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Ganburo (a bath for Geese)

A Japanese Legend

Cat: LAN
Pub: NA
#: 9001b

Tsugaru Legend



Ganburo (a bath for Geese)



A legend in Tsugaru, northern Japan







  • There is a heartwarming and merciful legend of "memorial service for the dead wild geese" handed down at Tsugaru Peninsular, Aomori prefecture, northern part of Japan.
  • Wild geese migrate from far-off northern countries across the sea carrying a twig in each beak. Getting tired from flying, it drops the twig on the sea and rests on it. In autumn when a flock of geese arrive at Tsugaru peninsula, they drop unnecessary twigs on the seashore, and continue their flight farther southward along the Japanese Archipelago.
  • They know that they need not worry about being drowned any more if exhausted in flying over mountains and across valleys. After overwintering in Japan, they come back to Tsugaru peninsula in the next early spring to pick up their corresponding twigs again with their beaks to continue to fly to farther north.
  • After the flock of geese passed, villagers found number of twigs left on the seashore, which corresponds to the number of non-returning geese; some were dead or shot by hunters. Small twigs may be ones of childlike geese. Villagers collect these twigs, with which they boil water for a bath, holding the memorial service of the dead geese. This is a traditional story of "a bath for geese" talked about from generation to generation.
  • I wonder how light a goose is, which can rest on a small twig carried with its beak. Such research would be senseless in order to feel beauty of this fantastic story. In Tsugaru district in northernmost Japanese Honshu Island, villagers are not allowed to enter into the royal forest even to collect their daily firewood. It becomes a wonderful gift for the local villagers because the wet chips of wood washed in the seashore contain enough moisture to burn slowly as a suitable firewood.
  • Whenever March comes around, villagers who endured long and severe winter are used to pick up branches, listening to the cries of geese as usual who are about to return to their northern homeland. Severe climate and poverty in that district could produce such melancholy and beautiful legendary tale.
  • 津軽半島に伝わる「雁風呂」の話は、心やさしく、またあわれ深い伝説である。
  • 雁は遠い北国から海を渡るとき、木の枝を口にくわえて飛ぶ。疲れると枝を海に落として、その上で羽を休めるという。秋、津軽半島にたどり着くと、必要なくなった枝を海辺に落とし、翼を連ねて日本列島をさらに南へ向かう。
  • 山を越え、谷を渡っても、力つきて溺れ死ぬ心配はもうない。日本で越冬し、早春に津軽に戻る。その時自分の落とした枝を見つけ、またこれをくわえて北に帰る。
  • 雁の群が去ったあと、海辺に残された枝の数は、死んだ雁を意味する。狩人に撃たれたものもいよう。小さな枝は、子雁かも知れない。村人たちはこの枝を拾い集め、それで風呂をたいて雁を供養する。これが「雁風呂」の言い伝えである。
  • 口にくわえていた枝の上で休めるほど、雁の目方は軽いのだろうか。そうした詮索を始める人は、空想の美しさを知らぬ手合いであろう。津軽には、御料林への立ち入りが許されず、日々のたきぎにも事欠いた人々がいた。だから海辺に打ち寄せた木片は、海水を吸って保ちが良く、またとない贈り物だったという。
  • 春三月となり、厳寒を耐え抜いた村人たちは、北に帰る雁の鳴き声を聞きながら、枝を拾ったに違いない。そうした厳しい風土と貧しさであればこそ、この珠玉のような悲しく美しい民話を生んだのであろう。
  • >Top There are famous haiku about this sad stories:
    • Taking the lid of bath with praying the dead geese
    • I feel the warmth of bath counting the number of the dead geese in the bath.
  • この話にまつわる句がある。
    • 念仏にとる風呂蓋や雁供養 - 冬葉
    • 雁風呂やあはれ幾葉のあたたかみ - 文岱

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