The Teapot Badger:
A Japanese Folk Tale

The Teapot Badger

There was once a poor old man who was kind to everyone, especially to children. He told them stories, taught them how to paint pictures and write, and shared whatever little bits of food he managed to grow in his garden.

"That is a fine old man!" said Badger. I think I will reward him for his kindness."

Badger went to the old man's house and turned himself into a teapot full of delicious tea. When the old man found the teapot, he was very much surprised and happy, for he had never been able to afford a teapot.

In the evening, three children came to the old man's garden. "Tell us a story," they pleaded.

"I'll tell you a true story, today," said the man. And he told the three children about the magic teapot. When the story was done, he went to the orchard to pick some fruit for his guests.

While the old man was gone, the children said, "Let's go into the house and take the magic teapot."

As the children crept into the house, the pot turned back into Badger.

His long teeth flashing and his tail waving in anger, Badger chased after the thieves, nipping at their heels and growling fiercely. The children fled from the house screaming and hollering, while Badger laughed and laughed.

"Whatever is the matter?" called the old man from the orchard.

"Your teapot is really Badger!" sobbed the children. "Look here, he nipped our feet!"

How can a teapot be Badger?" said the old man. He went into his house. There was the teapot same as ever. The man came out and said to the children, "Surely you were dreaming!" Then he went back to the orchard.

The old man suddenly heard screams and hollers coming from inside the house. The children had gone back in to harm the teapot, but he turned into Badger. "Never mistreat me!" he snarled. At the same time the old man hobbled back into the house. As the old man was about to hit Badger he told the old man what had happened. The children were red with shame.

"This house is no place for me," said Badger finally. "Here is what we'll do, old man. You and I shall travel on the roads together and give shows along the way. It will be a magic show where I will turn back and forth between teapot and Badger. People will give us many gold coins to see this wonderful trick."

This is the way the old man finally became rich. Then he came back home and put the teapot in a little temple on the top of the hill in his orchard. It was greatly honored there, especially by the children who had once tried to steal it.

This story is from the "Folktales and Legends" program booklet from the 39th Annual Pittsburgh Folk Festival.