There once was a large native village that covered hundreds of miles in Japan. This village was such a busy place for all of the residents, and even tourists. During the old times, it was almost mandatory for the young boys to leave home and endure their own adventures once they reach manhood. For young Katsurou, his adventure meant so much more than the average boy’s.
“I will not return back to this village until I have made a name for myself, I want to be famous, I want to be brave, I want to make a difference in this world,” he spoke passionately towards his mom.
After giving a short speech, final hugs and goodbyes, Katsurou was off on his journey! He quickly found himself second-guessing his decisions as he plunged through thick fog searching for any sort of sign of need. Finding no hints, he kept on heading towards the mountains in the far distance. He thought that if he could make his way through the mountains there would be something on the other side, something so powerful that he would be known all around. As the sun began to set, night rolled closer, and steps got closer toward the mountain, he realized he needed a place to turn in for the night.
“I’m so close, keep going, don’t give up,” he kept repeating to himself quietly.
As his thoughts urged him forward with motivation, he grew closer and closer to the mountains.
“I’m here, I’ve reached the mountains, my destiny is on the other side,” he screamed with joy upon arrival.
As he walked on up to the mountains and peeked through the dense fog he saw absolutely nothing on the other side. Nothing but a huge forest covered with thousands of trees. With disappointment, he turned his head and walked toward the strange forest to rest his head for the night.
“I’m just a failure, I’ll never be anything on my own,” he cried.
After hours of pushing towards the forest and contemplating every aspect of life, Katsurou arrived at the forest. He looked around for a place to lie down and refresh, when he suddenly saw an event occur that could change his life. As the clock struck midnight, he saw thousands of black cats dancing as if there was no tomorrow. The dancing was lit by a full moon, giving way for spooky happenings.
“No Schippeitaro, he mustn’t find out about this,” the crowd of cats yelled.
After the midnight hour, Katsurou was left again in the silent dead of the night, as the cats just seemed to disappear form thin air. Exhausted from the day, he laid down his head and slept until daylight.
The new day brought forth much more motivation for the young boy, and he plunged forward in his journey, imagining that the night prior might’ve been a dream. As he walked searching for any sign of acceptance, he found a trail marked by human tracks. He followed this path and found a weeping woman at the end of it.
“Take mercy on me, help me for I have done no wrong,” the woman hollered. Katsurou found men in a hut nearby and asked how he could help the woman.
They replied with, “There is no help that can be given to her, the Spirit of the Mountain causes this great sadness and will whisk her (his dinner) away come tomorrow morning.”
Stunned Katsurou replied, “Who’s Schippeitaro, I believe I might have dreamed something of him.”
“Schippeitaro is the head dog who belongs to the prince, he lives right around the corner, why do you ask?” the men spoke curiously.
Without saying another word, Katsurou was off. He found the dog and begged that he come with him to bring equality to all of the forest, and put an end to this harsh act. After eagerly accepting the offer, the two were off to save the land. When midnight struck and lit up by the full moon, the same event of the “crazy cat call” happened again. There was one difference this night as Schippeitaro boldly stated the largest cat of them all, the Spirit of the Mountain, was present.
Quickly, Katsurou and Schippeitaro captured the Spirit of the Mountain with their bare paws and hands.
“Look here, you will either stop causing such sorrow for good people in this forest, or you will be forever sorry,” Katsurou spoke.
“I don’t understand your problem, for I have not hurt you yet” the Spirit of the Mountain replied.
And with that Schippeitaro pinned the Spirit down and Katsurou drew the sword. Instead of sending him to a quick death, they then took the Spirit to a village far away, a place that he would learn his place in society, and learn how to treat everyone fairly without causing pain and sorrow. For they wished him to live a happy life, but a fair life as well.
“My name is Katsurou, meaning victory, for I have won this battle, and made a name for myself, everyone must be fairly treated.”
I got inspiration from Schippeitaro, a story found in the Japanese fairy tale unit. In the original, the young boy set out to make a name for himself. When doing so, he found rare events occurring in the full moon at midnight in the forest. These cats were shouting about keeping it from Schippeitaro. He was then placed in a strange situation when he came upon a woman begging for life. He was told of the story of how “The Spirit of the Mountain” caused this great pain and captured her by fastening her into a large cask in the forest chapel. He thought this was extremely unjust and found out who Schippeitaro was, begged for him, and put Schippeitaro in the cask leaving him in the cask. The next night at midnight the cats were dancing and creating havoc, and this is where the young boy watched as Schippeitaro fastened his teeth into the “Spirit of the Mountain” and the young boy cut his head off with the sword to protect the lady. I began with a very similar story, but instead I wanted more of a happy ending. I didn’t think that the Spirit should die, as he is a cat, and that’s just not right. I changed it to where he gets to live, but he just has to suffer consequences for his actions. I also kept the same characters, but gave a name to the young boy (Katsurou) in hopes of a better connection being formed.
Japanese Fairy Tales from The Violet/Pink Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. This story can be accessed online here.
Japanese Name Meanings. This website can be accessed here.
Image 1: This image is from Schippeitaro, in the Japanese Fairy Tales unit by Andrew Lang. It can be accessed here.