Shiro's master thought this a strange request, because he knew quite well that not only did his neighbour not love his pet dog, but that he never lost an opportunity of striking and tormenting him whenever the dog crossed his path. But the good old man was too kind-hearted to refuse his neighbour, so he consented to lend the dog on the condition that he should be taken great care of.
The wicked old man returned to his home with an evil smile on his face, and told his wife how he had succeeded in his crafty intentions. He then took his spade and hastened to his own field, forcing the unwilling Shiro to follow him. As soon as he reached a yenoki tree, he said to the dog, threateningly:. You must find them for me!
And catching hold of Shiro's neck he held the dog's head to the ground, so that Shiro began to scratch and dig in order to free himself from the horrid old man's grasp. The old man was very pleased when he saw the dog begin to scratch and dig, for he at once supposed that some gold coins lay buried under his tree as well as under his neighbour's, and that the dog had scented them as before; so pushing Shiro away he began to dig himself, but there was nothing to be found.
As he went on digging a foul smell was noticeable, and he at last came upon a refuse heap. The old man's disgust can be imagined. This soon gave place to anger.
He had seen his neighbour's good fortune, and hoping for the same luck himself, he had borrowed the dog Shiro; and now, just as he seemed on the point of finding what he sought, only a horrid smelling refuse heap had rewarded him for a morning's digging. Instead of blaming his own greed for his disappointment, he blamed the poor dog.
He seized his spade, and with all his strength struck Shiro and killed him on the spot. He then threw the dog's body into the hole which he had dug in the hope of finding a treasure of gold coins, and covered it over with the earth. Then he returned to his house, telling no one, not even his wife, what he had done. After waiting several days, as the dog Shiro did not return, his master began to grow anxious.
Day after day went by, and the good old man waited in vain. Then he went to his neighbour and asked him to give him back his dog. Without any shame or hesitation, the wicked neighbour answered that he had killed Shiro because of his bad behaviour. At this dreadful news Shiro's master wept many sad and bitter tears. Great, indeed, was his woeful surprise, but he was too good and gentle to reproach his bad neighbour. Learning that Shiro was buried under the yenoki tree in the field, he asked the old man to give him the tree, in remembrance of his poor dog Shiro.
Even the cross old neighbour could not refuse such a simple request, so he consented to give the old man the tree under which Shiro lay buried. Shiro's master then cut the tree down and carried it home. Out of the trunk he made a mortar. In this his wife put some rice, and he began to pound it with the intention of making a festival to the memory of his dog Shiro.
The Japanese Fairy Book/The Story of the Old Man Who Made Withered Trees to Flower
A strange thing happened! His wife put the rice into the mortar, and no sooner had he begun to pound it to make the cakes, than it began to increase in quantity gradually till it was about five times the original amount, and the cakes were turned out of the mortar as if an invisible hand were at work.
When the old man and his wife saw this, they understood that it was a reward to them from Shiro for their faithful love to him. They tasted the cakes and found them nicer than any other food. So from this time they never troubled about food, for they lived upon the cakes with which the mortar never ceased to supply them.
The greedy neighbour, hearing of this new piece of good luck, was filled with envy as before, and called on the old man and asked leave to borrow the wonderful mortar for a short time, pretending that he, too, sorrowed for the death of Shiro, and wished to make cakes for a festival to the dog's memory. The old man did not in the least wish to lend it to his cruel neighbour, but he was too kind to refuse.
So the envious man carried home the mortar, but he never brought it back. Several days passed, and Shiro's master waited in vain for the mortar, so he went to call on the borrower, and asked him to be good enough to return the mortar if he had finished with it. He found him sitting by a big fire made of pieces of wood. On the ground lay what looked very much like pieces of a broken mortar. In answer to the old man's inquiry, the wicked neighbour answered haughtily:.
