Mother Earth

Volume 10: The Nine-Tailed Fox

Chapter 5: The Pond of the god Konjin

      "I want to build a place where the sea goddess Ryugu no Otohime (the Princess of the Dragon Palace) can live and play. The sacred one, Nao Deguchi, will make the first plan of its model. Within the grounds of this house, I will dig a fair-sized pond." (the 18th of December, 1904 of the Japanese old calendar in the Fudesaki)

      It had already been written in the Fudesaki that the believers should dig a pond on Nao's sacred premises, in which the sea goddess, the Princess of the Dragon Palace, would be able to live and play. Ten years had elapsed since this had been written but in the summer of the third year of the Taisho era (1914), Onisaburo announced to the believers that the time to dig the pond for the Princess of the Dragon Palace had arrived.

      The plan was grandiose. It was as follows: a large pond, on which two floating islands, representing the Oshima and Meshima islands, would be dug on the Northwest side of the large building named the Kinryu-den (Gold Dragon building), and a small shrine, to be reached by boat, would be placed on the islands in the center. On the West side of the pond, the Yamato-jima (island) was to be placed and a bridge would link it from North to West. A small island, which was to be located close to the Southeast border of the pond was to be called Asei-en (The Park of the Frog's creaking). A small tea-ceremony room was also to be construced in the adjacent park. On the Southern side, a rest-house which was to be named Kagyu-tei (house of a snail) was able to be built. Finally, a floating islet which Onisaburo was to name the O-Yashima (old expression of Japan) Shrine was to be constructed on the East side of the pond. In the future Onisaburo was planning to extend the pond to the West and connect it through a narrow canal with another pond then build Hongu (the main shrine) on a bridge thrown over the canal. Once the project was completed, Onisaburo would then have an artificial pond of over 9,900 square meters on the sacred premises, with the shadows of the shrines of the islands and the bridges in the canal, reflecting on the surface of the water. Onisaburo was going to call this sacred quarter the Kinryu-ike (Gold Dragon pond).

      Onisaburo secretly told Nao about his plans. Nao was very happy at hearing all this because she felt that it was the realization of the god's will, however, she objected the name of the pond. She said, "I think that it certainly is a pond which will reflect the human world, but it is too small to reflect the sacred world. The model must be an ocean where all the Dragon gods of heaven and earth can gather." Onisaburo changed the pond's name to Kinryu-kai (Gold Dragon Ocean) at once.

      The construction of the Kinryu-kai was to start in the vegetable garden. Since the time Onisaburo had received this garden he had left it the way it was because he thought that it would be naturally purified if it became covered with weeds. Sumi was not aware of his intentions. She used to sight and say, "What a waste! You not taking care of the garden and it has become a barren wasteland. This is the sacred garden of the Omoto cult. Heaven will punish you for doing this." She ordered the believers to pull out the weeds, to fertilize the soil with human manure and to cultivate the land. However, Onisaburo insisted on pulling out any fresh grown vegetables and wanted to leave the garden as it was, while Sumi, on the contrary insisted on cultivating it. So the garden was alternately returned to wasteland then cultivated again and the operation was repeated over and over as if it was a battle of wills between Onisaburo and his wife. Sometime later, someone who was displeased with Onisaburo's behavior, said, "Reverend, if you simply said that you want to return the garden to nature to purify it before starting the construction of the pond, Sumi, who belongs to the second generation after the founder, would not cultivate it." Onisaburo was listening, gazing at the horizon while quietly smoking a kind of tobacco called Shikishima. "In the evil world, there is a lot of gossip about us. I am somewhat worried about this gossip interfering with the construction of the Kinryu-kai and the completion of other plans we made according to the god's will. Furthermore, I have to buy many things and enlarge the sacred place for use by our cult. If they become aware that this land is a sacred place, the price of the land will rapidly rise and I have to manage with only the small income of the cult. As a result I cannot reveal my sacred plans even to my wife or to my family.

      At the time Onisaburo voiced his plans for the construction of the Kinryu-kai, he had already bought the land for it. Furthermore, when was preparing the botanical gardens (which had an area of about 11,600 square meters) in the Ueno district, to plant young pine trees, he also bought that lot. He had the intention of later transplanting the young trees to the sacred soil which he had been planning to prepare and he hoped to see the land covered with the green hue of pine trees. But, Sumi, who did not know about his plans, got angry and started pulling out the young pine trees. She said, "An evil era will soon arrive and people will have difficulty gathering food. It has clearly been written in the Fudesaki that even a tiny strip of land should be used to plant rice and vegetables but instead that foolish god, the god Komatsu-bayashi has you planting seedlings of young pine trees. This is really hopeless." But, Onisaburo insisted on planting the young trees and Sumi in turn, kept pulling them out.

      Sumi, who firmly believed and followed the indications of the Fudesaki stuck tenaciously to her own view and did not heed any orders coming from elsewhere. Nao quietly scolded her and said: "I think that the Reverend has a plan. Let him have his own way." Sumi objected, "I follow what is written in the Fudesaki." Nao conceded that it was so and she ordered Onisaburo to uproot the pine tree seedlings. Onisaburo did not admit that he was wrong and said, "I am only doing what the god orders me to do. Even if the founder does not know it, I am speaking the truth. Ask the god of the founder if it isn't so." Nao prostrated herself in front of the altar and questioned the god about it; after a while she started smiling and looked relieved. "My dear Sumi, the god told me that we should let him do as he pleases, and that is exactly what we will do." Onisaburo and Sumi make overall a good couple, despite the fact that some differences on the interpretation of current events and actions often occur.

       On the 25th of July they held the ceremony of laying the cornerstones of the islets of the Kinryu-kai and the shrines to be built on each islet as well as that of the Asei-en. On the 8th of August, they performed a purifying ceremony at the building site of the Kinryu-kai, before initiating the digging needed to lay the foundations of the building. Onisaburo was very enthusiastic about the digging of the pond. He acted as the foreman of the construction. Every night, around two or three o'clock the believers could see him walk untiringly and alone on the construction site.

      As soon as the construction of the tea-ceremony room of the Asei-en was completed, Onisaburo transferred his residence to it and started writing pamphlets urging the believers to go ahead with the rest of the construction. On the 15th of October, a bulletin entitled the Shikishima-Shimpo (the New Report of Shikishima) was published, despite the fact that the publication of the bulletin called the Chokurei-gun (The True Spiritual Force) had been forbidden. Onisaburo had already started, in April 1913, a printing company in Hon-machi and he was now using the facility has his office. Onisaburo did all the publishing work by himself. He truly did everything, starting with the typography and up to the distribution process. That meant doing alone the typing, printing, bookbinding, wrapping and distribution. I even heard that he used to pick the types for most articles directly, as the ideas and phrases came to his mind and that he did not write anything beforehand.

      On the 28th of July, World War I broke out and Japan declared war upon Germany because it was bound by the Anglo-Japanese Alliance on the 23rd of August. On the same day Nao and Onisaburo prayed to the god for world peace.

