of course) repeat many of their wise sentences and intone responses to their evening prayers put up by the great idol Amida. Indeed, our frog had so often listened to their debates on texts from the classics that he had himself become a sage and a philosopher. Yet, as the proverb says, "the sage is not happy."

Why not? In spite of a soft mud-bank, plenty of green scum, stagnant water, and shady lotus leaves, a fat wife and a numerous family; in short, everything to make a frog happy, his forehead, or rather gullet, was wrinkled with care from long pondering of knotty problems, such as the following:

The monks often come down to the edge of the pond to look at the pink and white lotus. One summer day, as a little frog, hardly out of his tadpole state, with a small fragment of tail still left, sat basking on a huge round leaf, one monk said to the other:

"Of what does that remind you?"

"The babies of frogs will become but frogs," said one shaven pate, laughing.

"What think you?"

"The white lotus flower springs out of the black mud," said the other, solemnly, as both walked away.

The old frog, sitting near by, overheard them and began to philosophize: "Humph! The babies of frogs will become but frogs, hey? If mud becomes lotus, why shouldn't a frog become a man? Why not? If my pet son should travel abroad and see the world—go to Kioto, for instance—why shouldn't he be as wise as those shining-headed men, I wonder? I shall try it, anyhow. I'll send my son on a journey to Kioto. I'll 'cast the lion's cub into the valley' (send the pet son abroad in the world, to see and study) at once. I'll deny myself for the sake of my offspring."

Flump! splash! sounded the water, as a pair of webby feet disappeared. The "lion's cub" was soon ready, after much paternal advice, and much counsel to beware of being gobbled up by long-legged storks, and trod on by impolite men, and struck at by bad boys. "Kio ni no inaka" ("Even in the capital there are boors") said Father Frog.

Now it so happened that the old frog from Kioto and the "lion's cub" from Ozaka started each from his home at the same time. Nothing of importance occurred to either of them until, as luck would have it, they met on a hill near Hashimoto, which is half way between the two cities. Both were footsore, and websore, and very tired, especially about the hips, on account of the unfroglike manner of walking, instead of hopping, as they had been used to.

"Ohio gozarimasu" ("Good-morning") said the "lion's cub" to the old frog, as he fell on all fours and bowed his head to the ground three times, squinting up over his left eye, to see if the other frog was paying equal deference in return.

"He, konnichi wa" ("Yes, good-day") replied the Kioto frog.

"O tenki" ("It is rather fine weather to-day") said the "cub."

"He, yoi tenki gozence" ("Yes, it is very fine") replied the old fellow.

"I am Gamataro, from Ozaka, the oldest son of Hiki Dono, Sensui no Kami" (Lord Bullfrog, Prince of the Lotus-Ditch).

"Your Lordship must be weary with your journey. I am Kayeru San of Idomidzu (Sir Frog of the Well) in Kioto. I started out to see the 'great ocean' from Ozaka; but, I declare, my hips are so dreadfully tired that I believe that I'll give up my plan and content myself with a look from this hill."

The truth must be owned that the old frog was not only on his hind legs, but also on his last legs, when he stood up to look at Ozaka; while the "cub" was tired enough to believe anything. The old fellow, wiping his face, spoke up:

"Suppose we save ourselves the trouble of the journey. This hill is half way between the two cities, and while I see Ozaka and the sea you can get a good look of the Kio" (Capital, or Kioto).

"Happy thought!" said the Ozaka frog.

Then both reared themselves upon their hind-legs, and stretching upon their toes, body to body, and neck to neck, propped each other up, rolled their goggles and looked steadily, as they supposed, on the places which they each wished to see. Now everyone knows that a frog has eyes mounted in that part of his head which is FRONT WHEN HE IS DOWN AND BACK WHEN HE STANDS UP. They are set like a compass on gimbals.

Long and steadily they gazed, until, at last, their toes being tired, they fell down on all fours.

"I declare!" said the old yaze (daddy) "Ozaka looks just like Kioto; and as for 'the great ocean' those stupid maids talked about, I don't see any at all, unless they mean that strip of river that looks for all the world like the Yodo. I don't believe there is any 'great ocean'!"

"As for my part," said the 'cub', "I am satisfied that it's all folly to go further; for Kioto is as like Ozaka as one grain of rice is like another." Then he said to himself: "Old Totsu San (my father) is a fool, with all his philosophy."

Thereupon both congratulated themselves upon the happy labor-saving expedient by which they had spared themselves a long journey, much leg-weariness, and some danger. They departed, after exchanging many compliments; and, dropping again into a frog's hop, they leaped back in half the time—the one to his well and the other to his pond. There each told the story of both cities looking exactly alike; thus demonstrating the folly of those foolish folks called men. As for the old gentleman in the lotus-pond, he was so glad to get the "cub" back again that he never again tried to reason out the problems of philosophy. And to this day the frog in the well knows not and believes not in the "great ocean." Still do the babies of frogs become but frogs. Still is it vain to teach the reptiles philosophy; for all such labor is "like pouring water in a frog's face." Still out of the black mud springs the glorious white lotus in celestial purity, unfolding its stainless petals to the smiling heavens, the emblem of life and resurrection.


In among the hills of Echizen, within sight of the snowy mountain called Hakuzan, lived a farmer named Bimbo. He was very poor, but frugal and industrious. He was very fond of children though he had none himself. He longed to adopt a son to bear his name, and often talked the matter over with his old dame. But being so dreadfully poor both thought it best not to adopt, until they had bettered their condition and increased the area of their land. For all the property Bimbo owned was the earth in a little gully, which he himself was reclaiming. A tiny rivulet, flowing from a spring in the crevice of the rocks above, after trickling over the boulders, rolled down the gully to join a brook in the larger valley below. Bimbo had with great labor, after many years, made dams or terraces of stone, inside which he had thrown soil, partly got from the mountain sides, but mainly carried in baskets on the backs of himself and his wife, from the valley below. By such weary toil, continued year in and year out, small beds of soil were formed, in which rice could be planted and grown. The little rivulet supplied the needful water; for rice, the daily food of laborer and farmer, must be planted and cultivated in soft mud under water. So the little rivulet, which once leaped over the rock and cut its way singing to the valley, now spread itself quietly over each terrace, making more than a dozen descents before it reached the fields below.

Yet after all his toil for a score of years, working every day from the first croak of the raven, until the stars came out, Bimbo and his wife owned only three tan (3/4 acre) of terrace land. Sometimes a summer would pass, and little or no rain fall. Then the rivulet dried up and crops failed. It seemed all in vain that their backs were bent and their foreheads seamed and wrinkled with care. Many a time did Bimbo have hard work of it even to pay his taxes, which sometimes amounted to half his crop. Many a time did he shake his head, muttering the discouraged farmer's proverb "A new field gives a scant crop," the words of which mean also, "Human life is but fifty years."

One summer day after a long drought, when the young rice sprouts, just transplanted were turning yellow at the tips, the clouds began to gather and roll, and soon a smart shower fell, the lightning glittered, and the hills echoed with claps of thunder. But Bimbo, hoe in hand, was so glad to see the rain fall, and the pattering drops felt so cool and refreshing, that he worked on, strengthening the terrace to resist the little flood about to come.

* * * * *

Pretty soon the storm rattled very near him, and he thought he had better seek shelter, lest the thunder should strike and kill him. For Bimbo, like all his neighbors, had often heard stories of Kaijin, the god of the thunder-drums, who lives in the skies and rides on the storm, and sometimes kills people by throwing out of the clouds at them a terrible creature like a cat, with iron-like claws and a hairy body.

Just as Bimbo threw his hoe over his shoulder and started to move, a terrible blinding flash of lightning dazzled his eyes. It was immediately followed by a deafening crash, and the thunder fell just in front of him. He covered his eyes with his hands, but finding himself unhurt, uttered a prayer of thanks to Buddha for safety. Then he uncovered his eyes and looked down at his feet.

There lay a little boy, rosy and warm, and crowing in the most lively manner, and never minding the rain in the least. The farmer's eyes opened very wide, but happy and nearly surprised out of his senses, he picked up the child tenderly in his arms, and took him home to his old wife.

