Warashibe Choja

Once upon a time there lived a young man named Yosaku. Not having a farm of his own, he wandered from village to village, helping other farmers and living off of the vegetables he received for his efforts. And with no home of his own, he slept in Buddhist temples, where he would pray to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. "Kannon, every day I work hard. I have no home of my own. Please give me a place to stay tonight. And let me find work again tomorrow."

One night, Kannon appeared at Yosaku's side, immersed in gold light, and said to him, "Wake up, Yosaku." Kannon spoke to him: "Yosaku, you are an admirable man. However poor you may be you never complain and you help people for the smallest of pay. I'm going to provide you with a happy life. Tomorrow, the first thing you touch will reap great rewards for you." With these words, Kannon disappeared.
The following day, as Yosaku headed out to work, he tripped on a stone on the roadside and fell down. "Ouch!" he exclaimed. When he stood up, he found himself holding a stalk of straw. "I wonder if this straw is what Kannon told me to hold on to. How is this going to make me happy?" Puzzled, he resumed walking.

Suddenly, a horsefly flew by and began buzzing around his face. Yosaku caught it and tied it to the end of his straw. The bug tried to escape, but Yosaku held onto the other end of the stalk, so that the horsefly spun the straw around and around in circles, like an amusing toy. A wealthy boy who was passing by saw this and exclaimed to his elderly attendant, "I want one! I want one!" Yosaku gladly offered it to the boy. In return, the boy's guardian gave him three oranges. "Wow, three oranges for a single piece of straw!" he thought happily, and again started down the road.

Soon he came upon a distressed-looking woman. "Oh, it's hot. I'm so thirsty that I think I'm going to faint! Please give me some water," said the woman. "If these oranges would do, please have them," said Yosaku, handing them to the woman. The woman ate them and soon regained her strength. "You've saved me. Please take this as a token of my thanks," she said, handing Yosaku a bundle of woven silk cloth.
"This expensive cloth must be a gift from Kannon," Yosaku thought to himself as he continued on his way. Soon he came upon two samurai standing in the middle of the street. As he drew closer he saw that their horse, exhausted from the heat, was laying in the middle of the street. "What a useless horse!" exclaimed the samurai, who were at a loss as to what to do. Finally, Yosaku said to them, "Honorable samurai. If it would please you, how about exchanging your horse for this bundle of silk cloth?" The samurai, elated, said, "Great! Not only can we get rid of this horse, but you'll give us a bundle of silk as well!" The samurai took the cloth, left the horse, and went on their way. Yosaku turned to the horse and said gently, "You've been in pain, haven't you. Here, drink some water." He gave the animal plenty of water, and the horse was soon on its feet again. 
Yosaku mounted the horse and rode to the edge of town, where he came upon a large house. People there were making travel preparations, piling luggage onto a cart. Yosaku spotted a man who looked like the owner of the house and, relating the details of his journey, asked him if he would like to buy the horse. The man listened to Yosaku's story with great interest, and replied, "Sure, I'd be happy to buy your horse. But right now I have to go on a trip and don't have any money to spare. Instead, why don't I give you part of my rice paddy." The owner also let Yosaku stay and take care of the house while he was away. Not only did Yosaku get his own paddy, but a place to live as well. This inspired him to work harder than ever.
After some time the owner returned from his trip. The rice was growing abundantly and the house had been cleaned from wall to wall. Deeply impressed, he said, "Yosaku, you're a fine young man. Why not marry my daughter and live in this house forever?" Yosaku happily accepted. He married the daughter and was blessed with adorable children. He continued to work hard and become very wealthy, and always helped those who were poor or in need. Because of his kindness, he came to be affectionately called "Warashibe Choja" (Lord Straw Stalk) by the villagers.