THE BLUE HOOD
Long ago there lived a holy man of great virtue whose name was Kaian Zenji. 496 While still young he studied the principles of Zen Buddhism, 497 and he always loved to travel with the clouds and the water. One summer after fulfilling his devotions 498 at the Ryūtaiji temple 499 in the province of Mino, Kaian set out on a journey, deciding to spend autumn in the far north. He passed through the province of Shimotsuke along the way, and one evening he found himself in the hamlet of Tomita. 500 He approached a large and obviously affluent house and intended to seek lodging for the night, when some men returning from the fields saw him in the gathering darkness.
'Look! The mountain demon has come. Rise up everybody!' they cried in alarm.
The house was immediately filled with tumult and shouting. The women and children screamed and wailed, falling over one another as they sought to hide. The master of the house took up a heavy staff 501 and came running out, whereupon he saw the old mendicant, Kaian, who was almost in his fiftieth year, wearing on his head a blue-dyed hood. He was clothed in tattered black robes, and he carried a pack on his back.
'Oh, patron of Buddha,' 502 said Kaian, greeting the master with his Zen rod, 'why have you armed yourself thus? I am a wandering priest, and I was expecting someone to appear so that I might beg for a night's lodging, but it's quite a surprise for me to find myself such an object of suspicion. A skinny teacher of the law is hardly apt to turn to banditry. You have no need to fear.'