Mother Earth

Volume 5: The Pond of Jiaolongs Waiting for Rain [1]

Chapter 3: The Decipherment of the Fudesaki

      The visitors to the church of the Konko cult in Hongu, Ayabe, gradually increased, and the separate room of six jo (six tatamis) of the Oshima family became soon too narrow.

      On January 18, 1895 (Meiji era 28), Okumura rented two rooms (each of eight jo) which had been used for sericulture from an assistant, Gennosuke Shikata, and moved the church to it.

      The cutting of the New Year's rice cakes, for the New Year celebration according to the old calendar, the ritual of the church was so well attended that the visitors overflowed the church. Shortly after the lunar New Year, a few believers gathered before the altar of the church in the house of the Shikata family and spoke encouragingly about their faith. At this moment, the door was opened violently and a drunken man rushed into the church. He was a rough rickshaw man named Nishiyata-no-Mankichi.

      "Hey, you! What are you saying about the god? What are you doing here gathering a lot of people? Is it true that you try feed people up with broth made from dried bonito while you didn't work. Hey, reply clearly."

      Thinking that it is foolish to deal with a drunken man, no one answered. Mankichi who wanted to impose himself, glared at all, becoming silent and looking with his drunken blue eyes on the sinister flushed face. After belching deeply he opened the fusuma (the sliding door) of the next room as if breaking it open by kicking. Okumura who arranged his documents hurriedly ran against the believers for safety.

      Nao saw him from her sewing station.

      "Hey, you, old woman! A rag dealer of old! You began making money carrying a sham god on your shoulders because you could not eat from waste papers although they have the same name in Japan as god (kami). Yet, you will be unable to do anything sensible, like for my sins, that is! Harm me if you wish!"

      The eyes of Nao, staring at the tip of Mankichi's nose, were shining like gold. "The god would never punish everyone." She said calmly.

      Mankichi trembled, and quickly sobered down. He drew back unconsciously, but shouted in a strong rough voice to make a false show of courage.

      "Huh! What do you do? Can't you pray to your god to punish me despite gathering a lot of members? Weak fellows!"

      He sprinkled the scent of sake over the room before the altar and went out ostentatiously.

      The next morning, a believer of the former night's party rushed into the church and informed of a wondrous happening in a shrill nervous voice Okumura, Gennosuke, Heizo and others.

      "lt is prodigious. O-Nao-han, it certainly is the god Ushitora-no-Konjin. On my way to here, when I was going to cross the bridge over the Wachi River, Mankichi importunately was running to me pulling an empty cart. Thinking that this hateful man was coming, I was watching him standing at the foot of the bridge. But, listen, a very strong wind suddenly blew across the middle of the bridge, and Mankichi fell into the river with his cart. Oh, mercy!"

      At that time, the wooden bridge on the Wachi River had just been thrown over in November, 1894.

      "And, what did Mankichi do?," inquired Gennosuke.

      "Well, the others, looking at him gave shouts of warning. At any rate, we are coming to inform you of the power of Ushitora-no-Konjin." The informer took pride in this. "See, you understand the god very well. This is just Heaven's vengeance."

      Nao stopped Okumura trying to say more. She said clearly although sorrowfully.

      "The god would never punish you. I say that it is the inevitable retribution from your previous lives. You must expiate your sins! The god Konjin is holding himself responsible for people, and prays to the sacred world to mitigate their punishment and reduce their sufferings. There is no other choice for persons who oppose the god Konjin. But, those are just the people I want to pray for to the god."

      Nao once doubted if the god Konjin was an evil god, but, nowadays, she would rather rely on the god Konjin than fear Him.

      Heizo Shikata had always been a believer of the Konko cult, and it was true that he became eager about propagating the faith, the beliefs of the Konko cult, but he couldn't respect Nao. However, his attitude progressively changed as time went by. He was rather charmed by Nao's character as a missionary of the Konko cult, Okumura.

      At the time of the daily meals, Okumura sat backing on the alcove (the recess in a Japanese room in which a kakemono might be hung), and Nao sat face to face with him. Okumura used a large vermilion Jacquered tray, and Nao used a small tray shaped as a case which side is about 18 cm (this is called Hako-zen. The servants and others put their dinner sets in it and used its lid as a tray).

      The side dishes of Okumura were especially cooked roast fish and what not, but Nao's dishes were only a red soup bowl and a piece of cooked Japanese radish. When Okumura held out the ricebowl in silence asking for a second serving Nao accepted it more politely than a servant. Looking at this scene, Heizo could not forbear expressing his amazement. There was no reason for her to humble herself so much though Okumura was a missionary of the Konko cult.

      Indeed, whenever Heizo visited the church, Nao was sitting straight, writting the Fudesaki, or making an offering to the god in the morning and in the evening, or cleaning the hall before the altar..., working to clean and mend clothes, or prepare a meal, or doing this or that for Okumura heing careful up to detail. Furthermore, she smoothly finished these chores with calm, and unnoticed. She even continued to be a rag dealer whenever she could snatch a moment for her duties.

      At first, the assistant got used to Nao and entrusted her entirely to undertake the contact between the assistants. The meetings of the church were held mostly at the night and Nao knocked modestly each assistant's door - be it rain or snow.

      "The Reverend wants to urgently hold a meeting to consult a problem of the god with you. Would you please come, although we are sorry for the trouble, think of it as an ascetic exercise."

      Looking at Nao who stood outdoor wearing Japanese sandals, without stockings, everyone let go his bad mood. "Confound it! I'm dozing, it is bothersome," and felt inclined to get dressed and go with a light heart. Whenever everyone visited the church, Nao joyfully treated them to a meal, boiling and broiling the offering that had been received. When receiving offerings the attitudes of Okumura and Nao were different. At first, Okumura raised everything reverently to his head with pleasure. But when believers increased, his face broaden with a smile only when receiving money, but, not the Japanese radish and beans and so on. By contrast, believers were ashamed of donating money iin the presence of Nao. Nao was very pleased to accept cooked Japanese radish and baked wheat flower which believers had harvested, saying courteously, "Oh, well, this is nice cooking which took you some time." lf there was only one piece Japanese radish as the offering on the altar, she divided it among the believers, saying "everybody, please be blessed."

      Looking at Nao, Heizo understood very well that the god was glad to receive the faithfulness of any human being.

      Heizo could casually guess that Okumura hated such an attitude of Nao. Certainly, if he took same attitude as Nao, he could economicaly not maintain the church. Heizo understood the situation of Okumura, but, felt something weird about him.

      Okumura thought that Nao served not only himself but each believer as well. When the believers visited the church, Nao cleaned their Japanese footware and so on without telling them and handed it back after drying it at the fire. She was quicker than anyone to notice an opened seam on man's clothes, and mended it at once. Other believers were also attracted by Nao's smooth personality when they visited the church to win the favor of the god.

      Heizo Shikata sometimes thought of allowing them to avail themseves of her kind offers, and reflected on the attitude of the believers in such circumstances, looking at Okumura from adjacent room. He acted proudly, at meals, when being served by Nao.

      __"O-Nao-han is only a rag dealer, but she serves the Reverend Okumura as a maid. From my point of view, O-Nao-han is possessed by the god Ushitora-no-Konjin: I could say that she exists as a sacred vessel which the god Konjin is using as a shrine. For this same reason we must treat her respectfully.

      Okumura washed his mouth with tea and swallowed it. "I am going out for a while. Stay at home and be careful!" He ordered her, stood up, and inclined his head a little towards Heizo. After seeing him off, Nao went to the hall before the altar, at once, and looked at Heizo with a smiling face.

      "Well, welcome to such whimsical weather." Nao quickly put the large tray of Okumura on the small tray on her and stood up, keeping a precarious balance.

