Journey With Story


Journey With Story

Pine Trees For Sale:E 165

Pine Trees for Sale

Pine Trees For Sale:E 165

A Japanese folktale about a clever wife who punishes a selfish lord, who tries to take her away from her husband, by playing a trick on him to teach him a lesson. (duration -16 minutes)  An episode from storytelling podcast, Journey with Story.

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Learn How a Clever Wife Tricks a Selfish Lord in this Japanese Folktale 

December 2, 2021 

Can you imagine how you would feel if someone came along and took something from you that you really, really loved – like  a favorite toy or a favorite book, or worse….if they took away a friend of yours or a pet dog or a pet cat because they wanted to have this at any cost?   How do you think you would deal with such a selfish person?  Would you punish them in some way? 

Hello everyone.  I’m Kathleen Pelley.  Welcome to Journey with Story.  Today’s episode is a folktale from Japan about a very clever lady who punishes a selfish lord for trying to take HER away from her husband by playing a trick on him to teach him a lesson. 

Oh, this story is dedicated to Valentina Assaf age 8 who sent us a terrific drawing inspired by our Twelve Dancing Princesses episode.  You can see it if you go to our website at  Thank you Valentina, and thanks also to your lovely mum who wrote me a lovely note telling me how much you and your sister enjoy JWS – that makes me very happy 

Let’s take a Journey with….Pine Trees for Sale 

Gombei was a good man – a poor man, and a man of few words. 

Every morning he sat at his table weaving straw into shoes, and these he sold at the marketplace.  Every evening he sat on the bench outside his house and wove straw into rain capes, and these, he sold at the marketplace. 

In the middle of the day, he went out to his rice field to till and plow the soil, so that he would have food to eat and some to sell at the marketplace.  He was content and happy enough with his simple life, but every now and then he felt a little pang of loneliness. 

One evening as he sat down to eat his frugal meal, he heard a knock at the door.  When he opened it, there before him, stood a young woman.  Gombei thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. 

“I am lost and alone,” she said.  “I am tired and hungry.  Can you help me?” 

Now although Gombei was a man of few words, still he spoke up and said, “Yes.” 

He motioned for her to sit at his table and offered her his meal. After she had eaten, he gave her his bed, where she lay down and fell fast asleep.  All night long, Gombei sat up keeping watch over her. 

In the morning, when she woke up and saw how carefully Gombei had guarded and protected her, she said, “Gombei, I am alone in the world and you are alone.  Let us marry and make a life together.” 

Now although Gombei was a man of few words, still he spoke up and said, “Yes.” 

Soon after, they were married, and Gombei was so in love with his lovely wife, that he could barely take his eyes off her.   In the morning they would sit together at the table as he wove his shoes until she would say, “Gombei, stop!  No one has feet that big.” 

In the evenings they would sit together outside as he wove rain capes, until she cried, “Gombei, stop!  No one is that tall!” 

In the middle of the day, Gombei could barely bring himself to leave her and go plow the rice field.    And no sooner had he reached the far end of the field, than he would drop the plow and come racing back to the house for another glimpse of his beloved wife. 

Finally, she said to him, “Gombei, we are going to starve if you keep this up.  Listen.  We have saved a few coins.  Take these to the village and pay fo r someone to paint my portrait on a piece of paper.  Then you can hang the portrait at the far end of the field, and whenever you plow that way, you will always see me.  When you turn back toward the house, I can wave at you from the window.” 

Gombie was well pleased with his wife’s clever plan, and soon he had found an artist who came to the house and painted a portrait of  his wife.  And in this picture, she smiled at him with such love and joy, that he fell in love with her all over again.   

He hung this paper portrait at the far end of the field so he could plow away from the house and still see the face of his wife.  And when he plowed facing the house, there his wife would appear waving to him from the window. 

And so all was well and Gombei worked happily in his rice field day after day, but one day, a big breeze blew up, and soon it became a wind and the wind became a gust and the gust whipped the portrait from the tree and blew it – up, up, up, and away.  Gombei was heartbroken. 

But his wife said to him, “Gombei, don’t worry!  We have saved some more coins.  We can have another portrait painted.” 

But, meanwhile, unbeknownst to Gombei and his wife, the wind had carried the portrait over a wall, and into the garden of the house of the lord of the province.  When the servants brought him the portrait, he stroked his chin and said, “Hmmm, if there is a portrait this beautiful, then there must be a woman this beautiful.   Go, get her for me!” 

