Enjoying Otogi Zoshi with the Help of Synopsis and Illustrations, Eighth Story ; Bunsho the Saltmaker
** First Volume **
Many joyous stories have been told since long ago, but if there was ever a story where a person of humble origin rises in life, with only good things happening and not a single trouble, then it would have to be the story of Bunsho the Saltmaker from Hitachi Province (present-day Ibaraki Prefecture).
Lord Daiguji of the Kashima-Daimyojin Shrine in Hatachi Province, superbly wealthy and blessed with children, lived a life that wanted for nothing. Lord Daiguji had a servant called Bunta, who, while just a servant, was honest, quick-witted, and loyal to his master, and therefore Lord Daiguji was very fond of him
One day, however, when Lord Daiguji wanted to put Bunta's loyalty to the test, he called him and said,
"Oi, Bunta, you have served me for many years, but somehow nothing about you has been to my liking. I do not want to see your face anymore. Go away to some other place, and come back when you have changed your character."
Bunta was very surprised by this, as he had pledged in his heart never to abandon Lord Daiguji, even if one thousand, ten thousand people would betray him. However, as this was an order, there was nothing he could do. In tears he left Lord Daiguji's house. However, although he had been treated this way, his devotion to Lord Daiguji was unwavering. Thinking that as long as he was alive there would be a chance to serve him again, he left Lord Daiguji's house.
Suddenly set free, Bunta leaves Lord Daiguji's house crying.
He had nowhere to go and nothing to do, and while wandering around aimlessly, the came to an area near the ocean where salt was made. Bunta entered one of the saltmakers' houses.
"I'm a traveler, for mercy's sake, please allow me to stay here."
And perhaps because Bunta's intentions seemed good, the saltmaker replied,
"You seem to have no home to go to, how pitiful you are. Come on in,"
and allowed him to stay.
So Bunta lived as the saltmaker's guest, and although he received his meals, there was nothing for him to do but idly pass the days. When he saw this, the saltmaker said:
"You seem to have nothing to do, what a pity. Isn't there anything you are good at?"
"No, the only thing I'm good at is handling horses."
"I make and sell salt, so that's no use. But for making salt we need firewood ... "
"That's an easy task."
So Bunta went to gather firewood every day. Because he was a man of great strength, he could collect as much firewood as five or six men. The saltmaker thought that Bunta was unequalled, and he was delighted.
Several years passed this way, and Bunta felt the wish to make salt himself. So he asked the saltmaker:
"Can't I have a salt pan in exchange for the work I've done until now? My livelihood is uncertain, so I would like to make and sell salt myself."
The saltmaker, who had always thought that Bunta was pitiful, generously gave him two salt pans.
From then on, Bunta made and sold salt. His salt was not only delicious, but soon became famous for curing illnesses, and therefore flew off the shelves. And so in the blink of an eye Bunta became very rich. Bunta's salt pans could also make ten times as much salt as other salt pans. The salt merchants called it "Salt of Lord Bunta," and it was produced in great amounts. Although people thought it strange, nobody spoke ill of Bunta, in fact everybody praised his success.
Bunta came to be called Lord Bunsho Tsuneoka, and so he was called Bunsho. In this tale as well we must refer to him as Bunsho.
Bunsho built a magnificent mansion, and storehouses spread over the large grounds accumulating gold, silver and treasures. The poor of Hitachi province said, "Bunsho used to be poor himself, but that doesn't matter, what matters is that he pays good wages," and they all gathered around Bunsho. Therefore Bunsho took several hundred men and women into his service.
At one point, Bunsho called his major retainers and said,
"Write down how much there is of each of the goods that I have entrusted to you."
The retainers said:
"There are too many, it is impossible to count them all."
Even Bunsho was surprised at that, and murmured,
"Not even the Emperor is as rich as I am."
However, although so fortunate, Bunsho had not one single child he could leave his wealth to. Bunsho himself, however, did not seem to be troubled by this.
Someone brought the rumor about Bunsho to Lord Daiguji.
"A man who used to be your servant a long time ago has become very rich by making and selling salt. People say he believes that even the emperor cannot match his wealth. Why not call him?"
Lord Daiguji thought this was a remarkable story, and promptly called Bunsho to his abode.
Bunsho was overjoyed to be called after such a long time, went to Lord Daiguji immediately and waited in the garden without stepping on the veranda. When Lord Daiguji saw this he thought
"Although he is of low rank, he is so fortunate,"
and beckoned him to come nearer. Bunsho was ashamed, but after being called many times, he thought it would be impolite to show further restraint and stepped on the veranda.
"Bunta, I have heard that you are proud of having become rich and say dreadful things such as not even the emperor could dream of matching you."
"I beg your forgiveness. Although I am but a good-for-nothing, I was thinking too much about having become rich and said imprudent things."
"Tell me about the amount of your wealth, without hiding anything."
"I'd never hide anything from you, my master. I've a huge amount of gold and silver, twill damask and brocade, and too many storehouses around my mansion for me to count."
"I see you are a fortunate person. By the way, how many children do you have?"
"Not a single one."
"That is no good. Children are a man's greatest treasure. However much wealth you have, if you do not have a child, it all becomes someone else's in the end. You should make donations to the gods and Buddhas, and pray to be granted at least one child."
Bunsho, persuaded, returned home immediately and began to forcibly drive away his wife. For his wife it came as a complete surprise.
"After you have been called to Lord Daiguji after such a long time, why do you suddenly drive me out? Perhaps he talked to you about a new wife?"
she asked with suspicion.
"Why do you want me to leave so quickly? For sure Lord Daiguji said something to you. Or you have fallen in love with someone else. Even then, the right thing to do is tell me the reason before you drive me out. We are companions for life ... "
His wife's anger seemed not without reason to Bunsho.
"It's neither the order of Lord Daiguji, nor that I have come to like another woman. I will always be grateful for what you have done for me, but Lord Daiguji told me that children are the greatest treasure, and this went straight to my heart. I am driving you out because you cannot have children. I shall not mind if it is a boy or a girl, but just bear me one child."
"What are you talking about? Listen, we have been married since you were twenty and I was thirteen, and were unable to have children before we reached forty. Why would I be able to bear children now? If that is what you want, you should find yourself a young wife."
Bunsho changed his mind, thinking,
"If I divorce my wife after thirty years because I want children, it will be bad for my reputation. Also, Lord Daiguji said that I should pray to the gods and Buddha."
"We won't have a divorce now. We must pray to the gods and Buddha to be granted a child. This is also what Lord Daiguji said."
"That is right," replied his wife. "Only with the help of the gods and Buddhas we will be able to have a child. So, let us go to pray at the temple."
