It is a humorous description of a happening in which the servants Tarokaja and Jirokaja caught their master in a lie and silenced him using his own logic. It is one of the most famous kyogen programs. It is transmitted to various kyogen schools using detailed movements and lines.
The master said 'Don't get close to the tub containing torikabuto' and went out. Tarokaja and Jirokaja were asked to look after the house, but they couldn't get the tub out of their mind. Finally Tarokaja decided to see the contents. Then he found busu in it which looked very delicious though it was supposed to be poisonous. He yielded to temptation and took a lick and found that the master told a lie of the busu being poisonous when in fact it was actually sugar. They competed in eating up the sugar. After they ate up the sugar which their master had hid by lying, they took some action to excuse themselves for doing so.
First they destroyed the treasured pot and hanging scroll of their master. Next, they messed up with it and started crying hard. When the master came home, he found the broken hanging scroll and pot and the two were crying and so the master asked them what happened. They explained 'we broke the hanging scroll and pot by mistake, so we were going to express our apology by killing ourselves by taking the poison, but unfortunately we couldn't die' and the master was at a loss what to do.
The value of sugar
In Japan it was in the Edo period that the production of industrial sugar became widespread. Before then, sugar was valuable as only imported sugar was available in Japan. On the other hand, kyogen was developed from the Muromachi period to the early Edo period, and it reflected the values at that time. So it is logical that the master lied to hide the valuable 'sugar' from his servants and the two servants Tarokaja and Jirokaja competed in eating it up in "Busu."
The original of "Busu"
The original of "Busu" is included in Buddhist stories Shasekishu (collection of Buddhist stories) compiled in the 13th century (in the Kamakura period). The characters are a monk and a small child. There is also a similar story in 'Ikkyu san' from a later period. Among similar folk stories in various regions in Japan, it is classified as 'candy is poison' in "Nihon Mukashibanashi Jiten" (dictionary of tales of old Japan). In those stories, many variations of foods are used as 'poison', and various treasured goods that are destroyed by way of an apology.
Also in the Korean Peninsula there is a similar story of dried persimmon being poison that is included in 'Yong-je chong-hwa,' by which it is assumed that the story became widespread in East Asia