Mother Earth

Volume 7: The Battle of Fire and Water

Chapter 2: The ascetic practices on Mt. Kurama-yama

      Nao, in spite of her old age, continued to practice severe asceticism, related with the Oshima and the Meshima islands. In the Fudesaki a remark according to which she had to go soon somewhere to practice asceticism, appeared.

      __This sacred situation has descended to such bottom in the Real World, that to rebuild the Real World, this god put again you to trouble, you understand. You and three persons more! But before adding one person, you must consult it with your believers. Anyone cannot go with you. Thinking of next spring, as the first season, I am anxious that this holy situation delay the time that this god appears in the world. And, you may encounter trouble within this year. (August 25, the old calendar, September 18, new calendar)

      The god didn't tell her where she was going, and said only that she would go with three attendants, that is, adding one more servant after consultation. There were few officials who could guess who the additional servant would be after consultation.

      __This sacred situation forced Nao Deguchi to describe this god's name under the name as the god Ushitora-no-Konjin Kunitakehiko-no-mikoto. This god has put the soul of Deguchi to trouble in order to serve His current work of this god from old times, and you have never rejected the requests of this sacred situation. You should not deny my present request although this god doesn't tell you where you are going. This god will put you to so much trouble. It will hurt. the three servants feelings after hearing what I am saying, but this god says that, as they are not worth Nao's finger, they ought to work harder and enrich their experiences. This god doesn't allow them to go with you to the current place. You ought to work to make the will of this god appear in the world at all cost. They can only serve the sacred work after this true god led them once to the way of the Sacred World. If there are misguided souls among the four servants, they must consider this work as the god's will. Because the god Ushitora-no-Konjin appears tto bring the eternal truth in the world. (August 30, the old calendar, September 23, the new calendar)

      It is yet unclear who four persons are. The god may admonish them for their misconduct if they do not correct their conduct.

      __The place where the actual god next leads you is the Dragon Palace of the land. Unannounced affairs will occur if their spirits deny them to visit the place related with the sacred situation. Someone may visit you to pray and to apologize to the god for the fault, getting turned upside down. (Augnst 1, the leap year of the old calendar. September 24, the new calendar)

      After having indicated the Meshima and the Oshima islets of the Dragon Palace in the sea, the god indicated the Dragon Palace on the land. Where is the place? And it may be that some one must apologize to the god and will be scolded severely by the god.

      The program of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin proceeds.

      __I will lead you to the practical place to reform yourselves. Keitaro Kinoshita will be the caretaker. You are now discourteous, but related with the holy situation. Fusataro Murakami, also a caretaker, will endeavor to correct his conduct. Keitaro will serve the church and all the things of the sacred corner where Nao receives the requests and prayers from the believers. Fusataro, don't put on airs because you can read and write the documents of the church. (August 4, the leap year of the old calendar, September 27, the new calendar.)

      Now, the caretaker was decided. The god chose him whether he wanted or not.

      __If leaving the world as it is, it may be difficult for you to escape the world in which you devour each other. These four persons' journey is concerned with rebuilding this pitiful world through the holy situation. Mr. Fujitaro Shikata, please write this occurrence down. (August 5, the leap year, September 28, the new calendar)

      This day, Onisaburo who had put on the clothes tailored by Sumi, was writing a copy entitled "Tama-no-Ishizue" (the foundation of the fertility) on the cover of a notebook bound in Japanese style. He continued to write it smoothly, without stopping even for a moment.

      "Don't think that heaven exists in very high air. Heaven exists in all the places where truth exists and where the true god exists. Heaven also exists in the crag of the Dragon Palace."

      "Even a person who lost his or her eyes, can look at the light of this world. A person who has lost the eyes of his or her mind, would perceive much darkness in the world. A person who does not have the eyes' mind, cannot meet the god. This person cannot look at Taka-ama-hara (the abode of the gods)".

      "Just the same as being unable to serve the lord of the Eastern country and the lord of the Western country at the same time, man is unable to serve riches and the god at the same time. It is good to give a sum of money to serve your country. The man who seeks only money, is eternally unable to know the light of the god."

      "Even if you work in the field today or will be boiled in a cauldron, the god always protects you. The god certainly protects the man who believes in Him. On the contrary, the man who does not believe in the god, cannot take a rest at all, as if he was walking on thin ice."

      The Fudesaki written by Nao, is absolute truth for the officials of the church. As so, there are a lot of problems with the interpretation of Fudesaki's sentences are which written only in katakana according to Nao's words. He must elude this difficulty by written the Fudesaki in sentences mixing Chinese characters. It was to be the great mission of Onisaburo to make the believers understand correctly the meaning of Fudesaki through interpretation and through writing it down in longhand.

      Really, the following is indicated.

      __The god Ushitora-no-Konjin let Deguchi write about the world in the Fudesaki. It is the role of Ueda to explain the Fudesaki. You don't understand the truth in detail while studying only the Fudesaki. This sacred situation had already given to Ueda the ability to understand the Spiritual Study. When Ueda explains the world through the Fudesaki and the Spiritual Study, all can amend their conduct. When all understand the Fudesaki and the Spiritual Study, they will see at once the world through the clouds that are now on their eyes. (August 13, the old calendar, September 6, the new calendar)

      When the fusuma opened suddenly, Onisaburo saw Takekichi Nakamura, standing there. "You writing again difficult characters, don't you? At any rate, the founder called you. Go at once to the hall in front of the altar."

