Play: The Twin Millionaires and the Straw
Students act out this children’s story which can be easily understood by an audience with or without knowledge of Japanese. The play can be used by students in the classroom or as a presentation for a school event. There are 12 parts.
Once upon a time in Japan, there lived two very poor young twins, Taro and Jiro. They worked very hard every day, but they were still poor. In their misery they prayed to God, asking for divine assistance. One day they had a strange dream in which God told them that they should go to town in the morning and keep the first thing they picked up.
The next morning on the way to town, Taro stumbled and fell. He realised when he got up that he had some straw in his hand. Horseflies were buzzing around them noisily, so they caught them and tied them up with the straw. Then they met a mother with a little boy who was crying. They gave the boy the horseflies tied in the straw, and he began playing with them and stopped crying. The mother thanked them and gave them three oranges.
As they were walking holding the three oranges, they met an old man with a young woman who was suffering from thirst. The old man said, “She is very thirsty but we cannot find water.” Taro and Jiro gave the woman the three oranges and she ate them all. She said, ‘ If I had not met you, I might have died.’ and gave them a pretty kimono. A few pieces of straw had become three oranges, and now the oranges had become a pretty kimono!
Then a samurai with a horse came towards them, and just in front of them the horse fell down. The samurai said, ‘I have an important errand and I am not able to take care of my horse, so I will give it to you. Please take care of it’. Taro and Jiro said, ‘We’ll take it, and we will give you this pretty kimono in exchange.’ They looked after the horse through the night, and prayed to God.
In the morning, the horse opened its eyes and got up. As they walked along they came to a big house, and the owner of the house said, ‘You have a very fine horse. Please give it to me in exchange for my rice paddy.’ The poor twins now had a rice paddy!
They worked very hard together in the rice paddy and became very rich. Henceforth, people called them ‘the twin millionaires with the straw.’
おじいさん old man
おかねもちのひと rich man
In the old days in Japan, gourds were often used as containers for water and other drinks.
Please read the Teacher’s Notes on Folktales for information on some famous Japanese folktales and more useful folktale-related vocabulary.
Resource created by Tamiko Kikuchi with assistance from Yuki Akiyama, Junko Yanagawa, Himiko Negishi-Wood, Cathy Jonak and Makoto Netsu (January 2000).