"Here's a gift from Raijin," said Bimbo. "We'll adopt him as our own son and call him Rai-taro," (the first-born darling of the thunder).

So the boy grew up and became a very dutiful and loving child. He was as kind and obedient to his foster-parents as though he had been born in their house. He never liked to play with other children, but kept all day in the fields with his father, sporting with the rivulet and looking at the clouds and sky. Even when the strolling players of the Dai Kagura (the comedy which makes the gods laugh) and the "Lion of Corea" came into the village, and every boy and girl and nurse and woman was sure to be out in great glee, the child of the thunder stayed up in the field, or climbed on the high rocks to watch the sailing of the birds and the flowing of the water and the river far away.

Great prosperity seemed to come to the farmer, and he laid it all to the sweet child that fell to him from the clouds. It was very curious that rain often fell on Bimbo's field when none fell elsewhere; so that Bimbo grew rich and changed his name to Kanemochi. He believed that the boy Raitaro beckoned to the clouds, and they shed their rain for him.

A good many summers passed by, and Raitaro had grown to be a tall and handsome lad, almost a man and eighteen years old. On his birthday the old farmer and the good wife made a little feast for their foster-child. They ate and drank and talked of the thunder-storm, out of which Raitaro was born.

Finally the young man said solemnly:

"My dear parents, I thank you very much for your kindness to me, but I must now say farewell. I hope you will always be happy."

Then, in a moment, all trace of a human form disappeared, and floating in the air, they saw a tiny white dragon, which hovered for a moment above them, and then flew away. The old couple went out of doors to watch it, when it grew bigger and bigger, taking its course to the hills above, where the piled-up white clouds, which form on a summer's afternoon, seemed built up like towers and castles of silver. Towards one of these the dragon moved, until, as they watched his form, now grown to a mighty size, it disappeared from view.

After this Kanemochi and his wife, who were now old and white-headed, ceased from their toil and lived in comfort all their days. When they died and their bodies were reduced to a heap of white cinders in the stone furnace of the village cremation-house, their ashes were mixed, and being put into one urn, were laid away in the cemetery of the temple yard. Their tomb was carved in the form of a white dragon, which to this day, in spite of mosses and lichens, may still be seen among the ancient monuments of the little hamlet.


There was once an old man who had a wife with a very bad temper. She had never borne him any children, and would not take the trouble to adopt a son. So for a little pet he kept a tiny sparrow, and fed it with great care. The old dame not satisfied with scolding her husband hated the sparrow.

Now the old woman's temper was especially bad on wash days, when her old back and knees were well strained over the low tub, which rested on the ground.

It happened once that she had made some starch, and set it in a red wooden bowl to cool. While her back was turned, the sparrow hopped down on the edge of the bowl, and pecked at some of the starch. In a rage the old hag seized a pair of scissors and cut the sparrow's tongue out. Flinging the bird in the air she cried out, "Now be off." So the poor sparrow, all bleeding, flew away.

When the old man came back and found his pet gone, he made a great ado. He asked his wife, and she told him what she had done and why. The sorrowful old man grieved sorely for his pet, and after looking in every place and calling it by name, gave it up as lost.

Long after this, old man while wandering on the mountains met his old friend the sparrow. They both cried "Ohio!" (good morning,) to each other, and bowing low offered many mutual congratulations and inquiries as to health, etc. Then the sparrow begged the old man to visit his humble abode, promising to introduce his wife and two daughters.

The old man went in and found a nice little house with a bamboo garden, tiny waterfall, stepping stone and everything complete. Then Mrs. Sparrow brought in slices of sugar-jelly, rock-candy, sweet potato custard, and a bowl of hot starch sprinkled with sugar, and a pair of chopsticks on a tray. Miss Suzumi, the elder daughter brought the tea caddy and tea-pot, and in a snap of the fingers had a good cup of tea ready, which she offered on a tray, kneeling.

"Please take up and help yourself. The refreshments are very poor, but I hope you will excuse our plainness," said Mother Sparrow. The delighted old man, wondering in himself at such a polite family of sparrows, ate heartily, and drank several cups of tea. Finally, on being pressed he remained all night.

For several days the old man enjoyed himself at the sparrow's home. He looked at the landscapes and the moonlight, feasted to his heart's content, and played go (the game of 360 checkers) with Ko-suzumi the little daughter. In the evening Mrs. Sparrow would bring out the refreshments and the wine, and seat the old man on a silken cushion, while she played the guitar. Mr. Sparrow and his two daughters danced, sung and made merry. The delighted old man leaning on the velvet arm-rest forgot his cares, his old limbs and his wife's tongue, and felt like a youth again.

On the fifth day the old man said he must go home. Then the sparrow brought out two baskets made of plaited rattan, such as are used in traveling and carried on men's shoulders. Placing them before their guest, the sparrow said, "Please accept a parting gift."

Now one basket was very heavy, and the other very light. The old man, not being greedy, said he would take the lighter one. So with many thanks and bows and good-byes, he set off homewards.

He reached his hut safely, but instead of a kind welcome the old hag began to scold him for being away so long. He begged her to be quiet, and telling of his visit to the sparrows, opened the basket, while the scowling old woman held her tongue, out of sheer curiosity.

Oh, what a splendid sight! There were gold and silver coin, and gems, and coral, and crystal, and amber, and the never-failing bag of money, and the invisible coat and hat, and rolls of books, and all manner of precious things.

At the sight of so much wealth, the old hag's scowl changed to a smile of greedy joy. "I'll go right off and get a present from the sparrows," said she.

So binding on her straw sandals, and tucking up her skirts, and adjusting her girdle, tying the bow in front, she seized her staff and set off on the road. Arriving at the sparrow's house she began to flatter Mr. Sparrow by soft speeches. Of course the polite sparrow invited her into his house, but nothing but a cup of tea was offered her, and wife and daughters kept away. Seeing she was not going to get any good-bye gift, the brazen hussy asked for one. The sparrow then brought out and set before her two baskets, one heavy and the other light. Taking the heavier one without so much as saying "thank you," she carried it back with her. Then she opened it, expecting all kinds of riches.

She took off the lid, when a horrible cuttle-fish rushed at her, and a horned oni snapped his tusks at her, a skeleton poked his bony fingers in her face, and finally a long, hairy serpent, with a big head and lolling tongue, sprang out and coiled around her, cracking her bones, and squeezing out her breath, till she died.

After the good old man had buried his wife, he adopted a son to comfort his old age, and with his treasures lived at ease all his days.


In Japan the night-flies emit so brilliant a light and are so beautiful that ladies go out in the evenings and catch the insects for amusement, as may be seen represented on Japanese fans. They imprison them in tiny cages made of bamboo threads, and hang them up in their rooms or suspend them from the eaves of their houses. At their picnic parties, the people love to sit on August evenings, fan in hand, looking over the lovely landscape, spangled by ten thousand brilliant spots of golden light. Each flash seems like a tiny blaze of harmless lightning.

One of the species of night-flies, the most beautiful of all, is a source of much amusement to the ladies. Hanging the cage of glittering insects on their verandahs, they sit and watch the crowd of winged visitors attracted by the fire-fly's light. What brings them there, and why the fire-fly's parlor is filled with suitors as a queen's court with courtiers, let this love story tell.

* * * * *

On the southern and sunny side of the castle moats of the Fukui castle, in Echizen, the water had long ago become shallow so that lotus lilies grew luxuriantly. Deep in the heart of one of the great flowers whose petals were as pink as the lining of a sea-shell, lived the King of the Fire-flies, Hi-ō, whose only daughter was the lovely princess Hotaru-hime. While still a child the hime (princess) was carefully kept at home within the pink petals of the lily, never going even to the edges except to see her father fly off on his journey. Dutifully she waited until of age, when the fire glowed in her own body, and shone, beautifully illuminating the lotus, until its light at night was like a lamp within a globe of coral.

Every night her light grew brighter and brighter, until at last it was as mellow as gold. Then her father said:

"My daughter is now of age, she may fly abroad with me sometimes, and when the proper suitor comes she may marry whom she will."

