Main : Japanese
The Foxes' Wedding
Once upon a time there was a young white fox, whose name was Fukuyémon.
When he had reached the fitting age, he shaved off his forelock
and began to think of taking to himself a beautiful bride. The old
fox, his father, resolved to give up his inheritance to his son,
and retired into private life; so the young fox, in gratitude for
this, laboured hard and earnestly to increase his patrimony. Now
it happened that in a famous old family of foxes there was a beautiful
young lady-fox, with such lovely fur that the fame of her jewel-like
charms was spread far and wide. The young white fox, who had heard
of this, was bent on making her his wife, and a meeting was arranged
between them. There was not a fault to be found on either side;
so the preliminaries were settled, and the wedding presents sent
from the bridegroom to the bride's house, with congratulatory speeches
from the messenger, which were duly acknowledged by the person deputed
to receive the gifts; the bearers, of course, received the customary
fee in copper cash.
When the ceremonies had been concluded, an auspicious day was chosen
for the bride to go to her husband's house, and she was carried
off in solemn procession during a shower of rain, the sun shining
all the while.* After the ceremonies of drinking wine had been gone
through, the bride changed her dress, and the wedding was concluded,
without let or hindrance, amid singing and dancing and merry-making.
The bride and bridegroom lived lovingly together, and a litter
of little foxes were born to them, to the great joy of the old grandsire,
who treated the little cubs as tenderly as if they had been butterflies
or flowers. "They're the very image of their old grandfather,"
said he, as proud as possible. "As for medicine, bless them,
they're so healthy that they'll never need a copper coin's worth!"
As soon as they were old enough, they were carried off to the temple
of Inari Sama, the patron saint of foxes, and the old grand-parents
prayed that they might be delivered from dogs and all the other
ills to which fox flesh is heir.
In this way the white fox by degrees waxed old and prosperous,
and his children, year by year, became more and more numerous around
him; so that, happy in his family and his business, every recurring
spring brought him fresh cause for joy.
* A shower during sunshine, which we call "the devil beating
his wife," is called in Japan "the fox's bride going to
her husband's house."
This story appears in Tales
of Old Japan, by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford. It and
its illustrations are available thanks to the efforts of Project
Gutenberg, whose license states:
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net.