Japanese Folktale Review- The Fake Buddhist Statue

Tuesday, March 31, 2020


The Fake Buddhist Statue

In this article I'll give my opinion on the Japanese Folktale called The Fake Buddhist Statue.

If you want to read the original story, please check this:
The Fake Buddhist Statue Story >>

Summary of The Fake Buddhist Statue

This story starts off with a temple, a Buddhist priest, and an errand boy. The Buddhist priest loved to drink. He would drink after ceremonies, and then he would try to return home with souvenirs in hand.
Unfortunately, EVERY SINGLE TIME he would return home, he encountered a problem. A fox would appear to the priest. The fox could transform, so he always appeared as something new. This surprised the priest EVERY TIME. The fox would then steal the souvenirs from the priest.

The errand boy heard about the fox always stealing the Buddhist priest's things, so he set out to catch the sly fox. To catch the fox, the boy bought a basket into the forest where the fox hid out. The boy called out to the priest, knowing that the real priest was at the temple. The fox appeared as the priest and the boy tricked the fox into the basket. He then took him back to the temple. The boy and the priest closed the doors. The fox ran around the main hall of the temple. Both the priest and the boy tried to catch him but could not.

The fox disappeared. However, since they knew he couldn't escape the main hall, they continued to search. They noticed that there were two Buddhist statues when there should only be one. The boy was clever, he said "By the way, when you recite the sutra, the Buddhist statue always shakes his head happily, right?". After they recited the sutra, of course the fox began to shake his head.
They tied rope around the fox and hit him with a broom. The fox apologized profusely. The priest and the boy forgave him. After that incident, whenever the priest walked home drunk, the fox would turn into a beautiful woman and help him back to the temple. The end.

My Thoughts

Okay, truthfully, I really like this story. It's lighthearted, funny, and not too serious. I will say that I think the Sly Fox trope comes from Japan. I found that in Japan, they don't like foxes AT ALL. Even though I think they're pretty cute.
In Japanese culture foxes are deceitful thieves who are untrustworthy. In the United States, I'm sure that there are some animals that we don't like as well. I just can't think of them right now.


With this story, I'm not sure if there is a takeaway.  Maybe the story is to tell you how to outsmart a fox. Or maybe it's to teach you about forgiveness. I'm not actually sure. Maybe it's just a story for fun. But I say it's definitely worth the read.
Please try to read using Kanji, Hiragana, Romanji, and English! See you soon!