JapaneseThe Origin of the Deer Dance
|The tale the wind told
|As "I" was tired, and dozing on the mossy glade in the late sunlight, "the rustling of the wind began to be more and more human in speech, until it told me of the true spirit of the Deer Dance, held nowadays in the mountains and plains of the Kitakami region." This beginning of the story reminds us of "August in Sagaren," in which also "I" listen to what the wind has to say.
|The deer dance
|The deer dance is a traditional form of public entertainment in which six or eight persons dance wearing deer masks with big antlers. It seems that Kenji, who loved folk dances wrote this story on his perception of the mental state of dancers who came to identify themselves with deer in this dance.
|Kaju going to the mountain for a hot-spring cure
|A man called Kaju had cleared some land and was cultivating millet. One day, Kaju fell out of a tree and hurt his left knee, so he decided to go to a mountain where there was a hot spring, as he knew a bath in the hot spring would heal him.
|Kaju left the rest of dumplings for deer
|Just the sun was beginning its descent to the west, Kaju decided to take a rest and have some chestnut-and-millet dumplings, which he brought with him. Before he set off again, he left a small piece of dumpling under a white flower, saying to himself "What if I gives this'n to the deer? Hey you deer! Come eat!"
It was not long before he noticed that he had left his hand-towel where he had rested, so Kaju hurried back to get it.
|The feeling of oneness with the deer
|As he approached his resting place, he sensed that some deer were already there. Kaju peeped out from behind some tall grass to see six deer walking in a circle. Kaju's white hand-towel curled up at its center. Wondering what the towel might be, the deer cautiously approached, then drew away from the towel. "Kaju suddenly had a keen ringing in his ears. He shook and trembled. Deer thoughts, like the waving of ripe grass in the wind, pulsated through him." Kaju felt a surge of oneness with the deer, and incredibly, he felt as though he understood what the deer were saying to one another. (compare this to the aural experience in "Rose-Sea Elementary School")
|Deer sang songs facing the setting sun
|As the setting sun shown through the branches of the adler, the deer lined up to face the sun, and began to sing, in a high, thin voice in turns.
The second from the right sang:
Alder tree, thee too,
Shattered and shining,
A steely mirror!"
Material in quotation marks is from
The Works of Kenji Miyazawa
translated by C. W. Nicol & Gan Tanigawa, published by Monogatari-Bunka-no-Kai.