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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Moon Maiden"

The Moon Maiden

There was an old bamboo cutter called Také Tori. He was an honest old man, very poor and hard-working, and he lived with his good old wife in a cottage on the hills. Children they had none, and little comfort in their old age, poor souls.

Také Tori rose early upon a summer morning, and went forth to cut bamboos as was his wont, for he sold them for a fair price in the town, and thus he gained his humble living.

Up the steep hillside he went, and came to the bamboo grove quite wearied out. He took his blue tenegui and wiped his forehead, “Alack for my old bones!” he said. “I am not so young as I once was, nor the good wife either, and there’s no chick nor child to help us in our old age, more’s the pity.” He sighed as he got to work, poor Také Tori.

Soon he saw a bright light shining among the green stems of the bamboos.

“What is this?” said Také Tori, for as a rule it was dim and shady enough in the bamboo grove. “Is it the sun?” said Také Tori. “No, that cannot well be, for it comes from the ground.” Very soon he pushed his way through the bamboo stems to see what the bright light came from. Sure enough it came from the root of a great big green bamboo. Také Tori took his axe and cut down the great big green bamboo, and there was a fine shining green jewel, the size of his two fists.

“Wonder of wonders!” cried Také Tori. “Wonder of wonders! For five-and-thirty years I’ve cut bamboo. This is the very first time I’ve found a great big green jewel at the root of one of them.” With that he takes up the jewel in his hands, and as soon as he does that, it bursts in two with a loud noise, if you’ll believe it, and out of it came a young person and stood on Také Tori’s hand.

You must understand the young person was small but very beautiful. She was dressed all in green silk.

“Greetings to you, Také Tori,” she says, as easy as you please.

“Mercy me!” says Také Tori. “Thank you kindly. I suppose, now, you’ll be a fairy,” he says, “if I’m not making too bold in asking?

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