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04/19/99

Tsugaru's tall tales

Once Upon a Time...

Long, long ago there lived a well-known braggart in an old province now
called Akita Prefecture. Nobody could beat him when it came to talking big.

One day the man went on a trip, looking for anyone who could rival him in
telling tall tales. During his journey, he heard of another man known for his
big talk who lived in Tsugaru, now western Aomori Prefecture. When he
visited his rival's house, he found a little girl home alone.

"Where is your father?"he asked.

"Mt. Iwaki is leaning because of a typhoon last night. So Father went out
this morning to prop it up with chopsticks," the girl said.

Somewhat daunted by the girl's answer, the man asked, "Where's your
mother?"

The girl answered calmly, saying, "The sky was torn because of thunder last
night. So Mother went out, trying to mend the tear with a needle and
thread."

Gradually losing his temper, the Akita man challenged the girl to another
question. "Yes, indeed. Last night's storm was so terrible. I hear the storm
has blown away a bell at the Hall of the Great Buddha in Nara. Do you
happen to know where the bell is now?"

Not daunted in the least, the girl said, "Well, I couldn't sleep well last night
because of peals in our backyard. It may have been the ring of that bell."

The man ran away with his tail between his legs, saying to himself, "The
Tsugaru man's daughter talks so big! What kind of a braggart, then, is her
father?"

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