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Written for Emily"s kindergarten class to be performed by kids taking different lines. The study theme that year was Japan. I also put together a short study guide with pictures and expanations of traditional and mythical elements in the poem. Contact me if you would like a copy.


On the road to Osaka, at the start of the day,
Some children set out to walk the whole way.

But the road to Osaka is winding and long,
So to keep themselves happy they made up a song.

A song of the road and the things they passed by,
Of the beasts in the fields, and the birds in the sky.

They sang of the people they saw on the road.
What\'s better than singing to lighten your load?

But the road to Osaka is winding and long,
And they needed a story to fill up their song.

They were watching a woman harvesting grain,
When down from the sky flew a snowy white crane.

Then a fox ran out and chased it away.
But was that enough story to fill up their day?

For the road to Osaka is winding and long.
And they needed to make it an interesting song.

So the fox was a prince who was under a spell
That was cast by an ogre who lived in a well.

A horrible ogre, known through the land
As the meanest old ogre in all of Japan.

And the crane was his servant, sent there to spy,
And the woman they saw was a ghost standing by.

A mysterious ghost standing there in the wheat,
Which is hard for a ghost, since a ghost has no feet.

But the road to Osaka is winding and long,
And they needed some action to spice up their song.

So the fox told the ghost, \"Please go if you dare,
To find that old ogre and give him a scare.

\"Then tell him that if he won\'t take back his curse,
You\'ll scare him again, and you\'ll scare him much worse.\"

The ghost rose up and followed the crane
Across the green fields that covered the plain.

And when she came to the ogre\'s deep well,
She moaned and she shrieked and she clanged like a bell.

The ogre came up, as mad as a boar.
He looked at the ghost and he let out a roar.

He showed her his claws, he rolled his big eye,
And he frightened that ghost back up to the sky.

Then the crane said, \"This was the work of the fox,
Who\'s hiding right now in that pile of rocks.\"

The ogre said, \"He\'ll wish he\'d never been found,
Because now I\'m going to send out my hound!\"

His hound was the fattest you ever did see,
A tanuki dog called Sho-Jo-Ji.

That stomped like a wrestler, sumo style,
Showing sharp pointy teeth in a wide greedy smile.

And it sang out the song of tanukis gone wrong,
While it beat on its belly like a big brass gong:
Pon\'- po\'ko, Pon\' no pon\'!

Then round in a ring through the ripening crops,
It chased and it snapped at the tail of the fox.

And the ogre, he laughed to see such a sight,
But now what can we do to set it all right?

For the road to Osaka is winding and long,
But we can\'t have a song where it all comes out wrong.

So along comes a priest with a long wooden staff,
A bright yellow robe, and a bright cheerful laugh.

To the ogre he says, with words wise and true,
\"Casting spells on a prince is a dumb thing to do.

\"Just being a ogre is surely enough,
To show the whole world that you\'re dangerous and tough.

\"But you won\'t be admired or win much respect,
If all that you do is what people expect.

\"Though, wouldn\'t the world think it wonderfully strange,
If an ogre should do something nice for a change?\"

\"That\'s so,\" said the ogre, \"For it\'s known of my clan,
That we never once turned a fox to a man.\"

Then he spoke a powerful magic command,
And in place of the fox, a young prince did stand.

Said the prince to the hound, \"That was quite an ordeal!
Now lets go to my castle and have a nice meal.\"

And off they did go, while the crane and the priest
Told the ogre that he was a most noble beast.

Said the priest, \"Fine Monster, I bid you good day.\"
With a bow and a blessing he went on his way.

Then the ogre said, \"Crane, if you would agree,
Come down in the well and join me for tea.\"

So it all come out right, though the timing was tight,
For the gate to Osaka had just come in sight.

And the road to Osaka was winding and long,
But it came to an end at the end of their song.

©Rick Fine