The Goddess and 1,000 Sandals


This is a Japanese story about a goddess who comes to visit earth. When she visits earth she goes swimming in a lake naked leaving her clothes on a rock. A man sees her swimming and falls in love with her so he steals her clothes and hides them. The goddess cannot leave earth without her clothes, so the man helps her to his house. Eventually they fall in love and have children, but she soon finds the clothes the man hid and leaves earth with their children. The man wants to join his wife and children and learns he can join them if he makes 1,000 straw sandals and buries them. The buried sandals will grow into a beanstalk that will allow him to leave earth, so the man makes 1,000 sandals and buries them. A beanstalk grows from the sandals and the man climbs the beanstalk. At the very top he realizes he can see his wife and kids but cannot reach them because the beanstalk is not tall enough to reach. As the man had miscounted and had only mad 999 straw sandals.  

Background and Context:

This story was told to me in a casual interview like setting in the evening on a weekday. It was told to me by a Japanese American USC freshman, who has grown up in Honolulu, Hawaii but has visited Japan several times. The student grew up listening to these stories either as bedtime stories or just for fun. These stories were told by her parent or grandparents who reside with her family. Something she also explained was that she did not remember the direct Japanese translation for the title of the story. She also told me this story is suppose to be an origin story for the four seasons but she cannot remember the rest of the story.  

Final Thoughts:

This is a popular story in East Asian culture because I have similar stories with similar aspects but with major differences. I believe this story is telling the listener about true love because even though the man lied and stole from the goddess she was still willing to forgive him and let him join her outside of earth. While I do not agree with the message of the story, it is romantic and entertaining for the listeners as they feel pity for the man.