      Heizo laughed. "O-Nao-han, why did you put it on a smaller tray? It's upside down?" "Yes, it is true, but, I cannot put the tray of a woman like on top of myself the tray of the respected Reverend."

      At hearing her words, Heizo turned red like a ground cherry. Just now, he noticed that he had taught the attitude of a believer by throwing light of herself as only a rag dealer and an old woman.

      After putting dinner sets in order, Nao brought Fudesaki and showed it to Heizo. It was written on a piece of paper covered by the offering of a believer.

      "This morning, I was writing this sentence guided by a mysterious power. Can you read this?"

      All the believers knew that Nao, possessed by the supernatural, wrote a Fudesaki everyday. But, most believers were ignorant, and only a few believers who knew the characters a little, avoided reading the Fudesaki because they disliked her unclear childish strokes and held her flatly in contempt. First, there were some things in the attitude of even the Reverend Okumura, who would not show the Fudesaki to the believers.

      "The supernatural power of O-Nao-han is very good to heal disease, but not to write the Fudesaki...."

      All believers thought so also.

      But, Heizo was committed to decipher it seriously. There were no interline spaces nor punctuation marks. There was too much hiragana, which made deciphering difficult. Even if he could decipher some hiragana, Heizo could not understand the whole meaning of the Fudesaki at all. While sraring at the Fudesaki, a look of puzzlement gradually showed on his face.

      Nao said as if she wanted to encourage him, "Last night, when I was sleeping, the god woke me up and delivered the following words. 'Munetada-sama (the Founder of Kurozumi religious cult) and Tenri-ou-sama (the god of Tenri religious cult) are of the same origin, they have the same roots. Hi-no-Okami-sam (Amaterasu-Omikami), Tsuki-no-Okami-sama (Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto, the son of the god lzanagi-no-mikoto, and the younger brother of Amaterasu-Omikami) were born in the womb of human beings....'"

      Hearing Nao's voice, Heizo focused on Fudesaki intensely, and it looked, maybe, truly just as the god's words.

      "Once more, speak slowly, please."

      Heizo marched each of her word with the hiragana on the Fudesaki. Thereupon, he was able, although with difficulty to decipher the illegible hiragana.

      "Yah, I'm understanding this part of sentence, and next please."

      "This God will protect us all."

      "...will protect us all. It is written, written, certainly I can read!" Heizo had a fit of coughing.

      And, he began to read, stammeringly each line of the Fudesaki written through her efforts.

      "Oh, yes, you are going to read this. The god made me write just the words which He delivered to me in the night, I believe so." She made her white cheek shine. Even tears spread over her eyes.

      "What I wrote is understood. Heizo clearly read the character which I myself don't understand. Everyone can read the Fudesaki if having only the sincere desire to understand the sacred words. Now, the mind of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin will be understood by the people.' First, Nao was profoundly doubting if the god Ushitora-no-Konjin was the evil god. But, she couldn't help being opposite to the god Ushitora-no-Konjin bearing up on the trials of her life. She had sent away her dearest child, Sumi at an early age. No one consoled and encouraged her in her sufferings.

      At this time, the god Ushitora-no-Konjin always talked to Nao and guided her. Nao, unnoticed, wanted to live only to propagate the faith in the god Konjin's will. Or rather, Nao was so identified with the god Konjin that she felt that her will was like the god Konjin's will. She hadn't the smallest intention of privacy.

      Unexpectedly now, Heizo had deciphered the words of the god Konjin. Nao sincerely prayed to Heizo with folded hands.

      Heizo was surprised at such an unexpected attitude, and endeavored even harder to decipher the Fudesaki to please her. He was able to read it with more ease after becoming familiar with her peculiar way of writing. For example, karatenji九 (karatenjiku in Japanese, 九 is the same as ku, it means China and India.), 九rayami (the same case, means 'the dark'.), 九rou (means 'sufferings'), de九chi (means a family name, 'Deguchi'), 五you (goyou, 五 is the same as go, it means 'business'), shi五to (means 'work'), uta五te (utagoute, means 'doubtful'), sekai十 (sekaiju, 十 is the same as ju, and means 'all the world'). In this fashion, Chinese numerals were used instead of hiragana, and the unique hiragana style of the Fudesaki.

      "konoyonosenta九itasanebayoiyoninaranukarahayoyoiyoniitashitejinminotasukerugakaminoonya九dearuzoyochi九ruimushikeragakimademotasukerukamidearuzoyokonokamigakamawanebakonoyoha九rayamidearuzoyokonoyoninarebakokoroshidaidedonnakotodemokanaeruzoyomeiji十hachinen" (This world must be cleaned to develop well. The god plays the role of producing a good world as quickly as possible and help people. This god will help all living things, worms, beasts and the hungry ghosts. If this god does not help people, this world would be in the dark. When the sacred world appears, this god will grant everything the people ask for, according to each prayer. Meiji era 18.)

      Heizo read this aloud following each character of the Fudesaki with his index. But, he was only able to read the characters, not to understand the profound sacred meaning which lay behind the Fudesaki.

      On March 30, the Sino-Japanese armistice was finally concluded. In the early morning of April 1, there was a thick fog but is soon cleared up and not a cloud remained. At 10.30 a.m., the deputy of the Emperor, His Imperial Highness, Prince Yamashina attended the Fourth Internal Exhibition, Okazaki district, Kyoto. The ceremony began with the playing of anthem. At 11 a.m., the exhibition grounds were opened, and the national flag was hoisted at each gate. A crowd gathered in the town.

      On April l7, 1895 (Meiji era 28), the Sino-Japanese conditions of peace were signed with ceremony at Shimonoseki. The Japanese public opinion was stirred by the Triple Intervention.

      As a result of the peace conditions, Taiwan belonged to Japan as a colony.

      The government designated Admiral Sukenori Kabayama to be the Governor-General of Taiwan, and dispatched the Imperial Guard Division led by His Imperial Highness Prince Yoshihisa Kitashirakawa-no-miya to Taiwan in anticipation of military resistance.

      On May 25, Sun fu (an official title of the Ch'ing dynasty, next in rank to the Governor-General), Tang Sung Ching declared the establishment of the Taiwan Democratic State and his own designation as President. The armed uprisings happened one after another in various parts of Taiwan.

      On May 29, the Imperial Guard Division disembarked in Taiwan, and entered Taipeh triumphantly though bloodlessnessly, and unresisted about ten days after disembarking. Since then, the Imperial Guard Division was very busy suppressing the islanders rebellions. Among the soldiers of this Imperial Guard Division, the youthful figure of Seikichi Deguchi, Nao's second son, was seen.

      Nao's prophey about Japan's victory in the Sino-Japanese War had become true. The believers looked at Nao again as if looking at mysterious something. But, Nao did not pay attention to the excited villagers in the mood of the victory, and signified in the Fudesaki in an uncanny prophecy that the Russo-Japanese War would break out ten years later. According to the remaining the Fudesaki dated June (the old calendar), 1895 (Meiji era 28).

      "The war (the Shino-Japanese War) simmered down, but, it was not ended. If we continue to fight, our country will be ruined; the god only gave a rest to our country for a while. This god delivered you once but the next time, a great war will break out, beginning with Russia. All things sacred, that will come to be in this world are transmitted to you through Nao's mouth and hand!'

      The Reverend Okumura promised to the Shikata family to rent the silkworm nursery for the church until the busy spring term. On April 27, the church was moved to two adjacent rooms (each eight jo, about 28.88 square meters) belonging to Yakichi Nishioka. The Spring Grand Ritual was large gathering about three hundred sixty people who crammered the church. Okumura cherished the illusion that he could further the propagation of the cult by himself only. He thought that Nao was a convenient maid because she served him well. But, she had become popular with the believers. Moreover, he was offended by her usual way of saying, "the god Ushitora-no-Konjin". Okumura enshrined the miniature shrine of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin lower place of the altar than the shrine of the god Tenchi-Kane-no-kami of the Konko cult.

