Head Mountain / 头山(日本落语)

  Once upon a time, there was a man who liked cherries. He adored them, he lived for them, and when his brother sent him an enormous box filled with hundreds of cherries, the man was happy beyond words.

  He couldn't eat them quickly enough. He grabbed great handfuls of cherries, stuffing them into his mouth, gobbling them down, savoring the cherries' delicious sweetness, and spitting the seeds out like a machine gun.

  He was in heaven.

  He ate and he ate, and in a few seconds he had eaten all the cherries. Seeds lay scattered around him.

  But there was one seed that he hadn't spat out. There was one seed that he had accidentally swallowed, and this seed sat inside the man's stomach, and we all know what happens when you swallow a seed.

  Yes, they grow inside you.

  At first, the man didn't notice anything. The seed grew inside him until one day, to the man's surprise, it sprouted out of the top of his head. By the spring of the following year, it had turned into a magnificent cherry tree.

  The man wasn't too happy about this. It was rather in convenient. His neighbors and their friends were, on the other hand, very excited when they saw the beautiful blossoms on the branches of the tree. "We must have a picnic, "they all said.

  So the man's neighbors and friends brought food and drink, and after asking permission of the man, who unwillingly agreed, they spread rugs around his feet.

  "Thank you for having us," they all said. "Really, you've blossomed quite wonderfully, and what pruning! Do you do it yourself? I have an excellent man to do my bushes. I'll recommend him. Oh, don't move too much or you'll shake off all your blossoms."

  Everyone ate and drank, and sang danced, and had a wonderful time while the poor man with the tree growing out of his head just stood glumly in the middle. No one let him join in because, as they said, "That's not what trees do."

  Word spread of the man with the cherry tree growing out of his head, and soon invitations were flooding in to "Head Mountain" (as they began to call him), asking him to come to this picnic and that picnic, but the man refused them all.

  "I am more than just the tree sticking out of my head!" he cried angrily.

  "Do you do children's parties?" asked the woman next door.

  "He decided to pull the tree out. Everyone was disappointed, but for a while things were quiet. Then came the rainy season and the rains fell very hard and the hole in the man's head, where the tree had been, filled with water.

  "Head Mountain's got a pond now," said the man's neighbor to his friends. "Looks good for fishing."

  He and his friend went to Head Mountain's house with their fishing rods and line, and without asking permission, they started fishing in his head.

  "A trout!" shouted one man triumphantly.

  "Oh, I'm sorry," said another man, "I seem to have got my hook caught in your nostril."

  The fishing party was a great success for everyone except, of course, Head Mountain. As the men left, one of them said, "We should hold our summer festival around the pond on Head Mountain. Fireworks look best when reflected in water."

  "No, definitely no," shouted Head Mountain angrily, but his protests were drowned out.

  So a few weeks later, the whole village broke down Head Mountain's door, pulled him out of the house, and tied him up in a nearby field. Fireworks flew overhead, their light glittering in the water on the man's head. Everyone and danced and ate and drank and had the most wonderful time.

  Head Mountain fell into a depression after that. He shut himself into his house, thinking gloomy thoughts about the pond on his head, which, because of his unhappy thoughts, grew into a cold lake.

  Soon it was autumn and with it came rumors that the local Ladies Association wanted to use Head Mountain for their annual Charity Hot Pot dinner or possibly a foot spa.

  The man grew even more depressed, and finally one night, deciding there was no point in living like this, he tragically took his own life. They say he leaped into the lake on his head. They never did find his body.

<Traditional Comic Stories from Japan "Head Mountain"/ 英語で読む古典落語「頭山(あたまやま)」>

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