Swan Girl


This story takes place in Japan and starts off by a old man who goes up to the mountains and finds a swan caught in a trap. The old man frees the swan who flies away after being freed. Later that night after the old man has returned home to his wife when they both hear a knocking at their door, it is a young girl who is lost. The old couple invites her to stay the night and provide her with a meal. As the young girl has nowhere to go the old couple adopts her. They provide the girl with her own room next to living room, one day she brings out a beautiful piece of fabric for the old couple. She keeps creating these beautiful piece of cloth and the old man is able to sell them in town for a lot of money. One strange thing the girl does is makes the old couple promise is to never come into her bedroom when she is making the cloths. The old couple agree because they believe she does not want to be disturbed when she is working. However one day the young girl starts to look haggard and tired so the old couple becomes concerned and decide to peek into her room when she making the cloth. Inside the room they see a swan plucking out its own feathers to make the beautiful fabric. When the swan notices the old couple she flies away leaving behind the beautiful fabric.

Background & Context:

This folklore was collected from a current freshman at USC. It was collected in a casual context over lunch after class one day.  The student is an international student who is ethnically Japanese but grew up in various places in Asia. Before coming to USC she lived in Singapore for seven years and before Singapore the longest she lived in a country was Japan for five years. She learned about the folklore through school as folklore was part of school curriculum and in textbooks. The message of this story she says is, “what goes around, comes around” referring to the old man helping the swan first than the swan returning later to help the old man.

Final Thoughts:

My thoughts on this story is that hold an important message. The message I believe the story holds is treat others how you want to be treated. As the old man helped the swan in the beginning of the story and in return the swan came and helped the old man.