      Nao's god was displeased with this situation, and god possesed by Him, shouting."This god doesn't allow to be placed lower than the god of the Konko cult. This god is the most sacred in the world. Justify clearly this god's sacredness."

      No matter how loudly she shouted Okumura could not admit that the god Ushitora-no-Konjin ranked higher than the god Tenchi-kane-no-kami.

      "Do you think that this church was developed by the doctrine of the Konko cult. You misconstrue too much. The god Ushitora-no-Konjin helps eight-tenths or nine-tenths of you to obtain a blessing. If you don't correct your attitude, this god will take Nao away from here. After Nao gets out of this church, not even a kitten will call at this church. After such happens, Okumura will have to run away under the cover of night. "Each had his own claims. But he didn't know how powerful the god Ushitora-no-Konjin was, he had to say that he had opened the church and had organized the believers to propagate the doctrine. At that time, Nao was nothing but she had heal privately the disease of forty poor people or so.

      Okumura treated her and the god Ushitora-no-Konjin coldly, rebelling against them. At that time, the god's warnings to him were often depicted in the Fudesaki.

      'Sadajiro Okumura, the demon's god Konjin brought you to this place, arranging everything. This god was to ask you to justify clearly Nao's sacredness. Don't you understand what this god meant? Take her with you to the place and vindicate her clearly. This role between the god and you is very important, according to the god's will, you understand.'

      'Sadajiro Okumura, you have not seen enough of life. And as you are too proud you will often be given warnings by the god. Okumura, reform yourself as quickly as possible.' 'As you purify yourself with water for one hundred days you will understand everything in the world. This god Ushitora-no-Konjin stays in Nao's flesh, and does not allow you to call yourself the Reverend. This god Konjin can no longer stand you. Your ship would turn turtle. Don't be proud. Reform yourself! Don't you understand me after so much explanations? You wouldn't know what is going to happen under your eyes.'

      Nao drove a pen, stopping shouting.

      "Anyhow, those were insulting remarks about me. She wrote down no good, I'm sure." Okumura made no move whatever to take the Fudesaki in his hands.

      Recognizing that Heizo Shikato, a believer of the Konko cult deciphered the Fudesaki with dificulty, Okumura became more apprehensive. Okumura thought that Heizo had to serve him obediently as a believer of the Konko cult. Somehow, he prevented her influence from spreading among the believers. It was at this time that the propagation of the Konko cult spread, he couldn't help thinking that he was offened by her.

      Okumura took the aggressive attitude of relying on his own efforts.

      "Please write the Fudesaki and deliver the its truth to the believers, Reverend. "0ne day, Nao, showing the Fudesaki pressed him for an answer.

      "Don't make an uncalleil - for remark. Huh, such as it is!"

      Okumura laughed mockiugly.

      'This Reverend cannot even inform the world about the god Ushitora-no-Konjin.' Nao left Ayabe although the assistants tried to detain her eagerly.

      There was a fragrance of the sweet green leaves of July the back of over Nao's at the time she started her journey to Yogi.

      At that time Nao went to the Yogi district to reel the silk of the cocoons, it was on June 12, 1895 (Meiji era 28). She stayed at Yagi for about twenty days, and reeled silk at the house of Teisuke in Baji village. The spiritual power of Nao to heal diseases became widely known. The church of the Tenri cult and others introduced her to propagate the faith together, but, no one endeavored to understand the god Ushitora-no-Konjin. Late in July, according to the god's order, Nao came back to Ayabe. She stayed at the church's hall before the altar for a few days, but Okumura didn't regain his temper. The assistants were worried about her leaving again to other area, and decided to place next to Chubei Nishimura at the meeting. The family of Chubei, he, his wife, and his father, Tadashichi were silent. Nao lived together with the Nishimura family and served the holler before the altar at only at rituals.

      One day in August, when Nao had turned up in front of the altar of the church four or five believers suddenly approached her with a tense look. One of them broke the silence hesitatingly.

      "O-Nao-han, there are strange rumors which may be true or not. Have you heard?" "It is..., what is it?" "Yes, Don't be surprised at my telling it may be a lie. The fact is, about your son..." Nao focused on his face. "Kiyo-han died in battle at Taiwan, I heard." "Seikichi...."

      Nao felt clearly the same shocks when she was informed the emergencies concerning her husband, Masagoro and the eldest son, Takezo at the old time. She returned to herself, from the sacred woman who was devoted to the god Ushitora-no-Konjin and showed her feelings as only a common mother. Other believer hurriedly said, "But strangely enough, no one could find out the rumor's source. Somehow, the rumor spread fast in town. I never think about vivid young man, Sei-han. There's no doubt about a groundless rumor." Nao ran like mad to the house of the Nishimura family and confined herself to her assigned narrow room. She sat straight at her small desk and called the god Konjin. But, she couldn't bear her mind's turmoil, and fell over with her face down. Before long, she grasped unconsciously a fude (a writing brush), and her hand began moving automatically. 'In Naka-goori, Ayabe, Seikichi Deguchi is an Imperial Guard, a very good soldier. For certain reasons, this god takes him with Him. He doesn't die.'

      'This god has already put up the highest rank of the god Myojin, the Great god Myojin, the god of Harvests in substitute for Seikichi. Feel easy about your son. Your god will make you meet him. After this god makes him distinguish himself in the next war, this god will bring him back home. My Nao, feel at ease.'

      Nao suddenly softened her face. Nowadays, she could understand the characters of the Fudesaki by herself. Regaining her composture, she was ashamed at herself because she had been distressed by pure fabrications. If it was true that Seikichi had died the god would have informed her before people knew.

      'I believed the rumor, forgetting the sacred word of the god. She felt sorrowful. The rumor came to Shikazo Otsuki's notice. I must believe the god harder.' Shikazo who had become especially attached to Seikichi together with his adopted son, Denkichi. He inquired after Seikichi excitedly at the public office, and at last, stormed into this office in order to investigate about him. In addition to that, he inquired with the Imperial Guard Division. But, days passed during which he said nothing to the purpose.

      "The hall in front of the altar of the church was narrow although the believers had increased very much. It may have been to her dissatisfaction."

      At that time, the believers understood why she escaped to come to the hall of the church for such trifles. Upon the assistant mature consideration, they decided to transfer the church to the former mission hall of the Kurozumi religious cult in Higashi-Yotsutsuji district.

      On September 21, the festival of the transfer of the church was held. Nao looked unwell and prayed to the god in the room of the Nishimura family at this festival.

      She received a letter of invitation to the Fukizchiyama branch church of the Konko cult from the Reverend Matsunosuke Aoki of this church, and went to Fukuchiyama on September 28.

      The instant Aoki looked at Nao, he asked her, "At the house of the son's mistress of San-emon in the Shioya district, they have maid. Would you help her for a short time?" Shioya was the name of the store, and his real name was San-emon Yoshida. He was the family of came of a village headman and people sang following in Fukuchiyama-Ondo (a Fukuchiyama chorus song), 'The boat got closer and closer to the riverside near the gate of the Shioya family. That is the plying boat.' San-emon dealed in iron and salt in Hirokoji-Hishiya-cho, Fukuchiyama, and his store was called the iron store or the salt store.

