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Japanese Culture: Princess Hachikatsugi

Discussion in 'The Asylum' started by BK-201, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. BK-201 The Black Reaper Moderator

    Apr 20, 2013
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    Princess Hachikatsugi - The Princess with the Magic Bowl


    Once upon a time, in a giant palace, there lived a great lord. One day, his wife fell ill, and her condition grew worse and worse over time. When she was near death, she called her daughter to her side. “Daughter, I do not have long, but I want to wish you a happy, healthy life.” So saying, the lady took a giant black bowl out of her treasure chest, placed it on the princess’ head, and died.
    It was soon discovered that the bowl would not come off the princess’ head, no matter what was tried. So people started calling her “Princess Hachikatsugi”, which means “Princess Carrying a Bowl”. After some time, the lord re-married. The new wife bullied the princess, saying the princess was “creepy and made her uncomfortable.” The princess, unable to take the abuse any longer, was so filled with despair that she threw herself into the river.
    But the bowl floated on the surface of the water, stopping her body from sinking. A fisherman found her afloat, and fished her out of the water. But he thought her strange and creepy, and turned her in to the village lord.


    The lord asked the princess, “Why are you wearing that bowl on top of your head?” The princess told him all that had happened. The lord, feeling sorry for her, said, “I’ll help you get that off your head”. And everyone pulled at the bowl. But the bowl didn’t budge even an inch.
    The lord said, “With that on your head, there’s not much you can do --- perhaps you should help with the cooking.” So saying, the lord took her in and gave her work. The princess worked hard everyday from early in the morning till the wee hours of night.


    The lord of the village had four sons. The three older brothers already had wives, but the youngest son was still unmarried. He was a kind young man, who was fond of studying.
    One day, the young man was studying late into the night. He asked Princess Hachikatsugi to prepare a bath for him. The princess filled the bathtub, heated the water, and helped the young man wash his back.
    It was then that the princess began to weep, remembering how she herself had been well-treated in the past, compared with the miserable and lowly life she was leading now. The young man asked her why she was crying. The princess told him her whole story.
    Since then, the two of them became good friends. The young man gradually grew fond of the Princess, and came to want to marry her. He consulted with his mother and father on the subject.
    Both of them were against the idea, but the young man refused to listen to them. So they decided to hold a “wife contest”. They thought that if they held a contest to compare Princess Hachikatsugi with the wives of the young man's elder brothers, she would be humiliated and give up.
    When she heard about this, Princess Hachikatsugi said to the young man, “Please get married to a princess who is more worthy of you.” And she ran away from the palace. But the young man chased after her.


    “Wait, come back to the palace with me,” he begged. “No, I will not go back.”They struggled, and the bowl suddenly came off with a plop! The face of the princess that was revealed was so charming and glowed with beauty.
    The bowl that had come off was filled chockfull of gold, silver, treasures, gorgeous kimonos, intricate hairpins, and gold coins, big and small. The young man said, “You are so beautiful, there is no need for you to feel ashamed. Please come back with me.” And they returned to the palace together.


    The day of the contest came. The wives of the three elder brothers dressed up in beautiful kimonos, and sat at the highest places of honour in the room. Princess Hachikatsugi’s place had a torn straw mat for her to sit on. The people who were gathered there said to each other, “We’ll soon see a monster with a bowl on her head come into this room!” And they waited eagerly for Princess Hachikatsugi to arrive.


    To everyone's confusion, the lady that came in was a refined princess, more beautiful than any flower. The people of the palace were so dumbfounded that they were speechless. The wives of the elder brothers, green with envy, said, “We can play the biwa lute and also the tsuzumi, hand drum. Can you play the koto harp along with us?”
    Princess Hachikatsugi played the koto, recalling the lessons she had taken when she was a young girl. The koto melody sounded so attractive and impressive. The people around were all quite enchanted. And thus the youngest son and Princess Hachikatsugi were allowed to marry each other, and lived happily ever after.
    Source: NHK World Radio Japan


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