Smells and Jingles – Japanese Folktale
YEDO people are very fond of broiled eels. A rich merchant, named Kisaburo, who was very miserly with his money, once moved his quarters next door to the shop of one Kichibei, who caught and cooked eels for a living. During the night Mr. Kichibei caught his stock in trade, and in the day-time served them, smoking hot, to his customers. Cut into pieces three or four inches long, they were laid to sizzle on a grid-iron over red hot charcoal, which was kept in a glow by constant fanning.
Kisaburo, wishing to save money, and having a strong imagination, daily took his seat at meal time close to his neighbor’s door. Eating his boiled rice, and snuffing in the odors of the broiled eels, as they were wafted in, he enjoyed with his nose, what he would not pay for to put in his mouth. In this way, as he flattered himself, he saved much money, and his strong box grew daily heavier.
Kichibei, the eel-broiler, on finding this out, thought he would charge his stingy neighbor for the smell of his eels. So, making out his bill he presented it to Kisaburo, who seemed to be much pleased. He called to his wife to bring his iron-bound money box, which was done. Emptying out the shining mass of kobans (oval gold pieces, worth five or six dollars), ichi-bu and ni-bu (square silver pieces, worth a quarter and a half dollar respectively) he jingled the coins at a great rate, and then touching the eel-man’s bill with his fan, bowed, low and said with a smile:
“All right, neighbor Kichibei, we are square now.”
“What!” cried the eel-frier, “are you not going to pay me?”
“Why yes, I have paid you. You have charged me for the smell of your eels, and I have paid you with the sound of my money.”