The Parsley Queen

The Parsley Queen[1]

How curious that the daughter of a peasant dwelling in a obscure country village near Aska, in the province of Yamato,[2] should become a Queen! Yet such was the case. Her father died while she was yet in her infancy, and the girl applied herself to the tending of her mother with all filial piety. One day when she had gone out in the fields to gather some parsley, of which her mother was very fond, it chanced that Prince Shotoku, the great Buddhist teacher,[3] was making a progress to his palace, and all the inhabitants of the country-side flocked to the road along which the procession was passing, in order to behold the gorgeous spectacle, and to show their respect for the Mikado’s son. The filial girl, alone, paying no heed to what was going on around her, continued picking her parsley. She was observed from his carriage by the Prince, who, astonished at the circumstance, sent one of his retainers to inquire into its cause.

Imitating the Procession to the Temple
Imitating the Procession to the Temple

The girl replied, “My mother bade me pick parsley, and I am following her instructions—that is the reason why I have not turned round to pay my respects to the Prince.” The latter being informed of her answer, was filled with admiration at the strictness of her filial piety. Alighting at her mother’s cottage on the way back, he told her of the occurrence, and placing the girl in the next carriage to his own, took her home with him to the Imperial Palace, and ended by making her his wife, upon which the people, knowing her story, gave her the name of the “Parsley Queen.”

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[1] A story much like that of “The Parsley Queen” is told in the province of Echizen.

[2] Yamato is the old classic centre of ancient life and history.

[3] Prince Shotoku Taishi, a great patron of Buddhism, who, though a layman, is canonized (see “The Religions of Japan,” p. 180).

The Parsley Queen – Child-Life in Japan and Japanese Child Stories

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