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"Under the Cherry Blossoms in Full Bloom

" --
Author(s): Masao Shimura
Source: The Journal-Newsletter of the Association of Teachers of Japanese, Vol. 3, No. 3
(Apr., 1966), pp. 3-21
Published by: Association of Teachers of Japanese
Stable URL:
Accessed: 22/05/2010 07:03

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Translation with an Introduction
Masao Shimura (Indiana University)


Sakaguchi Ango (1906 - 1955) has often been paired with Dazai
Osamu, because the Japanese are fond of making such pairs (Natsume
Soseki and Mori Ogai, Nagai Kafu and Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Yokomitsu
Riichi and Kawabata Yasunari), and because both were most active and
popular in the period of cultural change and confusion after the war.
The two, however, were quite different from each other temperamental-
ly. The difference is clear in Sakaguchi's essay on Dazai, "Christ
and Juvenile Delinquents," in which he writes:

Dazai called himself a comedian, but the fact is he never made
it. In The Setting Sun he is close to it, but not quite.
"Father," "Cherries," - oh, those are the things he should never
have shown to the public. They should have existed only in his
hung-over mind, and should have been forgotten as soon as his
hang-over was gone. The pains and sorrows of self-reproach and
reminiscence which one suffers with a hang-over should not be
treated seriously in a literary work, or, for that matter, in
life. ... Both Akutagawa and Dazai committed suicide as juvenile
delinquents. They were the weeping, whimpering kind - weak.
They couldn't win with physical power. Nor with intellectual
power. Therefore they had to show themselves off under some
authority. Both brought in Christ. ... What's so great in death
or suicide? Those who are defeated die. If they win they won't
die. Victory at death? Nonsense' ... For man to live is all.
When you die you are no more. Fame after death? Art is long?
Nonsense! I hate ghosts. I hate those ghosts that live, they
say, after they die.

Sakaguchi's novels and short stories may be classified into three
basic types: the farce, the fable, and the mystery. The first type
is exemplified by "Dr. Wind," one of his earliest stories (published in
1931), the second by "Under Cherry Trees in Full Bloom," and the third
by The Case of Unconnected Murders. Sometimes these elements come to-
gether in one work, as in the case of a number of historical stories
and novels he wrote as a "detective historian."

The motif of "Under Cherry Trees in Full Bloom" is explained in
his essay entitled "A Cradle of Literature," written in 1940 for a
magazine and later included in his famous best seller in 1947, Daraku
Ron, "In Praise of Degeneration." There Sakaguchi wonders what it is
that appeals so much to the reader in Charles Perrault's "Little Red
Riding Hood;" or in the kyogen piece "Onigawara," a very short and
simple play in which a daimyo visiting Kyoto suddenly cries out; his
retainer wonders why, and discover that it is because the daimyo has
just noticed an onigawara or decorative tile on a temple roof with an
ogre's face, and it reminds him of the face of his wife back home.

their sen- tences have the defect of being too heavy. but rarely in literary works. but the man has no time to answer. Sakaguchi contends. are concerned with the logical description of the psycholog- ical aspects of their characters. and even more to the language of kyogen. he says he owes much to the traditional vernacular entertainers such as kodan or rakugo reciters. You feel as if you were handling Persian that you had just learned when you use this 'modern literary style. "I hate the modern literary style which exists only in written form. But an ogre. "should be as light as a feather in the wind. darkness. Talking of his own style. so sick of writing in the just-learned Persian language. asks what it is. A man loves a woman. 'When you asked me what it was I should have answered it was dew and disappeared like dew!" The beauty. September 1951). His poem at the discovery reads. He starts the essay with the decla- ration. He admits that both brought something new into Japanese style by being more logical in sentence structure. not with the words" is the ultimate message of his essay." or "On the Prose Style After the War" (Shincho." Sakaguchi had pronounced and unusual opinions on literary style. At the same time. "A Cradle of Literature. But I seldom see such words written.hence the title. and keeps watch all night." In other words. they are caught in a thunderstorm. They begin to run. At last he finds shelter in a deserted house. "The Idiot" (a beautiful translation of which appears in Ivan Morris's Modern Japanese Stories) was printed a year earlier than "Under Cherry Trees in Full Bloom. and are more interested in sentences than in the story." he declares. according to Sakaguchi. the chilling beauty of this kind of tale is due to the feeling of helplessness. and after three years wins her heart. "Each word in a novel.4 Again. They elope from the capital. can we begin to have hope. It is only at dawn that the man realizes she is no more. puts her in what he thinks to be a safe hiding place. the reader often cannot see the story for the sentences. And literature starts in this kind of story . steals in and eats her up. When passing a field at midnight." in Shincho." "Be more. As a result. These writers. because the loneliness of life is so complete that only when we realize its help- lessness. and cruelty. "Words should be alive.' I wonder how one can stand it. it conveys Sakaguchi concludes. as is the case with In praise of Degenera- . which he summarized in "Sengo Bunsho Ron. He goes on to discuss Ooka Shohei and Mishima Yukio in connection with their style. and is written in the tradi- tionally "heavy" language. taking advantage of the noise of the thunder. he cites an episode in Ise Monogatari which he considers one of the most readily understandable of this type. In daily life we use a much more lively speech. The woman. Sakaguchi felt the necessity of redoing what Futabatei Shimei had done earlier against the older literary style. really." He finds sentences alive in cartoons and in chess articles in newspapers. seeing the dew on the grass that flashes in the lightning. much more concerned with the story you are telling. The reason I started writing like this is not that I wanted to invent a new style but that I got.

