Finding a Chinese fable book I read as a child.
April 9, 2004 6:53 PM   Subscribe

I need your help in tracking down a small book of what I believe were Chinese fables/parables/moral lessons that I read as a child. Luckily, I do remember one of the stories...[more inside]

In this particular tale, a poor student lived right above a noodle restaurant. He only had money enough to afford rice but his food tasted that much better thanks to the smells of the restaurant below. The restaurant owner complained to a local judge (wise man?) that it was unjust that the student smell his food for free. He should pay.

The judge agreed that indeed it was unfair and asked the student for a small sum of money. The student protested but handed over the coins. The judge then jingled the coins loudly in front of the shopkeeper at which the shopkeeper smiled greedily. The judge then took the coins and handed them back to the student, exclaiming that the debt had now been paid.

This is the only tale I remember but the book was full of clever little tales like this. Does this ring a bell for anyone?
posted by vacapinta to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That's a great story, vaca...I hope someone remembers, so i can read them. (and could it be from a collection of Judge Pao stories?--this paper mentions him as the subject of many stories, and a wise and incorruptible guy)
posted by amberglow at 7:08 PM on April 9, 2004

I was told that story as a kid too (to my great amusement, I recall). No mention of it being japanese though, the way I was told it involved a baker.
posted by fvw at 7:30 PM on April 9, 2004

Oh man, this is bringing back the memories. When I was a kid I had a book of collected stories from various other cultures. It had the story of Sanji and the Baker, which is very similar to your description. You mention you thought the stories were Chinese in origin, which reminds me that this book also had the story of the Five Strange Brothers. Does it sound familiar?
posted by Galvatron at 8:22 PM on April 9, 2004

I've read this story too, and while I don't remember the details, the characters weren't Chinese.
posted by Gyan at 8:56 PM on April 9, 2004

Best answer: Aha! I read this last Christmas at a small inn my family was vacationing at. Judge Ooka; it's set in Japan, not China. seems to be it.
posted by mote at 9:09 PM on April 9, 2004

Response by poster: Wow! I think thats it! Ooka the wise. Reading the amazon reviews it appears that there were many others affected strongly by this book as children.

It does appear to be Japanese but given I was a kid I am surprised I remembered much at all. It has definitely stayed with me over the years!

Thanks mote and everyone else. Ask mefi really rocks!
posted by vacapinta at 9:27 PM on April 9, 2004

Response by poster: Oh and here is mote's link. ;)
posted by vacapinta at 9:32 PM on April 9, 2004

Response by poster: Also, I should add that Galvatron's Sanji and the Baker does seem to be the same story. I wonder what the origin of this story really is...but thats probably a separate ask.mefi question....
posted by vacapinta at 9:43 PM on April 9, 2004

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