Shita-kiri Suzume

traditional Japanese fable telling of a kind old man, his avaricious wife and an injured sparrow

Shita-kiri Suzume (which means The Tongue-Cut Sparrow) is a Japanese folk legend. It is told by many parents to their children.[1] The story is about being kind and helping someone who is hurt. It is also about being mean and greedy.

The story


Shita-kiri Suzume is the story of an old man and an old woman who find a sparrow. The old man takes care of the sparrow and gives it food. The old woman treats the sparrow badly and cuts out the sparrow's tongue. After the sparrow flies away, the old man goes to find it in the mountains. When he does, the sparrows give him a choice between two baskets to take home. The basket he picks is filled with many good things. The old woman sees the good things and goes to the sparrows to get a basket for herself. She is greedy and mean when she talks to the sparrows, but they still give her a basket. She is not patient and opens the basket before she gets home. It is filled with bad and scary things.


  1. "Folk Legends Shitakiri Suzume (Toung-Cut Sparrow)". Kids Web Japan. Retrieved 8 March 2016.