On a rainy November morning, I was playing hanafuda, a Japanese cards game featuring trees, plants and flowers for each month of the year (hana=flower, fuda=card).
The suit featured in November is the willow.
The most important card in this suit is a man with an umbrella, often referred to as ‘The Rainman’.
I noticed a frog on the card and was curious to know if there was a story behind this image of a man with an umbrella and a frog under the willow.
It turns out the man is Ono no Michikaze (“Rainman”) a famous calligrapher in in Japan.
One day, Ono no Michakaze was considering abandoning calligraphy. He went for a walk in the rain.
He saw a frog trying to grab a branch of willow.
Each time the frog jumped, the breeze would move the willow branch. The frog would try again, and the wind would move the branch again.
The calligrapher thought this frog would never reach the willow, but after seven attempts, the frog finally grabbed the willow branch.
Then, the calligrapher knew he shouldn’t give up.
He went on to become one of the most important calligraphers in Japan.
If you have a difficult project, and you feel like abandoning, think about the little frog trying to reach the willow branch.
Photos by Jessica Tremblay.
Objects: hanafuda cards by Nintendo, Japanese paper doll made by a Japanese senior, paperbag cherry tree made by a Burnaby Public Library librarian, frog figurine from a flea market.