THE HOUSE AMID THE THICKETS (Asaji ga yado)189
In the province of Shimōsa, 190 district of Katsushika, village of Mama, during the Kyōtoku Era, there once lived a man named Katsushirō. Ever since his grandfather's time the family had dwelled here in prosperity, owning many fields and much rice land. But the youthful Katsushirō was lazy; he disliked working the land and regarded such labour as a dreary task. In consequence, his wealth declined; his relations had less and less to do with him. Eventually he grew ashamed of himself and longed to find some means or other by which he might restore his family's fortunes.
Around this time, a man named Sasabe no Sōji, who travelled each year from the capital to buy Ashikaga dyed silk, 191 happened to make one of his frequent visits to the village of Mama, where his kinsfolk lived. Having met him on previous occasions, Katsushirō asked Sasabe to take him to Kyoto as a merchant. Sasabe agreed quite readily 192 and said, 'We can leave whenever you're ready.'
Because he knew that Sasabe was a reliable man, Katsushirō was pleased at his reply. He soon sold his remaining rice fields, spent the money on bolts of white silk, and prepared to depart for Kyoto. His wife, Miyagi, who was beautiful enough to stop any man's eyes, had always taken good care of Katsushirō, but at this decisive moment she disapproved of his purchase of goods and of his projected journey to Kyoto. She did her best to dissuade him, but in the face of his impetuous nature all her efforts were in vain, and so, though deeply distressed by the