Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.501


Hello from Ichiroya. This is Yuka who wrote the last newsletter. We wanted to introduce an old fukusa with horagai(conch shell) embroidered elaborately, and wrote about hora story as a preamble,(Hora is a conch shell, and is considered to be auspicious but blowing conch shell means telling a FISH STORY or JOKES in Japan. Being asked to be in a movie was an example of a hora story, and a joke. I am sorry , I did not mean to tell a lie.  No movie project is exsited. 

It was true that an editor came to offer making a book with our past newsletters. The project seem to have vanished away though...

If it really happens and if there is a project of movies or books, we will be so happy to notify in our newsletter!


Today, we want to show an uchishiki(Buddist alter decoration) with very unique motif. The elaborate embroideries in details are just amazing. This is considered to be from Meiji(1868-1912) or earlier. The fukusa is fantastic but I  just cannot find what this motif meant to be. 

The man in the center has a dragon cap on his head and the guys on his sides have a sea bream and a sole on their heads-these two guys have a kind of ingratiating smile!

There is a Buddist priest who holds a ball which looks like a crystal ball.


Those fish reminds us of a famous Japanese folk tale `Urashima Taro', but there are something strange if this is the motif.

Why there is a priest? Why this man in the center -he can be Urashima Taro- has this dragon cap?

Urashima Taro has been invited to Ryugu jo castle, A Dragon God castle  in the bottom of the sea. If the man in the center is Urashima Taro, why he is having this cap tiwh Ryu(dragon)?

This man might be a Dragon God and the guys beside him can be the servants.

I always thought this story of Urashima Taro has a lot of mystery. Most Japanese folk tales have some kind of `lessons' but this story is too sad and have no salvation.


Here is the story of Urashima Taro (from Wiki)

One day a young fisherman named Urashima Tarō is fishing when he notices a group of children torturing a small turtle. Tarō saves it and lets it to go back to the sea. The next day, a huge turtle approaches him and tells him that the small turtle he had saved is the daughter of the Emperor of the Sea, Ryūjin, who wants to see him to thank him. The turtle magically gives Tarō gills and brings him to the bottom of the sea, to the Palace of the Dragon God (Ryūgū-jō). There he meets the Emperor and the small turtle, who was now a lovely princess, Otohime.

Tarō stays there with her for a few days, but soon wants to go back to his village and see his aging mother, so he requests Otohime's permission to leave. The princess says she is sorry to see him go, but wishes him well and gives him a mysterious box called tamatebako which will protect him from harm but which she tells him never to open. Tarō grabs the box, jumps on the back of the same turtle that had brought him there, and soon is at the seashore.

When he goes home, everything has changed. His home is gone, his mother has vanished, and the people he knew are nowhere to be seen. He asks if anybody knows a man called Urashima Tarō. They answer that they had heard someone of that name had vanished at sea long ago. He discovers that 300 years have passed since the day he left for the bottom of the sea. Struck by grief, he absent-mindedly opens the box the princess had given him, from which bursts forth a cloud of white smoke. He is suddenly aged, his beard long and white, and his back bent. From the sea comes the sad, sweet voice of the princess: "I told you not to open that box. In it was your old age ..."

What do you think? The story ends with almost no hope.

What has Urashima Taro done? He just enjoyed for a couple of days in the in the feast they had for him for gratitude. It started because he saved a life of  a small turtle. He left the palace because he was worried about his aged parents. He was a good and caring son!

There is no reason he must have been punished. He has just be throuwn out to the world 300 years has past, alone. This is too much.

What lesson can you find from this story? 

`He opened the box which he was told not to. So you should keep a promise or...'

However, even if he had not have opened the box, he could not see his parents or friends and became alone anyway.


`There is always a catch to every good thing'. This might be a better lesson but you have to refuse everything, even a small treat people want to offer as a token of gratitude? This is not so fair.
Urashima Taro is one of the most well known folk tale but the story has a lot of mystery!









To the above Uchishiki page CLICK HERE!