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What is TENGU ? (a long-nosed goblin)

This is a goblin from Japanese legend. It has a red face and a long nose. With his supernatural power he can fly freely high up in the sky. He lives high in mountain recesses. His hand has a feather fan that can make a strong gale wind, and his feet have “Ipponba-geta (one-tooth-geta). Usually Ipponba-geta is called Tengu-geta in Japan because the Tengu goblin always wears them.

天狗とは?顔が赤く鼻が高くて、神通力を持ち、自由に空を飛び、深山に住むという日本の伝説の怪物。手には強風を巻き起す羽団扇(はねうちわ)を持ち、一本歯下駄 (one-teeth-geta) をはく。彼のはいているその下駄は Tengu-geta とも呼ばれる。


Ipponba-geta (one-tooth geta or tengu geta)
In Japan, the one-tooth geta is believed to be used by a goblin from Japanese legends during festivals, and by mountain priests while training in fields and mountains. The tengu geta are also used by boy cheerleaders in high schools. They're good as ceremonial footwear because they give the impression that they're hard to walk with and dangerous so they aren't used as everyday geta. However, recently these geta have become more popular for previously unknown effects. They are now used for training in martial arts, for rehabilitation training, for training in mountain climbing, and are used often for teaching in school. These geta are very agile and nimble footwear for bad roads or steep slopes and are used by mountain priests who wear these geta for training in fields and mountains. At the same time they have the effect of building up one's strength. Also, because of the posture they require, they feel refreshing as they make you straighten your back and cause the soul to feel renewed. They are also called "never-fall-to-the-ground-geta". People can be superstitious about these geta and because they are "never-fall-geta" some students use them for good luck on examination day. These ipponba-geta (one tooth geta) have still more unknown effects. Can we say that the Tengu goblin's supernatural power geta is also a precious geta?

一本歯下駄 ipponba-geta (one teeth geta or tengu geta)

Takara no geta or Precious Geta (宝の下駄)
Let me tell you a mysterious folktale about this ipponba-geta (one tooth geta). It's a famous folk story about this goblin's geta, or precious geta. If you're living in Japan it'll be a great topic for conversation. I have changed and rearranged from the original story a little. Please excuse this.

今回はこの一本歯下駄 (one teeth geta) にまつわる日本の不思議な民話をご紹介いたします。天狗の下駄、宝の下駄として日本では有名なお話です。もしあなたが日本に来たならきっと話の種になりますよ。多少、原作のストーリーとは違い、アレンジしております。ご了承ください。 

Once upon a time, a mother and son who were very poor lived at a certain place. Once the mother was sick and had fallen asleep. They didn't have money to buy medicine so the son was going to borrow money from an uncle. The uncle's name was Gonzo and he was a very greedy and mean person. He told his poor nephew, "I don't have any money for you or your mother." So the boy couldn't borrow money from his uncle.

The boy was very sad and on his way home he met a Tengu, which is a long-nosed goblin, with a very white beard. The Tengu has supernatural powers and can fly freely high up in the sky. He lives high in mountain caves. The Tengu asked the boy, "What's wrong with you? Why do you look so serious?" The boy explained his worries to him. The Tengu laughed loudly, "Ha, ha, ha!" and then gave his Ipponba-geta, or one tooth geta, to the boy. He told the boy, "These geta are precious geta. If you wear these and fall down, a koban (an ancient Japanese oval gold coin) will appear. But too much falling down will make you become short. So, don't fall down unless you really need money." After the Tengu told the boy about this, he laughed loudly again "Ha, ha, ha!" He then made a strong gale of wind with a feather fan in his hand, and in no time at all he flew up and over the mountain. The boy was amazed and dumbstruck for a short while. Gradually he came to himself and put on the geta and promptly tried to fall down. Fall - plump! Then a koban appeared as the Tengu said it would. He fell down two times and two koban appeared. The boy was very excited and happy but he remembered what the Tengu had warned him of and he didn’t fall down any more. He took his geta and gold coins home carefully.

As soon as his Uncle Gonzo heard about the boy's good luck and his Tengu geta he asked the boy, "You have koban that came from precious geta, haven't you? Let me use them." The boy started to give his uncle the warning, "Uncle, there is a special way how to use these geta." "Shut up." said the uncle, "I know how to use them, just fall down." The uncle wouldn’t listen to him and took the geta from him by force and went home. After the uncle got home, he closed all the doors and windows then he lay a large cloth wrapper on the floor to catch the coins. He put on the geta and began falling down, fall ? plump. Then as he watched, koban appeared very noisily.

After a while the boy went to see how his uncle Gonzo was doing. As soon as he opened the door, koban coins were overflowing everywhere but he couldn't see his uncle. "Uncle, where are you?" he called. Looking for his geta, he pushed the mountain of koban coins that had come from the geta. "Here they are!" he yelled. As he looked at the geta he could see a little bug stuck to them. The boy grabbed the bug and threw it away. The truth is that the bug was his uncle. He had wanted too many koban coins and had fallen down so much that he became smaller and smaller and finally looked like a little bug. The boy took home the mountain of koban coins and his geta and lived happily with his mother. Today in Japan we have a bug called "Gonzo-mushi" which means "Gonzo-bug". This name comes from this greedy uncle from this story.

昔、昔、あるところに、貧乏なおかあさんと男の子が暮らしていました。ある時、お母さんが病気で寝込んでしまい、薬を買うお金ががなかったので、おじさんにお金を借りに行きました。おじさんの名前は権造(gonzo) といって、とてもよくばりでいじわるでした。「おまえたちなんかに、金は貸せない。」とお金を貸してくれませんでした。



しばらくして男の子は権造おじさんがどうしているのか見に行きました。家の戸を開けたとたん小判があふれでてきました。でも、おじさんの姿が見えません。「おじさーん、どこだーい。」 小判の山をかきわけると、中から、あの下駄が出てきました。「あった。」 見ると、小さな虫が下駄についています。 男の子は、虫をつかむと、ぽいと捨ててしまいました。本当は、その虫がおじさんでした。あまりに転びすぎて、小さくなり、とうとうちっぽけな虫になってしまったのです。今でも、権造虫という虫がいますが、それは、このよくばりおじさんがなったものだそうです。男の子は、山のような小判と下駄を持ち帰り、お母さんといっしょに幸せにくらしたとさ。

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This page last updated 4/16/2005