We lived at the foot of a mountain. We were able to survive by cultivating small areas of farmland, as well as performing handwork using things such as straw and hemp-palm. I don't know when we started living here. We have been living like this for a long period of time. Our village faced to the north and did not receive a lot of sunlight, making it unsuitable for agriculture. We couldn't go anywhere else on our own, and we did not have a relationship with the neighboring villages. I was told many times by my parents that we've lived this way for a long time, so we would continue to do so. However, one day all the villagers were ordered to relocate. We were not informed about where we were going, but the old people said that the same kind of thing had also happend in the past.
I had a wife and two children who were just old enough to do farm work. The only recreation in the village was plays and puppet shows performed in a small playhouse. Neither the performers nor the spectators came from outside our village. All of the parts were played
by villagers, and everyone in the village always looked forward to them. The performances played by my children and I using our rustic wooden figures called Deku were particularly well received. Our reputation became known to other villages, so we were sometimes asked to perform at villages slightly further away. So, I knew a little more about the outside world than the other villagers.
The mountain behind the village was quite high. Although I used to climb halfway up the mountain to look for firewood, I never went beyond that. However, after traveling to several villages with our wooden figures, I learned about some of the villages. I also learned the way
to cross the mountain. By going straight over the mountain, I would reach a slightly larger
village. On the outskirts of it, there is an arterial road leading to the western capital city. The road also leads to the sea. At the sea, there is a harbor, and there are many large ships there. I heard that if we took a ship, we could reach the southern island, where it is much warmer than here.
We carried a small amount of luggage, which was just some wooden figures, a wooden box to perform on, and a little clothing. All of my family climbed the mountain at midnight when the moon rose. The moon was shining the entire time, but because the mountain was so steep, almost nothing caught the moonlight. Illuminating the mountain and shining the foothills of our small village, the extra light bounced back into the sky, and vividly brightened its corners. The mountain had two peaks, and the line between the two peaks looked like a horse's back. We went over the horse-back line, waited for the dawn at the entrance of the village on the south slope of the mountain, and then we went out to the arterial road. We walked all the way and arrived at the harbor by the time it was getting dark.
Fortunately, we were able to board a ship with big sails and depart from the harbor. First,
the ship went west. While avoiding the area of the sea where pirates were active, it gradually changed direction and went southwest. Around that time, the ship begun to rock back and
forth, and I finally realized that we were in the ocean. When the sea was rough, everyone sat
frozen in place at the bottom of the ship. When the sea got even rougher, we escaped into a
cove on a small island. When there was no island to escape to, we tried to sleep by supporting
each other's bodies so that we would not roll around. However, anyone who had never
boarded a ship before immediately got seasick. At that time, in the darkness of the bottom of
the ship, I slowly chanted the longest sutra that I had memorized. I chanted it slowly, very
slowly, and I just hoped that the time would pass as quickly as possible.
I heard various stories from other people on the ship. On a large island in the south, there are not enough workers, so anyone who moves there can receive a large plot of land. There, they use golden containers to measure out amounts of rice. We can also get a gorgeous house. I also heard that those who can perform plays are especially valued and are allowed to enter a castle.
The waves during the day were especially large. Many times, the high waves violently slung the ship from the top to the bottom of huge waves. We went through a storm for a whole day, and finally I saw a quiet sunrise. I was able to see the boundary between the sea and the sky. It looked as if it had been there quietly for time eternal, undisturbed by anything. The glaring sunlight rested on my shoulders. At the height of the brightness, I felt like I saw the darkness that I had been seeing until that time.