Hagoromo Legend from Jikkoku (Ibaraki)

One summer, on a very hot day, a child could be heard crying in the bamboo grove of a wealthy person’s house in Jikkoku.

The old man who lived in the house went toward the voice and found a little girl crying sadly. She was wearing a white robe and was a cute girl of maybe 7 or 8.

The old man thought the girl’s clothes seemed Korean and wondered if she had come from the Korean peninsula. But he was too surprised to think clearly and spoke to her in Japanese, “What happened? Where did you come from?”

The girl replied sadly, “I am a tennyo. I was playing happily in the rivers in the sky when the current suddenly swept me away. I was frightened and grabbed on to some bamboo. When I looked around, I had landed in this bamboo grove. But I am tired and cannot return to heaven.”

The old man felt sorry for the child and brought her to his house. He said kindly, “You must be tired. You can rest a while in my house.”

The girl was loved by the old man and his wife and she stayed for some time at their home.

As she got older, she grew fair and beautiful. She received many marriage proposals from the nearby villagers. But she refused them all.

One night, she said to the old man, “I am going to return to heaven to see my mother and father.” And she began to climb towards heaven in a dance. It was as beautiful as watching a white bird dance.

The old man and his wife said, “We do not believe you will come back to us.” and were very sad.
But, three nights later, the tennyo returned.

The old man and his wife were very happy and loved the tennyo even more than before.

One day the tennyo said, “I will go bathe in the water of Kasumigaura,” and left. The water of Kasumigaura was as beautiful as the rivers in heaven and the tennyo bathed happily.

But when she decided to go home, she noticed the hagoromo (feathered robe) she had left on a pine tree was missing. A nearby fisherman was planning to take it home.

The tennyo said, “That is my hagoromo. Please give it back.”

The fisherman gazed at the tennyo and said, “You are very beautiful. I would like to see you in this hagoromo.” And gave it back to her.

The tennyo bowed politely in thanks. She put on her hagoromo and waved at the fisherman as she flew away.

She told the old man about what had happened. The old man said, “From now on, you are not to go bathing alone.” And she was not able to leave the house as often.

At night she flew in the sky, but by day she lived in the house. One night, the tennyo said to the old man and his wife, “You have taken care of me a long time. I will never forget my debt to you. I have decided to return to the moon. I will leave you a painting as my thanks. Please accept it and think of me when you look at it. When the moon is full, I would like to watch you both from heaven.”

She gave them a painting of the moon and clouds and flew high up into the sky.

The old man and his wife held the painting tightly and waved goodbye to the tennyo. They stood gazing up at the sky long after she had disappeared.

After that, there were stories of a tennyo who came to Kasumigaura to bathe. The people of Shizuoka heard these stories, and learned that the tennyo likes to hang her hagoromo on pine trees. So they took many pine trees to Miho. It is said that the pines in the Miho pine grove were originally from Ami in Ibaraki.

The old man and his wife kept the painting of the clouds and the moon as a treasure and it remains as their family crest.

—–

This story was translated from a website of folktales from Ami in Ibaraki Prefecture.

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