Childhood
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Omusubi Kororin (The Rolling Rice Ball)

Aubrey is a Japanese-American currently attending ELAC. She plans to transfer to UCSD to pursue a bachelor’s in Marine Biology because she intends to protect the marine environment with her university education. She enjoys drawing, watching anime, attending sports games with her dad, and playing with her dogs.

Original Script

So an old man was eating rice balls for lunch and he accidentally dropped them into this hole. And the man goes to see where the rice ball went and in that hole he hears like a bunch of mice singing, “Yay, yay!” And then the mice see the old man they’re like, “Oh thank you for the food. You’re so nice. Let’s give you a souvenir. Yay!” And they say, “You can either choose this small box or a large box as a souvenir.” So the old man chooses the small box and when he goes home the small box has a bunch of money and gold inside and since he’s so nice he gives the money and gold to all the people in the town. Then his next-door neighbor hears about this and becomes like super jealous. Then he tries to copy what the old man did and he puts the rice balls in the same hole and the mice were also, “Yay, happy, thank you, you’re so nice!” And then one of the mice asks what he wants for a souvenir. The old man imitates a cat and he tries to scare the mice so they go away and the mice get mad and they attack the old man and they kill him.

Background Information about the Performance from the Informant

The informant heard this folktale from her grandparents as a bedtime story when she was just a small child. She remembered this tale because of the violent ending and because she likes eating onigiri, or rice balls.

Context of the Performance

I interviewed the informant in my house.

In Japan, parents would often teach their children important lessons and values through folktales. The lesson of this narrative is that a greedy man never prospers; it teaches children to not be selfish and materialistic.

My Thoughts about the Performance

Considering this is a story mainly directed at children, I was startled to hear such a violent ending. The folktale was very entertaining overall, but I did not expect the villain, the other old man, to die. However, there are many variations of this folk narrative; one alternate ending is that the old man escapes the mice’s den only to be accidentally hit on the head by his wife’s stick, and another is the old man successfully escapes the den without gaining any treasure.

For another version of this folktale, see:

“Omusubi Kororin – The Tumbling Rice Balls.” Morgan Schatz Blackrose International Storytelling. Trans. Morgan S. Blackrose. N.p., 20 Aug. 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. <http://www.schatzblackrose.com/blackrose_web/pdf/Omusubi%20Kororin.pdf>.

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