The Old Man Who Made The Trees Blossom | Spirit of Trees
I broke it to pieces, and now I am making a fire of the wood, for when I tried to pound cakes in it only some horrid smelling stuff came out. The good old man said:. It is a great pity you did not ask me for the cakes if you wanted them. I would have given you as. Now please give me the ashes of the mortar, as I wish to keep them in remembrance of my dog. The neighbour consented at once, and the old man carried home a basket full of ashes. Not long after this the old man accidentally scattered some of the ashes made by the burning of the mortar on the trees of his garden. A wonderful thing happened!
It was late in autumn and all the trees had shed their leaves, but no sooner did the ashes touch their branches than the cherry trees, the plum trees, and all other blossoming shrubs burst into bloom, so that the old man's garden was suddenly transformed into a beautiful picture of spring.
The old man's delight knew no bounds, and he carefully preserved the remaining ashes. The story of the old man's garden spread far and wide, and people from far and near came to see the wonderful sight. One day, soon after this, the old man heard some one knocking at his door, and going to the porch to see who it was he was surprised to see a Knight standing there. This Knight told him that he was a retainer of a great Daimio Earl ; that one of the favourite cherry trees in this nobleman's garden had withered, and that though everyone in his service had tried all manner of means to revive it, none took effect.
The Knight was sore perplexed when he saw what great displeasure the loss of his favourite cherry tree caused the Daimio. At this point, fortunately, they had heard that there was a wonderful old man who could make withered trees to blossom, and that his Lord had sent him to ask the old man to come to him.
The good old man was greatly surprised at what he heard, but respectfully followed the Knight to the nobleman's Palace. The Daimio, who had been impatiently awaiting the old man's coming, as soon as he saw him asked him at once:. I shall look on. Then they all went into the garden—the Daimio and his retainers and the ladies-in-waiting, who carried the Daimio's sword. The old man now tucked up his kimono and made ready to climb the tree. Saying "Excuse me," he took the pot of ashes which he had brought with him, and began to climb the tree, everyone watching his movements with great interest.
At last he climbed to the spot where the tree divided into two great branches, and taking up his position here, the old man sat down and scattered the ashes right and left all over the branches and twigs. Wonderful, indeed, was the result! The withered tree at once burst into full bloom! But the good old man, little suspecting that his precious mortar had been broken and burnt, wondered why his neighbours did not bring it back to him.
Having obtained these, he returned home, and made a trial of their virtues upon a withered cherry-tree, which, upon being touched by the ashes, immediately began to sprout and blossom. When he saw this wonderful effect, he put the ashes into a basket, and went about the country, announcing himself as an old man who had the power of bringing dead trees to life again.
A certain prince, hearing of this, and thinking it a mighty strange thing, sent for the old fellow, who showed his power by causing all the withered plum and cherry-trees to shoot out and put forth flowers. So the prince gave him a rich reward of pieces of silk and cloth and other presents, and sent him home rejoicing. So soon as the neighbours heard of this they collected all the ashes that remained, and, having put them in a basket, the wicked old man went out into the castle town, and gave out that he was the old man who had the power of reviving dead trees, and causing them to flower.
When he and his wife found out what a trap they had fallen into, they stormed and scolded and put themselves into a passion; but that did no good at all.
So the wicked old people mended their ways, and led good and virtuous lives ever after. This little story warns about having selfish intent. The wicked neighbors were self centered while the old man gave away a part of everything he gained without question. Rather, he mourned his friend and moved on. Even after all the trouble the neighbors cause, the old man takes them in despite all the evils they caused.
The kind old man suffers almost as much as the wicked neighbors. Rather, the story teaches how we should always act from compassion, even to enemies.
- Hanasaka Jiisan - Wikipedia.
- The New Eve;
- The Old Man Who Made Withered Trees Blossom;
Compassion in the story generates physical riches, but the old man cared little about that. He cared more about the welfare of his lost canine friend, his community, and his wicked neighbors. Compassion has no ulterior motives. The man did not seek riches, they just happened, and he shared his good fortune.