According to a classic Chinese folktale…………

Zhang Liang was born into an aristocratic family in the Han state during the Warring States Period (206 B.C.–A.D. 220). For five generations, his ancestors served its rulers. In 230 B.C., when the state was dissolved by Qin Shi Huang, founder of the Qin Dynasty, Zhang spent his entire family fortune for an assassination attempt on Qin Shi Huang’s life. However, the attempt failed and Zhang was forced to flee to another state. As a wanted man by the government, Zhang Liang travelled to Xiapi and stayed there for some time, using fake identities to evade the authorities.

One windy and snowy day, while strolling near the Yishui Bridge, Zhang saw an old man sitting on the bridge. When he saw Zhang, the old man deliberately dropped his shoe to roll down the bridge, and then asked Zhang Liang to fetch and replace it. Despite the slippery conditions and being unhappy about the situation, Zhang not only fetched the shoe, but also knelt down and put it back on the old man’s foot. Seeing Zhang Liang’s respect for elders, the old man smiled and told him that he would be worth teaching. He instructed Zhang to meet him the next morning for a lesson. The next day, Zhang Liang went to the bridge before dawn, yet he found the old man already there waiting. The old man angrily scolded him for keeping an elder waiting and told Zhang to come back again the following day. Although Zhang Liang went earlier than the first time, the same thing happened the next day. The third time, Zhang Liang went to the bridge at midnight and waited until the old man appeared. This time, the old man was impressed with Zhang Liang's fortitude and humility, that he presented Zhang with a book, saying, "You can become the tutor of a ruler after reading this book. Within ten years, the world will become chaotic. You can then use your knowledge from this book to bring peace and prosperity to the empire. Meet me again 13 years later. I'm the yellow rock at the foot of Mount Gucheng."

The old man was Huang Shigong (literally: "Yellow Rock Old Man") of the legendary "Four Haos of Mount Shang", a group of four reclusive wise men. The book was titled The Art of War by Taigong and believed to be the Six Secret Teachings by Jiang Ziya, while some called it Three Strategies of Huang Shigong. In legend, Zhang Liang returned to the indicated site 13 years later and did see a yellow rock there. He built a shrine to worship the rock and the rock was buried with him after his death. After studying the book, Zhang Liang became known for his military strategies and for being adept at managing changing situations.

From 'Legend in Japanese Art' by Henri L. Joly..........

The story begins with Choryo (Zhang Liang), who after falling from his position as the governor of Han, led a life of wandering. During this time, once he took a stroll at Yishui Bridge and met a strange old man, who later appeared to be a recluse, Koseki (Huang Shigong ("Yellow Rock Old Man")). The old man pretended to stumble, expecting Choryo to help him, which he did and Koseki told him to come back to the same place and meet him again in five days. Five days later, when Choryo arrived, Koseki was already waiting for him and chided him for being late for a meeting with an older man. This happened a second time, finding the old man still waiting. The third time Choryo stayed over night at the meeting spot, making sure the old man would not be the first to get there. When the old man arrived in the morning, satisfied, he revealed himself to be Koseki. He began to teach Choryo the art of war and strategy. Choryo then used these teachings splendidly as a military adviser of Liu Bang, the founder of the Han Dynasty.

The scene of the tsubas below represents an episode from the times of Choryo's study of the art of war. On the third morning meeting Koseki decided to test Choryo and threw his shoe from the bridge into the river telling him to fetch it. There was a great dragon living in that river that seized the shoe. Choryo did not get scared, and using a sword, seized it back. Koseki rewarded him with a priceless scroll titled "The Art of War" by Taigong. After that it appeared that the dragon was no one else but Bodhisattva Kuan Yin (the Goddess of Mercy), who took on the dragon form to test Choryo.
The motif of the tsuba is Choryo handing the seized shoe to Koseki sitting on the back of a horse on a bridge.

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