A folktale of Fukushima

Japanese French Vietnamese

This is a story from Toyosaka in the former Kamo District.

A long time ago, the people of this area named a certain migratory bird the Tsuru (crane). Even a single feather from the Tsuru is extremely rare. When they molt, although they lose most of their feathers, there is one particular feather that is not shed.

And so it goes that long, long ago, a Tsuru was playing by the roadside.

A slow turtle approached the Tsuru and said, “It must be good to be you. With a swish of your wings, you can fly so high. I am so very envious, I cannot help myself.”

And the Tsuru responded, “Ah, but I can’t take you with me to these high places.”

“But I am so incredibly jealous,” said the turtle most persistently.

And because the Tsuru was really nice, he replied as follows.

“I have one feather on my back that I cannot shed, so grab on to it with your mouth. But don’t say a word. And as you’re hanging on with your mouth, if you speak, you’ll let go and you’ll fall. Please don’t let go,” the Tsuru said.

Then the turtle grabbed hold of the Tsuru’s feather and the Tsuru took off into the sky. The turtle held on to the feather for dear life. The turtle was so happy flying high in the sky. He could see everything down below - mountains and rivers and houses. The turtle was so happy as they flew through the sky. “Oh, I can see the castle,” he said.

Whoosh whoosh.

“Oh, I can see the sea. I am so incredibly happy.”

From down below some children spotted them. “Oh, look at that. The Tsuru is flying with something that it’s caught. What is that? Hmm, it’s a turtle. Wow, look at that, what a funny sight! The turtle is being carried away by the Tsuru. Yes, yes, that’s so funny, so funny,” the children mocked loudly.

Hearing this, the turtle became angry. Letting go of all caution, he yelled out, “Hey, I haven’t been carried away. I am taking a walk in the sky.” And as he said this, he let go of the feather with his mouth.


The turtle fell headlong down, straight to the ground. He hit it, cracking his shell horribly. The next day the Tsuru said, “Turtle, if only you had listened to me. I said not to let go. Your shell, is it badly injured?”

“Oh, dear Tsuru. I am sorry to have asked so much of you. But thanks to you, I have now seen things I was never able to see before. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.” And as he said this, he slowly disappeared into the thicket.

And even now there are still cracks across the shells of turtles from when this one fell from the Tsuru’s back.

So it was told, long ago.