A Love Story

Centuries ago along the Japanese Island of Hokkaido, a tragic tale of love has lived through the Ainu Tribes storytellings. The Ainu are known storytellers. Practicing the great art of Uepeker (Uepeker) a storytelling that can last for hours or even days reciting tales recalled from the mind. They were a large and strong tribe who flourished with hunters and gatherers that lived simple peaceful lives along the shores of Lake Akan.


Watched over by the caring fire god their home was circled by volcanic mountains. Mount Meakan lays along the other end of the lake with heavy wood coverage and tales of dark mystical beings living amongst the dark foliage. The Ainu tribe favored the familiar Mount Oakan, which offered open grasslands to build and forage in.


The legendary tale of loves impeccable endurance counts the fair young daughter of the Ainu tribal chief Senato and her lover Manibe. Senato had long wavy black hair down to her shoulders and was tall and strong. She was the jewel of the Ainu tribe.


Beautiful as she was she wouldn't have her days sitting around so she went out foraging with the tribal women. She went to fish for salmon one day with a small group of women, when out of nowhere a herd of galloping deer crash into the waters scaring away all the fish and splashing the women. The deer were frightened at the sight of the ladies and had turned around on themselves stumbling about as the men riding horses galloped in behind them. The men all with shoulder length dark colored hair, musky growly beards, and dressed in elk skins were wielding strong bows. They shot forceful arrows at the deer and with swift clanks the six deer droped to the ground.


The princess Senato looked up from her now empty fish basket at the gloating men and her eyes meet with the soft somber eyes of Manibe the only man without glee on his face. Something within his eyes sparkled as he catches her gaze and he swiftly looks away. The men jump down to retrieve the deer as Senato and the other women look around fumbling in the river waters for the fish that remain.  As Senato was reaching over to gather a lost salmon from the waters Manibe appears behind her and taps her shoulder. She jerks up startled. Manibe looks down at his hands sheepishly. Senato follows his gaze to find some fish bundled up, it appears he grabbed them from downstream as the other men tied the deer to the horses. She looked down at the fish bundle and smiled. She then looked up at his piercing eager eyes and smiled again. Blushing all the while.


A sharp whistle ripped through the air and Manibe was back to his horse in a flash ready to continue his march. The men begin to head back to the village kills in tow. Senato kept looking back at Manibe who chanced a glance at the chief's daughter. Their eyes meet one last time and from that point on they couldn't deny the joy that lay within their brief meeting and small endearing gift.


Months continued on and similar gift exchanges of minor accounts had occurred. Princess Senato gave him gloves for his hands, embroidery patches, and leather bindings while Manibe gifted a small bone dagger, many elaborate flower arrangements, and a circular stone pebble necklace pendant. The gifts were given and cherished in secret. The two enduring souls kept their tale a secret for Manibe was but a simple commoner in regards to Senato, being the chief's daughter and all. With great secrecy came great grief about lying to the tribe. It slowly took a toll on Senato. So much so to the point, she asked Manibe to confront her father with her about their love. 


Together the two told the chief of their love for one another. Princess Senato gushed and continued on not crossing the stern look off the chiefs face the slightest. He did not give blessings for the two to be together. Senato was escorted to her room and Manibe was told not to continue on with Senato sternly by the chief and his advisors.


The two met up in secret two days later and decided if the tribe would not have them they would leave. They ran off to the desolate woods along the lake near Mount Meakan where they lived out their lives. The Ainu are animist. Animist believe everything in nature holds a kamuy, a spirit or god, on the inside. Meaning from the trees to the water and the grass walked upon everything natural held a kamuy spirit within. Decades after the crossed lovers ran off into the mystical dark woods the mysterious moss balls appeared in the lake. Rumors have spread that in time Senato and Manibes spirits metamorphosized into the Marimo Moss Balls in Lake Akan and the rest of the region.


Some believe it may have had to do with the mythical beings the two lived with amongst the dark misunderstood woods. The green balls flourished and ever since then, Marimo Moss Balls have been given as symbolic gifts to partners who wish to spend the rest of their days together. With love, luck, and prosperity Senato and Manibes enchanting tale of cross love will endure through time and tales morphed. 

The star crossed love story of Minabe and Senato has come to symbolize Japanese Marimo moss balls as a token of everlasting love. The endurance of the moss balls, that can live for  hundreds of years, is a poetic representation of a love that can endure the weathers of time and tribulations.