by Daniel Costa
A book found and a new friend made...
| Day 3 Entry 7:
Among all my travels, one of my most trusted items was a metal Thermos. I remember when the creation of this came about and how I marveled. Never again would I be short of cold refreshing water, further more so, never would I run empty of boiling water, for you never know when a spontaneous urge to make tea takes over. These two essentials I can not do without and I challenge anyone to say otherwise on the matter. This is the item I need.
The item I so love comes as no surprise, the keeper of all stories themselves for centuries. Books. Its true that in truth I have three great loves, Travel, Food and Books, but having fulfilled the first two, my feet have shuffled to the nearest book store so that I may feed my addiction. Only a taste to keep me satiated... I promise myself. A most fun pastime, but a dangerous one in my poorer days, for a taste, I admit, is just a false pretense. I browsed the shelves and picked at books here and there, each time forcing my hand to return the book, telling myself it is but a taste. Like a thirsty deer in the winter I'm in, when I saw a book titled "The Japanese Monster Survival Guide" I lifted it from the shelf and could not put it back. Flicking page through page and seeing the beauty in its simplicity to convey information on these 'Yokai' was a sweet dessert for the eyes and mind. It wasn't filled like an encyclopedia, devoid of emotion and care, but was full of humour as well as research to the origin of each Yokai, attempting to give logical explanations to these occurrences. I admire the stories within and have taken this book to the desk where paid the nice young lady , a wonderful smile on my face, reflected on hers as she must have thought me like a child the way I hugged my new book.
So engrossed I was, nose in the pages, that I had accidentally bumped into two Ronin travelling with a merchant. I apologized right away profusely, but the merchant had not a scowl, he had a smile. We talked and I decided to offer to buy him food as recompense. He refused as I predicted but did not decline the company. Surprising me with his humble decision to eat at small ramen bar, it now was three times he had put a smile on my face and I knew I must learn this mans story. He introduced himself as Toriyama, Hisen and I introduced myself, Farebrow, Taliesen. He thought it a strange and wonderful name, but I could only say the same about his, for it struck a familiar chord with me, as if I had met this man before. Hisen was an astounding man, he told me of his trade , making and selling lanterns. When I asked about the art depicted on them he looked down, not in sadness but in joyous embarrassment. There, that is the story I looked for and I dug in further. He recounted how he had grown up not knowing what to do with his life. Every trade he took up, he had failed. Looking for inspiration he turned to research his family history, finding in earnest something in his line that he could be good at it. This is when he discovered his great grandfather, the art he made with woodblock prints, how wonderful they were, even when depicting old folklore and creatures that were believed to have existed. My curiosity was rising ever higher with every sentence to flow from his mouth, who was this man I asked him? Toriyama , Sekien he told me. My eyes widened in recognition, the resemblance in this man was uncanny. I could see the same fire in his belly and passion behind his eyes. He wondered at my smile and I just recounted that I had known his ancestors art, even admired it for a long time. He didn't believe me, but sometimes the truth is harder to believe than the lie. Diverting the conversation, I fed his fire and asked about his art, if he has any. It was almost strange seeing such great designs and colours. The line was strong and the skill has most assuredly been passed down. His two Ronin who I learned was Kunio and Enryo, had an interest in his art also, showing it was not just business that they traveled with him. The time went on as we shared more stories and Kunio and Enryo shared stories of their own, we ate and drank in merriment. It was in the last hour that I had slipped, a piece of art made by his great grandfather, different from the rest seemed to have depicted a creature found in the west. A colourful female figure as small as a flower amongst the autumn of falling leaves. I pointed it out as one of my favourite of his, in which he looked down in thought, I realised my error but it was too late. That piece was never known to the public he told me, it had only ever been kept amongst his family, a family story passed down of a traveler from the west with an abundance of stories as full as the sun has light. Hisen could not find any logic in this, he could not explain in his mind how what has come to light could be true, but he had no doubt now that I was connected to this man somehow. This westerner like unto the sun. The silence was unnerving so I recounted that I must have seen a similar one, I was mistaken to have thought I recognized it. He didn't believe me and knew what was true even if his mind rejected it, his eyes told me otherwise.
As if to bring back cheer, he offered to make me a print, one based on stories I had told him, of the creatures found in my land. We exchanged addresses, knowing it would still be a long while before we heard from one another, the curse of a traveler, letters were easy to send but hard to receive. I wished him luck, he took my picture with Kunio and Enryo and we embraced.
You would be proud of him Sekian, I wish I could tell you, but I am sure your watching even now from beyond the curtain of life.