      San-emon knew Aoki because San-emon's wife, Umeko was a believer. So San-emon could rely on a religious man about everything, he asked Aoki to look for a housemaid for his son's mistress. Aoki promptly remembered Nao and summoned her by a letter. At this point, Aoki recognized that such an insignificant woman was not worth of his attention. Nao stayed at the house of the mistress for about forty days according to what was said. After a new house maid was found, she tranfered to the Fukuchiyama branch church of Konko-cult and stayed there until March,1896 (Meiji era 29). Matsunosuke Aoki was born in 1844 (the first year of Kouka) in Kyoto, and at age of twenty-nine, was adopted into the Aoki family in Shimabara district, Kyoto.

      His adoptive father, Umakichi Aoki alias Umakichi Asao, was the famous boss of the gamblers around Shimabara. Matsunosuke was converted into the Konko cult in 1886, and was dispatched to Fukuchiyama according to the order of the Konko cult headquarters, and opened the church in 1890 (Meiji era 23) in Tateyanagi district, alias, Tsuchitsutsumi-machi. Nao visited him in 1892, just after she had been possessed by the supernatural. But, she was disappointed at him and came back because he did not acknowledge the god Ushitora-no-Konjin.

      In February, 1894, the church was transfered to the Azaurano district alias Fukuro-machi, which is now southwest of the Junmei elementary school. The neighbor was a tile maker. In November of the same year, Okumura built a house in the southernmost part of Azanakano district and transferred the church to this place. At that time in sight in Nakano district, there was not a house, but only a range of mulberry fields. At the night, foxes and raccoons had their own way.

      The Aoki family was a family of seven, the third daughter, eleven years old, the fourth daughter, nine years old, the second son, four years old, and the third child who would be born in January, 1896. That is, when Nao visited the Aoki family, his wife, Uta, was pregnant. Nao was so busy that she felt as if she was going to faint from nursing a baby, washing and cooking from morning to night.

      While working, she continued to write the Fudesaki as a revelation, and she endeavored to pray to the god whenever she was asked to heal a disease. Since Nao had come to Fukuchiyama, the branch church of Matsunosuke Aoki was reputed for wonder-working of fulfilling the wishes of worshippers, and as a result the believers increased considerably.

      Matsunosuke, being different from Okumura, acknowledged the utility of Nao.

      "The Konko cult is Ushitora-no-Konjin is also good."

      He made himself agreeable to Nao, and copied the Fudesaki eagerly.

      "If you stay here for a long time, I will make the god Ushitora-no-Konjin appear to you in this world."

      Saying so, he made ioyful.

      In August, 1895, in Korea, the Seoul incident took place, and Min-fei, the empress of the Li Imperial Court was killed. On October 19, in Taiwan, all the armed islanders surrendered to the Japanese army, and the Imperial Guard Division seemed to be able to enter Inan city triumphantly without blood and suppress the resistance of Taiwan. It was reported in the paper issued on October 28, that the Imperial Guard Division was going to return from a victorious campaign as advanced forces.

      Just after this good news was delivered came the Imperial Guard Division commander, His Imperial Highness Prince, Yoshihisa Kitashirakawa developed malaria and had died in Inan.

      At that time, a messenger from Seibei Kirimura, Nao's elder brother, who lived in the same district, visited her, and Nao went to the house of the Kirimura family in the Oka-no-dan district.

      Seibei showed Nao into the room and said with a gloomy face, "My Nao, I'd like to inform you of something and made you come here..." "What is it?" "It is the problem of your son, Seikichi. You know the rumor that Seikichi died in battle." "Yes, however, the god told me that Seikichi didn't die." "But, though Shikazo is only the fellow you know, he ran like mad after Seikichi, feeling apprehension about Seikich's safety, he often went to the public office, I heard. The public office inquired about Seikichi to the army and answered to me." "And, er-r-r-r, he got ill...." "Don't be surprised at this news. The rumor is true after all. Seikichi died a heroic death in battle. The army asked Shikazo to accept Seikichi's ashes, I heard.

      This morning, I got the information from Shikazo, and I have gone to receive his ashes to the twentieth regiment of Fukuchiyama. Seibei stood up and opened the fusuma (a sliding door). There was an urn covered with white cloth on the household Buddhist altar in the back room.

      Nao looked intensely at the cinerary urn without uttering a word standing as still as a stone.

      "Don't lose your self-control, Nao. It often occurs to us to pat each other in our lives. Please pray to the god for your son."

      Seibei left his seat calmly. Nao soon aproached the household Buddhist altar, and in her mind asked the god a question.

      "Oh god, is it a mistake? Is there something amiss in Seibei's story? Seikichi has not died. You said that he is alive?"

      His voice echoed at once.

      "Seikichi has not died."

      She suffered hard from the incertitude surrounding the life or death of the son of her bosom. She repeatedly asked the god, but, the same words came back. But, whose are the ashes in the cinerary urn? Should she believe His words or the reality of the ashes.... Nao refused the reality of the ashes and believed His words.

      After dusk Seibei brought calmly the paper-covered lamp stand into the room. Nao said to him in a quiet voice.

      "The god told me that Seikichi didn't die. These ashes are not Seikichi's ashes. However, everyone is a child of the god, and I'd like to give a fine funeral to this child. "The bones were buried ceremoniously in the graveyard of the Kirimura family. In mid-November, Kabayama, the Governor-General of Taiwan informed, "We have completely conquered the whole Taiwan," and, the expeditionary force began to withdraw from Taiwan. But after that, the islanders obstinately kept up anti-Japanese activism, and the Imperial headquarters had to remain until April of the next year, 1896. But, Seikichi didn't come back. The god had told Nao that Seikichi hadn't died, but, she had heard nothing from him any more. The life and death of Seikichi Deguchi became an everlasting mystery in the Omoto religious cult.

      Was the god's word a lie? Since then, the Fudesaki often talked about Seikichi. "Nao's son, Seikichi was taken by the god. From now on, this holiness will be rewarded. My Nao, feel at peace because there is no fear of his death. The god Ushitora-no-Konjin will appear in the world and let him perform a feat to develop the world at once. At this time, you will awake."

      Seikichi Deguchi died on August 18, 1895. At this time, there were no wars as such in Taiwan.

      The military forces which Japanese army sent into Taiwan were two and a half divisions, about 50,000 soldiers. The expeditionary force suffered from malaria and the scarcity of food rather than from actual battle. The dead (including the porters) killed by the plague were 4,600, the fallen soldiers 164, the repatriate who had taken ill 20,000. These numbers describe the situation.

      In the case of Seikichi, despite the information of his death in battle, only someone's ashes had been sent home, while everything else such as the place of death in battle, the situation of the battle, and about other details, certainly no word was left by the deceased.

      The news were very vague. But, the Army Ministry presented on December 26, 1896, one hundred and fifty yen to Nao, who was the mother of the first grade of infantry, late Seikichi Deguchi, with a document saying; "He died in battle in the Meiji era 27 to 28, and the Merit Bureau of the Army Ministry especially gives this, and, one hundred twenty yen on March 7, 1898 (Meiji era 31), saying also, "The Army Ministry awards this prize to the first grade of infantry, Seikichi Deguchi in recognition of his brilliant services in the war from Meiji era 27 to 28. As he died in battle, we grant this compensation. "This was to Nao a dreamlike sum of money. She remembered the hard times she had had to pay an interest of ten yen to tho bank for a long time. At last, she had to clear off her debts by parting her estate.

      "It is a sacrilege against Seikichi to use this money as if exchanging his life for living expenses. I should keep this money until the day that I would be able to use this money for the god."

      Nao didn't use a single sen and deposite the whole sum in the hank.

      Her intuition rejected the idea that Seikichi's had died in battle, and she spoke about him to neighbors believers.

      "The god told me that Seikichi didn't die. But, I cannot refrain from thinking that my son may have died."

      On the other side, Seikichi's death was clearly written in Fudesali under an unknown date.