because people run with different speeds and naturally one would fall behind. not . A lone traveler was better off. such phrases are used merely as "fillers. cherry petals everywhere. in her delusion. It was all right when there were no blossoms. Sakaguchi Ango is almost as unfortunate in the state of the works left to us as Edgar Allan Poe. "Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Moto. if you found no one at all under the cherry blossoms you would be frightened to death. and would cry: Wait! Wait! But the other would be insane by then and forsake his friend. nobody thought it was beautiful there at all. Once. a friendly companion would no longer be friendly. Thus people began to avoid the cherry forest. until the forest was left far away from the highway. hoping somehow to get out of the blossoms as fast as they could. They used to run pell-mell in the direction of a green tree or a dead tree which they had chanced to spot. In translation this technique tends to make the work sound amateurish. 1954). who influenced him strongly: we do not even have a definitive edition of his complete works. drinking and quarreling. however. and finally dies. out of her mind. eating cakes. because he could concentrate on running and could relax once he got out of the cherry forest. much lighter in tone. travelers went insane there under the trees. desolate in the silent heart of the mountain." a technique borrowed from kodan style. we are so used to seeing people gathering there. that we take it for granted that under the cherry blossoms we should be merry and noisy. he repeatedly uses cliches such as "as if in a dream. but. completely insane." The reader should not be unduly troubled. is much more in Sakaguchi's true style. IV. people feel lighthearted and happy. and wander around under them. buried in a heap of petals (my touch." printed in 1949. 1956) and the Gendai Nihon Bungaku Zenshu edition (Vol. I have decided to reproduce it as it is. you would feel a dreadful atmosphere. but. actually. would never trust the other's friendship. you had to take your way through a cherry forest. if you took all those people away from there. So. with some hesitation. Vol. presents difficulties to the translator. and there. Translation When the cherry trees bloom. drinking sake. however. The text used for the translation here is that found in the Sogensha edition (Selected Works of Sakaguchi Ango. coming into a forest of cherry trees in full bloom: petals. but in the blossoming season. 5 tion. this last one)--indeed. after the cherry blossoms of Suzuka Pass. Remember the Noh play in which a mother goes out in search of her son who has been kidnapped. Because of Sakaguchi's theory of style. Chikuma Shobo. This." or "Under Cherry Trees in Full Bloom. Why do I say so? Because it's only since the Edo period that people have gathered and drunk and puked and quarreled under the trees like this--before the Edo period people thought it terrible to be under the cherry blossoms. she thinks she sees her son. but it was awful for a traveler with a friend. preferring other passes. in order to go through the Suzuka Pass. Nowadays. XLIX. exclaiming how beautiful' what a glorious spring!--but it's all a lie.

