Mother Earth

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

Chapter 7: The Fortuitous Meeting with the Foundress

      There was a dam named Toraten-ine which drew its waters from the limpid stream of the O-i River between the Kamcoka district and the Yogi district. The elder of the village said that a rich man called Torten-choja (the richman of Toraten) lived in the Yagi Village during the Tensho era (1573 - 1592) and that he had constructed this dam to send the clear waters of the O-I River to the Chiyo River and the Kanagi district. In the Meiji era, Tora, who was said to be visually handicapped, was the youngest grandson of the Toraten-choja. He lived forlorn in outskirts of the Shimoyama Mountain. He died in 1893-94 and no one succeeded to his family name. It was said that the public cemetery of the Kakiuchi-Yagi district was the site of the former residence of Toraten-choja and that two old pine trees left on that ground had been garden trees at a more prosperous time.

      The "China board" was made baking wheat flour mixed with sugar and adding some taste. Despite the coarseness of this specialty, the people of the district were proud to say that it tastes better than Yatsuhashi which was a delicacy in Kyoto. But, this coarse confectionery disappeared at the end of the Meiji era, and no one has inherited the recipe. The candies, which were also a special product were cooked while kneading and adding the yellow sap of medical herbs. The special candy sold near the Kyoto-Fushimi-Inari temple (the fox deity of the temple) is perhaps the same recipe.

      Passersby on the San-in Highway tasted these, while having tea, sitting on a stool and enjoying the cool river breeze. This was a suitable place to have a break. The owner of this teahouse, Hisa who was the wife of Toranosuke Fukushima, had finished the morning cleaning and had taken off a towel with which she had been covering herself. She saw sparkling ripples on the river through the blind's reeds.

      A young man was passing hurriedly in front of the teahouse, but stopped. He entered the teahouse seeming to reconsider. The man looked up at the old pine tree besides the highway. Hisa offered him tea, but she saw that the top of the tree had caught his attention.

      "Where are you going, my friend?" "Towards the west...." "Where do you come from?" "From the east, yah, Anao." "She remembered clearly the following sentence in the Fudesaki. "The person who is able to recognize this god will appear from the east." 'This person comes from the East. She focused on the man's face, looking drawn, saying repeatedly the usual words of courtesy.

      Despite his poor traveling gear, he had a white skin and long-slitted eyes, and was absorbed in deep thought. He did not look like a simple peasant, a carter or a merchant, because there was a noble air about him.

      "Why do you look at the top of the tree?" Hisa put the matter to proof. The young man looked at the owner of the teahouse who was middle age and was questioning him repeatedly. She did it insistingly, showing her full like moon face.

      "That pine tree, you were looking at a little ago, when stopping on the street. The branches are graceful. Don't you think so. Why do you look at the branches?"

      The man, Kisaburo Ueda laughed good naturally. "When passing by this tree a golden light appeared with a flash. Thinking it a wonder that tea ripples on the river were shining, refecting the light of the sun I stopped. Certainly, I feel something about these branches. I think there's no doubt about the sacredness of this tree on which a divine spirit dwells, and descended to this place to take a rest."

      "Oh, yes, what my mother said is true. Two autumns ago, I opened this teahouse. My mother came here and told me the following: "The branches of this pine tree have borne many gods dressed in gold. Are you going to pray to the gods?" I cannot differentiate between a sacred tree and an ordinary tree. Although I have been watching travelers for three years I haven't seen a single person whose attention was attracted by that pine."

      Hisa continued to talk with enthusiasm. "I give a guess at your business. I am sure that you are an arbitrator." "Well, it is like you say, namely, I judge the gods, the good god or the evil god. I have researched divine inspirations in many places, but, all are questionable because they are possessed by the raccoon and the fox. Now, you can take a guess at my business." "When taking a rest here, with four or five friends, the last time, you talked about visiting the Iji district to observe a raccoon or a fox."

      That reminded him that he had not noticed the owner of the teahouse, standing besides him and talking. "I'd like to show you an article I wrote. Just a moment, please."

      Hisa brought over a few pieces of paper from the back room, and gave them carefully to Kisaburo. "My mother's name is Nao Deguchi. She married into a family of the Hongu district; since about six years ago, she has been possessed by the god Ushitora-no-Konjin. And she continues shouting the following: In this world, the battle is for the strong. It has become the world of the brute, and we must pray to the god to re-erect and rebuild the whole world. Quickly, judge this god and determine if He is a good god or an evil god. This is the Ofudesaki (the sacred Fudesaki) which the god made my mother write although she was unable to read. Please look at this. How do you feel about this Fudesaki?"

      Hisa leaned forward to see his expression while reading the Fudesaki. Kisaburo read it several times, being pressed by her enthusiasm.

      There were unskilled characters. But, Kisaburo noticed something which drew him over the unskillful characters while looking at it. The characters were written by a bold hand holding the writing brush fully soaked in sumi. It might have been written by hand with equal strokes of the fude and equal writing tempo for a stretch. It kept a grand and warm aspect as if looking at the sea while concealing its power. It was certainly written by an excellent person. Hisa grew impatient. Kisaburo, who had been silent, began talking rapidly about Nao, who was possessed by the supernatural since 1892 (Meiji era 25).

      "But, no one did judge the god who possessed my mother. She is a serviceable person in the Konko cult, because of her sacred blessings which heals diseases, and the god often shows His will through the Fudesaki; 'The person who is able to judge the sacredness of this god, will come from the East. When the person comes, the way of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin will be opened.' It was the main reason for opening a teahouse hereto find the person who comes from the East, adding that it supports my living. I have been waiting for that person for three years. What did you say? Where did you come from some time ago?"

      "The East...I came from the East and went to the West." "Where are you going to the West?" "Yes, to the Northwest. A person is waiting for me in that direction. The god told me so...." "It is towards Ayabe in the Northwest. I have been waiting for you for three years, but my mother has been doing it for six years, even now she is waiting."

      Hisa shouted. "In the Fudesaki of June 27, in the old calendar, the sacred words are as follows: 'This god harbors great expectations for Ayabe. As this god has passed a rope around the true person; you should hear this god's word, and purify your heart and soul. Now, you are not understanding what I said, but, you will recognize my blessings.' And, I have prayed to meet with the person this year or never. I understand that you are the person."

      Innumerable persons cross each other's path. Such is life. Despite frequent meetings, they are not interested in each other in most cases. But, it also happens that only by crossing each other, they become strongly influenced by each other as if receiving a shower of sparks, and change their lives. There were no means of determining the decisive moment of this fortuitous meeting between Hisa Fukushima and Kisaburo Ueda. But, it determined not only the latter half of Kisaburo's life but also the destinies of Nao and her family, and many more people. But, Kisaburo had a curious consciousness of the names of Ayabe and Nao Deguchi which sticked in his mind.

      Kisahuro noticed that the names of the Sogabe (Anao) district, his native place. Sonobe, his second home place where he lived in his youth for a time, and Ayabe, in which Nao Deguchi lived, included the same character "be" (meaning a partition). The Sonobe district which he had not yet visited might become his third home, the western point, which his soul had to reach according to the order of the god.

      The name of Nao related mysteriously to the following names: Naomichi Deguchi, who was the schoolmaster of Kisaburo's elementary school, designated Kisaliuro, still only a boy, as a substitute teacher. The foster mother of Genji Saito with whom Kisaburo first lived as a houseboy, was named Nao, and was an influential person. And, Nao-kichi Inoue introduced Kisaburo to veterinary medicine and stock-farming.

      The persons who were called Nao appeared before Kisaburo at several points in his life, also Nao Deguchi.../

      He had a foreboding of something sacred. "I am going to visit Ayabe at some convenient time. It is 15 or 16 ri (66 or 70.4 kilometers) from here to Ayabe, isn't it?" "Thank you. I believe what you say.... This makes me feel the load of my flesh. I am barely able to leave the teahouse with a sense of security." "Are you leaving?"

