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In writing a paper on the status of the elderly in Japanese society, I came across the story of Oyasute or "Discarding Mother" several times. This story highlights the connection between children and the elderly in Japanese society. This folk tale which is told in different forms - is generally outlined below:

In the story a father takes his son and his mother into the mountains carrying them on his back in a basket called a mokko. The father turns to leave his infirm mother behind and notices that his son has picked up the mokko and is taking it with him back down the mountain. The father asks his son why he picked up the basket. The son replies that he would need the basket when it came time to leave him on the mountain. Horrified at this prospect and at his own cruelty, the father carries his mother back home with them.

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