Bunsho and his wife purified themselves for seven days. Although there were miraculous gods and Buddhas in the capital, the distance was too great, and so they went to pray at the shrine of Kashima-daimyojin, who was the guardian deity of Hitachi province. They made offers of many different treasures, performed worship three thousand, three hundred and thirty-three times every day and prayed to be granted a child.
On the night of the seventh day, Bunsho had a dream where the doors of the temple opened with a whine, and the deity said in an elevated voice:
"I cannot close my ears to a wish that has been repeated so feverishly. I have been looking for a way you can be granted a child for these seven days, but there appears to be none. However, I will bestow a child upon you by a special arrangement."
Having spoken this way, the deity gave Bunsho two lotus flowers. The moment he tried to put them in his right sleeve, he woke up. Bunsho returned home, filled with joy about the revelation.
Soon afterwards, his wife conceived a child. Bunsho was overjoyed and said things like:
"Bear me a boy as a heir."
After nine months, a beautiful baby girl was born.
Bunsho, angry that it was a girl, complained:
"That wasn't what I was promised. Why a girl?"
But Lady Hitachi, the old maid, soothed him by saying,
"A girl is much better after all,"
and this seemed to change his mind.
"Bring her here immediately then!"
When he saw the infant, it was an adorable girl. Bunsho chose only beautiful women for nanny and servants, and the little princess grew up being cherished by everyone.
The following year, Bunsho's wife conceived again. This time, an even more beautiful girl, like a sparkle, was born. Bunsho was overjoyed when he received news of the birth, and asked:
"Is it a boy this time? Or a girl?"
Fearing his anger, nobody gave an answer. Only after he had asked many times, somebody answered:
"It is as before."
"Lord Daiguji has ten children, boys and girls. What sort of a child is 'as before'?"
and when he asked again, he was finally told that again a girl had been born.
As feared, Bunsho became angry and started shouting:
"You have broken your promise the first time already! Why have you betrayed me again and given me a girl? I have had enough, I don't want to see that child. Take her away."
The old attendants said to this:
"How shallow your thinking is. No matter how fine an upbringing you gave the boy, becoming a servant of Lord Daiguji would be the best he could do. With a beautiful girl, however, it might be possible to have a fine feudal lord as a son-in-law. Maybe even one of Lord Daiguji's children will become your son-in-law."
"The two princesses are as beautiful as no-one else in Japan. If word of their beauty spreads, they might be even married to a court noble in the capital."
"Don't you think this is an unrivaled coincidence? No matter what good fortune you have, through your children you might be able to become of high ranking. Don't you think the beautiful princesses are a heaven-sent opportunity?"
So Bunsho changed his mind, and asked for the infant to be brought. She was even more beautiful than her sister, and just like with her, Bunsho chose beautiful nannies and servants for her. He called his elder daughter Renge, and his younger daughter Hachisu.
As time passed, the two girls grew outstandingly beautiful, and before long the older sister was eleven years old, and the younger sister ten. Although not taught by anyone, the elder sister could play the Japanese lute, the younger sister the Japanese harp beautifully. They enjoyed the scenery of all four seasons of the year, sang songs, composed tanka poems, and enjoyed a life of luxury. They also understood the impermanence of this world, studied the teachings of Buddha, and ardently prayed not only for this world but also the coming worlds.
Their parents were overjoyed with the wonderful girls, and so as not to be negligent with them they built a mansion on the north side of their house, so magnificent it could be mistaken for the land of perfect bliss, or the sea god's dragon palace, for their daughters to live in. They chose beautiful people to be around their children as maids and attendants, and in cherished upbringing of the children, they appeared as heavenly maidens sent to earth from above.
Upon hearing about the two girls, the feudal lords from the surrounding provinces competed with each other in sending love letters, but were completely ignored. The sisters thought:
"Why were we born in the far provinces? It would have been better had we been born as citizens of the capital, and live in luxury there."
Lost in dreams of becoming princesses or a court nobles in the capital, they considered an ordinary marriage to be out of the question.
Bunsho was delighted at receiving proposals from the feudal lords. His daughters, however, even though he tried to convince them, did not listen at all. After this had happened several times, Bunsho became afraid that the feudal lords might attempt to take his daughters from him by force, so he increased the number of retainers and strictly protected them. The feudal lords planned to attack and kidnap the daughters during a visit to the temple. When Bunsho heard of this, he built a magnificent golden structure to the west of his mansion, which housed a statue of every Buddha, beginning with Amida Buddha, and told his daughters to pray before them. Thus the feudal lords, burning with unrequited love, had to watch helplessly.
When Lord Daiguji heard about this, he called upon Bunsho.
"I hear you have two beautiful daughters, and receive an endless stream of marriage proposals for them from the feudal lords. Is this true? Don't give your daughters to someone else. I will marry them to two of my own sons."
Bunsho thought, "Girls really are much better than boys. If I'd had boys, they would be expected to serve Lord Daiguji to the utmost of their ability. Becoming a part of Lord Daiguji's family, however, is truly a blessing,"
"I shall obey with pleasure. I will tell my daughters and give you their reply."
Then he returned to his home.
** Second Volume **
Bunsho returned home shouting vociferously,
"My my, how joyous! We will get Lord Daiguji's pampered offspring as son-in-laws! He gave the order to prepare for my daughters' wedding. So, let's start to prepare now!
He went to his daughters' mansion, and told them happily what had happened. But as soon as they heard the news, his daughters started crying and sobbing. Naturally, this came as a surprise to Bunsho, and with a face expressing bewilderment, he asked them what the matter was.
"Why do you say such a thing? We will never give our agreement. Even though we are of humble origin, we don't appreciate the offer from Lord Daiguji at all. If we were to marry Lord Daiguji's sons, we would be below their sisters and their other brothers' wives, and we would surely be mocked. How shameful that would be! If you had said 'Lord Daiguji is your master, so serve him as maids!' we would have obeyed. But we will never enter the house of Lord Daiguji as his sons' brides."
Bunsho was shattered. Murmuring,
"Was I wrong about all this?"
to himself, he stood up with an expressionless face and left.
From then on, reminders from Lord Daiguji arrived every day with the swiftness of an arrow. Although Bunsho was ashamed, he felt he owed Lord Daiguji at least a reply and went to his mansion,
"I have no idea what they are thinking, but my daughters keep saying that whatever your orders are, they are not going to enter your house as your sons' brides. There is nothing I can do about it, so I humbly ask you not to mention it any more."
Lord Daiguji was furious, and forcefully demanded,
"With your social standing, Bunsho, refusing my sons is outrageous. Stop complaining, and marry your daughters to my sons immediately."
