Legend of Tatsuko is the most famous one among all the others associated with Lake Tazawa. It is a story about a girl who became a guardian dragon after following a message of a god after wishing for her eternal beauty.
Legend of Three Lakes, which is sequential of Legend of Tatsuko evolved around Tatsuko, a guardian dragon of Lake Tazawa and two other dragons of different lakes in Akita Prefecture. When people think of Legends about Tatsuko, they often think of the sad romance with Taro dragon from Lake Hachirogata and his rival Nansobo. Here is the common version of the story.
Legend of Three Lakes:
There was a monk whose name was Nansobo and he was on a journey. One day, he passed a lake called Lake Tazawa and saw a beautiful girl, Tatsuko. He was instantly captivated by her beauty. So he decided to approach her so he could have her as his own.
However, Tatsuko intuitively saw a destructive nature in this man. So she despised him so badly that he didn't stand seeing his waraji (traditional straw sandals) nor his iron cane. She rejected Nansobo and turned him away.
In despair, Nansobo was madly thrust his iron cane into the ground! This cane is said to have become a cedar tree now known as "Chitose-Sugi", Cedar of a Thousand Years. It is still standing in Katajiri Area.
Later, Nansobo found out about Tatsuko's lover, Hachiro-Taro. He was so enraged that attacked the guardian dragon of Lake Towada. Nansobo in his extremely violent manner chased the caring man away from home! That's how Nansobo ended up taking over Lake Towada.
Now Hachiro-Taro was in need of a new home, so that he decided to stop the Yoneshirogawa River and to create a large lake -- that is how Lake Hachirogata is said to have formed.
Hachiro-Taro was in love with Tatsuko. During the freezing winter, he would take a long trip across the rolling mountains just to meet with his beautiful woman. Because of his gentle and unassuming nature, Tatsuko gradually became fond of him and sheltered him in her home, Lake Tazawa.
Hachiro would visit Tatsuko in Lake Tazawa every winter! Because of their love is so deep and warm, despite the most freezing temperature of Tazawako area, the lake never freezes!
On the other hand, Lake Hachirogata on the absence of the guardian dragon during the winter, remains cold, frosty, and covered with a thick layer of ice!
Knowing the couple's affair, Nansobo was overwhelming jealou! He attacked Hachiro-Taro again by bringing catastrophic storms to Lake Tazawa. Hachiro-Taro attacked back to protect Tatsuko. The two male dragons fought to the limit of their strength!
Nansobo turned his iron cane into a thousand of needles and blew to Hachiro-Taro’s body! Hachiro-Taro fought back by gathering schools of monstrous fish to raid against Nansobo! Tatsuko joined Hachiro-Taro by throwing firing torches! It burned Nansobo’s skin and finally chased him away to Lake Towada.
Nansobo has gone away and never came back. Finally, the peace has brought back to Lake Tazawa.
Best Reference Book on Tazawako's Folk Culture:
Chiba suggests that the Legend of Three Lakes probably derived from stories told by fishermen migrated in between those lakes back in the ancient period.
Another interesting thing that Chiba introduces is that: Traditionally, Fishermen at Lake Tazawa believed that iron would trigger disasterous storms if used in Lake Tazawa. It is because they believed that such material would remind our guardian dragon of the destructive Nansobo and upset her!
This belief remained common until the Meiji Era (early 1920). It is said that it is why the fishermen back then have carefully excluded any fishing tools that were made of iron — even a single nail to assemble a boat!
That is how Marukibune was invented! In recent years, local volunteers, some of who are desendants of the fishermen, gathered to recreate the wooden boat, in order to commemorate the forefathers and preserve the fading tradition.
There are many more mind-blowing stories about Tazawako area! The stories are truly unique and mysterious! Knowing stories like these can make your visit more meaningful and enjoyable! Let your mind wander in the beautiful scenery and the legends of Lake Tazawa!