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Yoshitsune






Category: SCRAPS OF FOLK-LORE.

Source: Aino Folktales

[It has been generally believed, both by Japanese and Europeans who
have written about the Ainos, that the latter worship Yoshitsune, a
Japanese hero of the twelfth century, who is said,--not, indeed, by
Japanese historians, but by Japanese tradition,--to have fled to
Yezo when the star of his fortune had set. The following details
concerning Yoshitsune bear so completely the stamp of the myth, that
they may, perhaps, be allowed a place in this collection. It should
be mentioned that Yoshitsune is known to the Ainos under the name of
Hongai Sama. Sama is the Japanese for "Mr." or "Lord." Hongai
is the form in which, according to a regular law of permutation
affecting words adopted into Aino from Japanese, the word Hogwan,
which was Yoshitsune's official title, appears! The name of Hongai
Sama is, however, used only in worship, not in the recounting of
the myth. Mr. Batchelor, whose position as missionary to the Ainos
must give his opinion great weight in such matters, thinks that the
Ainos do not worship Yoshitsune. But I can only exactly record
that which I was told myself.]


Okikurumi, accompanied by his younger sister Tureshi[hi], had taught the
Ainos all arts, such as hunting with the bow and arrow, netting and
spearing fish, and many more; and himself knew everything by means of
two charms or treasures. One of these was a piece of writing, the other
was an abacus; and they told him whence the wind would blow, how many
birds there were in the forest, and all sorts of other things.

One day there came,--none knew whence,--a man of divine appearance,
whose name was unknown to all. He took up his abode with Okikurumi, and
assisted the latter in all his labour with wonderful ability. He taught
Okikurumi how to row with two oars instead of simply poling with one
pole, as had been usual before in Aino-land. Okikurumi was delighted to
obtain such a clever follower, and gave him his sister Tureshi[hi] in
marriage, and treated him like his own son. For this reason the stranger
got to know all about Okikurumi's affair, even the place where he kept
his two treasures. The result of this was that one day when Okikurumi
was out hunting in the mountains the stranger stole these treasures and
all that Okikurumi possessed, and then fled with his wife Tureshi in a
boat, of which they each pulled an oar. Okikurumi returned from the
mountains to his home by the seaside, and pursued them alone in a boat;
but could not come up to them, because he was only one against two. Then
Tureshi excreted some large foeces in the middle of the sea, which
became a large mountain in the sea, at whose base Okikurumi arrived. But
so high was it that Okikurumi could not climb over it. Moreover, even
had not the height prevented him, the fact of its being nothing but
filthy foeces would have done so. As for going round either side of
it, that would have taken him too much out of the way. So he went home
again, feeling quite spiritless and vanquished, because robbed of his
treasures.

This is the reason why, ever since, we Ainos have not been able to
read.--(Written down from memory. Told by Ishanashte, 25th November,
1886.)





Next: The Good Old Times

Previous: The Clever Deceiver



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