Japanese tale #63 – The contest

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Once upon a time, there was in old Kyoto a wide sanctuary which was the pride of the locals. Dedicated to the thunder gods, the shrines stood at the North-East of town, shielding the capital from disasters and demons.

For those old days, many strange creatures still haunted Japan. And in the forest surrounding that holy sanctuary, a fox and a tanuki lived – but not in peace nor harmony.

The beasts were not friendly neighbors and did not get along well. Both sly and mischievous, they were also consummate shapeshifters.

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Japanese tale #62 – Snowstorm

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Once upon a time, in the remote Ezo country, a rich house and a poor shack stood side by side by the outskirts of a small village surrounded by snow.

The rich mansion was but a big farmhouse, of sturdy wood blackened by sharp winter air. Yet, compared to its wretched neighbor, all of cob and hay, the estate looked quite opulent.

One evening, an unexpected snowstorm hurtled from the West. As howling winds mercilessly bit and cut faces and hands, all inhabitants boarded up their windows and doors in a hurry. Lire la suite

Japanese tale #60 – Children of the wind

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Once upon a time, in a simple village, one like thousand others across Japan, there were three children who loved to play outside.

The oldest, Kazuo, always tried to look older than he really was, his stern behavior somehow ruined by his ever-snotty nose. His sister Chiyo, though all gangly limbs, was a mean biter when rough-and-tumble called. And all knew that Nobu, the woodsman’s son, would blabber about everything and nothing for hours if you didn’t stop him.

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Japanese tale #59 – The cats’ syndicate

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Once upon a time, there was a wide mansion, so rich its storehouses were always full and its tatami mats always fresh. Such an estate was filled with corners and nooks. And under its floors and in its walls, ran many mice and rats.

Usually, such mansions would have several cats strolling around, guarding the grounds with watchful eyes and swift paws. But, as the house’s mistress hated felines of all stripes, not even a whisker had ever been tolerated.

One rainy evening, as a maid was closing sliding doors for the night, she heard a faint cry. Puzzled, she put on her wooden sandals and, braving the pouring skies, went into the garden. Lire la suite

Japanese tale #58 – Spinning Wheel

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Once upon a time, there was a monk, known by the name of Yukei, who travelled across the whole country to share the Buddha’s words.

Followed by his two loyal retainers, the man had reached far away towns and remote hamlets. The little fellowship had adventurous hearts and had explored forests and mountains, never losing courage or faith.

One late autumn afternoon, Yukei and his friends found themselves near Adatara volcano. They had walked all day but had yet to cross any hunter or woodman’s sheds. Lire la suite

Japanese tale #57 – One hundred nights

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Once upon a time, there was a temple renowned far and wide across the land for its powerful amulets.

People came from remote villages just to buy a paper charm or a fabric amulet, hoping to fend off evil spirits of all kinds.

A lovely summer day, as dusk was settling, a woman came knocking at the heavy temple gates.

– Hello? Is anybody here?

The watchboy throw a look by the spyhole. The woman, richly dressed, had her features blurred by a long travel veil, her wide hat casting long shadows in the dimming light. Lire la suite

Japanese tale #56 – Silken strings

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Once upon a time, near a remote village, stood an old temple all thought to be haunted.

It was a lovely place, peaceful and quiet. While abandoned, its polished wooden floors still shone warmly in sunlight, its bronze lanterns remained untouched by moss.

Yet, for unfathomable reasons, any person who went there ended missing. Peasants, woodsmen and mere travelers who had strolled the temple grounds simply vanished, never again to be seen. Lire la suite