Prologue: The Origin – The Prince, the Princess, and the Dog 8-3

Volume IV, Episode VIII

 

In En no Gyoja’s cave an old man assesses Fuse-hime’s fate

In a village near Takita a tanuki feeds a puppy

 

After a visit to En no Gyoja’s cave, Princess Fuse grew up in health to be a beautiful and intelligent child. Meanwhile, in a village in Toyama, a strange tale was unfolding about a motherless pup – he appeared to be growing without being fed.

 

 

Wazahey told it to the neighbours, and he himself was watchful in dawn and dusk. One such morning, in early hours, he woke up to find an ancient-looking tanuki dog[1] running out of the kennel. It headed back towards a mountain of Toyama.

“I guess this means the pup’s been fed by this tanuki. I’ve never heard of such a thing. Whatever’s the matter?”

It never ceased to amaze him, but he decided to make sure of what he saw before telling anyone carelessly.

That evening, he hid himself behind the back gate and waited for the tanuki to come back. Meanwhile the pup kept yelping for his mother.

Presently a will-o’-the-wisp, or a ghostly light, came flashing from the direction of Takita. It abruptly dropped from mid-air and was instantly lost to sight by that kennel. At the same time that tanuki from the morning busily came running and entered the thatched shed. The pup soon stopped yelping. Now all you could hear was the sound of breastfeeding.

This way, another 40 to 50 days went by. The dog had already grown big enough to stride around and feed himself. The tanuki no longer showed up. I reckon this is the reason why they still call this place Inukake[2].

Author’s note: According to ‘Bousou Chronicle’, there is a road stretching from Fuchu in Awa County to Oh-yama-dera in Nagasa County. If you want to climb Mt Toyama, you turn left at Inukake. Additionally, in the east is Heguri. What it refers to as ‘around Takita, Yamashita, Inukake’ should be this area.

This was when the two leutenants – Sugikura Kiso-no-suke Ujimoto and Horiuchi Krando Sadayuki – were on yearly shifts to man Fort Tojo on Yoshizane’s command. That year, Sadayuki was to be on leave, so he handed the fort over to Ujimoto and set off for home. When he was passing Inukake Village that day, someone informed him of the tanuki incident.

Sadayuki meets the pup that was fed by a tanuki dog. Top half shows Princess Fuse’s tour to En no Gyoja’s cave in Episode 8-1. Image from National Diet Library Digital Collections.

 

 

At first, he wouldn’t believe it. He needed to find out the truth, so he visited Wazahey’s residence. First he took a close look at the dog and then asked the master for his history. It matched every bit of the rumour.

Not only that, the dog had presence equal to those legendary predecessors, Rokan in China or Ayuki in Japan. It was simply unprecedented. So, Sadayuki went straight back to Yoshizane the Ason to report exactly what he saw. Yoshizane listened on eagerly, almost leaning forward.

“Ever since she was a baby, something has been frightening Fuse-hime, so we’ve always had a dog kept in the backyard. They’ve never been anything out of ordinary up until now though. If what you say is true, this dog must be splendid.

“Once upon a time in the village of Kuwata, a man named Misoka had a dog. He was called Ayuki. This dog had killed a Mujina[3] (tanuki). From inside its belly came out a large Magatama bead. It’s written in the chapter on Emperor Suinin in the Chronicles of Japan.

Magatama beads on despray

 

“The relationship is reversed here. The tanuki brings up a pup. Mysterious doesn’t describe it! Really foxes and tanuki dogs are averse to dogs, but when the tanuki saw a motherless pup she’d forgotten all that and breastfed him. It’s like the Way of Universal Love[4].

“Besides, the written character for tanuki (狸) serves Sato (里) and serves the dog (犬)[5]. Therefore this dog belongs to our clan, the Satomis. One would like to see the dog. Invite him over.”

 

Yoshizane’s going to meet the dog, without realizing it’ll seal the fate of the entire clan…

 

[1] Tanuki or often tanuki dog is a racoon dog.

[2]  Inu in ‘Inukake (犬懸, pronounced inoo-kakay)’ means the dog, and kake means to hang.

[3] Mujina refers to several things from a monster as described by Hearn [https://www.trussel.com/hearn/mujina.htm] to Tanuki or Japanese badgers. Here Yoshizane meant Tanuki judging from his following statement.

[4] Proposed by a Chinese scholar Micius (Mozi) [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozi].

[5] The left half part of the character (⺨) was developed from another character meaning the dog (犬).

 

 

© Livingdaylightz and The Legend of Eight Samurai Hounds, 2017 onwards (except for images). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of all or any part of this material without express and written permission from me, Livingdaylightz, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Livingdaylilghtz and The Legend of Eight Samurai Hounds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content and upon express and written permission from me, the author/site owner. The images belong to their individual copyright holders as specified in the text.

4 thoughts on “Prologue: The Origin – The Prince, the Princess, and the Dog 8-3

  1. It is an injustice that the translation of such a classic has been left to be done by a relative beginner in 2019, but you seem to be doing a wonderful job at it, as far as I can tell. I don’t understand Japanese but it’s a great read.

    Like

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