In which I share a story for the season: a Happy New Years tale!

I love this Japanese story. I hope you love it too. Happy New Year!

New Year’s Hats for the Statues – a traditional story from Japan

A long time ago there lived a poor couple who made a living by weaving reed hats for farmers.

One year on New Year’s Eve, the old man gathered up the five hats they had made and carried them to the village to sell so that he might buy fish, rice and bean cakes for a celebration.

The weather was cold, and heavy snow fell upon the man as he walked the long miles to the village. All day long the man walked up and down the streets, asking for someone to buy his hats so that he could buy a little fish, a little rice, but the people of the village were too busy cooking and cleaning and preparing their own celebrations, and he could not sell even a single hat.

As darkness fell, the old man sadly began walking the long miles home, still carrying his unsold hats. Then he came to the place where six stone statues of Jizo, the guardian god of children, stood by the roadside, covered with snow.

“It is not a good night for anyone to be out in the cold,” said the old man to himself, and that gave him an idea. He carefully brushed the snow from the heads and shoulders of the statues, and then tied a woven hat onto the head of each statue in turn. Realizing that he needed one more, he removed his own reed hat and tied it onto the head of the last statue…and tied his scarf around the neck of the statue as well.

With the snow falling down on the hats instead of their heads, the statues now seemed almost merry, and the old man smiled to see them. “Happy New Year,” he said to the statues, and bowed politely to each in turn.

When he returned home, his wife was disappointed to learn that he did not bring fish or bean cakes to celebrate the New Year, but she agreed that he had been correct to share the hats with the statues.

The old couple went to bed early, for there was no more charcoal for the fire, and the wind and snow blew fiercely against the side of their little house. Feeling fortunate to have a sturdy roof over their heads, and warm quilts on the bed, they slept.

At daybreak, the couple awoke to the sound of voices outside. It sounded like a group of men pulling a heavy load. With hearts full of wonder, they looked out the window…

…and saw the figures of six stone statues lumbering towards their house.

Each statue wore a reed hat and the last statue of all wore a warm scarf as well. All were pulling heavy sacks behind them.

When the couple ran outside, the statues dropped their sacks at their feet, and then bowed politely before turning to leave.

Dragging the sacks into the house, the old man and old woman discovered that each sack was full of food: rice and wheat, fish and bean cakes, and enough wine for a year of feasts.

"Ojizo Sama, thank you," they shouted to the retreating statues.

But six statues did not turn to look back. They continued to walk down the road the way they had come, disappearing into the whiteness of falling snow, leaving only their footprints to show that they had been there.

Comments

  1. I have never heard this tale. Very Cool!

    May you have a Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love you tales, it's like bedtime stories all over again.

    Happy New Year

    ReplyDelete

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