In front of a shrine on the way to Tadami he found Roku-Jizo, or the six guardian deities of children, soaked with sleet. The deities appeared to be shivering in the freezing cold. The old man thought to himself, "I feel cold even wearing a straw
rain coat and a bamboo hat. The Jizo-sama must be very cold. Oh, poor Jizo-sama...." |
"I have a good idea! I will tear up the textiles my wife wove and cover the poor Jizo-sama with the strips."
Then the old man, getting the textiles down from his back, started ripping them into strips and using them to cover the Jizo. When he was finished he said to himself, "Jizo-sama must be somehow warmer now. I'm really glad. Since I have given them all
the cloth my wife wove, I can no longer buy anything for the new year. Still, we can greet the new year with the buckwheat porridge or rice gruel we already have at home. I will talk about it to her when I get home."
Then the old man headed unsteadily for home. At home he talked about the guardian deities to the old woman, who was equally happy.
"Oh, that is wonderful. Jizo-sama must be really happy now. I am really pleased," said the old woman.
After having dinner, the old man and woman went to bed. When they awoke after a while, they could faintly hear someone in the distance saying, "Where is the old man's house? Where is the old woman's house? Let's pull the loads with 'yo-ho!' They
aren't so heavy. Yo-ho!"
"What's that? They say 'the old man's house' and 'the old woman's house.' I cannot think of any house around here except for ours. That's rather strange," the old man said to his wife.
"Where is the old man's house? Where is the old woman's house? Let's pull the loads with 'yo-ho.' They aren't so heavy. Yo-ho!" The voice came closer and closer. And in front of the old man's house, the Jizo stopped and said, "Here it is. This is the
old man's house. Here it is. I'm so happy we found it."
"The old man and woman are asleep. Open the door and drop the loads inside the house."
Jizo put down the loads with a thud in a corner of the house. "Very good. The old man will be delighted. Very good. Let's go back," said Jizo.
After Jizo left, the surprised old man and woman woke up to find out what had happened. They found, among many gifts, glorious articles for the new year--you could probably find such splendid things only in a castle--and red clothes for the children
living in the vicinity of the old couple's abode.
"I tore up the textiles and covered Jizo-sama with them. Jizo-sama, who felt very warm in the shredded textiles, must have left these as a present for us," said the old man. The old man and woman blubbered for joy.
As everyone was preparing for the new year, the old man and woman distributed the red clothes and new year food among their neighbors, and they lived happily ever after.