The Bowl-Bearer Princess


Published in the middle of the Edo period (18th century), this is a booklet for children that consists mainly of drawings. It is called an akahon (red book) because of the color of its front cover. Hachikazuki hime (The bowl-bearer princess) is a story that was written in the Muromachi period (14th−16th centuries). The story runs as follows. A long, long time ago, a rich man lived in Kawachi Province (present-day Osaka Prefecture). His prayers to Hase Kannon (Buddhist god of mercy) were answered by the birth of a girl (Hachikazuki, or the bowl-bearer) who grew up to be a beautiful daughter. However, at the age of 13, just before her mother died, a large bowl containing treasure was placed on her head in accordance with the prophecy of Hase Kannon. But the bowl would not come off. After her mother’s death, Hachikazuki was bullied by her stepmother into leaving the house. Set on ending her life, she threw herself into the water, but the bowl on her head saved her from drowning. She was rescued by a lord, and it was agreed that she would work as the lord’s maid. The lord’s fourth son proposed to her, but his mother was opposed to the marriage and arranged a contest of brides that would compare Hachikazuki to the wives of her other sons, in the hope that it would embarrass her into breaking off her impending marriage. On the night before the contest, the bowl finally came off her head. Carrying the treasure from the bowl, Hachikazuki performed flawlessly in the contest, displaying both beauty and learning. Hachikazuki married the fourth son and was blessed with children. When she went to pray to Hase Kannon, she met and was happily reunited with her father, who had not seen his daughter for a long time. This book is an abridged version of this story.

Last updated: April 23, 2015