January, 2006

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
r previous issues.


Bow-wow you?
A year of Dog

Happy new year, everybody!
You know this is a year of Dog in Japan, as it is in many Asian countries.
My husband Den Okochi was born in 1934, a year of Dog. He always hides his bones somewhere, and then forgets. It is I, a monkey, who is running around to search for his keys, wallet, watch or eyeglasses. I look the places most unlikely. I once found his glasses in the refrigerator. It is getting more difficult to find them out. Sigh.......

Well, I will tell you an old folk story, which might help you understand Japanese common feeling towards dogs.

It is Grandfather Cherry Blossom. I hope you will enjoy meeting an ideal image of dog.

Once, in a small village, there lived a kind old man and his obliging wife. One day, they found a dog that looked miserable. They fed the dog, and named him Pochi. *(Pochi is a very common name for dogs)
The old pair and Pochi were a happy family now.

One day, Pochi howled and scratched the ground as if telling something was under it.

picture: from Kodansha book

The kind old man began to dig the ground, and his hoe hit something hard. It was a pot full of gold.

A mean old man lived next door. He heard about this gold, and thought he would get some too. He dragged Pochi to his ground. Pochi howled and squealed, and when the mean old man hoed, he found only trash. The mean old man got angry, and he hit the dog with his hoe.

Sad to say, the poor dog died the next day. The kind old pair made a grave for the dog, and planted a small pine tree on the mound.

The tree grew so fast, and became big and tall.

The old couple thought that they would carve a mortar to pound some rice cakes.

When they pounded, the rice turned into gold.

The mean old man saw this. He took the mortar and brought it to his house. The mean old man and his nasty wife pounded rice, and the rice turned into trash.

The mean man got angry and he whacked the mortar with his axe. And then he burned the pieces to ashes.

The kind old man came and asked to return the mortar. The mean man returned some ash.

The kind pair were so sad.
When they were walking back with a basket of ashes, a breeze blew ashes on some dried-up trees. The trees suddenly bursted into bloom.

There came the Lord and his Samurais who were seeing round the country.
The kind old man climbed a cherry tree and sprinkled ashes to please the Lord.
There appeared thousands of cherry blossoms.

The Lord was glad and gave him a title of Grandfather Cherry Blossom, and awarded him with a sack of gold.

The mean old man overheard this, and he scooped the rest of the ashes, ran to the other side of the village, climbed up a tree and waited until the Lord came round.

At last the Lord appeared, so the mean old man sprinkled the ashes. No bloom appeared. Ashes fell on the Lord's face, and he got very angry. The mean old man was arrested, and put into a jail.

After this, the kind old man and his wife lived a long happy life.
This is the end of the story.

 Bow did you like the tail?
 Also in the tale of The Peach Boy, a dog plays a very important role. In modern stories, or true stories, Japanese mind has always loved dogs. Hachi, the loyal dog who kept waiting for his dead master everyday at Shibuya Station for so many years, Taro and Jiro which survived in the most tough weather of North Pole.....
How are dogs loved in your country? Please tell me.

So good-bye now. If you try to sprinkle ashes, don't fall from the tree.
Let's pray together that Grandfather Cherry Blossom will sprinkle his ashes of Peace all over the world.

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi

Proprietress of Ryokan Yoyokaku

  Mail to Harumi Okochi