神かくし / Spirited Away

Japanese
『十二の遠景』の表紙
高橋睦郎著
横尾忠則装丁

「手島さんに気狂(きちが)の来たばい」

縁側の曇り硝子の表を声が走り、人が走る。私は上がり框を跳び降りて、裸足で表に跳び出した。

祖母の家の炊事場の窓からも、すぐ隣の久保さんの戸口からも、堤の水の真昼の明るいきらめきがはっきりと見渡せる。しかし、久保さんの隣の手島さんの領域に一歩入ると、いちめんにはびこった丈高い無花果の木が日差と堤の眺めを遮り、いつもひんやりと苔や百足や蚯蚓の匂いがした。

その無花果の木の一本に、長襦袢に裸足の若い女が、結び合せて長くした紅い腰紐でつながれていた。長襦袢は春の埃にまみれ、女は髪も、顔も、手足も汚れていたが、年齢(とし)は若く、おそらくは二十歳(はたち)をいくつも越してないように見えた。爪先に青黒い泥を詰めた両の手をだらんと垂らして、大きな黒い瞳で虚空の一点を眺めているが、こどもたちがかあらかうとはね牛のように裸足で土を蹴たてて怒った。

手島さんの井戸に水汲みに来た祖母に連れ戻されながら、私は訊く。

「あの(した)あ、何故(なして)縛られとうと?悪いことばしたとね?」

「あン()にゃ風ンついとるけん、あげして風ば追い出すとげなじぇ」

「風ちゃ?」

「死んだ人の浮ばれん火の玉た」

田舎では、そこらじゅうを漂っている風と読む浮游魂が人の躰に憑り着いて、人を気狂いにしたり、肺病にしたりすると思われていた。気狂いの風はことに性悪で、だから、気狂いは雨の日も埃の日も屋外につなぎっぱなしにされた。懲らしめは悪霊に対するもので、気狂いの当人のためにはむしろ親切と思われていたのだ。

雨が降り、埃が舞って、春は深まり、千人行列の日が来る。気狂い女の長襦袢は汚れ放題に汚れ、裾はどろどろになっている。しどけなく二つに割れた前からは垢で模様のできた足が覗き、女は時にけたたましく笑うが、千人参りの手甲脚絆に頬かぶりの老人たちがもの珍らしげに覗き込んでも、もう怒らなかった。若い女が来ると、青黒い爪先でその華やかな晴れ着の袖をとらえて、「こら金紗か、人絹か、まんけんか」と、とんきょうな声を挙げたりした。

神仏たちの加護で小康を得ると、女はどこかに連れ去られた。「手島さんな、守りン(じえん)の入らん(ごつ)なるた」と、祖母は祖父に言ったりした。しかし、手島ンばあちゃんは気狂いの守り賃だけで食べていたわけではない。

気狂い女がつながれていた無花果の樹の前は手島ンばあちゃんの仏間だった。十畳ほどの薄暗い空間を、ばあちゃんは仏間と呼ばず「本堂」と呼んだ。お寺の坊さんたちは本山から生者と死者の仲介者としての地位を保証されるわけだが、ばあちゃんは自ら霊に選ばれて寒中の巌上で修業を積み、霊たちから直接その地位を保証されたのだった。ばあちゃんにしてみれば、その仏間はお寺の本堂以上に正統な本道だったのだ。

本堂はいつも薄暗く、湿気を含んだ古い畳表と壁土と線香の匂いがした。三方の壁には紅いよだれかけの石の地蔵菩薩、同じく石づくりの極彩色に塗り立てた不動明王、硝子の箱に入った木造に胡粉塗りのいびつな淡島大明神、手のとれた金ぴかの釈迦如来、塗りのはげた如意輪観音、三宝荒神、稲荷大明神、見ざる・聞かざる・言わざるの庚申さんまで、文字どおり神仏混淆、何の統一もなく並び、偶像たちの前には金銀の仏の花、三宝に乗った粽や落雁、木魚、鉦などが、ばあちゃんの本堂の正当性を擁護していた。

母は何かことがおこると、私を抱いてばあちゃんの本堂に駆けこんだ。母の話をひととおり聞くと、ばあちゃんは針のような白髪を撫でつけた小さな頭を振って頷き、さて私たちに背を向けて、仏前に対った。どこにでもいる小意地の悪そうな、背中のくぐまった小さな老婆が、仏に向うと急に背も伸び、堂々と威厳を帯びてくる。