Bunsho went to his daughters' mansion again, lamenting,
"I was so joyous to have been granted you as my children, and I have raised you with utmost care till now, but in the end you are causing me such suffering ... I am so sad."
His daughters replied,
"It is unnecessary that our innocent father should be in great distress that we have declined the offer of marriage. Please tell Lord Daiguji that the world holds nothing for us anymore, and that we have decided to follow our desire to renounce the world and become nuns. Tell him that if there is a chance to marry another feudal lord, we will accept any rebuke at that time."
When he heard this, Bunsho started to weep bitterly.
"Why do you want to become nuns when you are this beautiful?"
"We do not want to become nuns right now. You will see us in the morning and evening now, please be satisfied with this."
Bunsho thought that this was reasonable enough and went to tell Lord Daiguji.
"If they are considering becoming nuns so seriously, then there is nothing I can do. You have been granted your children by the gods and Buddha, so their way of thinking has turned out a little strange,"
said Lord Daiguji, and he never touched on the subject again.
The province of Hitachi was under the rule of Lord Komatsu. A relative of his, a man called Efu no Kurando Michishige, was appointed as provincial governor, and came to the province from the capital. He was very lecherous, and as he was not married yet he wanted to find a beautiful and well-disposed wife, and did not mind what her social standing was. As he was the governor, the feudal lords had fought among themselves to present their daughters to him, but none was to his liking, and he remained unmarried.
Somebody who had seen his situation had once asked him,
"Why is it that you live all by yourself?"
and Efu no Kurando Michishige had answered,
"I am not enjoying this, either. If nothing happens, I will go back to the capital for good. I do not care about social standing, I just want a beautiful wife ... "
"Here is a story too extraordinary to believe. There is a man called Bunsho who is a subordinate of Lord Daiguji's living in Kashima. He is the richest person in the province, and has two daughters of great beauty. The feudal lords have fought among themselves to ask for their hand in marriage, but they have refused even the sons of their master Lord Daiguji. You would not believe they are daughters of someone like Bunsho, as they are two girls of almost heavenly beauty. They are extremely cherished by their parents, and have set their hearts on becoming imperial princesses, and say that they will become nuns if their wish is not granted. Maybe you would like to order Lord Daiguji here and call the two girls?"
When he heard this, Michishige was overjoyed as if his wish had already been granted, and said,
"I have never heard about this before. If everything goes well, I will reward you with a domain wherever you wish,"
and gave the man many presents for the time being.
Michishige called upon Lord Daiguji immediately, and said in a tone as if talking about everyday matters,
"I thought this province was large, but when I came here I realized how backwards it is. I have seen a great number of women, but not one was to my taste. But I have heard that one of your subordinates has two beautiful daughters. Bring them to me with your authority. If everything goes well, I might give you my position of governor in return."
"I have understood your order. They are two sisters, just as you mentioned. However, as they are girls who think in a completely different way, I have heard that they will not hear of any of the marriage proposals or moral lessons of their parents. But as it is your wish, I shall convey it to them,"
Lord Daiguji answered and bowed his head.
Lord Daiguji called Bunsho and told him of Michishige's intentions:
"I have good news for you. The governor of this province has heard of your daughters' beauty, and wants them to become his wives. How fortunate it is! It is good to have daughters, and if I get to be governor as a reward, I shall make you my intendant. For you, this promotion would be like being reborn in a better life."
Bunsho was overjoyed, and replied,
"I shall obey your orders. My daughters certainly do not listen to what their parents say, so I am not sure if they will accept this time. But even if they don't like the feudal lords from the province, the governor is from the capital, so it should be alright."
He rushed home, and made a huge fuss as soon as he entered the gate,
"How joyous, how joyous! I thought girls were no good, but I had no idea at all. I will become the father-in-law of the governor! How joyous, how joyous! Let's start preparing for the wedding quickly."
He was already overcome with joy.
To his wife, he said,
"I wonder if I, as their father, should tell them. You're their mother, you can tell them better,"
and so the two of them went to their daughters' mansion.
"Good news! A man of high rank from the capital has come as governor to this province. Through Lord Daiguji he has made an offer to marry you. Isn't this just what you two have always wanted? Let's start preparations for the wedding."
Although he had told them in a good mood and smiling, the sisters, as expected, did not give their assent. Bunsho was devastated.
"How can you refuse such a great offer? If you decline this offer, you will lose the favor of the governor, be renounced by Lord Daiguji, and I don't know what is going to happen to me. It would be a turn of fate from a former incarnation that you should be our children, but you always disobey your miserable father,"
His daughters, crying, kept repeating,
"We will not give our agreement."
Bunsho was unable to accept their reaction, and admonished them. But they said, weeping,
"Our dear father may say so, but if we easily give our agreement to the governor's order after having rejected proposals from all over our province, Lord Daiguji will think that we declined his offer because it was not good enough, and he won't feel good about it. Eventually, it will not be good for you, either. Please understand ... "
Seeing his children so miserable, it would have been impossible for Bunsho to make such unreasonable demands even if he had not been their father. For even if he was to be punished for his children, he could not convince them to do something they clearly loathed, and so he returned to Lord Daiguji.
"My daughters have resolved never to become anyone's wives. If they had wanted this, they would have obeyed Lord Daiguji's order. They say that in this world of impermanence, one should renounce the world and pray for the next one, and if you force them they will throw themselves into the sea. Please tell this to the governor."
Lord Daiguji, also disappointed, went to see the governor.
"The daughters of this Bunsho are somewhat strange, and appear to have no desire to live a life in this everyday world like everyone else. They are burdensome children saying they would rather die than marry, refusing all marriage proposals in the province and remaining single. There is nothing within my powers I could do. I beg your forgiveness."
The governor, who had already been looking forward to meeting the sisters, said,
"At this point, it is to no avail. I will return home and look for the ideal woman in the big capital,"
and he rushed back home.
When he arrived at the palace of His Highness the Chief Advisor of the Emperor, all the governors from the different provinces had gathered there and were engaged in a heated discussion about their travels. Michishige joined them,
"There are many different provinces, but there is none as strange and rare as Hitachi."
The son of His Highness the Regent, Lord Chujo, Lord of the second rank, caught this with his sharp ears. He showed interest:
"Why is that?"
Michishige told him in detail about the fortunate Bunsho, and his two beautiful daughters who had refused marriage proposals from all over the province, and, broke into tears of regret.
Lord Chujo listened keenly, and immediately fell in love with Bunsho's daughters. Although the noble families in the capital kept presenting him with their daughters, he felt no desire for them, and did not even look at beautiful women of high rank. As if there was a bond between them from a previous incarnation, since he had heard about Bunsho's daughters he was unable to think of anything else, and languished over what he should do so much that he fell ill. His parents began to frantically pray for his recovery at temples near and far, but autumn came and there still was no effect.
