The straw millionaire

Once upon a time, there lived a poor young man who had no kith or kin in Kyoto, the capital of Japan at that time.

This is a happy story of the man, who had his luck changed for the better and eventually became a millionaire thanks to the divine favor of the Kannon Bodhisattva, the Deity of Mercy in Buddhism, at Hase-dera Temple in Nara.

One day the young man visited Hase-dera Temple, which had a reputation in the capital for working miracles. He confined himself there for prayer. At the dawn of the 21st day of his confinement, a priest appeared in his dream and said, “Believe that the first thing you touch after you leave the temple is a gift from the Kannon. Walk ahead carrying it.”

When he was just going out of the temple he fell down at its big gate. When he got up, he found himself holding a straw. While he was walking with the straw, a horsefly began to fly around his head annoyingly. He caught the horsefly and tied it to the straw. As he went on walking carrying the straw with a horsefly at its end, a noble lady coming from the capital in an ox carriage passed by and an infant with her wanted the straw. The man handed it to him. The lady gave him three oranges in return.

He then came across a traveler who was too thirsty to walk. The traveler said, “Give me water. I’ m thirsty to death.” He gave the oranges to the traveler and the traveler recovered his vigor. The traveler gave him three rolls of silk in gratitude.

The next day a man on a fine horse passed by, but the horse suddenly died in front of him. He exchanged one roll of silk for the dead horse. He prayed facing toward Hase-dera Temple that the horse would come back to life again, and in a moment the horse rose to its feet.

He bought a saddle and food for the horse and food for himself for the remaining two rolls of silk.

When he finally arrived at Kyoto, he found a house in which a family were busily preparing for a journey to a distant region. He asked the master, “Why don’ t you buy this horse?” The master was delighted to hear that and in return gave him a wide rice field and a certain amount of rice.

He harvested rice from the rice field and eventually became a millionaire.