He had killed the husband. I'm strong enough and I'm not trying to take a rest. He did not know why. but he felt strange. Only his own figure and his footsteps --surrounded by the silent. How could you expect me to be able to!" "All right. Somehow it was different from the other times. He thought he heard a wind blowing noisily under the blossoms when there was no wind--no sound. and now the year was almost over. Impul- sively he wanted to close his eyes and run. even killed them--but he too felt frightened and insane under the cherry blossoms. I will think it over and over next year when they bloom again. Meantime. Now you are my wife. This year again. it's too risky to try to go like this. but if he did. But the woman was too beautiful. He was a ruthless man who robbed people of their clothes mercilessly. no. he might run into the trees. and more than ten years had passed. although he was tired. He took her hand and she said she could not walk. motionless wind. feeling more frantic than ever. You'd better walk here. all right. He thought he would think this thing over the next year--because he did not feel like thinking that year. she was almost fainting. "But get down from my back just for a second. The robber at first had had no intention of killing the husband. The woman held on to him tightly and said. But the robber was a man of composure who never repented." he said good-naturedly. and suddenly he had swung his sword on the man. No! "You're a man and you're used to the mountains and still you have a hard time climbing up. he was going to kick him away as he always used to do. and I want to get a good look at you! Get down just for a second and let me see what kind of a face you've got'" . But I don't have eyes in the back of my head. his life withering away. and she hadn't expected him to either. As the petals fell down. He thought it was strange. So he kept them open. Several years after the Pass got to be so desolate. No. But there was a steep climb and he said. Yet he could not fix his mind on one thing for long. He hadn't expected to do it. When he looked back. he decided. looking at him confusedly. He thought about it. He decided the same thing every year. and lifted her up lightly onto his back. The robber had begun to feel strange since he killed the woman's husband. and today he had just seized his eighth wife on the highway together with her husband's clothes.6 a soul to be seen there. the number of his wives increased from one to seven. after robbing him of everything he wore. he said and she nodded. and he did not try to find out why. he felt his soul falling down. he decided to think it over next year. a mountain robber came and settled in the mountain. terrifying blossoms--though he didn't know why. So he began to hate them--loathsome blossoms. All right. cold. he said.

" "All right. He was disappointed. to the right." "Aren't you a weakling! Am I going to be a weakling's wife? Am I? Ah! Who will take care of me from now on?" "Nonsense. making a full turn. . but all he could do was to put the woman down and try to relax his stiff and aching limbs. all the trees you see." she said. Once we get to the top. When he reached his house. even the fog coming out of them--they are all mine. at the back." "But this is a hard climb." "Walk faster. I'll show you I can run as fast as a horse!"' "But you're already breathless. Anything you want. all the valleys. I couldn't run even if I were by myself. I'll bite off my tongue and kill myself!" "All right. I won't be your wife. his eyes would not focus right." She kept silent. If you don't take me away from this loneliness." "Can't you hurry up? Please run." But he was deadly tired. and said: "These mountains are all mine. 7 "No. so that the woman could see the mountains in front." "It's always this way at the beginning. I will make it!" "Oh. and said: "Look! All the mountains you see." He felt himself melt away. I'll fix you some- thing good. desperately grasping at his neck. Don't stop now. He looked back proudly. and to the left. all right. Out came the seven wives to greet him. But after a while I will get the rhythm and run so fast you'll get dizzy on my back. You look pale. If you don't. thinking of the happiness of his future life of pleasure with this beautiful wife. and he could not even muster enough energy to give a hoarse word of announcement. He felt as though his whole body was coming apart in pieces. his ears buzzed. "I don't want to stay around these lumpy- looking cliffs any longer. you! I suppose you're tired already?" "Damn it. no!" she said. but lets hurry to your place. "I can't stand this lonely place a second more. And when we get home.

especially the "used to" part. He jumped up and killed the woman she had pointed at. he plunged his broad sword into a woman's neck. his sentence was well-made. trans- parent voice was beautifully indicating another woman: "This woman next." The man ran and ran through the woods. we can use her as a servant. while the woman was astonished at the dirtiness of the seven wives.8 The seven wives were struck by the beauty of the woman. we don't have to kill her. and he swung his sword carelessly. embarrassed. spellbound." "Kill her. Some of them had been rather beautiful once. glittering in the air. you see. the blood-stained sword held over his head." . "Darling. up to now I never knew that there were beautiful women like you*. The woman was uneasy." she said. Suddenly the rest of the women jumped up and ran away." he said." The woman who had been pointed at screamed and hid her face with both hands. but she did not spare him: "Oh? Are these your wives?" 'Well. With a dull sound.. Into the scream the sword slashed. Now. She was the ugliest. but followed her directions. Not this one. There's one over there behind that bush. and in embarrass- ment. a beauty such as they had never seen before. that one. and rolled. and she was lame. There. Did you think I would become your wife so easily?" A groan came from the man's tightened lips. could not run away very far. her soft. mellow. And there's one running up the moun- tain. The man found her when he came back from killing all the women who had run away. but the woman said: "No.. "This woman now. you killed my husband. and before the rolling had stopped. But she would not let him rest. She hid herself behind the man and said: "Who are those monsters?" "They used to be my wives." He hesitated. but now nobody would have been able to see a trace of beauty in them. There was one woman who. She shall be my servant." "Can't you even kill your own wife? Remember. "I will never forgive you if you can't catch all of them. pointing at the woman with the best features. The head tumbled down.

