Long ago in Japan there was an old couple with no children. They were very poor. One year the snow came earlier and caught them unprepared so things were worse than usual. They didn’t have enough money to buy rice cakes for the new year. The wife suggested that they sell her wedding kimono and buy rice cakes with the money they received from it. The old man reluctantly agreed and he set off into the snow to sell the kimono. He crossed the six sacred Jizo statues and apologized for not having anything to leave for an offering,but promised them rice cakes on his way back. Then he came across a woman with a basket of fans. She had been hoping to sell the fans and buy a new kimono. The old man felt sorry for her and traded the kimono for the fans. The man tried to sell the fans in the village. Nobody glanced at him. The man became very hungry.He saw a noodle peddlar nearby. The old man went up to the peddlar and offered to trade a fan for some noodles. The noodle peddlar scoffed at him and said,” What would I want a fan for in the winter?” Discouraged, the old man walked away. He bumped into a chubby man with a golden bell. The chubby fellow thought the fans were beautiful and offered to trade them for the golden bell. The old man thought that someone might want the bell to ring in the new year so he agreed. But by this time the crowd had thinned out and nobody paid any attention to the little old man with the golden bell. The man stopped to talk to a young man selling bamboo hats. The young man hadn’t had much luck but he wasn’t going to give up yet. The old man was so inspired by the young man’s enthusiastic attitude that he traded the golden bell for five bamboo hats. Then the man headed home. HE hadn’t bought any rice cakes but he had helped the spirited young man. The old man reached the Jizo statues again. He had forgotten all about his promise to them. Then he remembered the bamboo hats. He went along the row placing a hat on the head of each statue. Then he realized that he had only bought five hats and there were six statues. So the old man removed his own hat and placed it on the head of the sixth statue. And he continued home. By the time he got there he was completely snow covered. His wife hurried him inside and he told her what had happened .The old man hung his head, ashamed. But when he dared to look up he saw that his wife was smiling. “You’re not mad?” he asked. “No. I’m proud.” “I didn’t bring any rice cakes.” He pointed out. “I know. but you showed respect to the Jizo statues which was better.” The old couple went to sleep then, but were soon awakened by a loud thud outside. They opened the door and found a gigantic rice cake on their doorstep. Then they saw the Jizo statues coming up the hill. The statues bowed to the old couple and then left. The rice cake kept the couple fed for weeks and they had good fortune for the rest of their lives.



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