In the good old days of the daimios,
there lived an old couple whose only
pet was a little dog. Having no children, they
loved it as though it were a baby. The old dame
made it a cushion of blue crape, and at
mealtime Muko - for that was its name - would
sit on it as snug as any cat. The kind people fed
the pet with tidbits of fish from their own
chopsticks, and all the boiled rice it wanted.
Thus treated, the dumb creature loved its
protectors like a being with a soul.
The old man, being a rice farmer, went daily
with hoe or spade into the fields, working hard
from morning until O Tento Sama (as the sun
is called) had gone down behind the hills. Every
day the dog followed him to work, never once
harming the white heron that walked in the
footsteps of the old man to pick up the worms.
For the old fellow was patient and kind to
everything that had life, and often turned up a
sod on purpose to give food to the birds.
One day the dog came running to him, putting
his paws against his legs and motioning with his
head to some spot behind. The old man at first
thought his pet was only playing and did not mind
it. But the dog kept on whining and running
to and fro for some minutes. Then the old
man followed the dog a few yards to a place where
the animal began a lively scratching.
Thinking it was possibly a buried bone or bit of fish,
the old man struck his hoe in the earth,
when, lo! a pile of gold gleamed before him.
Thus in an hour the old couple were made
rich. The good souls bought a piece of land, made
a feast for their friends, and gave plentifully to
their poor neighbours. As for the dog, they petted
him till they nearly smothered him with kindness.
Now in the same village there lived a wicked
old man and his wife, not a bit sensitive and kind,
who had always kicked and scolded all dogs
whenever any passed their house. Hearing of their
neighbours' good luck, they coaxed the dog into
their garden and set before him bits of fish and
other dainties, hoping he would find treasure for
them. But the dog, being afraid of the cruel pair,
would neither eat nor move.
Then they dragged him out of doors, taking a
spade and hoe with them. No sooner had the dog
got near a pine tree growing in the garden than he
began to paw and scratch the ground, as if a
mighty treasure lay beneath.
"Quick, wife, hand me the spade and hoe!"
cried the greedy old fool, as he danced with joy.
Then the covetous old fellow, with a spade,
and the old crone, with a hoe, began to dig; but
there was nothing but a dead kitten, the smell of
which made them drop their tools and shut their
noses. Furious at the dog, the old man kicked
and beat him to death, and the old woman finished
the work by nearly chopping off his head with the
sharp hoe. They then flung him into the hole and
heaped the earth over his carcass.
The owner of the dog heard of the death of his
pet and, mourning for him as if he had been his
own child, went at night under the pine tree. He
set up some bamboo tubes in the ground, such
as are used before tombs, in which he put fresh
flowers. Then he laid a cup of water and a tray of
food on the grave and burned several costly sticks
of incense. He mourned a great while over his
pet, calling him many dear names, as if he
That night the spirit of the dog appeared to
him in a dream and said, "Cut down the pine tree
over my grave, and make from it a mortar for your
rice pastry and a mill for your bean sauce."
So the old man chopped down the tree and
cut out of the middle of the trunk a section about
two feet long. With great labour, partly by fire,
partly by the chisel, he scraped out a hollow place
as big as a small bowl. He then made a longhandled
hammer of wood, such as is used for
pounding rice. When New Year's time drew near,
he wished to make some rice pastry. When the
rice was all boiled, granny put it into the mortar,
the old man lifted his hammer to pound the mass
into dough, and the blows fell heavy and fast till
the pastry was all ready for baking. Suddenly
the whole mass turned into a heap of gold coins.
When the old woman took the hand-mill, and
filling it with beans began to grind, the gold
dropped like rain.
Meanwhile the envious neighbour peeped
in at the window when the boiled beans were
"Goody me!" cried the old hag, as she saw
each dripping of sauce turning into yellow gold,
until in a few minutes the tub under the mill was
full of a shining mass of gold.
So the old couple were rich again. The next
day the stingy and wicked neighbour came and
borrowed the mortar and magic mill. They filled
one with boiled rice and the other with beans.
Then the old man began to pound and the woman
to grind. But at the first blow and turn, the pastry
and sauce turned into a foul mass of worms. Still
more angry at this, they chopped the mill into
pieces, to use as firewood.
Not long after that, the good old man dreamed
again, and the spirit of the dog spoke to him, telling
him how the wicked people had burned the mill
made from the pine tree. "Take the ashes of the
mill, sprinkle them on the withered trees, and they
will bloom again," said the dog-spirit.
The old man awoke and went at once to his
wicked neighbour's house, where he found the
miserable old pair sitting at the edge of their
square fireplace, in the middle of the floor,
smoking and spinning. From time to time they
warmed their hands and feet with the blaze from
some bits of the mill, while behind them lay a pile
of the broken pieces.
The good old man humbly asked for the
ashes. Though the covetous couple turned up
their noses at him and scolded him as if he were
a thief, they let him fill his basket with the ashes.
On coming home, the old man took his wife
into the garden. It being winter, their favourite
cherry tree was bare. He sprinkled a pinch of
ashes on it, and, lo! it sprouted blossoms until it
became a cloud of pink blooms which perfumed
the air. The news of this filled the village, and
everyone ran out to see the wonder.
The covetous couple also heard the story, and,
gathering up the remaining ashes of the mill, kept
them to make withered trees blossom.
The kind old man, hearing that his lord, the
daimio, was to pass along the high road near the
village, set out to see him, taking his basket of
ashes. As the train approached, he climbed
up into an old withered cherry tree that stood by
Now, in the days of the daimios, it was the
custom, when their lord passed by, for all the loyal
people to shut up their high windows. They even
pasted them fast with a slip of paper, so as not to
commit the impertinence of looking down on his
lordship. All the people along the road would fall
upon their hands and knees and remain prostrate
until the procession passed by.
The train drew near. One tall, competent man
marched ahead, crying out to the people by the
way, "Get down on your knees! Get down on your
knees!" And every one kneeled down while the
procession was passing.
Suddenly the leader of the van caught sight
of the aged man up in the tree. He was about to
call out to him in an angry tone, but, seeing he
was such an old fellow, he pretended not to notice
him and passed him by. So, when the daimio's
palanquin drew near, the old man, taking a pinch
of ashes from his basket, scattered it over the tree.
In a moment it burst into blossom.
The delighted daimio ordered the train to be
stopped and got out to see the wonder. Calling
the old man to him, he thanked him and ordered
presents of silk robes, sponge-cake, fans and
other rewards to be given him. He even invited
him to his castle.
So the old man went gleefully home to share
his joy with his dear old wife.
But when the greedy neighbour heard of it,
he took some of the magic ashes and went out on
the highway. There he waited until a daimio's train
came along and, instead of kneeling down like
the crowd, he climbed a withered cherry tree.
When the daimio himself was almost directly
under him, he threw a handful of ashes over the
tree, which did not change a particle. The wind
blew the fine dust in the noses and eyes of the
daimio and his wife. Such sneezing and choking!
It spoiled all the pomp and dignity of the
procession. The man whose business it was to
cry, "Get down on your knees," seized the old fool
by the collar, dragged him from the tree, and
tumbled him and his ash-basket into the ditch
by the road. Then, beating him soundly, he left
him for dead.
Thus the wicked old man died in the mud, but
the kind friend of the dog dwelt in peace and plenty,
and both he and his wife lived to a green old age.
Grown-ups say things like:
Don't talk with your mouth full
Don't pick your nose
Shut the door behind you
Don't drag your feet
Haven't you got a hankie ?
Take your hands out of
Online Lessons with Spoken text and correct pronounciation