      "You regret that Seikichi was transfered to the sacred world (this means Seikichi's death), but, this is very good because the god did it. People didn't know that truth. Other soldiers are very well now, but, they will become very piteous later. Looking at their fate in the future. About Nao's son, this god protected him from falling into a hole. This god will give him a good life. It will be realized according to my telling you. Congratulation!"

      According to the Fudesaki, it means that after Seikichi died his soul was performing a brilliant exploit and so, be glad at the news.

      Nao in the main expected Seikichi. She believed that after he would come back from army, he would help her in proselytyzing the doctrine of the god. Her expectation was rumored among the believers and the sight of Seikichi Deguchi's existence has been handed down from believer to a believer for generations.

      They considered following the word of the god, "Seikichi did not die" was certainly very difficult to believe. There are no punctuation marks in the sentences of the Fudesaki. If you punctuate between "die" and "didn't" the meaning of the sentence in Japanese becomes utterly the reverse. It means that he died and that his flesh was abolished in this world. If you read exactly the same as the Fudesaki without punctuation, it means that he didn't die, and that his flesh is alive just as she first thought. And, even more, if you mix the meanings of both sentences, that is with punctuation and without punctuation, you are able to guess that his flesh was abolished, but he is alive as to his soul.

      Besides, concerning the sentence of the Fudesaki 'You regret that Seikichi was transferred to the sacred world'. What is the sacred world? Does it only mean that Seikichi was transferred from the Real World to the Spiritual World, from the living to the death. She would interpret the passage literally: That he was transferred from Japan to another country. If she guesses the meaning of the sentence that 'You regret that Seikichi was transferred to a foreign country, not coming back to Japan', it could help her understand the following sentence, 'this is very good because the god did it. People didn't know this truth.' Seikichi might go over to another country, unseen, maybe, submitting himself to the god's will..., for some reason. Since, as a matter of fact, some story reported by his brothers-in arms said that, 'Seikichi secretly left the corps and went to China'.

      A few believers couldn't but hope that Seikichi didn't come back for any length of time according to the god's plan. And, as if one version says that the samuri, Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune became Genghis Khan after being defeated with his elder brother, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo, their expectations were quickly pregnant with dreams and were expanding as follows; Seikichi lives and being ambitious, went to China from Taiwan, and so on, he went to Mongolia and became a mounted bandit, waiting for a chance. In the course of time, he will come back to Nao and build the great world according to the god's will.

      In 1896, Nao reached her 60th birthday, having no house to come back to and being just a servant of the Fukuchiyama branch church of the Konko cult. Eight children of Nao who were scattered around could barely support themselves in each area, and couldn't afford to support their mother.

      I will give an account of the situation of Nao's children at the time of the New Year 1896 to pigeonhole this long story.

      The eldest daughter, Yone, fourty-one years old, was confined to a room of the Otsuki family for four years, losing consciousness. The second daughter, Koto, thirty-five years old, thought only of living, cultivating the tenant's land, with two children and an unemployed husband in Oji district. Her eldest son, Takezo, in the fall of his twenty-three years, attempted suicide, and just after healing his wounds, ran away from home. He didn't know of his father's death and at the time he was thirty-three. Nao had not yet heard from him. The third daughter, Hisa, twenty-nine years old, labored unrestrictedly with her husband, Toranosuke, in the Yagi district, being pregnant with her fourth child.

      The second son, Seikichi was sent to Taiwan as a soldier of the Imperial Guard Division. He was reported dead in battle, but, his life and death were not yet clear. If he lived, he would be twenty-five now.

      The third son, Denkichi, who was twenty years old, was adopted into the Otsuki family. He went to the Fukui district relying on his friend, Shikazo Shikata moving out of Ayabe, and was getting his training for handloom-weaving. The fourth daughter, Rye, seventeen years old, went to the house of Gennosuke Shikata to nurse a baby. Later, she went into the Masui soy store in Shin-machi, Fukuchiyama. The youngest child, Sumi, was doing hard before for a wealthy farmer in the Shi-ichi.

      That New Year, Nao forewarned evil for the believers of the Fukuchiyama branchi church. "It is sad that the ceremony of the soul will bring tears this year."

      The Mitama shrine was dedicated to the war lord, Mitsuhide Akechi, who had killed his lord, Nobunaga Oda in 1582. Every year, the great ceremony was held on August 17 and 18 of the old calendar as an attraction of the town.

      One that day, the street booths stood side by side. A peculiar and artful product from ancient times, popularly called "the festival car of the soul," and children's sumo (wrestling) delighted the visitors' eyes. In this year, the new Mitama shrine had been built for the ceremony, which had been very good in previous years. No one recognized readily Nazi's words which indicated an ominous and tearful event to the auspicious ceremony of the soul.

      Nao told Matsunosuke Aoki repeatedly, pulling his sleeve, "Aoki-san, confusion willrun high before the ceremony of the soul, I heard from heaven."

      Aoki stopped her with a frown thinking that she was trying to be sensationistic. At the beginning of April, Nao came back to Ayabe. She intended to live with Aoki for half a year, and make sure that Aoki had no power to make people notice the god Ushitora-no-Konjin at all, although he seemed to respect the god Konjin.

      Nao rent a firewood and charcoal hut owned by Sadashichi in Ayabe-Uramachi, and attended the church in the Higashi-Yotsutsuji district only on rituals.

      Sadajiro Okumura was, for sure, at the summit of his prosperity because the church was large, and the believers were increasing each day.

      Okumura wanted to boast of his latent energy to the predecessors of the Konko cult. "How do you feel everyone?" Okumura gathered the assistants and began to talk. "I'll just intend to hold the spring ceremony of this year with much enthusiasm. I'd also like to invite the Reverend and other members of the Konko cult around Kyoto, Osaka, Fukuchiyama and Miyazu. It is certainly the result of the blessing of the gods, and the assistants' efforts that this church had developed up to now. Let us exhibit this prosperity to our predecessor."

      "Yah, indeed. As the ceremony is held to make people notice the god Ushitora-no-Konjin, O-Nao-han will be pleased with it."

      As Okumura had spoken lightly the assistants they felt acting at once.

      The Spring Grand Ceremony was held at the time the cherry blossoms were in full bloom along the Ura River. Prominent senior missionaries attended the ceremony. They were as follows; the Reverend Aoki of Fukuchiyama, the Reverend Ohashi of Kameoka, the Reverend Hashimoto of Miyazu, the Reverend Sugita of Kyoto, and others. The believers also besieged the church effusively. Looking at the scene, Okumura gave thanks for the blessing, being close to shedding tears. Lookng at it as an opportunity for his personal publicity, Okumura had taken earnestly care of inviting the Reverends, and he was excited over the opportunity to give publicity to his own meritorious deeds.

      The ceremony started and proceeded to the offering of a branch of the sacred tree. Next to the master of rites, Okumura, Nao was going to make offering. Receiving a branch from one of the ritual's assistants. She went forward the altar, but, only made a little bow towards of the altar, not prostrating herself, and went back to the place where she had been seated. The believers and assistants who saw always how pious Nao was to the god, were puzzled by her strange behavior and exchanged glances.

      When the ceremony finished Nao went to the waiting room, and called at once an assistant, Heizo Shikata.

      "Shikata-han, was today's ceremony held for the Konko cult or for the god Ushitora-no-Konjin? Which is worshipped?"

      "Yes, certainly, I think both gods are worshipped."

      "The symbol of worship of the Konko cult was on the altar, but, I couldn't find out the symbol of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin."

      "It is strange, just a moment."

      Heizo was surprised at her words and went to the altar at once to confirm what she said was true. The hall in front of the altar was set free after the long ceremony, and was being prepared for the dinner cooked of food and sake offered to the god. Okumura was in constantly attending upon the guests, and seeking favor with them. He was about to wash his hand with invisible soap.

      Okumura had to report his prosperity to the headquarters of the Konko cult. But, it was more important to gossip about this ceremony than to inform formally about it. The others felt uncomfortable about him because he endeavored so much to be careful and because he would not have hesitated to stand on his hands, to give them a favorable impression.

      Displeased with Okumura, Heizo called him to the next room in which Nao was, and rebuked him for his behavior in whispers.

      "The Reverend Okumura, I was told by O-Nao-han that the god Ushitora-no-Konjin isn't worshipped. We take pleasure in making people notice the god, we think that the time has come for it. What is the reason? O-Nao-han gets very angry on this matter. "Okumura became ill-humored.

      "But, Shikata-han, I don't know Ushitora-no-Konjin or anything in detail, it is too hard for me to read such characters.... Can I show such characters to the high Reverends? It is too shameful to show these characters, and I stowed it for a short time..., a little while, under the altar. When the ceremony finishes, I am going to bring it out, at the instant the Reverend comes back. Please set this right with 0-Nao-han."

      Heizo peeped casually into the adjacent room by chance, and turned pale. Nao's silver hair was glittering, and the golden-light-brown of her eyes was piercing as if shooting at them. She seemed to have a fit and was letting the god's word, spout from her compressing her lips.

      "Oh, no, she was about to be possessed by the supernatural."

      "What am I to do? Why did it come to this!"

      "The god Konjin is getting angry. We should apologize to the god even if putting flowers in the nasal cavity of the Reverend is necessary."

      "Such a trifle anyway isn't able to comfort the god. Anyway, the news of her condition should not reach the ears of invited Reverends. Accompany the Reverends to the hotel." "From now on, we will start the dinner cooked with food and sake offered to the god with the Reverends."

      "On the contrary, I rely on you for this, you see."

      Okumura, being pushed to the wall, folded his hands.

      Heizo was going to avoid the exposure of the inner problem of Okumura.

      "Well, we could close the festival without any problem, if I see the Reverends off to the hotel for the time being."

      Heizo nervously said, running a cold sweat. He made a chill fall on all the assistants.

      "What can we do with such untrained persons for the festival? It is too ill-mannered. Heizo hurried up the missionaries who were grumbling with an effort, and took them to the hotel at any rate.

      And, the instant Nao's knees began to go up and down alternately and the hall in front of the altar shook to its very foundation with a rumble. All lay prostrate before the altar.

      "This god does not allow to be put below the god of the Konko cult. You think that this hall belongs to the Konko cult and you are being rude."

      Nao roared.

      Okumura made a humble apology. It was at least a good thing that the missonaries could not notice from afar Nao's strange attitude, but, he did lose face with the world. This Spring Grand Festival was a sad festival for Okumura. After the Spring Grand Festival, Nao's movement grew strong again.

      "This god is more sacred than the god of the Konko cult. Only the god Ushitora-no-Konjin shows how to develop the world towards the sacred universe."

      In the Fudesaki the following was described; the gods of each cult, Tenri, Konko, Kurozumi, Myoken, were too prominent, and the god Ushitora-no-Konjin will finally appear and rebuild and reorganize the whole world.

      This sentence may indicate the role of each god in each era. The god Ushitora-no-Konjin named the final god by His ownself, makes a declaration of the purpose of His appearance in the world. Namely, the god aims at rebuilding and reorganizing the whole world, at last. This is his purpose, dismissing that the god Konjin is not a god to heal diseases. He shows one sacred deed after another. About her anger towards Okumura, it was guessed that Okumura was an ostentatious person and a missionary of the Konko cult, regardless of Konjin's will.

      The god Ushitora-no-Konjin remained angry, and Nao spent many sleepless nights. Nao, at last, said, "All of you, thank you very much for your kindness. But, I'd like to reel silk and do other things because I am too tired by the god's anger."

      "I'm at a loss when the god Konjin goes out. I think that I am not blessed by the god of the Konko cult, but by O-Nao-han who heals my disease."

      "I have also received blessings from O-Nao-han, and, if 0-Nao-han leaves here, I'm going to give up my faith."

      The general situation turned to Okumura's advantage. But, someone gave an important opinion. "Well, it may safely be said that most believers rely on O-Nao-han. If we give up this church with O-Nao-han, the church will be ruined in spite of our works from now on. But, we cannot detain 0-Nao-han who is going to leave here by force. Then, if we have a deep view of the truth, we will recognize that the blessings are not given to us by a person, but by the god. It is the reason why we obtain the god is blessings even if the god's not in the hall in the front of the altar. We are going to pray to the god through the mediation of the Reverend Okumura when 0-Nao-han is not in the church."

      Heizo said trying to mediate between them, "Now, it is clear that the god of O-Nao-han does not get along well with the god of the Konko cult. 0-Nao-han cannot keep herself in good health while her god asks her to reject the god of the Konko cult. It is natural that a lot of believers rely only on O-Nao-han."

      "And, what do you have to say to us to deal with this situation?"

      "Well, I think that we should separate into two parties. O-Nao-han transfers to another house where she can enshrine only the god Ushitora-no-Konjin."

      "Oh yes, we are going to be able to visit each other's altar. But, the firewood and the charcoal hut of Sadashichi is too indigent and narrow to enshrine the god Konjin...." "That is a problem. For the time being, we are going to ask O-Nao-han to go reeling silk and search for a house to enshrine her god."

      On May 25, it was drizzling, and Nao bid farewell to all the persons concerned and went to reel thread promising to work for thirty days according to the assistants' suggestion.

      After Nao left the church, the visitors to the church couldn't obtain any blessings at the church, and their numbers decreased perceptibly. Even Heizo, who had always been a believer of the Konko cult and played most important role of the assistant, was discouraged because he couldn't find Nan, and often left the church on one pretext or another. No one made offerings of food and sake to the god, and the hall in front of the altar which had been the center of activity during the Spring Grand Festival god deserted ten days later. Far from upkeeping the expenses of the church, Okumura could hardly support himself.

      Laying aside his main missionary work, Okumura started producing the inferior articles for the altar utilizing his skilfulls as a former carpenter, and was going from house to house to sell them. But, Nao didn't come back thirty or forty days later as had promised. The figure of Okumura's unshaved face was the only one in the empty hall in front of the altar while he was making articles for the altar, it made the ruined and the miserable condition of the church more perceptible.

      At that time, Okumura had come to recognize his own powerlessness. Until Nao comes back from work and opens new church the believers were not interested in Okumura at all. At mealtime, Okumura, bluffing, entered the house of a believer, and ate greedily, preaching a sermon, in a hurry. He borrowed money repeatedly. When being looked upon in an openly critical way he grumbled and spoke evil about heartless persons.

      Okumura had lost his authority. In his mind, he looked at the fields of his home, Kanzaki Village, feeling hungry and defeated. Now, he yearned after his wife, Ito, strait from the soil and solidly build and who was only engaging in farming. He accumulated debts in places, and the creditor's faces haunted him. 'I am going home' Okumura uneasily began to make preparations for the journey.

      On July 19, the fifty-sixth days since Nao left to reel thread, Okumura ran away. It was about to rain in the dark night.

      On July 20, 1896, it was steadily raining since midnight of the day before. That evening, Nao, wrapped in a straw raincoat, casually visited the house of Heizo Shikata in the Takasu district. Fifty-seventh days had elapsed since she had left Ayabe.

      "We have a long spell of rain. On the way, the rain caused the rivers to overflow. It seems that it will keep raining tomorrow the whole day over."

