Translated into English by TOMITA Takashi in 1981
English proofreading by Stanley Hall

Once on the Hill of Sisirmuka in the Land of the Aynu, there was a house glittering in the sun. The golden house was enclosed by a golden fence and golden clouds trailed far away. There lived in the house the head of the Aynu and his wife. They had a beautiful baby boy. They loved their son, hugging, kissing and gently speaking to him day and night. Indeed, they were living a happy life with their son.

Time passed and now the boy could walk about alone and went down the Hill of Sisirmuka and played at the shore. Taking up a toy bow and arrow, he drew the bow to the full. He raised his eyes high in the air, then lowered his gaze and fired his arrow. Seagulls circled round and round with their wings glinting in the sun, and they sang in a high voice:

Fall all around! Golden drops!
Fall all around! Silvery drops!

One day when he ran back home like a fawn after playing at the seashore, he could hear in the twilight the steps of many men outside his house. His mother peeped outside and saw an unexpected sight: a race of men she had never seen before. They were the Shamos, the name the Aynu gave to the mainland Japanese. They all wore wadded silk garments and had topknots which looked like the beaks of crows. They all had swords and they came up to the door of the house and said:

"You, there, woman of the Aynu!
We are what you call Shamo. We have come here to the Land of the Aynu from our homeland. We have heard that here is a beautiful woman with a husband and one child. No other Aynu woman is as beautiful as the wife. "

"Our master has heard this and he wants to see the woman and make her his wife. And if she obeys, her husband and their child will never lack for food or any other thing. And if not, our master commands us to kidnap her. Once she is taken to the land of our Load, she shall never return."

"You, there, woman of the Aynu! We guess that it is you. If you agree, you,ll be rewarded with untold wealth, all the gold that you desire."

Upon hearing this, the wife of the Aynu was impelled by a strong hatred and took up a staff by the fireside. She stood at the door pointing the staff at the Shamos and bombarded them with piercing words:

"You damned Shamos ! Who would follow you? Even if I had no husband and children, I would never marry Shamos. I am a woman of the Aynu."

"Get out! .My husband's now out but he'll return soon. If he knew of your prank, he would not let you off unscathed. You better run away. Quick!"

But they all laughed mockingly at her and several men grasped her arms and the others caught the boy behind her.

"Mommy !"

The boy burst into crying as the Japanese men drag her out. She cried angrily and kicked them. The Japanese became angry, too, and struck her bitterly. One of them picked the boy up high and then with a cry he dashed him against the fireside. The poor boy became lifeless instantly. The mother could do nothing but helplessly watch her lovely son be killed.

"My boy! My boy!"

With watery eyes she cried, kicked and bit them, but now all she could do was to be dragged out of the house forward the seashore. She cried:

"May my husband come back!"

She was put onto a small boat. It quickly left the shore and glided on like a fallen leaf. Far away there was seen a Japanese ship rumored to be as big as a mountain. Once she was aboard the ship, she could never return to her own land of the Aynu. How many a young Aynu have been taken away on these Japanese ships !

"Pain and sorrow ! I'm innocent of any crime. And why should I have such sorrows! I'd rather be dead like my son, my dear dead boy."

Looking back with tears in her eyes, she saw the Hill of Sisirmuka in the distance and her house on the top of the hill shining like a small star.

"My dear boy! My sweet husband!"

Her cry died away through the waves, and two lonely clouds, three lonely clouds trailed sorrowfully behind in a bloody sky tinged red by the setting sun.

Now the head of the Aynu who went out hunting had no luck on that particular day. He found every den empty of bears. His eyes spotted no foxes, squirrels, hares, nor even tree shrews.

"Today we wanted to eat something new and good. My wife and my son were very pleased to know I would go hunting today. They are expecting me to return with much game. I must not disappoint them. I cannot return empty handed."

He thought some more. Then he crossed two peaks, three peaks in vain. There he felt somewhat uneasy, and his wife and his son came back suddenly in his memory. He could almost hear them crying.

"What has happened !"

First looking back and then turning back like a fish does, he rushed for home. Crossing two peaks, three peaks like an arrow, he reached the Hill of Sisirmuka and saw no smoke from the chimney of his house. Usually his wife was busy getting supper ready. He dashed into the house and saw an unexpected sight. The room was devastated, and his son lay dead by the fireside. He ran out of the house and saw a lot of footprints leading to the beach.

"My wife's been kidnapped!"

With furious rage his brow turned as dark as the scorched bottom of a cookpot; his knuckles make cracking sounds. His face turned purple with rage. His eyes blazed like stars.

"Wretches! Vengeance ! No quarter! "

He rushed back into the house in a wild rage, and grabbed the heirloom sword of the Aynu and dashed to the beach again. One leg forward and the other backward, he planted himself on the seashore and drew the treasured sword. With one eye open and the other closed he prayed to the gods. Then he saw reflected in the sword a vague image of a ship far away on the sea.

"That is a Japanese ship. The Shamos took my wife away!"

He held the sword up high and then lowered it and yelled like a fierce god.

"Gods ! Give me strength!
Sword ! Be thou winged and lead me to my wife!"

Now he flew far out to sea. With full sails went the monstrous Japanese ship. The waves broke and then splashed as it sailed on.

The captured Aynu woman was taken to the cabin. She kicked and struggled fiercely, but all in vain. There she saw the captain of the Japanese ship wearing a golden haori and silvery hakama. He spoke to the woman in a gentle way, with a look of some regret on his face.

" l hear your son was killed, and I'm sorry for that. But now I can do nothing for the poor boy. But what I can do is to make you happy. By now innumerable Aynus have been captured and taken to Japan. They lead hard lives until they die as slaves. "

"But I can see to it that you can wear beautiful dresses, eat good food and live comfortably for the rest of your life. So you'd better forget both your husband and your dead son."