On the night of the fifteenth day of August, when the moon was bright, the young nobles gathered to lift the spirits of Lord Chujo by holding a concert of the Japanese harp, the Japanese lute and the Shinto flute. Lord Chujo even recited a poem during the concert:
Tsukimireba Yarayukatanaku Kanashikini
"I get terribly sad when looking at the moon, but nobody asks me why I am so sad."
He pressed his sleeves against his face and tried to give himself a casual air.
Hyoenosuke quickly noticed that Lord Chujo was unable to endure this.
"I have heard that Lord Chujo has been ill lately. I have not asked him about it, but he seems to be overcome by an invisible grief, with nobody to turn to for advice. Why have I failed to notice this earlier?"
he said, and with two friends went to Lord Chujo.
"We have seen you are worried about something, surely not a trifle matter. Please do not show restraint before us, and tell us what gives you such trouble, whatever it is. We promise you among men that we will keep this a secret,"
they said respectfully.
Lord Chujo was surprised that his suffering was so visible that others could detect it, and puzzled about what he should do. With the unhappiness piercing his heart, he began to cry,
"If you have seen through this much, I will not hide anything from you. To be frank with you, I am unable to stop thinking about Bunsho's daughters ever since Efu no Kurando Michishige told me about them in spring. Even if I dispatched an envoy to check on them, it would be painful to be accused by other people of choosing women of such a humble origin to be my wives. I am burning with love and cannot go on living like this."
Looking at Lord Chujo trying to hold down his feelings, Hyoenosuke and his friends also burst into tears and said,
"If it is nothing more than that, there is a simple solution. Please do not grieve any longer. The matter can be settled with you giving them an order to come and see you. However, if by any chance, your passion cools when you meet them in real life, this might lead to a scandal, and is also unfortunate for the girls. From ancient days, there has been a way to handle such a situation. Go to Hitachi province, we shall accompany you."
Lord Chujo was overjoyed, and left immediately.
[During the concert, Hyoenosuke and his friends ask Lord Chujo about his troubles of the heart. Lord Chujo decides to go to Hitachi with them.]
However, the young nobles going with Lord Chujo were also distinctly beautiful, even in the capital. Their going somewhere as provincial as Hitachi would have surely aroused too much attention. Even if they disguised themselves as mountain priests, they would not be able to enter the villages. After searching for a solution, they decided to go in the guise of merchants, which would easily allow them to get close to Bunsho's house. They filled boxes of merchandise and left for the provinces.
Lord Chujo went to see his parents before his departure. As he had locked himself in his room recently, his parents were overjoyed to see him. However, he hid from them his resolve to embark on a journey, and thinking of how sad his parents would be after his departure, he began to cry. When his parents saw this, they became anxious.
"What on earth is it that you are so distressed about? During our lifetime, we will do anything according to your wishes, so why do you appear so sad? Graciously, the Emperor has ordered you to be promoted to a higher rank, but this has been put off as you are suffering so much,"
his father and mother said and they too started to weep.
Lord Chujo almost could no longer restrain himself, but holding back his tears, he casually stood up and left. His father bade him farewell, and called to him,
"However much I look at your face, I never tire of it. Visit us whenever you want to."
Lord Chujo wanted to turn back to see his parents' faces again, but not to let them think him strange by getting upset at the sadness of separation, he returned to his room.
"My father and mother care so much for me that even seeing me every day is not enough for them. How much sorrow will my journey to a faraway province cause them? As a memento, until I come back safely when I have succeeded ... ,"
he said and pinned a poem onto a pillar of the house:
Toshiheruto Wasururumademo Makibashira
"Even if so much time passes that you forget me, remain as you are as surely I will return, wooden pillar."
As the sun rose, he changed clothes and made up a poem.
Aumadeno Katamitotekoso Nugiokuni
"As a memento until we meet again, I take off these clothes. Father, Mother, please don't think that I have changed my mind."
Lord Chujo was wearing an unfamiliar white hitatare (military wear) and straw shoes. He was eighteen, Shikibu Dayu was twenty, Toueumanosuke was twenty-one, and Hyoenosuke twenty-five, when they left the capital after the tenth day of September, headed for Hitachi province.
On their journey, they passed through Mikawa province, and began to feel a longing for the capital. Protecting their beautiful feet, which, not used to long journeys, had turned red with blood, they decided to leave with daybreak. Suddenly an old man of about seventy years appeared and asked,
"Where is it you are from?"
"We are merchants from the capital, on our way to Hitachi province to sell our goods."
"Although you claim to be merchants, you do not appear as such. You are the son of the famous Lord Regent, Lord Chujo, Lord of second rank. And the remaining three appear to be Hyoenosuke, Toueumanosuke, and Shikibu Dayu. You seem to be lost in the labyrinth of love. I will help you to meet the women you desire. From the day you left the capital, a purple cloud has been lingering over Lord Chujo. For an old man like me this is easy to see."
Although Lord Chujo and his companions felt slightly uneasy, they were happy that he would help them to meet women and took out a quilted silk garment and gave it to the old man. He said,
"I am the famous prophet,"
and disappeared as if erased from the earth. They considered this a hopeful sign, forgot about their aching feet and hurried towards Hitachi.
At the same time, the capital was in great clamor because Lord Chujo had disappeared. Starting with the inner palace, every likely place was searched, but he was not found anywhere and his parents were mad with worry. Asking themselves,
"What was his distress, what was he always so depressed about?"
they went to his room, and found the costume unchanged. On the pillar Lord Chujo had always reclined against, they found his note: "I will surely be back."
Although this gave them a little consolation, they demanded searches for him to be conducted everywhere.
While this was going on, Lord Chujo arrived in Hitachi province. First he went to pray to the Kashima Daimyojin, repeating his prayers
"to meet the daughters of Bunsho"
throughout the night.
He left at dawn, asked the owner of a nearby house where the mansion of Bunsho was and was shown the way. When he saw the splendor of Bunsho's house, he stopped dumbfounded and thought,
"That there could be such a magnificent mansion this far off in the provinces ... "
But how would he get close to the daughters?
Just then a maid appeared from the mansion and asked,
"Dear visitor, may I ask who you are?"
"I am a merchant from the capital."
"If that is the case, we will let you in."
Highly pleased, Lord Chujo followed the maid into the mansion.
Lord Chujo and his company shouldered the boxes, wearing the same clothes and, holding the fans over their heads, started an entertaining sales talk. While peeping besottedly at the daughters, they laid out their rare merchandise, and their voices were as beautiful as those of Karyobinga, the birds from paradise.
