Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XXVII "Walk Over My Dead Body"

(Waga Shikabane wo Koeteyuke begins at 16:05)

"Hey grandma, am I really a useless, unwelcome child?"
"Hmm? That's not true at all. Why would you even ask such a thing?"
"It's that Kansuke. He was saying that I'm a birdbrained, ugly, useless nobody."
"Useless of all things! Dear Tōkichi, you're good at singing, aren't you?"
"Nobody listens to my singing. Everyone just wants to look at the funny picture book that Kansuke bought at the capital or the pretty pinwheel that O-hana has. No one pays me any attention."
"It's just a matter of taste. Those who want to look at a picture book can do so, and those who want to play with a pinwheel can ask their parents to buy them one. Neither one is superior to the other. Everyone can play with the one they prefer. There must be someone who likes your songs and wants to hear them."
"No way! Nobody likes me!"
"Hey! Tōkichi! Mother! I just got back! Phew, I sure am tired. Oh! Tōkichi, let me hear a song of yours again. When your daddy hears you sing, it gives him strength to give his all again tomorrow!"
"O-Okay! I will! But which one? Which do you prefer?"
"All of them! I like it no matter what you sing!"
"Yeah! Hyahahahaha!"

陰陽座百物語 第廿漆話「我が屍を超えてゆけ」

「うっ うん!歌う!どれがいい?どの歌がいい?」

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XXVI "Shrine Maiden of the Mizuchi"

(Mizuchi no Miko begins at 07:26)

When the world is shrouded in jet-black darkness, there are two beings whose mission is to sacrifice their lives to save it. One is the dragon who soars to the sky when the time is right. The other is the shrine maiden who has looked after the dragon since it was a nestling. Her task is to offer a prayer that releases the dragon to the sky. They both waited quietly for that moment while aware of the fact that after they had accomplished their mission, they would meet their end.

And now, having heard the prayer of the shrine maiden and having climbed to the sky, the dragon was looking down on the various sufferings of the world below.

As the girl gazed at the dragon that had soared out of sight, the image of the dragon when it was still small enough to be carried in her arms crossed her mind and tears started to roll down her cheeks before she knew it.

The terrestrial world ruled by humans, filled with insolent desires and petty falsehoods, was now full of more suffering than there had ever been and everyone was longing for the dragon of redemption to appear. The girl had offered the dragon a prayer in order to fulfill her mission as the shrine maiden, but now that the moment was at hand, at the same time as her love for the dragon suddenly awakened, she also started to feel intense hatred for the humans who had shifted the task of redeeming their crimes on the dragon. Her anger grew uncontrollable and in spite of herself the girl shouted inside her mind: "There is no need to listen to the hopes of the selfish humans. Give me back my dragon!"
However, at the same time she heard the voice of the dragon's consciousness echoing inside her mind.

"Girl. There is no need to worry. We shall never lose the memories of the peaceful days we spent together, not even if our bodies perish. I will now release the light that will save the world. With that light, the two of us will ascend to heaven. And the humans too——"

Unable to grasp the meaning of the dragon's final words, the girl gazed at the sky even more intensely. Shortly afterwards, light so dazzling that one could not look straight at it came falling down from the heavens, surrounding the earth. The dragon, the girl, humans, and all other living things were enveloped by the light, and they all vanished from the face of the earth.

Thus the earth was saved from the threat of mankind.

陰陽座百物語 第廿陸話「蛟龍の巫女」








Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XXV "Like a Dragon Obtaining a Cloud"

(Ryū no Kumo wo Eru Gotoshi begins at 01:10)

Piercing the pitch black rain clouds that had suddenly covered the sky, a single thunderbolt struck the center of the basin of a waterfall. Immediately, the pierced water surface swelled as if lifted from below, and a huge dragon suddenly appeared in an enormous splash.

After glancing at the girl dressed as a shrine maiden, who stood near the waterfall, the dragon soared straight towards the sky. As the girl watched it go, she had a complex expression on her face that was quite neither compassion nor resignation, nor did it resemble a prayer or a curse.

"Dear dragon. Hear me, dragon that has since ancient times been gathering the strength to save the world inside this waterfall. Now is the time for you to save my brethren from their numerous hardships!"

Directing her words rather at herself instead of the dragon, the girl whispered, but at the same time shouted so, and with the same expression still on her face, she gazed at the sky where the dragon had soared.

As if answering the girl, the dragon that had flown so high that one could no longer discern it gave out a cry in a wonderful timbre.

陰陽座百物語 第廿伍話「龍の雲を得る如し」






Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XXIV "Wedge of Ice"

(Kōri no Kusabi begins at 16:27)

In a raging blizzard a man laid still[1], sure that he was a going to die. While on the way back to the village from the charcoal burning hut located in the mountains, he had seen the first snowfall of that year. In no time at all the snow had piled up and covered the whole area with white. The extraordinary amount of snow made the man realize that it had to be the doing of a snow woman. Around the region there were frightening legends of a snow woman that would lead astray passing men and then freeze them to death. The man had heard those legends when he was a child.

The roaring wind blew up the snow, and when the man was unable to keep his eyes open any longer, it became all quiet around him. Strangely, the snow had suddenly stopped falling, and he could no longer feel the piercing cold. The man nervously opened his eyes. He saw a woman with long black hair who was dressed in a snow-white kimono looking down at him.

"Are you the snow woman?"