So Hotaru-hime flew forth in and out among the lotus lilies of the moat, then into rich rice fields, and at last far off to the indigo meadows.

Whenever she went a crowd of suitors followed her, for she had the singular power of attracting all the night-flying insects to herself. But she cared for none of their attentions, and though she spoke politely to them all she gave encouragement to none. Yet some of the sheeny-winged gallants called her a coquette.

One night she said to her mother, the queen:

"I have met many admirers, but I don't wish a husband from any of them. Tonight I shall stay at home, and if any of them love me truly they will come and pay me court here. Then I shall lay an impossible duty on them. If they are wise they will not try to perform it; and if they love their lives more than they love me, I do not want any of them. Whoever succeeds may have me for his bride."

"As you will my child," said the queen mother, who arrayed her daughter in her most resplendent robes, and set her on her throne in the heart of the lotus.

Then she gave orders to her body-guard to keep all suitors at a respectful distance lest some stupid gallant, a horn-bug or a cockchafer dazzled by the light should approach too near and hurt the princess or shake her throne.

No sooner had twilight faded away, than forth came the golden beetle, who stood on a stamen and making obeisance, said:—

"I am Lord Green-Gold, I offer my house, my fortune and my love to Princess Hotaru."

"Go and bring me fire and I will be your bride" said Hotaru-hime.

With a bow of the head the beetle opened his wings and departed with a stately whirr.

Next came a shining bug with wings and body as black as lamp-smoke, who solemnly professed his passion.

"Bring me fire and you may have me for your wife."

Off flew the bug with a buzz.

Pretty soon came the scarlet dragon-fly, expecting so to dazzle the princess by his gorgeous colors that she would accept him at once.

"I decline your offer" said the princess, "but if you bring me a flash of fire, I'll become your bride."

Swift was the flight of the dragon-fly on his errand, and in came the Beetle with a tremendous buzz, and ardently plead his suit.

"I'll say 'yes' if you bring me fire" said the glittering princess.

Suitor after suitor appeared to woo the daughter of the King of the Fire-flies until every petal was dotted with them. One after another in a long troop they appeared. Each in his own way, proudly, humbly, boldly, mildly, with flattery, with boasting, even with tears, each proffered his love, told his rank or expatiated on his fortune or vowed his constancy, sang his tune or played his music. To every one of her lovers the princess in modest voice returned the same answer:

"Bring me fire and I'll be your bride."

So without telling his rivals, each one thinking he had the secret alone sped away after fire.

But none ever came back to wed the princess. Alas for the poor suitors! The beetle whizzed off to a house near by through the paper windows of which light glimmered. So full was he of his passion that thinking nothing of wood or iron, he dashed his head against a nail, and fell dead on the ground.

The black bug flew into a room where a poor student was reading. His lamp was only a dish of earthenware full of rape seed oil with a wick made of pith. Knowing nothing of oil the love-lorn bug crawled into the dish to reach the flame and in a few seconds was drowned in the oil.

"Nan jaro?" (What's that?) said a thrifty housewife, sitting with needle in hand, as her lamp flared up for a moment, smoking the chimney, and then cracking it; while picking out the scorched bits she found a roasted dragon-fly, whose scarlet wings were all burned off.

Mad with love the brilliant hawk-moth, afraid of the flame yet determined to win the fire for the princess, hovered round and round the candle flame, coming nearer and nearer each time. "Now or never, the princess or death," he buzzed, as he darted forward to snatch a flash of flame, but singeing his wings, he fell helplessly down, and died in agony.

"What a fool he was, to be sure," said the ugly clothes moth, coming on the spot, "I'll get the fire. I'll crawl up inside the candle." So he climbed up the hollow paper wick, and was nearly to the top, and inside the hollow blue part of the flame, when the man, snuffing the wick, crushed him to death.

Sad indeed was the fate of the lovers of Hi-ō's daughter. Some hovered around the beacons on the headland, some fluttered about the great wax candles which stood eight feet high in their brass sockets in Buddhist temples; some burned their noses at the top of incense sticks, or were nearly choked by the smoke; some danced all night around the lanterns in the shrines; some sought the sepulchral lamps in the graveyard; one visited the cremation furnace; another the kitchen, where a feast was going on; another chased the sparks that flew out of the chimney; but none brought fire to the princess, or won the lover's prize. Many lost their feelers, had their shining bodies scorched or their wings singed, but most of them alas! lay dead, black and cold next morning.

As the priests trimmed the lamps in the shrines, and the servant maids the lanterns, each said alike:

"The Princess Hotaru must have had many lovers last night."

Alas! alas! poor suitors. Some tried to snatch a streak of green fire from the cat's eyes, and were snapped up for their pains. One attempted to get a mouthful of bird's breath, but was swallowed alive. A carrion beetle (the ugly lover) crawled off to the sea shore, and found some fish scales that emitted light. The stag-beetle climbed a mountain, and in a rotten tree stump found some bits of glowing wood like fire, but the distance was so great that long before they reached the castle moat it was daylight, and the fire had gone out; so they threw their fish scales and old wood away.

The next day was one of great mourning and there were so many funerals going on, that Hi-marō the Prince of the Fire-flies on the north side of the castle moat inquired of his servants the cause. Then he learned for the first time of the glittering princess. Upon this the prince who had just succeeded his father upon the throne fell in love with the princess and resolved to marry her. He sent his chamberlain to ask of her father his daughter in marriage according to true etiquette. The father agreed to the prince's proposal, with the condition that the Prince should obey her behest in one thing, which was to come in person bringing her fire.

Then the Prince at the head of his glittering battalions came in person and filled the lotus palace with a flood of golden light. But Hotaru-hime was so beautiful that her charms paled not their fire even in the blaze of the Prince's glory. The visit ended in wooing, and the wooing in wedding. On the night appointed, in a palanquin made of the white lotus-petals, amid the blazing torches of the prince's battalions of warriors, Hotaru-hime was borne to the prince's palace and there, prince and princess were joined in the wedlock.

Many generations have passed since Hi-marō and Hotaru-hime were married, and still it is the whim of all Fire-fly princesses that their base-born lovers must bring fire as their love-offering or lose their prize. Else would the glittering fair ones be wearied unto death by the importunity of their lovers. Great indeed is the loss, for in this quest of fire many thousand insects, attracted by the fire-fly, are burned to death in the vain hope of winning the fire that shall gain the cruel but beautiful one that fascinates them. It is for this cause that each night insects hover around the lamp flame, and every morning a crowd of victims drowned in the oil, or scorched in the flame, must be cleaned from the lamp. This is the reason why young ladies catch and imprison the fire-flies to watch the war of insect-love, in the hope that they may have human lovers who will dare as much, through fire and flood, as they.


In the land where neither the monkeys or the cats have tails, and the persimmons grow to be as large as apples and with seeds bigger than a melon's, there once lived a land crab in the side of a sand hill. One day an ape came along having a persimmon seed, which he offered to swap with the crab for a rice-cake. The crab agreed, and planting the seed in his garden went out every day to watch it grow.

By-and-by the ape came to visit the crab, and seeing the fine tree laden with the yellow-brown fruit, begged a few. The crab, asking pardon of the ape, said he could not climb the tree to offer him any, but agreed to give the ape half, if he would mount the tree and pluck them.

So the monkey ran up the tree, while the crab waited below, expecting to eat the ripe fruit. But the monkey sitting on a limb first filled his pockets full, and then picking off all the best ones, greedily ate the pulp, and threw the skin and stones in the crab's face. Every once in a while, he would pull off a green sour persimmon and hit the crab hard, until his shell was nearly cracked. At last the crab thought he would get the best of the ape. So when his enemy had eaten his fill until he was bulged out, he cried out,

"Now Mister Ape, I dare you to come down head-foremost. You can't do it."

So the ape began to descend, head downward. This was just what the crab wanted, for all the finest persimmons rolled out of his pockets on the ground. The crab quickly gathered them up, and with both arms full ran off to his hole. Then the ape was very angry. He kindled a fire, and blew the smoke down the hole, until the crab was nearly choked. The poor crab to save his life had to crawl out.