      Haruzo Shikata sat down in the hall. At the instant he saw Onisaburo, he looked abruptly the other way. Onisaburo was annoyed with him.

      Nao, suddenly standing up, took the parts of the Fudesaki which had been put at three places on the altar and delivered these to Takekichi Nakamura. Takekichi raised the Fudesaki reverently to his head and repeatedly read it aloud.

      __To the place which the god has planned, no one can go except the female who has the spirit of a male and the male who has the spirit of a female. But, Sumiko and Haruzo will be allowed for training purposes. This sacred situation will lead to your blessing. Amend your conducts, looking at this. This place is the origin where the mirrors of the world appear, and you all will become the mirrors under the blessing of this god. (Meiji era 33, August 5, the leap year)

      It was often indicated in t he Fudesaki that Nao had simply the flesh of a female, but the spirit of a male (the spirit of a male & the flesh of a female), and Onisaburo simply had the flesh of a male, but the spirit of a female (the spirit of a female & the flesh of a male). According to the Fudesaki, from now on, the Male (the female who holds the spirit of a male) indicates Nao Deguchi, and the Female (the male who holds the spirit of a female) indicates Onisaburo Ueda.

      Nao said, "This time, a usual person cannot go. This place, where the actual god exists, is sacred and terrible, I heard." Takekichi Nakamura put it into words, taking a tone as if reading the Fudesaki, "Oh, Good Grace. The founder is going somewhere to practice asceticism in spite of her old years. This Fudesaki indicates oracle. Because of this and that, the president cannot amend your conduct. It is for no usual reason that an important man, having a role in life for the god and his country, comes back to his native village, Anao. This role is all in all for you. You might have some restrain in your behavior and read the O-Fudesaki."

      Onisaburo didn't answer. "Come now, swear to amend your conduct before the founder."

      "What is the amendment you refer to?" "That! What you said is positive proof of your incapacity to amend your conduct. If you cannot do it I cannot, as a responsible official and at the risk of my life, allow you, this time, to go to the sacred place with the founder. Instead, I will go with the founder albeit my poor ability. How do you feel about this, as the president?" "I will do so if you like. I'm not a child. I hate to go joyfully to an undefined place, unknown to us. I cannot do this easily." Onisaburo stood up.

      "What do you say?" Nakamura's eyes blinked. It never occurred to him that Nao's successor, Onisaburo would say such haughty words.

      Nao gave him a soft admonition. "Mr. Nakamura, everyone must amend his own conduct. All the officials ought to do it as well as the Reverend. Would you please reflect upon your behaviors for a few days?" "Yes."

      Nakamura did not move his hands from the tatami. No one could read the Fudesaki and practice cold water ablutions with more enthusiasm than he did. And, he deeply regretted that the founder had asked him indirectly to amend his conduct.

      "Is there anyone who serves the way of the god as much, and endeavors to proselytize in earnest, as seriously and sincerely as myself? And yet, how am I going to amend my conduct? It is too cruel for the founder to tell me such a thing."

      Nakamura had a grudge against the founder. He moved backward, focusing on her with white eyes and roughly rubbing the tatami of the hall in front of the altar. A splash of water was heard, it came from the direction of the well and was meant to he heard by them.

      "Reverend, I am going to start at 8." Onisahuro said to Nao. "At that time, I am unable to go with you." "Why do you say so?" "I don't like one of the members of the party." Onisaburo, turning up his nose, indicated Haruzo Shikata. Haruzo had been quietly casting down his eyes behind Nao for some time now. But, Onisaburo couldn't help thinking that Haruzo had presumed about Nao's love.

      On August 11 of the old calendar, soon after Onisahuro had returned from Anao, an oracle concerning him had appeared, in the Fudesaki.

      __There is some one who wants to meet you, and who is interested in looking at a goblin, a madman from Ayahe district, who is making fun at you. And, some one will visit you to hear the truth from you. This sacred situation has been scheduled as such. Ueda, according to this god, must calm down as a fool.

      Another day, an admonition appeared in the Fudesaki about Haruzo.

      __Mr. Haruzo, amend your conduct. If you keep your present behavior, you will become poor.

      Nevertheless, there was no intention to scold Haruzo through Nao's mouth. It seemed that Haruzo was continuing to stir up the agitation aimed at excluding the president.

      The founder patted Onisaburo on the head, saying "Calm down, don't be a fool." She told him only, "Amend your conduct" which induced Haruzo's resentment. Why doesn't the founder judge more strictly about god and evil?

      Growing anger stirred Onisaburo. "Haruzo is the ringleader who is interfering with Onisaburo's proselytizing. When I came back to Anao, he, this accursed fellow, was the driving force of the agitation aimed at excluding me. But, I prayed repeatedly to the god Kan-Naohi-Oo-Naohi to allow his sin. Legally speaking, it is hardly possible that he could enter the hall in front of the altar to atone for his shame."

      His anger was working inside towards Nao because she had allowed Haruzo's behavior. But, her calm expression didn't change.

      "I don't write the Fudesaki on my own free will, but only through the god's orders." "I can imagine but I can't make it out. The god Ushitora-no-Konjin sees through the whole world at a glance. Why does this god allow such a man as Haruzo to attend the party?"

