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The Princess Of Bamboo
An old bamboo cutter lived alone with his wife. They wanted children but couldn’t have any. Every day the bamboo cutter went to cut bamboo for fine baskets and the children of the village wanted a basket all the time. The bamboo cutter asked the children if they would become his kids but they all said that they didn’t love him in that way.
One day, after cutting a particular bamboo stalk, the stalk erupted in light. At the heart of the light a beautiful child sang, she was draped in the robes of a young princess. She smiled happily at the bamboo cutter. The cutter was so overjoyed that he picked up the child and rushed home to his wife. They both thought that she must be a princess, when they went to a scholar; the scholar said that there wasn’t any other option. The girl was named Princess Mizuki.
The girl was raised with love and care, and all the while they were happy. Mizuki grew tall and became the most beautiful girl in the land. The secret of the girl was never told to anyone, keeping the scholars advice, not to attract any unneeded attention to her.
Time passed and then came a strange day. A sound was heard from the stem of the bamboo stalk that Mizuki came out of. When the sound stopped an enormous shower of gold coins came forth. Each time the cutter returned to the stalk, the same thing happened. Because of this miracle the bamboo cutter and his family became quite wealthy.
It didn’t take long for his neighbors to suspect and envy the cutter and his family. They spread many rumors of a beautiful maiden in his home. The bamboo cutter and his wife could no longer keep Mizuki hidden any longer, the family decided to hold a coming of age party for the girl. News spread quickly across the land of the beautiful maiden and her miracles of riches after the party. Many wonderful and rich suitors came to ask the princess for her hand in marriage. To each suitor she gave a task, there were five tasks in all. The five tasks were to get the “swallow’s cowry shell, the stone bowl of Buddha, the crystal from the dragon’s neck, the robe of the fire rat, and the jeweled sprig. All the tasks proved too great.
Eventually there were no more men to seek Mizuki’s hand and so she was left to the love of the bamboo cutter’s family. Then one day a message arrived for the princess from the emperor, saying that he wanted an audience with Mizuki, she refused every message. The emperor didn’t take kindly to this insult. He went to the bamboo cutter’s home and demanded to see Mizuki. The emperor was more determined than ever to take Mizuki as his wife. When Mizuki graced the emperor with her presence she immediately fell in love with him.
For years the princess lived happily with the emperor and she didn’t have a care in the world. After five years of her happiness, she became very depressed and on nights when the moon was full she would act dreary. When people saw her she had a sad look in her eyes, like she was about to cry. This behavior worried the emperor immensely, he had monks visit the princess numerous times, but to no avail. When the emperor asked Mizuki what was troubling her, she leaned into his chest and started crying, “I was not born on this land, I am from the palace on the moon. On the 15th night of this month, a messenger will be sent to collect me and take me home.”
This broke the emperor’s heart. He pleaded with the princess as to a way for her to stay with him. No way was found. On the night when the moon messenger was to pick Mizuki up, she said her farewells, and was taken to the moon carriage. A shrill cry was heard throughout the palace grounds. All of a sudden Princess Mizuki emerged from the carriage weeping, she ran to the emperor and embraced him, followed by the messenger, the emperor was very surprised. The messenger said “Princess you have found true love here on the Earth, therefore you cannot return to the palace of the moon. Your parents and your future husband will be very distraught by this information, but I must leave now to tell your parents the sorrowful news. I bid you goodbye.”
The emperor was so overjoyed that he held a feast for the princess. After the feast the emperor promised “Princess, I love you, as long as I live you will never be sad again, the only tears that will fall from your eyes will be ones of happiness.” Years later the princess did finally go back to the moon palace to see her family, before she left she gave the emperor a mirror and said “if you need to see my face just look into this mirror and you will see me, don’t worry it will work but not until I am in the moon palace.”
So off she went to the moon palace and never came back, the emperor was so intent on following her that he climbed to the top of the tallest mountain in the region, Mt. Fuji and waited for her to come back, after fifty years of waiting she finally came back to the Earth. When she went down Mt. Fuji she found the emperor, lifeless and still staring at the mirror, she knelt down and kissed him on the lips, he immediately regained his life and his youth. They went back to the emperor’s palace and lived a very long life with many children.
When all their children were adults they wished to visit the palace where their mother was born. A messenger was sent from the moon palace and the children were never seen again, many people say that you can see the face of one of the children in the moon at night.