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  • On the dusty roads of a small village, a travelling salesman was having difficulty selling his wares.

  • He'd recently traversed the region just a few weeks ago, and most of the villagers had already seen his supply.

  • So he wandered the outskirts of the town in the hopes of finding some new customers.

  • Unfortunately, the road was largely deserted, and the salesman was about to turn back, when he heard a high-pitched yelp coming from the edge of the forest.

  • Following the screams to their source, he discovered a trapped tanuki.

  • While these racoon-like creatures were known for their wily ways, this one appeared terrified and powerless.

  • The salesman freed the struggling creature, but before he could tend to its wounds, it bolted into the undergrowth.

  • The next day, he set off on his usual route.

  • As he trudged along, he spotted a discarded tea kettle.

  • It was rusty and oldbut perhaps he could sell it to the local monks.

  • The salesman polished it until it sparkled and shone.

  • He carried the kettle to Morin-ji Temple and presented it to the solemn monks.

  • His timing was perfectthey were in need of a large kettle for an important service, and purchased his pot for a handsome price.

  • To open the ceremony, they began to pour cups of tea for each monkbut the kettle cooled too quickly.

  • It had to be reheated often throughout the long service, and when it was hot, it seemed to squirm in the pourer's hand.

  • By the end of the ceremony, the monks felt cheated by their purchase, and called for the salesman to return and explain himself.

  • The following morning, the salesman examined the pot, but he couldn't find anything unusual about it.

  • Hoping a cup of tea would help them think, they set the kettle on the fire.

  • Within moments, the metal began to sweat.

  • Suddenly, it sprouted a scrubby tail, furry paws and pointed nose.

  • With a yelp, the salesman recognized the tanuki he'd freed.

  • The salesman was shocked.

  • He'd heard tales of shape-shifting tanuki who transformed by pulling on their testicles.

  • But they were usually troublesome tricksters, who played embarrassing pranks on travellers, or made it rain money that later dissolved into leaves.

  • Some people even placed tanuki statues outside their homes and businesses to trick potential pranksters into taking their antics elsewhere.

  • However, this tanuki only smiled sweetly.

  • Why had he chosen this unsuspecting form?

  • The tanuki explained that he wanted to repay the salesman's kindness.

  • However, he'd grown too hot as a tea kettle, and didn't like being burned, scrubbed, or polished.

  • The monk and salesman laughed, both impressed by this honourable trickster.

  • From that day on, the tanuki became an esteemed guest of the temple.

  • He could frequently be found telling tales and performing tricks that amused even the most serious monks.

  • Villagers came from far away to see the temple tanuki, and the salesman visited often to share tea made from an entirely normal kettle.

On the dusty roads of a small village, a travelling salesman was having difficulty selling his wares.

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B2 TED-Ed salesman kettle tea temple trickster

The Japanese myth of the trickster raccoon - Iseult Gillespie

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/25
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