A-Yokai-A-Day: Hakoiri musume (page 6)

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Like yesterday’s page, today’s page is full of absurdities. Kyōden’s hyperbolic metaphors for the depth of love between man and fish are splendid, and feel more like something that was written today than over 200 years ago.

The love between man and carp was deeper than the toilets at Shinagawa-juku¹; deeper than the wells at Kōjimachi²; deeper than an indigo cloth which has been died indigo again. They seriously considered running away in secret and starting a new life together… until one day the carp became pregnant. Urashima Tarō was completely at a loss over whether to keep the child or not; but eventually, Orino gave birth to a baby girl. Because it was the child of a man and a carp, it was born with the body of a fish and the head of a human. In other words, it was a mermaid.

  1. Shinawaga-juku was one of the famous 53 stations along the Tōkaidō road that connected Edo to Kyōtō. The toilets at the station were built out over the water and emptied straight into the sea far below.
  2. Kōjimachi was an area of high elevation, so the wells had to be dug deep. The phrase “the wells of Kōjimachi” was a figure of speech meaning extremely deep or even bottomless.

2 thoughts on “A-Yokai-A-Day: Hakoiri musume (page 6)

  1. Question: Did Urashima Taro and Otohime actually had children? I remember a lot of other stories where apparently they had a son or a daughter together. Did they mention that somewhere in the original tale or is just something added by other writers?

  2. In the original story they didn’t have any children. However, there are plenty of spinoffs (like this story, for example), so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were another spinoff where they had kids.

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