Then the monkey beat him soundly, and left him for dead.

The crab had not been long thus, when three travelers, a rice-mortar, an egg, and a wasp found him lying on the ground. They carried him into the house, bound up his wounds and while he lay in bed they planned how they might destroy the ape. They all talked of the matter over their cups of tea, and after the mortar had smoked several pipes of tobacco, a plan was agreed on.

So taking the crab along, stiff and sore as he was, they marched to the monkey's castle. The wasp flew inside, and found that their enemy was away from home. Then all entered and hid themselves. The egg cuddled up under the ashes in the hearth. The wasp flew into the closet. The mortar hid behind the door. They then waited for the ape to come home. The crab sat beside the fire.

Towards evening the monkey arrived, and throwing off his coat (which was just what the wasp wanted) he lighted a sulphur match, and kindling a fire, hung on the kettle for a cup of tea, and pulled out his pipe for a smoke. Just as he sat down by the hearth to salute the crab, the egg burst and the hot yolk flew all over him and in his eye, nearly blinding him. He rushed out to the bath-room to plunge in the tub of cold water, when the wasp flew at him and stung his nose. Slipping down, he fell flat on the floor, when the mortar rolled on him and crushed him to death. Then the whole party congratulated the crab on their victory. Grateful for the friendship thus shown, the whole party, crab, mortar and wasp lived in peace together.

The crab married the daughter of a rich crab that lived over the hill, and a great feast of persimmons was spread before the bride's relatives who came to see the ceremony. By-and-by a little crab was born which became a great pet with the mortar and wasp. With no more apes to plague them, they lived very happily.


A long time ago there was an old priest who lived in the temple of Morinji in the province of Hitachi. He cooked his own rice, boiled his own tea, swept his own floor and lived frugally as an honest priest should do.

One day he was sitting near the square fire-place in the middle of the floor. A rope and chain to hold the pot and kettle hung down from the covered hole in the ceiling which did duty as a chimney. A pair of brass tongs was stuck in the ashes and the fire blazed merrily. At the side of the fire-place, on the floor, was a tray filled with tiny tea-cups, a pewter tea-caddy, a bamboo tea-stirrer, and a little dipper. The priest having finished sweeping the ashes off the edges of the hearth with a little whisk of hawk's feathers, was just about to put on the tea when "suzz," "suzz," sang the tea-kettle spout; and then "pattari"—"pattari" said the lid, as it flapped up and down, and the kettle swung backwards and forwards.

"What does this mean?" said the old bonze. "Naru hodo," said he, with a start as the spout of the kettle turned into a badger's nose with its big whiskers, while from the other side sprouted out a long bushy tail.

"Yohodo medzurashi," shouted the priest dropping the tea-caddy and spilling the green tea all over the matting as four hairy legs appeared under the kettle, and the strange compound, half badger and half kettle, jumped off the fire, and began running around the room. To the priest's horror it leaped on a shelf, puffed out its belly and began to beat a tune with its fore-paws as if it were a drum. The old bonze's pupils, hearing the racket rushed in, and after a lively chase, upsetting piles of books and breaking some of the tea-cups, secured the badger, and squeezed him in a keg used for storing the pickled radishes called daikon, (or Japanese sauer-kraut.) They fastened down the lid with a heavy stone. They were sure that the strong odor of the radishes would kill the beast, for no man could possibly survive such a smell, and it was not likely a badger could.

The next morning the tinker of the village called in and the priest told him about his strange visitor. Wishing to show him the animal, he cautiously lifted the lid of the cask, lest the badger, might after all, be still alive, in spite of the stench of the sour mess, when lo! there was nothing but the old iron tea-kettle. Fearing that the utensil might play the same prank again, the priest was glad to sell it to the tinker who bought the kettle for a few iron cash. He carried it to his junk shop, though he thought it felt unusually heavy.

The tinker went to bed as usual that night with his andon, or paper shaded lamp, just back of his head. About midnight, hearing a strange noise like the flapping up and down of an iron pot-lid, he sat up in bed, rubbed his eyes, and there was the iron pot covered with fur and sprouting out legs. In short, it was turning into a hairy beast. Going over to the recess and taking a fan from the rack, the badger climbed up on the frame of the lamp, and began to dance on its one hind leg, waving the fan with its fore-paw. It played many other tricks, until the man started up, and then the badger turned into a tea-kettle again.

"I declare," said the tinker as he woke up next morning, and talked the matter over with his wife. "I'll just 'raise a mountain'" (earn my fortune) on this kettle. It certainly is a very highly accomplished tea-kettle I'll call it the Bumbuku Chagama (The Tea-Kettle accomplished in literature and military art) and exhibit it to the public.

So the tinker hired a professional show-man for his business agent, and built a little theatre and stage. Then he gave an order to a friend of his, an artist, to paint scenery, with Fuji yama and cranes flying in the air, and a crimson sun shining through the bamboo, and a red moon rising over the waves, and golden clouds and tortoises, and the Sumiyoshi couple, and the grasshopper's picnic, and the Procession of Lord Long-legs, and such like. Then he stretched a tight rope of rice-straw across the stage, and the handbills being stuck up in all the barber shops in town, and wooden tickets branded with "Accomplished and Lucky Tea-Kettle Performance, Admit one,"—the show was opened. The house was full and the people came in parties bringing their tea-pots full of tea and picnic boxes full of rice and eggs, and dumplings, made of millet meal, sugared roast-pea cakes, and other refreshments; because they came to stay all day. Mothers brought their babies with them for the children enjoyed it most of all.

Then the tinker, dressed up in his wide ceremonial clothes, with a big fan in his hand, came out on the platform, made his bow and set the wonderful tea-kettle on the stage. Then at a wave of his fan, the kettle ran around on four legs, half badger and half iron, clanking its lid and wagging its tail. Next it turned into a badger, swelled out its body and beat a tune on it like a drum. It danced a jig on the tight rope, and walked the slack rope, holding a fan, or an umbrella in his paw, stood on his head, and finally at a flourish of his master's fan became a cold and rusty tea-kettle again. The audience were wild with delight, and as the fame of the wonderful tea-kettle spread, many people came from great distances.

Year after year the tinker exhibited the wonder until he grew immensely rich. Then he retired from the show business, and out of gratitude took the old kettle to the temple again and deposited it there as a precious relic. It was then named Bumbuku Dai Mio Jin (The Great Illustrious, Accomplished in Literature and the Military Art).


Very long, long ago, there lived an old man and woman in a village near a mountain, from which flowed a stream of purest water. This old couple loved each other so dearly and lived together so happily, that the neighbors called them oshi-dori fu-fu (a love-bird couple), after the mandarin ducks which always dwell together in pairs, and are so affectionate that they are said to pine and die if one be taken from the other. The old man was a woodcutter, and the old woman kept house, but they were very lonely for they had no child, and often grieved over their hard lot.

One day while the man was out on the mountain cutting brush, his old crone took her shallow tub and clothes down to the brook to wash. She had not yet begun, when she saw a peach floating with its stem and two leaves in the stream. She picked up the fruit and set it aside to take home and share it with her old man. When he returned she set it before him, not dreaming what was in it. He was just about to cut it open, when the peach fell in half, and there lay a little baby boy. The happy old couple rejoiced over him and reared him tenderly. Because he was their first child (taro) and born of a peach (momo) they called him Momotarō or Peach-Darling.

The most wonderful thing in the child, was his great strength! Even when still a baby, he would astonish his foster-mother by standing on the mats, and lifting her wash tub, or kettle of hot tea, which he would balance above his head without spilling a drop. The little fellow grew to be strong and brave and good. He was always kind to his parents and saved them many a step and much toil. He practiced archery, wrestling, and handling the iron club, until he was not afraid of anybody or anything. He even laughed at the oni, who, were demons living in the clouds or on lonely islands in the sea. Momotarō was also very kind to birds and animals, so that they were very tame, and became his friends, knew him and called him by name.

Now there was an island far out in the ocean, inhabited by onis with horns in their heads, and big sharp tusks in their mouths, who ravaged the shores of Japan and ate up the people. In the centre of the island was the giant Oni's castle, built inside a great cave which was full of all kinds of treasures such as every one wants. These are:

1. The hat which makes the one who puts it on invisible. It looks just like a straw hat, but has a tuft of fine grass on the top, and a pink fringe like the lining of shells, around the brim.

2. A coat like a farmer's grass rain-cloak, which makes the wearer invisible.

3. The crystal jewels which flash fire, and govern the ebb and flow of the tide.

4. Shippō, or "the seven jewels," namely gold and silver, branch of red coral, agate, emerald, crystal and pearl. All together called takare mono, or precious treasures.

Momotaro made up his mind to conquer these demons, and get their treasures. He prepared his weapons and asked the old woman to make him some millet dumplings. So the old lady ground the millet seeds into meal, the old man kneaded the dough, and both made the dumplings which the little hero carefully stuck on skewers and stowed away in a bamboo basket-box. This he wrapped in a silk napkin, and flung it over his shoulder. Seizing his iron club he stuck his flag in his back as the sign of war. The flag was of white silk, crossed by two black bars at the top, and underneath these, was embroidered the device of a peach with a stem and two leaves floating on a running stream. This was his crest or sashimono (banneret). Then he bade the old folks good-bye and walked off briskly. He took his little dog with him, giving him a millet dumpling now and then.

As he passed along he met a monkey chattering and showing his teeth. The monkey said,

"Where are you going, Mr. Peach-Darling?"

"I'm going to the oni's island to get his treasures."

"What have you got good in your package?"

"Millet dumplings. Have one?"

"Yes, give me one, and I'll go with you," said the monkey.

So the monkey ate the dumpling, and boy, dog and monkey all trudged on together. A little further on a pheasant met them and said:

"Ohio, Momotarō, doko?" (Good morning, Mr. Peach-Prince, where are you going?). Peach-Prince told him, and at the same time offered him a dumpling. This made the pheasant his friend.

Peach-Prince and his little army of three retainers journeyed on until they reached the sea-shore. There they found a big boat into which Peach-Prince with the dog and monkey embarked, while the pheasant flew over to the island to find a safe place to land, so as to take the onis by surprise.

They quietly reached the door of the cave, and then Momotarō beat in the gate with his iron club. Rushing into the castle, he put the small onis to flight, and dashing forward, the little hero would nearly have reached the room where the giant oni was just waking up after a nights' drunkenness. With a terrible roar he advanced to gobble up Peach-Prince, when the dog ran behind and bit the oni in the leg. The monkey climbed up his back and blinded him with his paws while the pheasant flew in his face. Then Peach-Prince beat him with his iron club, until he begged for his life and promised to give up all his treasures.

The onis brought all their precious things out of the storehouse and laid them on great tables or trays before the little hero and his little army.

Momotaro sat on a rock, with his little army of three retainers around him, holding his fan, with his hands akimbo on his knees, just as mighty generals do after a battle, when they receive the submission of their enemies. On his right sat kneeling on the ground his faithful monkey, while the pheasant and dog sat on the left.

After the onis had surrendered all, they fell down on their hands and knees with their faces in the dust, and acknowledged Peach-Prince as their master, and swore they would ever henceforth be his slaves. Then Peach-Prince, with a wave of his fan bade them rise up and carry the treasures to the largest ship they had, and to point the prow to the land. This done, Momotaro and his company got on board, and the onis bowed farewell.

A stiff breeze sprang up and sent the ship plowing through the waters, and bent out the great white sail like a bow. On the prow was a long black tassel like the mane of a horse, that at every lurch dipped in the waves, and as it rose flung off the spray.

The old couple becoming anxious after their Peach-Darling, had traveled down to the sea shore, and arrived just as the treasure ship hove in sight. Oh how beautiful it looked with its branches of red coral, and shining heaps of gold and silver, and the invisible coat and hat, the dazzling sheen of the jewels of the ebbing and the flowing tide, the glistening pearls, and piles of agate and crystal.

Momotaro came home laden with riches enough to keep the old couple in comfort all their lives, and he himself lived in great state. He knighted the monkey, the dog and the pheasant, and made them his body-guard. Then he married a beautiful princess and lived happily till he died.


There is a certain mountainous district in Shikoku in which a skillful hunter had trapped or shot so many foxes and badgers that only a few were left. These were an old grey badger and a female fox with one cub. Though hard pressed by hunger, neither dared to touch a loose piece of food, lest a trap might be hidden under it. Indeed they scarcely stirred out of their holes except at night, lest the hunter's arrow should strike them. At last the two animals held a council together to decide what to do, whether to emigrate or to attempt to outwit their enemy. They thought a long while, when finally the badger having hit upon a good plan, cried out:

"I have it. Do you transform yourself into a man. I'll pretend to be dead. Then you can bind me up and sell me in the town. With the money paid you can buy some food. Then I'll get loose and come back. The next week I'll sell you and you can escape."

"Ha! ha! ha! yoroshiu, yoroshiu," (good, good,) cried both together. "It's a capital plan," said Mrs. Fox.

So the Fox changed herself into a human form, and the badger, pretending to be dead, was tied up with straw ropes.

Slinging him over her shoulder, the fox went to town, sold the badger, and buying a lot of tofu (bean-cheese) and one or two chickens, made a feast. By this time the badger had got loose, for the man to whom he was sold, thinking him dead, had not watched him carefully. So scampering away to the mountains he met the fox, who congratulated him, while both feasted merrily.

The next week the badger took human form, and going to town sold the fox, who made believe to be dead. But the badger being an old skin-flint, and very greedy, wanted all the money and food for himself. So he whispered in the man's ear to watch the fox well as she was only feigning to be dead. So the man taking up a club gave the fox a blow on the head, which finished her. The badger, buying a good dinner, ate it all himself, and licked his chops, never even thinking of the fox's cub.

The cub after waiting a long time for its mother to come back, suspected foul play, and resolved on revenge. So going to the badger he challenged him to a trial of skill in the art of transformation. The badger accepted right off, for he despised the cub and wished to be rid of him.

"Well what do you want to do first? said Sir Badger."

"I propose that you go and stand on the Big Bridge leading to the city," said the cub, "and wait for my appearance. I shall come in splendid garments, and with many followers in my train. If you recognize me, you win, and I lose. If you fail, I win."

So the badger went and waited behind a tree. Soon a daimio riding in a palanquin, with a splendid retinue of courtiers appeared, coming up the road. Thinking this was the fox-cub changed into a nobleman, although wondering at the skill of the young fox, the badger went up to the palanquin and told the person inside that he was recognized and had lost the game.

"What!" said the daimio's followers, who were real men, and surrounding the badger, they beat him to death.

The fox-cub, who was looking on from a hill near by, laughed in derision, and glad that treachery was punished, scampered away.


Every child knows who the Shichi fuku Fin or seven Patrons of Happiness are. They have charge of Long Life, Riches, Daily Food, Contentment, Talents, Glory, and Love. Their images carved in ivory, wood, stone, or cast in bronze are found in every house or sold in the stores or are painted on shop signs or found in picture books. They are a jolly company and make a happy family. On New Year's eve a picture of the Treasure-ship (Takare-bune) laden with shippō (the seven jewels) and all the good things of life which men most desire is hung up in houses. The ship is coming into port and the passengers are the seven happy fairies who will make gifts to the people. These seven jewels are the same as those which Momotaro brought back from the oni's island.

First there is Fukoruku Jin the patron of Long Life or Length of Days. He has an enormously high forehead rounded at the top which makes his head look like a sugar-loaf. It is bald and shiny. A few stray white hairs sometimes sprout up, and the barber to reach them has to prop a ladder against his head to climb up and apply his razor. This big head comes from thinking so much. His eyebrows are cotton-white, and a long snowy beard falls down over his breast.

Once in a while in a good humor he ties a handkerchief over his high slippery crown and allows little boys to climb up on top—that is if they are good and can write well.

When he wants to show how strong and lively he is even though so old, he lets Daikoku the fat fellow ride on top of his head, while he smokes his pipe and wades across a river. Daikoku has to hold on tightly or he will slip down and get a ducking.