      Nao talked to Heizo in a calm and cold voice. Looking at her shining silver hair, Heizo yearned after her as if meeting his mother after several years. He led her joyfully into the room, and sat face to face with her. "I'm sorry for my long absence. I went wherever my whim dictated to reel thread." "You said only thirty days...." His voice involuntarily became choked with emotion. He gave her a reproachful look with tears in his eyes.

      "I should have sent a letter to you, but, I did not know your address." "I was going to come back on the thirtieth day, but, I could not turn my steps toward Ayabe despite all my efforts.... But, the day before yesterday, the god allowed me to come back at once because I must serve something to the god. And, thinking that the time had come, I returned now. Have all of you been well at Ayabe?"

      "Oh, yes,..." Heizo put on a surprised look.

      "Since O-Nao-han left the church believers in the hall of the altar. Excuse me for my absence. Although I could not persuade myself to visit the church. As I am anxious about this matter. I visited the church, and noticed that the Reverend Okumura was not there. The neighbors told me that he ran away last night.

      "Oh, it is such a rain.... He was a good person, but, looking at him who opposed the god Konjin, it weighed on my mind to see how things would shape up."

      Nao closed her eyes and bowed her head as if apologizing to Okumura.

      "O-Nao-han came back, but, we didn't make arrangements for the new church for you. I think that this church is empty because the Reverend Okumura left here. Are you going to proselytize in this church, or you aren't you?"

      "This is the god's plan for me. I am going to enter this church."

      Thus, Nao entered the church in the Higashi-yotsutsuji district alone. Hearing this news, the believers visited the church exchanging remarks, "The grand god comes back, I hear. Let's go once to visit the church." The hall in front of the altar was suddenly flourishing. From this time on, the believers seemed to identify Nao with the god Ushitora-no-Konjin and called her naturally the grand god.

      But, the Ayabe police station soon interfered.

      "It is said that the Reverend left this church and that the church of the Konko cult was ruined. Do not allow believers to gather and pray to the god like in a church. Break up the meeting at once."

      The assistants put their heads together, and made the necessary procedures at the police station. But, Nao was not permitted to go despite all her efforts.

      While the assistants pondered remedial measures, a visitor in his traveling gear came to the church.

      "I am Masanobu Adachi and I am dispatched by the Reverend Sugita of the Konko cult church in the Shimabara. The former missionary, the Reverend Okumura left out to his misconduct, I heard, and I came here to replace him."

      He was tall, stout, and fat. The assistants invied him to the deliberation and told him that the police station had stopped Nao's prosilytizing. Adachi said to them with determined voice.

      "It is said that you have done wrong. You must believe in the god of the Konko cult because this church was opened first by the Konko cult."

      "Even so, the believers relied on O-Nao-han. They didn't recognize the god of the Konko cult. What shall we do better?"

      "Yah, I think..., but, O-Nao-han doesn't teach a particular doctrine, and it is difficult for her to open another church by herself. I think that it is better to separate each role, the doctrine of the Konko cult and the blessings of O-Nao-han, and cooperate with each other."

      The believers of the church wished to have only Nao, and didn't care about the kind of cult. Heizo consulted about this problem with Nao on behalf of the believers. Nao listened without a hitch.

      If my acts fit the god's will, I'd like to proselytize with the Reverend Adachi. Well, I am going to greet all of them."

      The Reverend Masanobu Adachi, thirty-four years old, had been born in Yodo-cho, in 1863 (Bunkyu era 3). He was from a family of samurai, and was a highly-educated and skilled calligrapher.

      Two years ago, he had lost his wife, and was a widower with a son and a daughter. His mild face pleased everyone around him. Nao chatted cheerfully with the believers, and the assistants felt relieved.

      But, the god who possessed her began to rage again from this night on.

      "This god does not allow to be put below the the god of the Konko cult."

      The god Ushitora-no-Konjin got angered by Adachi, who despised the Fudesaki written in an uneducated way. Nao hurried away from the church and went to the house of the Otsuki family, although she thought that she was an unwelcome guest.

      Shikazo Otsuki, fifty-eight years old, had become a gray-haired old man. Though reaping the harvest of his own sowing, his conjugal life had quickly deteriorated since his wife, Yone became mad in 1892. Shikazo had left his restaurant and his hairdresser's shop, and was making a poor living from a beef shop. Though Yone was not violent when leaving the room of her confinement, she was not normal. She could not even recognize her mother, and looked at Nao without showing any emotion.

      Nao was going to reel thread in between dealing with the household affairs in the back of the Otski family's house to earn her food expenses.

      In the evening of July 30, Hide Otsuki, a believer from the church, came to Nao who was reeling thread.

      "The grand god, the Reverend Adachi ask you to visit him for a short time."

      "Thank you, but now I am reeling thread, I am going to visit him towards the evening." "He will become impatient before long and asked you to come as soon as possible." "Well, I will go to him at once after I finish reeling the line of thread."

      Nao ran in a feverish hurry to the church in the Higashi-yotsutsuji district with her sleeves tucked up. But, Adachi was not at the church and the assitant, Yakichi Nishioka received her.

      "The Reverend Adachi went out a little before saying that he was too anguished." "Where is he heading to?"

      "He went to the Yodo district to welcome his children because he was going to settle down in the Ayabe to prosylitize. He relieved the grand god and said that he would come back within four or five days, and asks you to look after the church...."

      Adachi came back, leading his two children by the hand, Nobuo, nine years old and Chiyo, four years old. Nao looked at his infant children frowning.

      "Oh, it is a pity..., they have been borne with a heavy burden of fate...."

      Nobuo was deaf, and Chiyo had a strawberry mark on half her face. His eldest daughter, Fumi had been born in 1891, and had died two months later. Adding to his misfortune, he had lost his wife, Uno, in 1894. These sad affairs might had led Adachi to the Konko cult.

      In spite of Adachi's coming back, Nao couldn't go home because she felt that his children were very pitiable. If she didn't look after the children, Adachi could not be proselytizing. Nao hastily took care of the deaf child, Nobuo and Chiyo's easy going nature.

      "Excuse me, grand god. My mother will soon come here. Please look after my children for a while."

      Adachi asked her, looking helpless. At the end of August, his mother came to the church. She was over seventy years old, had trouble with her eyes and ears, and could not even draw water by herself. The old woman, seeming to look at Nao as her maid, turned her around her little finger. Nao expected trouble but told Adachi.

      "Please proselytize without apprehension. I will take care of your family."

      On August 30, 1896, the new shrine of the Mitama in Fukuchiyama was completed, and the people under the protection of the community deity were expecting the festival of the soul which was held joyfully a few days later.

      That day, the rain which had been falling since the morning, increased suddenly in intensity sending a spray up in the air. The Reverend Matsunosuke Aoki of the Fukuchiyama branch church looked up at the dark sky, and muttered unintentionally against his wife. "Well, let me see, about O-Nao-han, I remember that she told me a strange thing, around New Year. This festival of the soul will be sad..., it will rage in all fury before the festival ends.... It weighs heavily up on my mind that things are taking an ugly turn."

      The house of Nao's elder brother, Seibei Kirimura was in Yotsugiri, Fukuchiyama district, near the Yura river. In the early afternoon, Seibei began arranging his personal belongings, hurrying up his wife, Tetsu, and his daughter, Fuchi, because he was frightened by unusual swelling of the river due to the heavy rain.

      "It may be true what Nao said. Somehow, it will rage in all fury."

      "You do exactly as O-Nao-han says....Such a rain, it will not stop until next morning." His wife, Tetsu was always opposed to Nao. However, Seibei didn't oppose her and he got up to look outside.

