“Grandma, before I go to bed, tell me why you have that stone frog praying near the fish pond.” the little boy said, trying to prolong having to go to bed.
And his Grandmother replied:
One day the beautiful but impertinent Kitsune walked down a garden path not far from a Zendo near Edo in Japan. In the garden there were many splendid things to see but Kitsune was enchanted by the calm beauty of the purple wisteria, the cherry trees and most of all by the mossy old pond. She was also a little bored and would have liked to talk about how serene she felt, because she though: ‘what is the use of being serene if no one knows I’m serene!”
She saw something near the pond, and upon looking closer she was surprised to see that it was a ponderous frog sitting on a stone. Kitsune looked at the frog and realized that it was meditating. It was bright green and the only thing that moved was its sack like throat as it breathed. On the other side of the pond there was a Buddhist monk. He too was sitting on a stone contemplating the mossy pond.
Kitsune bowed low to the frog and introduced herself. The frog acknowledged her by opening one eye.
“Can’t you see I’m meditating my dear Fox? Whatever do you want from me?”
Kitsune blushed, in fact, there was no reason for her to interrupt him, outside of her disrespectful nature and she felt a little embarrassed by his direct question, she felt he should have been more discreet.
“Oh, I was fascinated by how spiritual you looked dear Frog and how serene. I too feel very serene at this moment but I was also moved to try to understand why you are so fortunate. It is true what everyone says about you being the most fortunate of creatures?” Kitsune yammered.
“And who says this? Who are these “everyones”?” asked Frog surprised.
“Just everyone! From the Moon Goddess to the humans who call you, “kaeru”, you know!*
The frog realized that Kitsune had nothing useful to say and that she just wanted to chatter and distract him with her blandishments, so annoyed, he hopped off his stone into the water. The monk in turned looked on with surprised delight and smiling said:
Furu ike ya – kawazu tobikomu – mizu no oto*
The old pond,
A frog jumps in:
And so my dear Jason, that is how Kitsune caused the most famous haiku in Japan, and maybe the whole world, to be written. And to honour the frog, who is the most fortunate of creatures, I put a statue to remind me of him near my fish pond.
Jason went to bed thinking that the statue should have been of Kitsune who’d made the haiku possible.
© G.s.k. ‘16
*””Frog” in Japanese is “kaeru.” While the kanji/kana involved in writing the words are different, it is pronounced the same way you say “return/to return” (also “kaeru”). According to Japanese folk belief frogs can be linked with things/or people returning to a place or origin. They are lucky to keep around so that money, friends, good things stuff which you usually see off or give away will at some point “kaeru” or come back.” Source
**”In Bashô’s haiku, a frog appears. To Japanese of sensitivity, frogs are dear little creatures, and Westerners may at least appreciate this animal’s energy and immediacy. Plop! “Plop” is onomatopoeic, as is oto in this instance. Onomatopoeia is the presentation of an action by its sound, or at least that is its definition in literary criticism.” Source
***Basho (Translated by Alan Watts) – source same as above.