Usually the old shiny head is a very solemn gentleman, and walks slowly along with his staff in one hand while with the other he strokes his long eyebrows. The tortoise and the crane are always with him, for these are his pets. Sometimes a stag with hair white with age, walks behind him. Every body likes Fukoruku Jin because every one wants to get his favor and live long; until, like a lobster, their backs are bent with age. At a wedding you will always see a picture of white-bearded and shiny-pated Fukoruku Jin.

Daikoku is a short chubby fellow with eyes half sunk in fat but twinkling with fun. He has a flat cap set on his head like the kind which babies wear, a loose sack over his shoulders, and big boots on his feet. His throne is two straw bags of rice, and his badge of office is a mallet or hammer, which makes people rich when he shakes it. The hammer is the symbol of labor, showing that people may expect to get rich only by hard work. One end of it is carved to represent the jewel of the ebbing and the flowing tides, because merchants get rich by commerce on the sea and must watch the tides. He is often seen holding the arithmetic frame on which you can count, do sums, subtract, multiply, or divide, by sliding balls up and down a row of sticks set in a frame, instead of writing figures. Beside him is a ledger and day-book. His favorite animal is the rat, which like some rich men's pets, eats or runs away with his wealth.

The great silver-white radish called daikon, two feet long and as big as a man's calf is always seen near him because it signifies flourishing prosperity.

He keeps his bag tightly shut, for money easily runs away when the purse is once opened. He never lets go his hammer, for it is only by constant care that any one can keep money after he gets it. Even when he frolics with Fukuroku Jin, and rides on his head, he keeps his hammer ready swinging at his belt. He has huge lop ears.

Once in a while, when he wishes to take exercise, and Fukuroku Jin wants to show how frisky he can be, even if he is old, they have a wrestling match together. Daikoku nearly always beats, because Fukuroku Jin is so tall that he has to bend down to grip Daikoku, who is fat and short, and thus he becomes top-heavy. Then Daikoku gets his rival's long head under his left arm, seizes him over his back by the belt, and throws him over his shoulder flat on the ground. But if Fukuroku Jin can only get hold of Daikoku's lop ears, both fall together. Then they laugh heartily and try it again.

Ebisu is the patron of daily food, which is rice and fish, and in old times was chiefly fish. He is nearly as fat as Daikoku, but wears a court noble's high cap. He is always fishing or enjoying his game. When very happy, he sits on a rock by the sea, with his right leg bent under him, and a big red fish, called the tai, under his left arm. He carries a straw wallet on his back to hold his fish and keep it fresh. Often he is seen standing knee-deep in the water, pole in hand, watching for a nibble. Some say that Ebisu is the same scamp that goes by the other name of Sosanoō.

Hotei is the patron of contentment, and of course is the father of happiness. He does not wear much clothing, for the truth is that all his property consists of an old, ragged wrapper, a fan, and a wallet. He is as round as a pudding, and as fat as if rolled out of dough. His body is like a lump of mochi pastry, and his limbs like dango dumplings. He has lop ears that hang down over his shoulders, a tremendous double chin, and a round belly. Though he will not let his beard grow long, the slovenly old fellow never has it shaven when he ought to. He is a jolly vagabond, and never fit for company; but he is a great friend of the children, who romp over his knees and shoulders, pull his ears and climb up over his shaven head. He always keeps something good for them in his wallet. Sometimes he opens it wide, and then makes them guess what is inside. They try to peep in but are not tall enough to look over the edge. He makes tops, paints pictures or kites for the boys, and is the children's greatest friend. When the seven patrons meet together, Hotei is apt to drink more wine than is good for him.

Toshitoku is almost the only one of the seven who never lays aside his dignity. He has a very grave countenance. He is the patron of talents. His pet animal is a spotted fawn. He travels about a good deal to find and reward good boys, who are diligent in their studies, and men who are fitted to rule. In one hand he carries a crooked staff of bamboo, at the top of which is hung a book or roll of manuscript. His dress is like that of a learned doctor, with square cap, stole, and high-toed slippers.

Bishamon is the patron of glory and fame. He is a mighty soldier, with a golden helmet, breastplate and complete armor. He is the protector of priests and warriors. He gives them skill in fencing, horsemanship and archery. He holds a pagoda in one hand and a dragon sword in the other. His pet animal is the tiger.

Six out of the jolly seven worthies are men. Benten is the only lady. She is the patron of the family and of the sea. She plays the flute and the guitar for the others, and amuses them at their feasts, sometimes even dancing for them. Her real home is in Riu Gu, and she is the Queen of the world under the sea. She often dwells in the sea or ocean caves. Her favorite animal is the snake, and her servants are the dragons.

Once a year the jolly seven meet together to talk over old times, relate their adventures, and have a supper together. Then they proceed to business, which is to arrange all the marriages for the coming year. They have a great many hanks of red and white silk, which are the threads of fate of those to be married: The white threads are the men, the red are the women. At first they select the threads very carefully, and tie a great many pairs or couples neatly and strongly together, so that the matches are perfect. All such marriages of threads make happy marriages among human beings. But by-and-by they get tired, and lazy, and instead of tying the knots carefully, they hurry up the work and then jumble them carelessly, and finally toss and tangle up all the rest in a muss.

This is the reason why so many marriages are unhappy.

Then they begin to frolic like big boys. Benten plays the guitar, and Bishamon lies down on the floor resting with his elbows to hear it. Hotei drinks wine out of a shallow red cup as wide as a dinner plate. Daikoku and Fukuroku Jin begin to wrestle, and when Daikoku gets his man down, he pounds his big head with an empty gourd while Toshitoku and Ebisu begin to eat tai fish. When this fun is over, Benten and Fukuroku Jin play a game of checkers, while the others look on and bet; except Hotei the fat fellow, who is asleep. Then they get ashamed of themselves for gambling, and after a few days the party breaks up and each one goes to his regular business again.


A long while ago, when the idols of Buddha and his host of disciples came to Japan, after traveling through China from India, they were very much vexed because the people still liked the little black fellow named Daikoku. Even when they became Buddhists they still burned incense to Daikoku, because he was the patron of wealth; for everybody then, as now, wanted to be rich. So the Buddhist idols determined to get rid of the little fat fellow. How to do it was the question. At last they called Yemma, the judge of the lower regions, and gave him the power to destroy Daikoku.

Now Yemma had under him a whole legion of oni, some green, some black, others blue as indigo, and others of a vermillion color, which he usually sent on ordinary errands.

But for so important an expedition he now called Shino a very cunning old fellow, and ordered him to kill or remove Daikoku out of the way.

Shino made his bow to his master, tightened his tiger-skin belt around his loins and set off.

It was not an easy thing to find Daikoku, even though every one worshipped him. So the oni had to travel a long way, and ask a great many questions of people, and often lose his way before he got any clue. One day he met a sparrow who directed him to Daikoku's palace, where among all his money-bags and treasure piled to the ceiling, the fat and lop-eared fellow was accustomed to sit eating daikon radish, and amuse himself with his favorite pets, the rats. Around him was stored in straw bags his rice which he considered more precious than money.

Entering the gate, the oni peeped about cautiously but saw no one. He went further on till he came to a large store house standing alone and built in the shape of a huge rice-measure. Not a door or window could be seen, but climbing up a narrow plank set against the top edge he peeped over, and there sat Daikoku.

The oni descended and got into the room. Then he thought it would be an easy thing to pounce upon Daikoku. He was already chuckling to himself over the prospect of such wealth being his own, when Daikoku squeaked out to his chief rat.

"Nedzumi san, (Mr. Rat) I feel some strange creature must be near. Go chase him off the premises."

Away scampered the rat to the garden and plucked a sprig of holly with leaves full of thorns like needles. With this in his fore-paw, he ran at the oni, whacked him soundly, and stuck him all over with the sharp prickles.

The oni yelling with pain ran away as fast as he could run. He was so frightened that he never stopped until he reached Yemma's palace, when he fell down breathless. He then told his master the tale of his adventure, but begged that he might never again be sent against Daikoku.

