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Just when all seems lost for baby-Heiji and the mermaid, a familiar pair of faces show up to save the day. Although, if you were very clever and familiar with the story of Urashima Tarō, you might already have figured out what the solution was! Read on to see if you were right…
Tsuribune no Heiji and his wife were at their wits end, when all of a sudden, Urashima Tarō and Orino magically appeared before them!
Urashima Tarō made Heiji open up the tamatebako¹, and the effect was that he aged to about thirty years old–the prime of manhood! Heiji was overjoyed. It was like he had increased his energy by eating eggs and then decreased it by eating kuwai until it was just right². By the way, the tamatebako unveiled at the Fukagawa Hachiman Shrine last year was this very same one³.
Urashima Tarō and Orino vanished, leaving them with some parting wisdom: “Take care of each other, you two! Don’t doubt each other, but on the other hand don’t overly rely on each other either; then you’ll live happily together for many years. Doron doron doro doro doro doro⁴…”
- The tamatebako was a gift to Urashima Tarō from Otohime which contained his old age in it. In Urashima Taro’s legend, when he opened the box, he instantly became an old man.
- Eating eggs was said to increase vigor, while eating kuwai (a kind of tuber) was said to decrease it. Heiji found the perfect balance, which sort of acts like a fountain of youth here.
- Kyōden breaks the fourth wall again with another contemporary culture reference. There was a big sideshow at the shrine in 1790 which purportedly displayed Urashima Tarō’s actual tamatebako.
- Urashima Tarō and Orino disappear into the clouds, which you can see in the illustration. Urashima Tarō is verbally making his own sound effects to go with that. This is like the Wayne’s World dream sequence effect.
Good to see Heiji has his in-laws’ approval!
Technically not in-laws, since it was an out-of-law child. 😉 But it is nice to see they are supportive!
I mean, do we know how that would legally work in the place and time this story takes place? Considering that there’s a very clear supernatural element at play, my gut tells me there is no cut and dry answer. Perhaps we should consult a yokai lawyer?
If anyone knows the answer, it would be a yokai lawyer!