Tenshi no Yume
~ Based on an ancient Japanese tale
The soft clatter of wooden shoes echoed in the hallway. A maiden silently crept up to the closed doors of the guest room. Her elegant robe was fit for a goddess, with lace and ribbons tied to a ruby, silk robe and hanging ornaments in her hair.
Another suitor, she thought. Maybe this one will understand.
Would you like to met my daughter? her mothers voice, heard through the doors, concluded the parent analysis session. Call Tsuruki, she whispered to a maid.
The maid opened the door to find Tsuruki right in front of her. The maid stared at her with surprise, then snapped out of the daze and responded with a curtsy, Tsuruki-sama.
Tsuruki entered the room as her parents left. At first she did not move; staring coldly and standing inches away from the closed door behind her. The seated gentleman fidgeted nervously, seeing the maiden so inanimate.
The footsteps in the hall finally faded to complete silence.
One thing you need to get straight, her voice was loud and so abrupt that it startled the young man. Im not interested in you or anyone else Every single night in my life revolves around a dream. It tells of my past and future
But it is only a dream, dear Tsuruki, he stood with open arms. It is not real. This world you see now is. You must face the decisions as all girls around your age do.
No use in telling, she sighed. Very well then. You have come here in attempt to possess my beauty, and so do hundreds of others. But does anyone care what I want?
You name it. I will provide.
Bring my dream to life, she whispered, and then turned towards the door.
Wait. What is your dream?
That They will bring me back to the sky, she left before the confused gentleman could ask more questions.
Stupid suitors, she grinned. Arent they aware that if my vision comes true, I would be in the sky without them? She walked down the hall and imprisoned herself in her chamber, drifted away by her sweet dream.
A few days later, Tsuruki was scrolling in the garden when she overheard the maids giggling about the next suitor: the Prince. The whole court was filled with scrambling servants tidying and decorating. The demanding voices of her parents could be heard neighborhoods away, but Tsuruki was not inclined to do anything about it.
Foolish ooji-sama. Coming all this way just to be pushed away like the rest of them. She giggled quietly and returned to her room.
The triumphant entrance of the Prince was something no one in the city could ignore, except Tsuruki, who braided a new red-stringed ornament for her hair.
When the maid called for her in the late afternoon, she slowly got up, placing the finished ornament neatly on the table. This is too special to be wasted on a suitor, Prince or not, as she walked down the hall.
The meritorious Prince sat on a kingly decorated chair with two of his own maids holding large fans behind him.
Tsuruki, her father introduced, this is the great Ooji-sama, here to win your hand.
Tsuruki curtsied with a faint smile. May we be alone?
Of course, my dear, her mother bowed to the Prince then exited with her father doing the same behind her. The Prince also signaled his maids to leave.
Tsuruki waited by the door as she does always, but the Prince did not wait for her to speak first.
You are as beautiful as they say, he commented with no expression on his face.
Did you come only for my beauty?
Not only. I also know you are talented with the arts: drawing, singing, and poetry.
You do? raising an eyebrow.
Yes. And Ive heard you would not decide until your dream comes true.
She nodded slightly.
Theywho are They?
Tenshi, angels of the sky.
It sounds very fascinating. Ill give my best at it, he smiled, acting as this meeting was now over.
Youre very different from everyone else. You accept my dream and did not bribe me with your wealth and power, as I expected.
Well, he got up and walked towards her. I have dreams of my own. Together they walked out to the dining room where Tsurukis parents were waiting.
She grew fond of the Prince through his attempts at dinner conversations. He seemed to want to know more about her, but her parents kept changing the direction of the questions onto him.
He was to stay at their house until his long journey back home the next day. And for once, Tsuruki felt a little sorry for her suitor.
Just before midnight, the Prince took a stroll in the glowing garden, awake from thinking about Tsuruki. He was startled to see her sitting next to the pond, playing with her hair ornaments.
What makes you think your dream will come true? He startled her.
She looked at him, then back at the reflected moon in the turquoise waters. Half of my vision was the past. From multiple sources, it was confirmed, so the future part must be true as well.
What about your past?
My parents were not the noble people you saw today. They were plain peasants living off handmade bamboo baskets, dreaming for wealth and a child to love. He sat down beside her. Father found me in the glowing stem of a bamboo one day; I was only three inches tall. They thought I was a miracle from the gods. Then every bamboo he cut down had gold embedded in the stems. And now they own all this. She glanced around her.