      On the 22nd of September, as soon as the building of the Toumu-kaku (where the head office was to be located) was completed, they prayed to the god to transfer the shrine to that building. The Toumu-kaku had a floor area of about 100 square meters. That building which was divided by a corridor which ran from north, was divided into four rooms, and each room had eight tatami. Nao was using the two rooms on the west side and Onisaburo and Sumi were using the two rooms on the east side. Nao reserved a sacred corner for prayer to the god, in one room, and where she continued to write the Fudesaki until her later years, while she was living in the other room. On the 23rd, the first phase of the construction of the Kinryu-kai was completed. On the 25th they finished the construction of the Kinryu-den (The Gold Dragon Building). That building was connected with the Toumu-kaku by a passage which had also been completed. The building had a floor area of about 170 square meters. At the same time, the second phase of the construction of the Kinryu-kai was initiated by those believers who had steadily been arriving from other places. The conditions surrounding the Omoto cult were changing by the day.

      During that whole period, Onisaburo seemed to devote himself and all the resources of the cult exclusively to the constructions of the Kinryu-kai. "The god is urging us to hurry up. Let all of us come forward to complete this great work!" Men and women of all ages, as well as children, came forward to help in the construction. While all the believers were at work only one of them was left to attend the reception desk of the great hall. The elderly and the children were carrying the earth away in small bamboo baskets, piling it up nearby. The daughters of Onisaburo and his adopted son, Daiji, were also taking part in the common effort. Even Sumi, in her usual straw sandals was canying a heavy basket back and forth. The soil which had been excavated was, in turn, used to make the islets in the pond and the clay which had been bared by the excavation was gathered in a small mount. This earth moving, exercised a certain fascination on the believers and they used to joyfully take some of that sacred earth with them at home. The feet of Mr. Yoshida and the nose of Mr. Chuzaburo Sato were blessed by this sacred soil which had been dug out for the construction of the Kinryu-kai. The believers of the Fukuchiyama district loaded a full cart with rice and gave it to the workers of the Omoto cult as their contribution to the construction. Before returning home they loaded the now empty cart with sacred soil and took it back with them.

      In the Fudesaki the following instructions had been written: "The god has decided that those belonging to the generation following Nao's must use cotton clothes, bleached cotton nightgowns, pongee socks and zori (Japanese sandals) covered with paper as well as straw raincoats and a bamboo hats. Up to now, the believers had been using workman's clothes, close-fitting trousers and straw sandals and were not allowed to use anything else, let alone woolen clothes. When informed of the god's will the believers sold their silk clothes and bought cotton ones.

      When the day was rainy and it was impossible to work outside, they kept themselves busy making straw sandals and twisting ropes. The servants who had arrived from Kyoto and Osaka had no experience working with straw and they were quite at loss to do such a work properly. When Onisaburo was teaching them how to make zori, which he himself could do with great skill, they could not help being fascinated by his ability. They used to keep working even in confined conditions and lacking fresh air because they were not allowed to relax their efforts and attention even for a moment. Chuzaburo Sato and his friend, Denshiro Nakakura, who was three or four years younger than him were passing back and forth in front of the Tomu-kaku, carrying heavy baskets of soil suspended on a pole. Both of them who had arrived from Ehime Prefecture. Chuzaburo used to be shouting, "Oh o-have-ho!" whenever he was lifting up a newly filled straw basket and placing it on the other shoulder to shift its weight. As she heard him, Nao slightly opened the shoji of her room and called to him: "Sato-san" she said. Chuzaburo put down his load and approached the verandah. Nao quietly admonished him, "You are working well and hard everyday but can you not stop shouting all the time? It is clearly stated in the Fudesaki that you must strictly according to the rules and maintain your composure as if you were walking of a naked sword. You cannot relax your attention even for a single moment when serving the Omoto cult. Could you start shouting at a naked sword Chuzaburo wondered if what Nao was saying was actually true because he had just wounded his nose at the moment he had relaxed his attention and had been caught off-guard.

      However, understand that despite being a playboy I endeavor to do my very best for the service of the god. I cannot endure a harder life nor can I hold my breath even before a naked sword. In the first place, the head priest, Reverend Onisaburo is acting as a general; after he had nibbled at a potato and let go a fart while he was directing the construction. After he had taken leave from Nao, those ideas kept running in Chuzaburo's head and his looks became quite sullen. The servants were always hungry because they were working hard while getting only a single frugal meal. Moreover, the servants and Onisaburo always took their lunch at the building site, hastily and standing. As they were enduring such a life, it became quite a pleasure for them to have some tea and cake when they had a break. It generally was Nobuyuki Umeda who sent it to them at his own expense. When the toil was really heavy, he used to send to them plenty of bread instead of cheap candy, to encouraged them. Although his private life was often criticized, all the members loved and esteemed him for that. They continued digging every day. As the work was progressing everyone started worrying about how they would get water. The place where they were digging was the part of the premises located on the hill and after excavating to a depth of about 1.5 meters, they reached the rocky base characteristic of the Ayabe strata. They thought that they would never be able to dig deep enough to get water. The people of Ayabe knew that very well. "Reverend of the god Konjin! Why are you digging a pond at such a high place? What are you dreaming of?" they used to say. They ridiculed Onisaburo and called the pond the Kago-Ike of Konjin-san (the basket pond of the god Konjin). The meaning was, of course, that a basket cannot hold water. Sumi was getting unbearably anxious and she warned Onisaburo, "Reverend, if we do not find water here it is not quite natural that we are made the laughing stock of people, but, can you allow that the god be laughed at?" Onisaburo replied: "I am not concerned by this matter. I am simply digging where the god orders me to dig and that's all! Do you understand?" But, Sumi added, "Even if it be so, I advise you to stop this work right away to avoid adding to your shame." But, Onisaburo replied again, "My task is to dig and digging I do. I have no choice." The miniature replica of the three islets, that is, Oshima, Mcshima and Yamatojima had already been placed in the pond. Onisaburo planted a thick array of small pine trees around the simple shrine, but not a single drop of water was springing from the earth to fill the pond. Despite this, Onisaburo eagerly ordered the beginning of the second phase of the construction. Sumi was amazed at his behavior and she began to grumble all day long hoping to be heard, at last, by her husband. She said, "You truly are a fool! Why do you do such a thing? Are you really a man? What are you doing?" He replied, "You will soon see by yourself, O-Sumi, if water does not spring from the earth, it would lead us to believe that the god did tell us a lie." He was looking at the Kinryu-kai and seemed to see it filled with water to the brim. He looked very sure of himself.

      Onisaburo was going to go to Kyoto and Osaka for a while to do missionary work. He seemed to be worried about the atfairs of the cult during his absence and he gave Sumi detailed instructions about the way the construction should be continued while he was away. He told Sumi, "Have them comply strictly with the construction plan." As soon as he had left, Sumi transmitted his orders to all the members, but she showed no enthusiasm to encourage their work. Onisaburo returned that night with the last train, having completed his missionary work and he went directly from the station to the construction site but he soon realized that work had not progressed according to schedule. The ran to he Toumu-kak and shouted angrily, "O-Sumi! I gave you precise instructions but I see that only half of the work has been done. What did you do all day long?" His face was red, his eyes glittered and his hair stood erect. It was quite clear that he was possessed by the god. Sumi retreated fear.

