On Love and Beauty: Adorably pretentious family and their silly story-telling game. All wrapped up in gentle irony.
Cherry Leaves and the Whistler: I like that this cute, sad little tale hinges on someone whistling this mad wartime classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A75AQg....
The Chrysanthemum Spirit: Stubborn little chap is determined to grow Chrysanthemums.
"When autumn came, Saburo's seedling, which Sainosuke had replanted in his garden, produced a single blossom. The flower was faintly rouge, like a drinker's blush, and gave off a light scent of sake."
The Mermaid and the Samurai: This little story should be a film. Gripping, magical, adorable.
"These words of encouragement, stouthearted though they were, only left Konnai feeling all the more keenly his sorrow and woe, and for some moment, wracked with mournful sobs, he could make no reply at all. Such it is for those in the grips of misfortune: declarations of support and sympathy, rather than providing comfort, may merely increase the victim's pain. Overwhelmed with despair, Konnai bowed his head and cried manly tears, even as he resigned himself to the fact that his life was all but over. At length, wiping the tears away with his fists, he looked up and spoke in a voice still punctuated with sobs:
'Thank you. The abuse whch Hyakuemon has heaped upon me today is scarcely such as I can find it in me to ignore. ... Being in the presence of His Lordship, however, I had no choice but to endure the unendurable and choke back the tears of vexation.'"
"'To think that all for some meaningless debate over mermaids, a worthy man must die!'"
"Certain now that her father was in some sort of trouble, Yae, samurai child that she was, slept that night in her kimono, with the sash firmly tied, curled up in a ball and hugging a dagger to her breast."
Blue Bamboo: Poor chap with awful life meets a new crow girlfriend.
Romanesque: This was my absolute favourite. It's in three parts, with a sting in the tail.
Taro the Wizard:
"Autumn brought even better things: apples as big as grapefruit and as red as coral hung from the trees in dense clusters. So juicy were these apples that if you plucked one and bit into it, the skin would burst with a loud crack and sweet, cold spray would gush out to soak your nose and cheeks."
"Before long he learned how to turn himself into a praying mantis as well, but this proved disappointing. There was nothing particularly fun about being a praying mantis."
"Taro approached the mirror with his heart in his mouth ... and received the shock of his life. His skin was so white as to be almost colorless; his cheeks were full and round and soft and smooth; his eyes were the narrowest conceivable slits; and a long, stringy mustache drooped down below his chin. It was a face that would have looked right at home on any eighth-century Buddhist statue. Even the splendid article between his legs resembled those of the men of old, hanging down long and fat and heavy."
Jirobei the Fighter:
"When you find yourself looking ridiculous, reasoning isn't worth a turd. If a man offends you, strike him down."
"The training was complete. Jirobei looked more solid and imposing than ever and was so musclebound that it took him a full minute just to turn his head to the left or right."
Saburo the Liar:
"Saburo felt as if he could smell the unbearable stench of deception's final, sputtering fart."
"The lies become blacker and more complex, they mesh and rub together until in the end they shine with the luster of truth."
Lanterns of Romance: The same charming family from the first story, playing one of their story-telling games again.