Sunday, 10 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas
Traditional Japanese Folktale, retold for younger children

A long time ago in ancient Japan, there were two frogs. One lived in Osaka and one lived in Kyoto. These two cities are a very long way from each other, so it was not likely that the two frogs would ever meet.
  One day the frog from Kyoto was thinking about his grandmother, who had come form Osaka.She told him that Osaka was a wonderful place for frogs to live; it was clean and the air was healthy.Kyoto frog thought about the damp ditch which was his home. Before it had been clean and pleasant, but now it was getting full with rubbish that people were throwing in it, and it was beginning to smell very nasty.
  He thought for a while, and looked around him, then decided to leave his smelly ditch and go to Osaka. Away he hopped without looking back at his old home.
  At about the same time the frog from Osaka was really bored with his life in a clean stream close to Osaka. Nothing ever happened there and he wanted adventure. He had heard other frogs say that Kyoto was a good place for adventurous young frogs, and for weeks he had been thinking of going there. 
  At the sane tine as the Kyoto frog was setting off from Kyoto, the Osaka frog said "Good bye!" to the frogs that lived in his stream and hopped off in the direction of Kyoto.

 The two frogs hopped and hopped until they were very, very tired, but there in front of each of them was a mountain. "Oh dear!" they both sighed, but hopped slowly up the mountain - each of them hopping up on opposite sides of it. When the Kyoto frog got to the top of the mountain he was very surprised to see another frog. He was very happy though because he thought that the frog might live close by in a cool stream where he could wet his tired pads,
  :"Hello!" the two frogs said at the same time. :Where do you live?" asked the Osaka frog, hoping the other frog would say that he lived nearby.
"Miles away. I come from Kyoto! Where do you live?"
"I come from Osaka. What are you doing here?"
"My home is becoming dirty. People are throwing rubbish into it so I though I could go to Osaka. My grandmother came from there and said it was a beautiful place for frogs."
"I come from Osaka: said the other frog "My home in a clean, clear stream is very boring, so I am going to find adventure in Kyoto."
  The two frogs decided to sit and chat and rest their tired pads for a while. They talked about their homes and why they were leaving them.
  Finally one of the frogs had an idea,
  "If we stand up on our back legs and hold each other up, we can see the city we are going to."
  "That's a wonderful idea. Let's do it" said the other frog.
  So they stood up and the Kyoto frog was facing Osaka and the Osaka frog was facing Kyoto..
They stood for a while and then got back to the ground. They were sad.
"Kyoto looks just the same as Osaka" said the Osaka frog.
"Osaka looks exactly like Kyoto" said the Kyoto frog.
They looked at each other and said "If both places are exactly the same, there's no point in leaving home."
 They said good bye to each other and hopped back to their homes. Neither frog ever went travelling again,.

Ask the children why the frogs saw their home town when they stood up. The answer is that the way their eyes are positioned they can't see what is in front of them, only what is behind them. They had forgotten this when they stood up. (This is why the two frogs are different colours.)
Ask if the story has a happy or sad end. The children can then debate this point. Some think it's good to stay at home while others feel it would be better to travel and see new things.

Using props like these make stories more interesting for young children. You can make the frogs hop as they are attached to a stick, but the small statue with the frogs on top of the mountain is a little more tricky. However if you make the two frogs correctly, you can hold them upright to illustrate the same point.

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