February, 2005

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
r previous issues.


Candle for the victims

The new year days of 2005 were not happy days for the world.
The Tsunamis of Indian Ocean terrified us. Other disasters followed in other places.
We do not know what to do.
Is Nature punishing us?

This is a folk story of Okinawa, handed down for many centuries,
to teach us to pay proper respect to the Nature.

 Once upon a time, there was a small village on the east coast of Ishigaki Island of Okinawa.
The Cape of Nubaru
The name of the village was Nubaru-mura. At the end of the village, there was a cape. The scenery from the cape was fantastic. When the moon was up, the waves glistened like stardust.

 On such nights, young people of the village gathered at the cape, and danced and sang together with the music of Sanshin (three stringed instrument) and finger whistles.
 One night of beautiful moonlight, youngsters were enjoying, and there came a voice of singing from the sea.
"What is it? Did you hear it?"
"Is it only the waves?"
 They listened carefully. Now they heard clearly a beautiful song mingled with the sound of waves.

 They were enchanted with the thin, slow, beautiful songs. They wondered what it might be.

 After that, on a night of beautiful moon and calm waves, there came the beautiful song to the cape.
 One summer night, an old man of Nubaru-mura went fishing on a small boat. It was a fine day without any cloud nor waves.
 The old man, in the middle of the ocean, said ,"Thank you very much, God of the Sea, for helping us sea-people all the time." Then he threw the fishing net into the sea.
Old man on the boat

 On the day, fish came into his net so abundantly, that he forgot time and threw net again and again, until he noticed it was night. In the moonlight, fish were jumping glittering.

"Oh, is it so late? I must go home. My old wife must be worried."

 The old man pulled his last net. But it was too heavy. He pulled and pulled, and the net moved only slightly.

With his face red he somehow pulled the net to his boat-side. "This must be a huge fish!"

Looking in the net, he was astounded. He saw a beautiful woman there.

"Wh...who are you, Lady?"

"I am not human. I am a mermaid. Would you please let me go back to the sea?"
She looked into his eyes and said in a frightened voice.

The old man had heard about the mermaid, but never seen one before. He wanted to take her back and let the village people see her.

The mermaid, with tears in her eyes, asked him. "If you let me go, I will tell you a secret of the sea, I promise."

The old man pitied the frightened girl, so he let her go.
The mermaid swam around the boat, and said.
"Thank you so much, Old man. The secret is this. Tomorrow morning, a huge Tsunami will come onto this Ishigaki Island. People, animals, houses, fields, everything will be swept away.When you return home, run up to the mountain as quick as possible." Then she disappeared into the depth of the sea.

Oh, what a dreadful news! The old man rowed and rowed back to his village. He must tell the village folk and let them run to the mountain. While rowing, he heard the beautiful voice from the distance.

"Ah, now I know. She must be the messenger of the God of the Sea."

 The village folk were surprised to hear the story of the old man, and they hurriedly went up to the mountain. A young man who was a fast runner was sent to the neighboring village to tell the news.
But the people of the village laughed at the boy and did not believe him. They sent the boy away, saying it was a silly joke.
A sleepless night passed, and the morning came.
From the height of the mountain, the folk of Nubaru-mura were watching the sea. The sea was so calm and there was no sign of disaster.
It was the time of flow tide, but the water started to ebb, and there appea
red the bottom of the sea which people had never seen before.
big wave
Then suddenly, the far end of the sea swelled up high, and mountain-like waves rushed to the island. The roaring sound, it seemed to the people, was coming from the hell under ground.
Beaches, villages, fields, were swallowed up, and in a huge whirling, more water pushed in.

Cliffs fallen, trees broken, and the whole island was in the water. It was like a big monster swallowing everything.
The folk of Nubaru-mura were trembling without uttering a word at the dreadful sight.
How many hours had passed before the people found the calm sea that left no sign of its outrage?

On the places where there were once villages were rocks and sands from the sea. The villages were all gone!
Having lost houses and fields, village folk thanked God and the mermaid for having helped their lives.
They helped each other to re-build the village. 
The people of the neighboring village were gone under the sea. Only a few who had been up on the mountain to work survived.

 At the cape of Nubaru-mura, on a moon-lit night with calm sea, you still can hear the song of the mermaid.

Sea is strong, sea is terrifying.
Sea punishes, and also forgives.
As the sign of forgiving, sea sends us beautiful shells.
Please see this shell.
Who do you think makes this shell?
An octopus does.
When some kind of octopus has eggs, she makes this cradle for her eggs, and carries around in the sea.
When I first saw this, I was overwhelmed. I could not believe that octopuses make this beautiful art.
Even now I sometimes wonder if it is not a harp of mermaid.

Best wishes for your calm spring days!

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi

Proprietress of Ryokan Yoyokaku

  Mail to Harumi Okochi