You are a miracle, he said with open eyes. Then, you must be a tenshi!
The moonlight created a strong beam onto the moon in the pond. Two tenshi appeared with a graceful crane above them with glowing robes and flower baskets.
With her eyes glued to them, Tsuruki slowly flowed up towards them with the moons guiding path. Theyve come. Theyve come for me. She lifted herself up towards their warm light.
A cold hand gripped her wrist as she redirected her attention to the Princes weary eyes. Please, dont go.
Im sorry, she smiled with sadness, I am a tenshi. I now know that I was sent to your world to fulfill the old couples wish. I must now return to my rightful position.
He did not speak further, but his shaking hand and iridescent eyes gripped her tight.
She closed her eyes and reached into her hair with her free hand. Thank youfor making my dream come true. With her hand placed on his, her wrist slowly slipped away and she flouted towards the supernatural beings above. Her crimson outfit morphed into a sky-blue robe. Her skin glowed like the others, and together they flew to their home in the aoi sora.
The moonlit path faded, and the Prince stood alone in the darkness by the pond. He opened his hand, and there was the hair ornament the only remaining, human part of her.
The Maiden from the Sky
~ Tyler, Royall. Japanese Tales. New York: Pantheon Books (a division of Random House, Inc.), 1987: 7-8.
One day long ago an old man who made bamboo baskets went to the bamboo grove to cut some more bamboo and saw that one of the bamboo stems was shining. Inside the stem he found a baby girl only three inches long.
Never having come across anything like that before, he hurried home to his wife with the little girl in one hand and his bundle of bamboo in the other. He and his wife were very happy. They put the tiny baby in a basket and cared for her tenderly. In three months she was a normal size for a child, and the bigger she grew, the lovelier she became. Meanwhile the old man kept going for more bamboo, an each time he found gold in the stems he cut.
Soon he was rich. He built a palatial home peopled by flocks of servants and retainers, and his storehouse overflowed with treasures of all kinds. He and his wife, who now had their hearts desire in everything, continued to lavish love on their daughter.
She was so dazzling that it was hard to believe she belonged to this world. Rumors about her beauty began to get around and soon many lords were courting her, but she would have nothing to do with them. When they showered her with love letters anyway, she tried to put them off by setting them hopeless tasks. Im yours, she wrote to one, if youll bring me the thunder from the sky. She told others she wanted the flower that grows in paradise, or the drum that sounds without being beaten. But her beauty had so intoxicated the suitors that they did their best to obey. Off they went to ask people wise in old lore where they should look for such things. Some ended up roaming the beaches like vagabonds, while others wandered homeless through the mountains. Some died, others never returned.
Finally even the emperor head she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and he decided to go and see her for himself. If its true, he thought, Ill make her my empress. He set out with all his ministers and officials and was surprised to find, when he reached the house, that it was fir for a king. The girl came to him when he called her. No, there was no one like her in all the world. Why, she must have refused everyone just so as to keep herself for him!
Fine! he said happily. Well go back to my palace and youll be my empress.
That would please me very much, Your Majesty, she replied, but you see, Im not actually human.
Well, what are you then? A demon or a god?
Neither, Your Majesty. But theyll soon be coming from the sky to take me away. You should go home now.
The emperor hardly knew how to take this. Whats she talking about? he wondered. Nobodys coming down from the sky to get her! Shes just saying that to get rid of me!
But a throng soon did descend from eh heavens, and they carried the maiden away. They looked quite unlike the people of our world.
Well, it had been true. She had not been of this earth. The heartbroken emperor never forgot her, but not even he could follow her to her home.
What kind of being had she been, though? And why had she become the old couples daughter? Its all a mystery.
Tenshi no Yume
Ai no yume oh
Heion no yume
Sora no yume
Tobu no yume
Ie no yume oh
Tsuki no yume
Unmei no yume
Tenshi no yume oh
To where dreams will come true
A palace in the sky
Turquoise and blue
Cranes fly above
The way they do
If only Earth knew
Dancing with the clouds
In luminous light
In the mist of night
A mystical sight
A velvet blue sky
Bordered by moonlight
Home to the sky
Free to fly
Though the night