      Hisa added joyfully. "Yes, the train will pass through here, I heard. The members of tho railway company have dropped in at the teahouse. At the time of the opening of the teahouse we expected visitors from the national industrial exhibition and this was a flourishing business. But, after the exhibition closed there is not much profit. It is very difficult to live on the income of this teahouse only, while raising two infant children. As a charter, my husband works and I get some relief. Well! The members of the railway company have offered to buy this teahouse and its land of fifty tsubo (about 165 square meters) for two hundred yen. When opening this teahouse three years ago it cost little more than fifty yen...." "You are very lucky that its value quadruple over three years." "Its no luck at all. I told them that I would not sell at a rate of two hundred, even at one thousand yen. That company drew freely a line on the map without our permission. At the rate of two hundred yen! It's not the grounds value but the point is the drawing of a line on the map. If such a thing is allowed in society I cannot bring myself to work earnestly anymore." "Well, that is true."

      "If you think that you can make me turn around the way you like giving only money to me, you are mistaken. I said to them; I have opened this teahouse here according to the order of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin. Until I lead a person who will come from the East, to my mother, the function of this teahouse will not finish. Until this person comes, I cannot move. The members of the railway company asked me when the person will come. And I said; I don't even know if the person will come at all. I have been waiting for this person for three years. They got very angry, and listen to what they said to threaten me: If our company gets out of the way here no tourist will walk on the high way, they will be taking the train. The thing which is called a railway train, travels with awful force and a roaring sound like the rumble of thunder, spewing out coal-black smoke. When passing by this house the tea cups will roll and your baby will be scared at the sound and cry. Under such circumstances, you will be unable to get even a low price, far from fifty yen, you understand. According to my nature I cannot accept what I am unable to be convinced of, and I refused to sell this house." "That company must have been perplexed at your words."

      "Yes, my husband is only a carter, but he is high minded. Although the railway company implored every night, he said to me; What you said is true. If we don't sell this place, the railway will cross over the river and go to the opposite bank to avoid this place or they will have to open the way, scraping most of the mountain. If so, the construction cost of the railway will get up and completion will be delayed. The persons who will use the railway will get much inconvenience. This railway must by all means pass this area to which the mountain and the river are close. I am going to abandon this place and withdraw from here. As times go, people who come from the East will go directly to Ayabe, by train. He said so.... Well, it is a fortune to us that we stood our ground. If you came here a little later we will escape the best chance." Hisa drew a long breath.

      Kisaburo drained the cold tea at one gulp and stood up after putting a tip on the table. Hisa went out to see him off. There were only the teahouse and the narrow San-in High Way between the skirts of the Shimoyama Mountain and the dam of the O-I River. Hisa said as if regretting the old pine tree which hung out half-length at the edge of the riverside. "This pine tree's fate is the same us as the fate of the teahouse. When the railway comes through here it will be cut because of the obstruction. I say that this tree also finished its service to the god."

      The faith of Hisa Fukushiina and her mother was remarkable. She had grit enough to antagonize the railway company by herself and tight through it. Kisaburo who was going to go to the West, and felt that the longing for an unknown world and the appeal of uncertainty were strongly entangled in his heart. At Ayabe, Kisaburo first visited his cousin, Naokichi Inoue, a veterinary. Naokichi had moved from Fukuro-machi (currently Misono-cho, Sonobe-cho, Funai County) into a small leased house which was located North of the Sonobe River, between the Sonobe-Ohashi bridge and the Hofukuji bridge. In the neighborhood, on the east side, the Sonobe church of the Konko cult had been built. Despite meeting after a long time, Naokichi began his speech, puffing out his cheeks. "Why do you worship the god of the Myorei-Kyokai cult when you prayed? Go away if you worship the god of Myorei." And he turned away from him.

      That night, Kisaburo stayed at the Nanyoji temple of the Reverend Sogyoku Ukada. The Nanyoji temple was entirely destroyed by fire, at night, in 1896, the next year in which Kisaburo had given up stock-farming and had left Sonobe and changed the situation completely. The temple rented its room to a political meeting place that evening.

      Wako, the son of the head priest C)kada, was not in the temple. He had run away from home some time after the fire. He might have made up his mind to support himself for self-education, considering the damage to his father's temple. He went to the Fuknshima district, Osaka, counting on his uncle and on the head priest of Gohyakurakan temple, Tokuei Okada (a younger brother of Sogyoku, Okada), only fourteen years old. I heard.

      The head priest Sogyoku listened to Kisaburo's talk, and was indignant, "Buddhism has ended. From now, on the way of the god will be flourishing."

      Kisaburo stayed at Sonobe. He visited the familiar drugstore of Sozaburo Fujisaka and the cake maker, Hango Naito on the other side of the way. While teaching the spiritual study and showing the rites, both became enthusiastic and lost their mind. The family facing them tugged Kisaburo. Placed between them, Kisaburo found his position very awkward. Tokujiro Okumura who was a new believer, forty-three years old, in the Ue-honmachi district, offered to rent his room. The separated room (8 jo, about 14.44 square meters) faced the Sonobe river, and was clear. The house of the separated room and the house of Naokichi Inoue stood opposite to each other on the way.

      The master, Tokujiro was an apprenticed at a store in the Shuchi district, in his youth. Later he made a tour of Kyoto city and the whole Kyoto Prefecture as a peddler of lamps and chimney lamps, and later opened a store of articles for smokers here last year. He was very thin, but trained his will and flesh hard. After his wife, Sai, thirty-six years old, had had a few children. She became weak, and got several miscarriages. Although she took medicines, it was ineffective. The chronic disease of the housekeeper, raising her children became a burden for the family. Kisaburo made Sai sit down on the tokonoma (the recess in a Japanese room in which a kakemono may be hung), and experienced the repose of the soul, namely composed himself and rid himself of all worldly thoughts and devoted all his thoughts to the god. In the eyes of Sai, Kisaburo was an usual young man like a child who liked to say amusing stories and make everyone laugh. She raised herself reluctantly out of respect for her husband, Tokujiro asked with a solemn look to Kisaburo to heal the disease of Sai. But, the instant Kisaburo began to recite something, she was suddenly irritated by him and turned hurriedly her face downward.

      "A votive light, here." Kisaburo ordered Tokujiro who was sitting besides him. According to Kisaburo's word, Tokujiro carried the votive light to him. Why! At this instant Kisaburo drew the flame to his lips, and quickly breathed deeply into it. A moment later he gave the votive light back to Tokujiro, Kisaburo jumped over the head of Sai, and the flame made a smack noisily. Sai bent herself back, yelling. The flame was spraying on the back of Sai from Kisaburo's lips. In a flash, he jumped over Sai's head and sat on the former place.

      "Well, this is no problem." Kisaburo said stiffly to Tokujiro. Tokujiro was very surprised at the scene and came near dropping the votive light. Tokujiro crawled about on his knees near his wife, trembling at seeing the last thing he could think of. There was no burn on her back. As Tokujiro raised her in his arms, Sai opened her eyes and reached around and touched her back nervously.

      "How do you feel? You feel relieved on your back, don't you?" Kisaburo laughed like a mischievous boy. What he said was true. From the next day, Sai got up and began working cheerfully. Sai said, "Yes, indeed, I felt always a burden which was sticking to my back." "I was astonished. Since then, my wife had three children. Anyhow, nothing is superior to the spiritual power of Kisaburo. It is real. He should focus on only spiritualism and stop to advocate such federation of the world and to re-erect and rebuild the whole world. If so, his success will be certain..., pitiful, pitiful."

      Even in later years, Tokujiro and his wife said so.

      "Kisa-yan of the milk maker became the god." Being interested in him, the people of the town gathered, half making fun of him. The visitors were increasing. Kisaburo wanted to catch this opportunity which had arisen spontaneously.

      Early in the morning, leaning on the railing of the Sonobe-Ohashi bridge. Kisaburo viewed the rafts which went down the Sonobe river. It was about one month since he had left his hometown. It wasn't that he had forgotten his formal promise to Hisa Fukushima at the Toraten-ine (Toraten dam). But, it had been a well-filled month since arriving at Sonobe, he could not leave this area because he was very busy. He was unable to make up his mind to go to an unknown district, letting his visitors and what he was beginning to obtain.

      Kisaburo stopped over the Sonobe bridge on his way home, and the thought of the journey to the West which weighed upon his mind. At that time the Sonobe Ohashi was still a wooden bridge. The sound of a man-pulled cart which came and went, echoed behind Kisaburo. There was a shop which sold a rice cake named Ohshi-mochi, a noted product of the district at the foot of the bridge, and there were dispatch offices of the man-pulled cart on both sides of the High way in sight of active touts. There was the harbor, one block up river dimmed by the mist, and rafts which were driven from the Kuroda district, came along side the pier one after another. There were some hotels in the place at the center of the area.

