World Folk Tales – Takeshi and the 6 Statues of God
What happens when a couple have nothing but their kindness to offer to people and the gods??
Once upon a time there was a man called Takeshi who lived with his wife Aiko in Japan. It was winter and snow was falling all around them as the new year was approaching. One winter night, Aiko and Takeshi are seated at a table and decide to see how much money they have left as they were very poor. They needed the money in order to buy rice cakes for the new year. This was considered as an auspicious practice and so they did not want to break the tradition.
Aiko took their savings container and tilted it upside down and just a single coin fell out. Takeshi was dejected to see this and immediately Aiko said that they would find a way to get money. Takeshi remained doubtful as Aiko walked into another room. She then came out with a kimono and gave it to Takeshi. Takeshi was shocked and said that he would not sell her wedding kimono. But Aiko somehow managed to convince Takeshi and he went to the market, carrying Aiko’s wedding kimono.
On the way to the market, Takeshi came across the statue of a god named Jizo. Takeshi prayed and said that he would offer a rice cake on his way back. Then he went on to visit 5 more statues of gods on his way and he promised all of them that he would bring them rice cakes on his way back. Takeshi reached the market and before he could reach the shop, he found a woman crying with a bunch of hand fans in her hand. When he went and spoke to her, he discovered that she was unable to sell fans to buy her wedding kimono and hence she was crying. Takeshi, being a kind man, said that he would give the wedding kimono he had in return for all the hand fans she had. The woman gladly accepted the offer and took the kimono and she went on her way.
Takeshi tried to sell the hand fans, but as it was the winter season, no one wanted to buy them. Takeshi then got an idea. He saw a man selling a nice bell. So, he went up to him and exchanged the hand fans for the bell. After that he went to a man selling hats and exchanged the bell for a bunch of hats. Takeshi now went back home with the hats he had but he had not forgotten about the promises he had made to the gods.
Takeshi visited the statue of each god and apologised for not being able to give them the rice cakes as promised and instead of that he kept a hat on the top of their heads. Finally, he reached Jizo and at that point, he did not have any hats left. So, Takeshi took his own hat and placed it on Jizo’s head. After this, he went home and told all the events that happened to Aiko. Instead of being angry, she smiled and praised him for being so kind.
That night, someone knocked on the door of their house and when they opened the door, they found Jizo standing with the 5 other gods. Takeshi and Aiko were startled and they did not know how to respond. Jizo came forward and gave them a bowl with a huge rice cake in it. Then all the gods blessed Takeshi and Aiko good luck and before the couple could thank them, they disappeared.
Moral – What goes around comes around. Help others and you will be helped.