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Play: Sarukani Gassen

This play, based on a Japanese folktale, comes from a collection of plays and skits created by the ACT Japanese teachers’ group for use in their primary and junior secondary classrooms. Students work cooperatively in groups or as a class to prepare and perform the play for their classmates or at a school event.

Story Outline

Sarukani Gassen is a cautionary tale, which warns against greed, selfishness and cruelty. In this version, a greedy monkey tricks a crab into swapping a rice ball (onigiri) for a persimmon seed (kaki no tane). The monkey later proceeds to rob the crab of the persimmons from his new tree. However, with the help of the crab’s children and their friends, the monkey is made to see the error of his ways.


ナレーター Narrator×2
かに Father Crab (Kani-san)
さる Monkey (Saru-san)
かにのこども Crab Children (Kodomo) – any number
くり Chestnut (Kuri-san)
はち Bees (Hachi-san) – any number
とり Birds (Tori-san) – any number
コーラス Chorus


Script Sarukani Gassen (Word 34KB) Script Sarukani Gassen (PDF 239KB)

Cultural Notes

Onigiri (Omusubi)

are made from rice, moulded into a triangular or circular shape, and often wrapped with nori (seaweed) and containing a filling of umeboshi (pickled plum), tuna or pickles. They are very popular picnic foods, and can be made at home or bought in supermarkets and convenience stores. (See おむすびころりん)


are Japanese persimmons, an autumn fruit about the size and shape of a large mandarine, with orange skin, sweet orange flesh and several small, brown seeds. Kaki can be eaten raw (peeled), or is often dried. Kaki is available in Australia and often sold as Fuji Fruit.


The monkey often appears in Japanese mythology. Saru have a reputation for being naughty, but this is not always so (see Momotaroo).

Language Concepts

  • onomatopoeia (paku-paku, pero-pero)
  • ~mashoo (ka)
  • ~te kudasai
  • ~tai desu
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