Although there was a large number of servants and retainers employed at Bunsho's mansion, they all had grown up in the far off provinces and therefore nobody realized the meaning of Lord Chujo's words, with the exception of one maid. As she had been raised in the capital, she was not only well versed in waka poetry, but also beautiful and well-disposed, and had come to be the personal servant of Bunsho's daughters. She thought to herself,
"These merchants are of splendid appearance, and also the way they handle their fans and sell their goods is superior, so they surely are not simple merchants. Without a doubt they are young nobles from the capital. The governor who was rejected by the sisters has probably been gossiping about them in the capital. Then, the young nobles heard about it and have thought that in such a far province, their messengers would not fulfill their role and have therefore come themselves in disguise."
The servants said to Bunsho,
"We have never heard anything this amusing and entertaining before. Would you, dear master, like to come and listen as well?
When Bunsho opened the side entrance door and listened, he found it very entertaining,
"Oy, oy! Where have you come from? The voice in which you are selling your merchandise is so amusing and entertaining, show me how you sell your goods once again, I am listening."
Lord Chujo and his company exchanged glances and thought,
"That must be the Bunsho we have heard of. Let's put an extra effort into selling our goods,"
and continued their sales routine. As listening to them was very entertaining, and people did not tire of it, Bunsho let them repeat themselves over and over again. He was struck with an idea,
"It would be nice to let them stay for the night, let them sell their goods and to listen to them."
So he asked,
"You, where are you staying?"
"We have come straight to this mansion after we arrived here, so we have no place to stay yet."
"In that case, be my guests. I will give you lodging for the night, and we will also take care of your goods,"
Bunsho said with a happy face, and so Lord Chujo and his company thought that everything had worked out beyond their wildest dreams.
When they entered the mansion, and hot water was first prepared to wash their feet. Toueumanosuke washed Lord Chujo's feet, and Hyoenosuke took out a towel and wiped Lord Chujo's hands. As Lord Chujo had been lovesick since spring and was disguised as a merchant, he looked as thin as a shadow. When Bunsho's servants saw this, they thought:
"It seems as if the thin man who carried none of the boxes is their master. Although he is worn out from the journey, he is a man of distinctive character, with an elegant figure, and refined speech. He appears just like Ariwarano Narihira or Hikarugenji of long ago. Somehow he seems to be in deep thought about something."
And, laughing, they said,
"Strange. When he washes his feet in the basin that our lord takes good care of, the other person dries him with a towel. What kind of people are they? How absurd."
Bunsho had ordered,
"These merchants from the capital are honorable people. Do not cause me shame, and prepare their dinner properly."
So the servants prepared the rice properly, and also piled large servings of side dishes on the table, and served all of them in the same way. Lord Chujo's attendants felt dreadful about this, so they lowered their food from the serving table, offered the servings to Lord Chujo first, and sat politely. When the servants saw this, they laughed again.
"Merchants from the capital are strange people. They let the thin one eat first, and the others keep their heads down."
"Maybe they are not used to eating this kind of food. They take everything off the serving table. How disgusting, in spite of their beautiful voices and appearance."
Bunsho appeared and offered sake to his guests. He brought a number of different spirits and delicacies, and they started a drinking party.
"As they say," Bunsho said, "'Let's start with the head of household',"
and he drank three sips before offering the drink to Lord Chujo. As Lord Chujo thought it would be unnatural to refuse, he drank, but his attendants almost fainted at the impoliteness.
"There really is nothing worse than the path of love. It would be unthinkable in the capital for anyone to drink before Lord Chujo,"
they thought, as they each began to weep. When Lord Chujo saw this, he was filled with regret, and thought,
"It was wrong of me to do this."
As more and more sake was drunk, Bunsho became increasingly talkative:
"This Bunsho here may be of low class, but I have been granted two beloved daughters from Kashima Daimyojin and I take care good of them as if they are my masters. They are perfect in every way, including their appearances, except for one thing. They have an awful dislike of men. They keep refusing the marriage proposals of the feudal lords from all over the country, won't listen to even my master Lord Daiguji's offer of marrying them to his sons, and even coldly refused the provincial governor. Two such beautiful women, and what a waste! However, they say that they won't mind marrying some young nobles from the capital--whatever their names are--and they have us greatly perplexed. Anyway, my daughters' servants are all of great beauty, and if you desire a partner, I can present you with ten, even twenty! Stay for a while, and enjoy yourselves!"
Lord Chujo and his attendants listened with curiosity.
Afterwards, Lord Chujo sent some beautiful goods, along with an inkstone, to the young ladies. Although the sisters were used to seeing many treasures, they had never seen anything as beautiful before. Exclaiming
they looked closely at the inkstone, in which a very small, maple-colored letter containing a poem had been hidden.
Kimiyueni Koijinimayou Momijibano
"Lost on the path of love because of you, I am crying tears of blood. I wish for you to see how deep the color of the Japanese maple, dyed as it is with these tears."
The sisters were deeply impressed with the quality of the ink and the brushstrokes, which were more magnificent than any they had seen before. Among all the love letters they had seen through the years, none had touched their hearts, but this letter completely mesmerized them.
As the older sister had taken the inkstone as her own, the younger sister became envious. When Bunsho heard about this, he went to Lord Chujo and said, standing with the door still open:
"This Bunsho here has got two daughters. My older daughter has taken the box you just gave them, so the younger one has become envious. Won't you give her another one? I will pay any price for it."
Lord Chujo had intended this all along, and had sent the elder sister one set of goods first. So next, he sent the younger sister something beautiful that was not in any way inferior. Bunsho was overjoyed, and offered:
"To tide you over the boredom, why don't you go to pray at the temple on the west side of my mansion?"
When they went and looked at the temple, perhaps because of seeing it in such a place, it appeared to be a temple of such splendor that the many magnificent temples in the capital seemed to offer no match. Many different musical instruments were also arrayed there. As Lord Chujo had not laid a hand on any instrument since he had left the capital, a feeling of nostalgia welled up inside him, and he took the Japanese lute and began playing with great skill. Hyoenosuke played the Japanese harp and Toueumanosuke the flute. Among them, the flute of Shikibutaifu was so beautiful that it seemed to reverberate in heaven.
Upon hearing the sound of music, the Bunsho's female servants told him:
"It was your mistake to let some simple merchants from the capital into the temple. They are making noise as if they are tearing the walls."
Bunsho was incensed, and ordered:
"That's inexcusable. I did encourage them to go to the temple, but they should have been back by now. You, go and discipline them!"
The maid went to the temple with about fifty other maids, but upon hearing the performance of Lord Chujo and his attendants, they sat down in the garden and listened as they became lost in the music. When they did not come back, another ten or twenty maids went to the temple, but they also failed to return.