      The anger of Onisaburo was going from Haruzo to Nao, and from Nao to the god Ushirora-no-Konjin. "Such a fellow as Haruzo is like a wolf following us. I could be murdered at any moment even while sleeping. Despite this you called Haruzo. It means, in a word, that you forbid me to go with you. I have the good sense not to go with you."

      Nao focused on the eyes of Onisaburo. The golden spiritual light broke forth from her eyes, and struck him. Nao kept her quiet behavior.

      "Reverend, you have allowed the sin of Mr. Haruzo to dwell in your large mind several times. Well, what is allowing? The god allows men's sins through listening to their sins and purifying them as I recite the prayer every morning and evening. I am unable to understand the service of the god well because I am ignorant, but, I think the following: Through repeated prayers to the god Kan-Naohi-Oo-Naohi for the another man you ought to have the mind to forgive and clean the sins of the other man. don't you? Or are you counting the sins of Mr. Haruzo while tolerating him in the word only?"

      Onisaburo was so ashamed of himself that he felt like disappearing on the spot. Though writing so proudly interpreting the Fudesaki just think of yourself as being only half learned...

      Nao smiled. "Reverend, look under kaki tree at the back door. Because the god told me, "Terrible things will happen. Heed the warning."

      Onisaburo, feeling somehow the inauspicious air, invited Haruzo. "Come with me for your edification."

      Yuusuke Shikata was plucking up weeds in a squatting posture under the kaki tree. It was a common scene. "Here under the kaki, next to the back door, there are strange things, do so see, Yuusuke?" "No, I see nothing. Well, the earthworms are surprised at the rebuilding of the house." Yuusuke shook his head suspiciously.

      To confirm that both looked towards the ground. An earthworm was, indeed, doddering in the soil and grassroots that had been dug up. A leopard frog snapped at the earthworm, and swallowed it. Before the three could catch their breaths in amazement, the earthworm had vanished in the mouth of the frog. It was still twitching in its throat. Haruzo jumped up. Before they were aware of it, a large black snake had snarled up to his feet. "Shoo, shoo!" Yuusuke drove away the frog, but it couldn't move as if being bewitched by the snake. The snake quietly gulped down the frog.

      The earthworm was swallowed by the frog, and the frog was swallowed by the snake... It was hardly necessary to be surprised at such a sight. It is the usual way of the world, isn't it? Haruzo, thinking that way, was about to go back with disappointed looks.

      "Oh. O-Naga, O-Naga.." Before Yuusuke could shout a tortoise-shell cat had taken the head of the snake in its mouth and was swishing it. "Hey, damned. Let it go." While, scolding the cat, Yuusuke felt that his spine was getting cold. Suddenly, a black lump rushed in like a bullet. "Gya!" The cat yelled at being bitten by a large black cat, and the two cats became a rolling ball. "The devil! You fool! Stop it." O-Naga jumped and ran towards the kaki tree. The black cat ran after. Both glared at each other, raging and growling on the branches of the tree. O-Naga was running desperately from one place to another but was finally driven towards a high branch from which she fell.

      Suddenly, Onisaburo, in a fit of anger climbed on the kaki tree. He shook the tree with all his might. The black cat was clinging on a thick bough and a few reddening kakis were swinging. "Reverend, come down, shame on you! You have done havoc with the flowers." Hearing, Yuusuke's words, he came down and looked at his new clothes. The cat's feces were soiling the sleeves. Looking now at the bow on the tree, he saw that it was covered with the cat's feces.

      Yuusuke sighted. "Oh, my Reverend. I acknowledge now that we should never use superlatives." "Fool! That is out of the question." Onisaburo glared spitefully at the cat on the bough while taking O-Naga, who felt as limp as a rag, in his arms. "I am going to avenge you. Look at what I will do," he said.

      Hearing quiet footsteps approaching, the three turned their faces towards the upcoming sound. "Are you understanding, Haruzo-san?" said Nao with a smile.

      Without knowing why, Haruzo's face turned ghastly pale, the pores of his skin opened and he started sweating profusely.

      On October 1 of the Meiji era year 33 (August 8 of the leap calendar) at 1 p.m., dozens of believers and church officials gathered at the gate of the church. The ascetic practices of those times were certainly quite mysterious. Even Nao did not always know where, why or when they were to happen nor where the journey would lead her. The believers may be separated from the founder forever this time... All of them venerated the founder.

      "Would you, please, allow us to accompany you, at least, halfway through the journey?" One of them was even crying while asking, but she didn't allow anyone to come with her on the orders of the god.

      When the party left the gate of the church after praying to the god, a little trouble arose. Nao had received a walking stick made of ume wood (a Japanese apricot tree) from Haruzo who was standing facing four arranged sticks. Haruzo had given a female pine-wood stick to Sumi, while holding fast a male pine wood stick he gave a green bamboo stick to Onisaburo, saying: "Please." At the very instant he did that Onisaburo scolded him severely. "Fool, take the green bamboostick, yourself." "No, this one is mine..." Onisaburo threw away the green bamboostick and tried to grasp the male pinewood stick. Haruzo glared intensely at Onisaburo while burning fire seemed to sprout from his eyes. All the assistants calmed down, looking at the scene of discord between Haruzo and Onisaburo. "Haruzo, you made the bamboo stick with all your heart, didn't you?" I give it to you but give me the male pine wood stick." Onisaburo extended his hand. After a while, Haruzo, cast down his eyes and forwarded the male pine wood stick while picking up the green bamboo stick.

