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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Japanese Fairy Tales: The Accomplished And Lucky Tea-Kettle

Sorry about the photo above. It's a mistake. It's actually a still from a movie called the The Brass Tea Pot, a dark comedy starring Juno Temple (that's her, ready for a bedtime story). The End.

Anyhow... made ya look. You're still looking, aren't you? I am... how the hell am I going to write this now? Maybe if I keep typing stuff, the photo will eventually disappear from my screen as it gets push-up bra, pushed up as I go down. I have no idea what I'm saying.

As mentioned in my blog yesterday, I was sent a copy of a newsletter from 1876 (see HERE for the cool story), whereby the creators - The Oriental Tea Company of Boston said they would begin printing copies of Japanese Fairy Tales... ones not commonly found in books, but rather ones collected from Japanese ukiyo-e - woodblock prints.

What that means, actually, is that a Japanese publisher had already collected these Japanese fairy tales and commissioned an artist to create ukiyo-e artwork to frame the fairy tale.

Here is the first story that the Oriental Tea Company published in their July 1876 newsletter - note that the images here were also in the article. It's a really bizarre story... and does not fit the same mold as the other fairy tales I have previous presented here only because I don't really see a morality play within it.

That was the point of Fairy Tales... to scare, entertain and teach children (regardless of country) with some sort of moral. I think.

Regardless... here's:

The Accomplished and Lucky Tea-Kettle

A long time ago, at a temple called Morinji, in the province of J├┤shiu, there was an old tea-kettle. One day, when the priest of the temple was about to hang it over the hearth to boil the water for his tea, to his amazement, the kettle all of a sudden put forth the head and tail of a badger.
What a wonderful kettle, to come out all over fur! The priest, thunderstruck, called in the novices of the temple to see the sight; and whilst they were stupidly staring, one suggesting one thing and another, the kettle, jumping up into the air, began flying about the room. More astonished than ever, the priest and his pupils tried to pursue it; but no thief or cat was ever half so sharp as this wonderful badger-kettle.
At last, however, they managed to knock it down and secure it; and, holding it in with their united efforts, they forced it into a box, intending to carry it off and throw it away in some distant place, so that they might be no more plagued by the goblin.
For this day their troubles were over; but, as luck would have it, the tinker who was in the habit of working for the temple called in, and the priest suddenly bethought him that it was a pity to throw the kettle away for nothing, and that he might as well get a trifle for it, no matter how small.
The Astonished Priest.
So he brought out the kettle, which had resumed its former shape and had got rid of its head and tail, and showed it to the tinker. When the tinker saw the kettle, he offered twenty copper coins for it, and the priest was only too glad to close the bargain and be rid of his troublesome piece of furniture.
But the tinker trudged off home with his pack and his new purchase. That night, as he lay asleep, he heard a strange noise near his pillow; so he peeped out from under the bedclothes, and there he saw the kettle that he had bought in the temple covered with fur, and walking about on four legs. The tinker started up in a fright to see what it could all mean, when all of a sudden the kettle resumed its former shape. This happened over and over again, until at last the tinker showed the tea-kettle to a friend of his, who said, "This is certainly an accomplished and lucky tea-kettle. You should take it about as a show, with songs and accompaniments of musical instruments, and make it dance and walk on the tight rope."
The tinker, thinking this good advice, made arrangements with a showman, and set up an exhibition. The noise of the kettle's performances soon spread abroad, until even the princes of the land sent to order the tinker to come to them; and he grew rich beyond all his expectations.
Even the princesses, too, and the great ladies of the court, took great delight in the dancing kettle, so that no sooner had it shown its tricks in one place than it was time for them to keep some other engagement.
The Dancing Kettle.
At last the tinker grew so rich that he took the kettle back to the temple, where it was laid up as a precious treasure, and worshipped as a saint.

The End.

I have no idea what sort of moral any child could take from that, except that if your tea-kettle should happen to start dancing - don't worry, no one has spiked your beverage with LSD... it's just a playful spirit you can manipulate to riches, glory and maybe even an audience with a princess.

So... how about those artistic images? I really love the legs and arms - and oh! that tail! Sorry... I was lost in Juno. Is she single? Alaska. What the hell did I ingest? I need to get my sinning ass over to the Temple! Pray for me!

Seriously... the two black and white drawings were included in the presentation of this story in the tea company newsletter.

Anyhow... there is a second story contained upon the same broadsheet... but after analyzing one line in particular that I found incredibly awesome, I discovered the truth behind the words... and so... more research for Andrew. Sometimes I hate that I am so curious, and other times Callooh! Callay! I chortle in my joy.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Thanks Vinnie!

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