This is a story from the Oki Islands, a unique ecosystem where they are still discovering new species of weevils and other critters like mentioned in this story. Perhaps there are Tengu, too.

Oki Islands Geopark, Shimane

This is a story that happened a long, long time ago. There once was a filial but poor young man, and his greedy relative, Uncle Gonzou.

One day, the young man’s aged mother fell ill. He wanted to have a doctor see her, but had no money and was worried about what to do. With no alternatives, he went to his uncle for help. “I want to take my mother to see a doctor, so could you lend me some money? I’ll work to earn the money to pay you back,” he pleaded.

“A poor chump like you wouldn’t be able to pay back anything you borrow. I’m not lending you anything!” Gonzou refused.

The youth was at a loss and trudged home. On the way, he took a break to sit among the roots of a giant pine and think about what else he might be able to do. At some point, he nodded off to sleep.

Then an old man with a long, pure white beard approached him and gave him a pair of single-post geta sandals.

Ipponha Geta

The bearded old man said, “When you put on these geta and fall down in them, a small gold coin will come out of them. Only do it once a day, you hear? If you fall around too much, you’ll hurt your back and start to shrink.”

When the young man awoke, he found the pair of geta set right beside him. He happily hurried home to try them out. Putting them on and then sending himself tumbling, he found that the geta did indeed dispense a small gold coin. He then rushed to take his mother to see a doctor, and she soon recovered.

Uncle Gonzou noticed and found it strange. Something is fishy here. They couldn’t have had any money, so what happened? he thought, and then spied on the youth from the window. At that moment, he was putting on the geta, and then he threw himself down, and a gold coin came out of the sandles. So seeing, the selfish man began to covet the pair of geta.

The next day, he went to the young man’s home and asked, “I heard you’ve got a pretty special pair of geta in this house. Would you mind lending them to me for just a little while?”

“Sure, why not? But make sure you only use them once a day. If you fall down too much, you’ll hurt your back and start to shrink.”

Uncle Gonzou was beside himself with glee to take them home with him. As soon as he arrived, he closed the door behind him, spread out a large cloth on the floor, and then stood on top of it wearing the geta. He then proceeded to throw himself down over and over, tumbling and tumbling. He took a break to admire the mountain of gold coins he had amassed, but he then noticed the mountain was growing bigger and bigger because he was shrinking smaller and smaller. Soon, he body has shrunk so small that he was the size and shape of a beetle.

The young man soon began to wonder what his uncle was up to, and went to his house to check on him. Having received no answer when he knocked, he entered, and only saw a large pile of coins and the geta, but no sign of his uncle. He looked everywhere, but could only conclude that his uncle was gone. He gathered the gold coins and the geta to take them home, but only after flicking a bug off of them.

That’s why weevils (zoumushi) are called Gonzou Bugs, after the selfish old uncle, so they say.

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