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Nutgrass and the Zen Priest

Today I remembered a story Sensei Sadao Yoshioka told us during Aikido class. This was probably in the late 1970s.

A Zen priest was wandering the countryside and was very hungry. He came upon a farmer's patch of daikon (a large while turnip). He was so hungry that he dug up a daikon and began to eat it. Well, the farmer saw him and ran up to chase him away.

As he fled, the Zen priest reached into a pouch hanging on his side and grabbed a handful of nutgrass nuts. Nutgrass is a very strong weed. The green part of the weed looks like an onion shoot (sort of). But below ground, there are a series of nuts connected by roots. If you pull the green shoot, another one will sprout. If you dig up one nut, you will miss the others and they too will sprout. The nuts go down several feet. In short, it is almost impossible to get rid of nutgrass.

So, the plot of daikon became choked with nutgrass.

The moral of the story is... actually, I cannot recall the moral. Perhaps if you see a Zen priest in your daikon patch, you should offer him food instead of chasing him. But it seemed like a pretty rotten thing for the priest to do!

I only remember this story because I have been trying to get rid of nutgrass in my yard for over 20 years!


Charles C. Goodin