So the Buddhist idols finding they could not banish or kill Daikoku, agreed to recognize him, and so they made peace with him and to this day Buddhists and Shintōists alike worship the fat little god of wealth.

When people heard how the chief oni had been driven away by only a rat armed with holly, they thought it a good thing to keep off all oni. So ever afterward, even to this day, after driving out all the bad creatures with parched beans, they place sprigs of holly at their door-posts on New Year's eve, to keep away the oni and all evil spirits.


On one of the hills overlooking the blue sky's mirror of Lake Biwa, stands the ancient monastery of Miidera which was founded over 1,200 years ago, by the pious mikado Tenchi.

Near the entrance, on a platform constructed of stoutest timbers, stands a bronze bell five and a half feet high. It has on it none of the superscriptions so commonly found on Japanese bells, and though its surface is covered with scratches it was once as brilliant as a mirror. This old bell, which is visited by thousands of people from all parts of Japan who come to wonder at it, is remarkable for many things.

Over two thousand years ago, say the bonzes, it hung in the temple of Gihon Shoja in India which Buddha built. After his death it got into the possession of the Dragon King of the World under the Sea. When the hero Toda the Archer shot the enemy of the queen of the Under-world, she presented him with many treasures and among them this great bell, which she caused to be landed on the shores of the lake. Toda however was not able to remove it, so he presented it to the monks at Miidera. With great labor it was brought to the hill-top and hung in this belfry where it rung out daily matins and orisons, filling the lake and hill sides with sweet melody.

Now it was one of the rules of the Buddhists that no woman should be allowed to ascend the hill or enter the monastery of Miidera. The bonzes associated females and wicked influences together. Hence the prohibition.

A noted beauty of Kioto hearing of the polished face of the bell, resolved in spite of the law against her sex to ascend the hill to dress her hair and powder her face in the mirror-like surface of the bell.

So selecting an hour when she knew the priests would be too busy at study of the sacred rolls to notice her, she ascended the hill and entered the belfry. Looking into the smooth surface, she saw her own sparkling eyes, her cheeks, flushed rosy with exercise, her dimples playing, and then her whole form reflected as in her own silver mirror, before which she daily sat. Charmed as much by the vastness as the brilliancy of the reflection, she stretched forth her hand, and touching her finger-tips to the bell prayed aloud that she might possess just such a mirror of equal size and brightness.

But the bell was outraged at the impiety of the woman's touch, and the cold metal shrank back, leaving a hollow place, and spoiling the even surface of the bell. From that time forth the bell gradually lost its polish, and became dull and finally dark like other bells.

When Benkei was a monk, he was possessed of a mighty desire to steal this bell and hang it up at Hiyeisan. So one night he went over to Miidera hill and cautiously crept up to the belfry and unhooked it from the great iron link which held it. How to get it down the mountain was now the question.

Should he let it roll down, the monks at Miidera would hear it bumping over the stones. Nor could he carry it in his arms, for it was too big around (16 feet) for him to grasp and hold. He could not put his head in it like a candle in a snuffer, for then he would not be able to see his way down.

So climbing into the belfry he pulled out the cross-beam with the iron link, and hanging on the bell put the beam on his shoulder to carry it in tembimbo style, that is, like a pair of scales.

The next difficulty was to balance it, for he had nothing but his lantern to hang on the other end of the beam to balance the bell. It was a prodigiously hard task to carry his burden the six or seven miles distance to Hiyeisan. It was "trying to balance a bronze bell with a paper lantern."

The work made him puff and blow and sweat until he was as hungry as a badger, but he finally succeeded in hooking it up in the belfry at Hiyeisan.

Then all the fellow priests of Benkei got up, though at night, to welcome him. They admired his bravery and strength and wished to strike the bell at once to show their joy.

"No, I won't lift a hammer or sound a note till you make me some soup. I am terribly hungry," said Benkei, as he sat down on a cross piece of the belfry and wiped his forehead with his cowl.

Then the priests got out the iron soup-pot, five feet in diameter, and kindling a fire made a huge mess of soup and served it to Benkei. The lusty monk sipped bowl after bowl of the steaming nourishment until the pot was empty.

"Now," said he, "you may sound the bell."

Five or six of the young bonzes mounted the platform and seized the rope that held the heavy log suspended from the roof. The manner of striking the bell was to pull back the log several feet, then let go the rope, holding the log after the rebound.

At the first stroke the bell quivered and rolled out a most mournful and solemn sound which as it softened and died away changed into the distinct murmur:

"I want to go back to Miidera, I want to go back to Miidera, I want to go-o back to-o M-i-i-de-ra-ra-a-a-a."

"Naru hodo" said the priests. "What a strange bell. It wants to go back. It is not satisfied with our ringing."

"Ah! I know what is the matter" said the aged abbot. "It must be sprinkled with holy water of Hiyeisan. Then it will be happy with us. Ho! page bring hither the deep sea shell full of sacred water."

So the pure white shell full of the consecrated water was brought, together with the holy man's brush. Dipping it in the water the abbot sprinkled the bell inside and out.

"I dedicate thee, oh bell, to Hiyeisan. Now strike," said he, signalling to the bell-pullers.

Again the young men mounted the platform, drew back the log with a lusty pull and let fly.

"M-m-m-mi-mi-de-de-ra-ra ye-e-e-e-ko-o-o-o-o" "(Miidera ye ko, I want to go back to Miidera)" moaned out the homesick bell.

This so enraged Benkei that he rushed to the rope waved the monks aside and seizing the rope strained every muscle to jerk the beam its entire length afield, and then let fly with force enough to crack the bell. For a moment the dense volume of sound filled the ears of all like a storm, but as the vibrations died away, the bell whined out:

"Miidera-mi-mi-de-de-ra-a-a ye-e-e-ko-o-o-o-o." "I want to go back to Miidera," sobbed the bell.

Whether struck at morning, noon or night the bell said the same words. No matter when, by whom, how hard or how gently it was struck, the bell moaned the one plaint as if crying, "I want to go back to Miidera." "I want to go back to Miidera."

At last Benkei in a rage unhooked the bell, shouldered it beam and all, and set off to take it back. Carrying the bell to the top of Hiyeisan, he set it down, and giving it a kick rolled it down the valley toward Miidera, and left it there. Then the Miidera bonzes hung it up again. Since that time the bell has completely changed its note, until now it is just like other bells in sound and behavior.


Ko Gin San (Miss Little Silver) was a young maid who did not care for strange stories of animals, so much as for those of wonder-creatures in the form of human beings. Even of these, however, she did not like to dream, and when the foolish old nurse would tell her ghost stories at night, she was terribly afraid they would appear to her in her sleep.

To avoid this, the old nurse told her to draw pictures of a tapir, on the sheet of white paper, which, wrapped round the tiny pillow, makes the pillow-case of every young lady, who rests her head on two inches of a bolster in order to keep her well-dressed hair from being mussed or rumpled.

Old grannies and country folks believe that if you have a picture of a tapir under the bed or on the paper pillow-case, you will not have unpleasant dreams, as the tapir is said to eat them.

So strongly do some people believe this that they sleep under quilts figured with the device of this long-snouted beast. If in spite of this precaution one should have a bad dream, he must cry out on awaking, "tapir, come eat, tapir, come eat"; when the tapir will swallow the dream, and no evil results will happen to the dreamer.

Little Silver listened with both eyes and open mouth to this account of the tapir, and then making the picture and wrapping it around her pillow, she fell asleep. I suspect that the kowameshi (red rice) of which she had eaten so heartily at supper time, until her waist strings tightened, had something to do with her travels in dream-land.

* * * * *

She thought she had gone down to Ozaka, and there got on a junk and sailed far away to the southwest, through the Inland sea. One night the water seemed full of white ghosts of men and women. Some of them were walking on, and in, the water. Some were running about. Here and there groups appeared to be talking together. Once in a while the junk would run against one of them; and when Little Silver looked to see if he were hurt or knocked over, she could see nothing until the junk passed by, when the ghost would appear standing in the same place, as though the ship had gone through empty air.

