Mother Earth

Volume 6: The Voice of Thunder

Chapter 8: The Oshima Island and the Meshima Island [Part 2]

      Takekichi went up to Nao coaxingly, "My founder, the next time, I'm going to attend on you. If you leave me behind, like when visiting the Oshima islet, that's too cruel...." "The companions are decided, we and six others." Nao called their names as follows: Heizo Shikata, Keitaro Kinoshita, Toranosuke Fukushima, Takekichi Nakamura, Yuusuke Shikata and Yasunosuke Fukubayashi.

      The six members, who happened to be present, took each other's hands and were very excited. Only Haruzo who was not chosen looking aside.

      The date of their departure was August 2, next month (July 8, the old calendar), just one month after opening the god's situation of the Oshima islet. The midsummer sun rays poured down with full strength on the nine members' bamboo hats while they walked across the blue paddy field. After passing Uesugi, Kurodani and Makura district, they took a rest at a teahouse in the Amauchi Village. The evening sun had sunk and the half moon was rising. The party was encouraged by feeling the cool wind and the smell of the sea.

      The owner of the shipping agency, Ouniya who remembered Nao and the others, was very hospitable to them. The same as before, the owner arranged for the boatmen, Iwakichi and Rokuzo. After supper the party rode in two separate boats, and set sail at 8:30 p.m.

      The stars glittered in the Milky Way stream, and the half moon shined brightly. The surface of the sea reflected the stars surging slowly. Hundreds of the fishing fires were burning far away. "I hadn't seen such a calm sea for several years." "Yah, we had a rough sea before." Iwakichi and Rokuzo talked loudly.

      The grating of the oars made them sleepy. Sumi was dozing away, bending out her elbows on the boat's side. The party had bought twenty mackerels of 36-39 centimeters long. From the fishing boats to offer to the god at the Oshima islet. They landed at the beach of the Oshima at half past eight in the morning, feeling a fresh emotion at the greetings of the birds. They recited a prayer at the Obitojima shrine in this islet. Nao ordered four members, Keitaro Kinoshita, Yasunosuke Fukubayashi, Yuusuke Shikata and Takekichi Nakamura to clean the precincts of the shrine, and left for the Meshima islet with the remaining members, Onisaburo, Sumi, Toranosuke Fukushima and Heizo Shikata.

      There are a lot of reefs in the sea of the Dragon Palace between the Oshima islet and the Meshima islet, and it is dangerous to sail. It is about 4.4 kilometers far from one islet to the other. One can see between them, a rock named the Nakatsu-kami-Iwa (another name, Todoro-guri) which has an area of about two tatamis, and appears one meter above the surface of the water while being washed by the white waves. But, this reef is easily covered by larger waves. One can see the shape of the Oshima islet like a turned over crown, as its name implies in the Chinese character when looking back at the Oshima islet from the point of this reef, and the Meshima islet has just like the shape of a coupe of shoes.

      According as going near the Meshima islet the waves became higher and higher. The color of the water changed from pale to dark, as happen when the sea is deepening. The surroundings of the Meshima islet are a sheer precipice, and even the veteran boatman, Iwakichi had to go around the islet several times to find a point suitable for disembarking.

      Toranosuke Fukushima began to roar in his loud voice, turnig ashen and crunching his teeth. He was just before possessed by a mysterious power. Onisaburo assumed to calm down his spirit. They could afford someone who is possessed by the supernatural and acts as such in a small boat. A lot of black-tailed gulls sat on the rocks, which seemed like dusted with sesame, and overlooked them with curiosity. Others made wide circle around the boat, floating and diving while looking at the boat. The Meshima islet is only made of rocks and the birds seem unable to live in this islet or to dig their nests.

      "That rock, please put the boat there." Nao indicated the place. "Oh, that is called the Tsurigane (Hanging bell) rock. Do you understand how it came into existence?"

      Iwakichi talked about its origin, shuddering with terror; During the Bunroku era (December 8th, 1592 - October 27th, 1596), the pirate, Shirozaemon Migusa built his camp at the Oshima islet and sent out scouts to the Meshima. When the scouts found a ship on the sea they rang the alarm bell which was hung on the rock. Since then one called the Meshima islet the Tsurigane-jima (the islet of the hanging bell) or Kimon-jima (the islet of the terrible demon's gate. No one had attempted to reach the islet, but Nao did, in spite of her great age....

