A long, long time ago, an old man and an old woman lived in a certain place. One snowy winter morning, the old man went into town to sell firewood. On his way home, he found a crane that had been caught in a trap. Feeling sorry for the crane, the old man released the crane from the trap.
When he got home, he told his wife what had happened. That night, during a heavy snowstorm, a beautiful young woman came to the couple’s door, saying she’d lost her way and asking for a night’s lodging. The elderly couple showed her warm hospitality.
Since it didn’t stop snowing the following day, or the day after that either, the girl stayed with the elderly couple. During that time, the girl looked after the man and woman very well, and so they were very happy. One day the girl said, “I want to spin some cloth, so please buy me some thread.” The old man did as he was bid. When she began her work, the girl asked the couple, “Please never look inside the room.” When she had finished weaving one bolt of cloth, the girl seemed to have got thinner and looked rather weak.
However, the cloth woven by the girl was extremely beautiful. It soon gained a great reputation in town, and the elderly couple became very wealthy. They asked the girl to weave more cloth, and so she continued to do so. At first the two were obedient and kept their promise never to look. But finally they gave in to their curiosity and peeped inside the room. There, in place of the girl they had expected to see, was a crane! The crane was weaving its own feathers into cloth, and this was the cloth that the couple had been selling. When the girl had finished weaving the bolt of cloth, she confessed that in fact she was the crane that the old man had helped before. But now that she had been seen in her true form, the girl spread both her arms wide and turned into a crane that took off high into the sky, crying, crying. The old couple sadly watched the crane as they made their farewell.