While in view of a white mountain, the ship proceeded through calm waters and entered a cove on a small island. I couldn't remember how many days I had been on the ship, but it was certain that the wind that was blowing off the surface of the sea was getting warmer. It was so warm that I even missed the snow in my village. The captain said it would take just two more days to reach the harbor on the big island that we were able to see beyond the small island.
As he said, on the second day the ship passed through three islands which looked like they were floating on the sea and entered a harbor. We landed there with the wooden box containing the wooden figures on my back. Guided by an island official, we crossed the gentle hill that I saw from the harbor, climbed the next hill that was beside the walls of a castle, and went down to our destination. It was a field full of pampas grass, and there were only a few huts which had simple pillars. Moreover, they faced north. There were no rice fields to grow rice, and the huts were much humbler than my previous house in the village. Luckily, I was allowed to enter the castle to put on a puppet show. However, that was only for the first few years. In the end, going door to door and entertaining people using wooden figures and chanting a Buddhist sutra became my profession. Then, a hundred years passed like a day.
One day, an elderly man in the neighboring village brought a man who had come from the mainland. People from neighboring villages seldom come to our village. This elderly man only climbed the hill when he had something important to tell us. Standing at the door was a gloomy man with a large blue bruise under his right eye. He asked us questions pryingly, and wrote things
down on a dingy notebook. He asked me to show him to a small structure near my house called a Odo that people worship at, so I guided him there through the thick growth of the Japanese pampas grass. There was a small wooden box inside the structure. I don't know how long it had been there. Then, the man asked me if there was a mask or any wooden figures inside it. When I answered that there were wooden figures, he asked me to show them. I told him that I didn't remember when they were last used, and they are in a state of decay, but he still wanted me to show them, so I took them out of the wooden box. He was happy to make a sketch of such worthless things. The next day he brought me a souvenir, but I turned him away, because I didn't want to talk to him anymore. Ten years then passed like a day.
I was ordered to serve as a soldier. When I came back about four years later, the village was gone. Everything had disappeared because a lot of bombs had been dropped by a big country's air force. I didn't even know where my house or the small structure for worship was. The alley that went down to the village had become a big road, and new houses were being built on both sides of it. There was no field of pampas grass. At the end of the road, there was a fragile cement platform, indicating that it was the house of an old man who had lived two houses away from my house. There was nothing else; everything had disappeared. It was no longer a place where people could live. Then, ten years went by like a day again.
One day another man visited me from the mainland. He said to me that he came to the area to look for his brother, but suddenly he wanted to see the village. Of course, there was no trace left of the village, but he heard that I lived on another island far from the village. He said that he had been trying hard to find me. When I asked him how he was able to find me, he replied that it was because of his job. There are many people who had the name of T on this island, so I thought he
was from this island. However, if he had been born on this island, he would not talk about that village. Unlike that scholar with the blue bruise, Mr T didn't ask me anything. It seemed that he was looking at the wrinkles on my face. When he was leaving, he said to me, "My ancestors came from the same village as your ancestors. It was 500 years ago, but I'm sure you don't know anything about that".