      "It is better for you to go back to the Oshima islet. As you see the demon's gate is an evil god. If not properly handled, we will imperil our lives. Wait until I find a safer place."

      The members understood that he was not threatening them, because they saw his scared face.

      Nao said stubbornly, "The god tells me that I have to reach the rock at any cost. Please do so." "How unreasonable he is, your god!" "The god is certainly unreasonable. This god is the demon's gate," Onisaburo cried.

      Being unable to make up an other member's mind, the boat went near the Meshima islet as if being absorbed. Beyond this islet there is no island anymore until reaching the Vladivostok in Russia. The raging billows of the Sea of Japan directly gush on this islet.

      The plain rock of the islet has no soil to be washed away by the waves. The high waves crash with an earsplitting explosion, as if the whole rock was changed into a lager-hanging bell.

      It was dangerous to hesitate even for a moment. Iwakichi and Rokuzo pulled skillfully on the oars to keep their lives and avoid crashing into the rock. The instant the boat crashes, everything is blown off. Nao coolly focused on the rock approaching the bow. Heizo and Toranosuke closed their eyes in silence.

      Onisaburo looked towards Sumi. Glittering glances crossed each other. Sumi threw a straw rope towards him. If he does not catch it she would act alone. Onisaburo was encouraged. He quickly bound the straw rope of about fourteen meters to his waist and stood at the head of the boat.

      Iwakichi, taking this chance cried into his ear, "I ask you, a lifeline!" The boat got near the rock, being carried away by a wave. Onisaburo kicked hard at the board. The daredevil flight! He held fast to the rock like a gecko. It was the right moment to clear or not the situation of the god at the Meshima islet.

      __On July 8, I went to serve for the first sacred service of the god in the world. Being concerned with the hanging bell in the Meshima islet, I was going to pray for the second rebuilding of the world to the god. Only the Spirit influenced by the god can perform this sacred work. From this very reason it means for us to search for the Spirit. (July 18, Meiji era 33, the old calendar) (August 12, 1900).

      It was fortunate that the members did not slip on the rugged rocks. They slowly crawled up to the hollow place being about 4.5 meters over their heads. Standing up the rock Onisaburo looked down at the boat. Sumi waved her hand with large gestures. Onisaburo threw the end of the straw rope into the boat. Rokuzo caught it firmly and quickly tied it to the boat. Onisaburo stood squarely on his two feet and hauled in the rope of the boat hand over hand with all his might. "More, a little...." "Yah...O-Kay."

      The boat reached the Meshima islet at last. Nao climbed out first, clinging to the straw rope. She was so light that she did not seem to be sixty-five years old. Sumi followed then Toranosuke, and at last, Heizo. The boatmen stayed in the boat and tied each part of the disjointed small shrine, which had been carried from Ayabe with a straw rope, and Heizo and Toranosuke calmly pulled them up.

      On the flat rock two tatami wide, which was twenty meters over the surface of the sea, they constructed the shrine. Nao dedicated the shrine to the god Ushitora-no-Konjin, the god Ryugu-no-Otohime (the Princess of the Dragon Palace), and various other gods which had fallen to the round, and offered the sea and land products.

      Onisaburo recited the prayer for the transfer of the shrine, and Nao recited the prayer for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the world. After those prayers all read the prayer of the great purification. Their souls were washed by waves and were carried away. The black-tailed gulls listened attentively to their reciting.

      After the festival the party barely embarked on the boat. Sailing around the Meshima islet the party admired the sheer rocks of fantastic shape. The run of the great porgy passed before the eyes, dying the water in the light red. Fishes of various sizes swam and lay concealed longitudinally and latitudinally as if inviting them to the Dragon Palace at the bottom of the sea.

      The party stopped over again at the Oshima islet on their way home. The high accumulation of guano, which was piled up in the precincts of the shrine, had been cleared off by the members who remained. They all kneeled and touched the ground with their forehead in front of the shrine.

      They boiled a few mackerels in seawater and offered them in front of the altar. It was unexpectedly food of delicate flavor. On the 3rd evening, they returned to Maizuru. Four or five believers, Haruzo Shikata and others, came out to meet them and to confirm the situation from Ayabe. Haruzo who looked forward to the party's failure looked surprised.

      They stayed at the hotel in Maizuru. Nine members of the party took a souvenir photograph at Mori photo studio in Kyoguchi-cho.

      __I first visited the Oshima islet from Ayabe on June 8, Meiji era 33. This was the first service for the search of our Spirit.

