Book/Printed Material The Fisher-boy Urashima. Fisher-boy Urashima

About this Item


  • The Fisher-boy Urashima.

Other Title

  • Fisher-boy Urashima


  • This is a chirimen-bon (crepe-paper book), which is a compact watojihon (book bound in a traditional Japanese bookbinding style) containing woodblock-printed pictures and text. It was called a chirimen-bon because the paper was made of chirimen (silk crepe fabric). Published from the middle of the Meiji period until the beginning of the Showa period, chirimen-bon were illustrated translations of Japanese folk stories that originally were intended to increase the exposure of Japanese people to foreign languages after kaikoku (the reopening of Japan in the mid-19th century). However, they soon became popular as small souvenirs for foreigners. Kobunsha, the publishing company managed by Hasegawa Takejiro, started to translate and publish Nihon Mukashibanashi (the Japanese fairy tale series) in 1885. The Fisher-boy Urashima is a story from the series. The story appears to date from the eighth century and would have been very familiar to Japanese people. There are variations to the story depending on the intended audience and the period, and it is still known by its Japanese title Urashima Taro. It tells of a young and kind fisherman named Urashima. One day he catches a large turtle while he is out fishing. Taking pity on the turtle, he releases it back into the sea, whereupon the beautiful daughter of the god of the sea appears and tells him that the turtle was actually the personification of her. To thank him for saving her, she invites Urashima to Ryugu-jo (the Palace of the Dragon God) at the bottom of the sea. He then marries her and lives happily at the palace. Three years later he asks for permission to return to his village for a short time, because he wants to see his family. His wife gives him a box and makes him promise not to open it, as he would never be able to come back if he did. When Urashima returns home, he finds that everything has changed during those three years and that his family and his village have disappeared. He had in fact left his village 400 years before, so his parents, siblings and friends were all dead. Not knowing how to get back to the Palace of the Dragon God, he breaks his promise and opens the box, hoping that its contents can help him. After he opens the box, white smoke appears and Urashima turns into a white-haired old man and dies. The illustrations are by Kobayashi Eitaku (also seen as Sensei Eitaku, 1843-90), who painted in several different styles and specialized in historical subjects and figures. The text of the story is by Basil Hall Chamberlain (1850-1935), a professor at the Imperial University of Tokyo and an important authority on Japan in the late 19th century.


  • Chamberlain, Basil Hall, 1850-1935 Author.
  • Kobayashi, Eitaku, 1843-1890 Illustrator.

Created / Published

  • Tokyo : Hasegawa Takejiro, 1886.


  • -  Japan
  • -  1886
  • -  Fairy tales
  • -  Fishers
  • -  Gods, Japanese
  • -  Japanese literature


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  Original resource extent: 25 pages : illustrated, color ; 16 centimeters.
  • -  Original resource at: National Diet Library.
  • -  Content in English.
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.


  • 1 online resource.

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021667139

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

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Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Chamberlain, Basil Hall, Author, and Eitaku Kobayashi. The Fisher-boy Urashima. Tokyo: Hasegawa Takejiro, 1886. Pdf.

APA citation style:

Chamberlain, B. H. & Kobayashi, E. (1886) The Fisher-boy Urashima. Tokyo: Hasegawa Takejiro. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Chamberlain, Basil Hall, Author, and Eitaku Kobayashi. The Fisher-boy Urashima. Tokyo: Hasegawa Takejiro, 1886. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.