bathing Japanese2

One night, the Lady Moon visits Earth. She leaves her white feathered robe on the bank of a river while she bathes. A fisherman snatches the cloak and refuses to return it. The more she pleads, the more determined he is to keep it, for these glowing white feathers are a treasure, a marvel.

The fisherman offers a bargain. If she will dance before him, he will restore the robe.

“I’ll dance the dance that makes the Palace of the Moon turn round and round,” she says, “but without my feathered cloak I can’t dance a step.”

The fisherman accuses her of planning to fly away before the dance.

“Promises made by mortals are easily broken,” she says, “but there’s no falsehood among the Heavenly Beings, no lies in the stars, or the Sun and Moon.”

The fisherman is shamed. He hands the lady her cloak of white feathers and she begins to dance.

crane bride2

She dances and sings. She sings of the Moon. She sings of its wonders. She sings of the mighty Palace of the Moon, where thirty monarchs rule, fifteen in robes of white for the waxing Moon and fifteen more in black for the waning. She dances to the Moon.

dancing crane

After a time, her feet rise from the sand and the lady is lifted into the air, the white feathers of her cloak gleaming against the pine trees and the blue sky. Up and up and up she goes. Singing. Past the summits. Singing. Higher and higher, until the fisherman can no longer hear her voice. Higher and higher, until she reaches the glorious Palace of the Moon.