But he felt uneasy. or in the depths of the valley. his body felt heavy. He ran all over the mountain to catch fowl and deer. He was not sure what was related in the two experiences. This year. Something like this happened once. It is not too bad when you approach the blossoms. or left. As you walk. he did not know. He was surprised. He realized how silent it was. Fatigue came over him suddenly. and felt too uneasy to rest his eyes there. front. he thought. he thought.. when the cherries bloom . It was under the cherry blossoms in full bloom. I will even sit down on the earth. But he was sure of the similarity. his eyes could not see. nor how. we seldom ate a meal like this. He looked over his shoulder and saw the woman standing somewhat helplessly. He was scared. What was it that was like this. silly! I am asking you not to kill her. So you dare to go in." "Stop. back. And boars and bears. The woman was terribly spoiled and wilful. 9 "Never mind. what was it? Oh. you get scared and cannot stand the loneliness." He threw away the sword. and sat down on the ground. Snow still remained on the top of the mountain. Shall I take this woman? The idea flashed across his mind and he glanced at her. Just why or how. by all means. That was it. This year. I could never let her know what I am thinking! For some reason. He was a man who could come this far in his thinking and not care after that. Well. you lose your mind.. he felt this firmly in his heart. no. and before you reach the center of the forest. He felt as if he had awakened from a nightmare. It was like going through there. right. The lame woman kept looking for buds and grass-roots through the forest all day long. I see. yes. she complained over it." . and he was too absorbed in her to mind the uneasiness very much. Serve whatever food. hanging over you. I will stand still in the midst of the forest. The long winter in the mountain ended.. he wondered. The woman was too beautiful. But the woman was never satisfied: "Do you want me to eat this kind of stuff every day?" "But this is all especially prepared for you! Before you came. It's no trouble. or in the shade of the trees. And his eyes and his soul were absorbed into the beauty of the woman. all you see is blossoms." "Oh. but the signs of the flowering season were shining everywhere.

and gave me crow's croaks and owl's hoots. He did not know what the wind of the city was. If a traveler had nothing but trash. He shrank back. Magic was being performed in front of him. ashamed. black hair every morning. What she wore was not one piece of cloth and a belt: she used many pieces and many strips: she added ornaments. and closed her eyes. like a child. The lame woman combed the wife's long. This he understood now. He had no idea whatsoever. on her clothes made her angry. of long. and it irritated him. He was just embarrassed to see her helplessly complaining. her face appeared.10 "This may be all right for a mountain man like you. as a kind of superb magic. disassembled. beauty was . He had never even thought where the city was. On fine days. and tormenting. Not for me. Thus a piece of beauty could be formed. he had no doubt. All I hear in this lonely mountain. but he had no idea what to do. sat down. And you are not ashamed! You don't think it cruel!" The man could not follow the woman's logic of complaint. and for what purpose. are owls hooting. can complete one whole by coming together. At least you could give the kind of food they serve in the city. but the result of her magic always filled him with surprise a? . she had the chair out in the sun or in the shade. The woman treasured ornamental combs and hair-ribbons and lipsticks and such things. He thought there was nothing to add to the happiness in his life. And he wanted to touch her black hair when it had been combed. For that purpose he brought special water from far down in the valley and he was proud of the attention he paid her and the trouble he took. No. the thief would swear at him--Damned hick! Damned peasant! For him the city was the place where people with fine things lived. not your hand! She brushed his hand away. was unknown to him while he was making it. and what he had to do was simply to rob them. until the whole was unified and perfected. The man was dazed. the wind of the city'! How cut off I feel from the city-wind! You don't even try to understand! You took the city-wind out of me. She gave orders for the house to be cleaned and furniture ar- ranged in it. was tied. voluptuous. He would realize later that he had made a chair and an armrest. Inside the house she brooded reclining on the armrest. What was going to be made. couldn't you? Oh. He could understand now. He had killed many travelers from the town. It was as if her duty were to protect these things. He had decided that he wanted to be a part of her magic. while. These actions struck him as strange. dirty with mud or animal's blood. who was actually an assistant in the performance. It was as if the clothes were her life. admiration. long nights. The black hair became brighter. Even the slightest touch of his hand. and sighed. incomplete and incomprehensible. so he robbed them. They were rich and had fine things. which would then fill him with satisfaction. they are again meaningless frag- ments. Meaningless fragments. He cut a tree and made what she ordered.

