Wolf Forest, Colander Forest,
Thief Forest

The four forests to the north of the Koiwai Farm Wolf Forest, Colander Forest, Thief Forest and Black Slope Forest are the actual names of the forests which spread to the north of the Koiwai Farm. This combination of strange names stimulated Kenji's imagination and provoked him into telling a story about the beginnings of the hamlet in the field surrounded by these forests. The title of the story is "Wolf Forest, Colander Forest, Thief Forest."

The interdependent relationship between farmers and forest dwellers When the farmer's children, farm tools or the millet stored in their barns suddenly went missing, the newcome farmers exchanged words with forest dwellers, such as wolves or a mountain man. But these exchanges don't take the form of sharp words. They indicate an interdependent relationship between forest and farmers.
Getting the permission to settle down in the field from the forests Some farmers came to the small meadow surrounded by these four forests, and found it to be a good place for settling down. So the farmers shouted all together in the direction of the four forests, "Can we hoe fields here?" "Can we build houses here?" "Can we make fires here?" "Can we take a little timber?" Each time the forests answered in chorus, "Yes, you can."

Four missing children

Wolf's treatment of
The farmers and their families passed the first severe winter in the field. In spring they sowed buckwheat and cocksfoot millet.
That autumn, when an ample harvest was to be reaped, the smallest four of their children suddenly vanished. Everybody searched for them frantically, entering into the forest. In Wolf Forest, the nearest forest, the farmers heard crackling noises. Hurrying towards it, they found all four missing children, facing the fire and eating chestnuts and milk cap mushrooms, with the wolves singing and bounding around them. The farmers cried out in unison, "Sir wolves, sir wolves, won't thee please give us back our little children?" The fire suddenly went out, and the surroundings turned so still and blue that the children by the fire let out a wail. The wolves, as if not knowing what to do, all fled together into the forest. Taking the children by the hand, when the farmers were about to leave they heard the wolves howling from the depths of the wood, "Don't think too bad of us! We treated them to a lot of chestnuts and mushrooms, you know!" After they arrived home, the farmers made millet cakes and left them gratefully in Wolf Forest.

The Forest having wanted to make millet cakes One morning, when frost had fallen all around, the millet stored in the barn totally disappeared. Thief Forest had taken it all. The farmers and the Thief Forest had a dispute over the millet. In the end, Mount Iwate, covered with silver snow, said quietly, "The thief can be none other than Thief Forest. I myself saw him do it. I'll make sure he gives the millet back. So don't think badly of him. Actually, Thief Forest wanted so much to make millet cakes himself, he just couldn't help it. That's why he came stealing. Ho! Ho! Ho!"
Material in quotation marks is
from Six Early Stories of Kenji Miyazawa
translated by C.W.Nicol & Gan tanigawa, published by Ushio Shuppansha.

Humor in Kenji's Stories
Broadminded Acceptance of Outsiders and Strangers
Stories that Examine Ecological Questions
Foxes, rats, horses---
Dances,festivals and gods
Ihatovo and foreign land
The World of Kenji's Works
The World of Kenji Miyazawa