Thinking that his life was over, with complete resignation, the man blurted out: "Why do you kill men? Do you hold some grudge against them? You are just going to kill me now, right? In that case, wouldn't you at least let me know before I die?"

The snow woman gazed sadly at the man and soon started talking sotto voce.
"In that case I shall tell you. Indeed I am the snow woman. As you can see, not even blood flows in my cold body, and I have spent hundreds of years hiding here. However, once there was a time when I fell in love with one of the men who come to this charcoal burning hut. Although I did fall in love, neither could we become man and wife nor even embrace each other, as my breath freezes everything and my body chills everyone who touches it. We could only gaze at each other from a distance, but nevertheless we understood each other."

"However, one day he said to me: 'I can no longer live without you. If we cannot be wedded, my heart's only desire is to be killed by you.' He then tightly embraced my body. That was his end. My loved one froze all the way to his heart and never opened his eyes again."

As the snow woman paused, the snowstorm started raging again. An even worse coldness attacked the man.

"You have been buried in the snow for quite some time. At this rate you will be done for. However, there is a way to save yourself."
The snow woman's words were drowned out by the howling blizzard and the man soon lost consciousness.

When he opened his eyes, he found himself inside his charcoal burning hut. He was lying in a properly laid futon and a mouth-watering pot of miso soup hung over the hearth. Under the pot the charcoal burned in crimson, warming the whole hut. The man sprung to his feet and rubbed his eyes in disbelief when he noticed a large puddle nestled close to the futon.

Could this be what had become of that snow woman? The man's family were the only ones who had been burning charcoal in that region, and they had been doing it for generations.

Had the snow woman saved a descendant of the man he loved and thus set herself free from her karma? The man had no way of knowing.

[1] Literally the word means: "without a wink of sleep".

陰陽座百物語 第廿肆話「氷の楔」








雪女の言葉は唸りを上げる吹雪に掻き消され 男の意識はやがた遠退ていった。


果たしてこれは雪女の変わり果てた姿なのであろうか?この辺りで代々炭焼きをやっているのは 男の家計只一つである。


Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XXIII "Kappa Dance"

(Kappa Odori begins at 08:50)

In a river located deep in the mountains there lived two kappa brothers who were very close.

"Listen Kawakichi, you turn eight this year. You are old enough for a kappa to start scaring the humans and you're also old enough to be able to pull out a shirikodama[1] or two. When I was your age, I played sumo with the children of the nearby village and threw them around one after another. But you on the other hand... You're really weak at sumo and can't even come up with a single artful trick. I'm worried about your future."

"But brother, the human children gave me a manjū[2] when I was hungry, and made a ring out of beautiful flowers that they placed on my sara[3]. They're all good kids. Why do I have to scare them?"

"They're all like that when they're children. But things get different when they grow up. They all become sly and selfish. You understand, Kawakichi? Surely there must be at least one thing you're good at? You'll have to use that to play a trick on the adult humans."

"You're right, I don't like adult humans. They yell at me when I play with the children. Oh, I know! I'm good at dancing. When I dance, even tanuki and foxes forget to transform and dance with me. I'll make the stuck-up adults dance a silly dance with me."

"Well said! That I'd like to see. And it just so happens that tonight's our chance. I hear that the humans are going to hold a festival. Let's go there right away so you can make them dance that silly dance!"

The kappa brothers swam down the river and headed for the human village.

"Brother! It sure is lively here! Since everyone's cheerful thanks to the sake, it should be a piece of cake to make them dance. Oh, I'll go talk to that girl over there."
"OK little brother. That sounds good. Let's see, I guess I'll just grab some sake and watch the show."

"Oh how rare! It's a little kappa. What a cute little thing you are with your beak still yellow and all! Come over here little boy and have a treat."

"Really? Yummy! Oh no! That's right, I was going to make them dance. Hey! Look at my dance and join in!"

"Ahahaha! Really, what an adorable kappa. If you like dancing that much, just wait a bit. Something fun is about to happen."

While the younger kappa was at his wits' end as for why the girl did not start dancing at all, a large drum boomed and lively festival music started playing.

"Today is the day of the Bon Festival dance in our village. Come on! You too join the circle and dance with us."

With the signal of the drum, people started getting up one by one and dancing merrily around the drum. Seeing that, the younger kappa could not contain himself and had to join the circle.

"What a fun festival! I'm having a really good time! It doesn't matter whether you're a human or a kappa, having fun is the best!

Meanwhile, the older kappa, who was feeling tipsy with the sake he had stolen, watched the humans dancing in a circle and said:
"Now that's my little brother. He's managed to get all of the humans to dance with him.
I guess I should give him a tasty cucumber as a reward when we get back."

[1] "Mythical ball inside the anus that is sought after by kappa"
[2] A bun with a bean-jam filling.
[3] The indentation on the top of the head of a kappa.

陰陽座百物語 第廿参話「河童をどり」


「のう川吉、お前も今年で八つになる。八つと言いや、わしら河童はぽちぽち人間共を脅かしたり、尻子玉の一つも抜いたり出来る様にならにゃいかん。斯く言うわしも、お前の年の自分には、この先の村の子供皆と相撲を取って、片っ端から投げ飛ばしたもんじゃ。それがお前ときたら… 相撲はてんで弱い上に気の利いた悪戯の一つもよう仕掛けんとする。このままでお前の行く末が心配じゃ」















Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XXII "The Moon and the Flower"

(Gekka begins at 02:10)

A long long time ago there lived a pack-horse driver. He was famous for his excellent singing voice and many people bought a ride on his horse just to hear him sing as he led the horse.

