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The sleepy Samurai – a Japanese Tale

There once was a young Samurai who was rather brave but at the same time very lazy and this was a problem. He would sleep for hours in the morning, wake up at midday, then remember that he was supposed to be at some war but by the time he would arrive at the battle field, the war was already over. He once tried to wake up early but, because he was so sleepy, he drove his horse to the wrong battle field, only to find out that no one was there. And by the time he did get to the right battle field… the war had already finished.

One day he said to himself: “I will not miss another war again! I will go to the battle field at night and wait there till morning and be in time for the war to start.”. He did go to the field that night and he did wait till morning along the side of the field. But just before the sun came up and the other Samurai arrived, he fell asleep. He slept right through the whole war, whilst all the fighting was going on around him. By the time he woke up, he could see the last fighters leaving the field and he had missed yet another war.

All this made him feel deeply worthless. Why was he such a bad Samurai? Highly frustrated, he sat down on a rock in the middle of a forest. Then, an old woman came to him and told him: “Your vocation in life is not to fight but to save. It is your divine destiny. Go to the North of the country, behind the seventh hill. There you will find a hidden Kingdom. Nobody lives there except for the King and his daughter. Recently, the King has died and the Princess is all alone in her big palace. You must save her from her loneliness.”.

The young Samurai jumped on his horse and galloped through the country, all the way to the North, over the seven hills and ended up in the hidden Kingdom. It was strange to be in a Kingdom where nobody lived. Suddenly he stood in front of a great palace. Golden balconies dressed the façade and marble stairs went up to the main gate. He entered and called out: “Hello? Anybody there? …Princess?”. But the palace was silent. He looked in every room, in every corridor but everywhere he looked, all he found was emptiness and silence.

“The story of my life,” he uttered, “I am probably too late for this as well. I’ll just stay the night and head back tomorrow.”.

That night, the young Samurai slept against the warm belly of his horse until something woke him up in the middle of the night. “What’s that? Hello…?”. It sounded like a soft whisper and a gentle giggle. He followed the vague sound through the corridors, up the stairs and into a grand ballroom, which he had not noticed before. Christal chandeliers were holding brightly burning candles, a royal table was laid with the finest porcelain and silverware and the most delicious food was served on silver plates. And there she stood, at the end of the table; The lonely Princess!

She was the most beautiful being he had ever seen. Her eyes were wise, her smile was kind and her dress magical. The lonely Princess offered him a golden chair, handed him a glass of wine and allowed him to nibble at the delicious food. Heavenly music came from somewhere far away and the lonely Princess started to dance, in circles, around him. She danced and danced and danced. And the young Samurai followed her with his eyes; round and round and round she went. The whole room started to go round as well and the young Samurai turned and turned and turned and felt ever so happy. And finally…. He fell asleep.

As he woke up, there was no more grand ballroom, no more golden chair, no more chandeliers or table or wine or nibbles or music. The magical palace had vanished and so had the lonely Princess. The young Samurai found himself on a rock in the middle of a forest.

 In his pocket, he found a note, written on the finest silk paper he had ever seen. It wrote: “Thank you, my dear Samurai. By allowing magic in your life, you saved me from loneliness.”.

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