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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Sad Story of the Yaoya's Daughter"

The Sad Story of the Yaoya's Daughter

There was a wandering ballad-singer who came to a great house in Yedo where they wished to be entertained.

“Will you have a dance or a song?” said the ballad-singer; “or shall I tell you a story?” The people of the house bade him tell a story.

“Shall it be a tale of love or a tale of war?” said the ballad-singer.

“Oh, a tale of love,” they said.

“Will you have a sad tale or a merry?” asked the ballad-singer.

They were all agreed that they would hear a sad tale.

“Well, then,” said the ballad-singer, “listen, and I will tell you the sad story of the Yaoya’s daughter.”

So he told this tale.

The Yaoya was a poor hard-working man, but his daughter was the sweetest thing in Yedo. You must know she was one of the five beauties of the city, that grew like five cherry-trees in the time of the spring blossoming.

In autumn the hunters lure the wild deer with the sound of the flute. The deer are deceived, for they believe that they hear the voices of their mates. So are they trapped and slain. For like calls to like. Youth calls to youth, beauty to beauty, love to love. This is law, and this law was the undoing of the Yaoya’s daughter.

When there was a great fire in Yedo, so great that more than the half of the city was burned, the Yaoya’s house was ruined also. And the Yaoya and his wife and his daughter had no roof over them, nor anywhere to lay their heads. So they went to a Buddhist temple for shelter and stayed there many days, till their house should be rebuilt. Ah me, for the Yaoya’s daughter! Every morning at sunrise she bathed in the spring of clean water that was near the temple. Her eyes were bright and her cheeks ruddy. Then she would put on her blue gown and sit by the water-side to comb her long hair. She was a sweet and slender thing, scarce fifteen years old. Her name was O Schichi.

“Sweep the temple and the temple courts,” her father bade her. “’Tis well we should do so much for the good priests who give us shelter.” So O Schichi took the broom and swept. And as she laboured she sang merrily, and the grey precincts of the temple grew bright.

Now there was a young acolyte who served in the holy place. Gentle he was and beautiful. Not a day passed but he heard the singing of O Schichi; not a day passed but he set eyes upon her, going her ways, so light and slender, in the ancient courts of the temple.

It was not long before he loved her. Youth calls to youth, beauty to beauty, love to love. It was not long before she loved him.

Secretly they met together in the temple grove. Hand in hand they went, her head against his arm.

“Ah,” she cried, “that such a thing should be! I am happy and unhappy. Why do I love you, my own?”

“Because of the power of Karma,” said the acolyte. “Nevertheless, we sin, O heart’s desire, grievously we sin, and I know not what may come of it.”

“Alas,” she said, “will the gods be angry with us, and we so young?”

“I cannot tell,” he said; “but I am afraid.”

Then the two of them clung together, trembling and weeping. But they pledged themselves to each other for the space of many existences.

The Yaoya had his dwelling in the quarter of the city called Honjo, and presently his house was rebuilt which had been destroyed by the fire. He and his wife were glad, for they said, “Now we shall go home.”

O Schichi hid her face with her sleeve and wept bitter tears.

“Child, what ails you?” said her mother.

O Schichi wept. “Oh! oh! oh!” she cried, and swayed herself to and fro.

“Why, maid, what is it?

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