Japanese Gothic Tales

By Izumi Kyōka; Charles Shirō Inouye | Go to book overview
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The Holy Man of Mount Kōya

(Kōya hijiri, 1900)

1

"I knew it wouldn't do much good to take another look. But because the road had become unimaginably difficult, I lifted the sleeves of my kimono, made hot to the touch by the sun's rays, and reached in for the ordinance survey map that I had brought with me.

"There I was on an isolated byway, making my way through the deep mountains between Hida and Shinshū. Not a single tree offered the comfort of its shade; and on both sides were nothing but mountains, rising so close and so steeply that it seemed as though I could reach out and touch them with my hand. Despite the towering heights of these mountains there rode still others beyond them, each raising its crest above the next, blocking both bird and cloud from sight.

"Between earth and sky, I stood alone, the crystalline rays of the blistering midday sun falling white around me as I surveyed the map from beneath the brim of my sedge hat."

Saying this, the itinerant monk clenched both fists, placed them on his pillow, bent forward, then pressed his forehead against his hands.

-21-

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