three arrows/三本の矢

 

“We are from a Daimyo samurai family,” my Dad proudly announced one night.3 arrows
We – three of us, siblings – stared at him puzzled. What? Who? Which samurai?
“Motonari Mori.”
Relieved, we looked at each other with awe and pride.
We had heard of him. He is well-known, not only because he was a smart strategist and expanded his territory during the Sengoku era, but also because of his teaching to his sons on his deathbed.
Motonari called his three sons to the bedside, handed them each an arrow and told them to break them. They all quickly snapped. He then handed three arrows and asked to break three at once. When they were unable to do so, he explained that one arrow could be easily broken but three arrows together could not.
Since there were three of us, we often heard this story as a reference to support each other and to be good to each other. And, being from a samurai family is a great pride. We had to keep up with the reputation. We had to behave.
Which of three sons are we related to?
None.
It seems that there was another son, who was too feeble to join the fight and war and was sent to a nearby temple.
We are from him.

本当か嘘かは分からないが、
毛利元就の子孫だと言われて育った。
三人姉兄妹だったし、あの辺出身だったから、
都合がよかったのかもしれない。
学校などでも、三本の矢の話を、
自慢に思いながら聞いた。
でも、あの三人の息子とは関係なく、
もう一人いた、身体が弱くて、
寺に預けられていた子供が先祖らしい。

 

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