The Earthgod in Rags and the Fox Who Was an Astronomy Fan

An affinity for "elegant culture" and reactive feelings that love indigenous culture
In "The Earthgod and the Fox," the reader can see a subtle allusion to the internal contradictions that bothered Kenji and his compatriots in the rapidly modernizing Japan of his day. The conflict they felt was between an affinity for "elegant culture" coming in from the West and reactive feelings telling them that they should be resisting it.

The earthgod in shabby appearance and the fox smart in dress The story centers on a beautiful lady birch tree who stood alone at the northern edge of a field. She had two friends, the earthgod who lived in a marshy hollow some five hundred paces away, and the brown fox who always came to visit from somewhere to the south.

The earthgod was a bit crude and untidy in appearance, "with hair hanging unkempt like a bundle of ragged cotton thread, bloodshot eyes, and clothes that dangled about him like bits of seaweed. He always went barefoot, and his nails were long and black." In contrast, the fox wore "a dark blue suit fresh from the tailor's, and his light-brown leather shoes squeaked slightly as he walked." Of the two, it was the fox, perhaps, whom the birch tree preferred.

The fox airing his learning
Both the earthgod and the fox seemed to be very fond of the birch tree, and each came by occasionally to talk to her. The fox, an astronomy buff, liked to speak with special pride about nebulas, and specifically about the "fish-mouth nebula." One day, beside himself with delight while telling of how he had seen it at the Mizusawa Observatory, he went so far as to fib about having ordered a telescope from Zeiss in far-away Germany. Then he loaned the birch tree a collection of poems by Heine (to impress her) and went on home.

Irritated earthgod For the earthgod--who was not consciously aware of his growing fondness for the birch tree--the very existence of this fox was an irritant. "I may be nobody much," he would tell himself, "but I am a god after all, and it's disgraceful that I should have to bother myself about a mere fox. But the awful thing is, I do. Why don't I forget about the birch tree?"

One night, the earthgod overheard a conversation between the fox and the birch tree that infuriated him more than ever, especially the following part in which they were talking of the fox's library: "What a fine library it must be!" "No, no. Just a few scattered volumes, really. And besides, I use the place for my studies too, so it's rather a mess, what with a microscope in one corner and the London Times lying over there....."

The earthgod stamping on the fox until he was dead At last, one fine autumn day, the earthgod could take no more and exploded into a rage, dashing off after the fox. Turning to see what was wrong, the fox saw "the earthgod, black all over, rushing after him like a hurricane." In the end, the earthgod caught up with the fox and pounced on him, stamping on him again and again until he was dead. Then the earthgod burst out in loud tears.
Material in quotation marks is
from Once and FOREVER, the tales of kenji miyazawa,
translated by John Bester, published by Kodansha International.

Foxes, rats, horses---
Dances,festivals and gods
The World of Kenji's works
The World of Kenji Miyazawa