In the Heian period collection of waka poems, Ise Monogatari (The Tales of Ise) a man (Ariwara no Narihira) falls in love with a woman. She is said to have been the Princess Takaiko, daughter of Fujiwara no Nagara, who was in power at the time. With her soon to become a consort of the Emperor and Narihira having been demoted from the nobility to the rank of a subject, their love was completely incompatible.
One evening, Narihira ran away with Takaiko on his back and the two sheltered from the rain in a storehouse. Narihira had the princess rest at the back of the storehouse, thinking it was safe, and stood guard at the entrance.
However, there was an ogre hiding at the back of the storehouse, and he swallowed the princess in a single bite. When morning came and Narihira turned around, the princess was nowhere to be seen. He cried with regret, but the story says it was too late for tears.
It is said to be untrue that she was eaten by a demon and that it would have been difficult to bring Takaiko out from her mansion, but it is sad and touching that love between people of different social rank should be made into such a story.
Later, Ariwara no Narihira became the most famous poet of the Heian era.
These days, the famous phrase "Even in the mythical times when the gods held sway, it is unheard of to make a ruby red dye from the fallen leaves that cover the Tatsuta River" (Chihayaburu kamiyo mokikazu tatsutagawa, karakurenaini mizukukurutowa) is well known from the traditional game One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets (Hyakunin Isshu), and the title also comes from here.
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