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Play: The Big Turnip

This play, based on a Russian 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

This story is a traditional folk tale believed to have come from Russia. An old man is working in the field and he finds a huge turnip. He summons all the members of his family to help him pull out the turnip. The family all cooperated with the help of some animal friends.


ナレーター narrator
おじいさん old man
おばあさん old woman
おとうさん father
おかあさん mother
たろう/むすこ Taro/son
ひみこ/むすめ Himiko/daughter
いぬ dog
ねこ cat
ねずみ mouse

Cultural Notes

In the original Russian story, words are repeated to make a rhythm that is almost a tongue-twister. In this translated version we have tried to repeat the same words as often as possible to give a similar effect. (See the wikipedia page about the original story.) This story is known in Japan as Ookina Kabu.

Language Concepts

  • ~mashita
  • onomatopoeia – chuu chuu, nyaa nyaa, wan wan
  • counting
  • ~te form
  • ~te mashoo

Resource created by ACT Japanese teachers’ group (January 2016).

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