1. A YOUNG woodcutter named Taro lived
with his mother and father on a lonely
hillside. All day long he chopped wood
in the forest. Though he worked very
hard, he earned very little money. This
made him sad, for he was a thoughtful
son and wanted to give his old parents
everything they needed.
2. One evening, when Taro and his
parents were sitting in a corner of their
hut, a strong wind began to blow. It
whistled through the cracks of the hut
and everyone felt very cold. Suddenly
Taro’s father said, “I wish I had a cup of
saké; it would warm me and do my old
3. This made Taro sadder than ever,
for the heart-warming drink called
saké was very expensive. ‘How do I
earn more money?’ he asked himself.
‘How do I get a little saké for my poor
old father?’ He decided to work harder
4. Next morning, Taro jumped out of
bed earlier than usual and made his
way to the forest. He chopped and cut,
chopped and cut as the sun climbed,
and soon he was so warm that he had
to take off his jacket. His mouth was
dry, and his face was wet with sweat.
‘My poor old father!’ he thought. ‘If only
he was as warm as I!’
And with that he began to chop even
faster, thinking of the extra money he
must earn to buy the saké to warm the
old man’s bones.
5. Then suddenly Taro stopped
chopping. What was that sound he
heard? Could it be, could it possibly be
Taro could not remember ever seeing
or hearing a rushing stream in that part
of the forest. He was thirsty. The axe
dropped out of his hands and he ran in
the direction of the sound.
6. Taro saw a beautiful little waterfall
hidden behind a rock. Kneeling at a
place where the water flowed quietly,
he cupped a little in his hands and
put it to his lips. Was it water? Or was
it saké? He tasted it again and again,
and always it was the delicious saké
instead of cold water.
7. Taro quickly filled the pitcher he had
with him and hurried home. The old
man was delighted with the saké. After
only one swallow of the liquid he stopped
shivering and did a little dance in the
middle of the floor.
8. That afternoon, a neighbour stopped
by for a visit. Taro’s father politely offered
her a cup of the saké. The lady drank it
greedily, and thanked the old man. Then
Taro told her the story of the magic
waterfall. Thanking them for the
delicious drink, she left in a hurry. By
nightfall she had spread the story
throughout the whole village.
9. That evening there was a long
procession of visitors to the woodcutter’s
house. Each man heard the story of
the waterfall, and took a sip of the
saké. In less than an hour the pitcher
10. Next morning, Taro started for work
even earlier than the morning before.
He carried with him the largest pitcher
he owned, for he intended first of all to
go to the waterfall. When he reached
it, he found to his great surprise all his
neighbours there. They were carrying
pitchers, jars, buckets — anything they
could find to hold the magic saké. Then
one villager knelt and held his mouth
under the waterfall to drink. He drank
again and again, and then shouted
angrily, “Water! Nothing but water!”
Others also tried, but there was no
saké, only cold water.
11. “We have been tricked!” shouted the
villagers. “Where is Taro? Let us drown
him in this waterfall.” But Taro had
been wise enough to slip behind a rock
when he saw how things were going.
He was nowhere to be found.
12. Muttering their anger and
disappointment, the villagers left the
place one by one. Taro came out from
his hiding place. Was it true, he
wondered? Was the saké a dream?
Once more he caught a little liquid in
his hand and put it to his lips. It was
the same fine saké. To the thoughtful
son, the magic waterfall gave the
delicious saké. To everyone else, it gave
only cold water.
13. The story of Taro and his magic
waterfall reached the Emperor of Japan.
He sent for the young woodcutter, and
rewarded him with twenty pieces of gold
for having been so good and kind. Then
he named the most beautiful fountain
in the city after Taro. This, said the
Emperor, was to encourage all children
to honour and obey their parents.
( It is common for brothers and sisters to quarrel, although
sometimes they may not even be able to say why they quarrel.
But how long do such quarrels last? How do they end? )
I quarrelled with my brother
I don’t know what about,
One thing led to another
And somehow we fell out.
The start of it was slight,
The end of it was strong,
He said he was right,
I knew he was wrong!
We hated one another.
The afternoon turned black.
Then suddenly my brother
Thumped me on the back,
And said, “Oh, come along!
We can’t go on all night—
I was in the wrong.”
So he was in the right.
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