How an Old Man Lost is Wen
How an Old Man Lost his Wen
How an Old Man Lost his Wen, known in Japanese as Kobutori Jiisan (こぶ取り爺) is one of many Japanese folktales.
There was an old man who had a lump (wen) growing out of his cheek and after seeking out many doctors and medicine none of it had worked. So the old man resigned himself to living with the lump, which eventually grew to be nearly as big as his face.
One day he goes to collect wood and as he is about to return a storm comes down and so he hides from the thunder and lightning in the hollow of a tree until it passed. When he was about to leave the tree he sees a parade of ‘Demons‘ start and so he remains hidden.
The Demons all sat around one who appeared to be their leader and some danced for him. The leader grew bored of the dancing asking if their was any beter dance they could do. The old man, loving to dance, stepped out and began to perform infront of all the demons and they soon came to admire what they were seeing.
They then invited him to drink some sake with them and said he should come often to dance for them.
They ask him to return tomorrow to perform again, but he must leave something to hold him to his promise of returning. One of the creatures says he should give them his wen in promise for returning and he agrees to it.
There was no pain or scar after the wen was taken and he returns home to tell his wife all that happened.
Their cruel neighbor overhears their talk, and he too had suffered from a wen on his face and asked the neighbour how he had gotten rid of his. After much persuasion he told the neughbour what to do, instructing him where to go and when so he may meet the ‘Demons.’
He went, and jumping out of the tree began to dance for them. However, he had never learned to dance and so displeased they gave back the ‘wen’ they had taken the previous day.
And so the cruel man ended up living with a wen now on both of his cheeks.1
1. Ozaki, Y.T. (2015) “Japanese Fairy Tales” USA: Cavalier Classics.
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