Ten little black boys
went out to dine;
One choked his little self,
and then there were nine.
and then there were none.

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

March, 2005

And Then There Were None.

Hello, friends.
This is a very mysterious and scaring story.
My advise is that you do not read this during the night.

In the center of the garden of Yoyokaku, there is a pond. Typical Japanese gardens have ponds.
In this pond, we used to have many beautiful carp.
They were Nishikigois.
A Nishikigoi is a very special brocade carp, which became gorgeous in color and figure after generations of artificial crossbreeding.
A Koi is a carp. Be careful. If you say you like Kois, Japanese people will feed you black, plain river carp. If you say you like Nishikigois, they will invite you to Japanese gardens.
Our carp were old, probably more than 40, and they were fat and heavy. They looked like Noblemen in the Court.
Water is pumped up from an old well, and as a small waterfall among the rocks, it falls into the pond bringing in much fresh oxygen and minus ion. The quantity of the water was abundant.
In July, 2003, the water of the fall suddenly stopped. In the city water, we knew, much chlorine is mingled. But to put enough oxygen in the pond for the carp, we had to keep adding water.
In September, water came back to our fall, but it was not much enough.
The fall was a small, thin line.
In January, 2004, we noticed that our carp were decreasing in number. One by one, they went missing. We thought it might be the cats, or, crows, or, storks that took the carp. But strange enough, we did not see the birds nor cats in the daytime. I know birds do not come in dark, so I thought there might be some weasels, or measles, or what-so-ever, which came and took our carp. I was terrified. The mysterious hostility might attack me anytime, because I am also fat and heavy (and beautiful) .
One day, we saw a dead carp floating on the water. We picked it up, and found no scars by sharp nails or beaks.
Next morning, we found another, still alive, but very feeble.
The spring of 2004 saw no carp in the pond of Yoyokaku. There were none.
One warm spring day, my husband Den Okochi said he smelled something bad from the pond. He said, "this water is not fresh !" He went to the thin water-fall and tasted the water,
"This is salty!" he shouted.
Yoyokaku has been here for more than 110 years. We have used wells to get water for our daily life. It had never been salt water. For these 30 years or so, we have not used the water for drinking. So we never doubted that the water itself had changed.
What happened to our well?

our old well
Then I asked Miss Marple to solve this mystery.
"The construction!", she answered.
There is a big river called "Matsuura-gawa" near Yoyokaku. say, 200 meters far.
The construction started in the summer of 2003, almost at the same time when our water of the fall stopped. The construction is building a passway along the river.
I sent a mail to a professor, whom I had a chance to talk with some months before, asking if there would be any possible relation between the construction and our salt water from the well.
The answer came right away, saying absolutely Yes. And he kindly advised the construction office to go to see us.

Officiers came to see us, and saw the pond.They tested the water and admitted this water is salt water, not as thick as sea-water, but much over the permissible level for the fresh-water fish.
The water was kind of rotten already, smelling bad and sticky.
They dried the pond to clean it, and found carp bodies at the bottom.
It was a scaring view.
They tried this way or that to retrieve fresh water, but in vain.
Maybe some tens of years must pass before we get back the fresh water in our wells.
We human beings do something very silly thinking we are CONSTRUCTING.
Rreally we are DESTROYING.
Maybe someday, we might be drowned in salt water. Like the huge Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, Nature has started to pay us back. Let us pray together for the victims.
And we must remember one thing.
Today carp, tomorrow men.


Well, this is NOT the end of the Mystery. It will continue, but I do not know how.
Someday, I hope, we will get back fresh water and beautiful carp.
Until that day, keep your eye on our pond, please.
Best wishes for your fresh water!

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