      At midnight, Onisaburo ran through town like a whirlwind, shouting at the houses of the officials and believers of the Hongu, Ueno, and Higashi-Yotsutsuji districts. "Those of you who cannot understand the god's plans, should leave this place." The drowsy officials surprised at his behavior rapidly gathered in a crowd at the construction site. As it was mid-autumn and midnight, it was quite chilly; they made a bonfire at the site and started working hard at the light of the fire. Sumi joined them, but she was thinking, "Is this really the god's work? Isn't it rather sad that we must serve the god through such a kind of work, being knocked out of our beds at midnight." She could not refrain from expressing her displeasure to her husband. But, when she looked at him, standing resolute, with his feet a little apart and his eyes full of fire, she felt like if her head would be severed by a sword if she did not go on. So, she kept working all the more eagerly. A bloodthirsty, tense atmosphere fell upon the construction site around midnight.

      They continued to work around the clock for a few days. They had, at first, simply guessed that Onisaburo was in a considerable hurry to complete the construction, but now there were some indications that he was not so eager to see it finished, after all, young men used to accompany him to the mountains to bring back crushed rocks, pulling them along with ropes, to the site of construction to erect a stone wall around the Kinryu-kai. They would then pile up the stones to erect the wall. Onisaburo instructed them in great detail on the way the masonry work had to be done. As they could only rely on manpower and did not have any jacks or other devices, the work of piling up even five or six stones was very hard.

      As Onisaburo was inspecting the work at his own discretion and he said, "Hey, you are piling up these stones in a most foolish way. Try again to do it properly." And, using a crowbar, he suddenly started demolishing the stone wall which stones had been piled up with so much difficulty, then, he quickly returned to the Asei-en. Everyone was dumbfounded. They said, "This is really a pity for the young men who did that work. We cannot hope to complete the work rapidly if he has us "trying again" all the time. Jinsai Yuasa and Yoshimi Tanaka complained to Onisaburo on behalf of the other believers. He seemed to be acting unconsciously reflecting the pattern according to which the god would rebuild and re-erect the souls of the believers. The problem was, that although Onisaburo had ordered them to pile up the stones again, they did not know how to do it. But, the leaders were soon able to figure out what he wanted and some of them went back to him to apologize for the others, instead of complaining. The officials said to him, "Please forgive us! We cannot possibly express our apologies for the improper way we did it. We are going to rebuild these according to your will, but, please give your instructions directly at the construction site." Onisaburo, who wanted to make sure what they were saying, asked them, "Did you amend your conduct? Are you earnestly asking me to rebuild yourselves?" "Indeed, Reverend, we sincerely want to rebuild ourselves." "If that is so, I will go!" replied Onisaburo with a smile and he headed joyfully to the site of the construction. They tried again with the foundation, while their bodies were being dyed with the rosy colors of the setting sun. As they kept running into trouble, every day, and their work was very hard, Chuzaburo Sato became quite disgusted. While the wound of his nose was beginning heal, he was impatient to get sick to get some pleasure from the world. "Damn it!" he said. "I am interested neither in naked swords nor in rebuilding. He slipped away from the site of the construction and lay down under the cover of a thicket near Mt. Hongu and, while having a smoke, he imagined he was fleeing from the Omoto cult in some way or another. "Hey, Sato, do you have some light for my cigarette?" Chuzaburo Sato was shocked at hearing Onisaburo's voice and he slowly extended his hand out from behind the thicket. Feeling a vague apprehension, he stood up slowly. Onisaburo said to him, "It is still early, much too early, for you to run away." He lighted up his cigarette (called Shikishima) sat down with his legs crossed, and started smoking seeming to enjoy every puff. "Let the devil take it away," he said. Chuzaburo sat down with a look of despair. Onisaburo looked in the direction where a black cloud was forming. Then he said, "You see, it is just the same as with the children who are in Limbo; their souls are going to the bank of the Styx and there they build small towers for the repose of their parents souls. Then a demon appears and demolishes the towers again. The children and the demon do this over and over again. In the same way as this story goes, I think that it is better for us not to heap up our works. I have thought so for some time now. Even if we heap the rocks up very well, it will be demolished again some day." Onisaburo's voice was growing weak as if he felt that he was mining himself. "Well, are you running away from us and going back to Kyoto? I wonder if you still want to have anything to do with us?" asked Onisaburo. Chuzaburo replied, "You got it, that's the way it is. You have understood me very well and I will now be able to save all the trouble you and your cult are causing me. I will leave for Kyoto any day now. Onisaburo told him, "I would very much like to let you go free, but you can't have it so. You must do two men a service: First, to yourself and then you must add your late elder brother to the flock of the god. Second, you have nothing else to live on but this cult. Chuzaburo angrily replied, "Selfish one!" Onisaburo said again, "I am not saying this because I like to say it, I am not threatening you! But be aware that all the things concerning you and me have already been decided. No one created any difficulty except yourself. Why do you say such things? Can you read my mind? Chuzaburo remained silent. Onisaburo continued, "To dig the pond of the god Konjin is full of meaning. While we are digging, we are able to recognize the true faith. It is the way in which we would be able to get up again even if being beaten or pushed down. It is the way in which we would be able to rebuild everything even if it is crushed and destroyed over and over again. It is the way of the god for us to submit to his will. It is the way for human beings to be in absolute obedience to the will of the god, much beyond any theory we may device on ourselves.

      "But, we all have to obey the god. We are working according to what seems to be foolish instructions without complaining because those are the god's orders. We also understand that your demands are unacceptable." Onisaburo replied: "You obey me on the surface but in your mind, you are full of complaints. I can hear your complaints very distinctly. I can interpret your obedience in two ways: in the case in which a higher officer compels a common soldier in the army to carry out his orders, it is based on his power and the soldier has no escape but to comply and that is the first form of obedience. But, the way of the god of the Omoto cult is aimed at rebuilding and re-erecting the world and that demands a different form of obedience. It is the spirit of that obedience that you have to entrust to me completely. If you are not imbued with this spirit, nothing will work." Chuzaburo replied: "You are saying so, but, I cannot understand your behavior on any account. We have erected the stone wall with great difficulty and according to your orders, but you have demolished it again." Onisaburo retorted, "Even if you think that it is foolish, you should keep heaping up the stones again, recognizing that the will of the god has to supersede your own will. You should serve the great work of the god without thinking of your own volition. Chuzaburo became silent.

      Onisaburo said, "If I spoke out my personal opinion, I would say that I don't think that we will find water at that place, but, I still keep digging there because it the order the god gave me. I will continue to dig the pond even if everyone laughs at me, and calls it the Kago-pond. It is the will of the god that the Kinryu-kai should be filled with water, and we can only keep digging according to his will. After Onisaburo had left, Chuzaburo could not move for a while. I have heard, that the officials were leaving their homes every day, ready to go to any place Onisaburo would order them to go to. The instant they heard his orders, they would be going at once. Onisaburo had hammered these ideas of obedience into their heads. Chuzaburo sighted: "Well, I will have to satisfy myself whether the Kinryu-kai gets full of water or not. After that, I will clean up my act.