      The wind had added to the rain, and it became a full blown storm in the evening. Shaking the trees and the houses, the heavy rain battered the ground. The Yura river, one of the largest rivers in West Japan, flowed into the Sea of Japan via Fukuchiyama, towards northern Yura harbor, originating in the Mikuni Pass, flowing west for about 16 kilometers, swallowing up a lot of the tributary streams. The Yura river was rising violently by the minute flowing through the whole valley for about one hundred forty kilometers. It is recorded that many people and their estates were lost during the twelfth flood of the Yura river, in the Edo era.

      The Wachi river which layed upper stream of the Yura river flowed around Ayabe. The people of Ayabe town couldn't fall asleep, being anguished by the storm the heavy rain and the strong winds from the northeast. At elevn o'clock at the night, the alarm bell rang and villagers began to shout warnings.

      At the church in Hongu-higashi-yotsutsuji, Nao sat straght in front of the altar holding Chiyo, crying in fright on her lap. The deaf child, Nobuo was in the futon with her also deaf grandmother holding in each other in their arms.

      "Hear that! The Ayabe bridge will soon be washed away. The big trees came flowing and struck against the bridge with a loud sound. It is dangerious to cross the bridge. The way had turned into a broad expansion of water."

      Adachi, being all wet, came back shouting.

      "Hey, get up, Nobuo, there will be a flood. If you don't get up, you will be drowned."

      Nao stopped Adachi who was shaking his old mother and son.

      "Let them lie asleep. This place is safe. But, it is intolerably difficult at Fukuchi district, I heard."

      Nao turned again toward the altar. Her silver hair glittered during ear-splitting thunder. She moved her hands suddenly and grasped at the air as if struggling.

      "Oh, we are being carried away...danger, brother, take the bundle besides you catch the bundle of the bamboos..., Oh, sister...."

      Adachi sat down as if his limbs sank from as under.

      "How is the situation in Fukuchiyama?"

      "My elder brother could barely be saved..., but, the other two family members couldn't be found."

      Nao painfully shaked her head. And again, she opened her eyes staring in the void. "O-Ryo, Yah, upstairs, bring the large oblong clothing chest to the third floor, no, higher. Oh, water is flowing over O-Ryo's legs..., Don't worry about the water, you are safe...."

      Nao continued to shout. She sat in front of the altar until dawn, and kept praying to the god wholeheartedly, "Bless us, reduce the big difficulty to a small one, and the small one to safety."

      The Yura river was rising at every moment, and reached its peak at three o'clock in the morning, on 31th. According to the town office, the damage was as follows; the drowned persons 10, the missing persons 2, the wounded person 1, the ruined houses 5, the houses partially destroyed 43, the houses washed away 40. At the Mikata district on the opposite bank, the submerged houses were 90, the houses washed away 16, the houses partially destroyed 16, the drowned persons 6. A lot of the famous big pine trees in the Namimatsu district were washed away, and all the bridges between the upper stream of the Yura river and Fukuchiyarna were ruined. Furthermore, downstream from Fukuchiyama, the damage was increased. The houses washed away 183, the ruined houses 188, the drowned persons about 200.

      The situation at that time was described according to the book "Wind and Snow - Kyoto history"; Nobumichi Yamada, the Governor of the Kyoto Prefecture received the report according to which the Tanba district was severely flooded, and he dispatched a secretary named Motobe in the earnly morning of September 1. When reaching as far as Fukuchiyma-cho, Motobe got at loss, looking at such a miserable situation. This place had suffered a flash flood after the embankment of the Haze river was suddenly ripped, and the whole town was flooded. In the twinkling of an eye, the rushing waters washed away everything, the Headquarters of the Regiment District, the tax office, the town office, the elementary school, and so forth. Everything was covered by the river's water and people who looked to escape were at a loss in the muddy stream. Even the houses on the bank of the river were flooded up more than 0.6 meters. No one could help the people who had taken refuge on the roof of their houses and were washed away under the sight of everyone. Many villagers lost all their furniture and belongings. 1500 or so town houses were under water at about ten o'clock in the morning on 31th.

      The secretary, Motobe visited the devastated area, but there wasn't a single wisp of kitchen smoke in sight, and he could not gather the laborers to dig the corpses out of the mud. The town office could not employ laborers of the surrounding areas because they wanted higher wages one yen and fifty sen in order to dig out two hundred of corpses. He asked each village for help.

      Adachi made a visit of condolence to Fukuchiyama after the flood, and confirmed what that Nao had said the truth about Fukuchiyama, while sitting down in front of the altar according to the spiritual view in her mind.

      The Kirimura family had been washed away by the muddy stream. Seibei, his wife, Tetsu and his daughter, Fuchi could barely take their breath while clinging to driftingwoods. At the instant the driftingwoods smashed into something and changed course, Seibei, was pushed away, and sunk under the raging waves, in the dark.

      The first Seibei knew, catching his breath, that it had stopped raining and that it was day break. He could not recognize his whereabouts, or his being alive or dead. The sky and water had an oppressive lead-color. If he died he was certainly going to go to hell. He grasped something, soaking in the terrible muddy water. It was a large bundle of bamboo which he didn't recognize. Having been carried away for a long distance, but he escaped death by a miracle. The place in which he was washed ashore, the Azuma district was about eight kilometers down stream on the Yura river.

      The Yura river had risen over 6.6 meters. The whole place was flooded with water like looked like a lake. The whereabouts of his wife and children was unknown. Two days later, the water level went down. Seibei wandered along the shore of the Yura river which was becoming a dry riverbed like a ghost of a river. He searched for water and food. At about three o'clock in the evening of the second day, he was offered a ball of rice and pickled plums.

      The highway was covered by destroyed houses, collapsed fences, driftwoods, and the mud was knee deep. Nails, ironwares and sharp broken pieces lying under the mud cutting the skin of his feet, and filth invaded his wounds. He couldn't get clear water to wash them. Seibei who was covered by muddy water and the blood, creeped around in the mud calling the names of his wife and children. He was in his middle sixties at that time. Nao's fourth daughter, Ryo was safe. While being an apprentice at the Masui soy store in Shin-machi, Fukuchiyama, the store was flooded with water up to the third floor, but she escaped through the roof, and was safe, sitting upon the large oblong clothes chest. The fifth daughter, Sumi was in service in the Shiichi district, along the banks of the Yura river, between Fukuchiyama and Ayabe, and she was safe. Sumi was worried about the terrible news concerning Fukuchiyama.

      A few days later, Seibei found the corpses of his wife, Tetsu and daughter, Fuchi who were embracing each other in the mud. Seibei held the corpse of Fuchi who had died in flower of life at age of twenty-two years old, in his arms, and grieved bitterly clinging to his wife's corpse, covered by mud. His wife, Tetsu had always criticized Nao. She had even cast ridiculed the god Ushitora-no-Konjin and Nao. Nao had told Tetsu, "Sir, the god Ushitora-no-Konjin helps all persons, even hungry ghosts or worms clinging to Him. But, He must separate the persons opposed to Him from the honest persons at some crucial time. In this case, He cannot help them...."

      It was difficult for Seibei to say that Tetsu was an obedient wife. And, his daughter, Fuchi was like to her.

      __ __ He must separate the persons who are against Him, from the honest persons, at some crucial time __ __.

      Seibei recollected with horror what Nao had said. But, is it true that his wife and his daughter were killed because they resected the god Ushitora-no-Konjin? The cruel death of human beings cannot be judged by human beings. Much more, it was too cruel that he could think about the reasons for their death. Now, there were only two dead bodies who were unable to argue against these words.

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[1]^Jiaolongs are legendary dragon-like creatures in Chinese mythology. They are believed to ascend to the heavens through rain. Today, they are often figuratively used to refer to unfulfilled geniuses or dormant talents biding their time for success.


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