A folktale of Fukushima

The Man Who Didn't Want to Grow Old.
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On New Year's Eve – the 31st of December – everybody celebrates growing one year older. When I asked my grandmother why we do this, she told me the following story.

In this village a long, long time ago, there was a young man who didn't want to grow old. He would constantly say, "I really don't want to grow old."

On the evening of New Year's Eve he said, "I wonder if the God of Age will come into the house tonight? Perhaps I could escape him if I hid in the closet." He tried hiding in the closet, but he had second thoughts. "If the god comes into the house, I bet he will guess I'm hiding in the closet. Perhaps I should go outside." And that is what he did. He went outside.

"Where should I hide?" he thought as he wandered around. In villages in the olden days, there were large communal rubbish bins where the villagers would put their rubbish. The man decided to hide inside the rubbish bin.

It was then that the God of Age appeared.

"Ah, here I am, carrying years to distribute with me, trailing around each house in the village. Alas, there are only three people in this house," he said as he distributed the years.

"Oh, there are ten people in this house. This is cause for celebration. Such prosperity. Such prosperity," said the God as he walked the village distributing years to everyone.

However, this year the God of Age appeared to have made a mistake. He had many years left over. "These years are so heavy. I do not want to take them home with me. I will get rid of them somewhere secluded. Somewhere where there are no people," he said.

He returned to the village and was searching for an appropriate place, when he discovered the communal rubbish bin where the young man was hiding. He lightly brushed off all the years that he was carrying into the rubbish bin.

"Ah, that's better. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders," he said as he returned home.

However, the next morning, the young man hiding in the rubbish bin woke up saying, "Oh, dear or dear. I made such a mistake saying that I didn't want to grow old. I wish I had never said that."

When he emerged from the rubbish bin, his face was as wrinkled as a shriveled pickled plum. His back was bent over and he could not move without a walking stick.

"Oh, dear or dear. I made such a mistake saying that I didn't want to grow old. I wish I had never said that," he said again.

And my grandmother told me, "So that is why you should never say you don't want to grow old. The God of Age comes all this way to give you these years. You should accept them gratefully and strive to become a good bride."