The Tree of Courage

Despite being nearly half a century old, Mochi mochi no ki (The Tree of Courage), is a magnificent long-seller that still captivates readers to this day!
AuthorRyusuke Saito
ISBN978 - 1741264452
PublicationMay, 2017
Estimated length32P
Sold toEnglish, Chinese, Korean

Mameta, a 5 year old boy, his grandfather, and the old doctor that Mameta sought out for his grandfather’s sudden stomach ache make up the entire cast of this tale. The story itself is very simple; Mameta is very cowardly, and is thus unable to use the restroom alone at night. Because of this he must always have his grandfather go with him.

Outside in front of the small cottage that Mameta lives in is a large chestnut tree. During the day the tree is nothing more than just a large tree; however, in autumn its shiny brown nuts fall to the ground, which Mameta’s grandfather picks up and grinds into a meal, and then into a fine flower, which he then uses to make delicious mochi balls out of. Mameta is very fond of this large tree.

At night, however, the branches appear as if they are ghosts or monsters, which scares Mameta to the point that he can’t use the restroom alone. On the night of November 20th, the tree’s branches shine bright in celebration of the Mountain God’s festival; however, it is said that only one children who is brave are able to witness this event. That very day has come, November 20th, but Mameta is cowardly and thus believes he will not be able to witness the event.

That evening, Mameta’s grandfather suddenly began to have stomach pain. In a panic, thinking only of helping his grandfather, Mameta rushed out that night to find and bring back the nearest doctor. He was scared, but was determined to help his grandfather. Then, while being carried on the doctor’s back as they returned to Mameta’s home, Mameta saw the legendary Tree of Courage brightly lit. Despite that scene being a naturally occurring phenomenon, to the cowardly Mameta, it was proof that he had overcome his fears through his determination to help his grandfather.

About the Author

Ryusuke Saito (1917-1985)

Saito was born in Tokyo and graduated from Meiji University, majoring in the literary arts. After working as a newspaper reporter and journalist, he turned to writing for NHK, the public broadcasting channel in Japan. He worked in Akita where he had relocated during the war, and assisted as a visiting producer for the Warabi Theatre Company. In 1957, he returned to Tokyo. A collection of his work up to 1967 was published by Rironsha that year, in a collection of short stories for children under the title of Berodashi-Chonma, gaining him immediate recognition as a highly talented writer in this field. The following year, he received the Shogakukan Literary Prize for this collection.

Jiro Takidaira (1921-2009)

Takidaira was born in Ibaraki Prefecture, and began working with wood block prints around 1940. After the war, he became a member of the Nihon Bijutsu Kai and started his career in art publication. He received the first Kodansha Prize for Picture Books and the 9th Mobil Children’s Culture Award for his work in Hanasakiyama. In addition to providing all of the artwork for Ryunosuke Saito’s stories, he’s also published books on his own including a collection of art called Takidaira Jiro Kirie Gashuu (Jiro Takidaira’s Cutwork) from Kodansha.