老婆は木魚を叩き、あいまには鉦を鳴らして、偶像の背後の暗きに(いま)す霊たちを呼ぶ。調べは七五調で、節まわしは美しかった。

………
もったいのうござりまする
ありがとうござりまする
こんいちただいまより
おすがりまする
あやまりまする
ごちゃめんなされて
くださりましぇ
………

このあとには、せっかくのやすらかな眠りから霊たちを呼びたてた言いわけと許しの嘆願、祈りの嘉納の懇望がせつせつとつづく。

偶像たちの前に燃えている大蝋燭の焔の穂先が錐もみして天井へ伸び、霊たちの許しと嘉納が示される。霊たちは老婆の口を借りて、節まわしもものがなしく霊意を告げる。

………
いとしいぞよ
むげないぞよ
ようすがりてくれた
たのみてくれた
こののちとても
すがりてくれよ
たのみてくれよ
………

霊のお告げのあとは般若心経か観音経で祈りか閉じられ、こちらへ向き直って、「どこどこの嫁は怠惰(びつたれ)で、腰巻(へこ)の洗濯もせんげな」「どこの誰とかしこの誰が姦通(つが)らっしゃったげな」と言った世間話になる。母は祈りのあいだにくるんでおいた小銭を畳の上にすべらせる。老婆は話はそのままつづけなから、手を伸ばしてそれを取り、袷の袖の中に引きこんだ。

父の死後、八幡から直方へ引きあげて間もなく、母はじつの叔母の中原にひどい仕打ちを受けた。母は私を抱いて、手島ンばあちゃんの本堂に駈けこんだ。呼ばれたのは母の母親、シカノの霊である。霊はじつの妹の非道を怒り、「必ず一年のうちに中原の家に異象をあらわすゆえ、大船に乗った気持ちで待っておれ」と告げた。母は私を抱きあげ、本堂を辞した。

いつかお告げは忘れられたまま、一年か過ぎた。三崎という親戚筋に嫁いでいた中原の娘に長女か生れた。嬰児は片手の五本の指が膠づけでもしたように動かず、成長するにつれて白痴であることかわかった。自分の母親を見てうれしげに「クヮックヮッ」と叫ぶほかは、何に対しても何の意志表示もしなかったのである。

母はいまはかえって恨んだことを後悔した。恨んだのは叔母でこそあれ、むしろ仲のよかったその娘ではなかった。況んや、娘から生れた嬰児に何の罪があろう。しかし、とりかえしはつかなかった。霊は復讐を誓い、誓いどおりに復讐したのである。

祖母の常規を逸した吝嗇ぶりも、母が手島さんの本堂で訴えつづけたことだった。この訴えもわか信心深い母のために、のちに聞き届けられることになった。

小学校三年の夏、私だちか里歩きすると、祖母は片目に眼帯をしていた。私だちか尋ねても、祖母は「祖父(じい)さんの見ゆる方の見えん(ごつ)なって、二人で一人前になったた」と笑うだけで、ことのてんまつについては答えない。祖母か畑に出るのを待ちかねて、左隣の川原ンばあちゃんが駈けこんできて、ことの次第を母に耳打ちした。

祖母は麦刈りに出て、麦の(のぎ)を目に剰した。柿の木のみのむしをしぼって垂らしたか、治らない。川原ンばあちゃんに勧められて、祖母はようやく霊の声を聞いてみる気になった。しかし、母と仲のよい手島さんに行くのは業腹である。祖母は知るべの紹介で町の拝み屋まで行った。拝み屋が拝んでいると、父の霊が出て、「おまえンあんまり孫にけちけちするけん、懲らしめに目ば潰した。そン癖は治さんげにゃ、ま片っぽも潰すぞ」と言ったのだそうである。

川原ンばあちゃんは中気の首を振り振り、するそうに笑って、

「こんどは祖母(ばあ)ちゃんの、何か呉れなりゃしぇんね」

その言葉どおり、いつになく祖母は私に五合の米を包んでくれた。「遠足どんのあろけんで、握りめしどんは作ってはってけ」というわけだ。戦いに敗れて間もないそのころには、五合の米は貴重だった。骨の髄まで吝嗇だった祖母も、霊のお告げには従ったことになる。

私の幼い遠景の中では、祖母は孫に食べものを渋って、じつの息子の霊に片目を潰されたのである。

『十二の遠景』より(1970)

English
Twelve Views from the Distance
BY Mutsuo Takahashi
PHOTOMONTAGE BY Tadanori Yokoo

“There’s a crazy lady at the Tejima place.”

The shouts came from outside the frosted glass windows that looked out over the veranda. A moment later, someone ran by. Without putting on my shoes, I jumped out the front door and ran in front of the house.

From the window of the kitchen where Grandmother cooked our meals and from the front door of the Kubos’ house next door, there was a clear view of the water in the pond, which twinkled brightly in the midday sun. Next to that was Granny Tejima’s house. As soon as you stepped into their yard, tall thick fig trees blocked out the sunshine and the view of the water. The yard always had a cool aroma that suggested moss, centipedes, earthworms, and other earthly things.