      At half past one in the morning, the party began to move, feeling relieved. The God's orders were: "Go to Yagi in the Fukushima district and next this sacred situation will tell you where to go henceforth." At any rate, the party arrived at the Shichiyama Pass, carrying the straw raincoats and inclining their hats. A fox barked and a hare ran close to their feet. As is was night none of them had been able to see the brilliant scene of the mountain covered with red leaves. Onisaburo and Sumi went ahead of the party while Nao and Haruzo followed a little behind. Four persons, carrying flickering lanterns were moving among the trees.

      Haruzo looks depressed," Sumi sadly whispered. Onisaburo was in the sulks. "Why do you hate this bamboo stick, wouldn't you exchange it with him?" Sumi was being unfair with Onisaburo, she looked at her husband's face, and looked moody. Onisaburo said: "Don't mind, whichever the bamboo stick or the pine wood stick." "Why did you ask for the pine wood stick, then?" "Well, it is difficult for me to act according to my own will."

      Onisaburo explained, "I have no problem with the stick, but there is a risk to life related with the stick. His deep-seated grudge is imprinted on that green bamboo stick. If I continue on my journey, leaning on such a stick my flesh will weaken as if a poison was getting into my system. I know that stick. Haruzo and others took much trouble in making it to injure my health. This is Onisaburo who knows everything about their intentions."

      "Ume symbolizes the opening of the world while the pine rules the world. The bamboo plays the role of protecting for foreign things.' These sacred words appeared in the Fudesaki. What do you think about Ume?" "What? What are you saying?" "It seems that they have gulped down the words. Ume plays the role of opening the world, that is, it means the founder. The pine plays the role of ruling the world, that is, it means the successor to the founder. It means Sumi and Haruzo who took the trouble to make two sticks, one of a male pine tree wood and one of a female pine tree wood. Now, you can understand what follows: The bamboo means to me the spirit of a foreign country." "Well, everyone understood it except me."

      Onisaburo smiled a little. "I am going to interpret the truth in the O-Fudesaki through the Spirit of the Word's Echo. Ume means the doctrine while pine means the politics related with it. Bamboo means the military power. The bamboo which protects us from foreign countries, shows military strength which jeopardizes the safety of my country which is open to the doctrine of the God and rules the world peacefully. That is what I understand." "It is too difficult for me...," said Sumi poking her head.

      "A bamboo means the weapon. The bamboo was the instrument with which human beings and animals were killed. Man in ancient times made spears, bows and arrows out of bamboo." "Then, Haruzo and others are going to attempt to kill the Reverend with the bamboo stick...."

      "Ha Ha Ha! They are never going to stab or club me childishly taking the words of the Fudesaki seriously because it fitted them. In the Fedasaki the following words appears: "This journey is made by four persons concerned with the sacred work.' They were strongly conscious of these words. At the instant their expectation is met they will say that the president holds the spirit of foreign country because he took the bamboo stick. It is more frightening than if Haruao had taken successfully the male pine wood stick. He will be in the Seventh Heaven of joy, taking it for granted that the god allowed him to become Sumi's husband and the true successor of the founder, in this spiritual situation. It may be that Haruzo is watching for a chance to lead some kind of evil attack through self-conceit. In the Fudesaki the god indicates that we have to make this journey to practice asceticism and amend our conducts. I don't know much about this journey, but I intend to ruin his expectations and to correct his misunderstanding. This is the proof of affection for Haruzo."

      Sumi could read her husband's mind at a distance. She became joyful and grasped her husband's hand while lifting the paper lantern to give thanks for this moment of the night. The light of the paper lantern was swinging between them. When they reached the Enoki Pass after they had descended the steep slope of the Suchiyama Pass and the Karaki Pass, they saw the light ahead. When seeing that light at midnight in the mountain, Onisaburo feared that it was a mountain thief. He was literally shackled with horror.

      "O-Sumi, heed that light. It may be the mountain robber." "How thrilling! I am very interested in seeing his face." Sumi quickened her steps. Onisaburo, took her hand and pulled her back, "Stay behind me with your mother." He felt that she was going crazy.

      Onisaburo walked with long steps, propping his chest forward to avoid betraying his weakness. A man who had made a fire, noticed them and was waiting for them to block their way. When the party reached him, the man suddenly fell prostrate upon the ground. "Allow me to make a request, I beg you, please hear my request!" "Who are you?" Sumi shouted in unexpected tone, bringing the light of the paper lantern near the man, "Oh, you are Yasunosuke-han, aren't you? Why! What are you doing here?" He was Yasunosuke Fukubayashi. He was an earnest believer, and had continued to visit the church although he had to come from a remote part of the Ikutano district, passing the path of about nine kilometers every three days or less.