One evening, someone knocked on the door of the shack where he lived. Wondering who could want a ride so late, he opened the door and saw a most beautiful girl standing there drenched by the rain.

"Is something the matter?"
"I was on my way to the village when I got lost. Before I knew it it grew dark, and it even started raining. I am too exhausted to walk any more. Could it be possible for me to stay the night here?"

The girl's tired face made the pack-horse driver feel pity and he said:
"That must be awful. But as you can see, I live here alone. I cannot even offer you much of a supper.
"In that case I shall cook you supper as a token of my gratitude. If you will just let me stay, I don't mind if I have to sleep in the stable. Please, I ask you."

Unable to turn down the sincerely troubled girl, he accepted her offer, which made the girl look absolutely delighted and she then briskly began to get the supper ready. The supper she made was incredibly delicious, and that night was the most fun the lonely pack-horse driver had experienced in a long time.

When the morning came, while the pack-horse driver was readying his horse to take the girl to her village, he felt indescribable sadness at their parting. The girl then said:
"I was touched by your gentle heart. I do not have any relatives. If you only accept, I would like to live here as your wife." The surprised pack-horse driver gladly accepted her hand, and the two lived frugally but happily.

One morning, when the pack-horse driver was out gathering fodder for his horse as usual, he noticed a beautiful evening primrose blooming in the grass. He plucked the lovely flower to show it to his wife, but when he returned to his shack, his wife was nowhere to be found. Hastily he looked for her, finding her lying on the earth floor. The pack-horse driver quickly ran to her.

"What's the matter!? Do you not feel well?"
"When I heard your singing voice, I prayed that I could become your wife. Then came that evening when I shamelessly changed my shape and dared to visit you. But now I can no longer remain at your side. For I am the spirit of that flower you plucked."

After she had finished her sentence, she faded away and all that was left was the single evening primrose in the pack-horse driver's hand. Since then, the pack-horse driver has stopped singing. Only on moonlit nights he softly hums a song while thinking of his dead wife.

陰陽座百物語 第廿弐話「月花」










Monday, March 11, 2013

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XXI "One Hundred Monsters Wander in the Night"

(Hyaku no oni ga yoru wo yuku begins at 14:17)

The creak of an ox carriage broke the silence of the night. As it trundled along the road, suddenly what looked like white mist appeared in front it. The mist gradually started to take the form of humans who then came in a stream towards the carriage.

Among them were bizarre shapes that one could hardly call human, proving that they were not living human beings. Still, only one man inside the ox carriage noticed their presence while none of his companions seemed to notice anything strange.

The man in the ox carriage quietly called the carriage to be stopped and started to chant a sutra. Perhaps protected by his sutra, the grotesque group was lumbering past the carriage without turning their attention to it. At the tail end of the procession there was a richly dressed man who looked strikingly fearsome. He appeared to be groaning.

While chanting his sutra, the man could hear his voice saying: "Tokihira... Tokihira! You will pay Tokihira! Even in death you cannot escape!"
His voice was full of malevolence. The owner of that voice was none other than the vengeful spirit of Sugawara no Michizane whose grudge for Fujiwara no Tokihira had not waned at all, although he had died of illness at a young age last year. As a matter of fact, even this year many of the Fujiwara clan had died unnatural deaths under mysterious circumstances.

"What a fearsome thing the grudge of men is."
While chanting his sutra, the man in the ox carriage could not help but think aloud. Hearing that, the vengeful spirit of Michizane scowled fiercely at the ox carriage. However, the expression on his face appeared to say that he did not have time to waste on someone like this, and as he withdrew his gaze, he finally went past the ox carriage.

"Tonight, someone of the Fujiwara clan will once again die."
This time the man started to chant a sutra for whoever that miserable victim would be.

陰陽座百物語 第廿壱話「百の鬼が夜を行く」




経文を唱えながら男が聞いたその声は「時平… 時平!許さんぞ時平!死んでもまだ許さんぞ!」と言う。大層恨みのこもったものであった。間違い無くその声の主は怨霊と化した菅原道真であり、昨年、若くして病死した藤原時平への恨みは以前衰えず、実際、今年に入ってからも幾人もの藤原一族が謎の変死を遂げていた。



Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XX "Oni"

(Oni begins at 07:25)

From a dense forest on the mountainside, a shadow kept staring at the village near the foot of the mountain. Barely hiding his body with what looked like old rags, his body was covered with wounds that beggar all description.

Gazing at the village with his only eye, with tottering steps the shadow started to follow the path leading to the village at the foot of the mountain, while using a branch as a walking stick to support his only leg.

The people of that village followed a ritual of offering a sacrifice to the mountains in order to avoid disasters. This pitiful shadow had been this years sacrifice, and whereas it would normally have been impossible to come down from the mountain alive, after a desperate struggle he had barely managed to return here.

The man had turned into a demon of hatred who swore revenge on the villagers who did nothing but think of their own security while causing him to go through an ordeal like this. As he slowly walked towards the foot of the mountain, the dark flames of hatred were almost tangible from each of the steps he took while relying on his stick.

The villagers had thought that they had averted a disaster with the sacrifice, but now they were about to learn the true meaning of calamity.

陰陽座百物語 第廿話「鬼」

鬱蒼と木々が生い茂る山の中腹からその麓にある村をじっと見詰める一つの影があった。 ぼろ布の様な物を辛うじて纏っているその体は筆舌に尽くし難い傷を負っていた。





Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XIX "Akuro-ō"

(Akuro-ō begins at 01:48)

"Boss! Our pursuers are [unclear]!"

