When you first fish, you want to catch a fish.
Once you catch a fish, then you want to catch many fish.
After you have caught many fish, you want to catch a big fish.
Then you want to catch many big fish.
Then you may come to a place where you want to catch a particular fish. It may not be a big fish but there is something about this fish, this river.
Then you may go fishing but you cut the hook from the fly.
You may then just go to the river without your rod.
Then you may find you no longer need to go to the river at all.
pc: K. Inbody
The story of “Taro-San the Fisherman and the Weeping Willow Tree” was inspired by a traditional storytelling art called “Nankin Tamasudare,” in which a bamboo mat is used to represent many different figures in the story.
Nankin tamasudare (南京玉簾 or 南京玉すだれ, Nankin-tamasudare, lit. “Nanjing Lily“) is a kind of traditional Japanese street performance. The name “Nankin tamasudare” is a play on words, as it can mean a kind of flower, as well as mean something like “a wondrous woven screen” (sudare is a kind of screen made by weaving straw with twine.)
The performance consists of a person skilled in manipulating special screens made of loosely woven sticks, as well as chanting an accompanying kind of poetry. The performer chants a rhythmic poem as he or she uses the screen to portray the objects in the poetry without stopping. The screen is twisted, folded, extended, etc., in many different ways to portray an object, and then brought back quickly to its original screen shape. The chant usually ends with a pun: kaeru nai has the double meaning that there is no frog (カエル, kaeru) under the willow tree, and the willow tree figure cannot return (帰る, kaeru) easily to the original shape. The story ends with the willow tree figure, with the performer slowly packing up the mat after the performance.
Nankin tamasudare is said to have been a popular form of entertainment that began in the Edo period. Today, it is sometimes performed at Japanese cultural festivals.