top of page

「赤べこ」と疫病の関係       英語の記事を毎週読むのが英語上達に役立つvol.856  










■Cow Medicine

Characters: C - Chan; H - Hideyoshi

A GV and a learner in class talking about a souvenir item

C: My girlfriend’s aunt lives in Japan but she recently went

  back to her country for vacation. She brought a lot of

  souvenirs but what caught my attention was a cute little

  cow figurine.

H: Cow figurine, huh? Sounds oddly familiar. Can you describe

how it looks?

C: Well it’s a molded figure, mostly bright red in color,

  and it has some patterns like circles and curved lines.

  She said it was a traditional toy in one of the areas

  of Fukushima.

H: Aha! If it’s from Fukushima, then now I’m definitely sure.

It’s an Akabeko doll.

C: Oh, you’re right! I think that’s what she calls it.

  What is it, exactly?

H: Well, long ago, samurai were taught the Aizu molding

  technique commonly known these days as papier mâché.

  They made Akabeko dolls and it was a good foundation

  of culture and economy in Aizu.

C: Wow! I didn’t know it had such a history.

H: But wait, there’s more!

C: Really? Do tell me about it.

H: On traditional Akabeko dolls, you’ll see circle patterns.

  Those symbolize the smallpox virus. Legend says

  that a red bull or cow warded off the plague epidemic

  in the Heian era.

  So children would always have an Akabeko with them.

C: You don’t say! You know the word “vaccine” comes from

  the Latin word “vacca” which means a cow. That’s

  because the deadly smallpox virus was eradicated

  by developing a medicine from the cowpox