Saturday, July 18, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: A Red and a Blue Ball

red ball, blue ball

Bad Fortune




A child was singled out from among his friends and, patted on the head. 

The Yuta (shaman) who had approached him said, something bad was going to happen.

Without explaining, he walked away, leaving the boy frightened.

The child ran home and told his father, what had happened.

Papa, got directions and went to see the Yuta.

The Yuta explained, the boy would soon die, even though he was only 8 years old.

The father, begged the shaman, to help him change the boy's fate.

There was no one, on earth, who could change the child's future.  Maybe, the gods could.

The Gods of the Southern Cross and North Star visited once a year.

They would get together at a secret location in the central mountains.

On the first day of the New Year, they would play a game of Japanese Chess, called Go.

If a human were to prepare them a feast, they may listen to a person's requests.

The Yuta explained what to prepare and gave directions to the secret grove.

New Year's Day





The father cooked plenty of grains, vegetables, meats, fish and, made a large pot of tea.

When he reached the location in the mountains, the gods were already playing.

Staring intently at the board game, they didn't notice the human approach.

He placed the food and drink near them and, remained silent.

Before long, they started consuming the feast but, never took their eyes off the game.

A game of Go would last for hours and hours.

When the game ended, the father decided to speak on behalf of his child.

He asked the gods, if his child would be able to live a full lifetime.

Southern Cross God was sympathetic towards the father.

But, the North Star God became angry and grumbled aloud.

"Lifespan is determined by me, on the day of birth.  Nobody can change it."

Then, the gods started another game of Go.

While they played, the father continued filling their plates and pouring green tea. 

Patience and Persistance

For hours, they steadily eyed the game board while, ignoring the man.

Eventually, the Southern Cross God spoke to the North Star God.

"This human prepared a feast and traveled a long way to serve us.

It is the beginning of a new year.  Let's see what we can do for him in return for his kindness."

Southern Star God said a decision would come later and, gave the father two balls.

He was instructed to give the blue ball to his son and, the red one to the Yuta.

Time Goes By



The boy kept his gift from the gods for the rest of his life.

He grew up to be handsome, healthy, wealthy, popular and, lived to be 88 years old.

The red ball, given to the Yuta, was placed in a special, wooden box.

It contained all of his shamanistic materials.

It turns out, the ball was an agent for spontaneous combustion.

All the tools of the Yuta's trade became a heap of black ashes and, he was ruined.

The meeting place of the Southern Star God and North Star God has never been found again.

The age of 88 is called Tokachi, in Okinawa.

This is considered the beginning of old age and, is an occasion celebrated by friends and family.


Folktales of Okinawa ISBN4-947654-05-8 P.97

Condensed from: The Red and Blue Balls 

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