The Most Foolish Traveler in the World is a fictional story within the Fruits Basket series.
A foolish traveler is on a journey. “Foolish” because he’s easily tricked by the people he meets in each town. On this trip he’s tricked out of his money, his clothes, even his shoes. The traveler is so foolish that whenever the townspeople lie, saying “this will help”, tears roll down his cheeks and he says, “I’m so happy for you!” Finally, he has no clothing left. The traveler is so embarrassed that he continues his journey only through forests. He meets monsters who live in the woods. Monsters who use clever words on the traveler so they can eat him. Of course, the traveler is so dumb that he willingly gives an arm and a leg. In the end, the traveler is just a head. He gives his eyes to one final monster. As the monster munches on his eyeballs, he says, “Thank you. To show my gratitude, I’ll leave you with a present.” But that’s a lie too. The present is just a slip of paper with the word “idiot” on it. Still, the traveler sobs tearfully through his sockets. “Thank you, thank you! No one’s ever given me a present before! This makes me so happy. Thank you, thank you!” The tears keep pouring out of his empty eye sockets. Then, the traveler died, the smile still on his face.
When Kyo Sohma and Yuki Sohma find out that Tohru Honda has spent all of her money by buying Valentine's chocolate for them, they are upset at her foolish tendency to take care about everyone except herself as well as her tendency to hide her worries behind a smile. Momiji Sohma interrupts their thoughts by telling them a story he read in school - "The Most Foolish Traveler in the World." He reveals that all of his classmates laughed and called the traveler a fool, but he just closed his eyes and thought about the traveler who was tricked into giving everything away until he was just a head that cried tears of gratitude. Momiji eventually came to the conclusion that the traveler was a wonderful man who didn't fret on things like loss and hardship; because he must have thought that "what is foolish to some people, isn't foolish for me, They may think they're tricking me, but they're not. I just really want to make other people happy."
Momiji asks Yuki and Kyo if they still think that the traveler was stupid, and asks them what they think when they close their eyes. Both think of Tohru; despite her foolishly spending all of her money and selflessly giving them chocolates for Valentine's Day without expecting anything in return, they appreciate what she has done, and are motivated to give back as much as they have received. Momiji invites her to a trip to the hot springs, Yuki buys her a ribbon, and Kyo decides to tag along to the hot springs for Tohru's sake even though he doesn't want to spend time with Yuki.
Kyo later thinks back to this story when he interrogates his true feelings towards Tohru. He thinks about how Tohru is so selflessly kind and that she should worry about herself more since there is no benefit to care about others more than oneself, and wonders if she doesn't feel used or stupid. Kyo remembers Momiji telling him that he doesn't view the traveler as an idiot, and when he asked him what he thought when he closed his eyes. Kyo closed his eyes and thought about Tohru; soon coming to the realization that he has fallen so deeply in love with her.
- In the 2019 anime, the traveler was made female, presumably to draw more similarities between the traveler and Tohru.
- Although it isn't explicitly said, Momiji, Yuki, and Kyo all compare the traveler to Tohru regarding how selflessly kind she is - sometimes to a fault - yet that they still appreciate her and doesn't think she is foolish.