Princess Glory

Hear about Princess Glory on Episode 14B of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

Princess Glory

Princess Glory is a japanese folktale which can be found in the Shintōshū, this document coming form the 14th Century giving tales of various gods. The story is set during the reign of Emperor Yuryaku, the 21st Emperor from the Kofun Period and goes as follows.

There was once a couple who were sad as they had no child. This couple living at the foot of Mount Fuji. Then one day they found themselves happiness, they found a little girl hidden in the bamboo grove behind their home. Seemingly having appeared from nowhere. This girl was special, shining with light and so they called her Princess Glory, or Kaguya-hime in Japanese. She grew up to be the most beautiful woman and news reached a local governor of her beauty. And so he approached her and they courted for some time before finally marrying.

Many years later, once the old couple had passed and been lain to rest she revealed to her now husband that she was not of this world, all this time he had been married to the Immortal Lady of Mount Fuji. She had come all those years ago to give the old couple happiness, and now they were gone from the land of the living nothing tied her now to this place. And so she had to return to her palace at the mountains summit.

The governor, her husband didn’t wish her to leave, and so she said he could see her if he climbed to the summit. And failing that he could look at her using a box of incense which she left him as a parting gift. And so she returned to the mountain, leaving her husband alone.

He used the box but could only see an indistinct shadowy form and so he endeavoured to climb the mountain. At the summit he found a lake, with an island in its centre, and upon it the palace of Kaguya-hime. But, the vapour which rose from the lake only gave him the most fleeting glimpses of his wife, and so disappointed and alone, he clutched the box to his heart and jump from the precipice of the mountain to his death.1

Footnotes

1. Tyler, R. (1987) “Japanese Tales.” New York: Pantheon Books.

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Princess Glory