Urashima Tarō

Urashima Tarō
Urashima at Fukushima-juku by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Urashima Tarō

Urashima Tarō (浦島 太郎) is known from the Folktale Urashima Taro the Fisher Lad.

Origins

The earliest versions of this Folktale appear in the Tango Fudoki where the character of Urashima is given the name Shima no Ko.1

Folktales Synopsis

Urashima was a young fisherman, his father a fisherman before him. He saves a tortoise from some boys, setting it free. The next day the tortoise returns asking to show him the Dragon King’s Palace in the Sea.

The tortoise takes him, revealing when they arrive that she is the Princess (Otohime Sama) of The Dragon King of the Sea and will marry him for saving her life. Eventually, Urashima wishes to return home and she tries to get him to stay, but fails. As a leaving gift, she gives him a box called tamate-bako (Box of the Jewel Hand). He returns home to find 300 years have passed. In sadness he goes to the beach and opens the box thinking it will return him to his wife, but the thing inside only ages him, killing him there on the beach.2

Footnotes

1. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.
2. Ozaki, Y.T. (1903) “The Japanese Fairy Book”. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd.

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