The Lantern and the Fan
Japan…A country whose myths are unparalleled to any other culture. Their legends about deities like Amaterasu, Susanoo and Tsukuyomi, the underworld, the creation of the universe, the sea and the mountains. The stories of the glory and cruelty of the Emperors of old and the frightening tales about Yōkai, terrible hauntings, and strange creatures are extremely well-known and quite unique. However, we will not travel down the dark path of supernatural threats today…
The tale I chose for #FairytaleFriday is about family, search and perseverance. And a little bit of magic that solves all problems…
A widower leaves alone with his two young sons. The years pass in his house, devoid of a woman’s presence until the boys grow up and become men. One day, they present their brides, Yuki and Kayo, and the father couldn’t be more pleased. The house blossoms under the women’s touch. But the young women miss their families. They ask for permission to visit them but their father-in-law is reluctant and poses a difficult task to the women:
Then he said to the older of the two wives:
-You may go if you wish, but you must never come back unless you bring me fire wrapped in paper.
And to the youngest wife he said:
-You may go if you wish, but you must never come back unless you bring me wind wrapped in paper.
To his great disappointment, the women accept and depart. The rest of the story involves a strange old man and a very particular forest with trees harmed by salt water aka tears. And this is how the lantern and the fan were born according to this beautiful Japanese legend.
Now, some may say that this myth is about patriarchy and obedience. Yes, it wouldn’t be far from the truth. But we mustn’t forget that we are talking about tales born in particular eras in a given context. Obedience and family values are still extremely important in Japanese culture and trying to force modern-world messages in every story under the sun is troubling, and frankly, a sign of lack of education and perception.
To me, this is a tale about women’s perseverance, our determination to push harder until our aim is successful and the search for knowledge, the need to create. It doesn’t get more feminist than that…
Read the story here: The Lantern and the Fan