      People were moving lively in this old castle town, hearing that the railway would reach the Sonobe district. People rumored that the mountain and the house being close to the railway would be burned by the sparks and the steam of the locomotive. One group of hotel managers addressed the people and said, "If the railway passes through this place, the guests will not come here. Anyway this is critical moment. "Being overwhelmed by the deeply rooted opponents, it seemed that the Sonobe station would finally be built at an out-of-the-way place far from town. But the flux of time stopped at nothing changing rapidly people's lives. Not only at Sonobe but in the whole country, the railways spread and the waves of a new materialistic culture rushed upon this area by rail. The spiritual culture, which lags behind the materialistic culture. will even lag more behind and will get more confused.

      "They simply understand that I practiced only magic. I have not yet the ability to get at them who do not ascertain the essence. I am fascinated with the mystery of the spiritual phenomenon and the sacred way of the god. Let their minds be opened."

      "Excuse me...." Kisaburo was called out and looked behind. He found a rickshaw man who was pulling a cart. The empty cart was wet with the dew of the mist, and was brilliant.

      "If I mistake you for another, I'm sorry. You are the Reverend who judges the god in the Anao district, aren't you?" "Yes, I am Kisaburo Ueda...." "I am Toranosuke Fukushima. My wife, Hisa is opening a teahouse in the Yagi district. I recognized you at once because I heard your description from O-Hisa, in detail. I was searching for you, drawing the cart. Did you visit Ayabe?" "Excuse me, I was very busy and couldn't go to Ayabe." "Too bad! The god Ushitora-no-Konjin has appeared at Ayabe after six long years and is waiting for a man who is able to judge the god. You must go to the West, more West. Wny are you hanging around Sonobe for, anyway?"

      "Toranosuke glanced at him, seeming to shout to confirm Kisabburo's feelings. It was one sided. But, he did not get particularly angry looking at his faithful eyes which opened clearly under the strong eyebrows. Toranosuke impatiently let down the shafts. "Please get on my cart. I will take you to town."

      From Sonobe to Ayabe there are easily over ten ri (about ten kilometers) if crossing over the passes. But, he was an obstinate fellow who did not mind carrying Kisaburo. 'Both want him to judge the god of their mother, don't they?' He couldn't get rid of his illusion. He thought for sure that he met with Toranosuke here, according to the order of the god. He was going to leave Sonobe and go to Ayabe. "It is unnecessary to send me. I will go on foot." "Well, and when will you go?" "Making arrangements for my trip from now, I will go at once." "Thank you. Okay, at once? I rely on you."

      Toranosuke emphasized joyfully and went rushing to the dispatch office.

      Kisaburo went hurriedly to the West in his traveling gear in the afternoon. When going up to the top of the steep slope of the Kannonji pass, he turned around looking at the row of stories and houses on the streets of Sonobe, clothed in mist. The Komugi mountain and the Tenjin mountain in which Japanese cedar trees grew thick were looking quiet and cool.

      He sat down on a stone while the cool air filled his breast because he was slightly sweating. It seemed only yesterday that he had cheerfully climbed this Kannon pass because the god Fuyobo had ordered him to go to "the former Ise district". Since he had arrived at the Takakuma mountain, had passed more than half a year, and during this time, complicated affairs occurred in the Real World and the Spiritual World. He felt relieved thinking that he had fought his way out of the quarrel. While he was giving himself up to deep emotion, a man who was covering his shoulders in a haori and hakama, was coming up with a proselyte. He was Kumajiro Shimotsukasa. Kisaburo knew the proselyte by sight. He was a young man who had gotten into a fight with Kisaburo before. Kumajiro bowed his head, being excessively polite. "Thank you for the other day, thank you very much. Reverend Kiraku, where are you heading for today?" "Yah. Can't you trick the villagers because all the people of Sonobe are wise? After all, that's what I think. When you attempt to trick people, you will get a better chance in the recesses of the mountain." He was trying to quarrel with Kisaburo.

      Kisaburo knew by hearsay that Kumajiro was displeased with him because Kisaburo had begun proselytizing at the center of Sonobe of Kumajiro's base.

      "Hey, Kuma-han. Don't say funny things to me. I am not the servant of the fox and the raccoon. Why should I trick people preaching the way of the god, fool!" "Oh, you lost favor with the villagers of the Anao district and were thrown out by the people of Sonobe, I heard. While I was proselytizing the right way of god you came here and began to deliver confusing oracles. I am quite annoyed. Your acts could he called an obstruction of business. But, now, there is no problem, I know that you are going to Ayabe." "I will come back later. Do you understand it?" "Don't do it. Sonobe is the Shimo-Tsukasa-Ichi Family ground. We will not allow your proselytizing here." "Such ground stamping is without foundation for the god. I am very interested in comparing powers between us. Now then, is that milk delivering getting along very well?" Kisaburo made fun of him.

      "Well, I have no time to entertain you now. I'm busy, busy, very busy. At any rate, I must leave immediately, excuse me." Kisaburo hurried up his disciple and left quickly.

      Kisaburo descended the Pass to the West to run after Kumajiro and reached the hamlet of the Mito district (currently Mito, Tanba-cho, Funai County). At the side of the way, there was a shrine where over ten flags were hoisted at the entrance. Characters were dyed on the flags. Besides the shrine "To Mr. Kumajiro Shimo-tsukas from Mr. Son-and -son' in bright colors. Besides the shrine where the flags were hoisted there was a house where a large signboard read. "The Hot spring of the Sacred Dream of the Great Reverend Kobo-Daishi'.

      Kisaburo stopped and, like a worshiper asked the story of the flags. The man spoke as follows: "One day, Kumajiro visited a certain head priest of the shrine and delivered the following oracle while being possessed by the supernatural: "The statue of the Great Reverend has been buried under the root of the great cedar tree from where spring water flows out to the precincts. Dig out, enshrine, and give you blessings.' The head priest gathered the parishioners and half in doubt, dug out at indicated place. The statue was found at a depth of about 0.6 meters. Kumajiro attracted public worship and it was said that he certainly was the Great Reverend Kobo-Daishi of the present day because he could see through the ground.

      Kumajiro explained the following; 'In the old days, the Great Reverend Kobo-Daishi heated this spring water to take a bath and dreamed of the way of Buddha in the bathtub. At the instant of drinking this sacred water, everyone will receive divine favors at once. Currently, one caller after another came to receive spring water and hear the oracle of Kumajiro, according to what I heard.

      Kisaburo could not help smiling wryly. Kumajiro guessed that it was only a trick that Kumajiro made up with the head priest of the temple to bury the image of Buddha beforehand and had an air of mystery when digging out. Kumajiro might gather a sizable sum of money from foolish men and women delivering doubtful oracles.

      It is recorded that Kumajiro was taken to the Sonobe police station after less than one month and was punished with a fine of fifty sen, and the meeting place was closed.

      After passing the Mito district and Shuchi (currently Tanba-cho), Kisaburo stayed at the house of Seitaro Yagi in Hinoki-yama currently Mizuho-cho, Funai County) for a night. Kiyotaro was a craftsman who served Hango Naito, and practiced a confectionery making in the Hiyama district after the expiration of his term of service. Kisaburo renewed his old friendship with him and explained the existence of the god to his family. And they became joyfully believers of his cult.

      The next morning, leaving the Yagi family and passing the Hoidani district and the San-no-miya district (currently Mizuho-cho, Funai County), he ascended the Enoki Pass. The Enoki Pass, 366.5 meters above sea level was also called the Shizushi Pass, which was located at the northwest of Mizuho-cho. The mountain path of the Enoki Pass had sharp turns and twists, and was a difficult place to pass together with the Shichiyama Pass on the Ayabe High Way.

      When meeting with a woman who was carrying bushwood on her back, Kisaburo asked her how far it was from here to Ayabe. The woman answered, "It is about 12 kilometers from here, through the mountain pass." He gathered his courage and went to the Kareki Pass. His feet ached and his straw sandals were torn. After ascending the Pass and taking a firm step on the stone path, he met with a wood cutter. Thinking that far less than eight kilometers remained because he had already walked a full four kilometers. Kisasburo asked him the distance to Ayabe, and he answered about 13.6 kilometers. Kisaburo was discouraged and his legs were going to fail and he sat down.

