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

The happy hunter and the skillful fisher

When he had finished his long draught he set the cup down on the edge of the well, and drawing his short sword he cut off one of the strange curved jewels (magatama), a necklace of which hung round his neck and fell over his breast. He placed the jewel in the cup and returned it to them, and said, bowing deeply:

"This is a token of my thanks!"

The two ladies took the cup, and looking into it to see what he had put inside—for they did not yet know what it was—they gave a start of surprise, for there lay a beautiful gem at the bottom of the cup.

"No ordinary mortal would give away a jewel so freely. Will you not honor us by telling us who you are?" said the elder damsel.

"Certainly," said the Happy Hunter, "I am Hohodemi, the fourth Mikoto, also called in Japan, the Happy Hunter."

"Are you indeed Hohodemi, the grandson of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess?" asked the damsel who had spoken first. "I am the eldest daughter of Ryn Jin, the King of the Sea, and my name is Princess Tayotama."

"And," said the younger maiden, who at last found her tongue, "I am her sister, the Princess Tamayori."

"Are you indeed the daughters of Ryn Jin, the King of the Sea? I cannot tell you how glad I am to meet you," said the Happy Hunter. And without waiting for them to reply he went on:

"The other day I went fishing with my brother's hook and dropped it, how, I am sure I can't tell. As my brother prizes his fishing hook above all his other possessions, this is the greatest calamity that could have befallen me. Unless I find it again I can never hope to win my brother's forgiveness, for he is very angry at what I have done. I have searched for it many, many times, but I cannot find it, therefore I am much troubled. While I was hunting for the hook, in great distress, I met a wise old man, and he told me that the best thing I could do was to come to Ryn Gu, and to Ryn Jin, the Dragon King of the Sea, and ask him to help me. This kind old man also showed me how to come. Now you know how it is I am here and why.

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