      "Please allow me to accompany you for these ascetic practices. I was waiting for you here, to play the role of the god Sarutahiko. But, I don't know how to do it for you. However, I prayed to the god to know the way to serve him while purifying myself with water." "The god's orders cannot be changed through my will only," Nao said with a perplexed air. "If you hate my role as the god Sarutahiko, I would like to accompany the party as a petty carrier, anyway." Fukubayashi moved towards Nao, and cast himself at her feet. "Thinking of where and how the founder is passing, I am dying to meet you. I came here to go with you, being ready to risk my life. After such a long time, I cannot return home." Fukubayashi had already prepared a straw raincoat and an ume stick.

      Onisaburo sympathized with him. While thinking about it, Onisaburo remembered that when the founder's party had gone to the Meshima islet, Kiyojiro Murakami suddenly had offered not to accompany them as a member of the party of nine, because he had suffered from the words of Haruzo and others. Fukubayashi who happened to be present offered to travel together at once in replacement of Murakami, and the founder allowed him to do it after she asked the god's will. He was quite willing to be a substitute.

      "My founder, please allow him to go together as a carrier of our baggage, not as companion." He was allowed by Nao, although with difficulty and on Onisaburo's intercession to accompany the party.

      Fukubayashi fastened the straw raincoat like a mat to his back, wiping fretfully his eyes which were filled with tears.

      __Three persons! I'd like to add one companion, but, first, I must decide it through consultation.

      ...Well, it meant Fukubayashi-han. A paragraph of the Fudesaki which Onisaburo had read before came back to his mind.

      The sun was up in the vicinity of the San-no-miya district. But, a thick fog arose and there was no visibility. Onisaburo was nervous about Haruzo who was late. Nao often looked back at him through the fog. Fukubayashi, a stocky man, turned back to ascertain his condition while shouldering the bar tied with the party's baggage.

      Haruzo didn't attempt to walk, he was sitting down on a rock on the side of the way, resting his chin on the top of the green bamboo stick. "The founder is worried about you. Stand up quickly." Haruzo, started to walk after listening to the words Fukubayashi had whispered. "The male pine wood stick is mine. That president stole it from me. I must let the president come back to the Ayabe district and walk alongside of the female pine stick and take the male pine stick. If that is impossible, I cannot accomplish the purpose of this ascetic practices' journey. The plan of the Omoto's god will be ruined."

      Haruzo, taking regretfully, a good bite of his lip appeared with a desolate air on his face, and did not look as a youth of nineteen years old.

      The party took a little rest at the house of a believer, Minosuke Sakahara, in the Hinokiyama district, and arrived at the town of Sonobe district after passing the Kannon Pass. The party met Gitaro Uenaka who had heard about the founder's visit accidentally and had come out quickly to meet the founder on her arrival. "I hope the founder will stay overnight at my house to take a rest." By Uenaka's advice the party had visited his house in the Kizaki district, Kirinosho Village.

      Onisaburo visited with Sumi Uenaka's stock farm in which he once had taught Uenaka how to raise a cow, and had talked fondly about the good days of his youth. Sumi also recalled her memories from the old days when she had suffered from a cow named Man-emon when serving a master in the Kisaichi district. Their bursting loud laughter reached Nao's room for a while.

      When until Onisaburo and Sumi returned to Nao's room, Haruzo looked irritated and not quite at ease. They were unable to see the beautiful tinted autumnal leaves in the garden through the room's window which was wide open. Four curs appeared from somewhere and sat down in calm. Nao continued to look at them affectionately.

      Senkichi Tanaka and his wife, and a certain Tsujimura one of the local believers visited Nao. The instant they sat down without the proper greetings, they began to recounter their estimate of daily life of Uenaka. Tanaka and Tsujimura were now retired propagators of the church of the Konko cult. They were unhappy with Uenaka who was intriguing with their believers. Uenaka was a believer of a few supporters of Onisaburo. Haruzo Shikata added to the attack on Uenaka. It is clear that Tanaka and Tsujimura conspired with each other and attempted to drive Uenaka away from the president group.

      Uenaka was enraged with them and exposed that Tanaka and Tsujimura had been plotting the collapse of the Spiritual Study Society with the help of Haruzo and others.

      Taking the cause of the affair too seriously, it became the struggle for the believers of each group. In spite of belonging to the same the Spiritual Study Society, the dispute between Onisaburo and the believers of the Konko sect in the Ayabe district, had affected even the smallest units of the believers' organization.

      'Now, at this time, the founder who is sixty-five years old, is about to start a journey, with no particular destination in view, purifying her flesh and mind through ascetic practices known only according to the order of the god and relying on one ume stick. If being in the right state of mind, you should not wash your dirty clothes in public.' Onisaburo worried himself about the heated quarrel between the four persons.

      Nao suddenly stretched out her hand towards the cake tray in front of her, and grasped a handful of cakes. Looking at the desultory and improper behavior of Nao all fell into silence. Nao went out onto the veranda, and tossed the cakes to the dogs, who chummed up. At the instant she had done so, the dogs rushed about in a frenzy, scrambling for the cakes. Nao looked back the members, who were overawed by the dogs' fight. Uenaka noticed her looking at him and hung down his head. Tanaka and Tsujimura flung away in a rage. Haruzo Shikata went out, following them.

      In the evening Nao politely expressed her thanks to Uenaka, and left the Kiri-no-sho district. When the party arrived at the railway station of Sonobe, Haruzo was waiting for them. "Founder, it is dangerous to go on such a journey at night. We also will have some additional traveling expenses. So, I ask you to stay at Tanaka's house tonight. Tanaka is now waiting for you," he said. "Even if I have to spend the night outside, I will by all means avoid staying at his house," she replied.