      According to the saying of Hisa Fukushima, Nao Deguchi walked always from Ayabe to Yagi in one day. When taking a trip to reel silk and buy waste paper, she had to harden her legs and loins very much. Kisaburo was second to no one in fortifying his constitution because he had been peasant, a cartman and a milk rounds man from his childhood. He could not allow himself to be defeated by her who was over sixty years old and whom he had not yet met. Walking hard to the Ohara district and the Daito district (currently Miwa-cho), he found a shop selling the straw sandals, and he changed his sandals at least.

      The woman of the shop told him, "It is about 12 kilometers from here." But, he was not discouraged now. Grumbling to himself, "Let her say, I'm going to walk until I reach that area," he put on his new straw sandals and took a firm step. When descending the Shichiyama Pass (called also the Shichiyama Pass, currently Tera-machi, Ayabe), there was a teahouse. There was a small shrine called the Myoken shrine behind the cedar tree at the back of the teahouse. From this place the youngest child, Sumi who was only ten years old, was watching her crazy elder sister, Yone Otsuki who was bathing in the waterfall at the back of the Myoken shrine on Sumi's way to Yagi. She was led there by Toyosuke of the Joge district six years before, to escape, Nao Deguchi, Sumi's mother, who was possessed by the supernatural. First, Kisaburo knew nothing about it.

      It was a fortune for him to take a rest, and he sat on a stool of the teahouse. While massaging his tired feet, an old shriveled priest who was about seventy years old, served him tea. "Hey, you, you are fortunate to have this saint carry the tea. You may get much divine favors."

      An old woman drew near and said this unpleasantly. Kisaburo was generous to give a tip of ten sen and the old woman forced a smile and put the coins in her bosom.

      The water of the Ynra river streamed reflecting a whitish light. Kisaburo stood still forgetting the fatigue of the journey. The wind, coming over the surface of the river was blowing towards him. The town of Ayabe full of deep green pine trees was covered with the shades of night.

      Kisaburo, led by the wife of the dyehouse put his hands on the heavy sliding door of the warehouse, which Isuke had kept in Ura-machi, Ayabe, at sunset on October 8th (the lunar August 23rd), 1898 (Meiji era 31). It was dark in the warehouse, and it was in calm as if there was no keeper. "May I come in? Is Nao-han Deguchi in?" The cool echo of a deep voice came to him. "Yes, here I am. Who are you?" "I come from Sonobe to visit you, being asked by Hisa-han of the Yagi district. My name is Kisaburo Ueda." "Oh, from Sonobe.... Welcome, it is quite a distance. You must be very tired, I dare say. I will light a lamp at once."

      'What a clear voice! Where is this beautiful daughter?' Through peeping into the warehouse, he saw only the shadow of a person. The room light grew faintly when tapping the firestone showing the shaky room under the light of the paper-covered lamp stand. Kisaburo kicked off the straw sandals and washed his dusty feet with the water that was offered.

      In the warehouse, there was one room of ten jo (about 18 square meters) which had a small sacred corner in its front, which offerings of branches of the pine on both sides. There was no furniture, but everything was set in order cleanly.

      The woman sat face to face with Kisaburo on the bordered matting of the wooden floor, and greeted him humbly. Nao poured out tea, served and was moving quietly with refined dignity. Kisaburo straightened himself unconsciously and opened his eyes wide. Her hair had already become silver white. Her skin was white and could be separated from the silver of her hair, it had not a single stain. Her hands, after leaving the teacup, were squarely put on her knees on her worn-out cotton clothes, and her eyes stared at him as if penetrating his mind.

      'Is she the sixty-four year old woman who is said to be in miserable condition as a dealer of waste paper and rags.'

      Kisaburo recollected the sacred impression when first meeting the god in the deep mountain.

      "Did O-Hisa tell you to judge the god, who possessed me?" "Yes, she was waiting for a person who came from the east. In good time, I was going towards the west from the Anao district." "Ueda-han, it is very difficult to judge my god. What is the name of your god?" "I belong to the Inari association of the subsidiary agency of the Yamanashi Inari temple in Shizuoka Prefecture, and I precede over the academia of the spirit." Her face became somber.

      "Inari association...? Despite crossing, the mountain path you believe in the god Inari, you cannot judge the god who has possessed me. I wait for a proper opportunity to judge my god. I am sorry, I am unable to stay with you because it would be terrible if the god Ushitora-no-Konjin got angry with the god Inari..."

      Nao thought that the Inari association is strictly dedicated to the fox. It is true that the belief of the fox deity has been rampant under the name of the Inari temple. Kisaburo, who arrived here, got like a child. "Yes, I understand. For such thing I should not visit you. But it is a boy's errand, and I cannot answer O-Hisa if I go back leaving it as it is. I'd like to stay tonight at the hotel and come again. The Inari Association is not what you think. Just the same as you belong to the lower position of the Konko cult against your will, I also belong to the Inari Association for convenience.... Well until tomorrow...." Saying so, Kisaburo stood up.

      "Wait a minute. It is too cold, and I have pity upon my family in Yagi. Though it is such a place, I ask you to stay here after praying to the god." "Oh, very well. Truly, I have a little sum."

      Kisaburo confessed his situation and ducked his head.

      Nao sat up straight in front of the altar, and calmly prayed joining her hands in the shadow of flickering light. A calm and inviolable dignity was flowing from behind over Nao's back.

      Kisaburo secretly judged the god who possessed Nao. He caught a sight of her crystal like transparency as if becoming a shadow through his spiritual look. He sent his spiritual power, but she sat down as firm as a rock, and his power only rebounded violently.

      While he could not ascertain her god, two young women entered the warehouse, and prayed to the god behind Nao. After Nao finished her prayers to the god, she closed her eyes for a while, inclining her head. Nao recovered a faint smile and said to Kisaburo.

      "These are Sumi Shikata and Kiyo Kuroda. They earnestly believed in the god." And she turned her face toward them and said, "This young man is the Reverend of the Spiritual Academia. He visits me to judge the god Konjin from the East. That is what the god answered when I asked."

      The eyes of Sumi and Kiyo shone and they focused on him as if they were surprised by his presence. Kisaburo cast down his eyes and blushed with shame. Women's gaze dazzled his eyes, and moreover, he was filled with delight when noticing that Nao's god held him.

      "At last, the chance came. I am going to inform the Reverend Adachi." Sumi suddenly stood up. Kiyo also stood up. Going at night, Sumi said, making merry.

      "Well. I have heard that a man will come from the East to exhibit the blessings of the god Konjin in the world, but I thought the man was older." "I thought that it was an old man with a white long beard, like a legendary wizard...."

      Both let go a suppressed laugh and ran away lightly. Sumi believed that the Reverend Adachi would be pleased. Sumi Shikata fell in love with Masanobu Adachi, the Reverend of the Konko cult who had opened the church with Nao. Sumi first met Adachi who had mild looks and a stately appearance, not like the men around here. Adachi had been sociable despite suffering repeated hardships when dispatched in the Tajima district, the Oshu district and others. Setting aside the question of his nature, he was world-wise. Adachi who had returned endeavored to gain the confidence of the believers. He also courted favor, as much as possible, with Nao to gain the confidence of the believers. Though he was a Reverend, he was unable to escape Sumi who had lost her chance of marriage and yearned after him. Adachi, being a widower, did not take Sumi as his second wife and kept a secret relation with her because he had other intentions.

      They ran from the warehouse of Isuke to the church of the Konko cult of the Higashi-Yotsutsuji. Both expected the joyful face of the Reverend Adachi hearing their information, but he looked displeased.

      "...And, what is his figure?" "He is a Reverend of the Department of the Spiritual Study, Inari Association, I heard." "Is he young or old?" "Well, oh... my Reverend, he is too young. His skin is white like that of a woman...." Sumi glanced at Kiyo as if asking for approval. "Yes, he is very handsome." Kiyo said to her frivolously. "He is a disgusting fellow. What is a young man able to do, especially evaluate a god? I have nothing to do about a fox and the likes of the Spiritual Study. You should be cautious not to be bewitched by a wanderer from afar."

