Saturday, March 22, 2008

from Japan, Its History, Arts, and Literature, 1902

(page 209)

A great scholar of the eighteenth century, Hirata Atsutane, has recorded an example furnished by his own era: On the evening of the 17th of March in the year 1740, Kiuchi Heizayemon disappeared. A retainer of Ishikawa Seiyemon, he had accompanied his master from Otsu, the latter being deputed to superintend some repairs at the monastery of Hiei-zan. Kiuchi's comrades searched for him everywhere. They found only his wooden clogs cast far apart; the scabbard of his sword broken into fragments; the blade bent like the handle of a kettle, and his girdle cut into three pieces.

At midnight, between the sobs of a dying storm, a voice, hoarse as the wind itself, was heard calling for help. Passing through the rain and sleet, Suzuki Shichiro saw a winged figure standing on the roof of the temple. The others drew near, and observing that the wing-like appendages were only a torn umbrella flapping in the gale, they called out to know whether the figure was Kiuchi. He answered yes, and prayed to be taken down. But no sooner had they laid hands on him than he fainted away and lay for three days in a swoon.

When he recovered consciousness he said: "That evening I heard my name being called, and going out, found a monk, dressed in black, shouting 'Heizayemon, Heizayemon.' Beside him stood a huge man with flaming red visage and dishevelled hair reaching to the ground, who ordered me roughly to climb to the roof of the vestibule. I refused and drew my sword, but in a moment he seized it, broke the scabbard into pieces and bent the blade into the shape of a kettle-handle. Then they tore off my girdle, and with three blows of their staffs cut it into as many pieces. After that I was raised to the roof, beaten severely, and finally compelled to take my seat on a round tray, which ascended with me into the air and travelled at lightning speed to various regions. It seemed to me that I had been ten days flying through space when I began to pray to Buddha, and immediately I was lowered, apparently to the summit of a high mountain, but really to the roof of the temple. At the same time I recognized the voice of a venerable priest who had previously interfered to prevent the monsters from beating me to death. I asked the name of my benefactor, but he answered only that he had lived on Mount Hiei for nine hundred years."

No comments: