Folk tale

Meanwhile, this bus stop bench is associated with a legend about a sumo wrestler coming to town.
A certain Association in my town here put out a big, fat book of local folk tales. Sadly, most of them are lame or unoriginal, in the way that most folk tales are. I don't claim that this one is non-lame or original, but I found it slightly haunting. So let's all psychoanalyse me after reading my retelling of...

The Cedar and the Snake

East of S_____ Elementary School, there's a part of town that they used to call "Snake Field". Right in the middle of "Snake Field" there was single big cedar tree. Since there was nothing else around but flat fields and rice paddies, they say that it looked like a king surveying his domain.

But there was a sad story behind this tree and "Snake Field", and this is how it went.

Long ago, longer than anyone remembers, there was a very sensible and down-to-earth girl who lived in those parts. She was out cutting grass one day when a snake appeared.

She was not a foolish girl, so if this had been a normal snake she would have barely even noticed it -- but this snake had two heads. Even she jumped back in fright at the sight of it.

But then the snake raised its heads and began to slither towards her. It didn't wriggle from side to side, it wriggled up and down, and its red tongues kept flicking in and out like some kind of devil.

The girl ran for her life until she got home. But that very evening she caught a mysterious fever, and she died only a few days later.

They started calling that place "Snake Field" after that, and no-one dared go near it. Still, someone -- who knows who? -- did go out and plant that cedar there, as a memorial to that poor girl. The cedar grew as the years passed, and in fact this story has probably only survived because it was always there to remind people.

My grandmother told me that it finally burnt down at the beginning of the Taisho Emperor's reign.

Popularity factor: 8


Insert mandatory analogy to the Fall of Man here.


Um...how did it burn down? I bet the tale doesn't account for that does it!


No, it totally doesn't. And you're so right. HOW did it burn down if there was nothing else around but fields? Can grass fires burn healthy trees? Well, maybe it was already dead and dry or something.


I think I'd like to hear the "Sumo and the bench" story


I'd also like to hear about the Sumo and the bench. As for the tree, I imagine (if the tale is to be believed about burning down) it was lightning. A single tree surrounded by flat rice fields? That there be lightning fodder, methinks.

I prefer to think it just spontaneously combusted one day. Much more mysterious ... and kinda funny.


Reminds me of a story I first read in the Nihon ryoiki about a poor girl who was raped by a snake twice, and died the second time from it. (First time she was saved by the timely arrival of a Buddhist priest with a medicinal... well, my memory thinks it was a douche, but medicine of some sort anyway.)


Two-headed snakes are not too uncommon: I think it's about 1 in 10,000. So the story might have really happened...


The sumo and the bench story is, unfortunately, too tragic to be told here.

Justin and Mark: so it WAS true! And the legend doesn't specifically say that the snake gave her the fever, either. (Actually, it sounds like the snake was poisonous and bit her, and they just forgot to include that part.)

Anonymous: That was gross, but thanks! I haven't read any of the Nihon Ryoiki..

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