Monkey, Rabbit, and Bullfrog

The Japanese have lots of fairy tales in which animals are the characters. One of the most famous is the one about the monkey, the rabbit, the bullfrog, and the rice cakes.

Once upon a time, at New Year's, the monkey, the rabbit, and the bullfrog were complaining to each other that they had no rice cakes to celebrate the holiday. "What kind of New Year will it be if we have no rice cake? Everyone eats rice cakes at New Year's," the rabbit cried. Bullfrog croaked his agreement. Monkey piped up, "I have an idea! Let's go down to town and steal some!" So the three friends went down from the mountain to the town and looked for some rice cakes to steal.

After a short while, they found a big, heavy pot full of rice cakes that had just finished cooking and had been put out in the yard to cool. "Here's our chance," said Rabbit. Bullfrog croaked his agreement. Monkey grabbed up the heavy pot and they all scurried off.

As they got near the top of the mountain, Monkey began to get greedy. "I've carried this heavy pot all the way up the mountain," he thought to himself. "Why shouldn't I get all the rice cakes?" So they all began to argue about how they would divide up the rice cakes. Finally Monkey came up with a plan. "I'll roll the pot back down the mountain and we'll all run down after it," he suggested. "Whoever gets to it first will get all the rice cakes."

Rabbit, knowing he was a fast runner, agreed. Bullfrog knew he could never beat the other two, but he was out-voted and could only croak his agreement. So Monkey pushed the pot over the hill and they all took off at top speed to catch up with it. Monkey ran and ran. He ran so fast that he slipped on the mountain and skidded half way down on his bottom. Ever since, he has had no skin on his backsides, only big pink patches!

Rabbit was more careful-and very swift. He got to the bottom of the hill even before the pot did! Greedily, he reached out to catch the pot, but it was so heavy it knocked him over, breaking both his front legs. Ever since, Rabbit has had two front legs that are much shorter than his back ones.

Back up the hill, Bullfrog was slowly hopping down the trail. As he rounded a corner, what do you suppose he saw? There, in the middle of the trail, was a big pile of warm rice cake! It had fallen out of the pot. Bullfrog hopped up to the pile and began to eat. And eat. And eat! He ate so much that ever since, Bullfrog has had a big pot-belly.

Rabbit and Monkey glumly climbed back up the mountain. As they came around a corner in the trail, they saw Bullfrog sitting there, stuffed until it seemed he would burst. "I guess you got all the rice cakes, after all," complained Monkey.

"Ribbit, ribbit," Bullfrog croaked his agreement.