The Mirror of Matsuyama

The Mirror of Matsuyama

The Mirror of Matsuyama, known in Japanese as Matsuyama kagami (松山鏡) is one of Japan’s many folktales.


The Mirror of Matsuyama
The Wife gazed into the Shining Disc.

In the province of Echigo lived a man and a wife who had one daughter aged seven.

One day the man finds himself summoned to the capital in Kyoto, the little girl promising to be good until her father returned. Winter comes and the mother prepares their winter clothes and eventually the husband returned.

Upon his return he gave his daughter the gift of a doll for helping her mother while he was gone and for his wife he gifted her a mirror. She had never seen one before and did not know what she saw was her own reflection until her husband told her what it was. Happy with her gift she promised to treasure it forever.

Time passes until the girl is sixteen and the happiness the family had comes to an end as the mother falls ill. In her death bed she asks her daughter to take care of her father, and should she miss her she can find her inside the mirror and see her again. And so handing the mirror to her daughter she passes away.

Later when grief takes her she recalls the mirror and so takes it out to gaze upon it. And from then to find strength in the morning and consolation before sleep she would take out the mirror thinking she was looking at her mother, and so her grief became easier.

The Mirror of Matsuyama
They watched him as he went down the Road.
The Mirror of Matsuyama
“What I have brought you is called a Mirror.”

After a year of mourning the father remarried and the girl new step-mother turned out to be cruel. She tried to lie about the daughter to her father, though he never believed what she said. And it only made him more affection for her. This made the step-mother angry and she wished to find a way to see the girl driven from the house.

She created a lie which she told to her husband, saying she believed the daughter was trying to hurt her or kill her by cursing an image she had made of her.

The Mirror of Matsuyama
The Mother roused herself and took her Daughter’s Hand.
The Mirror of Matsuyama
In the round Mirror before her she saw her Mother’s Face.

The father confronts the daughter and after some confusion or anger the girl reveals the item she has been holding was the mirror her mother gave her when she died. The father praises his daughter for keeping the memory of her mother alive, all the while the step-mother had been listening outside the door.

She burst in saying she is ashamed. Saying she was jealous this whole time, and that it was unjust of her. She promised to throw away her anger and love the child, in the hopes that she could be loved back. And so the three of them lived happily on from that day.1


1. Ozaki, Y.T. (2015) “Japanese Fairy Tales” USA: Cavalier Classics.

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