Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yoshio Toyoshima's "The Great Moon's Song" Part 2

[Part 2 of 4 in an ongoing translation of a Japanese fairy tale from 1919. You can read Part 1, and a brief intro to the author, here.]

After that night, on evenings when the moon shone bright, the Prince would go to the Bamboo Oak Forest and play with the wood elves. In addition, he learned many things from Princess Chigusa. Like how the wood elves originally lived in the fields, but the fields were opened up and turned into rice paddies, and so the elves hid themselves in the forests, and became wood elves. And that Princess Chigusa is the queen of both the new wood elves and the original wood elves. And how the Princess knew all about how the old fields were going to become rice paddies beforehand, and how there was going to be a draft this coming summer, and floods in the fall. When the prince heard these things, he told each one to his father the king. The king would laugh, but because the prince pressed him so many times, in the end, he set up some precautions as a test.

And even though there was indeed a drought that summer, they took water down from the springs in the mountains, and the farmers were not affected at all. And even though there were floods at the beginning of autumn, they built high embankments along the river, and the rice paddies were left unharmed. Because each of the prince's pronouncements were correct, the king, and then all the people of the palace, were completely astonished. Before long, word spread throughout the kingdom how "the prince had been transformed into a god." They asked how the prince how he knew these things before they happened, but because the prince was sworn to a strict secrecy by Princess Chigusa, he said nothing. Eventually even the king began to wonder if his son had become a god. 

But to the prince, there was only one thing to start thinking about. And that was the fact that the moon didn't come out every night. If the moon didn't shine at night, the princess would not send for the prince. 

When the moon did shine in the early hours of the night, the wood elf who wore a Roger's leaf would come to the palace gardens. The prince would go to Princess Chigusa, and a little before 10 o'clock when the palace gates closed, the prince would return home.

However, one night, when the prince had gone to the clearing in the Bamboo Oak Forest like usual, Princess Chigusa stood there looking terribly sad. Not one of the wood elves appeared that night. With a wildly beating heart, the prince asked the princess:

"Did something happen tonight?"

"Something sad is going to occur very soon," Princess Chigusa replied. The prince asked many things, but the princess would not say anything more. She only replied, "Soon you will understand."

The prince and princess sat silently in the clearing. The moonlight spread over the ground, making the grass and flower petals and leaves sparkle. Finally, Princess Chigusa sighed deeply and said:

"I don't know if we shall meet again."

Hearing this, the Prince became terribly sad. 

"It's time, it's time, the palace is now closing!" a voice called from behind them. 

He saw that the Roger's leaf wearing wood elf was standing behind him. Even so, the prince did not start going home. But the princess comforted him, and made him go home. 

The prince couldn't understand why he couldn't see Princess Chigusa anymore. He suddenly wondered if Princess Chigusa was perhaps his long-long mother after all. But when he turned around to ask her, Princess Chigusa was no longer there. 

Standing in the palace gardens, the prince was resolved: he had to meet with Princess Chigusa again.

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