Long, long ago, in the old days before a railway was even thought of, there lived two frogs in Japan. One lived in a well in Kioto, the other in a lutus pond in Osaka.Forty miles away.
Now it was an old saying in Japan that “ the frog in the well know nothing of the great Ocean.” The Kioto frog had so often heard this peroverb repeated by he women who come to draw out water from the well that he decided to travel abroad and see the world, and especially the great ocean.
“ I will see for my self,” said Mr Frog as he packed his bag and wiped his spactacles, “ what this great ocean is that they talk so much about. I want to bet that it isn`t half so deep or wide as my well, where I can see the stars even by daylight.”
Mr. Frog told the family of his intentions. Mrs. Frog wept a great deal; but, drying her eyes with her handkerchief, she helped her husband pack his bundle. He took his walking stick and was ready to go.
“Sayonara,” he cried with a tear in his eye, for that is the Japanese word for “good bye.”
Out of his well, Mr. Frog noticed that the other animals did not leap, but walked upright on their hind legs; and not wishing to be different, he began walking the same way.
It happened that at the same time the Osaka frog had become dissatisfied with life on the edge of his lotus pond. He decided to see the world too.
Now, although he was a young, the Osaka frog was a philosopher. Right at the edge of his pond was a great shool. Every day the students studied their lessons and read aloud the books of the wise men, to learn them by heart. The frog had heard them so often that he could (in frog language, of course) repeat many of their wise sentences. Indeed, he had so often listened to their discussions that he had himself become a philosopher. Yet, as the proverb says, ” The philosopher is not happy.”
Why not? One summer day the frog was setting easily on a huge round lotus leaf when he heard a student say to another, “ The beautiful lotus flower out back mud.”
The frog began to think philosophically, “ Humph! If mud becomes lotus, why souldn`t a frog become a man? Why not? If I should travel abroad and see the world—go to Kioto, for instance—why shouldn`t I be as wise as those bald men. I wonder? I shall try it, anyhow.”
The frog was soon ready. He received much advice from his parents and many warning to beware of being swallowed up by long-legged storks, and stepped on by impolite men, and struck at by bad boys.
Now it so happened that the old frog from Kioto and the young frog from Osaka each started from his home at the same time. Nothing important happened to either of them until, quite by chance, they met on a hill near Hashimoto, which is halfway between the two cities. Both were footsore and very tired, because they had been walking in an unfroglike manner, instead of hopping as they were used to.
“Ohio gogaimasu’” ( pronounced “Ohayo godzeimas”) said the young frog to the old frog, meaning “ good morning”.
He fell on all four feet and bowed his head to the ground three times, according to Javanese custom.
“Yes, good day,” replied the old Kioto frog.
“ It is rather fine wether, “ said the young philosopher.
“ Indeed, it is very fine,” replied the old fellow.
“I am Gamataro, from Osaka,” said the youngster, “The eldest son of Lord Bulfrog, Prince of Lotus Pond.”
“Your Lordship must be weary of your journey. I am Sir Frog of the Wellbrough in Kioto. I started out to see the great ocean from Osaka, but I declare, my legs are so terribly tired that I believe I `ll give up my plan and content myself with a look from the hill.
The old fellow, wiping his face, spoke up again, “ Let us save the trouble of the journey. I have been told that this hill is halfway between the two cities and while I see Osaka and the sea, you can get a good look at Kioto.”
“Exellent idea!” explained the Osaka Frog.
Then both rose up on their hind legs, face to face or rather, stomach to stomach, and looked carefully, as they supposed, at the places which they each wishes to see. Now everyone knows that a frog`s eyes are in that part of his head Which is front when he is down and back when he stands up.
Long and steadily they looked, until, at last, their toes were tired and they fell down on all fours.
“I declare,” said the older frog. “Osaka looks just like Kioto, and as for the great ocean those stupid women talked about, I don`t see any at all, unless they mean that strip of river that looks exactly like the Yodo, the river that flows near my well. I don`t believe that there is any great ocean!”
“On my part,” : said the young philosopher, “I am satisfied that is foolish to go farther, for Kioto is as much like Osaka as one grain of rice is like another.” So they left each other, after exchanging many greetings, and dropping again into a frog`s hop. They leaped back in half the time, one to his well and the other to his pond.
In their homes they told their friends that both cities looked axcatly alike, thus proving that those creatures called Men were merely foolish dreamers.
The young frog was so glad get back to the lotus pond that he never again tried to think out the problems of philosophy, and up to this day the frog in the well does not believe in the so-called great ocean.