JapaneseThe Festival of the Mountain God and the Wild Man of the Hills
The communication between villagers and the man who was quite different from them
|In "Tono Monogatari," a collection of folk tales from the Tono area of southeastern Iwate Prefecture, the wild man of the hills is described as a person with glittering eyes who, while also being a man of integrity who always kept his promises, struck terror in the hearts of the local people. Although the wild man in Kenji's stories also had golden eyes and appeared strange in the eyes of village folk, he is depicted someone who is straightforward and ingenuous. The theme of "Night of the Festival" is the communication that took place between one young boy, Ryoji, and such a man of the hills, a person treated by the villagers as someone who was "different" because they felt little in common with him.
|A strange appearance of the wild man of the hills
|On the evening of the autumnal festival of the mountain god, Ryoji happened to bump into a tall, solid-looking man as he was trying to get out of a show booth. The man looked strange in his old white-striped summer kimono and a peculiar cape of shaggy straw and with his red, heavy-boned face and round, smoky golden eyes. Startled at the figure, Ryoji stared at the man.
|Young men are a group of bullies to the wild man of the hills
|Later on, Ryoji heard loud voices from the direction of the refreshment stalls, and he hurried over to see what was up. There he saw the big man he had collided earlier. He had eaten a couple of dumplings, forgetting that he had no more money to pay, and was being bullied by a couple of young men. Stuttering severely, he said, "I'll b-bring you a hundred bundles of firewood -- so let me go." But the young men would have nothing of it, and one of them shouted loudly, "Oh, no you don't--no outsider pulls a trick like that. Come on, where's your money?" These young men represent the archetypal exclusionary group that exploits the vulnerability of people who are "different."
|Ryoji helped the wild man of the hills out of his predicament
Seeing the big man in tears, Ryoji took him for a straightforward person, so he crouched down and placed a nickel on the man's big foot to help him out of his predicament.
On returning home, Ryoji related the incident to his grandfather, who listened intently to his story, then burst out laughing: "That's a wild man of the hills, all right. The wild men are very honest."
|Presents from the wild man of the hills
|Just then there was a great thud and rattling outside. Astonished, Ryoji and his grandfather hurried out into the yard, only to find a big pile of thick sticks of firewood lying on the ground: The wild man had brought them--as well as lots and lots of shiny chestnuts.
Ryoji and his grandfather discussed this and decided that they couldn't take so much from the wild man, so next time they went up into the hills, they would take along some clothes and a quilted night coat to leave behind for him. Just then, a wind came roaring down off the hills.
Different from young men in the village, Ryoji and his grandfather were open to this man of the hills who was so "different," and so they were able to interact with him.
Material in quotation marks is
from Once and FOREVER, the tales of kenji miyazawa,
translated by John Bester, published by Kodansha International.