      He was clearly jealous of the unseen youth. After casting in his mind the method to beat Kisaburo, Adachi took a fude and wrote a waka (a Japanese poem) on common Japanese writing paper. "Here you are. Show this poem to the fox of the Spiritual Study. If at the instant he reads it, he does not write a tanka (a short style of Japanese poem) in reply, he does not have the right to meet me. Request him to go back at once."

      Sumi walked fast together to the warehouse of Isuke with the waka in her bosom with Kiyo. They were very interested in the skillful attitude of Adachi who sent his waka to put Kisaburo on trial. It could certainly be that the Reverend of the Spiritual Study would feel quite ashamed of his attitude when reading this waka. It was with pleasure that they looked at the scene. Kisahuro inferred Adachi's aim from his waka.

      'Open your heart to me blushing with shame, wait for the best opportunity to talk together. Kisahuro wrote an ode composed in reply at a stretch.

      'After writing your waka with true heart, like the sacred deep mountain, we will talk together about the sacred world called the eightfold fence around a Shinto shrine to our heart's content.'

      Sumi slowly read Kisaburo's waka three times. Despite being unable to understand it clearly, she felt that the characters and the content of Kisaburo's waka was better than Adachi's.

      'The Reverend Adachi has been under the false impression that he is an impostor. At the instant he read this waka, he recognized his mistake. If two such superior Reverends work together to show the blessings of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin, the god will give more blessings to the world.'

      Nao did not understand the process of sending and receiving wakas between them. She only felt sad that Adachi, being conceited put the unknown Kisaburo on trial through this waka.

      "O-Sumi-han, excuse me to give you so much trouble at night. Please go again to the Reverend Adachi and ask him to come here, by all means. Well, I have nothing to offer to my guest, pick a kaki (a Japanese persimmon) from the tree in front of the church."

      Adachi called Takekichi Nakamura and talked secretly with him. Since Nakamura had taken the mother and children of Adachi over for a while, both became rapidly intimate and had a heart-to-heart talk about everything. At the moment of receiving Kisaburo's waka from Sumi, Adachi turned pale. "How do you feel about this waka, Nakamura-han? He writes with excellent hand and his waka is so-so. An impudent fellow! While leaving as it is, there is no knowing what he may do through seducing O-Nao." "He is going to occupy the Konko cult and change its church to the church of the Inari Association. We should drive him away at all costs."

      Nao was serious. Sumi said, being irritated. "Reverend Adachi, I think that both cults, the Konko cult or the Inari Association have no problem in exhibiting the blessings of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin. Anyhow, it is better for you to meet him one time and confirm this truth. I think so. O-Nao-han told me to call you at once, and come as quickly as possible." "Lord bless me! I have heard the name of O-Nao-han repeatedly. Oh, damn! I will go soon."

      Adachi smiled wryly. He could not openly oppose Nao's words. Even his loved Sumi and his trusted Takekichi Nakamura truly believed in the god of Nao Deguchi. If Adachi wants to keep his actual position, he has to acknowledge their feelings.

      Kiyo and Sumi went around the garden of the church carrying the paper lanterns in their hands and asked simply Adachi to allow them to pick a kaki from the tree in the garden.

      "I'd like to pick a few pieces of kakis to treat our guest." "What?" Cried he impatiently. "I am going to pick kakis, they are now ripe."

      Adachi got excessively angry. He was irritated by their joyful attitude. Adachi got out on the veranda and screamed childishly. "I want to give the kakis to you. But, I give absolutely nothing to a fellow who came from no one knows where. Such a thing, change all to the astringent kakis!"

      He shut the Shoji of the veranda with a bang. Kiyo sniffed with a smile and whispered in Sumi's ear. "The Reverend Adachi runs wild. Look at his figure. He is jealous of the guest." "How does he feel?" Sumi answered smiling with mischievous eyes.

      Sumi talked about Kiyo relations with Adachi without reserve. Kiyo who was twenty-two years old, the third daughter of Naosuke Kuroda, of Ida, graduated at the college of sericulture in Tokyo, and obtained a license as a sericulture's sub engineer. She was a modern girl. Kiyo welcomed her natural relations with Adachi and believed they would marry in the future.

      The conversation between Nao and Kisaburo became lively. Hearing it, Sumi quickly prepared some kaki. Kisaburo turned towards her and said. "If you are peeling that kaki for me, I am sorry to decline to eat it." "Oh, do you dislike this?" Sumi pouted her lips.

      "It is my favorite, but, only the sweet kaki. Your kakis are bitter. Please taste it." "I know the kakis of the church garden. They are small, but very sweet." Saying so, Sumi ate a small piece kaki, and made a funny face. "It is strange, O-Kiyo-han, this kaki..."

      Both tasted the kakis and spat them and exchanged looks.

      Masanobu Adachi and Takekichi Nakamura arrived. From the beginning of the first greeting, their situation was getting uneasy. Adachi treated Kisaburo in a cold way and looked aside, and Nakamura pressed Kisaburo for his career, squaring his shoulders.

      Adachi soon interrupted Takekichi and started the conversation. "Anyhow, thank you very much for your kindness to come to Ayabe at the request of Fukushima-han. But, well, hearing your story, I think that you are too young. It is very difficult for you to understand the god only practicing asceticism for a short time in the mountain and studying some things named the Spiritual Study. Well so, it is good for you to preach to the fox and the raccoon, but this is sacred... the god Ushitora-no-Konjin, you understand?"

      "I don't mean to argue, but, whether young or old is not important to understand the god. However, candidly speaking, I sense the atmosphere of the great god who possessed O-Nao-han, but I cannot recognize his natural shape at all."

      "Well, quite right. No one you see around can recognize the god Ushitora-no-Konjin because He is too great for common people. However, as your business is to judge the gods, you should not go home with empty hands. This place is narrow and stay at the church of Higashi-Yotsutsuji for a few days. While you are staying there, I am going to give you a full sermon on the Konko cult."

      Nakamura said to them. "Currently people have known the blessings of the god Konjin, the believers are increasing. I think that the god Ushitora-no-Konjin will soon be known in the world. There is the grand church of the Konko cult. You have carried the go Inari, but our god is of a higher class than the others."

      Kiyo whispered to Sumi. "He said such things, but, the Reverend Ueda was looking at the bitter kaki which he had mistaken for a sweet one." Sumi said, "Well, the Reverend Ueda is superior, but, Reverend Adachi let us change the sweet kaki for the bitter one. If both are superior Reverends, it is true that we must choose Adachi."

      Sumi insted on promoting her lover. Adachi turned to Nao. "O-Nao-han. I know well his visit is related to the recommendation of your family in the Yagi district. But, you seem to esteem more the Inari god than our believers. You treat us lightly and we feel empty. It is a pity to treat this man in a cold way. We will bear his travelling expenses." "No problem. I am going back tomorrow. I visited this place receiving only one request. In the Sonobe district people have use for me." Kisaburo said suddenly.

      He was irritated. He deeply lamented that he had been coldly treated as if he was visiting Ayabe to occupy the Konko cult. He visited Ayabe for only one reason. Fukushima and his wife honestly asked him to do so, taking precious time off his Spiritual Study.

      "It is better for you. A promising young man like you should not waste the springtime of life in such mountains. Especially, the tanka composed in reply earlier, is very good. Well, I'd like to talk with you about learning waka without the god."

      Adachi became suddenly friendly with Kisaburo and smiled.

      That night, Kisaburo stayed at the warehouse of Isuke. The strain of going over the passes had begun to take its toll, and he slept deeply besides Nao, like a child. The fourth daughter, Ryo, nineteen years old, came back the next morning. She was at the service of a restaurant named Kikkyoya near the warehouse. She had an obedient and tender character and always smiled kindly to the first guest.

      This morning, a daughter of the Komuro family, Shika Komuro, who was in the Oyasu district. Higashi-Hatta Village, visited the warehouse and sobbed. The Komuro family was a family of nine, but, for some unknown reason, her parents, brothers and sisters died one after another, and the only left was Shika who was prone to fall ill. Everyday, when alone, she felt anxiety, and thought of passing away, attended by no one.

      After finishing to listen to Shika's story, Nao closed her eyes for a while, and said, "Fortunately, a superior Reverend has come here instead of me. About the impurity sticking to your family..."

