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桐生織姫伝説
白瀧姫物語
文と絵 松崎 寛
むかし、上野国、山田郡というところに小さな村があり、その村の人たちは、みんな仲よく暮らしていました。
 この村に、たいそう働き者の、久助という男がいて、寺や、大地主さまの家に、奉公にいき、朝早くから日が暮れるまで、一所懸命に働いていました。
 久助は、寺の和尚さんに、子どもたちといっしょに読み書きを習い、和歌も、おそわっていました。

The Tale of Princess Shirataki
written and illustrated by Kan Matsuzaki

Long, long ago in the Yamada District of Kozuke County (now Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture), there was a small village where all the people lived in harmony. In this village there dwelt a hardworking young man named Kyusuke who served at the temple and at residences of large landowners, toiling from early morning until dusk. Kyusuke learned to read and write and to compose waka (31 syllable Japanese poems) along with the village children who were taught by the temple priest.

ある日の夕暮れ、名主さまの家に、村の人たちがあつまりました。
 囲炉裏には、あかあかと火がたかれ、そのまわりに座っていた、村の人たちの顔を、あかくそめていました。
名主さまが、茶をすすりながら、「それそれ、宮仕えする者を、みめねばならんでのう」と、いいました。
 このころは、関東の国より、数人の農夫たちがえらばれて、一年間、京都の宮中のお庭そうじをするならわしになっていました。
One evening, several villagers gathered at the home of the village leader. They all sat around the irori (an open charcoal fire), their faces set aglow by the flickering flames. The village leader, sipping his tea said, "We'll have to start thinking about who we should send to serve at Court." It was the custom of the time to send a few selected farmhands from the Kanto area to serve for one year as gardeners at the Imperial Court in Kyoto.
「久助が、てきにんと思うが、どうじゃろうか」とつぜん、後ろの方から、和尚さんの声がしました。
 すると、名主さまは、ポンとひざをたたいて、「そうじゃ、久助がよかんべえ。字も読めるし、体もがんじょうだで、なんといっても働きもんじゃでのう」「ウンだ、ウンだ、久助がいちばんよかんべえ」と、村の人たちは、みんな賛成しました。
"I think Kyusuke would be the right choice. What do you think?" a priest sitting in the back suddenly declared. "Sure enough, " exclaimed the village leader, slapping his knees, "he can read, has a strong body and above all, he's a hard worker, isn't he?"
"Aye, aye, Kyusuke is the best man." agreed all the villagers.

吹く風は冷く、遠く赤城山は雪でおおわれていました。
 久助は、村の人たちに見送られながら、中山道を通り、京都へ、旅立ちしました。

 木曽路は、さすがに森が深く、ひる間でもうす暗かった。
 ときおり、ギィーッ、ギィーッ、と、鳥のなき声に、久助はおどろきました。
 追いはぎや、山賊が出るという話を聞き、まわり道をして、歩いたこともありました。
On the day Kyusuke was sent off to Kyoto by the villagers, a cold wind was blowing. The distant Akagi Mountain was blanketed with snow as he trod along the central mountain road. The Kisoji Road passed through a deep, dark forest which even in daytime seemed very gloomy indeed. Walking along the road, Kyusuke was startled by the sudden "Caw! Caw!" of birds crying out in the trees overhead. Having heard that bandits hiding in the forest sometimes attcked wayfarers, so Kyusuke took a roudabout way to avoid them.

