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Hikoichi from Kumamoto

. . minwa 民話 folktales / densetsu 伝説 Japanese Legends . .


Hikoichi don from Kumamoto 熊本の彦一 

Hikoichi koma (Hiko-Ichi) 彦一独楽 spinning top

The various parts of the body can be taken off and used as spinning tops.
In no time the tanuki changes into four tops.

The dumb-clever farmer Hiko-Ichi とんち 彦一
is the subject of local legends in the Yatsushiro region.
see below

. Tanuki 狸 Badger, Racoon Dog .


A Living Umbrella

Once upon a time, Hikoichi opened an umbrella shop.
He hung an umbrella under the eaves of the second floor of the store as a signboard. The umbrella opened itself in rainy day and closed in fair weather automatically. The rumor of this mysterious umbrella spread over the country soon. In truth, Hikoichi made a device so as to open and close the umbrella from inside of the house secretly, though.

The passersby in front of the store completely didn't know the truth, they admired it and said in unison, "The umbrella is alive!" or "It's a living umbrella!" Fair or foul, the front of the store was filled with visitors. The reputation of "Living umbrella" reached the lord of the castle too. The lord had a hobby of collecting rare things, so he ordered his followers to go and get it for him immediately. They told the lord's order to Hikoichi but he refused the offer.

"The umbrella is my family treasure, so however our lord wants to get it, please excuse me but there's no way to hand it over to him." Hearing it the lord wanted to have the "Living umbrella" in his hand more and more. At last, the lord said, " Tell him, I will pay as much as he wants." Finally Hikoichi accepted his offer.

The lord was very glad to get it. He put the umbrella in the garden and eagerly looked forward to raining. Several days passed, thick clouds covered all of the sky, making it darker and darker and threatened rain. The lord gathered his followers to the garden and said, " This is the living umbrella and it opens by itself in rainy day and closes in fine weather. Keep watching it!"

It began to rain before long, but the umbrella didn't open. No matter how much it rained, the umbrella didn't move at all. The lord began to get angry, and called Hikoichi up to his castle to demand the explanation.
"This should be the living umbrella. But it didn't open even in the rain. You have deceived me!" said the lord, but Hikoichi answered, "No kidding! I never deceive you, Your Excellency. When the umbrella was at my house, it was certain alive. Please allow me to have a look at the umbrella in a moment."

He made as if he were examining the umbrella and said,
"Alas! The umbrella is already dead! He must been starved for food, perhaps he had not got anything to eat here. You should have given him some foods. Oh, my poor fellow! " He cried out.

Of course, he just pretended to cry. But the lord was surprised, and he couldn't say a word any more. Only he could join his hands together to pray for the umbrella.
source : kumamoto-E.html


source : hikoichi honpo.html
もなか wafer with the tonchi Hikoichi
famous at the temple Kotoku-Ji 光徳寺

Hikoichi in Hell with Enma じごくの彦一


彦一は、「えんまさん、おせわになります。みやげば持ってきました。はよう食べてくだはり。一段めはけらんもち、二段目はずっとうまかけらんもち、三段目は、まあだうまかもんです。こやつは、川の中で食わんと味がでまっせん。」 えんまさまが三段目のじゅうばこを持って川にはいり、一つ口の中に入れたら、「わあっ!」と、泣きだし、あわてふためいてので、彦一は、えんまさまを鬼になわでしばらせて、


The Tanuki's Deceit

Long ago in a place called Yatsushiro in the province of Higo (now Kumamoto prefecture) there was an interesting fellow named Hikoichi-don. He always enjoyed deceiving people and making fun of them. However, there was a tanuki living on the hill behind this Hikoichi-don's home. It was an interesting tanuki of no less skill than Hikoichi. It enjoyed changing to human form and deceiving people on an almost daily basis.
One night when Hikoichi-don went outside, someone called out "Hikoichi-don! Hikoichi-don!"

"Who is it?"
"I'm the tanuki of the back hill."
"What do you want?"
"What are you most afraid of? What is it that frightens you most?"

"Let me see . . . It's dumplings. Penny dumplings frighten me so much I can hardly stand it."

That was Hikoichi-don's answer. The next evening when Hikoichi-don returned home, something was thrown at him through the window. When he looked closely, he saw they were delicious penny dumplings. He recalled his reply to the tanuki, and started yelling, "Help! Help! It's dumplings! I can't stand it!" At the same time he went around the room gathering up the dumplings, and gobbled them down, one after another.

After the tanuki had thrown all the dumplings it had, Hikoichi-don said, "My, that was horrible," then made himself some tea and drank it down. The tanuki saw that through the window. He then realized he had been deceived by Hikoichi-don, and became very angry. "What can I do? He's just gotten free dumplings from me."

The next day Hikoichi-don went to look at his rice fields.
Rocks had been thrown everywhere in them.

"Oh, this is great!" he said aloud.
"Like they say, 'three years over a rock.'
(Ishigoe sannen, see below.)
That means this field won't need any fertilizer for the next three years. What a marvel-- I'm really happy! Putting manure on the field would probably ruin it."

Hikoichi-don said this happily, and looked very happy. The tanuki was nearby, of course, and heard it all.

"I've messed up again," it thought. "I've been fooled by Hikoichi!"

That night the field was picked clean of rocks, and horse manure was spread there instead.

Needless to say, Hikoichi-don actually was happy when he saw that.

This is the saying : Ishigoe sannen 石肥三年.
It is usually heard as Ishi no ue nimo sannen, which means even a rock warms up if you sit on it three years, or patience brings good results.
Variations include "three years amid the thorns" and "three years in the fire."
source : quilt/tanuki.htm

Bye bye for now !


. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .

. Tohoku after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011




Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading these stories, thanks!


Gabi Greve said...

Kumano Gongen 熊野権現 Legends about Kumano Gongen
Kumano no Kami / Kumano no Okami / the Kumano Gongen Deity