|Japanese fairy tales
THE SOUL OF THE SAMURAI
Far upon a Western headland the pine trees waved their arms to the sea
and the sea god loved them and dashed his high foaming spray to send
them greeting. Giant torn1 rose heavenward, that the Golden Crow, the
strange and mystic Hobo Bird, might rest there, in his swift flight
toward the sun god.
The sea flowed restless and proud at the foot of the cliffs and the
beach was soft and treacherous, and the sea god yearly claimed a
victim, when the air was heavy with the sweet scent of the wild
O Nitta San was a great warrior. He fought for Go-Daigo the emperor and
was his faithful general. Many a battle he fought and won, though the
men of the Hojo Clan were many and strong and fought well. But when he
reached the headland of the pines, the soul of O Nitta San was heavy
"The men of the Hojo guard the sea with ships, they watch the hills
with archers," he said to his head man. "They are as many as the waves
of the sea. Our fate is in the hands of the gods!"
'An archway placed before certain shrines in Japan; originally a perch for sacred fowl heralding the approach of day.
"The favor of the gods must be won, O Nitta San," said the head man. "I
am of small account, but let me throw myself into the sea, and
perchance the sea god may accept the sacrifice and smile upon you, my
"Not so," replied O Nitta San. "I myself will appease the god of the
sea, that he may grant us a passage to conquer the city, for the glory
of my master the emperor."
"Honorably the emperor will reward you," said the head man bowing low, but O Nitta San shook his head.
"I desire no reward," he said. "Do you hear the chirp of that bird? In
a land where even the wild songsters of the forest cry 'Chiu,' do not
think a Samurai needs a reward."
O Nitta San turned him to the cliffs, and he raised his hands to the
sea god and prayed long and earnestly. Then he drew from its scabbard
his sword, and lovingly he gazed upon its keen and shining blade. He
raised it toward the clouds and it gleamed in the moonlight like a
"Beloved comrade, Soul of the Samurai," he cried. "Well have you served
me in many a fierce battle. You are a friend as well as a servant. Now
serve me once again and appease the wrath of the sea god!" For a moment
he lovingly laid the sword against his breast,
then "God of the Sea," he cried aloud, "accept my sacrifice and care
for the Soul of the Samurai." And so saying he cast far from him the
It screamed through the air and smote the water, and a myriad sparkling
crystals rose into the air. They leaped to encircle the sword, as if
lovingly encrusting it with diamonds. It rose upon a wave, it fell, the
pearllike foam covered it, and O Nitta San saw it no more.
But from the sea came a dull murmuring sound, and the waters rolled back from the cliffs and a passageway appeared.
"Kompira has accepted my sacrifice," cried O Nitta San. "We may pass over in safety to conquest and glory."
Then the army passed over at the edge of the cliff, and they fought a mighty battle with the Hojo and took the city.
Go-Daigo was glad, and he greatly rewarded O Nitta San who was proud and of a good heart fighting ior the emperor.
He offered much rice and millet to Kompira, god of the sea, but never,
so long as he lived, did he smile when the sun-crested waves sparkled
and broke into diamonds before him, for he murmured to himself, "Oh,
Kompira, God of the Sea, deal gently with my offering, be kind to the
Soul of the Samurai."