INSTANT WISDOM > SPECIAL > STORIES

04/19/99

Rabbit's revenge

Once Upon a Time...

One day, a jisa (old man) caught a tanuki (raccoon dog) in the mountains.
Upon returning home, he tied the animal to a stake in the yard. 

"Why don't you cook this tanuki for our dinner?" the man said to his wife.

The tanuki observed the basa (old woman) pounding the husks off newly
reaped rice. The cunning animal said to her, "Undo this rope, and I'll do that
tedious work for you." 

She was suspicious at first, but the work was hard and she ended up
accepting the offer.

Released from captivity, the tanuki picked up a heavy mallet and used it to
whack the basa, killing her instantly. The sly animal cut the woman into
pieces and cooked a "basa stew." It then took on the appearance of the old
woman.

When the jisa came home, the transformed animal said to him, "Here, have a
big bowl of tanuki stew." As soon as the man had finished it, the tanuki
laughed and ran off, calling out over his shoulder, "That was your basa."

Along came a rabbit that was the old man's friend. He blurted out the story
between sobs and wails. "I'll kill the tanuki for you," the appalled rabbit
vowed.

One day soon after, the rabbit asked the tanuki to help him gather firewood
in the mountains. On their way home, the rabbit struck a flint behind the
tanuki, who asked: "What's that kachi, kachi (click, click) sound?" The rabbit
answered: "You hear it because this is Mt. Kachi-kachi."

The rabbit set fire to the wood the tanuki was carrying on its back and fled.
The tanuki suffered burns all over its body.

A few days later, the rabbit fooled the tanuki again. It applied pepper to his
raw, blistering back, saying, "This is good medicine for burns." The
"medicine" stung so much that the tanuki writhed in pain for hours.

One another day, the rabbit suggested that the two go fishing on a lake. The
rabbit stepped into a wooden boat, and told the tanuki to take one made of
dried mud. Once they were out on the water, the rabbit repeatedly hit the
tanuki's boat with an oar and made a crack in it.

"Stop it! There's a crack in my boat," the tanuki protested. The smart rabbit
responded, "Come on! I'm doing this to let fish into your boat."

The rabbit continued hitting the tanuki's boat until at last it sank and the
tanuki was drowned.

The rabbit reported its revenge to the old man, who was very pleased.

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