      When the sanctuary of the Omoto cult had been completed, the State minister and the nobility were bound to visit it. Somehow a rumor had been spreading, and Nao and Onisaburo had made it a reality. On the 19th of November, the Omoto cult celebrated its first official ceremony in honor of the god of the Ishinomori Shrine which had recently been constructed. On the 20th they celebrated the fifth enshrining of the god of Mt. Misen. The Omoto cult presented a lively scene with countless people attending both ceremonies. During the same period, the head priest of the Izumo Shrine, the great Baron Takatomi Senke, visited the Kinryu-den, with two attendants. Senke, who was sixty-nine years old at the time, had a long white beard. After the ceremonies he made an inspiring speech on national morality in the hall of the Kinryu-den and all the visitors were much impressed by what he said.

      Takatomi Senke had succeeded Takasumi Senke as the eightieth Izumo Kokuso (the head priest of the lzumo Taisha) in 1878, and he had been designated as the first generation of superintendent priests of the religious cult called the Shinto Taisha kyo which had gained official approval, in 1880. He had also been made a member of the board of the Genro-in which was the main lawmaking body at the beginning of the Meiji era in 1888, later, he was reelected four times in a row as a member of the House of Peers. And, after having been consecutively Governor of Saitama, Shizuoka and the Tokyo Prefecture, he had been designated as Minister of Justice in the Saionji Cabinet in 1908. The relation between the Omoto cult and the Izumo Shrine had begun thirteen years earlier. At that time, and according to the indications of the god as written in the Fudesaki, Nao Deguchi, Onisaburo, Sumi and another fifteen members, had visited the Izumo Taisha to perform the full service of the sacred fire. Then, ten years later, on the first of February, 1911, Onisaburo visited again the Izumo Taisha accompanied only by Fusataro Takehara, and he succeeded in his negotiations to allow the soul of the ancestor to be enshrined at the Omoto Shrine and, as such to have the Omoto cult become a branch of the Taisha Shrine which in other words, meant to legalize the Omoto cult. Since then, only three years had elapsed and although no one knew how he had done it Onisaburo displayed his political ability welcoming and seeming familiar with the great Takatomo Senke, who was a prominent figure of the religious and political world in the Tanba County. Every one was very surprised at this. Moreover, Senke seemed not willing to drop in at the Omoto cult facilities. The party accompanying Senke visited the Kinryu-kai which had not yet any water in it and, under the guidance of Onisaburo, they surveyed the yet unfinished works that were going on in the precincts. The land, property of the cult, was all dug in or under construction. They looked at the precincts and wondered at the lack of taste, which was obvious everywhere, and had a look at a large hole and a small shrine erected on top of some mounds of mud. Despite all this, Onisaburo appeared triumphant. Onisaburo said, "Japan was once described as a nucleus separated from paradise, ("Toyoakitsu-Newake-no-Kuni" in Japanese), and it was drawn as a reduced image of the world, in the ancient records of this country. I am going to create the Kinryu-kai and build a beautiful miniature of this Japan with this miniature sea as the nucleus of this country. I promise you, I will dedicate a shrine to the gods of Japan and I will transfer the scenic spot of Heaven where the mandarin ducks are circling, to this very place. In the late evening, Takatomi had a pleasant and unformed chat with Onisaburo and the officers.

      After Gennosuke Fukumoto had worked for a while at the Omoto cult, he was employed as cook at a sushi shop called Fuku, in Nakagyo Ward; after some time, he returned to the Omoto cult, because he remembered that he had not yet completed his mission at the Omoto cult. He used his skill in refined cuisine, cooking for the dinner that was offered to Senke and his party, while his young wife, Maki, a towel wrapped around her head, helped him cheerfully. She was the younger sister of Yasuko Umeda; she had been forced to break away from her love for Nobuyuki Umeda. Since then, she had led a pious life and she soon married Gennosuke, her cousin. In the kitchen, the cheerful Gennosuke and his wife did the cooking; Sumi and the other women provided for dinner and Chuzaburo Sato, with his nose still hurting, ran the errands. Onisaburo went himself to the kitchen and after having had a glance at the half-cooked vegetarian food he nodded to all as a sign of approval. He was very concerned about the cooking details for Senke's dinner and he said to the cooks: "As you can see by ?yourselves that he is old and you should choose your materials carefully and boil the rice well, so that it is soft and full." That night, they stayed at the Tomu-kaku. The next day, as Senke offered Onisaburo to take a rest together, they had plenty of time to feel at ease and from the morning on Onisaburo had a long talk with Senke. After finishing lunch, Sumi urgently called Onisaburo, and said, "Reverend, it is disastrous." "Why?" replied Onisaburo. Sumi continued, "Several influential persons have arrived here and they want to meet the Baron. Onisaburo said with a straight face. "Hey! They came at last. Show them in!" The influential persons of the town were going to blame the Omoto cult for being a crazy group because they were jealous that the cult had demonstrated publicly that it was worthy of receiving the visit of men of culture and other notables. In fact, to attract the attention of the world was extremely embarrassing for the believers, but they were ultimately able to overcome their shame. Onisaburo had not established any particular contact nor had he intended to proselytize through the presence of the Baron, but, the rumors certainly spread rapidly that Senke, who had been the former Minister of Justice and had also been an ex-Governor of the Tokyo Prefecture had been visiting the Ayabe district since the day before. Onisaburo had already made preparations, to avoid confusion when they were to meet Senke, and he had everyone line up for the occasion. People, in full dress, with haori and hakama, were stunned, as soon as they entered the precincts of the Omoto cult, at the transfiguration of the place and they wondered at the vibrant life and energy that was ominous in this part of the Hongu Village.

      The notables fell prostrate in the passage: Among them was the Governor of the Naka County, Seiro Nagafuji; the headrnan of Ayabe Town, Gentaro Yura; the headman's assistant, the chamberlain, the school master and other distinguished persons, about ten persons in all. When they entered the hall they looked in wonder at Onisaburo. Senke calmly asked some questions about the state of affairs in the Ayabe Town, but he obviously seemed much more interested in talking to Onisaburo than in having an interview with them, because their answers were drab and uninteresting to him. As the conversation veered around the theme of the ruined Bushi-do (the way of samurai) in present days, a brilliant idea suddenly came to Onisaburo. He said, "Well, I would like to show you a great meeting of military arts. What do you say, Baron? The martial arts are flourishing in the Omoto cult as well." Senke's mild eyes began to sparkle behind his fine rimmed spectacles. "Oh! It is merely for fun," continued Onisaburo. The notables unanimously said in jest to him that they would also like to have the honor to see that. Onisaburo stood up cheerfully, and said to Sumi in a forcible tone of voice, "Hey, we are going to give a great demonstration of martial arts to the visitors. Gather all the members who are skillful in martial arts. Proceed at once!" Leaving Sumi, staring at him with blank eyes, Onisaburo left promptly and went to the guest room.