      __It is very good for you to have visited the Meshima and the Oshima islets. At the age old times, the severe god had lived in the Meshima and the Oshima islets.

      __The Meshima islet is the sacred place in which the true god has lived since the age of the gods. It is a very good service for the god to open the world to beg for the constructing of a sacred world on earth. You attended on me to serve the god to unite the world.

      __This sacred situation is going to protect the goddess, the Princes of the Dragon Palace. The god Kanekatsu-kaname-no-Okami, the god Iwa-no-kami (the rock's god), Ame-no-kami (the rain's god), Kaze-no-kami (the wind's god), Ara-no-kami (the hard god), Jishin-no-kami (the earthquake's god)! This god, Ushitora-no-Konjin is going to give orders to protect the world from these miraculous gods, and this god will just vibrate hard in the world.

      Onisaburo considered, reading the pieces of the Fudesaki here and there under the light of the paper covered lamp stand. 'Yes, I understand. It has become serious after all.'

      'The ancient mythology which let Onisaburo see had come back finally and was acting now. It is the reason why we were ordered to go to these desert islets, risking our lives, and prayed to the god for the great victory of the Japanese army, certainly to pray for great things, not pray on a small scale. The Oshima and the Meshima, the northeast islets, on which the true god was fallen and was thrust, and had remained in concealment since the age of gods, go into action....'

      Onisaburo was deeply impressed by the experience of the hanging bell rock, assaulted by raging waves in the Sea of Japan, being pealed continuously.

      Onisaburo called his wife, unable to bear the checking sensation. "O-Sumi, it is becoming serious. The god Ushitora-no-Konjin finally has appeared to the world from the Oshima islet. ...No, the god Ushitora-no-Konjin let us perform the sacred service to clear situation of the god in the Oshima and the Meshima islet without our knowing it.... Hey, O-Sumi, are you listening to me?" "Oh, it is very interesting." "...The original Konjin comes out of this demon's gate's islets and changed His role of the protection in the hidden situation to His role in the real world. This is the first sacred work of the god to rebuild the world...." "Oh, no. Next, I'm going to jump on that rock...."

      Onisaburo looked back at her, thinking that his wife was doing her needlework. But, she had rested her head on her elbow before he knew. "Hey, Sumi..., Sumi." She was breathing comfortably in her sleep. "...She is a happy-go-lucky." Onisaburo smiled wryly as if being beaten in his own specialty.

      The success story of the opening the Meshima islet, following that of the Oshima islet was diffused, and even fellows looking the other way became excited.

      They smiled derisively, saying, "Women are unable to come back safely, making a raid on the sea of the Dragon Palace." Later, hearing of the success story they said in a spite of rivalry" if even females can go to that place, and we certainly are able to do that also."

      After secretly consulting, the sailing, with each other, keeping some ulterior motive in each mind they asked Onisaburo persistently to lead them to the Meshima islet.

      The newcomer, Ouisaburo had won the scramble for Sumi, and had married into the family of his bride. Moreover, he behaved outrageously, far from following Nero's example of strict daily life. Only the ringleader of his existence, which ruins the cult, greeted their eyes.

      Onisaburo was so able to understand their hatred that I felt pain at it. Though he was still fresh in his memory that he had suffered bitter experiences to be taken into their plots he consented to sail with them, thinking that it was against his heart to refuse their request.

      On the morning of August 14 (the old calendar, July 20), the party of twenty-one, started from the church in the Higashi-yotsutsuji.

      The members were as follows: Onisaburo Ueda, Keitaro Kinoshita, Takekichi Nakamura, Fujitaro Shikata, Fusataro Takehara, Yasunosuke Fukubayashi, Yusuke Shikata, Mototoshi Matsui, Utakichi Moritsu, Yoshimatsu Moritsu, Ichitaro Ushirono, Sadakichi Kikuya, Sukekichi Suzuki, Denkichi Sagane, Kintaro Tokida, Mankichi Sugiura, Seijiro Murakami, Kumazo Shikata, Jinnojo Shikata, Manjiro Kato.

      Three members, Haruzo Shikata, Gitaro Uenaka, Tokusaburo Nozaki, being afraid of the Meshima islet, did not join in the party.

      The party went through the blue rice fields over which the wind blew, carrying the scent of the ears of rice, plant holding a flag described the crest of the cult called Toyo-no-mon (the design is ten small circles around the circle of the center) aloft, and arrived uneventfully at twilight at the shipping agency, the Onyuya of the Maizuru district.

