Story about pomegranate – Zakuro
At my home, my father made me eat a lot of fruits. I say, "made me eat" because it was literally obligation but not by my choice. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, after eating full dish, he would give me for example a quarter of watermelon, a full pack of strawberries, a whole melon or a bowl-full of grapes. I had to take an extra Tupperware just for fruits apart from my obento (お弁当). Now I realise it was only I was eating fruits but not my father or my mother. They would eat some when the fruits are in the season. The fruits in Japan are very expensive, which I didn´t know as a child but they are really expensive. Thank to my parents, I have a quite good eating habit.
Zakuro (pomegranate / ザクロ) is one of my favourite fruits. It´s a little difficult to get small grains but it´s worth it. One day, my father brought me a pomegranate after the dinner. I didn´t know what it was and he told to eat just red grains. They looked like small ruby. I picked one and put it in my mouth. My face broke into a smile. I loved it.
While after he came to check. He saw nothing but zakuro shell in the bowl. He looked rather worried and asked me, "did you like it?" I said yes. Now he looked a little scared and said, "weird".
"Why?" I said. My father hesitated a moment and told me that it was said pomegranate tastes like human flesh. Of course I was creeped out. I looked at the newspaper my father put on the table with red juice splattered all over. Hmm. It cannot be. It´s so tasty. He never bought me zakuro again.
Later, I was watching Manga Nihon Mukashibanashi (まんが日本昔ばなし) and found out that was a folk tale.
Sorce: Kishimojinn sama
Once upon a time, there was a quiet village in Sayama.
One day, an ogre woman started coming to the village to take the children away. The village full of lively kids suddenly became a sad village without them. The villagers decided to talk to the Buddha, went up to the mountain and begged him to help them to rescue the children.
So the Buddha went to see where the ogre woman lived. What a surprise! She had 10 thousand children and she loved each one of them. However, in the cave right next to them, the village kids were captured and all crying. The Buddha became angry and decided to take one of the ogre woman´s children.
When the ogre woman came back, she immediately realised one child was missing and started looking for him desperately. But she couldn´t find him and she was very sad. Then the Buddha showed up and asked, "You have 10 thousand children and you are so sad because one is missing? Don´t you think the human parents feel the same?"
The ogre woman cried and reflected on herself. She returned all the children to the village. After this, she became a follower of the Buddha and converted into a god called Kishibojin (鬼子母神) who takes after easy delivery and protects children from diseases.
This is Kishibojin and as you can see, she has a baby and a pomegranate. Why zakuro? The ogre woman wasn´t just keeping village kids in the cave, they were food although it doesn´s show in the anime. And when she gave the children back to the village, the Buddha gave her pomegranate as a substitute. I´ve also heard it was the villagers who gave it to her.
In both way, this seems like just a legend people talk. The real reason is a pomegranate has a lot of small fruits inside and each one has a seed. And because of this, people considered this fruit as a Prosper Decendant. But surprisingly, some Japanese people do still believe this kind of story.
Me? Now I see them everywhere and I can´t refuse eating them. Specially since when I found a very nice recipe for an Indian cuisine with zakuro and rice.
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