Hatsukoi is the protagonist of the ‘Prince of Blue Flowers’ and of the rest of the ‘Adventures of Takuan from Koto.’ The full story bears his monastic name that he got in the monastery on the Mount White.
Hatsukoi, like the celestial marten Ta-Guan, is a trickster. His monastic name – Takuan – he received for his tricks in honour of the heavenly trickster. But, unlike the marten, Takuan-Hatsukoi comprehends his destiny and applies his cunning to good deeds. This is how Hatsukoi first grows up, and then Takuan continues the path of becoming a whole person.
Once upon a time, in the Sung family, an extraordinary child was born. He was given the name Hatsukoi which means ‘fruit of motherly love’.
Growing up, Hatsukoi can’t sit still. He plays tricks on his parents and other villagers and then goes wandering about. After a couple of pranks, he returns home, quite pleased with the results. But for some reason, his parents aren’t happy at all. They send him to a monastery. And in the monastery, he gets a new name – Takuan.
If you want to know what tricks Hatsukoi got sent to the monastery for, as well as what he did as Takuan, you have to listen to the first part of ‘Adventures of Takuan from Koto.’
Some time ago, in a village of Koto which stood exactly on the border of the principality of the Four Rivers and the province of Brocade Mountain, a baby was born.
He (for he was a boy) was almost completely unremarkable – but there was a special, mischie-vous kind of cunning in his eyes that set him apart. His mother named him Hatsukoi, which means ‘fruit of my love’ in the local tongue. The boy grew up quickly, and his love for all sorts of tricks and pranks grew even faster than he did.
At the market, Hatsukoi performed another prank. He grabbed a large green horned kiwano melon from the counter and ran away.
“Thief! Thief! Get the thief!” the merchant shouted, and ran out after the boy. Passers-by tried to grab Hatsukoi, but he turned out to be far more deft than they.
He raced down the street and disappeared into the alley. There, he replaced the horned melon with a cactus with long, sharp needles, and immediately jumped back out into the street.
“Hey-gey!” shouted Hatsukoi.
Startled, the horse gave such power to the gallop that the boy was lifted into the air, along with the saddle, at every jump. Within five minutes, Hatsukoi regretted being on a horse’s back at all.
As soon as Hatsukoi was given into the monastery’s care, they shaved his head, put the first monastic dot on it, and gave him an orange robe. The blacksmith took the old worldly clothes with him, leaving the monastery’s abbot only his gratitude and Hatsukoi himself. The boy said goodbye to his father without tears, and only in the evening did he allow his sadness to overcome him, and he cried alone, hiding from the rest of the disciples in a corner of the barn with the chickens.
Thus began the monastic life of Hatsukoi. None of the disciples knew his name, and neither did the monks. In the entire monastery, only one of the abbots knew it – the one to whom the blacksmith had entrusted the boy’s fate.