Grateful Crane

A long time ago, there lived a young man named Nagao Chosei, a doctor’s son, in a town in Echigo( Niigata Prefecture now.)
He was educated to succeed to his father’s profession.
His father’s friend had a beautiful daughter called ‘Otei’.
Chosei and O-Tey had been betrothed since they were children.
However, O-Tei became seriously ill when she was fifteen.
As she became aware that she was dying, she begged him to come to her bedside.

She said to him,

“We have known each other since we were children, and we were to have our wedding at the end of this year.
But I’m dying now.
In accordance with the will of Buddha,
I’m ready to die.
Promise me that you won’t grieve my death….and what I’d like to say is that we’ll be able to meet again in the future.”

“Of course, we can meet each other in the next world,”
he answered to the dying girl.

“No, it is not in the life after death.
We are fated to meet each other sometime in the future in this world, even if I pass away tomorrow.”

He listened to her with a suspicious look.
She continued,

“Believe me, we’ll be able to meet each other in this world where you are alive provided you strongly wish this.
For that, I must be born again and grow up to be a girl.
You’ll have to wait for fifteen or sixteen years to meet me again.
You are 19 years old now. So you’ll be…”

He said to her gently,

“I swear I’ll wait for you.
I think it is my duty to wait because we swore to live together.
I’ll be glad to wait for you.
But I’m worried that I might not notice you after fifteen years.
So show me a sign or token.”

“I can’t do that.
Only God and Buddha know that.
If you don’t forget me, I’ll surely return to you.
Please remember my words.”

She stopped talking and closed her eyes to death.

He had loved her so much, so he missed her deeply.
He thought of her last words in front of her Buddhist memorial tablet.
He wrote his vow to marry her when she would come back to him again in this world, and put it beside her memorial tablet in the Buddhist altar.
He set offerings and prayed every day.

Sixteen years had passed since she had passed away.
Some unfortunate events occurred to him: his parents passed away; he was forced to get married, as he was an only son, but soon his wife and child died.
He left his home town and traveled around.
When he reached Ikaho in Kohzuke (in Gunma Prefecture now), which was famous for its hot springs, a young lady working in an inn came into his room to serve.
To see her at a glance, he felt shocked.
She looked just like his late fiancee.

As every manner of her made him remember ‘Otei’.
he felt as if he had been dreaming.

He said to her,

“Young lady, you really resemble my late fiancee.
Couldn’t you tell me your birthplace and name?”

She answered him with the sounds he’d heard before,

“My name is ‘Otei’.
I was born and grew up in Echigo, but seventeen years ago I died there.
You made a vow to marry me when I could come back to this world.
So I have returned to you.”

When she spoke out her last word, she fell and lost her consciousness.

He got married to her, and they lived happily ever after.
But she hadn’t remembered anything that she had told him in Ikaho as well as her previous life.

The end