Japanese Ancient Romances

1. Chiisakobe-no Sugaru: tale of catching the thunder (from Nihon Ryôi-ki, edited in the 8th Century)

2. A legend of Princess Chûjô (from Otogi Zôshi, edited in the 17th century)

3. A man who married a vixen (dans Nihon Ryôi-ki)

A man who married a vixen

Translated by Niji Fuyuno

IIt was very long ago. The Emperor Kinmei reigned over this country.
A man lived in Minonokuni (Gifu prefecture).
One day, he rode on a horse and went out to looking for a beautiful girl.

By chance, in a spacious field, he met a lovely girl.
This woman looked bewitching and coquettish. She was trying to entice the man with her charm. She approached him in familiar manner. The heart of the man was filled with joy, so, he gave her a wink.

He asked, " I say ! Where are you going ? "
The woman answered, " Well, I'm going around looking for a nice husband. "
Then, the man asked her, " Could you be my wife ? "
The woman accepted his proposal.
" Yes. I will be. "

The man came back to his house accompanied by this woman. They got married, lived together.

The passage of months, several days elapsed.

The woman became pregnant and gave a birth to one boy on the day 15 December.
Well, well, in the same day, on the same time, a bitch that the man kept born young.
This puppy, day by day, when he looked at this woman, he opposed her, felt hostility toward her, was angry at her, growled, bearing his teeth. The puppy barked at her, flaring up.
The woman was very frightened, trembled with fear.

One day,
she entreated her husband.
" My dear......, kill, beat that puppy ! Please ! "
But, her husband, of pity for this puppy, he could not decide to kill it.

The time had passed, it was from February to March.
It was the season of rice polishing for refine it in a mortar.
At the time, the wife entered in a mortar cabin to prepare afternoon snacks for young girl workers.

Suddenly, the mother bitch of the puppy, began to pursue with growl. Barking, flying into a rage, jumped, sprang on the woman. The woman was in fear, trembled with terror.

At once, she transformed herself into vixen, immediately run away, climbed onto a bamboo basket, and sat on it.

Her husband's eyes caught her.
He said to her, "My dear, ...... I love you......, honey...... We... you and I, we are living together, we are going well, having good close friendship......, don't we ? Luckily, we were blessed with a child like this ! I never forget you...... Come to me, as you want to see me, anytime...... I want press you to my breast, in my heart. I ardently wait for you......"

Thus, that's why a vixen often visited this house and met a man who was her husband. She had remembered his words. So, she stayed at night with him.

Since then, this woman was named kitsune (*ki-tsu-ne) which meant "come, love, sleep".

One day, this wife came to his husband.
She wore a beautiful long skirt colored pink of dawn. Her skirt was shading into a dreamy rose.

She had an air elegant, grace. And..., she went away somewhere no one knows.
Swaying in the wind, she disappeared from view with her long beautiful skirt of rose.

After that days, the husband never forgot her. He longed for her figure, embraced her in his deep mind. He had been lovesick.
He composed one love poem and sang it for her.

Koi wa mina waga he ni ochi nu tamakagiru haroka ni mie te ini shi ko yue ni

In my heart
has been left entangled many languorous paths
because of you,
you left far away, fading away in the faint sun shine
eternally, I miss you

The boy who was born of the man and his wife vixen named "Ki-tsu-ne". He also called "Kitsune no Atae" : fox officer.
This boy was so strong, herculean, run very fast as speed of a bird in flight.
Here is, the origin of the name of "Kitsune no Atae".

Notes by Niji Fuyuno :

This is one of the tales collected in Nihon Ryoiki (8th century).
The story is told as an incident of 6th century, the time of Emperor Kinmei. On that age, Asuka Era, the Buddhism was introduced into Japan.

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