Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Fortune Telling Doll

In the spring of the year of Horeki (1751) many officers and craftsman were dispatched from Edo (present day Tokyo) to build a large bridge over the Yahagi River in Aichi.
One day a head craftsman was standing at the edge of the river when he noticed what seemed to be a child's toy boat floating by with a doll in it. The boat was only a wooden board, but when he picked up the doll he saw it was too beautifully made to be a child's simple toy. He liked the pretty doll and took it back to the inn where was staying and put it in his room.
That night, in his sleep, he heard a voice in the dark.
"Today such- and- such a thing has happened. Tomorrow such -and- such things will happen to so- and- so. So-and-so will be sick tomorrow. So-and-so will travel to such-and-such a place."
When he woke up the next morning, he thought it had all been a strange dream, but then all the things the voice had spoken occurred to those people just as it had predicted. He thought this was very interesting. "Maybe this was created as a tool by a shaman for sorcery." He thought, as he held the beautiful doll in his hands and looked at it with awe.
The next night, as he lay in bed he heard the voice again. Then the next night he heard it again, speaking and speaking in the dark foretelling the future. In the beginning he loved it and felt he had found a rare treasure, but soon the voice seemed so loud he couldn't sleep and it began to bother him. He wanted to throw the doll away, but when he thought of how much care the previous owner had taken to float it away, he decided he had better be very careful. He took it to the master of the inn and showed it to him. The innkeeper was astonished at the sight of it and backed away fearfully. "This is a dangerous thing you have," he said "I have heard in Shizuoka of shamans who practice this kind of sorcery. That's why the doll came to you. This doll likes you now. It will bring misfortune to you if you try to throw it away now that you have picked it up."
The craftsman became very afraid of the doll now, and wondered what he should do with it. An old man who lived near the inn heard of the doll and told him "I've heard that there is only one correct way to dispose of this kind of doll. You must do as the previous owner did, and put it respectfully on a wooden board. Then place it in a stream as a child playing with a toy boat. This is a doll with a doll's heart, and you must play with it like a little child playing with a toy doll and comfort the doll's heart. Then you must turn your back slowly on the doll and let it go on the stream, pretend to be distracted. Go back slowly, without looking back to see the doll off. In this way you can accidentally 'lose' the poor doll in the stream the way a little child might. If you do this the magic doll will believe it has been lost by accident. It will forgive you and not bring misfortune to you."
The man was happy to hear this. He took it to the stream, and placed the doll on a wooden board and played with it just like a little boy. Then he let the boat go and returned to his inn. The doll floated forlornly away, and he felt relieved to know it go from his life.