This is a story loosely adapted from a Japanese folk tale. It was originally collected in the Konjaku monogatari shu in about CE 1100. I found the translation in Royall Tyler's Japanese Tales, published by the Pantheon Fairy and Folk Tale Library in 1987 ("#29 The Dog and His Wife"). However, while the plot was derived in part from the fable, all of the text that follows is my original work. It was written somewhat in the spirit of the "Fractured Fairy Tales" from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons.

A Girl and Her Dog

Minamoto no Yukio was a well-connected young man in the capital, but wasn't
especially bright.  Not to put too fine a point on it, a battle of wits between Yukio
and your average sheep could be considered an even match - assuming that the
sheep in question wasn't very smart.  This being the case, he was never appointed to
any responsible post in the government, despite the best efforts of his friends, and
consequently he had a lot of free time.
     One day Yukio went out walking in the mountains north of Kyoto, and it
wasn't long before he became hopelessly lost.
     "Well, shit." he thought, eyeing the sun as it dipped toward the western
peaks.  "I'll never make it home before dark.  I'll miss dinner, and I'll have to sleep
out in the open.  And to top it all off, it's miserably cold!"  Moreover, he
remembered uneasily, the mountain glens were reputedly haunted by demons at
     At that moment the rays of the declining sun struck something that reflected a
bright golden sparkle to Yukio's eyes.  With growing hope he hurried toward the
gleam, and presently found himself in a clearing before a dwelling of unusual aspect. 
Although it was richly appointed, with beautiful carving along the verandah, and a
tiled roof surmounted by a golden spire (which was what had reflected the sunlight),
it seemed only the size of a peasant's hut.  Still, it represented shelter, at least.
     As he stumbled forward a beautiful young woman came out of the house,
and looked at him with some consternation.  "What are you doing here?" she
     Yukio, somewhat nettled by her abrupt tone, said "I am Lord Minamoto.  I
require shelter for the evening, my good woman.  Kindly prepare me a place.  Also,
I require a bath before dinner."
     "I'm sorry, but you can't stay here," said the woman.
     "Now see here..."
     "My husband will be home soon, and if he sees you here, he'll think you're a
boyfriend of mine; he's horribly suspicious, you know."
     Yukio put his hand on the hilt of his sword and said loftily, "I'll be able to
deal with the likes of your husband, I'm sure."
     The woman looked skeptical.  "I think not," she said.  "My master is a
mighty hunter."
     "Even so..."
     "He's eight feet tall."
     "He wrestles demons."
     Yukio blinked.  "Oh," he said, somewhat dampened.  He looked back the
way he had come, and at that moment the sun went entirely behind the mountains. 
"I can't go back to Kyoto in the dark," he cried.  "The demons will get me for sure! 
Couldn't you explain this to your husband, so that he'll let me stay?"
     "He's not a very understanding kind of person, I'm afraid.  My husband stole
me from the capital, and he brought me up here because he's very jealous, and
wants to keep me for himself alone."
     "But I'll be torn to pieces!  Sliced by talons!  Diced by teeth!  And I won't
even have dinner or a bath!  Please?"
     The woman hesitated, then frowned.  "Oh, all right.  Come inside.  My name
is Mariko."
     Yukio followed Mariko into the house, where she turned on him and said
fiercely, "I'll tell my husband that you are my brother, and that you've come to visit
me.  Got that?"
     "You're my brother, and you've come to visit me," Yukio repeated.
     Mariko stared.  "Look, just keep your mouth shut, all right?"
     "Well yes, but..."
     "Shut!" Mariko repeated firmly.  "And by the way, my husband is, ah,
unusual looking.  Don't let on that you notice anything."
     "What do you...?"
     "And above all, when you get back to the capital tomorrow, you aren't to tell
anyone about us.  Understand?"
     "All right, all right!  I promise!"
     "Good," said Mariko. "Now sit quietly, and I'll fix something for you to eat."
     "Aren't we going to wait for your husband?" asked Yukio.
     "He usually eats out."

