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Ganrin Tsuruhara and the Grateful Fox / Legends and Folktales

Ganrin Tsuruhara and the Grateful Fox

The Tsuruhara family was a family of doctors of internal medicine who served the Fukuoka domain for many generations.

Although, we do not know exactly when the following event happened because the head of the Tsuruhara family was always named Ganrin; one night, Ganrin Tsuruhara went to the home of the chief retainer of the Fukuoka domain and there he saw a fox tied to a pine tree near the pond.

Ganrin asked the chief retainer about the fox and was told that he had caught it stealing carp from his pond, and he intended to kill it.

Ganrin felt sorry for the fox and made a plan to save it. He told the chief retainer that fresh fox liver made good medicine and the chief retainer decided to hand the fox over to him. Upon returning home, he warned the fox to never go to the samurai's house again, but to go back to the mountains to find his food there.

Later, when Ganrin went to Kyoto to study, he got sick with a high fever. While he was recovering in bed, a beautiful woman came to take care of him. After he had recovered, he asked the woman for her name but she said nothing and left.

He found some fox hair on his bed and then realized that the fox had helped him. After he got back to Fukuoka, Ganrin built a small shrine in his garden and offered some red rice and aburaage (deep-fried tofu) every day to thank the fox for saving him.

The story does not end there. In the great fire of Horeki in 1753, after the flames had spread from Hamano-machi and consumed everything from Daimyo-cho to Doteno-cho, a white fox appeared, and with the wave of its tail it stopped the fire from spreading to Ganrin-no-cho. The fire died out, saving Ganrin's house. Perhaps this was also the fox showing gratitade.

Ganrin-no-cho where Ganrin's house once stood is presently Daimyo 1 chome and 2 chome.

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