A merchant bearing fifty rolls of cotton goods on his shoulders stopped
to rest from the heat of the day beneath a shelter where a large stone
Buddha was standing. There he fell asleep, and when he awoke his goods had
disappeared. He immediately reported the matter to the police.
A judge named O-oka opened court to investigate. "That stone Buddha
must have stolen the goods," concluded the judge. "He is supposed to care
for the welfare of the people, but he has failed to perform his holy duty.
The police arrested the stone Buddha and carried it into the court. A
noisy croud followed the statue, curious to learn what kind of a sentence
the judge was about to impose.
When O-oka appeared on the bench he rebuked the boisterous audience.
"What right have you people to appear before the court laughing and joking
in this manner? You are in contempt of court and subject to a fine and
The people hastened to apologize. "I shall have to impose a fine on
you," said the judge, "but I will remit it provided each one of you brings
one roll of cotton goods to the court within three days. Anyone failing to
do this will be arrested."
One of the rolls of cloth which the people brought was quickly
recognized by the merchant as his own, and thus the thief was easily
discovered. The merchant recovered his goods, and the cotton rolls were
returned to the people.