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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The happy hunter and the skillful fisher"

The happy hunter and the skillful fisher

May I ask you to be so kind as to inquire of all your subjects if any of them have seen a fishing hook lost in the sea?"

"Certainly," said the obliging Sea King, "I will immediately summon them all here and ask them."

As soon as he had issued his command, the octopus, the cuttlefish, the bonito, the oxtail fish, the eel, the jelly fish, the shrimp, and the plaice, and many other fishes of all kinds came in and sat down before Ryn Jin their King, and arranged themselves and their fins in order. Then the Sea King said solemnly:

"Our visitor who is sitting before you all is the august grandson of Amaterasu. His name is Hohodemi, the fourth Augustness, and he is also called the Happy Hunter of the Mountains. While he was fishing the other day upon the shore of Japan, some one robbed him of his brother's fishing hook. He has come all this way down to the bottom of the sea to our Kingdom because he thought that one of you fishes may have taken the hook from him in mischievous play. If any of you have done so you must immediately return it, or if any of you know who the thief is you must at once tell us his name and where he is now."

All the fishes were taken by surprise when they heard these words, and could say nothing for some time. They sat looking at each other and at the Dragon King. At last the cuttlefish came forward and said:

"I think the TAI (the red bream) must be the thief who has stolen the hook!"

"Where is your proof?" asked the King.

"Since yesterday evening the TAI has not been able to eat anything, and he seems to be suffering from a bad throat! For this reason I think the hook may be in his throat. You had better send for him at once!"

All the fish agreed to this, and said:

"It is certainly strange that the TAI is the only fish who has not obeyed your summons. Will you send for him and inquire into the matter. Then our innocence will be proved."

"Yes," said the Sea King, "it is strange that the TAI has not come, for he ought to be the first to be here.

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