Receiving the report of his out of breath servant, Akuro-ō, the arch-villain known as the Demon of Hiraizumi sat with a sharp look in his eyes and his long sword in hand.

"I see. Again the same bastard? Today I'm going to settle the score for good."

Having jumped to his feet, Akuro-ō was stopped by the woman next to him.

"Dear, this is the right time[1]. If we quietly yield to the emperor now, they might just spare the life of this child."

The woman stroked her plump belly as she said so.

"Besides, rebelling against the emperor and playing bandits like this, doesn't that make us just as bad as them?"
"I don't care. I'm just letting those guys who massacred our comrades taste their own medicine. I'll become a demon that torments them until their deaths."

The woman was at a loss for words and drooped her head. Walking onward without looking back Akuro-ō said: "You just stay right here. Take care of the kid."

Those were the last words of Akuro-ō the woman heard. Their clan was one-sidedly destroyed by the Imperial Court and the villain who had vengefully wreaked havoc in the region was slain like a demon.

[1] This is the dictionary meaning of the word, but people often mistake it to mean "the time to quit".

陰陽座百物語 第拾玖話「悪路王」










Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XVIII "Onmyōji"

(Onmyōji begins at 15:50)

It was late in the evening and the moon was out. A mother together with her sick daughter paid a visit to a soothsayer whose name was known throughout the capital. While the way they were dressed gave away the fact that they came from a respectable family, the pallid face of the daughter who was breathing heavily showed that something was horribly wrong.

According to the mother, her daughter had married about three months ago and had been living healthily together with her husband when a bird had strayed into their garden, and as she had tried to feed it, it had pecked her hand causing her to collapse right there.

The soothsayer who had been quietly listening to the mother's story opened his eyes and said: "That is most likely a shikigami someone has sent. Your daughter has been cursed. I do have the power to reverse that curse, but I am not sure whether it is a good idea for me to do so."

Having heard that, the mother clung on to the soothsayer in tears, begging him to turn that curse on the one who had cast it on her daughter. Unable to look at the desperate mother who was rubbing her forehead against the floor at the feet of the silent soothsayer, softly taking her by the hand, the man renowned as the most powerful sorcerer in the capital opened his mouth.

"Listen. A curse can become good or evil depending on what is in the heart of the one who uses it. It is exactly like light and shadow. Shadows will always be born when there is light. When light makes one shadow disappear, it will only create a new shadow. You must never forget that."

Having told the mother so, with the girl in her arms, he started chanting a spell of protection. His chanting lasted all the way until the growing light of the dawn. When it was all bright and you could hear the singing of the birds, the girl's cheeks rapidly recovered their color, and as if her condition last night had only been a dream, with a steady step she and her mother left the soothsayer's mansion after thanking him profusely.

Having returned home, the girl wanted to show her recovery to her husband right away and called his name. However, there was no reply at all. That's strange she thought, and as she stepped out into the garden, what she saw there made her scream out of horror.

In the garden that was bathing in the morning light, there were two corpses lying in a dark-red pool of blood. One was that black bird that had pecked her finger. The other one was her husband whose eyes had been gouged out by that bird's beak and whose heart had apparently been impaled.

For some time after that, there were various rumors about the tragedy that had happened in that good family, but the truth remains uncertain. The only thing certain is that no one has seen that girl since then. Could it really be that the soothsayer was the only one who had foreseen it all?

陰陽座百物語 第拾捌話「陰陽師」










Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XVII "Nurikabe"

(Nurikabe begins at 08:00)

On the top of a precipitous cliff, a man seemingly on the verge of tears was peering down into the forest that spread before his eyes.

"Sigh... What have I done? How could I drop it? I'm done for."

The man was responsible for delivering to the elder of the neighboring village an important item which symbolized the peace between the two villages. He had carelessly dropped that crucial item down the cliff.

"I can't go the neighboring village like this. On the other hand, I just can't go back like nothing has happened."

As if surrounded by an invisible wall, for a while the man stood there with his head between his hands, unable to move. However, as he had accepted the mission on the condition that it may cost him his life, he decided to ignore his own safety and climb down the cliff to search for the item, and so he nervously started down the cliff.

It seemed that climbing down would be easier than he had thought, but the moment he relaxed his guard, to his bad luck, or perhaps one should say as expected, he fell and rolled down the slope like a pebble. Only his sad death cry echoed through the mountains.

A short while passed. It had looked like the man was done for, but miraculously, thanks to a branch that had stopped his fall, he had managed to escape death. Furthermore, he had even managed to collect the peace offering and was crawling up the cliff all in tatters. "Now I can complete my mission," he thought, but his relief lasted only a passing moment as a shadow fell over the crouching man.

"That's a nice little thing you got there. Hand it over."

Misfortunes always come in pairs. The fate of the man and the peace offering he had risked his life to collect were hanging by a thread as three highwaymen suddenly appeared in front of him. The man was so surprised that he could not even utter a word, but as he was already prepared to die, he started desperately swinging about a stick that had been lying next to him.

For a moment the highwaymen seemed to be taken by surprise, but in no time at all they grinned and exchanged glances, and then began to sidle closer to the man. But at that moment! The stick he was swinging about sent flying a small stone that flew in a perfect angle into the grove at the opposite side of the cliff. Right away a swarm of bees flew out accompanied with a vicious buzz.