Hearing this, the Aynu woman had a fit of anger greater than before and broke through the surrounding men. She darted out of the cabin. There were still a lot of Japanese moving about on the deck. She attempted to jump into the sea, but the men caught her again. The captain cried in a voice of thunder:

"Don't let her get away ! Put a towel in her mouth so she can't bite off her tongue. Tie her to the mast!"

She resisted like a wounded bear or a mad wolf. But alas she was only a woman. She was tied to the mainmast. Her clothes were ripped up and her breasts were exposed. Her rich breasts, which she only showed to her baby and which she always hide from public view were now exposed to the eyes of the detestable Japanese gangs.

"What a disgrace !"

Though her blood was boiling with rage and her heart was going wild, she could not move at all. She wanted not to hear or see anything. Hot tears filled her eyes. She closed them tightly and then slid down onto the deck.

Suddenly she heard a wind blowing in the distance - a sound which could only be heard by her. It came up to her and turned out to be the sound of wings napping through the clouds.

"My wife!"

She heard her husband's voice and she opened her eyes and saw a whirlwind go round the mast and off into the sea. For a moment she saw the sword sparkle.

The head of the Aynu had become the whirlwind by the magic power of the sword and he flew through two clouds, three clouds and finally flew down toward the ship that sailed the waters between the Aynu land and Japan. He flew around his wife and then dove down into the sea. He struck the sword into the bottom of the monstrous Japanese ship. He pierced it and began to cut the bottom with all his might, praying to the gods until he broke it open. He rose to the surface and breathed relief. He became the whirlwind and flew up above the ship. The water seemed to rush into the ship and a large crowd of sailors came up on deck and filled the deck to overflowing.

"What's all this?
The sea is calm and we have sailed near no dangerous spots.
How on earth did our ship get a hole in it?"

The head of the Aynu flew down to the foot of the mainmast and now appeared and stood beside his sweet wife. He cut the rope with
the sword and drew her closely saying:

"My wife!"

And the surprised wife gazed at him and cried.

"My husband !"

She hugged her husband with all her might. Now the Japanese men realized what was happening and they all began to rail at the captain.

"We brought the woman under your order! We hear there is an Aynu who has divine powers and now we are face-to-face with him. We are all doomed to die an ignoble death! Do something for us, captain!"

Then the captain, who was wearing the conspicuously beautiful golden haori and silvery hakama, threw himself in front of the Aynu and said with his face as pale as kelp in water:

"Young god of the Aynu! Young head of the Aynu!
I was wrong. Because I plotted to steal your wife, all the sailors, my innocent men, are doomed to be swallowed by the sea. "

"Please forgive us. If you save us all, I will give you money without count. I will give you anything you want."

But the head of the Aynu rejected him flatly.

"No! No!
It's too late. You killed our beloved son. You assaulted my wife and nearly killed her. That's not all. How many Aynus, both men and women, have been beaten like my wife was? I cannot pardon you. I cannot keep you alive."

The water was rising rapidly and the waves swept the deck. The head of the Aynu knew the ship was about to sink, so he held his wife tightly in one arm and raised the sword overhead with the other. Golden lights flashed like lightening from the tip of the sword, and they shot up into the sky. They became a whirlwind and flew back home with a roll of thunder that lasted for a long time.

Flying down to the Hill of Sisirmuka, they rushed into their house hand in hand. In spite of their deadly fatigue, they lifted their dead son in their arms. Their tears never stopped and some dropped onto the face of the child.

And what happened! The boy's face bacame rosy in a twinkling; his eyelashes began to blink., his sweet lips moved; then he opened his eyes wide !

"Daddy ! Mommy !"

The parents were now in an ecstasy and held their son on their laps by turns. They gave a shout of delight, and jumped and danced for joy.

The Hill of Sisirmuka shone brightly all around. The glittering house was more beautiful than before and in the sky far away were a bank of golden clouds. The boy ran down the hill and stood on the shore. Taking up the toy bow and arrow, he drew the bow to the full. He raised his eyes high in the air, then lowered his gaze and fired his arrow. Seagulls sang in their high voice:

Fall all around!. Golden drops!
Fall all around! Silvery drops!

Read Aynu Fable in Korean language

Source〔出 典〕
『日本の民話 C民衆の英雄』(角川文庫)
There isn't an author of this fable. It's a re-told edition in Japanese by Segawa Takuo.
Japanese folktale Series, No.4; A hero of people, Kadokawa Bunko Publishing Company.
(The Original is a Hokkaido legent "Chief of the Aynu and his wife.")

Comments from readers:

★"The Ainu Fable"を読ませて戴きました。日本人として、胸に応えました。ハッピィ・エンドではありますが、目を背けるわけには行かない歴史を日本人は数々持っているなと認識しました。また、風景について描かれている所がとても美しいと思いました。鳥になって助ける場面も、力強くて心救われました! --- Katsu, USA 2001

★You rendered the fable with beauty and care. I will copy and send it to others. My father had lived for four years in Japan and had taught me of the Ainu and other Japanese things as a child.---Doug in Florida, USA Aug. 1999

★Tommy, that story was beautiful. I came by your site while searching for information about the Ainu. What most intrests me is their folklore. I'm wondering if they have any similar stories in common with NativeAmericans. --- Kim Solem Wisconsin, USA Nov. 1999

★I just read the Ainu fable on your website, and wanted to let you know I enjoyed it a great deal. I know very little about the Ainu people, being from America; however, it certainly was great in that it displayed universal themes anyone of any culture could appreciate. Thanks very much for sharing the fable with the rest of us! --- Michael Theroff USA Jan. 2000