With sad and happy Japanese legends about love and life , attempts have been made to name the mountains, the trees, or simply explain feelings. These are the most captivating and popular legends, such as the legend of the red thread or the white butterfly, or for children, such as the blue butterfly. 10 Japanese legends about love and life
Through a rich mythology mixed with Japanese customs and the life of peasants, the Japanese have explained from generation to generation what they had no explanation for. That has crystallized into a rich treasury of popular legends.
Stories about destiny, love and the stars,or about the origin of the Sakura tree or the name of Mount Fuji. These are some of the most beautiful Japanese legends about love and life. 1. The red thread
Surely you have noticed that in many cultures friendship is expressed by joining the little fingers: this is based on the belief that an artery connects the heart with the little finger of the hand.
A beautiful Japanese legend of love says that a powerful emperor requested the services of a witch to follow the red thread of her pinkie , and this led him to a peasant woman who was selling products in the market with a baby in her arms. Furious at believing himself the object of ridicule, he pushed the peasant opening a gap in the girl’s forehead and ordered the witch’s head to be cut off.
Some years later the royal court advised the king to marry the daughter of a rich landowner. On the day of the wedding, upon lifting the veil and seeing the face of his wife for the first time, the emperor recognized the wound on his forehead that he had opened as a baby. There are destination threads that cannot be cut . 2. The mirror
This is a beautiful Japanese legend of love. A samurai has to go to the royal court to pay homage to the new king, and when he returns to his small town he gives his wife a mirror from him. That was many centuries ago, so many that the mirror was still something new for many Japanese in rural areas.
So much so that the samurai’s wife, seeing herself in the mirror, asked who that woman was. The warrior explained that it was her own reflection of her. Before she died, a victim of a serious illness, she gave the mirror to her daughter, telling her: “Every time you miss me, look at my reflection in the mirror.”
With the same ingenuousness, every time the little girl looked in the mirror she saw her own reflection, believing that it was her mother’s. That’s why she turned to her father and said: “Look how strange, dad. Mama looks younger and she is no longer sick ”. The samurai, with tears in her eyes, blurted out: “You see her in her mirror as I see her in you.” 3. Lovers of the stars
This legend is so deep that it is celebrated in the tanabatatsume every year, on the seventh day of the seventh month: that day Orihime and Hikoboshi come together .
Orihime was the daughter of the king of heaven and she spent her days absorbed in her work: knitting suits for her father. One day, while visiting her workshop, she fell in love with a Hikoboshi shepherd, with whom her father, moved by the love of her daughter, united them in marriage. Delivered to her passion, they abandoned her work : she no longer knitted, and he abandoned the herd.
Furious, her father condemned them to live on one side of the river, separated. The suffering of the lovers was such that he decided to give them the opportunity to see each other, once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month.. Every year, say the Japanese, the magpies spread their wings on either side of the river to become a bridge connecting Orihime and Hikoshobi. She is the star Vega, while the other is the star Altair.
These legends of Japan have been passed down from generation to generation. | Image by: Will H McMahan / Unsplash. 4. The white butterfly
A wise old man, lonely and meditative, burst into a town where he stayed to live next to the cemetery . The old man aroused curiosity among the inhabitants of that place: Who would that strange and lonely old man be and what was he doing next to the cemetery?
One day, the old man fell ill and, since he had never been married, the villagers told his only two relatives: his sister and a nephew. While the little boy was taking care of the sick man, a white butterfly landed on the old man and after several attempts to drive it away, the boy managed to make it fly away very slowly.
He followed her with curiosity: the butterfly landed on the tombstone of a woman who died at the age of 18. Upon returning to his uncle’s house, he had died, and after telling the story to his mother, she explained the truth: the man had gone to spend his last years next to his fiancee , who was the woman buried in the cemetery and turned into a butterfly. 5. Sakura flower
A beautiful Japanese legend is based on the Sakura flower and on the most important woman in Japanese history and literature: Shizuka Gozen.
Shizuke was the great love in life of Yoshitsune, brother of Emperor Yoritomo, and she wanted to follow him after he was sentenced to exile for confronting his brother. Shizuke danced before the leading noble families, and she confessed her love for Yoshitsune , which angered Yoritomo so much that he planned to kill her.
But the emperor’s wife, moved, saved Shizuka, who undertook a long way to find her beloved. In the town of Miasa Oshio fell ill and died. He was 31 years old and carried with him a Sakura tree branch.who made a tree sprout from the earth that still stands majestically in that town in Nagano prefecture. 6. The Moon Maiden
Kaguya-hime is one of the most beloved legendary characters by children in Japan, the protagonist of an ancient legend about the origin of a mountain .
