Once in Japan there lived a prince, Toyonari Fujiwara. He married a beautiful woman , Princess Murasaki. They had everything they wanted, except, a child. So they went to the temple of Hase-no-Kwannon (Goddess of Mercy at Hase), for they believed, according to the beautiful tradition of their religion, that the Mother of Mercy, Kwannon, comes to answer the prayers of mortals in the form that they need the most. They stayed at the temple, prayed and prayed , offering incense to Kwannon. Soon, their wish came true. They had a beautiful baby girl, which they called Hase-Hime, which means Princess of Hase. When she grew up a little, about 8 years old, her mother had an illness that killed her.
” Hase, you must remeber that I told you to grow up to be a strong intelligent woman. After I die, your father will surely marry another woman. Treat her with respect, like she is your own mother. Forget me. Promise me, that you will grow up to be a strong intelligent woman, who will help others in time of need.” she said. Those were her last words.
Hase, not old enough to feel the pain of losing a mother, nodded. She did, indeed grow up a bit before her father married another woman , Princess Terute. She was pretty, but her heart was evil. She disliked Hase. She always said,
” That isn’t my child!!!”
Hase still did what she was told by her mother, and respected her stepmother. The stepmother soon had a son, and was even angrier because if Hase didn’t exist, then her son would get all his father’s love. So, she decided to poison Hase. She got some poison, poured it into a bottle of wine, and got a bottle of good wine for her son. She entered the room, and Hase was telling stories to him and they were having lots of fun. She suddenly came up to them and poured the bottles of wine . She carefully marked the bottles of which one was poisonous, and she was so suddenly really nervous, so she poured the wrong cups. She then poisoned her own son as Hase sat there drinking her wine. Nothing happened. But when her son drank his, he screamed and fell to the floor. Terute picked him up, got all the doctors she could possibly find, but, he was dead. Instead of blaming herself, she blamed Hase, and hated her even more.
One day, Hase was called to the emperor to celebrate. He called her there to play the koto, ( Japanese Harp) while Terute accompanies it with the flute. Hase’s habits were reading, writing, and playing the koto. She praticed hard everyday and soon played very beautifully. But, Terute, on the other hand, doesn’t even practice, because she’s so lazy. So,because of this , on the day of the performance, Terute had to find someone to replace her. Now, this made her even more angry, for the emperor gave Hase much gifts, and she couldn’t play a simple instrument while a child could.
Weeks later, a huge storm caused the emperor to get sick, and the storm went on for days. People started gossiping that Hase had such great purity, that if she wrote a poem, and read it to the heavens, the storm would calm down. This gossip soon got to the emperor, and he ordered Hase to go at once. She wrote a long poem, and went to the emperor. She read it out loud, and, when it was done, surprisingly, the storm calmed down. The emperor was better. Everyone praised her after that. Everyone , that is, except for Terute. She became even more angry, that she decided to kill Hase once and for all. She ordered her servant, Katoda, to bring the girl to the farthest place he could, and kill her there. He took the girl away as ordered. but, he was a kind man, and didn’t want to kill her. So, he built a nice little cottage and secretly called his wife to come there, and to live there once and for all, since he knew if he went back, he would get a punishment from the jealous Terute.
Years later, the prince Toyonari came back and was shocked of the fake story that Hase ran away. He went out to find her at once. He suddenly came upon a small cottage, with a voice reading inside.
” Who is studying alone in the woods?” he wondered to himself.
He stepped into the cottage, and saw his own daughter.
“Hase-hime! it is you!” he yelled.
” FATHER?!” she asked.
She burst into tears and leaped out of her chair to hug him. Katoda told him the whole story,and Toyonari said no more. When Terute heard of this, she immediately ran back home to live with her father, for she knew that Toyonari would kill her for her evil deeds. Hase had no more evil stepmother to fear, and lived happily with her father.
But, the story isn’t over yet. Toyonari had no son, so he adopted one of his court members to become Hase’s husband. the wedding went smoothly, and Hase soon presented a baby son to her father before he retired of being king.
To this day there is preserved a piece of needle-work in one of the Buddhist temples of Kioto. It is a beautiful piece of tapestry, with the figure of Buddha embroidered in the silky threads drawn from the stem of the lotus. This is said to have been the work of the hands of the good Princess Hase.