Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Enko Sumo

   The frog-like, turtle-like water goblin known as the kappa features in folk tales from all over Japan, including Kochi, but here they are also known as enko. Legend has it that one of these enko used to inhabit the Iyoki River south of Kubokawa.

   One day, some children went to the river and called, “Enko, enko, come out! We’ll give you cucumbers!” Enko absolutely love cucumbers, so it came up out of the water. After giving it some cucumber and eggplant, the children challenged the enko to a sumo wrestling match. The enko was small – about the size of a 5-year-old child – but used its quickness, slipperiness, and incredible strength to easily beat all the children.

   That night, the children discussed how they could beat the enko. One of the children, called Yashichi, heard that enko can’t stand Buddha, and he came up with a plan. The next morning, he took rice and tea that had been offered to Buddha, and had them for breakfast before joining his friends at the riverside.

   Once again, the wiry enko beat all the children. Finally, it was Yashichi’s turn. They began to wrestle, but the smell of the Buddha’s offerings on Yashichi’s breath overpowered the enko, who jumped into the river, screaming, “I hate Buddha!” Yashichi bragged to his friends about his clever plan, but instead of praising him, they berated him for his trickery.

   From that day on, the enko never returned, no matter how many cucumbers and eggplants the children brought, and they were all sad to have nobody to wrestle.

Taken from vol.29 PDF

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