Urashima Taro

Long, long ago in a faraway village by the sea, a young fisherman named Urashima Taro lived a modest life with his old mother. One fall, the sea was rough day after day and Urashima Taro was unable to fish. Early one morning he went down to the shore and watched the choppy sea. He suddenly noticed three boys close to him, teasing and hitting a turtle with heavy sticks. "How dare you hurt a creature like that?" shouted Urashima Taro, chasing the boys away.
The next day Urashima Taro went to the shore again and saw the turtle's head poking out from the waves. "I owe you my life!" said the grateful turtle as it came out of the sea to meet Urashima Taro. "As a token of my thanks, I would like to take you to the Dragon Palace." Urashima Taro thought this was a splendid idea, but felt that he could not leave his old mother alone at home. "We won't be long," assured the turtle, so Urashima Taro accepted the invitation and climbed onto the turtle's back. The turtle dived deep into the sea.

Gliding along, they neared a castle, glittering with gold and silver. From it emerged a charming, beautifully dressed princess, accompanied by her ladies-in-waiting and a host of fish. She took Urashima Taro into the palace, where an exquisite banquet was spread out for him.
While dining endlessly on delicacies and drinking fine wine, he was entertained with gorgeous music and dancing beauties and fish. Urashima Taro was spellbound. Before he knew it, three whole years had passed.

Finally coming out of his spell, Urashima Taro said he wanted to return home. As a farewell gift, the Sea-Princess handed him a three-tiered tamatebako (jeweled hand-box), saying: "If you find yourself in trouble or at a loss, please open it up." With the box tightly secured under his arm, Urashima Taro once more climbed onto the turtle's back and set off for home.

Back in his village, Taro was puzzled to see that the rivers and mountains had changed their shapes beyond recognition and that many trees had withered. Approaching an old farmer, Taro asked him, "Do you happen to know where to find the house of Urashima Taro, a fisherman who used to live here?"

The old man replied, "When my grandfather was a young man, someone by that name was said to have traveled to the Dragon Palace. He was never heard of again." Taro felt lost and lonely. His mother had died and all that was left of his house was an overgrown patch of garden.

 Not knowing what to do, Urashima Taro remembered the words of the Sea-Princess as she handed him the precious hand-box. He opened up the top drawer and found a crane's feather. Then he opened the middle drawer; all at once white smoke poured out and enveloped him. In space of few seconds, Urashima Taro became a silver-haired, hunched-over old man. Looking at himself in the mirror that he found in the bottom drawer, Taro was dumbfounded to see how he had aged.

 While he wondered how this was possible, a wind swept up the crane's feather and blew it onto Taro's back. In a flash, Urashima Taro was transformed into a crane, and he flew high into the skies. The turtle, who was actually none other than the Sea-Princess herself, gazed up quietly at Taro from the sea below.