Kenju and His Cedar Wood

Kenju's wisdom needed a long period to be proved
What seems to be right from a common sense or academic point of view in one age may turn out to be prejudiced in the long-range view. Kenju, in the story "Kenju's Wood," was able to get immense pleasure out of feeling the rain and wind and seeing wild creatures, but his neighbors treated him as a half-wit. The story tells how he was able to leave an excellent gift for the children of later ages.

Kenju was made fun of by children When Kenju saw "a hawk soaring up into the blue sky" or "leaves on the beech trees shimmering in the light, blown by a gust of wind" he would jump for joy, clap his hands and want to tell everyone about it. But children made such fun of him that he began to hide his feelings, and just laughed a silent laugh with his mouth wide open.
Planting cedars on the grassy land One day Kenju asked his family to buy him seven hundred cedar seedlings, as he wanted to plant them on the open ground behind their house. His older brother objected, saying the trees wouldn't grow there. But their father decided to buy the seedlings because Kenju had never asked the family to buy him anything before.
The neighbors laughed at Kenju for planting cedars on that grassy land. They said, "Cedars will never grow in a place like that. A fool is always a fool, after all."
Kenju pruned his trees, taking the other's fun seriously In fact, after seven or eight years the cedars hadn't even grown more than nine feet. At that time, a neighbor made fun of Kenju by asking him if he pruned his trees. Kenju took this seriously and diligently pruned the small trees until each tree only had three or four branches at the very top. His small wood became bare and open.
The next day, Kenju heard the cheerful voice of children coming from his wood and went to investigate. He found many children marching joyfully between the rows of trees, which formed avenues. Seeing them made Kenju glad and he laughed with his mouth wide open. Soon afterward, Kenju died of typhus, but the children kept gathering in his wood just as before.
Many years passed after he died. One day, a professor at some or other university came back to the town after fifteen years' absence. But he found no traces of any of the old fields and forests he used to know in his boyhood. The only exception was Kenju's wood, where children were playing just as in the old days. Recalling the good old days, the professor sighed, "Ah, well, who's to say who's wise and who's foolish? It's beyond our knowledge how mysteriously the wisdom of the Buddha acts!"
Material in quotation marks is from
Once and FOREVER, the tales of kenji miyazawa,
translated by John Bester, published by Kodansha International.

Stories that Examine Ethical Questions
Stories that Examine Ecological Questions
The World of Kenji's works
The World of Kenji Miyazawa