The Pink Fairy Book HTML version
Uraschimataro and the Turtle
There was once a worthy old couple who lived on the coast, and supported themselves by
fishing. They had only one child, a son, who was their pride and joy, and for his sake they
were ready to work hard all day long, and never felt tired or discontented with their lot.
This son's name was Uraschimataro, which means in Japanese, 'Son of the island,' and he
was a fine well-grown youth and a good fisherman, minding neither wind nor weather.
Not the bravest sailor in the whole village dared venture so far out to sea as
Uraschimataro, and many a time the neighbours used to shake their heads and say to his
parents, 'If your son goes on being so rash, one day he will try his luck once too often,
and the waves will end by swallowing him up.' But Uraschimataro paid no heed to these
remarks, and as he was really very clever in managing a boat, the old people were very
seldom anxious about him.
One beautiful bright morning, as he was hauling his well-filled nets into the boat, he saw
lying among the fishes a tiny little turtle. He was delighted with his prize, and threw it
into a wooden vessel to keep till he got home, when suddenly the turtle found its voice,
and tremblingly begged for its life. 'After all,' it said, 'what good can I do you? I am so
young and small, and I would so gladly live a little longer. Be merciful and set me free,
and I shall know how to prove my gratitude.'
Now Uraschimataro was very good-natured, and besides, he could never bear to say no,
so he picked up the turtle, and put it back into the sea.
Years flew by, and every morning Uraschimataro sailed his boat into the deep sea. But
one day as he was making for a little bay between some rocks, there arose a fierce
whirlwind, which shattered his boat to pieces, and she was sucked under by the waves.
Uraschimataro himself very nearly shared the same fate. But he was a powerful
swimmer, and struggled hard to reach the shore. Then he saw a large turtle coming
towards him, and above the howling of the storm he heard what it said: 'I am the turtle
whose life you once saved. I will now pay my debt and show my gratitude. The land is
still far distant, and without my help you would never get there. Climb on my back, and I
will take you where you will.' Uraschimataro did not wait to be asked twice, and
thankfully accepted his friend's help. But scarcely was he seated firmly on the shell, when
the turtle proposed that they should not return to the shore at once, but go under the sea,
and look at some of the wonders that lay hidden there.
Uraschimataro agreed willingly, and in another moment they were deep, deep down, with
fathoms of blue water above their heads. Oh, how quickly they darted through the still,
warm sea! The young man held tight, and marvelled where they were going and how long
they were to travel, but for three days they rushed on, till at last the turtle stopped before
a splendid palace, shining with gold and silver, crystal and precious stones, and decked
here and there with branches of pale pink coral and glittering pearls. But if Uraschimataro
was astonished at the beauty of the outside, he was struck dumb at the sight of the hall
within, which was lighted by the blaze of fish scales.
'Where have you brought me?' he asked his guide in a low voice.