A long, long time ago, on an island called Okinoshima, there lived a rabbit. The rabbit, looking at the coast of Inaba in Japan, so far away, thought, “I’d really like to get to that big island somehow.”
So the rabbit said to some “crocodiles” (actually sharks) that were on the beach, “Crocodile, crocodile, which do you think are more numerous, us rabbits or you crocodiles?”
The crocodile replied, “It goes without saying that there are more of us than there are of you, of course!”
“In that case, I’ll try counting, so please get all your crocodile friends together.”
So the crocodile got his pals to come and lined them all up in a row. There were so many of them, so very many of them!
There were so many crocodiles that they stretched all the way from Okinoshima to the distant coast of Inaba. The rabbit, thinking she’d got it made, jumped on each of the crocodiles’ backs, counting as she went, “One crocodile, two crocodiles, three crocodiles….”
But when at last she was about to reach the coast of Inaba in this style, the rabbit spilled the beans without thinking, saying, “Ha, ha, you crocodiles, I fooled you! All I really wanted to do was get to Inaba, just like this!”
Hearing the rabbit say this, the last crocodile in the line grabbed hold of the rabbit and dived into a river.
Then the gods came along. Seeing the rabbit with her fur torn off and her skin showing bright red, one god said, “Hey, rabbit, you seem to have your fur torn off. If you wash it in sea water and dry it in the sun, it will stop hurting, you’ll see.”
But that god was a mean one, and he just wanted to give the rabbit a hard time. The rabbit did as she was told, but when she washed her body in sea water and dried it in the sun, the pain just got worse.
Then the younger brother of the nasty gods came along, Ohkuninushinomikoto. This god was a very kind one.
He said to the rabbit, “Oh, you poor thing! You must wash your body in pure river water and cover it with cattail reeds. If you do that, you’ll be fine again, just like you were before.”
That’s what the god Ohkuninushinomikoto told the rabbit to do.
The rabbit did as she’d been told. She washed her body in the river and then gathered the cattail reeds and covered her body with them. When she did so, the pain lessened and her white fur began to grow back.
“From now on, I’ll never tell another lie. Because if you do something bad, it always comes back to you, doesn’t it?” So thinking, the rabbit deeply reflected on her actions.