Monkey -Part 1- “Saru Kani Gassen”
Monkey in a nursery tale
The most famous tale of monkey is “Saru Kani Gassen” (The Battle Between A Monkey And Crabs).
Saru is Japanese for monkeys, Kani is crab.
Gassen is battle, pronounced as “Kassen” when it’s used as one word, Gassen when it’s a part of a word like “Yuki-gassen” (Snowball Battle).
Once upon a time, a crab was walking down the road with holding onigiri (rice-ball).
When a cunning monkey ran into the crab, the monkey succeeded to pursuade the crab to exchange onigiri for a seed of a persimmon he had, saying “If you sow this, you can get many persimmons when it grows”.
The crab planted the seed while singing a threatening song, “Grow fast, or I will chop you with my claws”.
This seemed to be effective, for it soon grew and bore a lot of fruit.
However, it was impossible for the crab to taste it because the crab couldn’t climb the tree.
Then again, the monkey appeared and offered the crab his help.
At first, the crab was pleased, but when the monkey did nothing but eating ripe fruit on the tree, the crab protested against him.
The monkey picked green, hard fruit, threw it at the crab.
It hit hard enough to kill the crab.
Children of the crab were furious when they learnt what happened, they swore revenge.
A bee, a chestnut, an “usu” (a mortar to stamp grain, mainly rice these days. Usually heavy) and a cow’s poo(!) heard the story from them, willing to help them.
They went to the monkey’s house, but he was not in, so they decided to ambush him.
The chestnut hid in ashes of “irori” (fireplace in the middle of the room floor), the bee behind a big water pot in the house, the poo near the threshold, the usu on the roof just above the entrance.
When the monkey came home, he put a fire into irori for warmth.
This made the chestnut pop, straight into the monkey’s face.
When he hurried to the water pot to cool the burn, the bee stung him promptly.
With a cry, he tried to run out of the house, but slipped on the poo at the doorway, fell down to the ground outside.
Then the usu jumped at him and crushed him to death.
Thus, the revenge was fulfilled.
You may wonder “What were the children doing???” like I did.
There are many variants like other tales; in one version, the children attacked the monkey with their claws when he fell on the ground.
Speaking of a variant, the poo does not exist in my childhood memory.
I’m not sure if that’s because my noble mind refused to keep it or I just read a different version of the story which it is omitted or substituted, for I remember the monkey slipped and fell to the ground.
It’s understandable if the poo is kicked out of the story, as it is not very favourable word especially for parents to read out to children.
#Monkey(2) and Pheasant
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
“Shin-nen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu”, Happy New Year to everyone! How did you spend your year end vacation? I guess, everyone is still in their vacation mode. Did you eat osechi during “sanganichi” (三が日)? How was it? Did you know that each dish has its own meaning and significance? For people who are not familiar with osechi, let me […]
After that nice city stroll, the hunt was on again – the hunt for autumn foliage that is. Earlier that day we started our hunt at northwest part of Kyoto (Kagamiishi Dori) where we found beautiful concentrations of momiji foliage. This time we were set to see one of the best night illuminations in one […]
Last time, we talked about the sly kitsune or the Japanese fox. In this post, we will feature another animal that is popular in Japanese legends and myths and just like the kitsune, is sometimes depicted as a trickster, the tanuki or the Japanese raccoon dog. Tanuki, Not Your Ordinary Raccoon Though they look like […]
Today is the last day of the Golden Week this year in Japan. For this year, this day has no particular celebration or holiday. Today is just a Compensation/Substitute Holiday (振替休日 Furikae Kyūjitsu) that is observed when any of the Golden Week holidays fall on Sunday. Past Observances of Furikae Kyūjitsu Furikae Kyūjitsu of the […]
Imagine yourself standing underneath a canopy of Cherry Blossom trees (Sakura) in full bloom, its delicate petals slowly dancing in the gentle spring breeze blowing. Its sounds like a scene from a movie right? But for the Japanese people these is no movie, it happens every spring. The annual Hanami – the Japanese tradition of […]
Silly at times, but cool most of the time. Signature moves in Japanese anime are very common. You’ll find them in most animes that have a lot of fight scenes, and animes that feature sports. Here’s my top 10 favorite signature moves. My Top 10 Favorite Signature Moves 10. Phantom Shot Character: Tetsuya Kuroko Anime: […]
Kendo, or the “way of the sword,” is similar to forms of fencing seen in other lands. Two contestants wearing armor to protect the face, chest, and arms confront each other with bamboo swords called shinai. Today, it is widely practiced within Japan and many other nations across the world. The following two tabs change […]
The Koraku-en Garden is known to be one of the three great gardens of Japan. I must admit I have visited this place several times in the past in different seasons and spring by far for me is the best season to visit and enjoy strolls in this beautifully landscaped garden with the sakura in […]
Like any other culture, the Japanese have also traditional toys which children used to play and is now slowly being forgotten due to the rise of modern and high-tech toys and gadgets. One of these toys is the kendama. The Kendama Kendama (けん玉, can also be written as 剣玉 or 拳玉) is a Japanese traditional […]
When I was a child, “ninja” was not known worldwide like today. Of course it was very popular in Japan, but famous ninja anime / manga (“Sasuke” and “Kamui” by Sanpei Shirato were probably the best-known at that time) were for rather adults than kids to compare with the present “Nintama Rantarou” or “Naruto”, although […]