nor was he accustomed to shame. because he was not afraid of any visible object. These used to be things of no meaning and no value to him." "Ha. ha! Archers! I can hit a sparrow on the other side of that valley there! And there are no men in the city with skins so tough a sword can't cut into them. could hurt or betray him. He put his strength in contrast to her beauty. there wasn't one who could stand up against me. Magical power was the soul of an object. even in his remotest past. but he could understand the magical power they had. He was surprised. but . "Is there a man with fangs in the city?" he asked her." "Could armor stop a sword?" "Oh.. It was not really fear. "Things like this .. but even a boar was not really too fearful an enemy and so he need not worry. And he began to be afraid of the city. Nothing he could recall." He touched an ornamental comb and ribbons. he thought contentedly. but a mixture of shame and anxiety due to his not knowing: the feeling an encyclopedist might have toward things unknown." "But I can overpower even a bear or a boar!" . 11 created and born--it was like a dream which he never felt tired of dreaming. Among all my victims from hundreds and thousands of cities. are there?" "There are samurai in armor." He felt shy.. but he didn't know why. yes. An object had a soul. And he felt only hostility toward the city. "There are samurai carrying bows. But he was not accus- tomed to being afraid. "You mustn't touch them! Why do you have to do that every day?" "Aren't they amazing?" "What's so amazing about them?" "I don't know. He felt happy and proud whenever he thought of that. And in the awareness of his strength. it seemed that only a wild boar could possibly be regarded as a rival.. and even now he could not see the relation between these things and the principle of harmony.

Before three days and nights were out. How could you have an appointment when there's nobody to have one with?" He could not lie. The city is calling me. mirrors. "The cherry blossoms are coming out. There was only one thing to worry about which had nothing to do with the city. Give me three days. with the best the city has." "You." "Why?" "Because I have to be under the cherry blossoms in full bloom. If you can give me that pleasure. an appointment? In this deep mountain? With whom?" "No. without any fear at all. and I can't leave until after I've seen them." "That's easy enough. in the midst of the cherry blossoms in full bloom." "But I have an appointment. He had been secretly observing the budding cherry trees. It was the cherry forest. take me to the city and decorate me with all the things I want. lipstick in the city." He decided to go to the city. ribbons. "You have no preparations to make." "You have an appointment with the cherry blossoms?" "The cherry blossoms are coming out. he would accumulate around her all the combs. "Don't be mean." "Underneath the blossoms?" . But it's an appointment all the same. This year he had decided to sit down." "Well." "Is that so? I've never heard such nonsense. Cherry trees would be in full bloom in a few days. than you are a really strong man. I don't have anybody I have to see.12 "If you are a really strong man. clothes." she frowned. why do you have to be there?" "Because underneath the blossoms everything is filled with cold wind. though he knew she was eager to leave. he said to the woman. There was nothing to worry about there.

As soon as he saw that he was out of the forest. As soon as he entered the forest. he felt as if he had awaken from a night- mare. Soon heads from dozens of mansions had been collected and were arranged in lines in a room partitioned off by four screens. he saw her sardonic smile in his mind. 13 He lost track and was confused. Heads fell in love. It was like a sword hurting his mind whenever he remembered it. There were too many for the man to tell which head was which. no! This section belongs to that family." She played with the heads every day. "Take me there with you. and other ornaments. another head paid a visit. flesh rotting. "No. trying to run away. To a head's house. but these were not enough to satisfy her. In the wind his body became trans- parent. and sometimes a man's head . their hair falling out. He had never known such an evil smile before. even when they became mere skeletons. He stole clothes. and the cripple went to live in the city. The man broke into mansions night after night at the woman's command. A head took a walk with his retainers. He ran. "No. with some of them hanging from the ceiling. not this one. The cherry trees were in full bloom. Whenever he or the cripple moved them around. The proof was that it had left its mark on his mind like a seal. The pain alone was enough to throw him into panic. Only he did not see it as an "evil" smile but as a smile which could not be cut with a sword. Nothingness' He cried. The third day came. but she remembered each of them. He was completely enveloped in wind alone. endlessly. The man. and only his crying voice remained. prayed. The only difference was that he felt a real pain in his chest that made him breathless. all at once." she said. It hurt worse than anything he had ever experienced. she knew which was which. Even when they became decomposed. Then the chill came up to him from everywhere. struggled. "I have to be alone. He went secretly. the wind went through his body. And he could not do anything to it. He saw a sardonic smile for the first time." The woman gave a sardonic smile. She coveted more than anything else the heads of the people he robbed. A woman's head rejected a man's head. she got angry and said." he declared. jewelry. the woman.

