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  JAPAN'S FOLKTALE 
Funny Little Story
English translation by Hideo Yokokawa
 

Circular of the Genius of Poverty


Long. long ago, it was widely believed that the family living in the house possessed by a genius of poverty had to suffer from the extreme povery. One day at the year's end, a family began general house cleaning to sweep every nook and corner, as usual.  By chance the genius that was taking a nap on the shelf slipped down. Finding it, the household head told him to get out of the house immediately. The genius desperately appealed the head to allow his staying there, promising that he could for sure make the family prosperous. The head suspected what the genius had said, so he asked how the geniust carried it out. The genius asked the head to build a small shrine to apotheosize the genius, then, he would have many people visit there, and as a redilt a good amount of offertory could be dedicated into an offertory box for sure.So, as requested, the head buiilt the shrine for the genius to live in at the corner pf his garden fronting the street; with a flag of the Great Gracious Genius of Poverty and a sacred archway at the entrance. After it, the head was getting irritated because nobody visited there even after a couple of months But, in February, there came a few visitors by slow, and around the flower season, the number of visitors was getting increased by day by day, and at last, the shrine was crowded by so many visitors that the the offertory box was flooded by coins every day. The family became the richest aroung the area.The head asked the genus how they could achieve this amazing prosperity. The gemus said with a composed face that he had distributed his circular here and there, showing the head a copy of it. reading; I request the residents to pay a visit to me in the shrine, otherwise, I shall move to your residence. The Great Gracious Genius of Poverty.

 

 

The Last


There was a big-time thief covering a vast territory of Tohkaido, but he was arrested at last and sentenced to death. Prior to the execution, an officer asked him if he had any words. He said that he wanted to leave a death poem. The officer was impressed by his attitude and promised to record his last words. He read <Because I have been thinking that this body of mine did not exist since long past, why should I be reluctant to lose my life In such case as this?>. The officer pointed out the fact that this poem was written by Dohkan Ohta who had founded the great Yedo Castle. The big-time thief said, "Yes, it is. This is the last of my stealing."

 

 

I am Nowhere


Long, long ago, a police was taking to a jail a skin-headed bone who had committed a crime at a distant place. On their way to Yedo where the jail is, they had to stay at an inn overnight on the last day. In the inn, the bonze made the police feel at ease expressing his appreciation to police's diligent attendance and kindness extended to him. And, the bonze cunningly persuaded the police to drink sake. The police got dead drunk and fell in deep sleep. The bonze shaved the police's head, removed the rope from his neck, moved it to the neck of the police and run away. At midnight, when the police woke up, he could not find the criminal. He got completely confused. Unintentionally, he touched his skin-head and found a rope around his neck. He said. "Oh! he is surely right here. But where on earth have I gone?"

 

 

A Ghost


There was a man who lost his wife living by himself. One day, when he was eating a lunch, he found that a woman with a pale face wearing white kimono appeared in front of the dining table gracefully. To his surprise, she was his dead wife. He asked her why she visited him suddenly. She answered that she could not suppress her desire and appeared like this as she had been eager to see after missing him long long time ago. He asked her why she appeared in the daytime as ghosts appear at midnight usually. Bathed in tears, she said to him. "Oh! honey. I'm  too scared of darkness.

 

 

A Running Expert


There was an expert that was very good at running but absolutely poor at anything else. One day, when he was chasing a robber, he met his friend who was walking towards him. The friend asked him what was he doing. He said that he was chasing after a robber. The friend asked where the robbber was. He said. "Wow!, he is running far behind me.

 

 

Tobacco Pouch


At midnight, long, long ago, a burglar sneaked into a house. He searched the rooms for something valuable, but he could not find anything at all; no clothes in any chest of drawers, no rice in a rice bin, no miso in a miso receptacle. He was thoroughly dumbfounded by the povety. The burglar gently swayed and raised the couple out of sleep. Taking some money out of his pocket, he said to them. "I broke into your house to steal, but I was so surprised by your extreme poverty. I feel pity for you. I will give this money in charity." He gave it to them. The pair raised the gift above their heads. The burglar left there in a happy frame of mind. While. on his way back, the burglar found that somebody was chasing him callng in a loud voice, "Mr. Nurglar," "Mr. Nurglar," "Mr. Nurglar." The burglar stppped and stood in readiness to see what the matter was. Showing a tobacco pouch in his hand, the man said, "You forget to bring this, Sir. "

 

 

Flood


Long, long ago in Yedo era, the Kandagawa flooded. The wholesalers' firewoods heaped up mountain-)high at the upriver area were wholly carried away all at once. Finding this, the loafers living downstream pcked them up with fire hooks one after another. As a result, the loafers became rich wholesalers, and on the other hand, the wholesalers became loafers, they say.

 

 

Money is the Bane of Life


Two men were talking one another. "I think that the money is the bane of life. How do you think of it?" "Absolutely. There are fellows who lost their lives because if money, so I always spend all the money when it comes to me." "Well, that's better. the best is to do away with oney......, but I've not met the bane for a long time." Both of them heavily sighed.

 

 

Vainglory


In April, Ueno Hill is crowded by many visitors who enjoy viewing cherry blossoms. The daughter pf a magnate at low-lying area went to the hill to see cherry blossoms in full bloom, followed by her maidservants. She was very much proud of her looks, and while they were walking, she spoke unfavorably of the other women they met on the way to the hill; she was too short, she was too tall, her lips were small but nose was too big, her skin was dark, her forehead was too broad, etc., etc., etc. On the way back, they stopped at Shinobazu Pond, where she found her figure mirrored in the lake. She said. "She is not so pretty at all, either."