      The party of five, including Haruzo took the train at the Sonobe station with an air of disapproval and got off the train at the next station in Yagi, then went to the house of Toranosuke Fukushima, which was the meeting place of the Spiritual Study Society in Yagi.

      The Fukushima family was building a new house, digging out the surface of the Kokita mountain. It may be that the family had obtained its building costs by selling the teahouse in the Toraten-ine district.

      Opening the door, there was a feeling of prosperity in the house. Although the house was not very large, many believers used to gather there, taking off the fusumas (the sliding door) between the room of ten tatamis and the room of six tatamis. Just then, they were celebrating the transfer of the Shinto's god from the former place to the new sacred corner of the rebuilt house. They welcomed the unexpected arrival of the founder and her part joyfully.

      After a while Nao and Onisaburo delivered a lecture on the ways of the god regarding them, and the meeting broke up late at night.

      The second day, early in the morning, Onisaburo rinsed his mouth with the water of the brook which was running in front of the house, and presented himself to the god before the house's altar. He was possessed by the power of the sacred situation at once, and composed a tanka.

      Mt. Kuramayama symbolizes the darkness in the minds of the people in the world.
            Under the spiritual light of the god, the sacred way is now opened.

      "Are we going ahead to the Kuramayama mountain?" Nao said half to herself biting her cheeks.

      At one o'clock in the afternoon, the party got on the train at the Yagi station putting on the straw raincoat and the sedge hat. Passing through the Kameoka station, Onisaburo noticed a man who had been looking at him in the train. His name was Yoshiro who had married into the family of his wife, Ran Saito, the object of Onisaburo's first love.

      "Hello, how have you been...?" Onisaburo started saying, but after that he kept silent. Yoshiro had a quick look at the scene from the window, but he refused to acknowledge his presence. 'I see.' said Onisaburo checking his outfit while putting on the straw raincoat on his back while Yoshiro remained in Western clothes.

      "Kisa-yan seemed to hate even his adoptive family's house and returned home at last. He was reduced to beggary pilgrimage. He set off for the journey like a floating cloud on flowing water." Yoshiro came back to the Anao Village. Since then, Onisaburo had decisively fallen in public estimation of the Anao Village.

      The party got off the train at the Hanazono station. They went ahead bordering Myoshinji, a main temple of a Zen Buddhism sect, while Fukubayashi was often soothing Haruzo who looked indisposed, and was standing besides the torii (the Shinto shrine archway) of the Kitano Shrine. This shrine is usually called Kitano-Tenjin or Kitano-Tenmangu, and is dedicated to Prince Sugawara Michizane as the god of scholarship. This is the main shrine among several shrines called Tenjin-san in the many areas all over the country.

      The worshipper incessantly visited the shrine, the precinct of which was overgrown by a thousand year old pine tree, an ume grove, a maple tree and various moss-grown trees.

      Sumi after clapping her hands innocently asked Onisaburo to pray to the god. "Is the Tenjin-san the god of heaven and is the Ushitora-no-Konjin-sama the god of the earth?" she asked. She was talking as if the god Tenjin was greater than the god Ushitora-no-Konjin.

      Onisaburo was going to teach her although she was studying and even learning by the ear.

      "No, what you said is not true. Tenjin-san originated in a human being. This human being was Prince Michizane Sugawara (845-903) who was a politician, a literary man and a scholar at the beginning of the Heian era. He became the Minister of the Right, at last, but, was enticed by the Mnister of the Left, Tokihira Fujiwara, and was banished to Dazaifu (currently Fukuoka Prefecture), incurring Daigo Tenno's anger. He expressed his grief in the following tanka. 'Under Heaven I have no clothes to put on, because my all clothes are always wet with overflowing tears." He died two years later, sorely missing the former great favors of Tenno at the place of his exile. His long-cherished sincerity was at last understood by the god, and he finally became the god called Naru-Kami, and that is how he was made a god. He was also said to be one of the three great calligraphers who were ranking with Kuukai and Doufu Ono. From this reason, he was made the god of learning."

      Sumi cried with wonder, "Why? Why do you weep, my mother? The man named Michizane was made such a great god, you understand." Nao heartily said, "Even Prince Michizane was cheerfully made a god in this country. ButI say that he was only a human being." Sumi remained silent. "This is me who understands very well the mind of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin. This great god, who is said to be the origin of this country, graciously fixed this flowing heart on the earth like for a long time. This great god was thrust into the direction called Ushtora (the northeast), having the sins of all the gods of heaven and earth centered upon him, I may say with due respect. Since then, no one has served this god. Moreover, this sacred situation was blasphemed by the demon and by the evil, he was feared, being called the evil god and the 'demon's gate". Patched beans are looming and the sacred time has come. This sacred situation has stayed in this flesh with difficulty, but, it is a sacrilege..., because of my insufficient power for prayer and for devotion and when I see the magnificent sacred shrine erected to the memory of Prince Michizane, I feel pity for the god Ushitora-no-Konjin." Fukubayashi cried with her in sympathy.