As if by order, the bees attacked the highwaymen, who ran away in panic with the bees circling around their heads. Dumbfounded by what had happened, but still glad that he had managed to protect the peace offering, the man spurred his bruised body onward and hurried to the neighboring village right away.

However... What happened when the man reverentially unsealed the peace offering in front of the village elder was nothing short of rubbing salt into a wound. The item he had suffered hell to deliver had been damaged inside its container when it fell down the cliff. By now at his wits end, the man frantically shouted: "It is all my fault! Boil me or burn me if that will settle it!"

The village elder calmly replied: "Looking at the shape you are in, anyone could tell that you risked your life to deliver this item. We only wanted to test the trustworthiness of the people in your village. Therefore, please report back to your village that we gladly accept this peace offering."

In no time at all, the man seemed to be on the verge of tears again.

陰陽座百物語 第拾漆話「塗り壁」




「このまま隣村には行けねぇ… かといってのこのこ帰る訳にもいかねぇ」







蜂は丸で命令を受けたかのように追い剥ぎ三人に襲い掛かり、追い剥ぎは頭上を蜂に囲まれた儘 這這の体で逃げ出してしまった。呆気に取られたのは男の方だったが、兎に角大切な和平の品を死守出来た喜びでぼろぼろの体に鞭打ち、直ぐさま隣村へと急いだ。

だがしかし… 隣村の長の前で恭しく和平の品を開封した男の状況こそ正に泣きっ面に蜂と言うべきか。死ぬ思いで届けたその品は崖からの転落の際、入れ物の中で既に破損していたのだった。もう為す術の無い男は「全て自分の責任だ!それで済む事なら煮るなり焼くなりしてくれ」と半狂乱になって叫んだが、隣村の長は静かに言った。



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XVI "Crow Tengu"

(Karasutengu begins at 02:08)

Yokichi, who would turn seven that year, was leading the one-year-younger O-tama by her hand as they walked through the trackless dusky forest. They had lost their way in the mountains while out gathering mushrooms. They thought they were returning the way they came, but no matter how much they went on, there was no sign that they were approaching the foot of the mountain. They walked onward for some time, and when they were starting to grow faint with hunger and fatigue, behind some trees spread out a view that seemed somehow familiar.

"Hey! Isn't this the other side of the village?" shouted the surprised Yokichi. They stood on the top of a gentle cliff[1] located exactly on the opposite side of the place where they had first entered the mountains. It seemed that they had traveled round their small village, crossing two or three of the mountains that surrounded it.
"But we can't climb down a cliff like this."
Having whispered so in her frail voice, O-tama crouched down on the spot. Hearing that, Yokichi suddenly grew hopeless and like her, sunk down to the ground.

When O-tama eventually started sobbing quietly, once again following her lead, Yokichi too was on the point of tears. Their crying voices resonated and suddenly they were loud enough to drown out the chirping of the insects in the forest. So loud they cried that it took some time for them to realize that the voices of their parents searching for them were echoing in the forest.

Shortly after that the two were rescued safe and sound. Being scolded by his father for making everyone worry by wandering about so late, the excuse Yokichi came up with was: "Old man Crow Tengu took us away, and when we came to, that's where we found ourselves."
It goes without saying that he had his ear boxed before he could even finish his sentence.

[1] "gentle cliff" sounds like an oxymoron, but I'm pretty sure that that is what Kuroneko says.

陰陽座百物語 第拾陸話「烏天狗」





Monday, March 4, 2013

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XV "Hurrah Heavy Drinkers"

(Uwabami banzai begins at 16:00)

Sheesh! How sloppy of you to get all drunk and fall asleep in a place like this. Oh well. Today was your big day after all. Who could have guessed? The little brat that you were grew up to be a fine man. Well, since you've taken after me I guess that's no surprise. But you know, we sure had to put up with a lot of your silly tricks when you were a kid.

Like when you pulled out all the radishes from your grandpa's field and tried to sell them at the market. Do you remember that? We found out about it right away and caught you. You were tied to the cherry tree in the backyard and sure got an earful. But right after that I think we made you some warm rice porridge. Even now I sometimes recall the face of your grandfather as he drinks cold sake with great relish and watches you gladly slurping your porridge with tears in your eyes. He laughed and said that the three of us should have a drink together when the sonny grows up. In the end, he passed away before we could keep that promise.

The winter night you were born sure was cold and it had been snowing all day long. But you know what? Your grandfather walked through all that snow because he couldn't wait to see his grandson. He smiled joyfully when he saw the ruddy face of the bawling baby. The sake we drank together that day was absolutely delicious.

Hey! How long are you going to sleep? This time it's your turn to become a father, right? You mustn't make your pregnant wife worry about you. Oh well, I guess you can't hear me. Anyway, when your child grows up, this time let's make sure we have that drink together!

Hurrah heavy drinkers for generations to come!
Ah, dammit! What a happy day!

陰陽座百物語 第拾伍話「蟒蛇万歳」






Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XIV "Tanuki-belly Drumbeat"

(Tanuki-bayashi begins at 09:14)

Yesterday, my dad got really angry at me because I just can't transform properly no matter how many times I try. Even Konkichi the Fox[1] who's the same age as me can already turn into a Jizo and scare people out of their rice balls. Damn it! And we tanuki are the ones that are supposed to be the superior ones at transforming compared to some foxes. My dad can even transform into a feudal lord. Well, the best I can do is change into a rice-cake offering.