      Although the order had come from above, the young men who had been absorbed in digging the pond all day long, could not possibly have acquired any knowledge about martial arts. Some of them were simply proud of their strength and enjoyed exhibiting it on the occasion of amateur sumo tournament. The crowd of believers got quite depressed at the idea of giving a pitiful demonstration before those influential persons and they exchanged embarrassed glances. That was really too much, they thought, but it was too late to find an emergency solution. By now, the officers Heizo Shikata, Yoshimi Tanaka and some others among the spectators had turned pale. At this point, it was impossible for them to contradict the superintendent priest's authority and honor and tell him that they were unable to comply with his request. In addition to that, they were the believers who were deeply committed to the daily study and practice of the world's spirit and they could not turn back from the order emanating from the Omoto cult. Nobuyuki Umeda muttered, being at his wit's end: "The Reverend has asked all the members, being confident of their skill to gather at once. But, their level of ignorance about martial arts was all but unspeakable. What do we do?" said Nobuyuki while looking grimly at Sumi. But, she said, "Well, I think that I have guessed the intention of the superintendent." "The second generation after the founder! Look at that. That is what we will do," said Nobuyuki pointing his finger towards the open. All the officers stood up. The children were to perform their act aside from the adults, playing at sword-fighting in front of a mud wall and around a heap of clay. Daiji, Naohi, Umeno, Mumeno Chikamatsu, Kinoshita and a few others played at being samurai and were fencing with wooden sticks. Nobuyuki said, "Naohi-san and Umeno-han had been trained at a private Ken-do school in town, but was that really so?" Sumi commented, "You fool! That private school is not even worth mentioning. As Naohi was always insisting so much that she wanted to practice Ken-do I simply asked an old descendant of a samurai, who lived near my house, to give her some instruction in the basics of Ken-do." "That may be so, but at this very moment, whatever she knows is better than nothing," replied Nobuyuki. Jinsai Yuasa ran to fetch the children. Nobuyuki said solemnly, "From now on, we are going to start a great exhibition of martial arts for the noblemen, the Mayor, the school master and the others respected guests. The superintendent priest has ordered us to gather all those who are skilled in martial arts." Umeno stepped fonward and took the lead of the children. On her heels followed Naohi who remained silent. Mumeno, being the forth daughter of Masakichi Chikamatsu and a first-grade pupil, followed. Three daughters had received some training from Nagi-nata (a halberd). However, the boys flinched from coming forward out of shyness. "This is the Omoto cult, and it is important to show the way in which martial arts are practiced here. You should show how committed you are to your work and to your country." Hearing Nobuyuki's words, Naohi threw an intense look at him and nodded. "Okay, I am going to fetch the others and bring them here. "Tanaka-han, would you ask the instructor, who is your neighbor, to try to find some more people? Ask him to gather his friends. Then, we can start making arrangements for the tournament," said Nobuyuki energetically. The officers dispersed to make the preparations and were getting quite excited.

      About an hour later the visitors, led by Onisaburo, went out to the square in front of the Kinryu-den. A curtain had been hung around the square, and the visitors were properly invited to sit down on straw mats. The seat of Senke and the other notables of the town was a humble bench which was put in front of the central stage where tournament was to be held. However, when they looked around, expecting to see some great swordsmen, they only saw eight small contenders, including three girls. Onisaburo sat down with an air of satisfaction. The referee was a man of about fifty. The first combat was staged between Daisuke Umehara, who was to use a long sword and Umeno Deguchi who was using a halberd. Daisuke was not one of the believers, but he was the sword instructor of the three girls. He had a white mustache and a happy face. An old man opposed to a young girl, in a martial arts tournament! The spectators were giving their enthusiastic support to that beautiful girl who was only eleven years old. Umeno exhibited a dignified figure. She had a white fillet around her head and a red sash used for holding up her tucked sleeves, and she was carrying her halberd under her arm. The two faced each other courteously. Onisaburo said, in a half-sitting posture and with the looks of a loving parent, "That girl is my second daughter, but despite her lovely face, she is called the demon's daughter. She is a girl, but I have hammered the samurai spirit into her head." Ho! o-ho! Umeno brandishing her long halberd suddenly threw it at him. Daisuke easily deviated the blow with his sword. But, Umeno was not ready to give up at the beginning of the first match. She feverishly grasped a sword and stroke her opponent to win the match, forgetting to respect the relation a disciple must keep with an instructor. Onisaburo loudly challenged his daughter to attack her opponent again and Umeno, did just that. "Return his kindness, return it!" he shouted. In fact, it seems likely that he was urging her to beat the life out of her instructor. Daisuke was treating her kindly just to please her, but he was at loss as to what to do with her; he easily hit her two times at the right moment and won the match. When Daisuke turned toward the spectators and bowed after the fight was over. Umeno, who looked quite disappointed suddenly hit him from behind with the back of the halberd then ran away and hid herself behind a curtain after throwing the halberd away. Everyone got absorbed in his own thoughts. "She really went too far," they thought. Onisaburo kept laughing awkwardly. Senke also began to laugh, "I see," he said with apparent pleasure. He now seemed to have understood why Umeno was called the demon's daughter. A new match was now to oppose Kanmi Maeda and Mumeno Chikamatsu. Maeda, was in the prime of manhood and certainly skillful enough to be called a great swordsman. In this new match one of the contenders was again to use a long sword against the opponent's halberd. Mumeno Chikamatsu was certainly no match for Maeda. The broad-shouldered girl was soon defeated, and after slowly getting up again she went towards Maeda with her halberd. Onisaburo started talking in a whisper but at a rapid pace, while keeping his eyes on her. "She is only a first-grader, but she enjoys acting rudely and abhors all womanish behavior. She sure is a quite peculiar character," he said. Onisaburo wanted to speak more about her, but he suddenly cut it short. She was wearing a kimono with random blue patterns of the kind which was produced in Satsuma (currently Kagoshima Prefecture) and a Yoshitsune-hakama, which is a divided skirt used by men as formal wear, (it was called that way because it had notoriously be worn by Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (1159-1189)). In fact, except for her full cheeks, the girl looked exactly as a boy. Fighting seemed to be very natural to her and was driving the edge of her halberd with great skill and strength. As the spirits heated up during the match she was hit two times by her opponent because there was a huge gap in skill between them. Despite this, she graecefully bowed every time she was hit. After the tournament of the girls, five men contended, in succession, in five different martial arts disciplines: firearms, archery, spear throwing, long sword, and two-sword fencing. However, the whole demonstration was really falling quite short of what it should have been in a country famous for its swordsmen. The notable guests were amazed at Onisaburo's impudence to invite distinguished guests to such a childish exhibition. After the tournament all the guests made animated comments while drinking some sake brought in to celebrate. They had found an inexhaustible wealth of topics for conversation. The great meeting broke up at four o'clock in the morning. After having stayed overnight for two days the party of Takatomi Senke left Ayabe and bid farewell to everyone. At the time the merry atmosphere of the New Year of 1915 was spreading over town, Ayabe was thickly covered with snow. The Kinryu-mochi (The Kinryu rice cake shop) of Nishihon-matchi was deserted due to the heavy snow, and the owners of shop decided, instead of selling today, to prepare for the following day. Ryo Deguchi had some time for a rest after getting supper ready and she sat down, to take a breath, on the tatami in front of the mirror. She quickly fixed her makeup, in order to be ready before her husband returned home. Ryo was well aware of her poor looks compared to her five sisters and to compensate for that she never forgot to take care of her makeup. She had been quite happy during the ten years since she had married. Now, she was the master of a rice cake shop and she was much too busy to find time to mediate on her good luck. But, married life also has its ups and downs. In September 1905, which was one year after she had married the couple had left the Ryumon-kan and had worked together for their living at the navy yard in Maizuru City. They had amassed a small fortune in these three years, and returned to Ayabe. They opened a small rice cake shop near Isuke's warehouse in Ura-machi.