      After taking a rest the party of twenty-one left Maizuru port in four separate bats at midnight. On the seven ri away from shore the violet shape of the Oshima islet appeared, and was closing gradually, deepening its color. Suddenly, at the sound of the freakish voice of the boatman, the members turned their heads toward the eastern sky.

      "Hey, look at that, the strange color of the eastern sky. All, be ready for it. Hey, you, you get serious, it will swell into a storm, you!" He gave a warning to the other boat. The boatmen changed color and pulled on oars rapidly to take shelter at the Oshima islet.

      Before long, deep-black clouds arose and overspread the northeast sky momentarily. The party understood the confused behavior of the boatmen now, and began to recite together a prayer to the Oshima islet. Surely, the Oshima islet exists since the origin of the their lives. The boat was blown by the gust and rolled hard. The party lay down on the bottom of the boat, shrieking. The scattered waves poured on their heads.

      The attack of the storm.... The small boat was lifted up by mountainous swells and lifted into the midair. At the moment, it was trust down to the bottom of the waves as if being pushed of to an unfathomable faring precipice.

      Where was their hope, the Oshima islet? How were the other boatmen? They could not even see the shapes of them because the sea was very rough.

      Everyone was in great distress, clinging to the board of the boat. Mototoshi Matsui who had come with Onisaburo from Kyoto, had his head all wets, and was looking at the corner of the sky with an air of superiority, as if abandoning himself to fate. The person, who cast up, appeared in succession.

      After ten hours leaving port, Kintaro Tokita cried, "My bladder burst open!" and he urinated fearfully in the raging waves in a half-sitting posture. The boatman scolded him with ruff voice, "Don't stand up, fool! Because the boat will turn over."

      Takekiehi Nakamura crawled on his knees up to Onisaburo, and said in a tremulous voice, "My president, how are we to deal with the waves? Gya! To that, there, on your head, now. A great sea goblin looked at me, making a weird face." "Calm down, Nakamura. That is not the sea goblin, but a big wave. Look, again...."

      The waves send up a powerful spray. "No, no, that sea goblin put out his long tongue at me, and beckoned me with his strange hand. 0h, my god!" "What to do, Nakamura? Hey, you!"

      "The heavy wind rushed for ten ri while a dragon recited a poem and a tiger hummed a turn." Muttering to himself, Onisaburo threw seawater with a wooden bucket on the bottom of the boat. Under such a situation even idle fellows who usually don't even take a broom, bailed desperately water out of thee boat with a tub, a rice bowl and a ladle only to keep their lives and escape the hell.

      But, again and again, the raging waves rushed into the boat and poured water them in a frightening way. Onisaburo threw away the wooden pail and recited the prayer. Blessed heaven's help and the earth's aid by the god; the wind calmed down a little and the ground swell eased. It was very nice for them that another boat was reaching them.

      "Hey, you. Are you safe?" The boatmen's voices echoed on the sea. "Now, good luck. Moor your boat to this." "Throw away the rope."

      The boatmen quickly closed on each other at two places and moored one couple of boats to the other two. As if waiting them to complete their work, the storm attacked them again violently.

      It is dark because of the black clouds. High waves attacked them like an animal rushing and shaking its white mane. The tied boats were filled with rain and were buffeted around by the rough sea, escaping narrowly to be overturn.

      Under such circumstances a person becomes truly weak. Throwing away his aspirations and jealousy, man turns to god only when in trouble. Being the figure of distress like a leech washed in salt, or a rat that meet a cat, they were in fear and trembling, and recited the prayers and uttered words of apology.

      Utakichi Moritsu looked at the waves in blank amazement, and prayed to the god, raising often the ribs of the fan, which was washed by waves and rain while pushing the waves aside by it. Yasunosuke Fukubayashi turned pale getting seasick and vomited. Only Kiyojiro Murakami looked up at heaven joyfully, and muttered to himself with his hands clasped in prayer, "God be praised! I can pray to the god. Forty-three sacred staffs of cut paper fell from the sky and protect the boat, I understand."

      "In this emergency, Murakami could open his Sacred Eyes to Heaven."

      Onisaburo encouraged them all and cried in the wind, coming up the Fudesaki of the amulet worn next to the skin.

      "Well, hear what I say. This is the Fudesaki which I received at the departure to open the way at the peril of my life."

      The color of the sumi (Chinese ink) of the Fudesaki was blurred, exposed to pelting rain. Without regard to it he continued to read and threw away each piece in heavy sea after he finished it.

