Wife in a picture


Wife in a picture

Grateful Crane
Long long ago, there used to be a tea shop in a village.
A beautiful lady visited the shop every day to buy some tea.
The owner wondered where she lived and one day he followed her.
She walked, through a forest and a field, until she reached a wonderful palace.
He knocked on the door, saying ‘Excuse me, but may I come in?”
Soon she opened it and invited him into a room.
She served a cup of tea.
“Mr. Owner. Welcome to my house.
Please have a tea and make yourself at home.
I must go on errands for a while.
Please wait for me in this room.
Besides this room, there are twelve rooms in this palace.
But you must stay here.
Please keep in mind that you mustn’t enter any other rooms.
See you later.”
He felt like looking into those rooms all the better for her warning.
He opened the first room secretly. It was a room of January.
They were wishing their happiness in front of a shrine.
Children were playing Hanetuki, or Japanese badminton and eating rice cakes.
He opened the second room secretly. It was a room of February.

They were scattering parched beans to drive out a bad demon.
Children were enjoying making a snowman.
He opened the third room secretly. It was a room of March.
They were displaying beautiful dolls on the Girls’ Festival day.
Children were crying because they had to leave their school.
He opened the fourth room secretly. It was a room of April.
They were drinking and singing and dancing under the cherry trees.
Children were enjoying their lives in the new school year.
He opened the fifth room secretly. It was a room of May.

They were flowing carp-shaped streamers in the sky on the Boys’ Festival.
Children were enjoying spinning tops on the floor.
He opened the sixth room secretly. It was a room of June.
They were busy planting rice.
Children were making small dolls made of paper or cloth hung outside hoping for fine weather because it was in rainy season.
He opened the seventh room secretly. It was a room of July.
They were enjoying watching fireworks.
Children were writing their wish on oblong cards hung on bamboo branches on the Star Festival.
He opened the eighth room secretly. It was a room of August.
They were enjoying dancing on the Bon Festival.
Children were enjoying swimming in a river and eating watermelons.
He opened the ninth room secretly. It was a room of September.
The farmers were busy reaping rice in the fields.
Children were eating sweet chestnuts and pears.
He opened the tenth room secretly. It was a room of October.
The trees had many red and yellow leaves.
Children were eating sweet potatoes baked in a firewood and were enjoying school excursion.
He opened the eleventh room secretly. It was a room of November.
They were catching many salmon in a river.
It was a Festival of Ebisu, one of the seven happy Gods and Goddesses in Japan.
It began snowing in a region.
He opened the twelfth room secretly. It was a room of December.
They were making rice cakes or preparing the dishes for the New Year.
Children were eating and talking in Kotatsu, or a foot warmer.
The beautiful lady came home to find him watching rooms.
On changing into a Japanese nightingale, she flew away in the sky.
The owner found himself standing not in the palace but in a deep mountain.

The end