Dedicated to Alina, in Canada, who loves unicorns.
Hello, This is Jana, and I’m here with a lively tale from Japan.
In a serene corner of Japan, surrounded by towering pine trees and chatty crows, stands the tranquil Buddhist temple named Morinji.
Long ago, the chief priest of Morinji was a venerable man. He performed rituals precisely every day, adorned in elegant robes and a crystal bead rosary.
The priest had a cherished hobby: the ancient art of the tea ceremony, Cha-no-yu, which brought him joy and peace.
He owned many wonderful tea cups, spoons, and kettles and was always looking for additions to his collection.
One day, when he was out for a walk, a shopkeeper greeted him with a deep bow. "Respected Priest," he began, "I have something you might find intriguing." He then presented an unusual tea-kettle.
The priest instantly recognised its rarity. Enchanted, he purchased it and placed it with his precious tea ceremony items back at the temple.
One quiet afternoon, he sat on the soft mats, and his mind drifted to the new kettle he had bought. Smiling, he fetched it from the cabinet. It was even more beautiful than he remembered.
He gently polished the kettle with a soft cloth, admiring its exquisite form. As the afternoon wore on, the rhythm of polishing lulled him to sleep. His head bobbed forward, and soon he was snoring softly.
But as he slept, something extraordinary happened. The kettle began to tremble and shake, stretching out to reveal a furry head, four tiny feet, and a bushy tail. In no time, it transformed into a creature resembling a cross between a badger and a kettle. With a few confident strides, the enchanted tea kettle began to explore the room, its tail thumping against the screens and mats.
Some young students were engrossed in their studies in the next room when they heard strange noises. They peeked through the sliding paper screens and gasped in disbelief at what they saw. The tea kettle was prancing around on little legs!
"Look! It's bewitched!" one exclaimed. "This can't be real!" another said.
The priest, still drowsy from his nap, was jolted awake by the urgent voices of his students. "Master Priest, something peculiar is happening," said one excitedly. “A kettle is running around the room! We tried to catch it and put it back in its place, but it was nimble and slipped away.”
Still groggy, the priest blinked at his kettle, which sat serenely in its place. It looked just as ordinary as ever. "What's all the fuss about?" he grumbled.
His pupils, almost tripping over their words, tried to explain. "It grew feet! It was walking, we swear!"
Now more alert, the priest looked back from the kettle to his students. "A walking kettle? Are you all playing a trick on me? Kettles don't just grow feet."
The students tried to protest, but the priest waved them off. "Go and get some rest. You're imagining things."
Later that evening, the priest decided to try out the new kettle for making tea. But as he casually placed the kettle over the fire, it yelped:
"OW! HOT! My Bottom is burning! " In a puff of surprise, it shape-shifted into a disgruntled tea badger and hopped off the flame and started to scamper around the room.
Students came bolting in from every direction. They cornered the kettle, which, after giving them an embarrassed look, decided it was easier to turn back to its boring old self. The old priest, scratching his head, said, “So you weren’t pulling my leg.”
When the priest returned to bed, he tried unsuccessfully to sleep. His mind was positively simmering. He mumbled to himself, "An enchanted kettle? I feel trouble is brewing.”
The next day, a dealer named Kazuya visited the temple. Seeing an opportunity, the priest promptly sold the peculiar kettle to him for such a low price that he practically gave it away.
Kazuya returned home, feeling particularly smug about his savvy purchase. He mused: “Buddha is watching over me. A little toast to my good fortune is in order!"
After a bit of celebration, he drifted into a deep sleep, filled with dreams of Mount Fuji and a hawk – the ultimate good omen!
But later that night, an insistent voice pierced his dreams. "Mr. Kuzuya! Kuzuya-san! Wake up, sleepyhead!"
Grumpily, he forced his groggy eyes open. They were met with a fantastic sight.
His newly acquired kettle had sprouted badger legs, a head, and a tail! It was casually strolling around his room as if it owned the place.
Kuzuya, bewildered, exclaimed: “I expected to wake up to a cup of tea, not a talking kettle. I beg, tell me, who are you?"
