Kyoto and Osaka Frogs – Japan

These 2 frogs lived in Japan but did not know about each other: one lived in Kyoto, and one lived in Osaka, and they were both happy frogs.  But they would both wonder what the other town looked like.  The Kyoto frog thought, “I wonder what Osaka looks like,” just as the Osaka frog thought, “I wonder what Kyoto looks like.” And so coincidentally, on the same day, both of these frogs decided to leave their happy homes and travel down a road to the other city to see what it looks like.  They set out on their journeys on opposite ends of the country on the same road, and little did they know that a long and hard journey laid ahead of them.  They both reached this mountain and thought, “Oh man, I will never be able to climb up this mountain!”  But they did it anyways, and right when they reached the very top of the mountain, they saw each other and couldn’t believe what they saw.  They started talking about where they were from, and what they were doing, and decided to take a rest on the mountaintop.  And then they got this great idea: if they were a little bit taller, then they could look over the mountains and see what the other city looked like, and wouldn’t have to venture all the way to the opposite city.  One of the frogs said, “what if we stand and lean against each others’ shoulders, then maybe we can see the cities?”  So frogs stood up, shoulders leaning against each other and noses pointed towards the city they wanted to see.  But little did the frogs know that their eyes are on the back of their head, so they were actually looking at the city they came from.  So the Osaka frog thought, “Kyoto looks just like Osaka!” and the Kyoto frog thought, “Osaka looks just like Kyoto!”  Both of them decided there was no point in traveling any further, so they said their goodbyes and headed back to their respective cities, and lived out their entire lives thinking Kyoto looked just like Osaka, and Osaka looked just like Kyoto.

Lisa says that this story did not have any particular meaning to her, but she enjoyed hearing it as a child.  Her grandmother, or obaachan, wanted to instill some Japanese heritage in Lisa, since she is only half Japanese and lives in America.  She says that it has helped her feel more connected to her Japanese side, because she feels like her family has been very Americanized.  And since her children have even less Japanese blood – they are only a quarter – she plans on passing on these stories so they have some appreciation for their Japanese heritage.  She has also been to both of these cities, and she finds this story amusing because the cities are both extremely different.

I can appreciate the fact that her grandma is trying to connect Lisa to her Japanese heritage, because my mom tried doing the same with my brother and I when we were younger.  Except we didn’t really understand what she was trying to do at that point, so we weren’t very receptive and my mom stopped trying.  But even now, through this project, I feel a little more connected to my Filipino heritage, and, like Lisa, want to pass it on to my children so they don’t lose appreciation for their ethnic culture.  I have also found learning about other heritages very very interesting, as these stories play huge roles in cultural identity.

I mean I’ve never been to Japan, so the story probably isn’t as amusing to me because I have no idea what either city looks like.  But it has been on my brother and my bucket list for a while, so when we finally go I want to make it a point to go to both Kyoto and Osaka so I can compare them.  Also, I never knew that if a frog were to stand up on their two feet, their eyes would be looking behind them.  So I guess I learned something from this story!