鈴鹿峠から、大津の琵琶湖へぬけ、京都へ着いたころには、もう梅の花もさかりに、うぐいすのなき声が竹林にひびき、ここちよい春風がふいていました。
 久助は、平安京の美しさに、ただぼう然とするばかりでした。
 すれ違った御所車の優雅なすがたに、目をまるくし、「さぞうきれいな、お姫さまがのっているだんべえ」と、久助は、つぶやきました。
 七九四年(延暦十三年)、桓武天皇が奈良の平城京より、都を京都にうつしてこれを平安京と名づけ、国をつかさどり、奈良時代から平安時代に移り変わっていきました。
From the Suzuka Mountain Pass, Kyusuke journeyed on beyond Lake Biwa near Otsu. When he finally arrived in Kyoto, the plum trees were in bloom and one could hear nightingales singing in bamboo groves as the gentle spring wind whispered through their swaying branches. Kyusuke was filled with amazement at the beauty of Heiankyo (Kyoto during the Heian Period). A Court carriage passed before him, and as Kyusuke looked wide-eyed at the elegant figure of its passenger, he remarked to himself, "That beautiful lady must surely be a princess!"
In the year 794, Emperor Kanmu moved the capitol from Heijokyo in Nara to Kyoto. It then became known as Heiankyo and he ruled the country from there. This change brought the Nara Period to a close and inaugurated the Heian Period in Japanese history.
宮中に到着した久助は、入口に「郡役人夫控所」と書かれた、うす暗い小屋に通されました。
 各地から来た、農夫たちの新旧交代は、すでにおわっていました。
 久助は、さっそく宮中のお庭そうじを命ぜられました。
 広い庭園には、池があり、久助が初めて見た色あざやかなひ鯉が、口をパクパクさせておよいでいました。
Arriving at Court, Kyusuke found an entrance marked, "Waiting Room for District Workmen" and, entering there, he was led to a small, gloomy room. The annual rotation of farmers from various districts had already taken place and so Kyusuke was ordered to sweep and clean the Court garden without further ado.
The palace garden was very large indeed and in it there was a pond filled with golden carp, the like of which Kyusuke had never seen before. As they swam around in the pond, the carp made little "pak-pak" noises with their mouths.
ある時、一枚の短冊が、池に浮かんでいました。
久助が、拾い上げてみると、「吾妻より 山田からすが飛び来たり  羽ばたきをして 庭ぞはきける」
(東の方から、カラスのような、汚い身なりをした男が来て、庭そうじをしているよ)
 と、その短冊には、久助を、たいそうばかにした和歌が書かれてありました。
 官女たちは、久助が、字が読めないと思ったのでしょう。
 大声で笑っていました。
 そのころの農民は、読み書きできる人は、あまりいませんでした。
One day, Kyusuke saw a narrow strip of paper used for writing poetry floating in the pond in the spacious garden. He picked it up and read the waka poem written on it:
A dirty Yamada crow has flown in from the east
Flapping his wings to sweep the garden.
(Yamada was the name of Kyusuke's hometown.)
The poem poked fun at Kyusuke. The Court ladies presumed that Kyusuke could not read and were openly mocking him. In those days, there were not many farmers who could read or write.
 久助は、官女たちのそばにいき、筆と短冊をかり、平然と返歌をしました。
「飛び立てば 雲井の空に羽をのして 大宮人を めの下に見る」
(下品な、私のようなカラスでも、とび立てば、宮中の空高く、あなた方、高貴な人たちでも自由に見さげることが、できるのですよ)
 と、詠んだところ、今まで笑っていた官女たちは、その上手さに、話しもできなくなってしまいました。
 まして、それを書いた官女、白滝姫は、日やけした、引きしまった顔に、笑さえうかべている久助を見て、恥ずかしさのあまり、部屋の奥へ、いそいで、ひきこんでしまいました。
 この白滝姫は、横萩右大臣豊成公の次女で、たいそう美しい女性でした。
Kyusuke approached the ladies asking for a writing brush and paper and then calmly wrote a waka poem in response:
Even a dirty crow with outstretched wings
Can soar high into the sky
To freely gaze down on the Nobles at Court.
On reading this, the giggling Court ladies fell silent, stunned by Kyusuke's poetic skill. So ashamed was Princess Shirataki, who had written the poem ridiculing Kyusuke, that she blushed and turned her face from him, quickly going inside to hide herself. Princess Shirataki was the younger daughter of a High Court Official and was exceedingly beautiful.
