Tick and Lice's Fight

(Shuri, Okinawa Island)

A long ago, there lived a tick and lice who lived in the attic of a same house but who fought all the time.

On the evening of one New Year's Eve, they made a bet to see which one of them could go to the New Year's ceremony at the Shuri Palace and come back the fastest.

On the following New Year's Day early morning, even before the sun rose, the tick hopped into the grass bedding of a passing young man's sandal. The lice, also thinking to out smart the tick, woke up before sunrise and managed to jump himself onto the collar of a passing government official.

As soon as the gay and pomp New Year's Day ceremony ended, the lice rushed to the agreed, nearby Buddhist temple. It got there first. The tick arrived soon after.

The lice said to the tick, "You are such a slow poke. I've been here for ages." This angered the tick.

The tick shouted back, "No way! You are slower than a turtle. There is no way that that you could have made it back here before me."

Now, the lice got angry too.

Soon they started to fight. The tick hit the lice on its back and the lice kicked the tick in its stomach until they both passed out.

When the two awoke, the tick could not stand straight. It found that its back was now bent and the lice's back had become flat, just like they are today.

(From Okinawa no Mukashibanashi (Folklores of Okinawa) produced by Fukuda, Ltd., Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan, published by Asahiya Corporation, Naha, Okinawa, Japan.)

Translation by Satoru Asato ©1/09/2001

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