伊豆昔話 吉奈の少年 Tales from Long Ago The Boy of Yoshina

A long time ago, there was a man known for visiting the Yoshina Onsen hot-spring baths of Nakaizu in Shizuoka Prefecture from around the time of the Nara Period, which has been a hot-spring resort area well known for its medicinal properties.
The hot-spring waters of the Yoshina Onsen are also well known for the bringing good fortune to children in terms of future success if they soak in the onsen waters.

Deep in the mountains of Mt. Amagi, there was an elderly couple and their young son. The couple was not born of this place. Once they heard of the reputation of the onsen, they decided to soak in the onsen and were able to raise their son who became a gifted child.

The elderly couple cherished the boy while raising him. The planted a garden in the front of their mountain cabin and raised their own food and lived a humble lifestyle.

The boy grew up healthy and strong while helping out with the farm work every day and enjoying the surroundings of mountain during his spare time.

However, there was always something that the boy wondered about.
“Why have my mother and father continued to live deep in the forest and suffering such a difficult life?”

The boy looked upon his parents as they became older with their backs bent over with age and felt saddened.
All this time, his parents warned him that taking the trail down the village of Yoshina was dangerous and told him not to go there, which seemed to bother him a little bit.

“Well, I wonder. It doesn’t seem that dangerous to me.”

One day, when the boy came home back from his usual running around in the fields and forests, he heard his parents’ voices from inside the cabin.
“After we pass away, our son won’t go down to the village.”
“Yes, that worries me.”

The boy stopped himself just before entering the cabin and listened closely.
“We were in the wrong. When soaking in the hot spring, the boy has turned in to the person he has become because of what was said.”
“Oh, I feel so sorry for our son. It’s just pitiful.”

The boy ran down to the river in a panic and looked at his reflection in the still water.
As soon as he recognized his reflection, tears welled up in his eyes and he started sobbing.

“I knew that something was strange. Why is that my mother and father each have two each, but I only have one. And what is this on the top of my head? Why do I have this extra thing growing on top?”

The reflection of the boy’s face on the still waters revealed that he had only one eye and had a short, sharp horn growing on the top of his head.

For as long as he could remember, the boy’s parents has always told him, “As you grow older, you will grow a second eye and have two eyes just like us. And, as you get older, the horn will eventually fall off. You will look just like your us.”

However, the boy wondered if what his parents had always told him might not be true. If they were lies, he realized that he would have a different existence from that of his parents.
“To raise a disfigured boy like me, my mother and father made sacrifices for me and lived in seclusion from the rest of the world.”

Long before the boy was even born, his mother and father made a light joke while soaking the waters of the Yoshina hot spring.
“I want a child no matter what it takes.”
“Yes, me, too.”

“I wonder what we would do if a child were born by the divine grace of these hot spring waters?”
“I so wish that were to come true.”

「けど、わしらはもういい歳だ。五体満足な子ばかり生まれてくるとも限らないぞ。もし望まない容姿で生まれてきたらどうする? それでも大切に育てていく自信はあるか?」
“Yes, but we are too old now. There is no possibility that we could give birth to normal, healthy baby. What if we gave birth to a baby who was abnormal and not what we expected. Would we still have the confidence to carefully nurture and raise such a child?”
“Of course! I would love a child of our very own no matter what.”
“Yes, I know. Whatever it takes, I want a child of our own. I don’t even care about the baby’s appearance. The baby could have only one eye and horn growing out of the top of its head, and I know that I would still love and nurture the baby with all my heart.”

After a passage of time, the couple gave birth to a baby boy.

Upon seeing the baby for the first time, the couple were in utter shock and deeply saddened. They decided that it would be best to raise the boy in seclusion away from society. The went deep into hills and forests of Mt. Amagi, built a cabin, and lived there ever since.


「どこいったぁ! 帰っておいで!」
With only one eye and a horn growing from out of the top his head, the boy realized that he was different from what any normal boy looked like, and began to think of himself as some kind of monster. From that point forward, he decided to never return home again.
Day after day, his parents went deep into the hills and forests of the mountain shouting his name and pleading for him to come home.
“Where have you gone!? Come home!”
“Come back!”

Although their voices had reached the boy, and regardless of how much he wanted to reach out and answer their call, he decided it best to plug his ears to keep from hearing his parents.
Near the boy’s feet there was something moving. He looked down and saw a small rabbit hopping away.

The boy felt that he was up against feelings that he had suppressed. Suddenly, he turned his head to the rabbit and pierced it with his horn.
With the shedding of so much blood, the rabbit died immediately.
“Oh! Oh, no!”

The boy cried with a trembling voice has he held the body of the dead rabbit all covered in blood.

Every day thereafter, the boy used his horn and desperately started hunting. He hunted down and killed wild boar and rabbit, and quietly took his prey to the front doorstep of his parents house for them to eat.
He patiently waited and hoped for the day that his parents would finally decide to go down the mountain and return the village.

Little by little, the years passed.

In the end, his parents never left the mountain to return to the village. In the end, his parents never left the mountain to return to the village. As they both grew even older, they slowly began to lose their sight. To this day, they still seek out their son calling out to him as he remains hidden deep in the mountain.
“Son! Come home!”
“Please! Just give us a sign or show your face!”

With the passing of time, their hopes of ever seeing their son again began to fade, and they were left with emptiness and sadness.
Then one day, there was suddenly something at the door of the cabin. They quickly opened the door and looked around.

“Please forgive us!”
“We are so sorry we brought you so much unhappiness.”
Although they knew their son could hear them and they were able to hear his voice, he never appeared before them.

“Please, there is no need to apologize! I am grateful to both of you. Thanks to the horn, I can hunt for food and not go hungry. With only one eye in the middle, I can stalk prey deep into the vegetation without fear of branches or limbs hurting my eye from the side as I rush in to snatch my prey. So, I am able to live comfortably here in the mountain.”

That same day, the boy caught a large boar in a hunt and brought it to his parents’ cabin.
His aging parents grasped each other’s hand and cried tears of joy and appreciation.

It is sad in the village of Yoshina that if you listen carefully, you can sometimes hear the sad voices of an old couple calling out to their son deep in the heart of Mt. Amagi.


The elderly couple passed away some days later. In front of the cabin were two large mounds that were built and covered in flowers that seemed to have been placed on the graves as offerings.



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