それからの久助は、毎日、毎日、お庭そうじや植木の手いれなど、熱心に働き、みんなに親しまれ、信頼されるようになりました。
 ところが、白滝姫の姿がすだれの間よりちらほら見えるたびに、その美しさに魅了され、恋いするようになってしまいました。After this incident, Kyusuke continued every day to clean and plant in the palace garden. He was most dedicated in his work and gradually became a dear and trusted gardener. From time to time as he was working, Kyusuke caught a glimpse of Princess Shirataki's form behind the bamboo screen around the palace. Kyusuke was enchanted by Shirataki's beauty and by and by he fell in love with her.
久助は、ますます白滝姫を恋するがあまり、とうとうねこんでしまいました。
かなわぬ恋と知りながら、お慕いする心を伝えようと、病床から、
「雲の上 目には見ゆれど白滝の 八重に思ひと 落ちる君かな」
(雲より、はるか高い所に見える高貴なあなたを、これだけ沢山恋しているけれど、あなたは、私の気持ちをわかってくれないなあ)と、白滝姫に、和歌を三度送りましたが、姫の手元に届けられているのかどうか、姫からは、何の返歌もありませんでした。
 久助は、一ヶ月ぐらい伏っていたろうか、
「そんな体で、働くのはむりだから、まだ寝ているように」
と、仲間の人たちに、すすめられましたが、
「いつまでも、みんなに、めいわくをかけられねえだんべえ」
と、やせた体で、お勤めを始め、やがて元気をとりもどしてきました。
Kyusuke's love for the Princess intensified so much that he became quite lovesick and succumbed to a fever. Although he knew his love was futile, Kyusuke composed waka poems from his sick bed so that he might tell Princess Shirataki of the longing in his heart.
I envision you there high above me, over the clouds
Though my love in its intensity rises up to you
I fear you may not grasp my true feelings for you.
In this way, Kyusuke wrote poetry for Shirataki and sent it to her on three occasions. But he had no way of knowing whether or not the poems were delivered into her hands and the Princess, alas, wrote no poems in response to his.
Kyusuke was bedridden for about one month. His co-workers advised him, "No one should work in such a weak condition. You'd better stay in bed and take care of yourself."
But Kyusuke stubbornly responded, "I should not continue to be a burden on all of you." And so, thin as he was, Kyusuke began to work again. In due time, his health returned to him and the remaining days and weeks of his service to the Court passed quickly.
月日のたつのは早いもので、お勤めの交代の時期が来ました。
 下働きをした人たちは、みんな朝廷の前にあつまりました。
まっ白いひげをたくわえた、気品のある帝(桓武天皇)が、
「ながいこと、ご苦労であった。なんでも望み次第の料理をしんぜよう」と言うと、「わしゃ、餅が食いてえ」「わたしは、酒がいただきとうござりまする」「おらあ、そば切りです」と、みんな思い思いに、お願いしました。
Kyusuke's love for the Princess intensified so much that he became quite lovesick and succumbed to a fever. Although he knew his love was futile, Kyusuke composed waka poems from his sick bed so that he might tell Princess Shirataki of the longing in his heart.
I envision you there high above me, over the clouds
Though my love in its intensity rises up to you
I fear you may not grasp my true feelings for you.
In this way, Kyusuke wrote poetry for Shirataki and sent it to her on three occasions. But he had no way of knowing whether or not the poems were delivered into her hands and the Princess, alas, wrote no poems in response to his.
Kyusuke was bedridden for about one month. His co-workers advised him, "No one should work in such a weak condition. You'd better stay in bed and take care of yourself."