There was a priest's head. There was a head of a tottering old priest. kissed it. the woman ordered the man to bring her another priest's head. lips so thick that it seemed the mouth stayed open of their weight alone: a sloppy head. She was happy and put it on the table and poured sake into its mouth. Um-um. "Bring me a fatter. there was one which was terribly nonchalant. Teeth clat- tered against teeth. It's so good I can hardly stand it! Now. She pressed the corners of the eyes with her fingers and made the eyes round and narrow in turn. she held it to her . tortured to death. but soon she was tired. The princess-nun's head ran away from the nunnery and hid in a village in Yamashina as the Councillor's head's concubine. lick- ed it. The woman hated it. but the hair finally fell out. One moonless night the Councillor's head went secretly to the princess's head disguised as her lover. Then the Councillor's head followed her to the nunnery and seduced the head of the nun. hanging jowls. there was a head of a priest who looked like a horse with long ears. bite it hard!" She laughed. ho! How delicious! Now eat her throat. and now it was a skeleton. loose. and the head always had to play the role of a villain. more disgusting one!" she ordered. Afterward the princess's head realized her mistake. and made it stand upside down and tumble. with the corners of the eyes slanting down.14 rejected a woman's. She stuck two sticks into its nostrils. the head rotted. and laughed. eat her cheek. loud and merry: "Now. The priest's shaven head began to grow hair after it had been cut off. The two heads amused themselves feasting and making love. executed by an official. the ex-princess. tickled it. and cried over her sad fate and went into a nunnery. The head was detested. Suck it. about fifty years of age. The princess- nun's head tried to commit suicide. The laughter was clear and cool as the sound of thin porcelain. Yet the princess's head could not completely hate the Councillor's head. fresh beauty of an adolescent. bite her eyeball. which made it cry. Noses were crushed and eyeballs fell out. but could not resist the whispers of the Councillor's head. rotten flesh stuck to rotten flesh. But there was only one the woman was pleased with. The man brought back several heads together to save himself trouble. Now. ugly. there was a head with thick eyebrows and fat cheeks and a nose like a frog taking a rest there. It was a head of a big monk. By that time both the princess's head and the Councillor's head had lost their hair and gone rotten. they bred maggots and the bones stuck out. The new one had that uncertain. Oh. the woman was delighted. Whenever the two faces stuck together and lost their shape. and succeeded in making love. A head of a Councillor of State deceived a princess's head. When she saw it was a mere skeleton.

sorrow . had to pay when he drank in a bar where prosti- tutes waited for clients. inserting her nipple between its thick lips. He was bored to death. It was a pure.." All she did each day was to cook. Fang-like teeth bit into the face and it lost its nose and part of its hair. There was a head of a beautiful girl. The man hated the city. hatred. He had to wear proper clothes when he went out walking. Jealousy. wherever he went. She combed its black hair and made up the face. and finally killed. "I never get bored. calm. and made it the worst face in her collection. aristocrats pass- ed down the middle of the street in bullock carts. "Because the city is not boring to me. the remembrance of happiness and sorrow and the precocious memories of an adult altogether. The shopkeepers of the town teased him. a slob. deceptions. and laughed heart- ily. because I can chat in the city. In the city. The head of the prince was kicked. made fun of him. He had to go to a market to shop. hidden behind its closed eyes. Animals. beaten. For the girl's head a young prince's head was necessary. She painted and made up a prince's head very carefully. They are so noisy. noble head." he said to the lame woman. The man was like the big dog being barked at. It seemed as if it had. Women who came in from the country selling vegetables. he thought again and again. until the face turned out to be most graceful. but when their two passions began to flame at the same time.. although he became used to it. But soon got bored. I hate the . He was called a fool. and to chat with her neighbors. radiating with a fragrance like that of a flower. an idiot. but it had acquired an adult's melancholy after death. How boring human beings are. The woman caressed the head as if it were her own daughter's or sister's. "Don't you want to go back to the mountain?" "No. Then the woman pricked the girl's head with her needle. It looked still puerile. and he couldn't carry around a sword in the daytime. Their barefooted servants walked arrogantly. 15 breasts. After a while he realized that he could not be a part of it. drunk on free wine. they burned each other in a scorching blaze. to mope or to ponder. "The city is a boring place. When a big dog walks along. birds--things in the mountains were not noisy.." the cripple answered. to wash. She tried this and that in the make-up. little dogs begin to bark. streams. Whores laughed at him. And the two youthful heads indulged in a flaming game of love. Soon an evil samurai and a lecher and a wicked priest appeared and came between them. anger. slashed it with a pen-knife. the filthy heads attacked the girl's head from all sides and the rotten flesh of ugly heads stuck to hers. he thought. lies. He hated to feel frustrated or jealous. and even children. trees.