There was a young, barefoot girl there, dressed in a long undergarment. Someone had tied her to one of the fig trees with several red cords of the same type one would use to tie a kimono closed. The cords had been tied end-to-end to make a rope long enough to bind the girl to the tree. The undergarments the girl wore were soiled with spring dust, and her hair, face, and limbs were dirty. She looked young, as if she was hardly older than twenty. Both of her hands hung limply at her side, and her fingernails were bluish-black with dirt. She gazed at everyone with big, black eyes that seemed like empty spots, but each time the children said something to tease her, she grew angry and kicked dirt at them with her bare feet like an angry cow on the loose.

Grandmother had come to the Tejima’s well to get some water. As she led me home, I asked, “Why was that person tied up? Did she do something bad?”

“A ‘wind’ got into her. They say that’s the way to chase it out.”

“A ‘wind’?”

“It’s a fiery ball that floats up from dead people.”

There in the countryside, people believed that drifting souls, which they thought of as a kind of wind, could get into a person’s body. If it did, the “wind” could make them lose their sanity or even give them tuberculosis. The kind of “wind” that could make a person lose their sanity was considered especially depraved, and so country people would tie madmen outside to expose them to the rain and the dust. This form of treatment was intended to punish the evil spirit, not the poor person who had lost his or her mind. If anything, the country folk thought they were being kind to the madman by doing this.

There in the countryside, people believed that drifting souls, which they thought of as a kind of wind, could get into a person’s body. If it did, the “wind” could make them lose their sanity or even give them tuberculosis….

The rain fell, the dust blew, and the days progressed ever further into spring. Before long came the day each year when the pilgrims would dress and white and file by as they made their rounds to the temples and shrines. The crazy girl’s undergarments were just about as soiled as they could possibly be, and the hem had turned into a muddy mess. The front hem had ripped suggestively in two, revealing her legs which were covered with patterns of grime. She would sometimes let out a piercing laugh, but when the old pilgrims wearing their traditional white arm and leg coverings came to stare at her, she did not grow angry like before. When a young woman dressed in her finest clothing would pass by, she would grab at the flamboyantly colored sleeves with her fingers and her bluish-black fingernails and shriek, “Look! Is that silk crepe? Rayon? Manken?” Manken was a made-up word, and the absurdity of her question made her sound truly crazy.

When the gods and buddhas helped her become a little bit better, someone took her away. Grandmother said to Grandfather, “It looks like Ms. Tejima isn’t going to get any more money to take care of her.” That statement was not entirely fair. The money Granny Tejima got to take care of the crazy girl wasn’t her only source of income.

Right in front of the fig tree where the crazy girl had been tied was the room in which Granny Tejima kept her Buddhist altar. It was a gloomy, empty room about ten mats wide. Granny Tejima did not think of it as a regular room; she called it the “Main Chapel,” as if it were the main building of a Buddhist temple. In regular Buddhist temples, priests would receive the authority to serve as mediators between the worlds of the living and the dead from the highest-ranking temples of their individual sects, but Granny Tejima had no need for an official status. She had earned her position as a go-between directly from the spirits themselves. The spirits had chosen her, and in response to their call, she went out into the cold and lived the life of an ascetic on a rocky outcropping. In her eyes, her “Main Chapel” room was an even more legitimate chapel than the ones you would find in “real” temples.

The “Main Chapel” was always dimly lit and smelled of old, wet tatami mats, plaster, and incense. On three sides of the room were an eclectic assortment of statues of Buddhist gods and Shinto deities. There was a stone statue of Jizō wearing a red bib, a stone statue of the fiery Fudō Myōō which had been painted with bright colors, a glass case enclosing a crooked statue of the Goddess of Awa Island with face painted starkly white, a shiny golden statue of Shakyamuni that was missing a hand, and a statue of Kannon whose paint and gilding had worn away or peeled off. There were statues of Sanbō Kōjin, the fox god Inari, and even the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil monkeys. These idols were lined up against the wall in no particular order. In front of the statues, there were artificial flowers in gold and silver, different kinds of cakes, a wooden drum, and a gong, all of which lent an air of legitimacy to her chapel.

Whenever something happened, Mother would scoop me up and run to Granny’s chapel. She would listen to Mother say what was wrong, then would either shake or nod her small head, which was covered with wiry, white hair smoothed into place. She would turn her back to us and face the buddhas. As she did so, this small, stooped old lady, who usually looked just like the kind of persnickety old lady you might find anywhere, straightened her back to suddenly take on a magnificent, dignified look.

