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Live and learn. –óF’·¶‚«‚Í‚·‚é‚à‚Ì‚¾.

Proverb ‚±‚Æ‚í‚´

THE TALE OF THE BAMBOO CUTTER

AN old bamboo-cutter was going home through the shades of evening. Far away among the stalks of the feathery bamboo he saw a soft light. He went nearer to see what it was, and found it came from within one of the stalks.

He opened the bamboo stalk carefully, and found a tiny baby girl. She was only a few inches tall, but as beautiful as a fairy. Indeed he wondered if she were not really a fairy.

 A Bamboo Lady 1

He carried her home and told his wife how he had found her. They were very glad for they had no child, so they loved her as their own. In a few years she had grown to be a young woman. She was as sweet and kind as she was beautiful. A soft light always seemed to follow her.

When the time came to name her they called her The Bamboo Princess, because she was found among the bamboo, and because she was more beautiful than any princess.

People heard of how beautiful she was, and many peeped through the hedge at the edge of the garden in hopes of seeing her. All who saw her thought she was so lovely that they came back for another glimpse.

Among those who came often to the hedge were five princes. Each one thought The Bamboo Princess the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and each wished her for his wife.

So each of the five wrote to the father of the princess asking to marry her. It so happened that all five letters were brought to the old man at the same time.

The old man did not know which one to choose, nor what to do. He was afraid, too, that if he chose one of the princes, the other four would be angry. But the princess had a plan. "Have them all come here," she said, "then we can choose better."

On a certain day the five princes came to the house of the bamboo-cutter. They were very glad to have another chance to see her, and each one thought he would be the one she would marry.The princess did not wish to marry any of them. She wanted stay with her dear father and mother. She wished to take care of them as long as they lived. So she gave each one something to do which was impossible.

The first she asked to go to India and find the great stone bowl of Buddha. The second one was to bring her a branch from the jeweled trees that grew on the floating mountain of Horai.

The third prince asked what he might do to show his love. The princess said that he might bring her a robe made from the skins of the fire rats.

She asked the fourth to bring a jewel from the neck of the sea dragon, and the fifth prince offered to bring her the shell which the swallows keep hidden in their nests.

Some of the men set off at once, confident that they would achieve the impossible tasks and win Kaguya-hime's love. Others attempted to purchase the items from intermediaries and were swindled, and one hired artisans to craft a fake. In time, all of them failed, their lives lost, stations destroyed or deceit unmasked...

The rumors of Kaguya-hime's beauty reached the Emperor himself, and he requested that she come to his court; but she refused, saying she would die if taken there. Undaunted, he organized a hunting trip near her home, and slipped away from it to her house unexpectedly. In this way, he became the first man beyond family friends to see her. She was as beautiful as the tales said.

Though she still refused to return with him, she answered his letters, and the two wrote to each other for many years.

One new year, Kaguya-hime began to spend long nights staring at the moon, lost in thought. Around the eighth month, her parents found her out on the veranda, weeping bitterly. She confessed to them:

"I'm not a person of this world. I come from the moon country. But because of a promise made long ago, I have spent this time in the human world. The time has come when I have to return-- on the 15th of this month, people will come from my country to get me. I have to go back, so since this spring I have been worrying that you will be sad."

Kaguya-hime had grown more attached to her parents on the Earth then on the moon, and dearly wished that she did not have to return. Though she thought it was futile, the old man contacted the emperor, and asked that on the 15th he send men to defend her from the emissaries of the moon country.

When the day came, two thousand men with bows and arrows came to the bamboo cutter's house. A thousand manned the outer wall, and a thousand were on the roof. Kaguya-hime was put in a locked cabinet, the old man standing in front, and his wife inside with her arms wrapped around Kaguya-hime.

At midnight, people riding on clouds descended from the sky, dressed with a beauty unlike everything else. The soldiers were overcome with awe and dropped their bows. The moon people went inside the house, and as they demanded Kaguya-hime come out, the doors of her hiding place unlocked and opened themselves. They told her to drink the medicine of immortality and put on the heavenly feather robe, thus cleansing herself of this impure world.

"Please wait! When I put on the robe my heart will become different from the hearts of men of this world. There is something I want to say first."

Bamboo Lady 3She wrote sad notes of apology to her parents and to the Emperor, then gave her parents her own robe as a memento. She then took a small taste of the medicine, attached it to her letter to the Emperor, and gave it to a guard officer. As she handed it to him, the feather robe was placed on her shoulders, and all of her sadness and compassion for the people of the Earth were forgotten.

Having forgotten everything, she got into the flying carriage they had brought, and ascended into the sky with her escort of heavenly beings.

The parents became very sad and were soon put to bed sick. The guard officer returned to the Emperor with the items Kaguya-hime had given him as her last mortal act, and reported what had happened. With no desire to live forever, he commanded his men to take the letter attached with medicine to the top of the mountain closest to heaven , and then burn it with the hope that his message would reach the now distant princess.

This mountain was called Fuji. It is said that even now the smoke continues to climb up to the clouds above it.

THE END                                                                            

ƒz[ƒ€ ] ‰Hˆß ] á— ] ¼ŽR‹¾ ] “‘¾˜Y ]

Copyright (C) 1987-2006 All rights reserved. SHERINA‰p‰ï˜b since 1987 Osaka, Japan ÅIXV“ú : 2008/06/08 “ú—j“ú