The Dance of the Forest Spirits: A Beautiful Japanese Fable

· November 29, 2018
This is a Japanese fable with a message. Two men are born with a physical deformity, but their different attitudes make them experience different things.

This Japanese fable tells that, in a faraway place, two men were born on the same day at the same time. Both came from very humble families. To everyone’s surprise, they came to the world with the same physical deformity: they both had a large lump on their foreheads.

This old Japanese fable says that Tse, one of the two men, had a profoundly arrogant family. They felt they were superior to others and enjoyed competing for others’ attention. On the other hand, Yung, the other man, had a humble and peaceful family. All the members of his family were loving and kind to each other.

“The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman.”

-Jonathan Swift-

As a result of their arrogance, Tse’s family was deeply ashamed when they saw that their newest member had a physical defect. They couldn’t believe that someone from their family was born with such an unsightly lump on their face. They tried to remove the lump, but their attempts were useless.


Meanwhile, Yung’s family behaved very differently. They believed that the child would need more love than the others. As such, they raised him with gentleness and affection. They taught him that he was worthy and that the lump on his forehead was nothing to be embarrassed about.

And the two boys grew up…

Tse grew up feeling very unlucky. His family was ashamed of him and they tried to hide him away as much as possible. They would cover his forehead with hats. Over time, Tse became a bitter and unhappy person.

A man thinking about a Japanese fable.

On the other hand, Yung grew up as a normal child. The other children made fun of his lump but he didn’t care about that. He even learned how to make fun of himself and laugh with the others. Over time, the rest of the children stopped seeing Yung’s physical defect and instead focused on his good sense of humor and the fact that he was such a good friend.

Yung became a joyful and curious young man. He was also daring and adventurous. On the other hand, Tse hated other people. He felt bitter and didn’t understand why he’d had such bad luck.

The forest spirits

One day, Yung went into the forest and, before he knew it, night fell. He decided to stay and rest there. It was late when he started to hear the sounds of merrymaking. He carefully approached a bonfire and saw what was happening from a thicket. There, he saw a group of fantastical beings that were dancing around the fire. He noticed that they looked strange. They were a group of spirits.

Yung felt afraid but the celebration seemed so fun that he couldn’t resist. He got closer and, right before the spirits’ surprised gazes, he began to dance. According to this Japanese fable, the spirits were pleased by Yung’s enthusiasm. They danced with him until the sun came up. They spent the night laughing and enjoying themselves at his side.

The man enters a forest in this Japanese fable.

When it came time for Yung to say goodbye, they didn’t want him to go. That’s why they took the lump from his forehead. They kept it and said, “We’re keeping your lump so that you’ll come again and dance with us”. They didn’t know that it was a relief for Yung to be rid of that protuberance. As such, he had no interest in going back for the lump that they had taken from him.

The interesting ending of the Japanese fable

Yung returned to the village without the lump and everyone was shocked. He told them of the extraordinary events that he experienced and no one believed him. Then, Tse asked Yung to lend him his clothes so that he could pretend to be him. He would go see the spirits so they would remove that bothersome lump from his forehead as well.

He went into the forest and heard the spirits in the early morning. Yung then approached them. However, he was eager for the spirits to remove the lump. Nothing else mattered to him. That’s why he didn’t dance and didn’t share in the festivities. The spirits tried to include him in the celebration but he would pull away each time, angry and annoyed.

Rivers are a common setting of the Japanese fable.

When the sun was about to come up, one of the spirits came up to him and placed the other lump on his forehead. He said, “Take your lump. It’s time for you to go… and don’t bother coming back”. That’s how, according to the old Japanese fable, Tse returned to the village with two lumps. From then on, everyone learned that joy and generosity attract marvelous luck. On the other hand, anger and selfishness only bring bad luck and loneliness.