napping on a bough. Heads. It was of no interest. The bird never became tired." "I get bored the more I talk. light and smooth. He could never think of flying in a straight line for ever." "Don't you get sick of chatting?" "Of course not.16 mountain. for he was bored with killing people. I'm sure you'll forget your boredom. were unexpectedly heavy. What a fool. He was quick in action. He saw a priest ringing a bell with all his might in a belfry. Once in a while he crossed the valley but that was all. I would do what she does and live with just their severed heads. it's so dull. He was like an owl. What a lot of houses! What a dirty sight!--he thought. But his mind was a big-rumped bird. He could feel no bone inside: it was like cutting turnip tops. From the top of the hill he could look down on the whole city. During the daytime he forgot about his nightly murders." "You get bored because you don't talk. But it had temples and villas on top and more people coming and going than in the rest of the city. You can never tell what these people will do! If I had to live with this kind of people. . Her desire was like a bird flying in a straight line endlessly through the sky." "Try talking. he thought." "Damned if I have anything I want to talk about!" He yawned. A neck was a fragile thing. and his movements were clear-cut. He flew from branch to branch. Nobody would ever get bored as long as he can talk. however. He was an ordinary bird. That bored him too. No rest: an infinite straight line. He thought he could understand the woman. But the woman had a limitless desire." "That's not true. I don't talk because I know I would get bored if I did. She kept on flying ad infinitum." "Talk about what?" "Whatever you like. Every part of his body could move quickly. disgusted. in the air. He could walk long distances. As soon as his sword touched a neck. the head would fall down. There was a hill in this city. he thought.

A bird was flying straight ahead." "That's different. and another day--light and dark. "Oh. "Don't forget the dancer's head!" she shouted after him." "I am not. she was deep in her head game as usual. A most beautiful dancing girl's head. You sleep every day--endlessly. and another day. He was sure it was different." He tried to remember the infinite light and dark of the sky that he had been staring at on top of the hill. He found himself thinking of the fall of the sky. In his mind. Then she laughed. don't you see? You eat every day--endlessly. When she saw him. I want it to dance. Another day. for I am going to sing. I won't. infinitely. after all. He went up the hill again. When he got home. He could no longer see the sky. "No. myl Are you scared all of a sudden? So you're just another weakling. And the woman was not the bird any more." 'What a funny statement! Nothing has an end. 17 On top of the hill. but he did not answer. His brain felt as though it would split. he watched the sky over the city. but he could not remember. But he was tortured by her logic and went out of her room. she said: "Bring me a dancing girl's head tonight. this room ought to have been the sky of the infinite repetition of light and dark. The sky would get dark and then light again. The sky falling . It became darker. She was waiting. What would come after the infinite dark and light? He could not understand the infinite. mind you." "Then what are you?" "I'm bored because there is no end to this. It was not the fatigue of thinking: the thought itself tortured him." The woman was taken aback. He tried to think why and how it was different--without success. repeating dark and light for ever. She was the same beautiful woman." "How?" He could not answer.

" . He felt. Why did I forget this simple answer? And why was I thinking of making the sky fall? He felt as though he had just waked up from a bad dream." "And leave me here? How could you be so cruel!" Her eyes glistened with anger. She looked glad. One morning. would be cut away. strong and chilly. For several days. but not to run away--for it was only one cherry tree. Her face was filled with pain and fury at his betrayal. coming toward him. Am I the woman? Am I the bird flying in a straight line infinitely in the sky? Does the woman's death mean mine? What is it I am thinking? Why do I have to let the sky fall? He could not remember. And the sky would fall down. only pain remains. He almost forgot his decision. The day dawned. "I've decided to go back to the mountain. But can you imagine how lonely I was while you were away?" She had never been so tender. He went back to the woman. He did not dare go back to the woman. The forest must be in bloom. The image of the bird would disappear. I must go back. They belonged to one tree. he woke up and found himself under cherry blossoms. But there would be a hole in his heart. the fragrance of early spring in the mountain. All of a sudden he had remembered the cherry forest in the mountain of Suzuka. "Where have you been? I'm sorry I said unreasonable things and made you unhappy. and when they are gone. He fell into deep thought--thought of home. That meant the murder of the woman. 'When did you change into such a heartless man?" "You know I don't like the city. He could stop running along the infinite light and dark of the sky by killing the woman. She greeted him. But he remembered and determined to carry it out. he roamed around the hill. He jumped up in surprise.18 down on him! He felt a pang as though he were being choked. It was in full bloom. He felt something soft in his heart. He felt relieved. All ideas are intangible. which he had been unable to smell for a long time. He could rest easy then. I'll go back to the mountain.