      "...The true original situation, the god in human shape has gathered in these islets. For this sacred reason He does not allow anyone to reach these islets, except an utterly purified Spirit.... For sure, nothing is more serious than life. If this holy does not give the boatman an oar you go back any forth, and will soon be swallowed by the sea. This world is like a boat,...the god's leading is like the oars. Nao Deguchi is the same as the boatman, pulling the oar.... Only the true god in human shape will help you../."

      The pieces of the Fudesaki flew in the air and fell in the boat, and floated on the surface of the water together with Kisaburo's voice. All prayed with their hands joined.

      According to the description at the end of the Fudesaki Onisaburo took out a scroll worn next to the skin. This scroll was restored by the late Reverend Shintoku Honda. Onisaburo's spirit sprang out by only raising it reverently to his head and opening its page.

      Just then, it stopped raining, and the pages of the scroll fluttered in the wind. Onisaburo glanced at the scroll and rolled it up, and sent the spirit of his language to heaven, raising his throbbing chest.

      "Raging billows, no problem. The god of Heaven, the god of the Land, the god of the Heavenly Water, the god of the Water of the Land, the god of the Sea, I pray to the gods to become quiet."

      Onisaburo held the fan with the drawing of the crest of Toyo's design of the Shinto ritual up in his right hand. As if making a sign the wind suddenly fell, and it stopped raining, and the swell calmed down.

      At the moment dark clouds were passing they could see the Oshima islet if they looked well.

      "The Reverend gentleman, are you the god?" The boatmen, Iwakichi and others, sniffling said and prayed with joined hands.

      Four boats took shelter with difficulty at the Oshima islet. The party made offerings to the altar of the Obitojima shrine, and Onisaburo recited the prayer of thanks for safety, and next, he bowed in the direction of Ayabe. According to which the god does not allow the ungodly to visit the Meshima islet the party left for home in silence.

      They returned to the Onyuya in Maizuru after nightfall. Onisaburo washed his body, which smelled of the sea, and lay down in the room upstairs. Close to his pillow a man prostrated himself before him. "How to do? You are Sugiura. Why do you weep?"

      Mankichi Sugiura who was a former detective, raised his pale face, and said, "Reverend, I must apologize to you. Please sit up a bit." Sugiura bowed putting his hands on the tatami and repented with tears for his sins to Onisaburo who sat up reluctantly.

      "It is surely the god's remonstrance that we were exposed to danger and barely returned alive. I will confess everything. We asked you to lead us to a visit to the Meshima islet by force against good reason.... We wanted to snatch the scroll from you on the way to the islet, and send it to the bottom of the sea.... After the purifying clouds and fog of Omoto cult had passed we asked for Haruzo Shikata-han as the president of our cult.... We believed it was the best way for the cult. We feared that the god would sink our boat in that frightening sea. If so, we could not have escaped to fall in hell for eternity, and just managed to be helped through apologizing to the god in desperation. Reverend, please absolve us of our sins, tell me yes."

      Mankichi Sugiura cried, clinging to him with shaking hands. A few men cried behind Sugiura, getting down side by side.

      "Now, I am not surprised at your story. After I assented I cast my lot with you on the same bot. Setting it aside remember your true spirit. Now, we could come back from the trip, despite the danger of being sent to the nether wold. We got blessed by the god, not by me, certainly."

      Onisaburo smiled tearfully, patting and embracing him closely. Before long, according to Nao's order Heizo Shikata came for the party with Haruzo Shikata from Ayabe. Heizo was very glad at the news that all members were safe.

      "The founder was very anxious about you, and it seems that he continued to pray to the god all night." Heizo bowed in the direction of the Meshima and Oshima islet. Haruzo heard the repentance of Sugiura's and other's sins, and appeared before Onisaburo, being unable to patch up the trick.

      "Hey, Haruzo, once the evils get a good footstep in your body, it is no easy matter for you to drive them away. Protect your spirit, the true spirit, before irrevocable affairs occur."

      It was a wonder that the soul of Onisaburo's language was impressed on the soul of Haruzo who was going to close his mind, he bowed obediently with his hands on the tatami.

      "...I'm sorry. I will, for sure reform myself, and drive away the evils who sticked fast to my mind. Please forgive me." "Oh, well, very good. It is said that the tree that has withstood a rough blast roots faster. Congratulation!"

      Onisaburo smiled gently, feeling pity for the pathetic attitude of Haruzo.

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