She struck the wooden drum and rang the bell at certain intervals, summoning up the spirits that resided in the darkness behind the statues. Her speech fell into the classical patterns of five and seven syllables, and this rhythm struck me as quite beautiful.

…Your power is not to be wasted
For you we are thankful
From this moment today
We beg you for your kindness
We humbly beg your pardon
We ask you make yourself known
We ask for your forgiveness…

After that, she continued with an entreaty for the forgiveness of the spirits since she had awakening them from their peaceful slumber, then she delivered an impassioned plea for them to accept her prayers.

When the flame of the great candle burning in front of the statues grew thin and stretched toward the ceiling, we knew the spirits had forgiven us and accepted her prayers. The spirits would borrow the mouth of the old woman and speak through her, declaring their will in sad rhythmic cadences.

…Oh how pitiable
Oh, how touching
You have beseeched me
You have called upon me
From here on out
Please beseech me!
Please rely upon me!……

After the spirits spoke, Granny Tejima would close her prayers with a recitation of the Heart Sutra or the Kannon Sutra, then turn to us and start talking to us about more worldly affairs, saying things like “So-and-so’s bride is really lazy and won’t even wash her underclothes” or “So-and-so from such-and-such a place committed adultery with so-and-so from over yonder.” Mother would slide the change she had wrapped up in a cloth during the prayers and slid the bundle across the tatami. As she spoke, the old lady would stretch out her hand, take it, and squirrel it away in her sleeve.

Once, soon after Father died and Mother moved from Yawata to Naokata, Mother’s aunt from the Nakahara side of the family did something terrible to her. Mother picked me up and ran to Granny Tejima’s chapel. The spirit that was summoned was that of my maternal grandmother Shikano. The spirit grew angry at her younger sister’s cruelty toward Mother and stated, “Something unusual will befall the Nakahara family within a year. Just sit back and wait. Wait as if you were taking a ride on a boat.” When the spirit had finished, Mother picked me up in her arms, and we left.

Before long, Mother forgot all about the spirit’s proclamation, and a year went by. The daughter of the Nakahara family married into the family of a distant relative with the name Misaki, and she in turn gave birth to a daughter. The fingers on one of the baby’s hands were completely motionless, as if they had been stuck together with glue. As she grew, it became clear that she was severely mentally handicapped. Other than looking at her own mother and cooing happily, she showed no sign of being aware of the world around her.

‘Something unusual will befall the Nakahara family within a year. Just sit back and wait. Wait as if you were taking a ride on a boat.’

Mother was now deeply sorry for having borne a grudge. The grudge was against her aunt, not her daughter, with whom Mother was relatively close. And what crime could the daughter’s daughter, who no more than a little newborn, have possibly committed? There was no going back now, however. Shikano’s spirit had sworn revenge, and the revenge had taken place just as sworn.

Grandmother’s extraordinary stinginess was another thing that Mother repeatedly complained about in Granny Tejima’s chapel. This complaint from my devout mother was also answered somewhat after the fact.

The summer I was in third grade, we went back from Moji to visit Grandmother’s house when we found her wearing a patch over one eye. When we asked what had happened, she just responded, “I lost sight in the same eye Grandpa can see out of. Between the two of us, we’d have one set of eyes.” Still, she would not tell us the particulars of what had happened.

When Grandmother went out into the fields, Granny Kawahara from next door ran in. She had been waiting to tell Mother the news. Grandmother had gone into the fields one day recently to harvest the barley, when she stuck herself in the eye with an ear of barley. They had tried a local folk remedy and crushed bagworms from the persimmon trees and dripped the juice onto her eyes, but her eye did not get any better. At Granny Kawahara’s suggestion, Grandmother had finally started to think about going to consult with the spirits, but she was too stubborn to go to Granny Tejima since she had been so tight with Mother. In the end, an acquaintance gave her an introduction to a faith healer who lived in town. When the healer was praying on her behalf, the spirit of my father appeared and said, “You are much too stingy with your grandson, and so that’s why your eye got poked out — as punishment. If you don’t fix your ways, I’ll poke out your other eye too!”

Granny Kawahara shook her head back and forth on her half-paralyzed neck and made a rather nasty smile, “Granny had better give you something this time, eh?”

Sure enough, soon afterwards, she packed up about four cups worth of uncooked rice and gave it to me, saying, “You’ve come a long ways so take this home and make something with it.” The war had ended only a short time before so four cups of rice was tremendously precious. She had obeyed the spirit’s warning even though her stinginess ran to the marrow of her bones.

When I look back across the distance of the years to my childhood, one of the things I see is my poor grandmother scrimping and saving on food and her own son poking out her eye in retribution.

EXCERPT FROM THE MEMOIR Twelve Views from the Distance (1970)

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