When a tanuki transforms, they slap their belly and shout "popon!" But my "popon" seems be out of tune or something. That's why I have to keep practicing with my dad yelling at me to try it again. My mom says that there is no need to get impatient since I'm still a child, but I want to become as good as my dad as soon as possible. I want to transform into a princess and bring lots of pretty kimonos to my mom. And I guess I want my dad to praise me. Today will be the day when I transform into a Jizo!

Oh! Just what the doctor ordered, an old woman is coming right this way. I'll scare her for sure.

Slap my belly and popon!
Aah! Why is my tail still visible!
Once more. Popon! Popon!
H- huh? I think I actually did it!
No tail in sight, and my body's stone too!
All right! I'll just wait still here...
Oh! This is so exciting!
Ah! The old woman is praying to me!
She even left me an offering of rice-cakes and sake!
I did it! I did it dad! Daddy!

"Dear Jizo, I've grown so old that my eyesight is leaving me and as of late I cannot see things clearly. Even now, it looks to me as if you had whiskers on your face. I humbly ask for my eyesight to get better again."

[1] Konkichi means fox. English equivalent would be Reynard the Fox.

陰陽座百物語 第拾肆話「狸囃子」




お腹を叩いて ポポーン!

「御地蔵様、私もようよう年がいってしもうて、近頃目が悪ろうなって碌に物が見分けられませんのじゃ。 今も、御地蔵様の顔に、髭が生えてる様に見えておりましてなあ。 どうか、この目が良くなります様に」

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XIII "Maikubi"

(Maikubi begins at 01:37)

In a small shop by the sea, three men were drinking sake. All three were on their way back from the festival and were complete strangers who just happened to share a table. But with the festivities still fresh in their minds, they seemed to be drinking quite merrily. However, in no time at all, whatever the cause may have been, the mood at their table changed from merry to murderous.

"Hey you! What did you just say?"
"I already told you. You know the saying that goes like "more brawn, less brain"? When one just looks at you it proves that the thing ain't necessarily so. That's what I said."
"Cut the crap! I know you said that looking at me made you know exactly what they mean!"
"No I didn't! You can't even remember what was said a moment ago, it would seem the more brawn..."
"There! Now you said it! You're gonna get what's coming to you!"
"Shut up. Your squabble makes the sake taste bad."
"Wha? You too, I don't like your attitude! Acting all highfalutin'— a loafer who can't even find work has no place talking back to me!"
"Just say that one more time."
"Sure! I'll say it as many times as I like! Listen up. A layabout who can't even find work... no wait, an idler... what was it? Eh? What did I say just now?
"Hahahaha! Just like they say: more brawn, less brain! If you even have one that is! Hahahaha!"
"Humph. What a useless hulk."
"You two... You want me to wrap you both in a bamboo mat and throw you in a river? Do you!?"
"Hey, don't go grouping us together just like that. I'm not really a friend of this bum or anything."
"Bum? You should not have said that."
"No, wait! It's because this hulk here... Uh, I mean..."
"You're all the same to me! Don't you two even think about leaving here alive!"
"You took the words right out of my mouth."
"Augh! Wa-wa-wa- wait a minute! Don't draw your swords!"

All three drew their swords at the same time. As if by a miracle, they all managed to sever each other's heads simultaneously. The severed heads then went rolling into the sea. However, even when their heads were all that remained of them, the three did not stop quarreling. Entwining their hair, biting each other, the three-way quarrel went on indefinitely. And that is why they call this place Tomoegafuchi [Three-way Deep].
Although some people think that the story sounds a little too fanciful to be true.

陰陽座百物語 第拾参話「舞頸」



刀を抜いたのは三人同時だった。奇跡的に三人は互いにそれぞれの頸を同時に切り落とし、頸は転がって海に落ちた。しかし、頸だけになっても尚、三人は争うのを止めなかった。髪を絡ませ、噛み付き合い、三つ巴の争いを果てしなく続けた。それでこの淵を 巴ヶ淵 と呼ぶ様になったと言うのは、しょうしょう出来過ぎた話だと人は言う。

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XII "Your Shadow"

(Omokage begins at 16:28)

How long has it been since you passed away? I've grown all old, but you're still the same strapping young man smiling in the photograph. When you first met me, you just kept admiring the design of my kimono instead of me. Do you remember that? "Those are very pretty wisteria flowers," you said without once raising your blushing face. Out of disappointment, I haven't worn that kimono at all since then. But when the war was over, that was the only thing I never sold, even when I needed the money.

When I received news of your passing, I cried until my tears ran dry. I actually intended to follow you right away. I wanted to burn myself in the flames of the war and be with you once again. Even though the air raid sirens were ringing and the sky turned deep red, I walked in the opposite direction of the people running for their lives. That was when you came to me, didn't you? "You just keep getting yourself in trouble. Come on, this way," you said and lead me by the hand, like back when we used to walk by the riverbank. I felt so happy.

That was when I decided that I would keep on living even if I was alone. No, forgive me. I forget that I haven't been alone at all. Through hard times, through painful times, and through happy times too, I have always felt your presence. You must have come to check up on me since I always get myself in trouble. Still, together with your shadow, I've managed to live long enough to become a wrinkly old granny. My dear, I'm sure we are going to meet soon. When I meet you I'll be as proud as a peacock. I've worked hard enough, haven't I? I know! I think I'll wear that kimono with the wisteria flowers on it. That way you'll recognize me right away, right? But this time, say something nice about me instead of just admiring my kimono, okay?

