Friday, September 16, 2016

The Rabbit In The Moon

The Rabbit In The Moon

A Traditional Folktale from Japan

A Note on the Translation: 
I made the Moon-with-rabbit above as a contribution to the birthday present for a friend, and wanted an authentic version of the story of The Rabbit In The Moon to go with it. 
Variations of the story of the Rabbit in the Moon exist in many Asian cultures. In some versions the Old Man of the Moon is replaced by the Jade Emperor (Chinese) or Sankra the God of the Heavens (Indian). In some versions the additional animals change, for example a monkey, an otter and an jackal. A version of the story is included in the  Konjaku MonogatarishÅ«, a collection of Japanese stories from the Helen period. 
As is often the case with historical folk tales and fairy stories, contemporary translations and retellings have often been altered or sanitized to fit better with modern sensibilities and ideals. Despite extensive research, I was not able to find a modern translation of the story which satisfactory captured the original intent. Consequently I have provided a new translation which attempts to better capture the spirit of the earliest Japanese versions of the story.
(Note: May not be suitable for younger readers)

Long ago in Japan a monkey, a fox and a rabbit all lived together and were best friends.

Now the Old Man in the Moon looked down from the sky and wondered at how kind and gentle the three animals were, and he wondered which of the animals is the kindest. One day he determined to find out, and so he came down to earth and disguised himself as a beggar.

“Please help me,” said the beggar to the three animals, as they gathered around a fire, “for I am very hungry.”

“Certainly we’ll help you,” said the monkey, the fox and the rabbit.

First the Monkey went and gathered all kinds of good fruits and nuts from the trees and laid them at the feet of the beggar. “I can offer you these fruits and nuts,” he said.

Then the fox went and caught a large, tasty fish and laid it and the feet of the beggar. “I can offer you this fish,” he said.

But the rabbit could only gather grass which the beggar could not eat, and had nothing to offer.

When the rabbit’s turn came, the beggar looked at him expectantly, then at the fire, and then back at the rabbit. The fox licked his lips. The monkey started to chatter excitedly.

“No Way! That’s fucking bullshit!” said the rabbit. “Screw you, I’m getting the hell out of here!”

Before the beggar, the monkey or the fox could do anything, the rabbit hopped the the rocket-ship that the beggar had arrived in and took off. (Foolishly the Old Man of the Moon had left the keys in the ignition.) The rabbit flew straight to the moon where he lived for ever afterwards. The Old Man was stranded on earth, and was devoured by wolves a short time later.