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Japanese fairy tales    Oni     Tengu     Kitsune     Tanuki     Kami

The Thunder Kami

In ancient times, in a mountain village there lived an old man and his granddaughter. They lived in poverty on a small piece of land. Every morning the grandfather went with his granddaughter into their small fields and worked on them from dawn to dusk with a small box of daikon, melons and even beans for lunch.
“The crops will grow, we will not starve in the winter,” the grandfather said.
And so they dug up the ground and started putting seeds in it saying, “daikon, daikon, come up! Grow Daikon, Grow. Grow with great joy to this grandfather and granddaughter.”
Thus they planted the seeds and waited for the leaves to appear. A few days later they began to see the field turning green.
Happy to see this the grandfather said to his granddaughter.
“Look how many daikons are growing, now we have no need to be afraid of the winter.”
When the time came to water the daikon they walked to the river, downhill and scooped up a bucket full of water and then walked up hill. As the granddaughter poured the water on the daikon she told them, “Drink, Drink.” And so it went with the granddaughter working all day on getting the water up the hill to the daikon. But then one day they went down to the creek but it was dry.
“What are we to do now?” the granddaughter cried. “Without our daikon, we’ll die of hunger.”
“Lets you and me go to the mountain Toga, where the Kami Somby lives,” the old man told his granddaughter.
“The Kami Sombutsu?” the girl asked with surprise. “Who is he?”
“He is a very important kami of thunder,” replied the old man. “On whom rainfall depends. When he wants to he can send a storm of heavy rain to the ground.”
Well, since he is so important perhaps he could help us,” the mans granddaughter agreed.
So they traveled up to the mountain Toga. Up the mountain paths, higher and higher.
“How much farther?” the granddaughter asked.
As we pass this grove, its just a stone’s throw away,” the grandfather assured her.
And so they rose at last to the top of the mountain.
“Well here we are,” the old man told his granddaughter.
His granddaughter looked around at the cliff top with surprise.
“This is it?” she asked. “This large rock is really the thunder kami Sombutsu?”
“Yes,” the old man told her. “This is the kami Sombutsu’s sacred rock.”
The old man then bowed to the rock from his waist and folded his hands in prayer.
“Help us Kami Sombutsu, we need the rain,” the old man begged.
They sat there for a long time but they did not hear Sombutsu’s voice.
The next day the grandfather and his granddaughter returned to the rock but again Sombutsu said nothing. The daikon meanwhile began to wither and drop their leaves as they grew parched. On the eighth day the grandfather and granddaughter awoke again but there were no clouds in sight.
“He can’t be such a great kami of rain,” people began to to mutter.
Again the grandfather and granddaughter went to the sacred rock.
“Have pity on us, Kami Sombutsu, send us at least some rain. Save our field, save our daikon.”
But the rock remained silent and they heard nothing from the kami Sombutsu.
The old man grew angry and cried out in fury, “You are a lie, you could help, but you aren’t a kami. You’re a rascal.”
And with that the old man hefted a stone and tossed it at the kami’s rock. The stone rolled to the bottom of the pit which was at the foot of the rock.
There was a roar, and the kami came staggering out of the pit.
“Who has dared to throw stones at me?” the kami roared. “Who broke my dream?” I am here now.”
The granddaughter and grandfather stood terrified before the kami.
“Forgive me, forgive me great kami of the rain Sombutsu,” the grandfather pleaded with the kami. “I had no more strength to endure your silence. For eight days we came to you and begged you to make it rain, but you were silent.”
“Eight days you say?” the kami said with surprise. “Forgive me, forgive me. You see I love to take a nap during the day, so I was fast asleep and could not hear anything. Do not be angry, forgive me.”
“Well, can you send us some rain?” the old man asked the kami.
The Kami gave a big yawn and agreed.
“Hey you faithful servant, wake up! I have a job for you,” the kami called.
Something deep in the pit groaned and suddenly mist poured out of it. The mist reached into the sky and soon there were thousands of clouds.
“Wow,” the grandfather and granddaughter said with astonishment.
“Hey you do not yawn,” the kami of thunder shouted to the clouds. Rain on the fields.
The clouds heard the order and immediately began to rain. Then thunder boomed and lightening flashed as rain poured to the ground.
The grandfather and granddaughter were delighted. They thanked the kami of rain and hurried home. They ran tot heir field and saw the leaves turning green, and the white daikon heads poking up out of the ground. And there was a rich harvest that year.
That is why in that region the custom emerged, that on dry summers boys will go onto the mountain of Toga and throw a stone into the deep pit by the kami’s stone while calling, “Kami of sleep wake up.” After this old men claim it will always rain.