Fairy Tales of Old Japan by William Elliot Griffis

Fairy Tales of Old Japan by William Elliot Griffis

Author:William Elliot Griffis
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Japanese Fairy Tales, 日本昔話, Japan, 日本, 日本国, fairy tale, children, magic, bedtime, stories, folklore, stories, fairies, family, society, social, heart-warming
Publisher: Interactive Media
Published: 2014-12-17T16:00:00+00:00


DESPITE the loss of the monkey’s liver, the queen of the World under the Sea, after careful attention and long rest, got well again, and was able to be about her duties and govern her kingdom well. The news of her recovery created the wildest joy all over the Under-world, and from tears and gloom and silence, the caves echoed with laughter, and the sponge-beds with music. Every one had on a “white face.” Drums, flutes and banjos, which had been hung up on coral branches, or packed away in shell boxes, were taken down, or brought out, and right merrily were they struck or thrummed with the ivory hashi (plectrum). The pretty maids of the Queen put on their ivory thimble-nails, and the Queen again listened to the sweet melodies on the koto, (flat harp), while down among the smaller fry of fishy retainers and the scullions of the kitchen, were heard the constant thump of the tsutsumi (shoulder-drum), the bang of the taiko (big drum), and the loud cries of the dancers as they struck all sorts of attitudes with hands, feet and head.

No allusion was openly made either to monkeys, tortoises or jelly-fish. This would not have been polite. But the jelly-fish, in a distant pool in the garden, could hear the refrain, “The rivers of China run into the sea, and in it sinks the rain.”

Now in the language of the Under-world people the words for “river,” and “skin,” (or “covering,”) and “China,” and “shell,” and “rain,” and “jelly,” are the same. So the chorus, which was nothing but a string of puns, meant, “The skin of the jelly-fish runs to the sea, and in it sinks the jelly.”

But none of these musical performances were worthy of the Queen’s notice; although as evidences of the joy of her subjects, they did very well. A great many entertainments were gotten up to amuse the finny people, but the Queen was present at none of them except the one about to be described. How and why she became a spectator shall also be told.

One night the queen was sitting in the pink drawing-room, arrayed in her queenly robes, for she was quite recovered and expected to walk out in the evening. Everything in the room, except a vase of green and golden colored sponge-plant, and a plume of glass-thread, was of a pink color. Then there was a pretty rockery made of a pyramid of pumice, full of embossed rosettes of living sea-anemones of scarlet, orange, grey and black colors, which were trained to fold themselves up like an umbrella, or blossom out like chrysanthemums, at certain hours of the day, or when touched, behaving just like four o’clocks and sensitive plants.

All the furniture and hangings of the rooms were pink. The floor was made of mats woven from strips of shell-nacre, bound at the sides with an inch border of pink coral. The ceiling was made of the rarest of pink shells wrought into flowers and squares.


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