Share a Story - Change the World
I love telling children stories. This is the beginning of my series on how traditional children’s folktale stories travel around the world--taking on the flavor of the country they are told within. This story is a version of the Aesop fable The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. As stories travel they change but still have similar elements. My favorite version of this fable is told in Japan. It is the same story-- but not.
I adapted this from a story entitled The Two Frogs from a collection complied by Andrew Lang in his book The Violet Fairy Book (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1901 pp125-126.)
I am not a professional storyteller but I am good at adapting stories, since my first love is writing. I imagine you can take my text and make it work for you…
The Two Frogs
Two frogs lived in Japan, one of whom made his home in a ditch near the town of Osaka on the seacoast,
while the other frog, lived in a clear little stream, which ran through the city of Kyoto.
The two frogs living far apart, had never heard of each other.
But for some reason the same idea came into both their heads at once,
they should see the world.
The frog from Kyoto wanted to visit Osaka,
The frog from Osaka wished to visit Kyoto.
So one fine spring morning they both set along the road that led from Kyoto to Osaka--
each starting at the opposite end.
The journey was more tiring than either expected, for they did not do much traveling.
Halfway between the two towns arose a mountain, which had to be climbed.
It took them many hops to reach the top, but they both reached the top at last.
Each was surprised to see the other frog.
They looked at each other for a moment without speaking,
then they fell into conversation discovering the reason for this meeting so far from their homes.
With delight they found they both had the same wish,
to learn more about their country.
Since there was no hurry, they each stretched out in a cool, damp place to rest,
before they went their separate ways.
An idea struck the frog from Osaka,
“What a pity we are not bigger, for if we were we could see both towns from here,
then we could determine if it is worthwhile going on.”
The Kyoto frog returned, “Oh, that is easily managed.
Let’s hold each other so we can each see the town we want to visit.”
The other frog agreed.
The Kyoto jumped up and put his front limbs on the shoulders of his friend, who did the same.
There they both stood stretching themselves as high as they could,
and holding each other tightly, so they would not fall down.
The Kyoto frog turned his nose towards Osaka,
And the Osaka frog turned his nose towards Kyoto.
But the foolish frogs forgot their great big eyes,
lay in the back of their heads.
Even though their noses pointed to the places they wanted to go,
Their eyes beheld the places from which they had come.
“Dear me,” cried the Osaka frog, Kyoto is exactly like Osaka.
It is certainly not worth such a long journey. I shall go home.”
“Oh no,“ the frog from Kyoto exclaimed,
“If I had any idea that Osaka was only a copy of Kyoto I should never have traveled all this way.”
As he spoke he took his limbs from his friends shoulders.
They both fell to the grass.
They said polite farewells and then both set off for home again.
Sadly, to the end of their lives each frog believed that Osaka and Kyoto,
which are as different to look at as two towns can be,
were alike as two peas.