陰陽座百物語 第拾弐話「面影」


貴方が逝ってしまったと知らせを受けた時は、涙が枯れ果てるまで泣きました。急いで私も後を追おうと思ったわ。私も戦いの炎に焼かれて、貴方の許に行こうと思った。警報が鳴り響いて、空が真っ赤になっても 、げる人達と反対の方へ歩いていったの。でも貴方、あの時、私の所へ来てくださったでしょう?「まったくお前は危なっかしいな。ほら、こっちだよ」って、いつも二人で河原を散歩していた時の様に手を引いてくださったの。嬉しかったわ。


Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story XI "Ninja Scroll of Bewitching Flower"

(Yōka ninpōchō begins at 08:56)

I am the servant of a kunoichi and up until now I have put an end to the lives of numerous men. Sometimes they were samurai from an enemy nation, sometimes ninjas from an opposing style. There were some formidable opponents among them, but there has not been a man that my master and I could not defeat. The method my master specializes in involves her getting on intimate terms with her target and rendering them defenseless with her sexual charms. She then invites them to bed and when the time is right, she releases me from her body, killing them with a single blow. After the act is done, I return to where I came from, meaning I go back inside my master's body. Since I hide myself so speedily, even if there is a commotion after the man is found dead, nobody notices that it was the work of my master and I.

Sometimes it can take a while before the target opens himself up. At times like that, my master properly accompanies them in bed so as not to seem suspicious. When she does so, her moans of ecstasy are sublimely lustrous, like a bewitching flower. Even I find it hard to believe that they are just an act. From time to time I even think that maybe my master does this work because she likes it, but whenever I see the tears my master sheds when she is dressing herself after finishing an opponent, I let go of such silly notions. I do not know why my master sheds tears, but when she does, I feel sad together with her. If but only once, I would like to gently hold my master round the shoulders, but unfortunately I am a snake, therefore my hands are tied, so to speak.

陰陽座百物語 第拾壱話「妖花忍法帖」



Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story X "The Misshapen Moon"

(Yugamu tsuki begins at 01:30)

At the bottom of a cold, murky lake located deep in the heart of the forest there lived a hideous creature. A long time ago, there was a time when that creature had still been a human. Her nails whose beauty people compared to that of cherry tellin[1] turned dark and twisted like the roots of a tree, her teeth that were charming like mother-of-pearl became sharp like the fangs of a beast, and her skin that was as smooth as a white peach became completely covered with hard scales. The thing she changed into was something utterly gruesome. To hide her hideous body, the creature resided at the cold bottom of a lake, where it had lived for a length of time that defies belief. All the while being tormented by the weight of her sin and punishment.

It happened on a night when the silvery light of the moon shined brightly all the way to the bottom of the lake. So bright was the light that it made the creature look up at the surface, and there, slowly dancing on the water, she saw the silhouette of someone peering down. How many years had it been since a human last visited the lake? Having once been a human herself, out of nostalgia and without giving it much thought, the creature strained her eyes to take a close look at the person's face. Oh, what a curious coincidence it was! The young man who had stopped to draw water from the lake was the spitting image of the man she had loved long ago when she was still a beautiful human girl.

Could it be possible? Startled, the creature leaned forward, and at that very moment it just so happened that the refulgent moonbeams grew ever so brighter, and the bottom of the lake was illuminated with dazzling light. That was when the traveler noticed the monster illuminated by the moonlight and with his face distorted in fear he gave out a cry of horror. Having been seen, in the twinkling of an eye, the creature leaped to the surface and struck its sharp fangs at the base of the traveler's throat. Like the blood of the man she loved had once soaked her hands, the creature's throat was now dyed bright red with the blood that flowed from the traveler's neck. Once the man eventually stopped breathing, she quietly dived back to the bottom, carrying the traveler between her teeth.

[1] 桜貝 - A glossy pink type of clam.

陰陽座百物語 第拾話「歪む月」




Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story IX "Yoshitsune: Otherworldly Rencontre"

(Raise Kaikō begins at 17:00)

(Note: The second and third parts are mostly the same as the preface for Raise Kaikō that is included in the Garyō Tensei album booklet)

    Minamoto No Yoshitsune had joined the army of his older brother Minamoto No Yoritomo, whose objective was to overthrow the Tairas. Making good use of his prodigious tactician skills, Yoshitsune was overpowering the Tairas unopposed. Contrary to his military achievements however, due to the machinations of various generals and Yoritomo who slighted the behavior and youth of his brother, he ends up being killed as a traitor.
    Yoshitsune's wife Shizuka Gozen is also captured by Yoritomo, and although she manages to escape death, the child of Yoshitsune she was pregnant with is cruelly murdered by Yoritomo.

    Separated from Yoshitsune and her beloved child brutally murdered by Yoritomo, Shizuka Gozen blames herself for all that has happened. Down in the depths of despair, she gives up hope of ever seeing Yoshitsune alive. Now cherishing the hope for a rencontre with him in the next world, quietly and alone, she bids farewell to this life.

    Sweeping over the sadness of the people at the mercy of the currents of history, the tide of a new era will surge forward, recede, then surge forward again.
    As long as there are humans in the world, the coming and going of that tide will never cease.

