Picking persimmons with a bamboo pole, c. 1950.

1950sAmusements & RecreationsLifestyle
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"Street corner in Japan," c. 1950.

“Street corner in Japan,” c. 1950. A young boy uses a long bamboo pole to pick persimmons from a village tree.

The Monkey and the Crab

“… Eight years passed away and one day in the autumn of the eighth year the tree had not only become so large but was also covered with the most enticing looking golden persimmons.

“It was indeed quite a picture. The crab was in ecstasies of delight. Wishing very much to taste one of the persimmons, he tried with all his might to climb the tree but as his legs were not made for climbing trees he could in no way reach them. So he thought the very best thing to do was to ask his friend, the monkey, to pick the persimmons for him, so he set out for the monkey’s home. Reaching the house, he called out ‘Are you at home, my dear Mr. Monkey?’ And the monkey’s voice answered, ‘Oh, can that surely be you, my dear Mr Crab? What a long time it is since I saw you!’

“So the crab told him about the lovely tree and its fruit, and begged the monkey to help him gather the fine, ripe persimmons. So the monkey consented to go with the crab and away they started. On the way, the crab noticed how silent the monkey had become. But, that cunning old friend was devising a plan whereby he could gain all the persimmons for himself. When they both reached the spot, the monkey was overjoyed to see such a beautiful tree and such lovely fruit, so he quickly climbed the tree and immediately plucked off a persimmon and began to crunch it up. ‘Ah!’ he cried out loudly, ‘this is simply delicious! It’s as sweet as it can be!’ Saying this, he picked one persimmon after another and began eating till he could eat no more.

“‘Oh! Mr Monkey!’ said the poor hungry crab at the foot of the tree. ‘Throw some down to me and do not eat them all yourself!’ ‘All right.’ answered the monkey, ‘here you are,’ and picking a hard green persimmon aimed it at the poor crab’s head. It struck the crab a terrible blow on the top of the head and sorely wounded him. Again and again. as fast as he could pick them. the monkey pelted the crab with hard persimmons till the poor crab dropped dead with his shell entirely crushed and dreadful wounds all over his body. There he lay in such a mangled state at the foot of the very tree he had planted himself.

“As soon as the wicked monkey saw what he had done, he gathered the ripest persimmons on the tree and fled with them to his own house.”

Wonder Tales of Old Japan, by Alan Leslie Whitehorn, 1912

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