      They had been suffering from a depression in the economy and they had been trying to reduce all their living expenses, including food. However, Ryo felt quite happy to be able to continue to live with her husband in her own shop and without much sacrifice. That was specially true when she compared her present situation with the long years she had spent as a servant in her youth. Despite this, they had moved out of their shop on the main street of Nishihon-machi and they had set up a store called the Kinryu-mochi (the Kinryu rice cake) according to orders emanating form of Onisaburo, who was her husband's young brother-in-law. Since the very beginning the store attracted a large crowd of customers. Their business was so flourishing, that they had trouble finding a place where to keep their money. As they became soon unable to do all the work by themselves, they hired four employees: the eldest son of Yoshimatsu Moritsu, Suke-emon, who was twenty at the time, Kofusa Fukui, of Utsu Village who was eighteen, Sumie's sister, and Fukue Morimoto who was from Hikami-cho in Hyogo. The home where Ryo used to live alone with her husband had suddenly become a lively place through the presence of the four youths who where living under the same roof.

      Cho-san was a strong man and he worked hard as a shop-boy. Furthermore, he seemed to get along quite well with a young girl called Kofusa. Ryo thought that she would let Chosuke many Kofusa at some time in the future if they agreed to keep working for her for a long time. Another girl, Fukue was quite beautiful and some male customers visited the shop mainly with the purpose of meeting her. But Ryo's husband was also kind to the young and beautiful Fuku and she told him tenderly about the suspicions and jealousy which assaulted her mind. Her husband was still young, attractive and handsome. She was wondering what she would do if she found out that they loved each other? When she thought about that Ryo would get into a fit. Despite being a good couple, they began to have quarrels about love from that moment on. Ryo accused Keitaro falsely and without thinking it over. For example, some of the quarrels would be about trifles such as passionately reproaching to her husband. He had looked at the face of Fukue with seemingly great pleasure or that he had kept a long conversation with a charming female customer. As the level of a quarrel had escalated Ryo changed color and suddenly got a broom to beat her husband. She often pursued him all over the house, while he was fleeing from place to place, protecting his head with his hands.

      As she really loved her husband, Ryo was quite worried about him, and she would occasionally look lonely and somber. Ryo hoped that she would get pregnant because, even after having lost her beauty, as many other wives, she could still become a mother. Unfortunately, she could not even be blessed by that joy because she was unable to beget a child and make her husband feel that life is worth living. In fact, despite being wealthy, their lives seemed empty. Ryo confided her anxiety to Sumi. "Well, accept and adopt Umeno as your child" said Sumi simply. Ryo liked all the children of Sumi with the exception of Naohi who was bound to become the successor, as the third generation after the founder. She said that anyone one of the remaining children would be welcome. Either Umemo or Yaeno or Hifumi. Besides, Sumi was pregnant again. The children who used to play in the Kinryu-mochi shop, would always return home together in the evening. It would in fact be quite difficult for any child of Sumi to really become Ryo's child despite all her efforts because she was to close to the house where she had been reared.

      Last summer Ryo questioned her husband about that while he was moping in the house for most of the day. Keitaro said modestly, we are not able to have our wish fulfilled by divine grace. But we must consider that we are also fortunate, if we compare ourselves to the poor fellows who are devoting themselves to rebuild and re-erect the world, and are not even getting enough food. In the past, Keitaro had been selected for the service of the water of Ise and the fire of Izumo, and, he had gone through many hardships while he was the attendant of Onisaburo at the time Onisaburo was trying to gain official approval for the Omoto cult as a religious order. It seemed that the unpleasant reminiscences of his hardships with Onisaburo were vividly coming back. "Oh! my husband is not under the spell of a beautiful woman or a child. He feels empty because he does not understand the course of his own life. I finally see that now!" muttered Ryo to herself. Ryo said with a measure of relief, "It seems that you are not going to spend your life as the master of a rice cake shop but that you are going to choose to serve the Omoto cult. It is much better for both of us to have it so than to be face to face quarreling with each other all day long. At least we can have some reprieve from that." "But, what are we going to do with the shop?" asked Keitaro. To speak the truth, Ryo hated to leave her husband even for a moment. However, it was good for her that he could find some meaning for his life by serving the Omoto cult. Even Ryo could not forget the pleasure she found in buying paper for the Fudesaki, for a small sum of money gathered by selling the bamboo sheaths she used to pick up on her way to her employer's house. "Leave me fully in charge of the shop," said she with pride. Since then the shadow of Keitaro vanished from the place. He was placed in charge of the financial affairs of the cult but that seemed too heavy a responsibility for him. He purchased land bit by bit to enlarge the premises of the cult and had to manage those finances under very difficult circumstances. He soon abandoned that work and devoted himself only to dig the pond. He used to return home, round midnight, in the freezing wind and covered with mud. Despite this, he always joyfully reported to Ryo the works progress. The officials and the believers were devoting themselves to the works of the cult neglecting their own lives and their families, but, Ryo made her husband choose a way that would secure his own livelihood rather than that of the cult. It may be that her behavior, as a daughter of the founder, and that of her husband would meet criticism from other members but she could not understand how half-starving persons could hope to rebuild and re-erect the world. He was devoting himself to the sacred works without concern for maintaining the livelihood of the household. When she said those things, he used to look at her with sad eyes, and answered, "What you are saying is not correct, O-Ryo. It is quite clear that it is impossible to rebuild and re-erect the universe by such simple things as the work we can do in our life-time. But consider that even the great works of the Meiji Restoration were possible only through the sacrifices of noble-minded patriots who put their lives at stake for that purpose. Much more will be needed to re-erect the universe. We must accept the fact that it will need a lot of sacrifice to complete this sacred work, but instead of doing that we are running away from our duties." Ryo remained silent.

