Friday, March 1, 2013

52 Weeks of Fairy tales #46 - Urashima and the Turtle

It has been a very busy couple of weeks around here, lots of school activities and end of term projects.  I was very happy this week to find some time to get out my needle felting and work on a fairy tale post.  This week's tale is a new one to me, I read it in my copy of The Golden Book of Fairy tales.  The tale is based on a Japanese legend and is called Urashima and the Turtle.

The tale of Urashima and the Turtle begins with a young fisherman named Urashima.  Urashima enjoyed everything about the sea, and spent nights and days watching the waves and the tides through all the seasons, and in all types of weather.  He loved the creatures of the sea as well, and thought they were all beautiful.  One day while Urashima was fishing, he felt a tug and reeled in his line, but instead of a fish, he saw a young turtle.  Urashima knew that turtles lived long lives and that this one was young, he smiled at the turtle and threw it back into the sea.

The turtle hit the water and it made a large splash, from the spray of water appeared a very beautiful girl, she came and sat by Urashima.  The girl told Urashima that she was the Sea King's daughter, and that they lived at the bottom of the sea.  The girl's father had let her turn into a turtle to test Urashima's heart.  Because he had freed the turtle, the girl knew he was a kind and good person.  She asked Urashima if he would come and share her dragon palace in the kingdom of the green waves.  Urashima was so taken in by her beauty he was glad to join her in her undersea palace.  So they rowed his boat together beneath the waves to the bottom of the sea.

The palace was made of beautiful coral and pearl, there were crystal colored fish and little finned dragons, it was beautiful.  Urashima and his princess lived there very happily for four years.  One day Urashima saw a small turtle, and it reminded him of the day he met his princess and went to live under the sea, it also made him think of his old village and he began to miss his family.  The princess saw right away that Urashima missed his home, so she gave him a magical pearl box tied with green ribbon  and told him to keep the box very safe, and that it would help to bring him back to the undersea palace when he was ready, but that he must keep the ribbon tied, if the ribbon came undone he would never be able to return.  Urashima got into his boat and made his way to the top of the water and sailed for home.

When he got to shore, he recognized the cherry trees, and the hill he lived near, and he made his way up a familiar path.  At first everything seemed the same, but when he came to where his house had been, his house was gone.  All the houses in the village were different.  He wondered what had happened in the four years that he had been gone.  He went to an old man who was sitting under a tree and asked if he knew where Urashima's home was.  The old man said he had only heard the name Urashima once, long ago in a story his great grandfather had told him, about a boy named Urashima who had been lost at sea, four hundred years ago, his family had looked for him, but not even a stick from his boat remained, and they all thought the sea had swallowed him.  Urashima's family had lived nearby including his brother's and their sons, but eventually his whole family died out.  Urashima realized he no longer had any family.  The old man pointed toward the cemetery and said he could find the tombstone of Urashima there.

Urashima walked to the cemetery  and next to his parent's tombstones, and his brother's was a tombstone with his own name.  Urashima realized that there was nothing left on earth for him, and that he had been gone for four hundred years.  He decided to return to his princess at once.  Carefully holding his pearl box he made his way back to the beach.  He sat down in the sand and wondered how he could return, not sure how the box would work.  While he was thinking, without realizing it, he began to untie the ribbon from around the box, and without thinking he opened the box!  A white mist drifted up into the air, in the shape of his princess, Urashima tried to reach the mist but it drifted out to sea, he ran after it but it disappeared.  Suddenly Urashima began to grow old, his hair became white, his back became bent, and he fell over, then withered away.


This version of the story in this book ends rather sadly with Urashima's skeleton left upon the beach, and the moon shining above onto the pearl box, and the green ribbon fluttering in the wind.  You can read this version in The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, which has a very interesting assortment of different fairy tales, along with beautiful illustrations.

                                          The Golden Book of Fairy Tales (Golden Classics)

When reading about this tale online, which is also known as Urashima Taro, there are some variations in which he doesn't die, he just turns very old, which is still sad because he can't get back to his princess, and his life has passed by him, but not as sad as ending with him dying.  You can read more about this tale at the Wikipedia Urashima Taro link.  Although this tale was sad, it was interesting, and I enjoyed reading a tale from the Japanese culture, most of the tales I have read and are familiar with, are from western culture, so it was nice to learn a new tale.

For my craft, I wanted to needle felt a little turtle.

As I was part way through my project I decided to take a picture, so you could see a little of the process, I start my needle felting by making the basic shape of whatever I am felting out of undyed wool roving.  When I have the core shape done, I take thinner strips of dyed wool and needle felt it onto the figure.

Here is how my little turtle turned out.

As always, I really enjoy my needle felting projects, and had fun making this little turtle.

Have you ever heard the story of Urashima and the Turtle?

Thanks for reading! :)


  1. I adore your turtle and the story.

  2. we love turtles too! I am intrigued with needle felting too -been watching videos and would like to give it a go!

  3. What a beautiful felted turtle! We'll have to try one too. And I just know my little blessings would love that story!

  4. Love your little turtule. He is so cute.

  5. So sweet, your turtle is stunning!
    You do love needle-felting and it shows :)
    Thank you for visiting my blog, I would love it if you joined in on Tutorial Thursdays and shared your stuff!

  6. I love it! I'd never heard that story before. I hope you'll consider sharing on Waldorf Wednesday.

  7. Beautiful turtle, you did such a great job on the detailing on his back!

  8. Guess that not all fairy tales end with happily -ever- after. Hope you are doing well, April!

  9. Thanks to everyone for your very kind comments, I enjoyed reading them all! :) I am having a nice and productive week, I hope everyone is having a nice week as well. Thanks again for stopping by! :)

  10. What a beautiful turtle!! And what a sad story. I have had one of those months and haven't been able to keep up with all my visiting, but I so enjoy your fairy tale series. Thank you for sharing on Sharing Saturday!


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