The Samurai and the Fisherman: A Beautiful Story

· September 18, 2018

The story of the samurai and the fisherman is a beautiful tale with a surprising lesson. It all started in ancient Japan. There lived a samurai known for his great generosity, especially with poverty-stricken people.

One day, he was given the mission to work at a nearby village. After he finished, and just as he was about to go back home, the samurai saw a fisherman with a very sad expression on his face. It seemed that he was weeping. He decided to approach him and ask him what was wrong.

“Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.”

-Robert G. Ingersoll-

The fisherman told him he was about to lose his boat because he owed money to a local shopkeeper. As he didn’t have the means to pay him, the moneylender had decided to keep the fisherman’s little boat as a guarantee. But if he lost his boat, the fisherman would not have a job and his family would starve to death.


The samurai listened attentively. His noble heart was moved by the story. Then, without hesitation, he pulled money out of his pocket and gave it to the fisherman. “It’s not a gift,” he said. He didn’t think giving things away was a good thing because it promoted laziness. “This is a loan. In a year, I will come back and you will return the money. I will not charge you any interest.”  The fisherman couldn’t believe it. He promised the samurai he’d do whatever it took to pay him back and he thanked him enormously for this gesture. However, this story had only begun.

The return of the samurai

After one year, the samurai returned to the village. He truly believed the fisherman would pay him back what he had lent him and was very excited to see him again. He hoped the fisherman had improved his living conditions. At this point, though, the story of the samurai and the fisherman took an unexpected turn.

Samurai shadow.

When the samurai started looking for the fisherman on the spot they had met the year before, he didn’t see anybody. He asked the other fishermen around, but they couldn’t give him an answer. Finally, one of them was able to show him where the fisherman he was looking for lived. The samurai went there.

Upon his arrival, the samurai could only find the fisherman’s wife and children. They swore to him that they had no idea where the debtor was. However, the samurai realized they were lying. The fisherman was hiding in order not to pay back his debt. Yet, the story of the samurai and the fisherman doesn’t end there.

The unexpected happens

The samurai got very angry. He thought that his generosity being paid with theft was completely unacceptable. So, he started looking for the fisherman everywhere he could think of until he found him next to a cliff. The man was hiding.

When the fisherman saw the samurai, he was terrified. He only managed to say that the fishing season had been awful and that he didn’t have the money to pay him back. “Ungrateful,” yelled the samurai. “I helped you when you needed it the most! And this is how you choose to repay me?” The fisherman was speechless. The samurai then, drowned in rage, took his saber out to punish the fisherman. 

“I’m sorry,” said then the fisherman. “If your hand rises, it restricts your temper; if your temper rises, it restricts your hand.” The samurai stopped. This humble man was right. His rage dissipated and they were able to come to an agreement that the fisherman would pay back the debt in a year.

The moral of the story of the samurai and the fisherman

When the samurai returned home, still shocked by what had happened with the fisherman, he saw light coming out of his room. It was weird. It was already very late. Slowly and carefully, he walked towards the bed and found his wife lying on it. He realized there was someone next to her. He came closer and saw that it was another samurai.

A samurai painting.

He immediately took his saber out. He walked stealthily to the bed to do something crazy when, all of a sudden, he remembered the fisherman’s words. “If your hand rises, it restricts your temper; if your temper rises, it restricts your hand.” Then, he took a deep breath, sneaked out of the room, and just yelled: “I’m here!”

His wife came out to greet him happily. Behind her, the samurai’s mother walked out of the room as well. “Look who’s here!” said his wife. She had been scared of staying home by herself, and so she had asked her mother-in-law to keep her company. The samurai’s mother had put on her son’s clothes in case a thief broke in. If a thief saw her, they would think she was a warrior and would leave them alone.

The story of the samurai and the fisherman ended a year later. The samurai visited the fisherman’s village again. The fisherman was waiting for him. He had the money, plus interest, as it had been a good year for him. The samurai hugged him. “Keep that money,” he said. “You don’t owe me anything. I’m the one indebted to you.”