As Mariko set out dinner, an eerie howling echoed down the mountain.  "Merciful
Kannon!" cried Yukio.  "What was that!"
     Mariko had not reacted, but continued serving.  "That will be my husband,
on his way home," she said.
     Yukio stared at her.  "Does your husband, ah, hunt with dogs?"
     "Oh.  Ahhh....."
     "And incidentally, I'd recommend that you not call on any more Buddhist
deities while you are in this house."
     Mariko looked up and smiled.  "Aren't you glad you stayed over?"
     Yukio swallowed, then started nervously as the howl rose again, much
closer.  The third time, the howling sounded as though it were right outside the
house, and the walls rattled from its force.  Mariko rose and slid the door open,
bowing as an enormous white hound shouldered it's way through the opening and
into the room.  It stopped short when it noticed Yukio, and a low growl rumbled in
its throat.
     "Oh husband!" cried Mariko.  "This is my brother, who has come to visit
     "Snarl." said the dog.
     "D-d-d...." said Yukio
     "Oh but he is!  I swear it, master!"
     "Growl." the dog said.
     "Duh...d-d-doh...ggg..." said Yukio.
     "Well yes, he doesn't look much like me.  You see, he's my half-brother."
     "It's a d-d-d-"
     "Well no, he isn't very bright.  A horse kicked him in the head when he was
small, and..."
     "Well yes, it does look like he was kicked in the face, but..." Yukio blinked
     "Snarl, grrf."
     "Oh, but I'm so happy to see him again, can't he please stay?" cried Mariko,
then burst into tears. The dog rumbled in displeasure, then looked at Mariko.  It
tenderly nudged her with it's great muzzle and growled.  Mariko threw her arms
about the beast's neck. "Oh thank you, master!  You make me ever so happy!"
     The dog entered the room fully, taking up almost half the available floor
space, and curled itself into a great mountain of fur next to the fireplace.  There it
lay, its huge head pointed toward Yukio, staring at him with amber-colored eyes
the size of soup bowls.  Yukio tried to finish his dinner, but discovered that he was
quite out of appetite.  Mariko settled beside her husband and took up her spinning.
     Later, Mariko and the beast retired to the back room.  Yukio lay beside the
banked fire, kept awake long into the night by sounds from beyond the wall that
sounded remarkably like growls, whines, moans, and giggles.

Yukio woke with a start the next morning.  The house was silent, and he was quite
alone.  He rose and repaired his dress as best he could, then went out onto the
verandah, where he discovered Mariko at her weaving.
     "Good morning," she said, smiling brightly.  "Did you sleep well?"
     "Ahh..." said Yukio, "is your, um, husband...?"
     "Out hunting," said Mariko happily.  "He has a very large appetite, you
     "Well, yes, I guess he would..."
     "So you can go back to Kyoto now, and feel free to come and visit
whenever you like, now that my husband thinks you're my brother!"
     "Uh, sure," said Yukio.  "By the way, you wouldn't happen to know the
quickest route back to town, by any chance.  Not that I'm lost, or anything; it's
     "Oh sure," said Mariko, putting down her work and rising to her feet. 
"Come with me."  She led him to the edge of the clearing, and pointed out a path. 
"Follow this trail over the ridge and down to a stream.  Go along the stream until
you come to the Kamo River, and that'll take you right down to Kyoto."
     "Um, thank you," said Yukio.  "Well, goodbye."
     "Don't forget - come and visit me.  And above all, don't tell anyone about
     "I will.  That is, I mean I won', I mean..."
     Mariko laughed.  "Bye now!"  And she ran back up to her house.
     Yukio followed the directions he was given, and reached the capital by the
middle of the afternoon.  Of course, the first thing he did was to tell everyone he
met about his curious adventure, and of the woman who lived in the mountains with
a great white hound.  And everyone smiled and said, yes, that was certainly a
remarkable adventure, and next time be sure not to get lost, there's a good fellow. 
As far as I know, Yukio never visited Mariko and her husband again, but perhaps
he was simply unable to find his way back there.  He really wasn't a very smart
young man.
Tim Eagen
November, 2002