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SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info-Mirror-Mirrors
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
Teachers and Librarians

Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

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Story and song titles are in quotation marks.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) Query: There's a story (Japanese, I believe) involving a mirror and how each person sees a different image when they gaze into it.
I remember seeing it in a school library but know not the title, the author nor the source.

Dale P. 12/7/05


a) Here are two versions of the story.

Japanese Folktales.

The Mirror of Matsuyama, a Story of Old Japan.

There is also a short version of the tale in Stories in My Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell by Hamilton and Weiss. It is called "The Mirror That Caused Trouble" in their book.

In the story of The Magic Pomegranate: A Jewish Folktale (On My Own Folklore), a magic mirror is featured as one of the gifts as well. That version is in Ready-To-Tell Tales (American Storytelling) by Holt and Mooney.

Karen C. 12/7/05

2) Found these on the internet:

"The Mirror of Matsuyama"

"The Golden Pitcher"

"The Myth of Lilith"

"Bloody Mary"

Mary K.C. 12/7/05

"The Rabbi & the Mirror"
A rabbi was worried about one member of his small congregation, a self-made man who had been a generous contributor to local charities when he was struggling to start up his business, but now seemed to care only about the luxuries he could buy for himself. He invited the man to visit him in his study.

As the man got up to leave, the rabbi asked him to look out the window: "What do you see?"
"I see my neighbors, my friends, the people I live among."
"Now, please look in this mirror," the rabbi indicated the mirror by the study door. "What do you see?"
The man looked, and smiled at what he saw: professional haircut, fine coat, silk tie. "I see myself, rabbi."

"You know," the rabbi said, "the difference between plain glass and a mirror is the reflective layer of silver on the back. Sometimes when we add a little silver, all we can see is ourselves."

Pretty heavy handed, but I have used it during pledge drives.

Fran S. 12/7/05

"The Magic Mirror of Rabbi Adam" (#5 on page)

Jackie B. 12/7/05

Hans Christian Anderson, The Snow Queen: hobgoblin drops mirror which changes all into ugliness. Shard flies through the air & lodges in boy. Boy is transformed from loving friend to cold & selfish until girl rescues him.

Japan: Mirrors are important symbols in Shinto mythology. Solstice story from the Kojiki: Amaterasu Omikami (sun goddess) hides in dark cave because angry at destruction of brother (Susanowa). Depite entreaties of other gods & goddesses she won't come out; earth suffers in darkness. Uzume, goddess of mirth, has a plan. Tells everyone to gather mirrors. Dances a dance/striptease. Laughter ensues. Amaterasu is curious. Peeks through crack between rock & cave entrance. Mirrors hanging on tree branches capture her reflection. Delighted, the Sun returns to the world. Mirror reflections are stars. One version: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/amaterasu.html

Another version:

Also at
This is translation of original so a bit hard to sort through.

Irish story given already is a variant of a Japanese story but is about mother & daughter. Possibly collected by Lafcadio Hearn since he did a lot of it. Another he "Of A Mirror & A Bell" at
"The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows."(Sydney J. Harris)

Yvonne H. 12/7/05

6) Here's a mirror story I wrote a few years ago. Anyone if free to use it as it or modified for your specific purpose. Be grateful if you mention my name with it, and that it is free to pass along.

"Giving Ugly" by Gregory Leifel

Once there was a boy whose face was contorted from birth. He grew up with a wonderful mother who kept mirrors out of the house through his very early childhood. When the boy reached the age of 5 where he was to go off to school 5 days later, the mother brought into the house 5 mirrors each slightly larger than the other.

She showed him his contorted face in the smallest mirror first. The mirror was so small he could barely see his own lips in it, or any other part. He had to move the mirror around a lot to get the whole picture of his face.

The next day she showed him a mirror just a tad bit larger. He saw his lips and part of his cheeks only. And if he moved the mirror around fast, he could see part of his nose, and an eye together. The big picture was only possible if he moved the mirror around rather quickly, and tried to remember the whole thing.

The third day she showed him the next largest mirror and he could see more of his facial features. But he still had to keep moving the mirror around to get the whole picture.

The fourth day, a little larger of a mirror, and he could see even more of his face.

On the fifth day, he stood before the largest mirror viewing his whole contorted face. He thought he looked rather handsome, and his mother smiling next to him, agreed.

Off to school he went the next day, and the kids at school were brutal to him. He came home crying.
"Why didn't you tell me, mother? Why didn't you tell me I was deformed and ugly?"
The mother brought out the smallest mirror and held it before him.
"I don't want to look," he said. "I'm ugly"

"Which part is ugly?" the mother asked, holding the smallest mirror and standing behind him. "Show me in the mirror, please" she said.

The mother stood behind the boy and the boy moved the mirror around quickly trying to show his mother how ugly he was. Each time he stopped on a part, his mother said, "It's beautiful."

The boy grabbed the next largest mirror, to show her. She repeated how beautiful each part he showed her in the mirror was.

He grabbed the third largest mirror, showed her, then the fourth mirror, and showed her. She never failed in telling him how each part he showed her in the mirror was beautiful.

The boy hauled out the fifth and largest mirror that showed his whole contorted face.
They both stood before the large mirror. "I'm ugly," said the boy. "See?"

"Is this the same way you looked into this largest mirror yesterday, when I first showed you it?" asked the mother.

"No," said the boy.
"What changed?" asked the mother.
"They called me ugly at school today."
"How did you know they were telling you the truth?" asked the mother.
"It was the way they said it," answered the boy. "I could tell they really meant it by the way they said it."
"Show me in the mirror," said the mother. "Show me how they said it to you."
The boy showed his mother. He looked into the mirror, scowled and said, "You're ugly" into the largest mirror.
"That is ugly," said the mother pointing into the mirror.
She grabbed the next smaller mirror and asked the boy to say it again. He did. "That is ugly," said the mother.

She grabbed the next smaller mirror, then the next, each time focussing the mirror on his mouth area as he said, "You're ugly." And she agreed it was ugly in the mirror.

When they got to the smallest mirror, and the boy said, "You're ugly," into it. "See mom? See how ugly it looks, even in the smallest mirror?"

"Does your mouth look the same way as it did 5 days ago, when you were looking for yourself?"

The boy lowered his head and reluctantly said, "No it didn't. I thought I was handsome. But everyone thinks I'm ugly."

"What has changed?" asked the mother.
The boy thought long and hard. "I don't know, Mom. Tell me."
"Those boys that teased you gave you something. They gave you Ugly."
"Gave me Ugly?" said the confused boy.

"Yes,' said the mother. "For it is impossible to say the word ugly without contorting one's mouth. You saw that in the mirrors, didn't you?"

The boy thought long and hard.
"Yes Mom. But what do I do now? Tomorrow they will call me ugly again."

"Take this smallest mirror with you to school tomorrow. Show them their mouth when they call you ugly. Show them they own the word ugly. Because a mirror this small can only show a part of us. And what you say into a mirror this small, is what is reflected back to the world around you."

"But the big mirror shows the truth of how ugly I am," said the boy.

The mother grabbed a hammer and smashed the big mirror. It broke into little tiny pieces. "What has changed now?" she asked. "A mirror is a mirror, big or small. It reflects what we put into it. Tomorrow you will give them back their ugly, for today you learned the words we use are like little pieces of a big mirror."

Greg L. 12/7/02

Created 2002; last update 1/13/10

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