Tuesday, August 28, 2012

White-Ben, Black-Ben

   There once lived a man named Shinjiro Nishiyama in a solitary house at Gongendaba in the Yamada area of Sukumo. Shinjiro liked hunting and had two dogs whose names were Whit Ben and Black Ben respectively.

   One day Shinjiro wanted to go hunting, so set off for Ohdeai, the deepest part of the mountains where it was dark even in the daytime. He set his dogs free and waited, but there was no sign of animals and the dogs couldn’t find anything.
   As Shinjiro walked back down the mountain, he came across a huge pine tree that had fallen across the path.When he sat on the tree to smoke, the dogs barked furiously and bit the tree. He was surprised to see blood running from the trunk. He realized it was not a pine tree but a big snake!

   The dogs attacked the snake, but the snake swallowed White Ben whole and squeezed Black Ben to death. Shinjiro shot it with his rifle, but it had no effect on the snake. At last he played his ace – he loaded a bullet within which dwelt the god Hachimandaibosatsu. He shot the snake, and it died. The snake’s blood flew into the Yokoze River, which was dyed red for 3 days and 3 nights.

   Shinjiro brought back one of the snake’s scales to prove he killed the snake. He showed the plate-sized scale to his neighbors.

   That night, his house began to make a loud creaking sound. He investigated and found a huge snake winding itself around the house.

   “So you are still alive?” Shinjiro exclaimed. The snake replied “I am the wife of the big snake you killed. Give me back his scale. My husband can’t die properly when you have one of his scales as a trophy. Give it back to me!”

   Shinjiro trembled violently and returned it to her. The big female snake released the house and went back to the mountain.

   Ever since, you can hear the birds calling “Shiroben, Kuroben” in the deepest part of the Yamada mountains. It is said that the two dogs’ souls became birds, and the female snake went to Manno Pond in Kagawa Pref. with her husband’s scale.
*shiro=white, kuro=black

Taken from vol.29 PDF

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