"What are they doing?"
Bunsho thought and went to the temple to see for himself. When he arrived there, a crowd of two to three hundred people was lined up. Bunsho was raving, and shouted:
What are you doing here?"
Just when he was about to lash out at them with his stick, he heard the melody of the music. He dropped the stick, dumbfounded.
** Final Volume **
When Bunsho heard the music, it gave him goosebumps and he was moved so deeply that he entered a state of shock. Bunsho had to fight back his tears.
"Why haven't you played such wonderful music to me before? Ah, if only I was younger, you could teach me such an elegant thing as this. I wonder if this is the kind of music one can hear in paradise. I feel grateful. Thank you, thank you so much!"
With this, he pulled out many different treasures, and gave them to Lord Chujo and his companions. They laughed and said,
"This is like being given the wedding gift already,"
but considering it unnatural to refuse, accepted.
The older sister kept thinking secretly about the letter she had received from Lord Chujo earlier. However, she was also wondering.
"I have no way to speak to him, and even if I wanted to reply to his letter, someone's style of writing does not say anything about that person's rank, so the letter might actually have been written by one of the subordinates of the provincial governor. In that case, what a fool I would make of myself."
When the elder sister heard that Lord Chunjo and his companions had given a musical performance, she beseeched their mother:
"I wish for nothing so much as to listen to the harp and lute. From what I have heard, these merchants are skillful players and give a magnificent performance. I want to hear it too."
Their mother thought this natural, and went to ask Bunsho.
Bunsho immediately gave his consent, saying:
"I also wanted the princesses to hear the music,"
and went to see Lord Chujo and his company.
"Won't you play like you did yesterday once more? Two people who I think of as masters of mine also want to listen to your music."
"Ah," Lord Chujo thought, "these may finally be my desired princesses,"
and, giving special attention to his makeup, he made himself presentable and went to the temple. As it was a big event, the princesses were dressed in finery as well. Their attendants and maids were also dressed up, and their appearance when entering the temple was not at all that of people from the provinces, and their modesty was evident. A lingering faint fragrance contributed further to the impression of being in the capital. Lord Chujo became light-headed and he was overwhelmed by desire to open the bamboo screen and burst in. However, he collected himself, and, even more than usual, poured his whole heart into the performance. The sound was of unsurpassed beauty.
Whereas the others in the audience found it simply entertaining, the princesses were able to appreciate the magnificence of the performance, as they played instruments themselves. They were so moved by the unique, dignified but intimate sound that they began to shiver and get carried away by it. Lord Chujo's face, by no means ordinary in any case, was overflowing with elegance and loveliness.
"Ah, how much I want to catch a glimpse of the princesses. If only some wind would blow and expose them to my view,"
Lord Chujo thought yearningly. Suddenly -- was it the sympathy of Buddha? -- a breeze lifted the bamboo screen and, for a brief moment, the eyes of Lord Chujo and the older sister met. She was even more beautiful than the rumors he had heard, and not even Princess Yokihi would have been able to surpass her.
The performance by Lord Chujo and his company was so magnificent, it seemed to reach the heavens, and even the commonest of the people who had gathered outside the gate to listen began to cry. It is easy to imagine how the princesses were feeling.
After the performance had finished, the people left. Emotions welled up between the older sister and Lord Chujo, and their eyes were overflowing with tears. However, both were at a loss as to what to do.
Bunsho offered Lord Chujo and his company sake again. As usual, he drank himself before offering the cup to Lord Chujo.
"If you can pour me sake, you can play music for me. No matter how many times I hear it, I don't get tired of it."
When he heard this, Lord Chujo felt affection for Bunsho, because he was the father of his beloved princess. Lord Chujo said,
and began to perform. Bunsho said drunkenly:
"I told you before, if you like, there are a number of good-looking maids at my daughters' house, so call them whenever you want ... if I haven't told you already, they're north from here, look, just over there,"
and pointed in the direction to his daughters' mansion. Lord Chujo and his companions exchanged glances and said laughing:
"You have told us something good, Lord Bunsho!"
That night, unable to remain patient, and when everyone had fallen asleep, Lord Chujo secretly made for the princesses' mansion. The princesses too, unable to forget the figure of Lord Chujo they had seen during the day, stayed awake after their maids had gone to bed and found themselves lying side by side gazing through the raised lattice at the bright moon. Hiding nothing, the older sister talked about the letter inside the inkstone, and that her eyes had met with Lord Chujo's at the temple, while her younger sister listened, deeply moved.
Lord Chujo, his heart set entirely on meeting the elder sister, climbed over a strong fence and finally reached the princesses' room. The younger sister, guessing that it would be Lord Chujo, hid herself at the back of the room. The older sister was upset and said frostily,
"Why have you come this quickly? I have refused the marriage proposals of a many men, and if I marry a simple merchant, even if you are splendid, I will be able to face neither my father nor my mother, and the rumors of the public will cause me shame as well."
Lord Chujo, judging the moment right as she would sooner or later find out the truth anyway, revealed his noble status and his longing to see her ever since he heard the rumors from Efu no Kurando Michishige. When the princess heard this, she felt indebted that she had not known the truth but it was heart-wrenching to think of her father Bunsho's impolite behavior to Lord Chujo. Lord Chujo however, reaped the reward for doing his best and the two exchanged deep vows.
Although it was one of the long nights of autumn, dawn came in the blink of an eye. Feeling the sadness of the all too quick separation, he composed a poem:
Koikoite Aimiruyowano Mijikakiwa
"The night I am finally able to meet you, whom I have been yearning for so long, is short. While we are still exchanging lovers' talk, it has become daylight."
The princess, turning her face away, recited her own poem in a casual manner that belay her identity as Bunsho's daughter:
Kazunaranu Miniwamijikaki Yowanarashi
"For such a lowly person as myself, dawn has broken before I even noticed whether the evening was short."
Lord Chujo had laid eyes on all the noble women of the capital, but with each of them there had always been something he was not satisfied with. However, he could not detect a single shortcoming with the princess, and his affection for her only grew.
As the princess seemed ashamed, Lord Chujo left the room. Although he wanted to send a letter, he decided to keep things secret for a little longer and exercise patience. With nightfall, he secretly went to the princess's house again, using the same path. Their love deepened with each of their meetings, and they firmly promised each other that they would live happily together for the rest of their lives, come what may.
However, with every meeting it became harder and harder to keep the affair secret. The rumors finally reached the princess's mother, and she scolded her.
"I wish I had never had daughters at all! As you kept refusing all the proposals of fine men, I thought you must have a plan in this and wanted to become the wife of someone with an even higher position, but having such a merchant as a husband, that's mortifying. I will drive out the merchants before other people in this province get to know this."
