The Jewels Of The Ebbing And The Flowing Tide
Source: Japanese Fairy World
Chiuai was the fourteenth mikado of the Land of the Gods (Japan). His
wife, the empress, was named Jingu, or Godlike Exploit. She was a wise
and discreet lady and assisted her husband to govern his dominions. When
a great rebellion broke out in the south island called Kiushiu, the
mikado marched his army against the rebels. The empress went with him and
lived in the camp. One night, as she lay asleep in her tent, she dreamed
that a heavenly being appeared to her and told her of a wonderful land
in the west, full of gold, silver, jewels, silks and precious stones. The
heavenly messenger told her if she would invade this country she would
succeed, and all its spoil would be hers, for herself and Japan.
"Conquer Corea!" said the radiant being, as she floated away on a purple
In the morning the empress told her husband of her dream, and advised him
to set out to invade the rich land. But he paid no attention of her. When
she insisted, in order to satisfy her, he climbed up a high mountain, and
looking far away towards the setting sun, saw no land thither, not even
mountain peaks. So, believing that there was no country in that direction
he descended, and angrily refused to set out on the expedition. Shortly
after, in a battle with the rebels the mikado was shot dead with an
The generals and captains of the host then declared their loyalty to the
empress as the sole ruler of Japan. She, now having the power, resolved
to carry out her daring plan of invading Corea. She invoked all the
kami or gods together, from the mountains, rivers and plains to get
their advice and help. All came at her call. The kami of the mountains
gave her timber and iron for her ships; the kami of the fields presented
rice and grain for provisions; the kami of the grasses gave her hemp for
cordage; and the kami of the winds promised to open his bag and let out
his breezes to fill her sails toward Corea. All came except Isora, the
kami of the sea shore. Again she called for him and sat up waiting all
night with torches burning, invoking him to appear.
Now, Isora was a lazy fellow, always slovenly and ill-dressed, and when
at last he did come, instead of appearing in state in splendid robes, he
rose right out of the sea-bottom, covered with mud and slime, with shells
sticking all over him and sea-weed clinging to his hair. He gruffly asked
what the empress wanted.
"Go down to Riu Gu and beg his majesty Kai Riu O, the Dragon King of the
World Under the Sea, to give me the two jewels of the tides," said the
Now among the treasures in the palace of the Dragon King of the World
Under the Sea were two jewels having wondrous power over the tides. They
were about as large as apples, but shaped like apricots, with three rings
cut near the top. They seemed to be of crystal, and glistened and shot
out dazzling rays like fire. Indeed, they appeared to seethe and glow
like the eye of a dragon, or the white-hot steel of the sword-forger.
One was called the Jewel of the Flood-Tide, and the other the Jewel of
the Ebb-Tide. Whoever owned them had the power to make the tides
instantly rise or fall at his word, to make the dry land appear, or the
sea overwhelm it, in the fillip of a finger.
Isora dived with a dreadful splash, down, down to Riu Gu, and straightway
presented himself before Kai Riu O. In the name of the empress, he begged
for the two tide-jewels.
The Dragon King agreed, and producing the flaming globes from his casket,
placed them on a huge shell and handed them to Isora, who brought the
jewels to Jingu, who placed them in her girdle.
The empress now prepared her fleet for Corean invasion. Three thousand
barges were built and launched, and two old kami with long streaming
gray hair and wrinkled faces, were made admirals. Their names were Suwa
Daimi[=o] Jin (Great Illustrious, Spirit of Suwa) and Sumiyoshi Daimi[=o]
Jin, the kami who lives under the old pine tree at Takasago, and presides
over nuptial ceremonies.
The fleet sailed in the tenth month. The hills of Hizen soon began to
sink below the horizon, but no sooner were they out of sight of land than
a great storm arose. The ships tossed about, and began to butt each other
like bulls, and it seemed as though the fleet would be driven back; when
lo! Kai Riu O sent shoals of huge sea-monsters and immense fishes that
bore up the ships and pushed their sterns forward with their great
snouts. The shachihoko, or dragon-fishes, taking the ship's cables in
their mouths towed them forward, until the storm ceased and the ocean
was calm. Then they plunged downwards into the sea and disappeared.
The mountains of Corea now rose in sight. Along the shore were gathered
the Corean army. Their triangular fringed banners, inscribed with
dragons, flapped in the breeze. As soon as their sentinels caught sight
of the Japanese fleet, the signal was given, and the Corean line of war
galleys moved gaily out to attack the Japanese.
The empress posted her archers in the bows of her ships and waited for
the enemy to approach. When they were within a few hundred sword-lengths,
she took from her girdle the Jewel of the Ebbing Tide and cast the
flashing gem into the sea. It blazed in the air for a moment, but no
sooner did it touch the water, than instantly the ocean receded from
under the Corean vessels, and left them stranded on dry land. The
Coreans, thinking it was a tidal wave, and that the Japanese ships were
likewise helpless in the undertow, leaped out of their galleys and rushed
over the sand, and on to the attack. With shouting and drawn swords their
aspect was terrible. When within range of the arrows, the Japanese bowmen
opened volleys of double-headed, or triple-pronged arrows on the Coreans,
and killed hundreds.
But on they rushed, until near the Japanese ships, when the empress
taking out the Flood-Tide Jewel, cast it in the sea. In a snap of the
finger, the ocean rolled up into a wave many tens of feet high and
engulfed the Corean army, drowning them almost to a man. Only a few were
left out of the ten thousand. The warriors in their iron armor sank dead
in the boiling waves, or were cast along the shore like logs. The
Japanese army landed safely, and easily conquered the country. The king
of Corea surrendered and gave his bales of silk, jewels, mirrors, books,
pictures, robes, tiger skins, and treasures of gold and silver to the
empress. The booty was loaded on eighty ships, and the Japanese army
returned in triumph to their native country.
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