Child-life in Japan and Japanese Child Stories/Fishsave
HERE was once upon a time a little baby whose father was Japanese ambassador to the court of China, and whose mother was a Chinese lady. While this child was still in its infancy the ambassador had to return to Japan. So he said to his wife, "I swear to remember you and to send you letters by the ambassador that shall succeed me; and as for our baby, I will despatch some one to fetch it as soon as it is weaned." Thus saying he departed.
Well, embassy after embassy came (and there was generally at least a year between each), but never a letter from the Japanese husband to the Chinese wife. At last, tired of waiting and of grieving, she took her boy by the hand, and sorrowfully leading him to the seashore, fastened round his neck a label bearing the words, "The Japanese ambassador's child." Then she flung him into the sea in the direction of the Japanese Archipelago, confident that the paternal tie was one which it was not possible to break, and that therefore father and child were sure to meet again.
One day, when the former ambassador, the father, was riding by the beach of Naniwa (where afterward was built the city of Osaka), he saw something white floating out at sea, looking like a small island. It floated nearer, and he looked more attentively. There was no doubt about its being a child. Quite astonished, he
stopped his horse and gazed again. The floating object drew nearer and nearer still. At last with perfect distinctness it was perceived to be a fair, pretty little boy, of about four years old, impelled onward by the waves.
Still closer inspection showed that the boy rode bravely on the back of an enormous fish. When the strange rider had dismounted on the strand, the ambassador ordered his attendants to take the manly little fellow in their arms, when lo, and behold! there was the label round his neck, on which was written, "The Japanese ambassador's child." "Oh, yes," he exclaimed, "it must be my child and no other, whom its mother, angry at having received no letters from me, must have thrown into the sea. Now, owing to the indissoluble bond tying together parents and children, he has reached me safely, riding upon a fish's back." The air of the little creature went to his heart, and he took and tended him most lovingly.
To the care of the next embassy that went to the court of China, he intrusted a letter for his wife, in, which he informed her of all the particulars; and she, who had quite believed the child to be dead, rejoiced at its marvellous escape.
The child grew up to be a man, whose handwriting was beautiful. Having been saved by a fish, he was given the name of "Fishsave."
- Beauitiful handwriting was considered one of the most admirable of accomplishments in old Japan.