The Wisdom of an Old Crow

(Taketomi Island, Yaeyama Islands)

Long ago, in an island of the Yaeyama Islands, named Kuroshima, there lived a very old crow. The young crows looked down on him because he flew very slowly.

One day, a young crow came from another island with news.

"Hey everyone, I have big news! On Hateruma Island, there lies a great feast!""

A great feast?

"What is it?"

"A fat cow has died and lays there waiting to be eaten".

They were all excited to hear this.

"Let's go right now!"


All of them were ready to leave for Hateruma Island except for the old crow.

He said to them, "I'm old and fly too slowly. Can I ask a favour of you? Please, put the horn of the cattle aside for me. Everyone knows that the horn is the tastiest part and it's always been my favorite."

Hearing this the young crows said to another, "Oh, we didn't know this. As we'll get there the quickest lets taste the horn first."

The young and powerful crows hurried to the Island to eat this new delicacy. The old crow followed them slowly. On the Island lay, as promised, a big, fat cow. The young crows began to madly peck the horn with their beaks but the horn was far too hard to eat.

They said, "The outside is too difficult to eat but perhaps the most delicious part lies at the core."

"But how do we get through to the core?"

While they vainly struggled with the horn, the old crow finally reached the Island. There he found the eyes of the cattle uneaten; the part, which is, in fact, by far the tastiest.

"Now I can savour the most delicious part without being disturbed".

The old and wise crow said and ate at once in one very satisfied breath.

Note: In kuroshima, one of the Yaeyama Islands, cattle outnumber the human population, while crows outnumber the cattle. So crows are very much associated with the Kuroshima people. This story is handed to Yaeyama and Miyako Island.

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