Monday, November 14, 2011

Osayo of the Satetsu River

A long time ago, a young man called Santaro was born in the neighboring town of Nagasaka. 

When he was 13, their land, home and other assets were seized to pay debts incurred through his father's alcoholic affliction. Santaro worked hard without complaint serving the master of another house to bring food to their table. He was often allowed to take the leftovers from his master's home.

Santaro was a loyal son and even though he was tired from his day's work, he would endure it  to perform the lion dance throughout the late hours at his drunken father's request. The place of Shishi-ga-hana (Lion's Nose) where Santaro mastered the dance can be visited through our regular boat rides through the Geibikei Gorge.

When Santaro grew older, his maturity and looks adhered him to the hidden affections of a woman called Osayo. Though she was beautiful, she wanted to wash away her dark skin and regularly bathed in the Satetsu River on a daily basis believing her skin would whiten. 

As her skin never did, she kept her desires secret. Her love for Santaro remaining unknown to him and the love that could have been - forever unrequited.

The hardship, hard work, and loyalty to his drunken father commended respect with the locals and word of his piety reached the ears of the Daimyo lord of the time Date Yoshikuni
Santaro quickly became a favorite and was gifted his horse in 1854. This was later followed by a gift of money, and a family name which at that time would only normally be reserved for nobles and those of wealth. Then, in his 25th year, Santaro married in the spring to a young maiden called Tori introduced by the Daimyo lord.

When Osayo heard of his marriage, her only hope died with her. She threw herself into the Shishi-ga-hana and the iron sand that silts the basin of the Satetsu River is considered to be the dark skin that she tried to wash from her. From time to time, in the dusk light hours, a small bird called the Varied Tit is believed to be the reincarnation of Osayo. An embodiment of her love is also captured in "The One Cherry Tree of Osayo".

*This story is from the book called "The legend of Iwate(「岩手の伝説」)" by Hirano Tadashi(平野 直). I roughly translated the story.

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