      Onisaburo was ashamed of his frivolous behavior, triumphantly lecturing on Prince Michizane to Sumi. "We are going to build the grand shrine raised to the god Konjin, one day earlier," Onisaburo said this as if he was pondering his idea.

      "Why? The shrine?" Nao straightened herself, rejecting Onisaburo's feelings. "I do not complain to you for wanting to build a great shrine.' This sacred situation is not such about a little god who is enshrined in other churches despite the fact that there is such a large building and shrine. Don't build a church for this god. If you build it, this sacred situation will crush it at once.' The god told me so. Until this god finishes re-erecting and rebuilding the world and people gather from the whole world to build the shrine, please build the shrine calmly in each one's mind."

      The five persons who had remained in front of the Tenmangu kept a stony silence. Tracing the pass to the Kenkun Shrine in the Funa-Okayama district, the party found the construction work field for the building of the historical monument of the shrine. Looking at the Daitokuji-temple in the Murasakino district at the left hand and turning to the north after wading the limpid stream of the Kamo river, the party was gradually entering in the thick of the mountain. They went up north the Kurama Road from the Ichihara district, then reached the Kibune district more or less seven or eight cho ahead (about 800 meters) via Futanose Village. There is a great torii of the Kibune-Ichinomiya Shrine facing the Kurama Road. The Road divides to the right to the Kurama temple and after passing through the torii on the left of the Kibune Shrine. This point is precisely at the junction of two rivers, the Kurama river and the Kibune river.

      Onisaburo was relieved and hummed a waka, dipping his feet in the clear stream glittering with the running shadows of fishes called Amago and a kind of trout.

      "When I am in deep thought, even a firefly of the valley seems to be like a gem born to me who yearns for beauty."

      "What does it mean?" Sumi asked him. "This is the waka which Izumi-Shikibu composed when she was around here." Onisaburo pushed her away as it seemed she wanted to ask more questions to clear his way to work at the stone pit's which were located below the narrow mountain pass. They worked to cut the so-called Kurama-stone. A few hundred meters further there was a shrine called the Yuki Shrine, which was dedicated to the god Onamuchi-no-mikoto and the god Sukunahikona-no-mikoto. The Kurama fire festival, which is the festival of this shrine, the patron deity of the Kurama district, is very famous. While looking at the ruins of the Tokobo-temple in which Ushiwaka-maru (Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune's childhood name, the warlord of the Kamakura era) trained himself for ten years, since age six, the party traced with astonishment the winding track on the steepest part of the mountain.

      "Close yet so distant, the path of Kurama is related to a person," Onisaburo said. "What does it mean?" said Sumi. "These words were written in the essay entitled 'Makura-no-Soshi' by Sei-Shonagon. Maybe, it indicated the way..." "Uh-h, I also know a similar paragraph. 'Distant yet so close is the relationship between man and woman.' You know it." Onisaburo burst into laughter at realizing that Sumi was exhibiting her knowledge just to keep her self-respect while forgetting his fatigue. Sumi glared at him with an air of regret at his making fun of her.

      After climbing to the top of the slope, they reached the main sanctuary of the Kurama temple. At seeing the view towards the east, Sumi shouted out of joy. There was Mt. Hieizan in front, and the Ohara hamlet at the foot of the mountain, darkened at its northern extremity.

      Obeying to Nao's voice they sat down in front of the main sanctuary of the Kurama temple. In the upcoming evening breeze the temple seemed to shake together with the back mountain.

      After praying to the god Haruzo drew a lot in front of the main sanctuary. "Oh, Oops!" Haruzo, dropped it, then tore it up the lot and held it firm in his lips. After him, Nao, Onisaburo, Sumi and Fukubayashi drew their lots also, each one with very good luck. Fukubayashi secretly picked up the lot which Haruzo had thrown away and reconstructed the pieces of the lot. What was written was 'Singular ill fortune. Your life is threatened.' Fukubayashi threw it away, shuddering with horror.

      There are currently twelve kinds of the lots, which are classified according to their number, the first of the twelfth in the Kurama temple, forebodes 'good luck' and 'excellent luck'. But at that time, there were lots numbered from one to one hundred and the last ones forebode 'ill luck' and 'singular ill fortune'.

      Leaving the Kurama temple, the party went towards the inner sanctuary. Passing through the inner gate of the connecting corridor, which linked the Komyoshinin-sanctuary to Honbo-Kongo-jumyoin-sanctuary, through the uphill approach which stretched along a winding path.

      "O-Sumi, Ushiwaka-maru was going to and from the back of the Sojo-ga-tani district through this way every night, at that time." "I certainly know so much of it. At that place, Ushiwaka-maru learned and practiced the use ken from the great long-nosed goblin of Mt. Kurama."

      When approaching the top of the mountain, there is the stone with which Ushiwaka-maru compared his stature, it is said. Going to the left, they could reach Kinone where the roots of the large trees, washed by the heavy rain looked like a crawling gathering of snakes. "Yea! Yea!" Sumi swung the female pine stick down while turning around. "Oh! To!" Onisaburo was afraid to grasp it. His stick made a hard sound, "Gattu!". Haruzo came running with a threatening look, and held the green bamboo stick over his head. "Oh! He is intolerable this foolish fellow."