      There may be essential differences between a man's way of thinking and a woman's way of thinking. Ryo was much more concerned with the sales balance than with the rebuilding and the re-erecting of the world, and, as a result her husband became more and more dissatisfied with her and his behavior towards her started to change. She thought that if she could secure her livelihood she would not need nor want a revolution at all. The only thing she really wanted was to be able to live eternally with her husband. For some reason or another, Ryo was satisfied with the fact that she could make her husband serve the cult. When she compared her own fortune to that of her elder sister Yone, who had no children of her own and had spent most of her later years in prison, despite having amassed a fortune, she felt her lot much better. Everyone of her eight brothers and sisters faced some kind of trouble in their lives, but Ryo thought that she was much more fortunate than them despite that she felt that she was a mediocre person and that her elder sister, Yone had been quite unfortunate. When thinking of Yone she seemed to be thankful for her present state. Shikazo Otsuki had been saving money obtained in wicked ways and he was hated and feared by most people because, it was said that little by little he had become the richest man in Ayabe. While the Deguchi family was living at the bottom of poverty Ryo and Sumi, who were still infants could see him live in uttermost luxury. Her elder sister, Yone, had been married to Shikazo, against the will of her mother, Nao and she remained afraid that her mother would go mad.

      According to teachings of the Omoto cult the world was divided in two and both the good and the evil world were bound to appear. But even in the evil world it is not allowed to hurt another person's child and in this sacred situation, the order of the blood relationship to Nao was to play the bad role. The god had declared so. It could be said for sure, that the history of the Otsuki family suggested an evil pattern of relation between husband and wife. Nonetheless, Yone had been a tender elder sister for Ryo before her marriage. Yone was terribly charmed by Shikazo and due to that, she had cut short her relation with her lover, Miyaginu. But above all, she had been overcome with her love for a married man and had fallen into an evil life. Although that was the way she perceived it, Ryo could not really hate her for that but she was carried astray by her hatred for Shikazo, and finally she ended up hating even her elder sister.

      In 1907, Yone became possessed by an evil god. Though Shikazo confined her strictly to one room of the house, in Kitanishi-cho, he could not continue to do so due to old age. As his adopted son, Denkichi began to manage the weaving industry in the Higashi-yotsutsuji district, Shikazo asked him to prepare a room for the confinement Yone and later he transferred her there. At the end of 1911, Shikazo himself moved into Denkichi's house and kept hanging around there. He had no money anymore, despite having accumulated so much in the past, and the only thing about him that was notorious now, was the amount of his debts. When Ryo called on Shikazo to inquire about his health, she found him lying down with a coverlet on him, in front of the fireplace, unable to move, and he was just calling Denkichi with a feeble voice, "Hey Den! Come here, quickly, quickly. My balls are burning!"

      On the fifth of March, 1912, Shikazo Otsuki died of natural causes at the age of seventy-four. His funeral was held at the Ancestors Soul Shrine of the Omoto cult. Just after Shikazo had died, his house of Kitanishi-cho was taken over by the Hamuro family as a security for the debts he had left. The following month, Denkichi started to assume a teacher's position at the weaving Department of the Tokushima Prefecture Technological School. He moved there with his son, Denzaburo, who was twelve at the time. He did so mainly for economical reasons. Denkichi's wife, Mitsu, remained at the house to prepare Yone's meals. When Nao and Sumi paid a visit to Yone to comfort her, she seemed to fear them and she suddenly became violent, despite the fact that she used to ignore everyone else and remained silent most of the time. But to visit her was the only thing they were able to do for her in secret. Last autumn Takezo Deguchi who had been working at the Maruue-timber factory as a laborer to make timber rafts, returned to Ayabe with his family. He had finally decided to settle down in Ayabe because his second son, Matsujiro who was now six years old, was reaching school age.

      Onisaburo built a small house for the Takezo family at the foot of Mt. Hongu. There is a story connected with that house: Five years earlier, the Omoto cult had built the Hinode branch church on land that belonged to the Yamanaka family in Kyoto. Soon after the opening ceremony, Soukichi Yamanaka, the landowner began to complain in very harsh terms about the presence of the branch church, and he ordered them to leave on the pretext that they were too noisy. The officials of the branch church debated the problem carefully and finally they decided to tear down the new house. They asked the Sato family, who were timber trades, to store the wood that could be saved and to keep it for later use by the cult, then, they rented a house in the Sanjo-Inokuma-kudaru district to transfer the Hinode branch there. On a certain occasion Chuzaburo Sato remembered Onisaburo of the stored timber, and Onisaburo asked him to bring the wood to Ayabe, and to use it to build the house of the Takezo family. At the same time, a specially strongly built room for the confinement of Yone was set up along the outhouse of the Takezo family's, and Yone was brought there from Higashi-Yotsutsuji. The normally built room would have easily been destroyed by Yone. Yone had, in the past, broken everything in her room more than twenty-seven times, it was said.

      The snow was sitting through the joints of the locked door. Ryo was worried about Yone because it was very cold in the room where she was confined. She thought that she would go there and comfort her for a while as she was anyway going out to meet my husband on his way home. She quickly wrapped up a Kinryu-mochi (a Kinryu-rice cake) in a piece of paper, and went out through the falling snow, with a lantern and an umbrella. When she crossed the black gate of the Omoto cult and looked into the receeption office, she saw Keitaro doing his accounting work with a soroban (a Japanese abacus) under the clarity of a lamplight. The construction work had been interrupted by the snow storm. Keitaro said, "Anyway, I cannot keep working now, despite having a lot to do, so I am going home, I will have some supper and will come back later. On my way I will drop in at sister, O-Yone's. After leaving a message Ryo had passed beside the Kinryu-den (the Kinryu building) and via the bank of the pond of the Kinryu-kai turned to the east, and had arrived in front of the room at the foot of Mt. Hongu, where Yone was confined. The room looked darker than usual probably because of the contrast with the whiteness of the snow.