The servants set off to do their master’s bidding.  They traveled far and wide from village to village with the portrait, until at last they reached a place where the people told them, “Believe it or not, but that woman is Gombei’s wife” 

So the servants knocked on Gombei’s door, only to see the woman from the portrait standing before them.  Now the servants had good hearts, and they were sorry to bring such news to this happy couple, but they had no choice but to obey their master.  Sadly, they explained why they had come and at once Gombei’s wife realized that if she did not go with them, something terrible might happen to Gombei. 

Quickly, she hatched a plan.  “Very well, I will come with you,” she told the servants, but first, give me a few minutes with my husband.” 

The servants took pity on her and agreed to wait outside while she talked to Gombei.  

“Gombei,” said his wife.  “Do not be sad.  In a few weeks time the new year will be here.  On the day of the festivities, come to the house of the lord of the province dressed, in the rags of a peddler, with small pine saplings upon your back- the kind people buy to decorate their gate posts for good luck and long life.  Announce yourself by calling, “Pine trees for sale!”  Leave the rest to me. Will you do that?”  

Now although Gombei was a man of few words, still he spoke up and said, “Yes.”   

Then the two of them made their sad farewells. 

The servants led the woman to the house of the lord of the province, showing her through the gate and into his garden.  As soon as the lord of the province set eyes on her, he said, “Indeed, you are very beautiful, but…you do not smile at me the way you smile in this portrait.”   

He was a proud and arrogant man, and so he said,  “ I will not marry you until I have made you smile!”  

As the days and weeks passed, he brought jugglers and jesters poets and painters, musicians and magicians into his home, but not a one of them could coax a smile from her.  He offered her delicious foods and fine drink, he showered her with elaborate garments and jeweled ornaments for her hair. But still she did not smile.  Until…new year’s day arrived and… 

That morning, Gombei arrived at the house just as his wife had suggested.  He was dressed in the rags of a peddler and carried with him many small pine tree saplings.        

Outside the gate, he cried out, all he knew to say, “Pine trees for sale!  Pine trees for sale.” 

At the sound of his voice, the woman of the house began to smile – a small smile.   

“Oh,” said the lord of the province, “that is good!  But I want better.” 

Gombei continued to walk back and forth outside the garden gate, crying all he knew to say, “Pine trees for sale!  Pine trees for sale!” 

At the sight of her husband in ragged clothes carrying the pine trees, the woman smiled all the more now – a big smile.  

 “Oh,” said the lord of the province, “I like that!  But I want better!”   

He ordered his servants to hurry down and push open the massive gates and invite the pine tree peddler inside. 

Now Gombei found himself standing in the living room of the lord of the province, and all he knew to say was, “Pine trees for sale.  Pine trees for sale!”   

Seeing him so close to her, his wife stepped forward and touched the trees on his back, chuckling softly. 

“Oh,” said the magistrate, “good, good, but I want even better.”   

Turning to Gombei, he said, “Quick!  Take off your clothes!” 

Gombei did as he was told, and then the lord of the province gave him his own fine robe to wear.  Next the lord put on the peddler’s rags and lifted the pine trees onto his shoulder.   He began to strut up and down, calling, “Pine trees for sale!  Pine trees for sale!”    

The woman smiled upon him, then pointed eagerly out the window to the street below.  

“Ah,” said the lord, “now I know how to really make you laugh.”   

And he hurried down to the yard, instructing the servants to push open the heavy gate and let him out into the street, and then to close the gate again after him. 

The servants did as he told them.  The lord began to pace back and forth outside his own house, calling, “Pine trees for sale!  Pine trees for sale!” 

From the window of his house, the lord heard the lovely lilting laughter of the woman he had wished to marry.  Looking up, he saw her standing in the window, next to Gombei, who was dressed in his stately robes, looking like….the lord of the province. 

That is when the lord realized he was standing outside his own gate dressed in the rags of a peddler.  He started to pound upon the door, shouting, “Let me in!  Let me in!”   

But his servants had good hearts and did not want to break up the lovely couple who now stood here inside the house, and so, they never opened the gate. 

No one knows what became of the lord of the province, but Gombei and his wife lived there in that house in great peace and contentment until the end of their days.  

Do you think that selfish lord deserved to lose his house and all his fine possessions?  Can you think of any other way the wife could have taught him a lesson? 

What do you think the souvenir of this story is?  Yes, I think it has to be that when we are selfish and greedy and try to take things that do not belong to us, then not only might we lose that thing we tried to steal but we might lose a lot more into the bargain as this greedy lord did.  

Oh, grown ups – if you haven’t already done so, can you please take a moment to rate and review this podcast wherever you listen to it and then share with a friend or two?  Thank you so much. 

Cheerio then, join me next time for JWS 

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