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|Japanese fairy tales Oni Tengu Kitsune Tanuki Kami
The Tanuki and the Priest
Once there was a pious priest who lived in a village in the countryside
of Hidatschi along the eastern seaboard to the north of Tokyo. The
priest lived with benevolence and constant love of his neighbors. He
lived a happy unassuming live, never complaining that the kami
hadn’t given him the wealth that many priests got. Never
concerned that he didn’t have earlty treasure for he felt
perfectly happy with what he had. He performed the duties of his office
with rare fidelity And after work in the evening he would sit
peacefully in his little room. His apartment was right next to the
beautiful temple and was cool in the summer. In the winter when the
winds blew from the ocean and caused the tops of the high cedars to
wave gently. The pious priest would push his shutters closed and sit
beside his coal burner and so he would be warm. So content was he that
he wouldn’t have traded his place with any prince.
One late bitterly cold winters evening, the priest sat his warm little
den and read from his pray book in a hushed voice when he heard a faint
knock on the shutters which ran around the house. He listened carefully
and the tiny knock was soon repeated. So he stood up and slide the door
open and was surprised to see a tanuki standing outside in the bitter
cold begging for admittance. The priest took pity on the shaking cold
and hungry animal. So he let the Tanuki into his warm home and gave him
some fish and treated his guest as best as he could. At last the Tanuki
fell asleep from exhaustion and so the priest let him lay undisturbed.
The next morning when the priest arose the Tanuki had already risen, he
thanked his host and said good by.
That evening the priest was relaxing when he heard another knock. So
again the priest let the Tanuki into his home and fet it then allowed
it to sleep to the next morning. This occurred so often that the priest
grew accustomed to sharing his home with the Tanuki and so he was sad
the first time the Tanuki failed to show himself. The winter had passed
and it was spring, so the Tanuki had returned to his forest home with
his relatives. The Tanuki promised however to come back when winter
returned. The priest continued to live happily though the summer.
Winter came and snow covered the land. So the tanuki returned again to
spend the evenings in the warm priests corridors.
Once more when winter passed and spring drew near. The Tanuki then asked his host if he had anything he desired.
“Yes, I have one but you cannot satisfy it,” the priest
told the Tanuki. “I’d loved to buy a burial plot in a
sacred place and have a proper funeral but I do not have the money to
do so. A poor priest could never afford such things.”
After he’d told the Tanuki of his desires the priest saw that the
little animal was embarrassed and saddened for asking so the priest
assured the animal that these were only his vanities of which he should
“What does it mater after all how someone is buried, the most
important thing to bring to the grave are good deeds after all,”
the priest assured the Tanuki.
The Tanuki was lost in thought however and didn’t respond or bring up any further touchy subjects.
Spring came again and the animal took leave from his host and vanished
as he had the years before. The summer passed as it did every year and
brought many joys, providing people with a wealth of fruit and was so
splendid it almost allowed people to forget their was a winter. But
winter did come eventually as it always does, along with his hardships.
The streets grew deserted and the birds crept into their hiding places.
And the hoarse cry of foxes echoed through the cold night, and those
who had poorly insulated homes stuffed the corners of their homes and
tried their best to protect themselves from the cold.
The priest expected his friend the Tanuki to come and often rushed to
the door at any sound which might have been a soft knock but the Tanuki
was never there. The next year the priest waited in vain once more but
the Tanuki didn’t show. The third year the priest though a
hunter, or wolf or bear must have killed the poor animal.
Time passed and the priest started to feel the weight of his years and started to thing more often of his death.
Then one winter evening their was another knock on the shutters just as
their had been before. Curious the priest jumped up and opened the door
to find the same Tanuki standing outside his door. Overjoyed to see his
old friend the priest told him to come in and told the priest where
he’d been for the last three winteres.
“Your request for a burial touched my heart and so I asked around
for a good burial place. And hear many good things about the Island of
Sado. I worked hard for the money to buy a spot their and it took me
three years to gather it all. The money is here in this bag so please
take it,” the Tanuki finished.
The priest utterly amazed and deeply moved by the by the Tanuki’s
gesture but at first he could not bring himself to take the
Tanuki’s money. But the Tanuki insisted with tears in his eyes
telling the priest that the money would not benefit him anyways.
“If I take the money so easily, people will say it was not
honestly earned so if you insist that I accept it I must ask you
to go with me to the temple to confirm your story so they will not
believe that I have been defrauding them,” the priest told the
The Tanuki agreed and went with the priest to the temple and those who
heard the story praised the Tanuki for his loyalty to the priest. So
the priest was able to buy a burial place in a holy place and was
highly honored by all as he lived for many years with the Tanuki who
continued to come to visit him every winters night for the rest of his