      Nao turned to Kisaburo. "I am very sorry for yesterday. Would you please go round to the Oyasu district, and purify this girl's house?"

      Nao expressed her confidence in Kisaburo, entrusting Shika to a young man from the east while neglecting Adachi. "There is nothing to fear. This Reverend is going to your house and settle all this trouble."

      Kisaburo thought that the demon of ill health which possessed Shika was already driven away by the tender word of Nao. Shika looked up at Kisaburo with lightening eye as if a lamp was burning in them.

      It was already early afternoon when Kisaburo reached the house of the Komuro family to take care of the weakly Shika in the Oyasu district (currently, Oyasu, Nakasuji-cho, Ayabe) where the mountains put on autumnal tints like Japanese brocade woven of several clear color's strings.

      The Komuro family had a house with a stately gate, but it had a dismal appearance because weeds had overrun the surroundings of the house and the walls were crumbling. Kisaburo looked at the ruined scene and was overtaken by the keen eye of Nao who saw through the pent-up evil vapor of the Komuro family and instructed him to purify the house. Shika's uncle, living next door, welcomed him with joy.

      Kisaburo purified the house and enshrined reverently the tokonoma (the recess in a Japanese room in which a kakemono may be hung), and prayed to the god Haraedo-no-kami, the god Seoritsu-hime, the god Ibukido-nushi, the god Haya-Akitsu-hime, and the god Haya-Sasura-hime. These five gods provide for the purification of places, descending, from the Heaven. He purified room by room, shaking quickly a wooden stick with pieces of white paper offered to the gods. The rooms were filled with dismal air like of a haunted house. After purifying all the places, the kitchen, the toilet and so on, Kisaburo recited, I a silvery voice, the Shinto prayer named Amatsu-Norito in front of the altar.

      That night, Kisaburo stayed at the house of the Komuro family, being served by Shika and her uncle. While preaching the way of the god to Shika, who said with tearful eyes to be refreshed, Kisaburo smiled wryly.

      He recollected the tanka composed in reply to Adachi.

      'After writing a waka with true heart, like in the sacred deep mountain, we will talk together in earnest about the sacred world called the eightfold fence around a Shinto shrine, to our heart's content.'

      One word of the waka, 'in earnest' had the same pronunciation of Shika in Japanese. The waka which he wrote at once, challenged by Adachi, suggested unintentionally the realities of life. But, this night, Kisaburo awaked frequently because a girlish form leaned on Kisaburo. Shika an her uncle persuaded him to stay at her house for a long time and enter the Komuro family as an adopted son in the future and receive a nice piece of the property. Kisaburo was detained against his will.

      "You have gotten well and became again the healthy daughter, and it is natural for you to be looking for a suitable match. I am now practicing asceticism to serve the gods. Would you please marry an other man and live a happy and bright life while relying on O-Nao-han of Isuke's warehouse."

      Kisaburo was unable to deal with Shika's longing, which stuck to trying to persuade him despite his efforts. He ran away through the back door at dawn three days later. When reaching the Ikutano district, passing hurriedly a foggy field path and many mountain passes. Kisaburo slowed down his pace feeling relieved. He sat on a stool and took a rest at the teahouse named Yorozuya near the foot of the Ida bridge by the Yura river.

      The master of the Yorozuya, Yohei Shikata, forty years old, had opened a good teahouse, being a maker and seller of rice crackers besides dealing in general goods, fishing tackle, the remedies for the cold, smoker's requisites, kitchenware, fancy goods and so on. His wife, Tomi, forty-one years old, helped her husband in his shop, and worked as an hairdresser. Namely, it was multiple management. She was a mother of seven children, four boys and three girls. From the eldest daughter, fifteen years old to the fourth son, Jitsunosuke, a year old, and had to work for bread as hard as she could.

      In 1895 (Meiji era 28), Yohei's wife, Tomi became a believer of the Konko cult, and Yohei did so two years later. They eagerly visited together the warehouse of Isuke to pray to the god.

      At that time, there were a lot of cases in which a wife acted against her husband in matters of faith, or a husband opposed his wife. Their united behavior was a rare case. When Yohei became a believer, Tomi was very happy.

      Looking at the attitude of Kisaburo nibbling at a rice cake, Yohei said, "You are utterly a stranger. Where are you headed for?" "I'm going to O-Nao-Han of the Ura-machi district."

      Kisaburo answered him, sweeping off the scattered flour of the rice cracker on the hakama (Japanese divided skirt for man's old formal wear).

      Yohei drew near to him joyfully. "Oh, well, my wife and I believe in the god of O-Nao-han and obtained many blessings." His wife, Tomi showed her face and said, "Before a few days, 0-Sumi-han came here and said that a strange man visited O-Nao-han, I hear. Are you that strange man?" "If the man came from Sonobe, I may be the man." "Sonobe? Well, I heard that the man came from the East... a fair-skinned man..."

      Tomi focused on him and said, "Certainly, you are. Your face tells it." "You are a very strange visitor. You are welcome. Anyhow, please enter the room and give us a worshipful sermon."

      Yohei led Kisaburo to the room as if hurrying him up. Tomi brought joyfully tea to Kisaburo. The conversation concerning the god became lively.

      "Is my uncle home?" That voice was familiar. "Oh, O-Sumi-han, please enter. You arrive at a good time."

      Tomi opened the shoji and showed her face. At the moment she entered, Sumi Shikata was riveted on the spot in a fright. "Oh, you, when did you arrive here?" "Hey, you, this is the strange gentleman O-Sumi talked about, I think," Yohei said triumphantly. Sumi cut Yohei short. "I understand now. How dare you trick the Reverend Adachi, saying sweet words, saying you want to talk about the waka or come back tomorrow and so on. Why did you come to the Oyasu district in secret? You are able to admit that the superior Reverend Masanobu Adachi has preached here, aren't you?"

      Kisaburo said, "I did not visit secretly because I first refused to help with the problem of Shika Komuro in the reply waka. I leave the matter to your discretion. Please make friends with Shika-han."

      Sumi sank into silence holding her breath for a while, and said, "It is true what the Reverend Adachi said. You are fair-spoken and foxy? I cannot take my eyes off you for a single moment."

      Yohei got between Sumi and Kisaburo and tried to calm Sumi down. "No, that's too rude, to say the least. This person is important to judge the god Ushitora-no-Konjin." "If this person takes you, you are ruined. Well, my uncle? It is unnecessary for us to meet two Reverends of different cults. How do we deal with the god of the Inari Association who will be brought in the church, starting to be united with much trouble. The god Ushitora-no-Konjin said "The Reverend Adachi showed this god with difficulty to the world, and no one interfered with the Reverend,' I heard."

      Even Sumi, being friendly to Kisaburo changed her attitude. It was certain that while Kisaburo went to the Oyasu district the order of the Reverend Adachi was delivered to all believers to drive him out. It was his mistake to have visited the northwest of the Ayabe district where the god ordered him to go, adding the request of the Fukushimas, isn't that so? He did not regret giving up his stay here, after being given the cold shoulder.

      Kisuburo quickly put on his straw sandals and left the Yorozuya, omitting to stop by Yohei and his wife. Passing besides the Gunze filature, which had just started, he dropped in the warehouse of Isuke in the Uramachi district. There was only on regret for him: Not to discern the god's situation of Nao who was able to remain apart from others so much.

      He greeted Nao with respect and told her that he had finished the purification ceremony at the house of Komuro. Nao smiled warmly as usual.

      "I'm sorry for the trouble. Although you visited such a messy place, the members of the Konko cult were joyful to meet you, as you know. The time has not come yet. If the day ever comes, I will let a messenger call you. For the time being, please give me your assistance."

      She bowed her silver haired head. It pinched his heart to think that she would be alone with the unresponsive people, after he left. "If fate so ordains, I have the honor of watching it. Well then, I hope you will keep yourself well."

      Kisaburo nodded his head and went out of the warehouse hurriedly.

      Passing the Sonobe district, Kisaburo went to Toranten-ine of the Yagi district in one stretch. At Sonobe, a few believers had been waiting for his return till their patience was quite worn out. But, thinking that he had to begin by giving a full account of the trip to Ayabe to the Fukushima, who had asked him to visit Nao, he was impatient. At the teahouse, Hisa Fukushima and Toranosuke made a timely appearance.

