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There was a man named Sentaro who had inherited a small fortune from his father and lived on this money, spending his time carelessly, without any serious thoughts of work, until he was about thirty-two years of age. One day, without any reason whatsoever, the thought of death and sickness came to him. The idea of falling ill or dying upset him. He wanted to live for five or six hundred years.
Sentaro had often heard the tale of the Chinese King named Shin-no- Shiko. This Chinese King also wanted to live forever. During the period of his life, he sent a servant, Jakaro, to find a far away country called Horaizan. There certain hermits lived who possessed the secret of the "Elixir of Life." Sentaro was determined to set out to find the hermits, and if he could, to become one, so that he might obtain the water of perpetual life. He remembered that as a child he had been told that not only did these hermits live on Mount Fuji, but that they were said to inhabit the very high peaks.
Sentaro search on Mt. Fuji for Horaizan, but he could not find it. He decided to go at once to the shrine of Jofuku, who was worshiped as the patron god of the hermits. There he prayed for seven days. After seven days, Jafuku himself appeared to Sentaro. He told him that he had lived an idle life and would never be able to become a hermit because that life would be too hard for him. However he would send him to the country of Perpetual Life, where people never die. He then gave him a paper crane to sit on, and it flew him to his island. Sentaro became a citizen of this island. However, the people who lived there were tired of living long lives and dreamed of dying so that they could reach Paradise. They even took poison to try to die!! None of this worked. Sentaro decided he liked this place, and set up a business and stayed there for 300 years. Suddenly he longed for home. He prayed to Jofuku, and suddenly the paper crane jumped out of his pocket. He jumped on the crane’s back, and it flew him back in the direction of Japan. As soon as he left, he felt regret at leaving island, but there was nothing he could do. Then a storm developed and the paper crane got wet. Afraid he was going to drown, he prayed to Jofuku to save him. He awoke in front of the shrine only to find that it was all a dream.
Suddenly an angel appeared to him and told him that he was allowed to see what it would be like in the land of Perpetual Life. He found that he didn’t want that, but he also didn’t want to die because as he fell into the water, he cried out for help. He told him to go home, live a good and industrious life, and live by the precepts of this book the angel gave him. Sentaro did that and he and his house prospered from that time forward.
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