But Kyusuke stubbornly responded, "I should not continue to be a burden on all of you." And so, thin as he was, Kyusuke began to work again. In due time, his health returned to him and the remaining days and weeks of his service to the Court passed quickly.
久助は、黙っていると「その方は、何がしょもうじゃ、何なりと申せ」帝がやさしく、うながしました。
 「おらあ、ほかの物は何もいりません。ただ、白滝姫をお嫁にいただけますれば、ありがたきしあわせです」と、久助は、恐る恐る申し上げました。
 すると、そばにひかえた公卿百官殿上人たちが、一度にどっと大笑いをしました。
 「下郎の分際で、かなわぬ願いをいうものぞ」と、殿上人たちは、あきれ顔をしました。
Kyusuke remained silent until the Emperor pointed to him and urged him kindly, "You there, what do you desire?"
"I - I don't want anything to eat, Your Majesty, but I would feel most gratified and truly fortunate if I could have the Princess Shirataki as my bride," replied Kyusuke, his heart pounding with fear.
On hearing this, the High Court Officials sitting near the Emperor all burst into laughter. The Courtiers' faces showed extreme astonishment as if to say,
"Only a menial servant? How dare he make such an impertinent request!"
あたりのざわめきが静まったころ、一人の官女が現われ、三枚の短冊を帝に手わたしました。
 その短冊には、久助が病床から白滝姫に送った和歌が詠まれてありました。
 それを見た帝は、
「かわいそうに、下郎の身ながら、たいそう優しい心をしておる」
と、久助に同情して、
「さらば歌合せをし、もし、そのほうが勝らば、姫を嫁に進ぜよう」
 久助は、夢ではないかと、自分の耳をうたがいました。
 白滝姫も、ひそかに、久助に思いをよせていたので、帝のお言葉を、たいそう喜びました。
Once the commotion caused by Kyusuke's daring request had subsided, one of the Ladies-in-Waiting appeared holding in her hand the three waka poems composed by Kyusuke during his illness for Princess Shirataki.
Upon seeing them, the Emperor was filled with sympathy for Kyusuke and thought,
"Though only a common laborer, he has the tender heart of a gentleman."
The Emperor announced, "Let him vie in a waka contest (a poem writing match between two parties on a given subject) with Princess Shirataki. If Kyusuke wins, he shall indeed have the Princess as his bride!"
Kyusuke could hardly believe his ears and fancied that he must be dreaming. And Princess Shirataki rejoiced inwardly at the Emperor's announcement because she had secretly fallen in love with Kyusuke.
紫宸殿で歌合せが始まりました。
 まず、白滝姫より一首
「照り続き 山田の稲の枯れはてて 何を種とて 命つくらん」
(日照りが続き、あなたの里の稲が枯れてしまったら、何をたよりに、生きてゆくのでしょう)
 と、詠むと、山田の久助は、
「照り続き 山田の稲のこかれなば 落ちてたすけよ 白滝の水」
(私の里の稲が枯れてしまうならば、あなたがお嫁に来て、白滝の水のごとく、私の心をいやしてください)
 と、白滝姫を白滝の水にたとえて、返歌をしました。
 それを聞いた帝を始め、そこにひかえた人たちは、たいそう感激し、言葉にならないため息が聞えてきました。
The contest was held in the Shishiden Hall. Princess Shirataki was called upon first to compose a poem. She wrote:
Should the rice plants become desiccated
From unending drought in Yamada
What will you depend upon for your sustenance?
To which Kyusuke replied in poetry, making a play on the Princess's name, "Shirataki," which means "white waterfall":
Should drought wither the rice plants in Yamada
I pray that the waters of Shirataki
Will quench the thirst in my heart.
Being deeply moved, the Emperor and all those present were left speechless, only their sighs of admiration could be heard.
 すっかり紅葉した中山道に、中むつまじい男女の旅姿がありました。
 歌合せで勝った久助は、やくそくどおり、白滝姫を花嫁にして、連れだって久助の里へ帰るところでした。
 急な登り坂になると、久助は白滝姫を軽々背負い、力強く、グングン登っていきました。
 その顔には、生きる希望が、いっぱいあふれていました。
Thereafter, in the fullness of autumn, the travelling figures of a harmonious couple could be seen as they set out on their journey along the Nakasendo Road. Just as the Emperor had promised, Kyusuke received Princess Shirataki as his bride, and now they were on their way to his hometown.