      The fireplace was sputtering in the comer of the room. A separated red point could be dimly seen beside the brazier. It was the glare of Yonez's pipe. She could not go on without a box of a shredded tobacco. "Sister? Is it you O-Ryo?" Yone moved somewhat and responded in her cool tone of voice. The white and naked upper half of her body appeared under the right of the lantern. Ryo had imagined the possibility of such a scene but now that she actually saw it she was trembling with fear. Ryo said, "With such a snow storm and at night! I don't cover your body you will get frozen to death." Yone said, "I have never caught a cold. I cannot withstand my body's heat." Despite keeping her body naked she never neglected to wash her face, using rice bran and powder. Yone had a firm and elastic breast because she had never born a child. She was looking so young that Ryo could not persuade herself that she was sixty. Although it is strange to say, it had been reported that when her family gave her a bath, the hot water in the tub would immediately change color and turn to a cloudy milk-like liquid. Yone said, "We are negligent towards each other. It is very good that Keitaro-han is working and in good health." Yone laughed cheerfully and while getting closer to the gazebo she said, "O-Ryo, let me get out once, only for this time! Ryo knew that if out of sympathy for her suffering, she did allow her to go out, it might turn into a bitter experience because as soon as the door was opened, she would run away at such a speed that not even men would be able to catch her. Ryo answered with the words of her mother, "I would very much like to let you out, but I cannot do so because you always tear your clothes into pieces, and if you walk naked into the street the police will arrest you and you will be imprisoned in a dark and terrible cell." Yone nodded obediently. Somehow, whenever her condition worsened, she had gotten into the habit of tearing up all her clothes except the loincloth. The moment her family gave her clothes, she would tear them apart in three pieces then suspend them from the ceiling. When Yone was first brought there, an old neighbor, Yakichi Shirahase, was quite indignant at seeing in which conditions she was kept and he said to Mitsuyo, "It is sheer madness to keep someone naked in such a cold!" But, Mitsuyo explained how Yone always tore up her clothes. He understood the reason but he was not yet persuaded to let the matter go. Shirahase negotiated with the Omoto cult and had a pair of futons send to her room. On the next morning, the old man looked into the room, expecting to find Yone wrapped into the futon, but, to his surprise, he saw nothing of what he had expected; instead, Yone was smilingly showing him some yarn balls she had made with the futon after unsewing it. The cotton of the futon was torn to pieces and lay scattered all over, up to the window. Mitsuyo complained about Yone's behavior and said, "It really looks as if we keep her naked. It is not so but it brings unbearable disrepute upon us. The same was true for her younger sister, Ryo, but, for Ryo, reputation was of secondary importance. Ryo was instead much more worried about Yone's health because she was, after all, already quite advanced in years. Just as if she had understood Ryo's anguish Yone said, "O-Ryo, the god who dwells in my body, wants to change places as soon as possible because my flesh is getting too old. I would feel much better if he could do it." Ryo shuddered with horror. Could it be that the evil god who did possess healthy bodies one after another, did then abandon them and this, despite their kinship with the Deguchi family. Yone casually lighted her pipe and said, "I don't mind dying, but I cannot bear any longer to be the receptacle in which this strange god dwells. Ryo, shuddered and held her head with both hands. Ryo's voice was trembling now her whole body was shaking with the bitter cold which had worked its way up from the bottom of her kimono to all her body while she was walking on the frozen road. "Yone, please accept these Kinryu-mochi, which I brought for you!" Ryo quickly slipped out of the room through the lattice. She was afraid that Yone might grasp her hand. Yone said, "Thank you, people say that Kinryu-mochi has much bean jam and spreads well. Your store must be doing good business. Well, I accept the gift but, first, I am going to offer this to the god." Yone opened the bamboo sheath wrapping and offered a prayer to the god, in silence. Ryo wanted to leave without delay because she feared that she could become possessed by the same evil god who had thrown Yone's mind into confusion. "Come here and eat the first morsel," said Yone, as she carried the Kinryu-mochi towards the lattice where Ryo was waiting. Yone would never take any food unless someone ate with her. Ryo took a piece of rice-cake and put it into her mouth. The crust of the mochi had already begun to harden with the cold. Ryo said, "Sister, I will visit you again soon. Take care!" Yone answered, "Why don't you wait a few minutes? O-Hisa-han of the Yagi district will soon arrive here. Ryo asked, "Do you mean our elder sister, O-Hisa-han? Did you get some news from her recently?" "No, I have received no news, but I can see that she is on the way to come here. At this very moment the founder has left her room and is coming here also," said Yone. Ryo turned around and looked at snow covered precincts. She did not yet see anyone coming, but she did not have the slightest doubt about Yone's words. Although she was confined to this room, Yone always knew what was happening in the outside world. Even the officers had to admit that she had mysterious powers, and they thought that Yone was the pitiful toy of the evil forces of the world.

      Once a young bachelor paid her a visit to comfort her and she tenderly advised him that he should marry as soon as possible. "How about marrying the daughter of the A or B family in this district?" she said. Another time she said to a young woman, "If you become pregnant, tell me, and tell yourself to leave everything in O-Yone's hands. Even if you are hundreds of ris away (A ri is equal to about 4.4 kilometers) tell me mentally and I will know it. I will protect you and make sure that you have an easy delivery." In fact, people often spoke of experiencing miracles through Yone. A few people even worshipped her as the god of easy deliveries.

      The light of a lantern was drawing near. It was Hisa who was arriving almost out of breath. Ryo asked, "Dear sister O-Hisa! When did you arrive here?" Hisa answered, "I arrived about an hour ago! I am shocked by the superintendent priest's behavior. While he was sitting with his legs apart, in front of the brazier, he pulled out his baked sweet potatoes from his crotch and said to me: "May I offer this to you?" It is quite inconsiderate of him to do such a thing. I got angry and shouted: "Get out of here! The Reverend ran away, slapping his hips. Is that funny?" It was said that not a single drop of water had yet sprung from the Kinryu-kai. Well, be it so, but to say the truth his shameful conduct was really embarrassing to all of us."

      The elder sister of Ryo is really difficult to deal with. Hisa, is always weary of the slightest detail and sees evil and wrong in everything. She is also so obstinate that she will never change an idea once it gets into her head. If Ryo answered vaguely in a conversation, simply to let it progress smoothly, she would immediately face Hisa's indignation. Suddenly, Ryo said, "Oh, it's about the time my husband will return home. Please, follow me to my home, sister." As she was speaking Ryo began to walk, followed by Hisa who was walking in her footsteps on the snow-covered road. But, Hisa stopped without calling Ryo because she was utterly shocked at the sight of the naked body of Yone which she had faintly seen under the dim light of the lantern. "Oh! poor sister, to what a miserable state you have been reduced! Why do you allow the evil fox, who is covered with a golden fur and has nine tails to dwell in your body? Please, stretch your abdomen with all your strength, and drive away the evil beast. Come here, sister," she whispered. Yone seemed to shrink back at the sound of the sad tearful voice of Hisa. She quietly sat down in the center of the room with a pipe between her teeth.

      Ryo turned towards them. Although the only thing she wanted to do was to run away as fast as possible, she refrained from doing so, because she was too worried about her two elder sisters. Hisa had now turned all her attention on Yone as she intended to drive away the evil spirit who was possessing her. She shouted, "Hey you, the evil god who possesses my elder sister, 0-Yone. Your natural shape has already been seen by the founder: The founder says that you look like a white evil fox, that you are covered with golden fur like a cow, that you have nine tails and that your mouth extends from ear to ear. I warn you! Amend your conduct and get out of the body of my elder sister, at once, now and here!" The paper lantern was suddenly thrown out of the room and burst into flames on the snow-covered road. Hisa was still clinging to the lattice and kept shouting frantically. Any person who would have watched this scene could not have been able to discern which of the two sisters, Hisa or Yone, was actually the insane one. Ryo, who was standing behind Hisa, was desperately trying to call her sister and lay now crying in the snow. She shouted, "Hisa, sister Hisa, let's get away now, we will return tomorrow, please!" But, Hisa raised her head and uttered terrible words which she directed at the heavens.

      "May God grant that my elder sister, Yone be helped! Please, please, I would even accept half the burden of her sufferings in my own flesh."

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