As promised here are my short summaries/impressions of the other stories from the 2013 book:
A guy visits a barber and insists on having an excessive amount of hair oil applied and consequently melts in the sun on his way back. (Yes, the guy melts, only leaving behind a stone)
A girl gets her beloved doll stolen by a young beggar girl. Although this makes her very sad, she decides not to be resentful and not tell the police about it.
A bittersweet story about the short, but vigorous life of a small weed compared to the long and slow life of a tree.
A baby boy hates his mother’s apron because it means she has to work and can’t tend to him. After turning into a young men, he discovers a stone he used to have as a kid. I didn’t quite get the connection between between past and present, though, but I only listened to the audio version and was mildly distracted.
The men each find keys in different places, then use it do open a golden chest. As it turns out, there’s a message from a princess in the chest promising the ones who open it wealth, land and even marriage. Unfortunately the princess is long gone, so there’s nothing to get for the men.
A mother of two mountain doves tells her sons that towns are dangerous, but the two of them get curious as they grow up. Eventually a town dove reassures them that humans won’t hunt them there. They then visit the town, but return after a while and talk about a red sky and everything burning down. At first I thought this was a reference to war, but since the story is from 1926, it’s probably about one of the big fires that happened in the Japanese cities.
A straightfordward, but nice story about a village where two rich people bought the first clocks. Everyone started using these two clocks as an orientation for all their meetings etc., but it led to small conflicts when it turned out the clocks didn’t display the exact same time. Instead of letting them repair, the rich people decided to throw them away and go back to the village’s old lifestyle without clocks – a lifestyle that’s way more relaxed.
A mother seal is searching for her children and asks the wind for help. The wind can’t find the children either, but decides to bring a present from a faraway country to cheer up the seal.
A woman is kidnapped and taken to a faraway desert country where she has to assist in saffron wine making. Out of desparation she kills herself and her blood mixes with the wine, making it irresistably delicious. When traveling men the come to the city and drink the wine, they find themselves addicted. They spend all the money they earn in the bars and eventually stay there forever, never returning to their families.
A railway is hurt by a train and complains to the moon. The moon decides to look for the train to scold him, but soon realizes that the train can’t be blamed either.
Parents bully their non-blood related son by sending him off to earn money with a kokyū (Japanese string instrument) without strings. The boy still manages to move bystanders to tears with his music and attracts the attention of a professional musician who then adopts the boy.
A young countryside teacher receives a pocket watch as a farewell gift from is students before moving to the captial. There he manages to land a good job. At first he treasures the watch above all, but eventually sells it to buy a new, more fashionable one. More than a decade passes and he is now holds a high position and owns a very expensive platinum watch. But one day he finds out that one of his employees now owns the watch he had sold – and that it is way more accurate than his own expensive watch. He thinks back to his days as a teacher and questions whether his current job truly really contributes to society.
During a rainstorm in a cold night, a traveler knocks on the door of a family in a remote mountain village and begs them to let him stay for the night. Out of fear they refuse. They have a very sick daughter and despite the family’s cold treatment, the traveler leaves medicine for her that eventually saves her life. Years later the daughter is married with children of her own. The family still regrets their cold behavior and vows to be more hospitable to any future travelers in need. However, no travelers ever knock on their door again.