A soft rock story

We are now 10 days into this karakara dry rainy season. The air is sticky hot and the ground dry and dusty. I am praying for rain.

The rainy season in Iwate`s highlands, June 2012.

The rainy season in Iwate`s highlands, June 2012.

Today‘s blog is a translation of the first page of a children`s story called, 気のいい火山弾 (The Good-Natured Volcanic Bullet) written by Miyazawa Kenji in Iwate in 1924.  I loved it – particularly for the idea that rocks can talk and that they have personality.  It takes the Toripan talking bird manga a stage further.

(The full Japanese language version of the story is available here)

(The main character is the volcanic bullet – a round stone called Bego.  In Iwate, the word bego means cow)

In the shade of an oak tree on the slope of an extinct volcano lay a big stone nicknamed Bego. For thousands of years he sat there motionless.

The nickname Bego was given to him by the smaller, sharp-edged stones in the surrounding grass. Other grander names existed but Bego did not know about them. 

Bego had no edges; his shape was like an egg, stretched at both ends and slightly flattened. Two diagonal lines ran across his body like studded, ceremonial belts.  Of impeccable bearing, Bego never ever lost his temper. 

One dull day, when the mist was so thick you could not see the sky, the mountains or even the next field, the sharp-edged stones began teasing Bego.

“Bego-san, does your stomach still hurt today?”

“Thank you kindly but my stomach has always been fine,” Bego whispered through the fog.

The sharp-edged stones all laughed together.

“Hello Bego-san, last night didn`t an owl drop a spicy chilli on you?”

The sharp-edged stones cracked up laughing.

“Hello, Bego-san, last night in the fog a horse came and urinated on you didn`t it? That was rough luck wasn`t it?”

“Thank you for your most kind consideration but blessedly that did not happen.”

The sharp-edged stones cracked up again.

“Hello Bego-san, a new law has just been introduced: round and round-like objects are going to be broken like eggs. You`d best escape while you can.”

“Thank you, in that case I`ll get broken along with our perfectly-round chief,  the sun.”


Interesting link below includes Kenji`s most famous poem, Strong in the Rain.

Iwate poet`s work inspires many following Great East Japan Earthquake.   

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2 Responses to A soft rock story

  1. Rurousha says:

    Beautiful story, and that rain poem? That rain poem is pure (N-m-q-word I can’t repeat because FB and the NSA don’t like it). That poem is my mother’s hinterland.

    • tomointokyo says:

      He wrote that poem as a memo when he was sick in bed with life-threatening lung problems. He was 35 at the time. Strange to think that even though he knew he was dying, he was still preparing for living – just in case I suppose, a wise move.

      Much of his adult life was spent preparing for death. After a month in hospital with pleurisy at 22, he told his friend he would not live longer than 15 years – which turned out to be exactly how long he had left.

      He seems to be outlining a pretty spartan existence. Not one mention of sweet pastries gets into his proposed diet. I think I`d last on it until about the first lunchtime.

      Perhaps you could write it dnalauqamaN – surely nobody can crack a code as cunning as that one.

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