Let me Smell the Sound of your Money

All right, come on now – it’s more than six weeks after Groundhog Day and, whether the thing could see its shadow or not, it’s still winter!  I want my money back: this is just not on.  Every time I go outside my lungs seize up and I can’t breathe and I’ve JUST HAD ENOUGH!!!!!

Still, it was warm and cosy in Yesim’s once I’d made it down there last night, and another good evening evolved, during the course of which we heard this story about a Japanese magistrate, a Solomon-like figure of legend.  I don’t know what it’s called so I’m just going to call it:

Japanese Magistrate Story

There was once a miser who kept a shop.  The miser loved to count his money and he kept it locked up securely: every night he bolted his doors and windows, and then he would go into his kitchen to fry tempura for his dinner.

Now, upstairs lived two students who rented his rooms: they were very poor and could only afford one bowl of rice a day.  One of the students was getting very fed up with this and he complained to his room-mate.

‘You know what I do?’ said the other.  ‘I wait till the old codger’s frying his tempura and then I get the smell of that with my rice.  Everyone knows 60% of the taste of food is in the smell – so it feels as if I’m eating a proper meal.’

The other thought this was a great idea – but unfortunately the shopkeeper, who was given to listening at doors, overheard them.  His peevishness at being called an old codger was as nothing to his outrage that the students were getting something from him – for free!

The next day he went to the magistrate and told him the story.  The magistrate immediately summoned the students.

‘This is a serious case,’ he told them.  ‘The shopkeeper is in the right and he must be paid.’

The students were outraged.  ‘But we can’t pay our rent if we have to pay him for the smell of his tempura!’ they objected.  Still, they knew the magistrate had a great reputation for justice, so they waited to hear what he would say.

‘Take your money out,’ said the magistrate to the first student.

He did so.

‘Hold it in one hand.’

The student put five gold coins – all the money he had for that term – into his hand.

‘Now, hold them up and let them fall into your other hand,’ instructed the magistrate.

He obeyed.  The shopkeeper began to salivate at the delicious clinking sound.

‘Now let them fall back into your other hand,’ said the magistrate.

The student did this five times in all; then the magistrate turned to the shopkeeper.  ‘Now you have been paid,’ he said.  ‘The smell of food is paid for by the sound of money.’



I’m thinking of doing one of my own stories next week – but we’ll see.

Wishing you warm weather,

Kirk out


2 thoughts on “Let me Smell the Sound of your Money

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