The Two Frogs
A retelling of a Japanese folktale
One morning, a long time ago, a frog in Japan woke up.
“I am so tired of living in this dirty ditch,” he croaked. He looked around at the mud and muck that was his home in Osaka, Japan. “There must be more to the world than this.”
He hopped around in the ditch, thinking about what to do.
“I know! I will go to Kyoto and see the great palace of Mikado.” The little frog leaped with excitement.
At the exact same time, in a crystal-clear stream that flowed through the center of Kyoto, another little frog woke up. He looked around at his home and croaked, “There must be more to the world than this stream in Kyoto. I want to see some of it.”
He hopped around in the stream, thinking about what to do.
“I know! I will go to Osaka, and see what life is like there.” The frog leaped with excitement.
The next morning the two frogs began their separate journeys. One frog traveled from Osaka to Kyoto, the other traveling from Kyoto to Osaka. But they knew nothing about each other.
It was a long, hard journey. Since the two frogs had never traveled before, they had no idea how exhausting a journey can be.
Now, in the middle of the way from Kyoto to Osaka or Osaka to Kyoto stands a large mountain. One frog climbed the mountain from the Kyoto side, and one climbed from the Osaka side.
It took them a long time and many leaps and hops to get to the top. But finally, the each got there. They arrived at the mountain peak at exactly the same time.
“What?” exclaimed the frog from Osaka when he saw the frog from Kyoto.
“What?” exclaimed the frog from Kyoto when he saw the frog from Osaka.
They stared at each other for a few minutes, both shocked to see another frog at the top of the mountain.
“I am traveling to Kyoto to see another part of the world,” said the Osaka Frog.
“And I am traveling to Osaka to see another part of the world, too,” said the Kyoto Frog.
The Kyoto Frog thought for a minute. “But what if Osaka is no different than Kyoto? I will have traveled all that way to see something that is just like my own home.”
“I feel the same way,” said the Osaka Frog. “I wish we could see each other’s homes to see if they are worth traveling to.”
They sat and thought.
“Let’s stand on our hind legs and hold each other up. Then we can look in the direction of the town we are traveling to and see if it is worth the journey,” said the Kyoto Frog.
“Wonderful idea!” said the Osaka Frog.
They jumped up, put their front feet on the shoulder of the other, and stretched on their hind legs as tall as they could. The Osaka frog faced Kyoto and the Kyoto frog face Osaka.
Unfortunately for the poor frogs, when they stood on their hind legs their large eyes, which are toward the back of their heads, looked back at the town they came from instead of ahead at the town they wanted to see.
“Oh, my, it’s amazing,” said the Osaka Frog. “Kyoto looks just like Osaka. Why would I travel so far to see something that is the same?”
“That’s so true,” said the Kyoto Frog. “Osaka looks just like Kyoto to me as well. I don’t think I will bother to go on such a long journey to see it.”
The two frogs let go of each other and fell to the ground. After saying good-bye and wishing each other good luck, they hopped back to their own homes.
The two frogs lived their entire lives believing that their towns of Osaka and Kyoto were exactly the same. If you visit the towns, you will see that they are about as different as two towns could ever be!
Did you ever want to see a different part of the world? Where would you like to go?