Bunsho did not know what it was all about, but listening as hard as he could, he was able to make out his wife's fury as she exclaimed:
"My elder daughter giving me a merchant as a son-in-law, that's mortifying. I want both my daughter and the merchant out of the house!"
"That can't be true, you must have heard the wrong thing. Perhaps he is just seeing one of the maids. You shouldn't say something reckless when you're not certain."
"Why would I say something uncertain in front of her father? I should not have had daughters at all. If, after refusing all the proposals of the provincial lords, our daughter chooses a merchant, we will become a laughing stock. It's mortifying. I should never have let them meet a merchant from the capital. If Lord Daiguji hears of this, he will become unpleasant. I beg you to drive these merchants out quickly."
Bunsho thought very hard, and finally said:
"This would also be fate. It's not the end of the world. First of all, although that man seems to be of low social rank as he appears to be a merchant, judging him as a man, he seems nice enough to me. We've become rather close, and when I listened to his performance, I felt I was in paradise. And no matter how long our daughter stays, we won't get tired of her. It would be impossible to drive our daughter out at anytime. Let's simply act as if we know nothing, and also tell the servants to keep quiet. Let's just let things take their course, at least until Lord Daiguji gets wind of it."
His wife abandoned her idea, saying:
"For me as their mother, it is especially mortifying. Even if I don't want people to know about this, it will leak out from somewhere unexpected. That's why I thought it would be better to tell you before you hear it from someone else, but if you say so, there's nothing I can do about it."
When Lord Daiguji heard that Bunsho had merchants from the capital as his guests, and was enjoying their performances of orchestral music, he sent an envoy.
"Is it true that there are people at your house who can play wonderful music? Let them perform at the temple, I will come to listen today."
Bunsho obeyed, and went to see the merchants. But he was embarrassed because of his elder daughter, and avoided looking them directly in the eye.
"Lord Daiguji will grace us with his presence today, and has given orders that he wants to listen to your performance. Please, be even more attentive in your playing than usual,"
and Lord Chujo and his companions gave their agreement.
They prepared as if they were in the capital. Having brought their make-up accessories and clothes, they dressed up and went to the temple. The people from Bunsho's house had gathered regardless of their social rank. In surprise they called out,
"Where have the merchants gone? Who is this? They appear like gods or Buddhas!"
Bunsho, looking at Lord Chujo closely, thought to himself,
"Whatever his social rank is, we cannot treat such a wonderful man in this thoughtless way. If Lord Daiguji gives his agreement, I want him as my son-in-law, no matter what others might say."
While this was going on, a purple cloud lingered above Bunsho's temple, and a fragrance too fine to be from this world floated in the air. Surely also the gods and Buddhas were moved by the performance of Lord Chujo and his company.
Lord Daiguji had brought his sons, and had arrived in his own palanquin. The very moment he looked at the facade of the temple, he met Lord Chujo's eye. Tumbling from his palanquin, Lord Daiguji was too stunned to stand straight:
"Am I dreaming? The son of the Chief Advisor to the Emperor, Lord Chujo, Lord of the second rank, who disappeared from the capital and is now being searched for in all the mountains, temples and provinces -- he is here after all! How shameful that I did not know about this ... !"
When Bunsho saw his master fall from the palanquin, he came running toward him in great haste.
All of a sudden, Hyoenosuke appeared and gave an order:
"Sadamichi Daiguji, come here!"
Shocked, Bunsho hurried back into his house:
"What on earth has happened? That's why I said it wouldn't be good to let the merchants meet Lord Daiguji. Of all things, addressing Lord Daiguji only by his last name, that man must be out of his mind! Lord Daiguji will be beside himself with anger and scold me."
At the same time, the young girls, without understanding what was going on, began to chatter:
"They say he is Lord Chujo!"
"He lied about being a merchant from the capital."
"A high-ranking noble as son-in-law!"
When Bunsho heard this, he thought it strange and went again to the temple, where he saw Lord Daiguji receiving orders respectfully in the garden. Lord Daiguji saw Bunsho and called him over:
"Did you not know that this is the son of His Highness the Chief Advisor to the Emperor, who is known across the entire capital? Although he came to this remote province, you have shown discourtesy. He is such a high-ranking noble that normally you would not be able to get anywhere near him. What a waste!"
Bunsho was completely bewildered, as what he had thought to be a mere merchant was in fact the son of His Highness, and so there could be nothing more auspicious than gaining him as a son-in-law for his elder daughter. Once again, he returned home in a great frenzy. Overjoyed, he began talking in absurdities such as,
"The son-in-law of His Highness the Chief Advisor to the Emperor is a merchant!"
Lord Daiguji was alarmed, and dispatched his palanquin to welcome Lord Chujo to his home. When the feudal lords in the vicinity heard of this, they came to visit. Such was the bustle of activity around Lord Daiguji's mansion that it was almost impossible to walk in the opposite direction.
When the lords heard of this, they began to gossip amongst themselves:
"Blessed with such magnificent fortune, no wonder she turned down all the marriage proposals."
As Lord Chujo could not go on like this forever, he decided to take the elder sister to the capital with him. As all the lords wanted to accompany him, their number was about ten thousand.
At Bunsho's place, his ladies were busy with preparations for the trip to the capital. They said,
"Although the elder sister has a large number of servants, there is nobody we can entrust with the role of chaperone. We ought to ask Lord Daiguji's wife."
"I apologize for asking you, but we have nobody suitable to take care of my daughter. If you know of a suitable person, someone as beautiful and educated as Lady Daiguji, I would like to ask her to accompany my daughter to the capital."
"Although it is only Bunsho's daughter, the son of His Highness the Chief Advisor to the Emperor will take her to the capital. There is no reason to reject your request,"
Lord Daiguji replied, and so his wife joined the trip to the capital too.
Bunsho returned home happily and told his wife,
"Now I am employing my master. It is your turn next, hire Mokudai's wife."
The wife went to Mokudai's house and said,
"I believe you have heard of this matter already. My daughter is to become the lawful wife of Lord Chujo, lord of the second rank. Would you accompany her as a chaperone to the capital?"
Mokudai's wife replied,
"I cannot refuse, for there will be the due ceremony when Lord Chujo marries your daughter. I accept it as the order of His Highness the Chief Advisor to the Emperor,"
and gave her agreement. This way, noble people from far and wide were employed to accompany the daughter.
But although this story is full of auspicious events, there could have been no pain as great as that of Bunsho and his wife when parting from their elder daughter. Even though she had been with them for a long time, they had not grown tired of her and loved their daughter so much that being separated for only one day felt like one thousand years to them. No matter how auspicious the event was, their sadness remained.