 

 

Pass


A mendicant priest staood in front of the house playing a shakuhachi. A man in the house told the priest to pass. By saying "Pass", he meant that the priest should leave there as he had no money to give. "If so, excuse me", The priest said and got into the house. Surprised by this, the man said "I told you to pass." Saying "If so, excuse me ," the priest got into his house further. He got mad at the priest and said harshly "Wow, you pass." Saying, "If so, excuse me ," the priest further proceeded his way into his rooms further. Entirely embarrassed, the man shouted, "Pass. Go away." Then, the priest left back door, saying "If so, excuse me ."

 

 

Magnet Inn


2 large inns stood opposite to each other, competing the abilities to attract customers. Oneday, t the master of one of them who had been managing to increase his customers bought a strpng magmet and put it in front of his inn. His wife wondered and asked him what it was for. He told her to keep it secret explaining anything to  her.Soon, a traveller was coming up to the inns. The master approached the traveller from the back and sprinkled iron powder on his shoulder. The traveler was pulled by the magnet and entered the inn. The inn was getting more and more prosperous. On the other hand, the master pf the inn at opposite side who lost lots of his jis customers undrstood the fact He bought the same magnet and set it in front of the entrance of his inn, too. Then, a strange thig happened. A traveler between the inns could not move at all at the center of the road, being pulled by the magnets from both sides . The master of the small inn which was next to another one approached the travelr and brushed away the iron powder from the traveler' shoulder. He could easily obtain and lead a new customer to his inn.

 

 

A Stubborn Couple


Long, long ago, there was a married couple. One day, their neighbor gave them a cake called manjyu. Both of them were very much fond of it and wanted to monopolize it. The husband offered his wife to make an outstaring game, saying that the either one that won the game can eat it whole. She accepted his challenge.  While they were staring one another, putting the cake bietween them, a robber sneaked into the room. Even though they realized this intruder, they still continued the game. The robber easily searched for the closet and stealed many expensive things and escaped quietly.  Unable to endure any longer, the wife screamed accusing her husband why he did't blame the robber. Sneering, he picked up the cake and said, "I won. This manjyu is mine."

 

 

How Do You Do?


Long, long ago, there lived a man who had lost his eyesight in his childhood. He has been desperately wanting to see his wife and children as well as all the things. One day, he decided his mind to devote to Benten in a shrine nearby his residence. He stayed and prayed there for 7 days and nights. After 7 days all of a sudden, his eye trouble was cured. He was in rapture with deeo thanks to his godess and began to walk towards his residence. Bit he could not tell in which direction his housewas. so he closed his eyes again and managed to reach his house. Getting into the entrance, he opemed his eyes, when he found a very beautiful lady. He asked her if she was his wife. She said with radiant smile. "How do you do? I am very happy that we see for the first tome."

 

 

I Go On Foot


Long, long ago, there was a very rich but too stingy man. He has been ill for a long time, and he felt that he might die pretty soon. So he called all of his family to his bed room as he wanted to say his firm will to his family.  He said to them. "For the repair and reconstruction of the temple, I have contributed lots and lots of money, but so far I have not any return at all. So, even if I died, you never ever spend any excessive money. Everybody attending there said that they were to follow his will and carry it out for sure. One of them asked how they should do with his funeral, saying, "Yet, shall we prepare a bier?" "No, don't do it because I have to pay the money to the laborers who carry the bier" "Okay, then, shall we have a cow carry the coffin?" "No. That costs for ca aw too." "Then, how about two persons shoulder it?" "No, I don't like it because I have to pay for those two laborers." All the family attended there was entirely at a loss. Then, the youngest little grand daughter said innocently. "Grandpa, you walk for your self?" "That's it. Yes, I go on foot"


 

Mirror

The boy who paid a visit to Asakusa Kannon came back abd said to his father. "Dad, I deeply prayed today, and on my way back, I found a lost wonderful mirror by the roadside of Nakamise Avenue.
" "Oh, yeah! and then?" "I asked people around there if they had any idea of the person who had lost it. But nobody knew."  "That must be a Kannon's gift for you. You picked it up, didn't you?" "No, dad." "Why didn't you bring back the good fortune?" "Well, I bent down to pick it up, but I stopped." "Wow, why?" "'Cause, someone in the mirror was staring at me."

 

 

Hoof

A man talked to children in a know-it-all manner. "The animals that have broken hooves run rapidly, For example, do you know, rhinos living in faraway Africa" "Yeah, isn't it like the one with a horn nose?" said a boy. "Yes, you are correct, It dashes like an arrow because of the broken hooves" said the man. "Oh! if so, what happens to horses that have not broken hooves? They run very fast" said an other girl. "Well, it is only because the hooves are not broken that persons can ride on. If the hooves were broken, it is a terribke fuss to ride on horses, as they move far faster than the eye could follow" said the man. Then, another boy said. "Oh! What happened to caws? Whey are slow even though their hooves are broken. Why?" "Good. The reason caws can only walk very slowly is because their hooves are broken, otherwise they can not even move." said the man.

 

 

A Wolf's Fiasco

A hungry wolf came down the mountains.
tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat He heard the sound of footsteps of an express messenger. It's in the bag! -- he thought and awaited at the  center of the ro   ad widely opening his big mouth.  ... tat tat tat tat tat   The messenger jumped into his mouth without glancing aside and run through his body, then, with a pop, getting out of the
buttocks, the messenger left there quickly    pop  tat tat tat tat ....  
.Looking back, the wolf murmured. "Regretful, I should have worn a breechclout."