PC028: The Tanuki-Kettle

By Eugie Foster
Read by Tina Connolly
Introduction by M. K. Hobson
First appeared in Cricket Magazine.

As she opened the door, Hisa was surprised to see an iron kettle sitting on her step. It had a large, round belly and four stumpy legs. The spout was wide and curved like a fox’s mouth with two round, black eyes above it. And most curious, a pair of pointed triangles jutted from the top, exactly like a pair of ears.

“What an unusual teakettle.” Hisa looked, but there was no one about.

She set aside her broken pot and brought the new, iron one inside. She poured sweet, cool water into it. Where her old kettle took eight dippers of water, this new one required a full twelve to fill.

Hisa stoked the fire high and lifted the kettle to the hook.

“Mistress, I thank you for the drink, but please don’t put me on the fire.”

Hisa spun around, sloshing water on the floor. “Who said that?”

“It was I, mistress. The teakettle.”

Hisa stared at the iron pot in her hands. “Teakettles do not talk.”

“I’m only pretending to be a teakettle.”

Rated G. Contains objects and animals that refuse to remain in their platonic categories.

Please visit the thread on this story in our forums.

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87 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Hyperion said,

    October 8, 2008 @ 6:01 am

    What a delightful and inventive story! Not one but two Japanese Feudal “Meet-Cutes,” and for the first time I have ever written those words, that’s a compliment.

    (Big Ups to Tina Connolly as well. The source material is always what it is, but a great reading can add so much.)

    You know, post-post-modern semi-perv that I (and I suspect many others) am, I always get a slight bump in the pulse when I see an “R” or “X” rating. After all, there is nothing like magical story boobies, with the possibility of untold carnage as well.

    That said, Eugie Foster drums home that you don’t need the S&M (or Murderous Grim) to have a great story. You just need a great story.

    Lastly, on a CastlePod level, I believe “The Tanuki-Kettle” is the third (fourth, if you count India) solidly “Eastern” story presented here. Since great stories can come from anywhere, this clearly points to Rachel Swirsky possessing a good eye (ear?) for quality work.

    Keep ‘em coming!

  2. 2

    epilonious said,

    October 8, 2008 @ 10:28 am

    I really enjoyed this story. I listened to it twice and I was grinning the whole time. It helped me deal with a much-earlier-than-usual morning commute.

    Like a good cup of tea, the savory bitterness of life and mischief within the story was cut well with the sweetness of good humor, well-applied faith, and just the right amount of thoughtfulness. Mischief was guided carefully to lessons, and sweetness was never allowed to grow to the point of dyspepsia.

    Massive thanks to Eugie Foster for sharing this story with us. And Props to Tina Connolly, for I shall never be able to think of a Tanuki speaking any other way.

    I also adored M. K. Hobsons introduction.

    Just the trifecta of good storytelling.

  3. 3

    Blaine Boy said,

    October 9, 2008 @ 1:20 am

    Where can we all get a Tanuki? I don’t care if it has huge testicles (awkward as that sounds) if it can perform magical, mischievous deeds I want one. I couldn’t help but smile. I loved this story absolutely loved it. Normally, I would be brimming with cynicism about how lame and cliche this story is, but it was just so well done I could never be able to bring myself to something negative about it. It was unbelievably good. Bonus points to epilonious for his awesome metaphors though. I just want to listen to it over and over again (and that is something I never do with a story. I have never re-read a story for pleasure. I always think that it will take away from it because of over-analyzation.) Amazing choice guys.

    Yours ever and truly faithfully,
    the Blaine Boy

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    Mark said,

    October 9, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

    Simply delightful!

  5. 5

    yicheng said,

    October 9, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

    While enjoyable, this story was too predictable and contrived. It seemed like it was story written for children, or young adults, rather than a “serious” piece of tanooki fantasy (lol). The reading by Tina Connolly was good. I’m told, however, that the correct japanese pronunciation is with the emphasis on the first syllable, like TAH-ookee, rather than teh-NOO-kee. BTW, in traditional japanese mythology (apart from the Studio Ghibli stuff) Tanooki’s are pretty mischievious and cunning creatures, and not always cute and harmless.

  6. 6

    Rachel said,

    October 9, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

    “It seemed like it was story written for children, or young adults”

    Well, it was published in Cricket. ;)

  7. 7

    scatterbrain said,

    October 9, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

    Trust the Japanese to have a lengendary creature with an enormous pair of bollocks; but then again, most British lengendary creatures are drunkards, so I’m really in no position to complain.

    Something I realized during the story was that Podcastle has been doing mostly Eastern and ‘philosophical’ fantasy rather than any sword-’n’-sorcery; why can’t we listen to anything of the likes of Elric or Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser for a change?

  8. 8

    Hoyajon said,

    October 11, 2008 @ 7:30 am

    What a great story! I listened to it with my 12 year old son while we drove home from his baseball game. At the end of the drive, we were both smiling.

    On another note, one of the great values of the whole Escape series is the ability to share great literature with my kids. My daughter was inspired when I played “Come Lady Death” with her. Please keep putting up works I can play in the car when the kids are in the cabin.

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    Audita Sum said,

    October 12, 2008 @ 9:04 am

    I’m growing weary of these cutesy stories.

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    Ronnie said,

    October 12, 2008 @ 9:56 pm

    Wow! Coincidence. I just today picked up a children’s book version of the Tanuki as teapot story from the library today, then came home and saw this.

  11. 11

    Alice said,

    October 12, 2008 @ 11:22 pm

    I sometimes wonder if I freak out my roommates by listening to these out loud. For this story they actually asked me to turn it up! Whether it was the excellent narration or the sweet and whimsical quality of the story I’m not sure, but we all agree it was a win!

  12. 12

    Old Man Parker said,

    October 19, 2008 @ 1:19 am

    What the..?
    I should have hated this story. It was way too cute. I was trying to hate it. Really. Then, suddenly, I was all warm and emotional and wanting to drink some nice tea, and beaming over the happy ending.

  13. 13

    LaShawn said,

    October 21, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

    Being a fellow tea-drinker, I find this story sweet, light and delicate with an amusing aftertaste. Thanks for posting such a delicious story!

  14. 14

    The Fix | From the Podosphere: October 2008 said,

    November 16, 2008 @ 9:21 am

    [...] Foster’s* “The Tanuki-Kettle” (read by Tina Connolly) is an eastern fantasy in the style of a traditional fairy tale, [...]

  15. 15

    More links for your enjoyment (or I’m actually doing some writing for once so I’ll just cut and paste here…) « The Cafe in the Woods said,

    November 18, 2008 @ 5:16 pm

    [...] For some more culture goodness, this time Japanese-flavored, check out the story that comes after: The Tanuki-Kettle. A very sweet tale [...]

  16. 16

    EugieFoster.com Fiction said,

    October 5, 2010 @ 10:57 am

    [...] The Tanuki-Kettle [Listen] [...]

  17. 17

    EugieFoster.com Audio Podcasts said,

    October 24, 2010 @ 9:57 am

    [...] Tanuki-Kettle” (reprint) in PodCastle, October 2008. FREE FICTION! engaging and charming, and not without incidental unexpected twists [...]

  18. 18

    EugieFoster.com Read/Listen & Buy said,

    April 13, 2011 @ 10:04 am

    [...] “The Tanuki-Kettle” (in Returning My Sister’s Face, produced by PodCastle, Oct. 2008). [...]

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