      "I came back from Ayabe just now." "Yah, well." Toranosuke answered casually, and looked at him with indifference, while polishing his Jinrikisha. Hisa did not stand up either looking aside bitterly. Kisaburo was surprised at the cold reception, so far.

      "What is the matter with you, Fukushima-han? Not that I am asking for gratitude from you, but I went to Ayabe at your request. I visit you to report on the situation at Ayabe, taking the trouble of extending my walk to here on my way home. You should welcome me, even if not thanking me, isn't that it so?"

      Tossing the polishing cloth into the cart, Toranosuke looked back at him. He was very excited. "Don't give me big talk, Ueda-han. I am disappointed at you. What have you done in Ayabe? You threw the Konko cult into a terrible confusion. It's a nuisance. I did not tell you to do such a thing."

      Hisa wagged her tongue in a critical way. "You don't know perhaps that the Reverend Adachi came here early in the morning. After telling him why we made such fellow visit him, he scolded us hard. The Reverend said that the man named Ueda was the most foolish fellow in Japan. The church which was beginning to be united got thrown into utter confusion, thanks to you,I heard." "Well, I see. And, where is the Reverend Adachi?" Kisuburo asked her softly.

      "He went to the Reverend Sugita of the Shimabara church of the Konko cult to report problem to you. This is quite embarrassing to us."

      "It is he, not I, who gave an exaggerated shout of warning, knowing that Kisaburo simply pulled out of the Konko church. They may now put their heads together to consider the counterplan against Kisaburo. Kisaburo was tickled by Adachi's panic.

      Kisaburo spoke calmly about the process at Ayabe, and delivered Nao's words, "If the day ever comes, I will let a messenger call you. At this time, please give me your assistance."

      Hisa listened to reason. "After all, he may be the same person whom I was waiting for. I guessed that the Reverend Adachi treated him as a nuisance, showing his real self. From the beginning I told you that Ueda was a person chosen by the god in Hisa's plan. In spite of this, you..."

      "How dare you talk to me like this? It is you who rued only minutes before, saying that you interrupted the proselytizing only because you have made a mistake in your evaluation of that fellow, hey, you!"

      Hearing the quarrel between husband and wife, Kisaburo turned back.... Toranosuke called him and apologized for their impoliteness. Kisaburo was walking, refusing the offer to drink just one cup of tea. The god who possessed Nao Deguchi was certainly the most powerful divine spirit, which Kisaburo had ever faced. He had to reflect about his lack of ability to judge the divine spirit.

      However, it was imprinted hard in his mind that he had met Nao Deguchi.

      'If the day ever comes, I will have a messenger call you. At this time, please give me your assistance.'

      Nao had said so to the young man. After telling him that Nao kept her head a little to one side. She would be going out. She rather heaved a sigh of relief after the youth left. Why did she say such a thing? Nao stuck to it, as if feeling the words choked her. She had already lost faith in the Konko cult, but was unable to rely on the Inari Association and to be under its authority.

      Four days later since Kisaburo Ueda left Ayabe, on August 27 (the old calendar) in i898 (Meiji era 31), Nao read falteringly the Fudesaki she had written transcending self, and she was not herself for a while.

      __Hear. Nao Deguchi. When the time comes, the god's plan will be gradually realized in the world. Besides O-Nao, the divine has arrived. And, don't treat visitors coldly. O-Nao never does so, but the Reverend Adachi is a man and showed his real self. Now, we are not able to understand anything, but we will soon understand everything. All things will be realized according to the god's plan. People cannot guess who is first influenced by the sacred power.... When a strange man visits here, listen calmly to what the man says.... People have overlooked worthy things close at hand, and people may hear news about the god's plan from the other areas. Under such a situation you cannot obtain any blessings in spite of worshipping the god for a long time. It may even happen that before long you will blush with shame.

      Two days later, on August 29, old calendar, the Fudesaki said the following:

      __This god will gather people around you if you show His blessings to the world. The god called that man here. This occurrence is under the protection of this god.

      On September 30.
      __This god has planned everything. When a man named Ueda visits you, you should consult with him on how to serve the god. If you rely on the Konko cult, everything is behind schedule and you will be unable to fulfill his purpose.
      The sacred words were repeatedly written by Nao as if she wanted to get rid of her delusions.

      On December 26.
      __In 1982 (Meiji era 25), this god delivered to you His grand plan for the world. Only Nao Deguchi could see it. You will soon understand what I said. I have made arrangements for a true man. Until this man appears, you will not be able to understand it. While making arrangements for two men one in the west and one in the east, the god Konjin will possess both and He will make them serve Him, you understand.

      Nao received messages from Kisaburo two times, after he had returned to Sonobe. Takekichi Nakamura had the kindness of reading them because she was unable to read.

      __Could you enter the Inari Association to show the blessings of the Ushitora-no-Konjin in the world as a momentary expedient. I will be responsible for the consequences, please spread the sacred words of this god in the universe without hesitation.

      Takekichi told her only the gist of the letter. "I'd like to keep this letter for a while." Takekichi took it hurriedly home. Nao went quickly to the church in the Higashi-Yotsutsuji, carrying the Fudesaki.

      "Adachi-han, as you see, the god is in a hurry. Would you please get along with a man named Ueda and show him as quickly as possible the blessings of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin in the world."

      Adachi browsed through the fudesaki and said bitterly, giving it back.

      "I can't get along well with that Inari-han. Wait at least half an hour. With time I'm going to show the blessings of the god." Nao gnawed hard at her shaking lips, in sorrow. "I have waited for a long time, since I entered the Konko cult. If you keep your attitude, we will be too late for the service of the god."

      The Reverend of the Konko cult had changed places with Okumura, Aoki, Shiomi and Adachi for five years, that is, since 1894, but no one sincerely considered her words although they found her useful and used her as a tool. Nao visited Takekichi Nakamura and Yakichi Nishioka, forty-six years old, in the Hongu district, but they repeated Atlach's words.

      Kisaburo devoted himself vigorously to proselytism for the Learned Spirit Society, making the house of Tokujiro Okumura in Uehonmachi, Sonobe, his base.

      A morning of late autumn, Kisaburo while leaning on the parapet of the Sonobe-Ohashi bridge was charmed by the thick fog peculiar to the Tanba district.

      Just the same as in life, no one can see through six feet of fog. The instant he thought so, his cousin, Yuukichi Inoue appeared through the screen of fog. He seemed to come back from the stock farm after finishing milking.

      "Hey, good morning." Kisaburo greeted him in his friendly manner. Yuukichi gave him a cold look and laughed mockingly. "Hum! You have become senile, fool." Kisaburo felt as if he had received a shower of cold water.

      "What you say is strange, Yuu-yan. Such as I am, I intend desperately to find the way of the god for the people and the world." "Shut up! I hate evasive answers by cowards."

      Yuukichi left, raising his shoulders despite his small stature.

      Kisaburo whispered involuntarily, looking behind just before he was swallowed up by the fog. "Oh, it is becoming serious, Yuu-yan will soon die."

      All the souls have worn the Spiritual Clothes in the World of Spirituality, and the living have also worn the Spiritual Cloths in the same Spiritual Situation. When looking at them through the Spiritual Eyes, the sacred man can judge clearly the living person or the deceased person from the different cloths they wear. Living men wear round cloths over their flesh, and the deceased wear cloths which have a peak on the head like the shape of a mountain, however, they wear cloths only on above the waist not below it. From this reason it is said that the ghost has no legs.

      The living men of virtue have worn very thick, large and the shining cloths well, and they have the ability to govern people. In the case of low moral characters, the reverse is the case. The cloths of the patients I serious condition, become thin and the shapes of their heads begin to change to the form of a mountain.

      When Kisaburo saw the patient, he first judged life and death from the thickness or thinness of his cloths and the degree of the roundness or squareness. If the spiritual cloths were thick and shining, even a patient whom the doctor gives up in despair will get well. The patient, whom the doctor estimated to get well, was beyond all hope of recovery if his or her cloths were as thin as paper or began to form a triangle. He had been infallible up to now.

      He looked at his back and noticed that his spiritual cloths were starting to loose brightness and were becoming thin. Only the blessings, which he obtained in his belief, could help him. But, it is unmanageable if the man's reaction is against the worship of the god.

