Fairy Tale Friday- The Weaving Maiden and The Oxherd

This fairy tale is centred around a beautiful maiden called Orihime who lived on the banks of the Silver River of Heaven. She was the daughter of the Sky God. All day long, Orihime sat by the loom, weaving colourful silken threads to make clothes for her father. Orihime’s skills were admired by all of the Gods. She was known as the Weaving Maiden. Orihime worked so hard that she had no time to spend with the other maidens or look for a husband herself. Her father worried about her but he couldn’t persuade her to step away from the loom and enjoy the pleasures of life.

One day, her father told her that he’d found a husband for her. He brought her to the oxherd, Hikoboshi, who looked after his beasts along the Silver River. She immediately fell for him. They married and Orihime was very happy. She didn’t want to sit at the loom anymore. She wanted to dance, sing and laugh with her husband whilst he tended to his oxen.

The Sky God waited for his daughter to return to her duties, but she never did as she had found happiness with her husband and her life. He grew angry because he wanted her to weave his spring kimono. He asked her three times but she just smiled and played around with Hikoboshi in the blossom trees. The Sky God eventually banished Hikoboshi to the other side of the Silver River.

Orihime was devastated, she cried until she couldn’t shed anymore tears. It didn’t matter how much she begged, the Sky God would not listen to her. Orihime continued to make clothes for her father, but everything that she made was drab. Eventually, he felt sorry for his daughter and compromised. He said that on the seventh day of the seventh month he would summon all the magpies from the ends of the earth to build a bridge across the Silver River.

Every year on the 7th July, Orihime’s eyes sparkle brightly in the sky as she laughs once more with her love. If the rain falls, the magpies don’t spread their wings and the Weaving Maiden has to wait for a year to meet her love!

An extract from A Year Full of Stories, by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2016)   

Next Fairy Tale- Elephant and The Rain Spirit


Fairy Tale Friday- Prince Fire Flash and Prince Fire Fade

This week’s fairy tale is a Japanese story. It centres around two brothers.

Prince Fire Flash was a fisherman and his brother, Prince Fire Fade was a skilled hunter. One day Prince Fire Fade suggested that they swap work for the day. Prince Fire Flash wasn’t keen on the idea, but he went with it. Both of them weren’t very successful. Prince Fire Fade had lost the fish hook in the sea. He made five hundred fish hooks out of his sword, but Prince Fire Flash refused to accept them. He made another five hundred but Prince Fire Flash was too angry. He wanted his own.

Prince Fire Fade was very upset. The Wise Old Man came along and asked him why he was so unhappy. Prince Fire Fade told him the story of the fish hook. The Wise Old Man gave Prince Fire Fade a boat made out of plaited bamboo leaves. He told him to sail out until the boat began to sink. Under the sea he’d meet the Sea King’s daughter who would tell him what to do.

Prince Fire Fade did exactly that. He came across Princess Pearl who he was fascinated by. Princess Pearl saw Prince Fire Fade’s reflection in the well. She ran to tell her father. Her father knew of Prince Fire Fade because he was such a great hunter. They invited him to stay. Prince Fire Fade settled into life with Princess Pearl and her family. They fell in love and he forgot the reason why he had come.

A few years later, Princess Pearl questioned her husband as to why he had such a faraway look in his eyes. He told her of his brother’s lost fish hook. The princess offered her help. She summoned the creatures of the sea and asked them to find the fish hook belonging to Prince Fire Flash. A lobster explained the Tai had been complaining of something stuck in his throat. It turns out that it was the fish hook. Princess Pearl managed to release the Tai of the fish hook. Prince Fire Fade knew it was time to return the fish hook to his brother.

Prince Fire Fade was given two jewels by the Sea King. One ruled the flow of the tide and the other the ebb. The Sea King explained that if Prince Fire Flash was still angry, then he could bring out the tide-flowing jewel and he will be drowned. If he asks for forgiveness, the tide-ebbing jewel would save him.

Prince Fire Flash was still angry with him, so out came the tide-flowing jewel. As the sea surrounded Prince Fire Flash he begged for forgiveness. The tide-ebbing jewel saved him. The brothers reunited. Prince Fire Fade build a house and Princess Pearl came to live there, bringing the news that she was going to have a baby!

An extract from A Year Full of Stories, by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2016)   

Next Fairy Tale- The Boots of Hunain


Fairy Tale Friday- Spring and Autumn

This fairy tale was all about a princess who was so beautiful she was called Dear Delight Of The World. Everyone from Princes, warriors and Gods went to gaze at the princess and offer her gifts. Each one of them wanted her to be their ride. The princess listened to her admirers, but none of them captured her heart. She would merely shake her head and then they’d go away.

The God of Autumn was determined to win her heart. He was handsome, brave and strong, but she didn’t want anything to do with him. When she turned him down, he was gutted and couldn’t understand why. His brother, The God of Spring, who was with him said that he’d propose to her the next day. The God of Autumn roared with laughter. The God of Spring was so infatuated that he didn’t care.

The brothers had a bet that if she accepted Spring’s proposal then Autumn would give them a cask of rice wine. If not, Spring would have to give Autumn the cask. Spring accepted.

He went to his mother and asked for her help with preparing for his proposal to the Princess. His mother saw love in his eyes and got to work finding a new robe, sandals and a bow and arrow. She used magically made him his items ready for the big day. When his mother handed him the items, he thought they looked dull but didn’t want to be ungrateful. He thanked his mum and set off.

When arriving at the palace, the God of Spring looked dull, especially to the Princess’s maids. When the Princess looked at Spring, she saw all the magic and beauty that his mother had put into the items and immediately accepted his proposal.

Autumn was incredibly jealous and refused to fulfil the bet. He wished them a lifetime of misery.  When their mother found out about Autumn’s anger, she cut a hollow cane of bamboo and filled it with salt and stones. Then she wrapped the bamboo with leaves and hung it up above the fire. She spoke the words that when green leaves fade and die, so shall he, her Autumn son.

That’s why, the story says, Spring is fresh and merry and Autumn is the saddest time.

An extract from A Year Full of Stories, by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2016)   

Next Fairy Tale- The Wee Bannock