The Rolling Rice Ball


This story is a Japanese folktale titled The Rolling Rice ball. The story begins with man who is chopping bamboo in the mountains, he stops for lunch and pulls out his rice ball to eat. He drops his rice ball and he follows it as it rolls into a hole, inside the hole he hears mice celebrating the rice ball. To thank the man for rice ball the mice gives him a choice of a small box or a big box, the man chooses the small box. Inside the small box he finds treasures and distributes it with his family and neighbors. His next door neighbor hears the man’s story and becomes  jealous so he decides to do the same thing. However when he reaches the mouse hole he acts as a cat to scare the mice and to try and steal all their treasures. However the mice get angry and attack the neighbor and kill him.

Background & Context:

This story was told to me in a casual interview like setting in the evening on a weekday. It was told to me by a Japanese American USC freshman, who has grown up in Honolulu, Hawaii but has visited Japan several times. The student grew up listening to these stories either as bedtime stories or just for fun. These stories were told by her parent or grandparents who reside with her family. Something she also explained was that she did not remember the original Japanese translation for the title of the story.

Final Thoughts:

 My thoughts on this story is that it holds an important message. The message being not to steal, be greedy and to share with others. I believe these are the messages that the story is trying to convey because the man who was kind and shared his rice ball with the mice was rewarded. While the neighbor who was greedy and plotted to steal from the mice was punished and killed at the end of the story.