      __Well, Yuu-yan is my cousin and also my respected teacher, who thought me veterinary science. It is my duty to lead him to the ways of the god, although he treated me with cruelty.

      Kisaburo ran after the man who had despised him and crossed the bridge towards the north. Then he went to the east, a few doors up from the foot of the bridge along the river-bank, and found the crumbling house of the Inoue family standing on the side of the church of the Konko cult.

      Yuukichi's wife, Nui who was in her nightclothes looked back at Kisaburo with puffy eyes, and turned up her nose. Yuukichi sat with his legs crossed, at the place indicated by her chin, and was wrapping up diligently the medicine for the cow in a piece of paper. In the next room the two little daughters, three and four years old, and a baby boy born a few months ago, were sleeping. It was beyond human control because they did not want to have many children.

      Kisaburo entered the room and sat down besides Yuukichi. "I don't care about what you shouted about the ways of the god, Yuu-yan. But, tell your story at least and after hearing. Hey, okay?" "Don't say needless things. Recognize that you have lived at the expenses of Okumura and that you have no church, and moreover, that you said foolish things to sound big. My house stands just next door of the church of the Konko cult, okay?" "What do you say about such a little church? If you are interested in the church, I'd like to show you my church in the future." "How dare you talk to me? You gave up learning veterinary science. What a fellow like you able to do? By the way, help me a little."

      Kisaburo said, "Don't be confused by the Way of the Gods and a profit-making enterprise." "Fool. Money is the most important, if you want to live in comfort, you understand." "It is wrong to say that you are a money worshipper. Well, Yuu-yan, if you worship the god appropriately, the god will give you money as the occasion warrants."

      Yuukichi said, "Indeed! Did you receive the money from the god? If so, I cannot understand your poverty. Example, is better than precept." "It is yet.... Namely, I am inexperienced in the faith... and I am not a perfect believer yet."

      Kisaburo could not help giving a vague answer when being asked so directly. Yuukichi took advantage of his lack of experience, and took him arrogantly to task for his remark.

      "Yah, yah, in spite of your lack of experience you attempt to preach me a sermon, don't you? After you become a rich man worshipping the god, I am going to give up my veterinarian and stock-farming businesses to worship the god. Fool, fool, gosh!"

      His shouting was carried to the extent of producing a gush of blood to his head.

      "I understand what you said. In short, the man of deep faith disagrees basically with the money worshipper." "If you too hate the money worshipper, tell me why you came to such man's house."

      Yuukichi spit at him. Kisaburo barely dodged it. If Kisaburo quarrels with him, he will lose the purpose of his visit here. Containing his anger, Kisaburo forced a smile. "I don't criticize that you make money. But isn't it also good for you to understand the ways of the god. In the same case I denied to become a slave of mammonism and barely managed only this spring to become a server of the god."

      Yuukichi said, "I understand the things concerning the god much better than you. Even I know the proverb: A shop boy near a temple will chant a sutra untaught. Be aware that I live next to the church of the Konko cult. Don't teach your grandmother to fry eggs, hey you." "I am going to save you from death. Follow the way of the god. You leave it as it is... if...." "What are you going to say about my life?" "Yuu-yan is my cousin. I can hardly expect anything from a stranger. Therefore, beg for the god's charity. If you leave it as it is, you will be unable to remain alive another ten years." "What? What do you say? Can you tell me again?"

      Yuukichi turned white and lifted the iron hammer that had been put in the corner of the room. "This little devil threatened me." "I don't threaten you at all. But it is dangerous."

      Kisaburo who barely managed to escape Yuukichi's attack, rushed to the unfloored part of the house, jumping, and slipped in his Japanese sandals, then he ran away, slapping his hips. Yuukichi called him, clasping the stick instead of the iron hammer, "fool! I will kill you." Yui cried something.

      Kisaburo crossed the middle of the Sonobe-Ohoshi bridge to the south and looked back. Yuukichi was running totteringly on the opposite bank. He left about 100 meters between them. Yuukichi was short-legged and caught up with Kisaburo. Kisaburo stopped and showed him to turn up his nose and laugh.

      "You swine! You put out your tongue and laugh at me, you did. Okay, I am going to chase you to the bottom of the hell, and uproot your tongue." Shouting so, Yuukichi stamped his feet on the ground.

      Kisaburo ran from the edge of the bridge to the east, and got into the Okumura shop for a smoke. He explained in detail to the master of the shop, Tokujiro Okumura what was happening and found shelter in the back room of the house. He was suddenly seized with fear and could not stop shivering all over. Yuukichi got unusually angry with him and truly could kill him.

      Yuukichi burst violently into the shop, and Tokujiro interrupted him. "Hey, hand over the fellow who ran into this place." "Don't put the saddle on the wrong horse. There is no such an animal in this house. If you look for an animal, you have to go to the stock farm. If you enter my shop with this stick, I will accuse you of obstruction of business and housebreaking," Tokujiro threatened.

      Yuukichi muttered for a while then departed reluctantly. Kisaburo told Tokujiro his situation. Tokujiro nodded and said with anxiety. "lnoue-han certainly has become strange recently. It is rumored that he often chases other people without discrimination." "Well, I see. I am going to help him somewhat...." Kisaburo muttered and opened the shoji (a sliding paper door) and saw the house of the Inoue family on the other side of the river. Kisaburo turned pale. At the edge of his house, Yuukichi was aiming his hunting gun towards this side. He shut the shoji and ducked. The sound of the gun resounded with a bang, and the paper of the shoji was torn and shook.

      While Yuukichi remained mad, it was dangerous to utilize the room of Okumura's house for proselytizing. Kisahuro rented a part of Unosuke Nishida's house in the Kuroda Village (currently Kuroda, Sonobe-cho) and opened a meeting place.

      The Kuroda Village was located in the basin of the Sonobe river, south of the northern mountains. Over seventy houses were spread east and west at the foot of the mountain, and the cultivated field stretched east and south.

      The house of Unosuke Nishida was near the Kannonji temple of the Sodo Buddhism cult. Unosuke was thirty-one years old, and had two children with his wife, Tomi. His father, Yazaemon was fifty-nine years old and was healthy. His younger brother lived in the same house with his wife.

      People, from near and far, visited constantly the meeting place in Kuroda. Kisaburo was very busy dealing with them. This was the proof of his ability to fulfill the wishes of worshippers. The younger sister of Unosuke, Wasa was nineteen years old, and had married Kisaku, the eldest son of Chuji Nakai in the Wakamori district, Higashi-Motoue Village (currently Wakainori, Sonobe-cho), but she was bedridden by a serious illness. Kisaburo was asked by Unosuke to heal her illness, and made a trip to Wakamori to that effect.

      Wakamori which was located in the east of the Habu district, was a deserted village. The River Motoume, a branch of the Sonobe river flowed through the middle of the village from north to west. The mountainous district was located at the northeast of the river and the cultivated fields as well as the village were southwest. The Nakai family was a family of poor peasants. It could be easily imagined that this family got destitute when the young wife got bedridden.

      It was said that Wasa was dying, but, Kisaburo saw the round shape of her head through his Spiritual Eyes. His Repose of Souls calmed down her suffering at once. The rumor spread instantly, and more and more, people visited him. Guessing that the Nakai family was burdened by too many visitors, Kisaburo rented a part of a nearby house which belonged to Giichi Takemura, and opened a meeting place. The worshippers increased.

      But, a problem arose. A divorced woman, named Sato, always followed Kisahuro and imposed her services. In spite of his refusing them, she kept doing it. After a while she behaved strangely and didn't even pay attention to his rejection. That was her charm. The rumor concerning Kisaburo and Sato soon spread through the village. Takemura, the house owner was doubtful about their peculiar relation and informed Kisaburo that he would not rent his room anymore.

      When Kisaburo intended to retire from this room, the villagers surrounded him and did not want to let him go. According to their wish, Kisaburo was again forced to transfer to the meeting place at the house of the Nakai family. The villagers strictly prohibited Sato to visit Kisaburo. At the time he was hurrying to two meeting places in Wakamori and Kuroda, the winter of 1898 (Meiji era 31) was ending. In Wakamori where the cold wind from the mountains blew hard, Kisaburo greeted the New Year of his twenty-ninth anniversary.

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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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