You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


1.1 The to in Tono is the Ainu word for "lake." The word nai (swamp) is also an Ainu term. The Ainu are descendants from Japan's first culture in the Jomon Era (14,000 - 300 B.C.)

8.1 The term kamikakushi, which refers to the phenomenon of women and children disappearing, means "hidden by a kami (spirit)." This divine kidnapping is said to be done by tengu (long-nosed goblins), foxes, demons, and kami (gods). When someone is abducted, the villagers conduct a search while beating drums and calling out the person's name.

14.1 Okunai-sama is the household deity that looks after the fate of the family. Other household deities watch over the hearth, the sleeping area, or the toilet.

29.1 Ijin has several meanings, including "ghosts," "goblins," "mountain men," "foreigners," or "strangers."

32.1 White animals are ghosts or messengers for deities. See legend 61.

72.1 Gods (kami) and Buddhist figures like to play with children and get angry if someone tries to interfere. Kakura-sama protects the entrance to the village.

99.1 The northeastern coast of Japan was struck by tidal waves seven times between 1600 and 1850. The reference in this legend is to a tidal wave that struck the coast in 1896. About nine thousand homes were destroyed, and twenty thousand people died.

110.1 In Tono Gongen-sama was pronounced Gonge-sama.

113.1 The term Jozuka indicates the location for worshipping the kami of the border and is probably related to stories from India. One such story is about the demon in hell who is responsible for removing the clothes of souls as they cross the river.

Selected from The Legends of Tono (1910), by Kunio Yanagita
Translated by Ronald A.Morse
100th Anniversary Edition published by Lexington Books

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