      Being terrified at seeing Haruzo's excited face running through the air, Onisaburo withdrew his stick. "Ha, ha, ha, the weakling! I for sure suspect that you are the long-nosed goblin of the Mt. Kurama, isn't that so. This Ushiwaka-maru will strike you now." Onisaburo didn't know what to do with Sumi who wished to play at ken, and was running away.

      Around the place the wild birds were singing keenly, and the old trees which had grown thick were shutting off the sunlight. They could not firmly secure their steps in the half darkness. In a calm cluster of large Japanese cedars, they found the Fudo-do(Fudo sanctuary), and soon saw among the trees the tiled roof of the Mao-den (Satan sanctuary) belonging to the inner temple. 'Ushiwaka-maru' calmed down and was walking, hanging on to Onisaburo's arm.

      The party using their straw raincoats as mats sat down in front of the Mao-den, and recited a prayer together. Near the party an ascetic in white clothes, earnestly chanted the sutra, while counting the beads on his chaplet. The quick beat of a Taiko (a bass drum) was resounding wildly from nowhere.

      Going to the back of the Mao-den, the party slept on the ground under the floor of the sanctuary. Even in the midst of the summer, it gets cold enough in the mountain to need some lined garment. Moreover, it was already October and the whole mountain was dyed with red. The party was getting cold. Only the animals of the mountain, the wild boar, the deer, the squirrel, the weasel, the rabbit, the raccoon dog and others who were comfortably covered with a soft winter coat of fur, could sleep.

      Fukubayashi could not sleep, worrying about Nao who only her mat to sleep. Did Haruzo, who often turned over in his sleep and heaved sights oppressively, think likewise? He was bothering both the healthy breathing of Onisaburo and Sumi's sleep. Around them, the old Japanese cedars stood thickly close together, and the ominous night sky opened above the tops of trees like a large mouth, just same as in 'the Demon's Mountain'.

      Fukubayashi woke up suddenly, he had been troubled by a terrible dream. But before he was aware of it, he seemed to doze off again. Then feeling that there was something strange in the air, he jumped of his mat. He heard a faint sound like someone calling in a suppressed voice from some where saying, "Please wake up, wake up."

      The faint light which was lighted for the ascetic practices of the night, was trembling at the turn of the way. Looking around, Fukubayashi didn't see Haruzo, who had been sleeping at his side. Fukubayashi rushed towards the Mao-den, and was out of himself with freezing fear. A large will-of-the-wisp soundlessly was coming in and out in the fog, as if springing out of the depths of the ground. A man, being whirled around by the trail of the will-of-the-wisp, was groaning gaspingly. "Haruzo?" "Fukubayashi was frozen on the spot. The will-of-the-wisp, rocking widely from side to side, was vanishing into the wood of the Japanese cedars. Fukubayashi chased it dragging himself while petrified with terror. A fire was burning at the edge of the wood. Haruzo was warming himself at the bonfire. "Hey, Haruzo-han, what are you doing now?" Fukubayashi asked him in a shaking voice. Haruzo raised his face, trying to smile. "You saw that? If so, I have nothing to listen to from you." Haruzo smiled as a goblin. He may have been sobbing. "Haruzo, let's go to the founder."

      Fukubayashi lifted Haruzo up in his arms, calling upon his greatest courage with all his might, and passed in front of the Mao-den. He felt that Haruzo was as cold as ice and as heavy as a stone. Until dawn after returning to Nao's side, he could not figure if he was asleep or not.

      At dawn the party woke up and purified itself with spring water and loud prayers. Fukubayashi focused on the expression of Haruzo. He was worn-out and had become very pale, as to the occurrence of last night he said only "I remember nothing". The villagers say that in this mountain, many flying squirrel fly around and look like will-of-the-wisp. Was that scene a dream of Fukubayashi? In his anxiety, Fukubayashi had gone alone to the place in the wood where Haruzo had made the fire. There was no evidence that anything had been burning. But, Fukubayashi once more shuddered at the sight of what was lying on the ground. What! It was a stick, certainly a green bamboo stick. After considering this for a while, Fukubayashi without telling anyone put the green bamboo stick near Haruzo's baggage.

      On their way back, they stayed overnight at a hotel in the Yagi district. During the night, Haruzo disappeared. He ran from Yagi to Sonobe, and visited the house of Senkichi Tanaka to resign his employment, saying, "I may die at any time now," I hear.

      The next day, as Nao heard it, she scolded Haruzo privately. "Haruzo-san, I don't know what occurred to you. But, now, it is true that your life is on the verge of being ruined. This, indeed, is the time in which you should pray to the god, throwing away all your belongings. This is the only way for you to preserve your life, as you know very well."

      A few days later the party returned to Ayabe in safety, but at the night, strong wind gust arose suddenly making the Japanese cedars, in front of the church, roar in the wind. Nao told Onisaburo, "Just now, the archbishop came here, and is enshrined at Mt. Hongu. All my followers have been staying near the large Japanese cedar of the Baba district. My Reverend, go and have a look at it some day. You will see a lot of the god's followers, making that noise."

      Rumor had it, that Haruzo Shikata had an access of fever and was bed stricken by illness. Only a few days had passed since their return from the ascetic practices on Mt. Kurama-yama.

      The fellows who had been agitating in order to obtain the exclusion of the president, dispersed away from Haruzo either alone or by two.

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