久米の仙人 (Kume no sennin)

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Title:

久米の仙人 (kume no sennin)
Kume no sennin

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Kume no sennin (literally, The Immortal Kume) is a legendary figure popularly depicted in Edo period (1603-1868) paintings. According to a tale from Konjaku monogatari (a collection of tales written in the late Heian period [794-1185]), Kume no sennin, having learned the skills of the immortals in the mountains, was flying over the Yoshino River one day when he spotted a young woman washing laundry. So struck with passion at the sight of her beautiful, pale legs, his powers failed him and he fell to the ground before her. She later became his wife. Most images of Kume no sennin show him tumbling to the ground from a cloud before the woman, and so for this top Hiroi-sensei also depicts him on his cloud in the sky.

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Hiroi Michiaki: Umm. This is Kume no Sennin.

Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah.

Hiroi: Kume no Sennin, long ago… This is Kume no Sennin. Ah, this one. Wait…. yes. This one. He was an immortal (sennin) and rode on a cloud. Mmm, he was a person who lived up in the mountains, like a monk. He also loved young women, and when he was going about up on his cloud, two young women were doing their laundry in a stream. And he peeked at them from up on his cloud and he fell, you see, to the ground. He was an immortal and he died because he fell to the earth. It’s that sort of, what should you call it– a cautionary tale. It’s a top that tells the story of how that sort of thing is bad.

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