The kettle smiled blandly and said: “I am Bunbuku Chagama, the Tea Kettle of Good Fortune. And I can be of great service to you.”
“That’s nice to hear, but how?”
"Treat me kindly, and good things might start brewing in your life. But if you're thinking of doing what that dreadful priest from Morinji did, reconsider. He filled me with cold water and chucked me on a charcoal fire. Even after I flashed my fabulous tail, he had the nerve to shout, 'Hey guys, get a look at this!' What does he think I am? An exhibit in a zoo?”
“Well, I certainly won’t treat you like that,” promised Kuzuya, scratching his head in wonder. “But would you be happy sitting in the dark cupboard? What is your idea of comfort and happiness? Please tell me.”
“Have you ever been cooped up in a cupboard? It’s a beastly experience. I like to stretch my legs and breathe fresh air. I also need a bite to eat now and then.”
"Of course, every living being has needs and desires," said Kazuya, understandingly. "So, what kind of food do you prefer?"
The badger kettle immediately replied, "I love fresh fish, vegetables and sweet rice cakes. “
Kazuya nodded thoughtfully. "I don’t always have such nice food. Sometimes I just have a bowl of rice a day. But what I have, I shall share with you.”
“I can ask for no more,” said the Kettle. “And in return, I will help you however I can.”
“What's your special-tea?” asked Kazuya, steeped in confusion over the talents of a living tea kettle.
"I'm versatile. I can be an acrobat and even dance on a tightrope," the kettle proudly replied.
"That's fantastic," the man said, eyes widening in disbelief. “People will be amazed to see a kettle that can dance. We’ll be rich in no time, and we’ll both eat like kings every day!”
Kazuya sprang into action, infused with excitement. By the crack of dawn the next day, he was bustling around, weaving together a makeshift theatre inthe village square.
He summoned musicians who could strum the soulful strings of the Samsien guitar, and he employed drummers who could beat
rhythms that resounded through teh town.
Outside the theatre, a poster swirled with colours, showcasing the tea-kettle dancing across the type rope balancing an umbrella in its paw.
Once everything was set, Kazuya donned a traditional circus-master costume adorned with elaborate embroidery that told tales of folklore. With a fan in hand, he hailed passersby:
"Role up! Role up! Come one, come all! Witness a spectacle like no other! The enchanting, the bewitching, the utterly unique Mr Bunbuku Chagama! The tea kettle badger, tip-toeing, leaping, and cavorting! Let your hearts stir, and your minds whirl in awe. Be entertained like never before!"
With a roll of the drums, Bunbuku took centre stage, greeted the audience, and hopped onto a tightrope. He danced, twirled, and even bounced on one foot! Every move was graceful and thrilling. He balanced on his nose at one point, making the audience applaud.
The crowd watched in utter disbelief, quite mesmerised by the dancing tea kettle. They hadn't seen anything quite like this. A performing tea kettle!
Word of this unique show spread rapidly, drawing crowds from all over. The turnout was so immense that the circus building needed extra support. Within weeks,Kazuya had amassed a fortune.
After a season of sell-out shows, Kazuya gave the tea kettle a well-deserved rest. While sipping tea post-show, he suggested, "Mr Bunbuku, thanks to you, I'm wealthy now. I feel you deserve a break. How about we end this?"
The tea kettle agreed readily. Much to the public's dismay, Kazuya closed the show.
Then they both returned to the temple of Morinji and Kuzuya told the priest all that had happened, adding:
“I have amassed a fortune because you sold me this wonderful and lucky kettle for next to nothing. I have come to thank you and offer half of what I have made to the temple, and the kettle will stay with you if you treat it as such an important thing ought to be treated—with all respect, consideration and kindness."
The priest bowed his thanks and took the present of the
money, all tied up in a box with red and white string, and Kuzuya parted, promising- to come as often as possible to see his faithful friend, Bunbuku Chagama.
After this nothing unusual happened to the kettle, which is now preserved on a gold and lacquer stand, with all honour as a valuable relic, to this day, in the temple of Morinji.
And that was ‘The Enchanted Tea Kettle’, read by me, Jana and adapted for Storynory by Bertie.
Until next time take care and see you soon.