As he approached each mountain, Kyusuke bore Shirataki lightly on his back, and set off with a determined step, ascending the slope. His face shone with hope and confidence.
左に渓流、右に小高い山のある峠に、二人の姿が見えたのは、それから約一ヶ月たってからでした。
 「とうとう着いたぞ。すぐ下に見えるのがおらたちの村だ」と、久助は歓喜な声でさけびました。
 すると、「かなたに見える山は、たいそう京の小倉に似てまする」白滝姫は、静かにつぶやきました。
 「そんじゃあ、その小倉に似た山を、仁田山とし、この峠を小倉峠とするべえ」と、いうことになり、この地名は今でもそうよばれているそうです。
 二人を迎えた村の人たちは、はちの巣をつっついたように、大さわぎとなり、さっそく、みんなで仁田山郷岩本というところに、仮り家を建ててやりました。 On their left was a mountain stream and on their right a narrow pass which led through the mountains. Already a month had passed since the two had departed from Heiankyo.
"We're almost there!" exclaimed Kyusuke. "The village below is my hometown," he said with delight.
When she heard this, Princess Shirataki murmured, "This mountain looks very much like Ogura Mountain in Heinankyo."
"Although this mountain is called Nitta Mountain," said Kyusuke, "we shall call the road the Ogura Pass." And so, even today, the road bears that very same name.
In preparation for Kyusuke's return, the villagers worked like busy bees building a new hive, and in a place called Nittayama Iwamoto, they constructed a temporary home for the husband and wife.
仲のよい夫婦は、朝な夕な和歌をよみ、毎日、幸せな生活を送りました。
 白滝姫は、宮中で手なぐさみにおぼえた、養蚕、糸繰り、はた織りの業を、仁田山の人たちに教えやがて、時の朝廷に絹織物を献上するほどになりました。
 これが、のちの桐生織物の源となり、桐生をはじめ、その近郷近在までも、養蚕、製糸、織物産業として発展していきました。
The affectionate couple spent a contented life together, reading poetry to each other day and night.
Princess Shirataki, who had learned the craft of sericulture (raising silkworms) along with spinning and weaving as a pastime at Court, taught these skills to the people of Nitta Mountain Village. In later times, the city of Kiryu and its surrounding area grew prosperous thanks to the silk which was produced there.
やがて白滝姫は、一男子をもうけたが病気にかかり、久助の介抱もむなしく、
「水の泡 消える我身は白滝の 今は玉散る 峰の岩本」
(水の泡が消えるように私のはかない命。今では白滝の水のごとく涙があふれ、峰の岩本に散っていきます)と、詠み、静かにこの世を去りました。
After giving birth to a son, the princess grew ill, and despite Kyusuke's loving care, she quietly passed away after composing one last poem:

My fleeting life is so like dissolving water foam -
From my eyes the waters of Shirataki overflow
Falling on the summit of Iwamoto.
上野国、山田郡、上仁田山村、現在の群馬県桐生市川内町の白滝神社には、白滝姫のみ魂が、はた神様、夫婦縁結の神様として、てあつく祭られてあります。
 境内には、直径十メートルもある大きな石があり、その小さな穴に耳をあてると、
「カラン、トントン、カラン、トントンーーー」
と、中からはた音が聞えてくるということです。Sometime later, to console the spirit of the princess, a shrine was contructed in her honor in the northern mountain village of Kaminitta, Yamada District, Kozuke County. This place is now called Kawauchicho in Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture. There, Princess Shirataki is worshipped as a Goddess of Weaving and Marriage.
Within the Shrine Compound there is a boulder, some 10 meters in diameter. It is said that by pressing one's ear to a small hole in the boulder, one can hear the rhythmic sound of Shirataki's weaving loom at work eminating from the very heart of the great stone.

 

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Copyright (C)  1998 by M.Matsuzaki & KAIC & Orijin Studio
English by Barbara Kamiyama Kenichi Tsurumi