Jun 29, 2010

Legend of Tatsuko

Statue of Tatsuko. Picture Courtesy of Semboku City

Lake Tazawa is known for its mysterious Legend of Tatsuko. Among many folklores in Tazawako, Legend of Tatsuko, or ‘Tatsuko Densetsu’ (辰子伝説) is the best known and, without a doubt, the most important story to start with.

There are a few versions of this mysterious legend - perhaps no one knows the ‘original’ or ‘authentic’ version of it, because it has been orally passed down through generations.
Legend of Tatsuko (The Most Common Version):

Tatsuko, a girl from in In-nai area, was known for her beautiful appearance. Knowing her beauty would not last forever, she started to visit a nearby shrine at the foot of Okurasan (a mountain in Jindai area). She would visit there to make a wish night after night. On the 100th night, she finally received a message from the god of mercy —“Go north. Find the holy spring. Take a sip from there.”

Over the mountains, she passed. Finaly, she found the holy spring that she was told about. Delighted, she took a sip as told in the message. Next moment, she realized that she was now in a appearance of a dragon. This is how the poor girl, Tatsuko, became the protective dragon of Lake Tazawa.

When Tatsuko was drinking the water from the holy spring with her delicate hands, she  felt more and more thirsty. She was drinking so breathlessly and mindlessly that she started to have her face to the water. Next moment, heavy clouds appeared over the mountains, bringing a thunder storm. Soon, the pouring rain washed out everything and caused a landslide down to the lake. The lightenings were so blinding that Tatsuko couldn't even see herself. When it finally calmed down, she mirrored herself and found herself now as a dragon.
Tatsuko had been absent for way too long, her mother was unbearably anxious.  She wandered into the mountains to search for her precious daughter. The mother entered deeper and deeper into the mountains. Finally, she found the holy spring.  She desperately called her daughter's name. The calling was heard by Tatsuko, who has now become a dragon.
“Forgive me, Mother” she said. “Because I wished for the eternal beauty, now I became a dragon as a guadian of Lake Tazawa. I could not return home with you. Instead, I will keep this lake abundant of fish, so you could have it every day  to remember me. They are my offerings to you."

Soon Tatsuko disappeared into the water. The poor mother was so agonized. She screamed for the misery and threw the burning torch into the lake. As the fire was instantly put out, the torch became black and soon  turned into a school of fish - which  is what we call today as kunimasu .

Other Variations of Legend of Tatsuko:

Although the story line above is the most common variation, other variation tells that Tatsuko had gone to the lake for fishing. She caught a few and ate them. The fish were so tasty but made her very thirsty.

And the rest of the story is the same.

Statue of Tatsuko is now internationally recognized!

The After-Story with Tatsuko and Her Lover:

Legend of Tatsuko  does not end when kunimasu were born. The legends has a sequence in which involves Tatsuko and another dragon from Lake Hachirogata, Hachiro-Taro, and a monk of Lake Towada. The story is called Legend of Three Lakes (Sanko Densetsu; 三湖伝説).

Legend of Tatsuko Told in a Movie:

In IRIS, this romantic but sad legend has been briefly mentioned. Truth or not, the original script didn’t include the legend; however, quality of storyline somewhat coincided with the drama plot as well, so that some lines were added to include a part in which the legend is told by a character. That is a behind-a-scene story on how Legend of Tatsuko made it into an international drama!


Anonymous said...

Hi, I really wanted to know who the artist was who made the statue. I think there is a similar one by the same artist that is near Morioka???
Thanks from Andrew

Tazawako Tourism Association said...

You are probably right! It is made by an artist Yasutake Funakoshi (舟越保武)and you can see other works by him in Morioka City. Good eyes, Andrew-san. Thanks for your comment.

More about this Mr. Funakoshi Yasutake: