Battle of the Monkey and the Crab

Page 1, Battle of the Monkey and the Crab

Published in 1885, the story of Battle of the Monkey and the Crab (or Suru Kani Gasso) is the third in Hasegawa's series of Japanese fairy tales. According to Herring, this children’s tale is a “humorous variation on [a] classic nursery” (19). After Hasegawa’s first publication of these folktales, he produced the books in color to attract more foreign buyers.

The folktale is about a crab and a monkey negotiating a trade. The crab finds a rice ball and the monkey asks to trade it for a persimmon seed. Even though the crab is upset with the trade, he takes the seed, plants it, and cares for it everyday. The seed grows into a tree filled with fruits.

One day the crab asks the monkey to pick the fruit for him. The monkey agrees, climbs up the tree, and begins to throw unripe fruit to the crab. When the crab returns home and explains what happened to the other crabs, the crab and his family want revenge. The crabs succeed in getting even with the monkey and live happily ever after. 

The moral of this tale is that greed is a bottomless pit that will lead to a person's endless dissatisfaction. The monkey makes an unfair deal with a crab, but ultimately does not gain anything.

Exhibit Created by: Tanaya Cardenales and Tavaris Sanders