Occasionally a ghost would come up to the side of the ship, and in a squeaky voice ask for a dipper. While she would be wondering what a ghost wanted to do with a dipper, a sailor would quietly open a locker, take out a dipper having no bottom, and give one every time he was asked for them. Little Silver noticed a large bundle of these dippers ready. The ghosts would then begin to bail up water out of the sea to empty it in the boat. All night they followed the junk, holding on with one hand to the gunwale, while they vainly dipped up water with the other, trying to swamp the boat. If dippers with bottoms in them had been given them, the sailors said, the boat would have been sunk. When daylight appeared the shadowy host of people vanished.

In the morning they passed an island, the shores of which were high rocks of red coral. A great earthen jar stood on the beach, and around it lay long-handled ladles holding a half-gallon or more, and piles of very large shallow red lacquered wine cups, which seemed as big as the full moon. After the sun had been risen some time, there came down from over the hills a troop of the most curious looking people. Many were short, little wizen-faced folks, that looked very old; or rather, they seemed old before they ought to be. Some were very aged and crooked, with hickory-nut faces, and hair of a reddish gray tint. All the others had long scarlet locks hanging loose over their heads, and streaming down their backs. Their faces were flushed as if by hard drinking, and their pimpled noses resembled huge red barnacles. No sooner did they arrive at the great earthen jar than they ranged themselves round it. The old ones dipped out ladles full, and drank of the wine till they reeled. The younger ones poured the liquor into cups and drank. Even the little infants guzzled quantities of the yellow sake from the shallow cups of very thin red-lacquered wood.

Then began the dance, and wild and furious it was. The leather-faced old sots tossed their long reddish-grey locks in the air, and pirouetted round the big sake jar. The younger ones of all ages clapped their hands, knotted their handkerchiefs over their foreheads, waved their dippers or cups or fans, and practiced all kinds of antics, while their scarlet hair streamed in the wind or was blown in their eyes.

The dance over, they threw down their cups and dippers, rested a few minutes and then took another heavy drink all around.

"Now to work" shouted an old fellow whose face was redder than his half-bleached hair, and who having only two teeth like tusks left looked just like an oni (imp.) As for his wife, her teeth had long ago fallen out and the skin of her face seemed to have added a pucker for every year since a half century had rolled over her head.

Then Little Silver looked and saw them scatter. Some gathered shells and burned them to make lime. Others carried water and made mortar, which they thickened by a pulp made of paper, and a glue made by boiling fish skin. Some dived under the sea for red coral, which they hauled up by means of straw ropes, in great sprigs as thick as the branches of a tree. They quickly ran up a scaffold, and while some of the scarlet-headed plasterers smeared the walls, others below passed up the tempered mortar on long shell shovels, to the hand mortar-boards. Even at work they had casks and cups of sake at hand, while children played in the empty kegs and licked the gummy sugar left in some of them.

"What is that house for?" asked Little Silver of the sailors.

"Oh, that is the Kura (storehouse) in which the King of the Shōji stores the treasures of life, and health, and happiness, and property, which men throw away, or exchange for the sake, which he gives them, by making funnels of themselves."

"Oh, Yes," said Little Silver to herself, as she remembered how her father had said of a certain neighbor who had lately been drinking hard, "he swills sake like a Shōji."

She also understood why picnic or "chow-chow" boxes were often decorated with pictures of Shōji, with their cups and dippers. For, at these picnics, many men get drunk; so much so indeed, that after a while the master of the feast orders very poor and cheap wine to be served to the guests. He also replaces the delicate wine cups of egg-shell porcelain, with big thick tea-cups or wooden bowls, for the guests when drunk, do not know the difference.

She also now understood why it was commonly said of a Mr. Matsu, who had once been very rich but was now a poor sot, "His property has all gone to the Shōji."

Just then the ship in which she was sailing struck a rock, and the sudden jerk woke up Little Silver, who cried out, "Tapir, come eat; tapir, come eat."

No tapir came, but if he had I fear Little Silver would have been more frightened than she was by her dream of the ghosts; for next morning she laughed to think how they had all their work a-dipping water for nothing, and at her old nurse for thinking a picture of a tapir could keep off dreams.


(After Hokusai.)

Curious creatures are the tengus, with the head of a hawk and the body of a man. They have very hairy hands or paws with two fingers, and feet with two toes. They are hatched out of eggs, and have wings and feathers, until full grown. Then their wings moult, and the stumps are concealed behind their dress, which is like that of a man. They walk, when grown up, on clogs a foot high, which are like stilts, as they have but one support instead of two, like the sort which men wear. The tengus strut about easily on these, without stumbling.

The Dai Tengu, or master, is a solemn-faced, scowling individual with a very proud expression, and a nose about eight finger-breadths long. When he goes abroad, his retainers march before him, for fear he might break his nose against something. He wears a long grey beard down to his girdle, and moustaches to his chin. In his left hand he carries a large fan made of seven wide feathers. This is the sign of his rank. He has a mouth, but he rarely opens it. He is very wise, and rules over all the tengus in Japan.

The Karasu or crow-tengu is a black fellow, with a long beak, in the place where his nose and mouth ought to be. He looks as if some one had squeezed out the lower part of his face, and pulled his nose down so as to make a beak like a crow's. He is the Dai Tengu's lictor. He carries the axe of authority over his left shoulder, to chop bad people's heads off. In his right fist is his master's book of wisdom, and roll of authority. Even these two highest in authority in Tengu-land are servants of the great lord Kampira, the long-haired patron of sailors and mountaineers.

The greatest of the Dai Tengu lived in Kurama mountain and taught Yoshitsune. This lad, while a pupil in the monastery, would slip out in the evening, when the priests thought him asleep, and come to the King of the Tengus, who instructed him in the military arts, in cunning, magic, and wisdom. Every night the boy would spread the roll of wisdom before him, and sit at the feet of the hoary-headed tengu, and learn the strange letters in which tengu wisdom is written, while the long-nosed servant tengus, propped up on their stilt-clogs, looked on. The boy was not afraid, but quickly learned the knowledge which birds, beasts and fishes have, how to understand their language and to fly, swim and leap like them.

When a tengu stumbles and falls down on his nose, it takes a long while to heal, and if he breaks it, the doctor puts it in splints like a broken arm, until it straightens out and heals up again.

Some of the amusements in Tengu-land are very curious. A pair of young tengus will fence with their noses as if they were foils. Their faces are well protected by masks, for if one tengu should "poke his nose" into the other's eye he might put it out, and a blind tengu could not walk about, because he would be knocking his nose against everything.

Two old tengus with noses nearly two feet long, sometimes try the strength of their face-handles. One fellow has his beak straight up in the air like a supporting post, while the other sits a yard off with his elastic nose stretched across like a tight-rope, and tied with twine at the top of the other one's nose. On this tight nose-rope a little tengu boy, with a tiny pug only two inches long, dances a jig. He holds an umbrella in his hand, now dancing, and now standing upon one foot. The tengu-daddy, whose nose serves as a tent-pole, waves his fan and sings a song, keeping time to the dance.

There is another tengu who sometimes quarrels with his wife, and when angry boxes her ears with his nose.

A lady-tengu who is inclined to be literary and sentimental, writes poetry. When the mood seizes her she ties the pen to her nose, dips it in ink and writes a poem on the wall.

A tengu-painter makes a long-handled brush to whitewash the ceiling, by strapping it to his nose.

Sometimes the little tengus get fighting, and then the feathers fly as they tear each other with their little claws which have talons on them shaped like a chicken's, but which when fully grown look like hands.

All the big tengus are fond of trying the strength of their noses, and how far they can bend them up and down without breaking. They have two favorite games of which they sometimes give exhibitions. The player has long strings of iron cash (that is, one hundred of the little iron coins, with a square hole in the centre). Several of these he slides on a rope like buttons on a string, or counters on a wire. Then he lifts them off with the tip of his nose. Sometimes his nose bends so much under the weight that the coins slip off. Whichever tengu can pick off the greater number of strings without letting any slip, wins the game, and is called O-hana (The King of Noses).

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse