But the Spring God was full of hope, and replied, “I will give you a cask of rice wine if I do not win her, but if she consents to be my bride, you shall give a cask of sake to me.”
Now the God of Spring went to his mother, and told her all. She promised to aid him. Thereupon she wove, in a single night, a robe and sandals from the unopened buds of the lilac and white wistaria. Out of the same delicate flowers she fashioned a bow and arrows. Thus clad, the God of Spring made his way to the beautiful Princess.
As he stepped before the maiden, every bud unfolded, and from the heart of each blossom came a fragrance that filled the air. The Princess was overjoyed, and gave her hand to the God of Spring.
The elder brother, the God of Autumn, was filled with rage when he heard how his brother had obtained the wondrous robe. He refused to give the promised cask of sake. When the mother learned that the god had broken his word, she placed stones and salt in the hollow of a bamboo cane, wrapped it round with bamboo leaves, and hung it in the smoke. Then she uttered a curse upon her first-born: “As the leaves wither and fade, so must you. As the salt sea ebbs, so must you. As the stone sinks, so must you.”
The terrible curse fell upon her son. While the God of Spring remains ever young, ever fragrant, ever full of mirth, the God of Autumn is old, and withered, and sad.
THE VISION OF TSUNU
ADAPTED BY FRANK RINDER
When the five tall pine-trees on the windy heights of Mionoseki were but tiny shoots, there lived in the Kingdom of the Islands a pious man. His home was in a remote hamlet surrounded by mountains and great forests of pine. Tsunu had a wife and sons and daughters. He was a woodman, and his days were spent in the forest and on the hillsides. In summer he was up at cock-crow, and worked patiently, in the soft light under the pines, until nightfall. Then, with his burden of logs and branches, he went slowly homeward. After the evening meal, he would tell some old story or legend. Tsunu was never weary of relating the wondrous tales of the Land of the Gods. Best of all he loved to speak of Fuji-yama, the mountain that stood so near his home.
In times gone by, there was no mountain where now the sacred peak reaches up to the sky; only a far-stretching plain bathed in sunlight all day. The peasants in the district were astonished, one morning, to behold a mighty hill where before had been the open plain. It had sprung up in a single night, while they slept. Flames and huge stones were hurled from its summit; the peasants feared that the demons from the under-world had come to wreak vengeance upon them. But for many generations there have been peace and silence on the heights. The good Sun-Goddess loves Fuji-yama. Every evening she lingers on his summit, and when at last she leaves him, his lofty crest is bathed in soft purple light. In the evening the Matchless Mountain seems to rise higher and higher into the skies, until no mortal can tell the place of his rest. Golden clouds enfold Fuji-yama in the early morning. Pilgrims come from far and near, to gain blessing and health for themselves and their families from the sacred mountain.