Monday, June 22, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: The Frog Son

Things Not Always What they Seem



This story comes from Irabu Island, part of the Miyako Island group.

Different versions of this folklore, may be found in Korea and elsewhere throughout Asia.

green frog, Ryukyu

For years, a wealthy couple were unable to have children.

Long ago, a childless couple would divorce if they could not produce a family heir.

This couple was really in love so, they kept plugging away.

When the woman finally became pregnant, they thanked God for answering their prayers.

Sad thing is, the child was a frog not, a baby.

The couple kept the frog, fed it meals at home and, let it live in a nearby pond.

The frog would be happy, out there, rain or shine, croaking away.

20 years later, when the mother came to visit at the pond, the frog started speaking.

"Hey Mom, ask that girl down by the river to marry me." he says.

Mom thinks he's a little crazy. No girl wants to marry a frog.

But he says, "How can she refuse if, you don't ask her?"

Since this was his first time speaking in twenty years, Mom figured she'd humor him.

She packed up some gifts and went to meet the girl and her parents.

She explained that her son was different but, wanted the girl's hand in marriage.

Of course, the girl's parents want to know more about the lad.

The Papa wanted to know what she meant by "different."

She didn't want to reveal the frog thingy so, she said, "He doesn't speak or, come out much."

The girl was intrigued by this different sort of boy and wanted to meet him.

The frog's mother gave directions to her home and ended her visit.

A few days went by and the parents approved of the marriage.

A wedding was planned.  Friends and family brought gifts to the bridegroom's home.

Strangely, when they entered the house, they became drowsy; couldn't stay awake.

The wedding had to be postponed and everyone went home, except the bride.

The young maiden stayed at the home of the frog's parents and, slept in his room.

The parents wondered but, never asked about the frog. The girl seemed happy.

She would go about the home doing chores each day.

And, the frog stayed at the pond croaking.

A week went by and the wedding celebrations were rescheduled.

The bride put on a feast for all the guests, promising to introduce the husband later.

One of the guests said, "I heard, he isn't a human."

The bride laughed, "He's as human as all of us and, handsome, too."

The frog had a secret. He would go and croak all day at the pond, as a frog.

At night, he took off his frog outfit and stayed with his wife.

Early each morning he dressed as a frog and returned to the pond.

The bride had a secret, too.

She woke up earlier than him and threw his frog suit away, that morning.

The mother overheard the newlyweds discussing the frog suit and entered the room.

She had never seen her handsome son, as a human.

She brought him clothes so, she could introduce him to the guests.

The man became a Ryukyu Lord.

His name was Untana, the big boss.

In the Miyako dialect "untana" means frog.

Okinawa Folk Stories ISBN978-4-99009-146-0 


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