Japanese Folk Tales: The Magic Kettle

Japanese Folk Tales: The Magic Kettle

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Right in the middle of Japan, among the mountains, an old man lives in his little house.

He was very proud of it, and never tired of admiring the whiteness of the straw mats, and the beautiful paper walls, which in warm weather were always open, so that the scent of trees and flowers could enter.

One day he was standing looking at the mountain opposite, when he heard some kind of rumbling sound in the room behind him.

He turned around, and in the corner he saw a rusty scrap metal kettle.

How the kettle got there, the old man did not know, but he took it and examined it carefully, and when he found that the kettle was quite intact, he dusted it off and took it to his kitchen.

‘That was luck,’ he said, smiling to himself; ‘a good kettle costs money, and also has a second one if needed; mine is starting to wear out, and water is starting to come out of the bottom.’

Then he took his old kettle from the fire, filled the new kettle with water, and put it in its place.

Not long after the water in the kettle got warm, a strange thing happened, and the man standing beside him thought he was dreaming.

First, the handle of the kettle gradually changes shape and becomes a head, and the spout grows into a tail, while from the body four claws emerge, and in a few minutes the man finds himself watching, not a kettle, but a tanuki. !

The creature leapt from the fire, and hopped around the room like a kitten, running up the walls and over the ceiling, until the old man was in pain so that his beautiful room would not be damaged.

He shouted for the neighbors for help, and among them they managed to catch the tanuki, and locked him safely in a crate.

Then, very tired, they sat down on the mats, and consulted together what they should do with this troublesome beast.

Finally they decided to sell it,

When the Merchant arrived, the old man informed him that he had something he wished to get rid of, and lifted the lid of the wooden chest, where he had hidden the tanuki.

But, to his surprise, there was no tanuki there, only a kettle which he found in the corner. This was certainly very strange, but the man remembered what happened in the fire, and didn’t want to keep the kettle any longer, so after a bit of haggling about the price,

The merchant went with the kettle with him.

Now Merchant had not gone very far before he felt that his kettle was getting heavier and heavier, and by the time he got home he was so tired that he was grateful to put it in the corner of his room, and then forgot all about it. he.

However, in the middle of the night, he was awakened by a loud noise in the corner where the kettle was standing, and got up on the bed to see what it was. But there was nothing there except a kettle, which seemed pretty quiet.

He thought that he must be dreaming, and fell asleep again, only to be awakened a second time by the same disturbance.

He jumped up and went to the corner, and by the light of the lamp he kept on, he saw that the kettle had become a tanuki, spinning behind its tail.

After he got tired of it, he ran to the balcony, where he some some head over heels, from pure bliss of heart.

The merchant was very confused as to what to do with the animal, and it was not until morning that he was able to sleep; but when he opened his eyes again there was no tanuki, only the old kettle he had left there the night before.

As soon as he tidied up his house, Merchant set out to tell his story to a friend next door. The man listened quietly, and didn’t seem as surprised as Merchant expected, for he remembered hearing, in his youth, something about a kettle that worked properly. ‘Go and travel with him, and flaunt,’ he said, ‘and you shall be a rich man; but be careful first to ask the tanuki’s permission, and also to perform some magic ceremonies to prevent him from escaping at the sight of people.’

The merchant thanked his friend for his advice, which he followed exactly. The approval of the tanuki was obtained, a booth was built, and a notice was hung outside inviting people to come and witness the most beautiful transformation ever seen.

They came in droves, and the kettle was passed from hand to hand, and they were allowed to inspect it everywhere, and even look inside. Then Merchant took him back, and put him on the stage, ordering him to become a tanuki. In an instant the handle began to turn into a head, and a muzzle into a tail, while four claws appeared on the sides. ‘Dance,’ said the Merchant, and the tanuki made his move, and moved first on one side and then on the other, until the people could no longer stand still, and began to dance too.

She gracefully leads the fan dance, and slides without pause into the shadow dance and the umbrella dance, and it seems she will continue to dance forever. And he most likely would, if Merchant had not declared that he had danced enough, and that his booth should now be closed.

Day after day the booth was so full that it was almost impossible to enter it, and what the neighbors prophesied had happened, and the Merchant was a rich man. But he didn’t feel happy. He was an honest man, and he thought that he owed part of his fortune to the person from whom he bought the kettle. So, one morning, he put a hundred gold pieces in it, and hanging the kettle once more in his arm, he returned to the seller. ‘I have no right to keep it any longer,’ he added as he finished his story, ‘so I have brought it back to you, and in it you will find a hundred gold pieces for the rent.’

The man thanked the Merchant, and said that few people would be as honest as him. And the kettle brought good luck to them both, and everything went smoothly until they died, which they did when they were very old, respected by all.