But there was no time to lose. The treasures piled up in the storehouses were finally put to lavish use. The palanquins were decorated in gold, silver and jewels: there are no words to describe their beauty. They appeared to be from another land.
There was a huge crowd of people in front of Bunsho's house who had gathered to watch the elder sister's departure to the capital. Adorned in their finest clothes, the elder sister stepped inside the palanquin, accompanied by two masters and their wife, alongside one hundred ladies of select beauty. As Lord Daiguji accompanied his wife to the capital, the onlookers were awed and started to gossip about the good fortune of Bunsho's daughters.
Traveling the long distance, they arrived in the capital in early March, just at the height of spring. As if to celebrate the good fortune of the princess who had been hidden in the countryside, the cherry blossoms in the mountains were also in full bloom.
The first thing that Lord Chujo did upon arriving in the capital was to send his parents a letter:
I trained myself in many places in the six months after I became disenchanted and left the capital. Then my fate became intertwined with a woman of not such high social standing. For the three years that I have lived with her I have been unable to tell either you, my dear father or you, dear mother, about this. How bitterly you must think of me. But if you would kindly forgive me, I would like to see you both.
When he read the letter, His Highness the Chief Advisor to the Emperor could not believe it was true. He replied urgently:
No matter how low her social standing might be, if this is the woman our son loves, why would we reject her? We are happy that there is a woman who could capture our son's heart. Bring her with you as soon as you can.
Lord Chujo composed a reply to his father's letter:
Although bound by destiny to the princess, I have committed an inexcusable offense to my dear father and dear mother. But nothing can be done about this now. I will show you that I am fine, and the princess is a wonderful person, inferior to no noble woman.
With that, he went to introduce her to his mother immediately.
She was dressed in a gorgeous robe, her walking figure elegant and feminine, her face exuded a distinguished air, and she was without the slightest timidity. This gem-like beauty was such that she lit up her surroundings. Her hair was flowing, and lovelier than a willow moving in the spring breeze. She was fourteen or fifteen years old, and her forehead and eyebrows were as sublime as the light of the moon. Even in a painting she could have not been more beautiful.
His mother too was surprised and spoke in wonder.
"Although I have seen many noble princesses, I have never seen anybody this beautiful. It is said that long ago, the famous Shining Genji let his son, Yugiri, peep at Murasaki-no-ue, Onna-sannomiya and Akashi-no-chugu, who were particularly beautiful among Genji's wives, perform the Japanese harp and lute and compared them to flowers. But this woman might outshine even the wives of Genji. No wonder he can't help loving her! Even I cannot stand not seeing her at least once a day. When I meet her it makes me forget all the unpleasant things in the world. I wonder how it came to be that such a beautiful person was born as the daughter of someone of such low social rank as Bunsho. She is like a creature who has come down from heaven."
Lord Chujo's father, when he heard this, said,
"Men will fall for beautiful women regardless of their social rank. My son's heart has been stolen by this woman, so her parents' standing is irrelevant,"
and he would treat the princess with great esteem.
As a reward for discovering Lord Chujo, Lord Daiguji was granted the province of Hitachi. Mokudai's wife too was granted a lot of land, a credit to her honor.
In the palace too, where Lord Chujo's disappearance had caused so much grief and sorrow - it had been as if a light had gone out - his return to the palace was greeted with great celebration. The emperor said,
"I was worried about what had come of him when he was missing, but I am most pleased that he has returned unharmed,"
and soon Lord Chujo was promoted to the position of Chunagon.
It soon became the subject of gossip and rumor that this Chunagon was bringing with him a beautiful princess as his wife, and this soon reached the ear of the Emperor. When the Emperor enquired of Chunagon, he reported the whole story of what had happened to him.
"Well, how strange. Bring that younger sister to me as a wife,"
commanded the Emperor. An imperial envoy was hastily dispatched to Hitachi.
But Bunsho, despite receiving such a welcome imperial command, did not seem happy.
"I have already given up my elder daughter to Lord Chunagon, as there was nothing to be done, but now my younger daughter as well…? Ah, such sorrow to be separated from both my very special daughters, I would miss them so much that I wouldn't know what to do!"
"What a pity. This is a most favorable command from the Emperor,"
said the imperial envoy.
"How can you reply to the Emperor like that? Just send your daughter to the Imperial Palace as soon as possible."
"No matter how marvelous it is, I would miss my daughters so much it would overwhelm me. Even more so that the Emperor should set his heart on her and issue such a command by envoy without even seeing her, and beyond that, what of I as father? I could not live a moment apart from her. When I feel a longing for our eldest daughter, looking at our younger daughter gives me solace. Even if it is an imperial command, this is the one thing I cannot agree to."
When the imperial envoy returned to Kyoto, he told the Emperor of the situation. Then, the Emperor commanded,
"Very well. Let's bring the parents to the capital with her."
Bunsho and his wife, and the younger daughter dressed in magnificent robes and proceeded to the capital together. However, never before had a non-noble family been to the imperial palace. As there was no other way, Bunsho was appointed Councilor Chujo. Perhaps it was because of the good fortune of the man, but Bunsho, now seventy years old, looked barely fifty.
The younger sister was made over as a minister's daughter, going to the imperial palace as a court lady. When the emperor laid his eyes on the younger sister, she was more beautiful than anyone he had ever seen, so beautiful that he thought she must be either a creature who floated down from heaven, or a manifestation of the Boddhisatva. They exchanged deep vows.
Then came the imperial announcement that the younger sister was now his Empress. And she gave birth to a little prince and princess, which filled the Emperor with unbounded joy. Lord Chunagon had taken over his father's position and had become the chief advisor to the Emperor. The elder sister became known as "Kita-no-mandokoro," and she too was blessed with a little prince and princess, and lived in happiness.
There may never have been such a happy story in history. Bunsho and his wife lived to a hundred years of age. After Bunsho and his wife died, Kisaki-no-miya and Kita-no-mandokoro built temples around the country dedicated to the Buddhahood of their parents. They too lived to a hundred, and their children all prospered.
How on earth was Bunsho born such a lucky man? What great deeds must he have performed in the past? Anyone who saw him or heard about him was envious. No matter what the story is, something bitter and terrible should happen sometime between the beginning of the story and the end. It is a rare that from start to finish, nothing unpleasant should occur, as with Bunsho. Perhaps that is why the story has been passed down through the generations as an example of happiness in the world.
It is said that those who read this will share the good luck of Bunsho, live a long life blessed with fortune and will pass through to the next world just as they hope. There is no doubt that this will also lead the way to an auspicious path of love. And you too will live happily ever after.
** The End **
Copyright 2001. Kyoto University Library