An old peasant who made a living cutting bamboo was surprised by the rays of light that came out of a shoot: it was a tiny baby that he decided to adopt as his own daughter, along with his wife. They named her Kaguya.
Her beauty attracted men, but she rejected her suitors one by one, even the emperor himself, who upon learning that she was the daughter of the moon and that the heavenly troops would soon come looking for her,he commanded his guard to protect the maiden . In vain, because the day came and the princess had to return at one o’clock.
Before leaving, she said a tearful goodbye to her parents, and gave the emperor a branch of hers. He climbed to the highest peak of the kingdom , and at the top of the mountain she burned the branch and a paper where she had written her message of love.
Since then, it has been known as Mount Fuji-yama (“that never dies”) : 7. The blue butterfly
A Japanese legend for children whose moral is the principle that we are all responsible for our actions .
A father, overwhelmed by the incessant questions of his two curious daughters, takes them to live in the temple of a wise man. He knew how to answer all questions, no matter how complicated. The girls set themselves the challenge of making him fall into error . But how
, wondered the little girl. “I have an idea,” said the older one.
She went to look for a blue butterfly and, upon returning, she proposed to her sister to ask the wise man if the butterfly that she had in her hand was alive or dead. “If she answers that she is dead, I will release her; if she answers that she is alive, I will crush her with my hand”. Thus, no matter what he answered, the sage would fail .
Introducing herself to the teacher, the older sister asked if the butterfly she was carrying in her hand was alive or dead. The teacher asked: ” It depends on you , his life is in your hands.”
Which of these legends did you like the most
| Image by: Jan Gottweiss / Unsplash. 8. Kasajizo
This Japanese legend of friendship is based on Japanese tradition and custom , and is a vindication of generosity and kindness. A “kasa” is a straw hat that the Japanese wear to protect themselves from the cold, and a “jizo” is a stone figure to honor babies who have died in childbirth.
Once a poor peasant went to the market to sell the scarves that his wife knitted. On the way he found four jizas that were getting buried under the snow. The man shook them and put a scarf on each of them. Once in the market, he could not sell anything, and seeing a kasa seller with the same fate, they decided to exchange their gender .
The scarf seller also failed to sell any kasa, and he returned home worried that he and his wife would not have anything to eat. When he came across the jiza, he saw that the snow had covered them again, so he cleaned them again and put a kasa on each one. The next morning he found food outside the door of the house .
Going out to pick them up he saw the footprints of the jizathat they left when they left. 9. Momotaro, the peach boy
It is one of the favorite stories for children, and is an adaptation of an old Japanese legend of widespread friendship.
A peasant woman who could not conceive children discovered a large melon floating in the river, and upon opening it she found a baby. She was given the name Momotaro (Momo means melon), and the boy grew up with a supernatural strength. Therefore, when he grew up, the inhabitants of the village entrusted him with the mission of ridding them of the demons that used to bother them .
The brave Momotaro headed to the island of Onigashima, where the demons lived, and along the way he recruited a dog, a monkey and a pheasant.
As they neared the island, the pheasant flew over to where the demons were and reported that they were asleep. They took the opportunity to approach thanks to the dog’s nose, and the monkey climbed the wall to open the door from the inside. The dog’s bites, the pheasant’s pecks, the monkey’s pranks and Momotaro’s bravery made them surrender.
The expedition returned to the village with a sack full of the jewels and gold that the demons had stolen over the years. 10. Kitsune
In Japanese mythology, Kitsune is a trickster fox who has the ability to present himself in an attractive guise to achieve something for his benefit.
The ancient legend of Kitsune is the story of Tamamo-no-Mae,a beautiful and wise woman who lived in the emperor’s court and who with an always perfumed smell and an irresistible beauty made him fall madly in love. The emperor fell ill, and the doctors could not cure him, so they turned to a magician.
He told them that the cause of the disease was Tamamo-no-Mae herself, who was not a woman but a trickster fox in the service of a sovereign who wanted to usurp the emperor’s throne. So he entrusted the two best warriors in the kingdom to hunt down the fox and kill it.
After a long search they surprised him on the plain of Nasu, and killed him. His body became the rock Sessho-Seki (“Killer Stone)” bewitched by Tamamo-no-Mae, which killed anyone who came near. Until the Buddhist monk GennoI defeat the spirit with meditations and prayers.
- Read our 20 short legends for all ages.