One day when the young man took a bath andthe girl scrubbed his back with a washcloth, hehappened to peep at her face covered with thewooden bowl. He didnt expect to see such cuteround eyes."She is the most attractive girl Ive ever seen. Illmake her my wife," he inwardly decided.The two gradually got along well with eachother. His mother, who knew her sons decision,of course got against their marriage.
"We dont even know where she was born andraised. Oh...that ugly wooden bowl she iswearing! Im afraid your marriage wouldnt gowell. I cant understand why you have chosenher of all women," she complained. The youngman said,"I understand why you object to our marriage.But whatever may happen, Ill marry her. If youdrive her out of here, Ill also leave with her.The worried mother planned to have a Bride-Contest to compare her youngest sons fiancéto the wives of her three sons,
so that the ugly young woman would feelashamed and leave from the house on her owninitiative. The handicapped young woman said toher fiance,"Im so sorry to say that I have to leave heresoon. Im sure youll find a much better womanthan I.""Dont tell me such a wistful thing. I love youbetter than anyone else in the world. Ill live withyou until our death separates us."The moment he said so, the wooden bowl felldown in front of her. He was fascinated
with her beauty: a fair-complexion withlovely round eyes; long black hair and ... hegazed at her speechlessly for a while.Whats more, in the box she had had on herhead a moment before, they foundtreasures such as gold, silver, beautifulclothes and rolls of silk cloth!"You dont need to go anywhere," he saidto her gently.
The Bride Contest started at last. First,the eldest sons wife appeared in front oftheir relatives. She was a beautifulwoman with long hair. She brought fiverolls of silk cloth with her as the guestsgifts. Next, the second sons elegant wifeappeared. She also brought five rolls ofcloth. And then the cute third sons wifeshowed up with five rolls. The relatives saidto one another,
"Weve already seen three sons wives. Eachof them is so beautiful, hardly to say whichis the best. Now its the turn for theyoungest sons fiance, but I wonder if shehas the courage to appear in front of us.“Atlast the slide door opened. Quietly andgracefully she walked into the room withfive rolls of silk cloth. In a beautiful kimono,she looked so elegant and bright as if shehad been the spirit of cherry blossomsunder the spring sunshine.
She was polite in manner, too; quitedifferent from that bath attendant workingeveryday. All the people in the roomwatched her without a blink. The formerthree women were all beautiful, but in herpresence, they paled by comparison. Soonthere took place a splendid banquet. Duringthe banquet, the three wives murmuredwith each other. The eldest sons wife saidto their parents-in-law,
"I think its time to show our specialty to theguests. Ill play the biwa (Japanese lute), thesecond sons wife, the tsuzumi (smallshoulder drum), and the third sons wife, thesho (Japanese wind musical instrument).“Then she turned to the youngest woman,and said,"So would you mind playing the koto(Japanese musical instrument with 13strings) with us?"
"I dont think I can play the koto well infront of the guests, but if you insist, Ill try,"she said modestly.To their surprise, she finished playing adifficult piece perfectly. All the peoplethere cried out in admiration. Then thethree women gathered again and talkedabout something. The second wifeapproached her and said,
"Look at the garden. How beautiful thecherry blossoms are! Would you mindwriting a waka poem (a form of classicJapanese poetry) for us?""I dont think I can please you with mypoem, but if you insist, Ill try."After a whileof thought, she started writing a poem withbeautiful handwriting on a strip of paper,and read it in a clear voice.
Although the cherry blossoms cant speak to you, Listen to what they say with your inner ears.If you endure through all the hardships, In the future, youll surely have good years.
The young mans parents sympathized withher, thinking about her hardships shedhad to go through. They recognized notonly she was elegant and beautiful, but alsowell-educated, qualified enough to theirsons bride. Though the young woman hadnever confessed her background, theythought there wasnt any barrier for theirmarriage any more. Soon she had threechildren and lived a happy life with herhusband.
One thing she felt anxious about was her father.She heard from someone that her father had lefthis family to train himself as a priest and wandersomewhere, and that the main reason he haddecided to be a priest was his second wifesruthlessness and careless spending. She wantedto look for her poor old father and show him hisgrandchildren. Meanwhile, the priest prayed toKannon wherever he visited temples, "If mydaughter is still alive, Id like to meet her again,and apologize for my stupidity."
One day, he was praying at a temple,when he saw a man with three childrenwalking toward him. Looking at them, heburst into tears. The man was surprisedand asked the priest,"What makes youcry?""Please dont mind my crying, butyour children bear a striking likeness tomy daughter whom I ran out of myhouse when she was thirteen yearsold.“The old priest told the whole storyto the man, who sympathized with thepriest.
When the man took the priest to hishouse, his wife gazed at him for a while,and shouted with joy,"Oh, Father, Im your daughter. Look, heis my husband, and they are yourgrandchildren.""I must be in a dream," thepriest said, "If not, I have to thank Kannonfor rejoining my daughter."He was welcomed by his daughters family,and lived with them happily ever after.