" A tear appeared in her eye. far away. because she would come back very soon." "But I am here with you. I will give up the head. . as long as you are with me." he said. 19 "Even when I am with you?" "I don't like to live in the city. He saw her tears for the first time. He forgot how she had not been so tender in the past." He wondered if this was a dream." The woman's eyes were wet with tears." "If you are going to the mountain. I cannot live in the city. that's all. Don't you like me any more? I was think- ing of you all the time you were away. She lived only to get new heads. It was too good to be true. She was sure that she could bring him back to the city." "There are no heads to your taste in the mountain. Even in his dreams he never thought this would happen. I will go with you. once his nostalgic wish was satisfied. Indeed. Can't you see how I feel?" "But I cannot live in the city. The two left the city immediately. "But can you live in the mountain?" "I can live wherever you do. She put her head on his chest and he felt her hot tears. She was no longer angry. When they were leaving. The hope came to him so suddenly and violently that the pain he had felt just a while ago seemed to retreat far. the woman secretly told the lame woman to wait for her. and tomorrow. The lame woman remained in the city. "I cannot live without you. There was only painful sorrow as she grieved over his heartlessness." "If I am to choose either a head or you. He was part of the woman. She could not let him go. He saw only now. A new hope filled his heart. I cannot live without you. and there was nobody else but the man who brought them to her. "You cannot live in the mountain. she could not live now without him.

the trees. the birds. Sooner or later he would go through the cherry forest. There was nothing but forests and mountain slopes. "Now you can see them' They are all my mountains. The demon came up at him. he saw bunches and bunches of cherry blossoms. He could not see anything. She had a big head with a mouth that stretched from ear to ear. I was terribly tired and dizzy. He forced his head out of their clasp and the demon fell down on the ground. He suddenly felt uneasy. He tried to shake her off. He walked into the cherry blossoms in full bloom." "Yes." He did not forget that the cherry forest would be in full bloom. It was in full bloom as far as he could see.20 The old. familiar mountains appeared. you could not even see where the road had been. Where could they have come from? Looking up. He mustered all his strength and unclasped the demon's hands. They covered the whole ground. of course. He was lost. He decided to take the old highway. And the forest appeared. "I was thinking of that. The thing sticking to his back was an old woman whose whole body was purple. "I was on your shoulder on that first day I met you. too. There was no traveler now to go that way." He put her lightly on his shoulder. wasn't I?" she said." "Of course. and he was even happier today." "I remember I made you run that time. The demon clasped his neck tightly. Oh. They seemed to greet him. "Carry me on your shoulder. He felt the silence and the cold everywhere. He strangled the demon. I cannot walk on this kind of pathless slope. and the two of them grappled. He realized that the woman's hand too had become cold. The petals were beginning to fall with the slightest breeze. He had been happy that day. how good to be in the mountain again! I feel like running. He remembered the day when he first took her. He ran. carrying me on your back. When he came to himself he realized he was strang- . and then he understood--she was a demon! Cold air flooded in from everywhere underneath the blossoms. It had been the same way. climbing up along the path on the other side of the Pass. with the woman on his back. and he could not imagine that even one petal had dropped from there. But would that matter on this happy day of homecoming? He was not afraid. Her hair was frizzled and green. I never felt this way in the city. even the clouds are mine. The valleys." He laughed joyfully.

He was just about at the middle of the forest. There was none of the fear or anxiety he usually had. And when he recovered himself. also disappeared--and then his whole body. It was the same woman he had strangled. he found a heap of white petals on his back. His eyes were blurred. silently held. Then he saw there was nothing under his hand except the petals piled up on the ground. He had probably never cried before since he first settled in this mountain. there was no secret beyond that. his thought. everything stopped. Maybe it was what they call isolation. He did not have to be afraid of isolation now. All that was left were petals. He could not see beyond the trees. embraced her. And he noticed that it was sorrow inside his own breast. He wanted to take off the petals covering her face. but it was no good. When he was about to touch her face. called her name. Several cherry petals were already falling down on her. the warm lump inside. And his hand. . He could feel it more and more distinctly. He threw himself down on her. he felt something warm. but he did not feel his sight coming back. His strength. He looked around. Underneath them was the infinite emptiness. There was no trace of the woman left. and there was her dead body and nothing else. He was sitting down for the first time under the cherry blossoms in full bloom. surrounded by the blossoms and the clean chill of the emptiness. There were blossoms over his head. There was no cold wind coming out of the endless blossoms. only petals. and imperceptibly. Silently. He was isolation itself. Nobody knows the secret of the cherry blossoms of Suzuka in full bloom. petals were falling. 21 ling the woman with all his might--and she was dead. he thought something strange happened. His breath stopped. crying. trying to take off the petals. He could sit down there for ever--because he had nowhere to go. After a time. That was all. He shook her. and chilly emptiness filling tightly in. He tried to open them wider.

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