Yukishiroi and the Seven Waku
Many years ago, in the time they call kodai, in a province of the north there was a powerful prince called Koshaku who had a beautiful daughter Yukishiroi, which means ‘white as snow.’ His young second wife Akujo was jealous of Yukishiroi.
Koshaku was growing old, and Akujo feared that when he died Yukishiroi would marry one of many powerful warrior suitors and she would be displaced.
Now, Akujo had a secret lover, a councillor called Yashinteki which means ‘ambitious’, and they planned to get rid of Yukishiroi and he would take the province over when Koshaku died.
One autumn day, Yukishiroi was in her zen garden, amid the rocks, when she was seized by two soldiers, blindfolded and bound. She was carried into the countryside and dropped into a deep mineshaft.
What they did not know was that the miners had stretched a net across the shaft to protect them from falling rocks and Yukishiroi’s fall was arrested.
Suddenly Yukishiroi was aware of high-pitched voices and her blindfold was removed. Ladders were hooked into place and one of the voices asked, ‘Can you climb up the ladder? I will go first to make sure it is safe.’
She climbed the ladder and stepped into the autumn sunlight. She realised that six more people had followed her and that they were very short and fearsomely ugly.
One, who appeared to be the leader said, ‘Who are you in your fine clothes?’
She replied, ‘I am Princess Yukishiroi, and who might my rescuers be?’
The leader bowed so low that his nose touched his boot.’ Denka-san, we are but humble Waku miners. I am Isha.’ He touched the other six in turn, who bowed equally low. ‘This is Tanki, Tanoshi-ge, Nemuidesu, Hanikamu, Kushami, and Baka. May I ask what brings you here?’
Yukishiroi recounted her kidnapping.
‘Denka-san, allow us to take you home. We have but a humble coal cart and you are so white.’
‘I will be very pleased to ride in your cart,’ smiled Yukishiroi.
Yashinteki committed harikari and Koshaku divorced and banished Akujo to a distant province forever.