陰陽座百物語 第玖話「義経~来世邂逅」




Friday, March 1, 2013

Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story VIII "Ninja Scroll of Slumber"

(Madoromi ninpōchō begins at 09:07)

The woman was a kunoichi. Carrying out her mission, she had succeeded in killing the target in his sleep, but had been seriously wounded while escaping and was now hiding in a nearby mountain forest in a half-conscious state. The wound was deep and she was bleeding do death. Once she realized that she did not have long to live, seemingly accepting her fate, she gazed into the sky and slowly closed her eyes with a peaceful expression on her face that resembled a smile. She could no longer feel the coldness of the ground nor the breath of the wind that made the grass tickle her cheeks. It felt as if her body had melted and was merging into them. Just like the ground does not feel the ground and like the wind does not feel the wind.

Without realizing it, she was thinking back on her life as a kunoichi. Using her feminine assets, literally selling her body she had completed her missions. She had never given it a second thought, but now that she was about to die, what she felt was relief of finally being free. It was strange how she felt no pain or anguish. From the bottom of her heart, she felt how lucky she was to earn such a peaceful death, as in the world of the shinobi no one mourns for you when you die.

Finally, as all of her strength drained from her, inside her muddled mind she silently whispered: "So this is how I die," and to take a last look at the world, she tried to open her eyes. Her eyelids felt heavy and her vision was so blurred that she could not even tell whether she had opened her eyes or not. What she saw there, she could not believe. Someone who could not possibly have been there was standing before her. A man she had grown up with in the same ninja village as herself. The man she was in love with. In a split second she understood that what she was seeing was an illusion, but still she tried frantically to see his face. Did she really see it, or was it only in her mind? She could not tell, but it looked as if the man had smiled just a little.

陰陽座百物語 第捌話「微睡忍法帖」


くノ一として生きた己の人生を女は無意識に思い返していた。女としての武器を使い、文字通り身を鬻いで任務を遂行する。その事に疑問を思った事は無かったが、死を前にした今、そこに有るのは やっと解放されるという思いばかりだった。不思議なくらい痛みや苦しみは無かった。女は命を落としても弔う者すらない様な忍びの世界でこんな安らかな死を得られる自分は幸せだと心から思った。


Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story VII "Hill of the Phoenix Tree"

(Aogiri no oka begins at 01:05)

After the life form had closed his eyes for the last time, he floated, or perhaps lied down, in an indefinite place, surrounded by dazzling light whose colors cannot be expressed in words. The last thing he remembered was regretting the fact that he had let his loved one die, unable to protect them. Now, as it seems that he too had died, maybe this was his atonement in a way he thought. No, it couldn't work that way; he kept pondering the matter but could not make up his mind.

Although surprised at the fact that he could still think about things like this even now that he was dead, he came to the conclusion that because he still kept thinking of such insignificant things at a time like this, he had probably been a human while he was still alive. Focusing his mind, he could sense that apparently there were many other life forms beside himself that had gathered in that indefinite space. The next thing he knew, he could no longer feel the boundary line between himself and the other life forms. Having lost their boundary lines, the lives eventually formed a single stream that slowly flowed down, or perhaps up, towards some indefinite place.

Along the way, the life form thought he heard a voice. The maternal yet resolute voice that gently enveloped them called out to each of the lives: "Come, transmigrate." The owner of the voice appeared to be a bird that was wrapped in light, but in the same time it also felt like something out of this world. Still, the life form thought that while they were on the way to the next world, an expression like "out of this world" seemed a little out of place.

One morning, in a river somewhere, a sweetfish was splashing in the water. It swam happily by a beautiful flower that bloomed on the riverbank, and sprang many times. The flower bloomed silently, as if smiling at the sweetfish.

陰陽座百物語 第漆話「梧桐の丘」





Onmyōza Hyakumonogatari Story VI "Yoshitsune: Nightmare Ablaze"

(Muma Enjō begins at 14:50) 

(Note: The same text is used as the preface for Muma Enjō that is included in the Garyō Tensei album booklet)

    Intently yearning for his brother's love, Yoshitsune defeats the Tairas just like his brother Yoritomo had hoped. Due to the machinations of Yoritomo and his close advisers, instead of a war hero, Yoshitsune ends up being branded as a rebel.
    While his miraculous services in war earn him the popularity and trust of the people in the capital, at the same time, he is thoroughly disdained by most of the generals in Kamakura because of his childish behavior. For Yoritomo he was becoming an insurmountable nightmare. Yoritomo's resolution to get rid of Yoshitsune only grows stronger as his younger brother appears in his dreams night after night.
    Unwilling to believe that his brother is plotting against him, Yoshitsune reluctantly leaves the capital only after there is an attempt on his life. Although he succeeds in escaping with the help of Fujiwara of Ōshū, Yoshitsune becomes separated with Shizuka Gozen in the mountains of Yoshino. Shizuka, having a premonition that this would be their final farewell, weeps and shrieks in her heart.
    Afterwards, Shizuka is captured by Yoritomo, and although her life is spared thanks to the beauty of her dance, Yoritomo, worried of retribution by Yoshitsune's offspring, cruelly murders the child she is pregnant with.
    Meanwhile, having barely escaped to Ōshū where he is given shelter by Fujiwara No Hidehira, Yoshitsune is eventually attacked at night by Hidehira's son Yasuhira, who betrays Yoshitsune after his father passes away.
    Then finally, in his Takadachi mansion at Koromogawa that has been set ablaze, Yoshitsune, a broken man, decides to take his own life.

陰陽座百物語 第陸話「義経~夢魔炎上」