Among many Japanese legends and tales, that of the old Hanasaka Jiisan stands out for a long time. This tale has as main character the old man Hanasaka jiji, or old man of spring. Such a story is told for generations. In many books, the tale of the man who managed to make dead trees bloom is quoted. This old man has a loyal companion, a puppy named Shiro.
This story is told as an example of kindness that overcomes greed and cruelty. In Japan even an expression referring to this tale. When someone is sad or without animation looking like a dry or dead tree they usually say that it is necessary “Call the old man who makes trees bloom”.Let's get to know this beautiful story.
The old man and his dog Shiro
Once upon a time, a long time ago, on a remote mountainous island in Japan, there lived an old man and his wife. This elderly couple supported themselves by working hard in a crop on their land. They had a little dog that looked a lot like a snow-white wolf named Shiro. Without having any children, the couple gave all their love and affection to this dog.
Shiro followed the work of this couple in the field every day. But one day, Shiro starts barking non-stop. The dog ran to its owner, grabbed his clothes and pulled him to a certain place. Arriving at this location the dog began to dig quickly. Seeing this the old man took his hoe and began to help the dog. And to the great surprise, when digging, large stones of gold were found. Very happy, they returned home to share the news. The very generous couple decided to share the gold with the entire village.
the power of greed
But, there was a couple of neighbors who were very petty and greedy and didn't like the kind couple. When they heard about this story they very quickly knocked on the couple's door. They asked to be allowed to take Shiro for just one day, in order to find more gold. Because they were generous, the old man and his wife allowed Shiro to go with them.
As he walked away from the house, the evil old man tied the dog, took his swollen one and left, forcing him to look for gold. After much mistreatment, Shiro stopped near a tree and started to shake. Thinking that the dog had found gold, the old man pushed the dog away and soon began to dig. After a lot of work he found only garbage.
Very angry the old man took his hoe and hit Shiro, killing him. He returned home without telling anyone. The kind old couple were looking forward to Shiro's arrival. So they decided to go to their neighbors and ask what had happened. Unbelievably, when he got there, the evil old man confessed what he had done. This left the old seniors devastated. So the good old man very sad went to the place of death of his faithful companion taking him by the arm and taking him back home and buried him.
Every day the good couple cried over the dog's grave. In this place where he was buried, a small sprout appeared. The next day, the sprout grew into a strong and large tree. As the days went by, it grew more and more until they could no longer see its branches. But one day, a very strong storm toppled the tree.
So they decided to build a pestle with the wood of that tree. This pestle would be used to prepare the dough for the mochi, a rice ball that Shiro was very fond of. After building the pestle, they went to prepare the cookie dough. When the old man began to knead the dough, he noticed that it began to turn to gold. As he was beating the dough, more and more gold appeared. And once again he shared all that gold with the village.
Kindness is rewarded
Again the greedy old men decided they wanted that dough. And once again the good old men let them use the pestle. But as they used it, the mass turned into a dark sludge. Furious, they destroyed the pestle and set it on fire. When the good old man arrived and saw what had happened, he collected the ashes that remained and put it in a small basket and took it home.
Upon arrival, a wind blew some of the ash from the basket, which spread through the air reaching a dead tree. This dead tree immediately began to bloom. Soon in its branches the beautiful ones appeared Cherry blossoms. As the ash spread, tree after tree blossomed.
Soon the news spread and the court summoned the old man to his kingdom. Arriving at the castle, the old man threw the ashes into the air, and immediately the nearby trees bloomed. The feudal lord Daimyo was delighted with all that and presented him with rich objects. He also asked that the old man be called Hana-Saka-Jijii, or the old man who made trees bloom.
Hearing this news the greedy old man gathered the remaining ashes from the burnt pestle. He then went to the kingdom claiming to be the true bearer of the ashes. Upon arriving before the Daimyo, he threw the ashes into the air and nothing blossomed. But that ash entered Daimyo's eyes and mouth, choking him and leaving him blind. It was then ordered that this greedy old man be arrested.
The good lord then shared everything he gained with his village. Even so, there was enough left to live in peace and happiness for the rest of his life. To end the article, let's leave a video of the legend in Japanese: