Monday, July 20, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: Salt a Treat from the Ocean

Rainy Season



This story takes place during a period of never ending rain.

Dark skies and a continuous downpour made travel by land or, sea impossible.

The King was confined to Shuri Castle and, worried about the island's crops.

plastic bag, sea salt

To End Depression



The king had the servants brought together to tell stories. 

He asked, if anyone might have an idea, what types of stories, could cheer him up.

One servant, suggested, talking about tasty foods, might help end the gloom and doom.

They took turns, describing the most delicious foods, they could imagine.

Some, considered rice to be the best food.

Others, preferred fish, goat or wild boar as their favorite choices.

Finally, the king asked the original servant, to describe his favorite meal.

Standing proudly before the king and all his court, he said, "Salt is the best thing in the world."

This made the king angry and, he thought the servant was poking fun at him. 

The king quickly, banished the servant to Yaeyama Island. 

Rain Ruined the Crops




Torrential downpours left the crops rotting away in the fields.

With nothing fresh, to flavor meals, the king complained about his tasteless dinners.

Servants dreaded bringing him meals and, hearing him grumble.


Mysterious Tasty Dish



One afternoon, the king tasted his soup and, smiled.  It was delicious.

He wanted to know what had been added, to make this meal so mouthwatering.

The servants told him, nothing special had been added to the meal.

The king insisted, something  different had been put in the food and wanted to know what it was.

A cook, checking the pot of fish, lifted the lid. And, something dropped into the soup.

It had come from the rafters, overhead.

When the servant looked to see what it was, he found a bag of salt, soaked from the rain. 

Sea salt was the magic ingredient, that made his food taste so good.

The king remembered the man he sent into exile for his comment about salt.

Now, he felt badly and, wished for that servant to return.

A messenger was dispatched to Yaeyama, to find the exiled man.

The servant refused to return to Shuri Castle, as the king had banished him for lifetime.

The king sent a second mission to do whatever it would take for the servant to return.

The servant agreed to return to Shuri only under a certain condition.

Three Harii (dragon boats) would have to come to get him and race home to Naha.

The king odrered the Harii boats, to be built and, they sailed to Yaeyama.

harii, dragon boats, three

 The boats raced back to Naha, carrying the servant in the center harii.

The rainy season, stopped, as the harii and exiled servant returned to Shuri.

On the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, each year, the Naha Harii takes place.
It helps, stop the rain and, the God of the Sea is thanked for the delicious ingredient; sea salt.


 Okinawan Folk Stories ISBN978-4-99009-146-0 P.119

Condensed from Salt Is the Number One Treat


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