The Legend of the Paper Spaceship – Tetsu Yano

Apostolou- Best Japanese Yano- Legend of the Paper Spaceship Kurodahan- Speculative Japan

“The Legend of the Paper Spaceship” (novelette) by Tetsu Yano

From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from Roy Torgeson’s Chrysalis 10 (1983)
Currently available from Kurodahan Press’s Speculative Japan (2007)

Original: Japanese, 1978
Translated by Gene Van Troyer and Tokomo Oshiro, 1978

“A poignant tale from the dean of Japanese SF writers” (144)

Synopsis: An isolated mountain village in Japan is home to Osen, a woman swathed in rumor and mystery—said to be the remaining heir to a family fortune and sole survivor to a family massacre. The reality is that she’s the willing town harlot and folds and flies a paper airplane while naked. The town’s men take advantage of her youthful beauty while many of the women scoff at her indecency; regardless, her sexual existence inspires a minority of the town. When she becomes pregnant, the villagers are astonished to hear her speak as she demands that she keeps the baby, which the villagers reluctantly allow. One soldier visiting from outside hears her lyrical songs which he believes may represent corrupted versions of historical lullabies and point an interstellar finger at her true origin.

Publication: This is one of the most famous translated Japanese SF stories, having been published in seven different anthologies. That doesn’t surprise me because it has the beautiful aura of Japanese-esque with its imagery of bamboo enshrouded in mist. One thing is strange though: Tetsu Yano is considered “the Dean of Japanese SF” yet doesn’t have any other stories translated into English. Aside from the three publication stated above, this story can also be found in The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction (Penguin, 1986), Tales from the Planet Earth (St. Martin’s Press, 1986), and The Road to Science Fiction 6: Around the World (White Wolf Publishing, 1998).

Analysis: Though it may be the most famous and most published of the all the stories, it’s also one of the most straightforward stories in a collection where allegories abound. There’s a theme of identity lurking among the pages of this hauntingly beautiful story, but there is the added treat of linguistics which captures the mind of many readers.

Though a human in all physical regards, Osen is treated as an outsider because of her obscene behavior. Rather than being cared for and sheltered as their own kind, the villagers treat her an ostracized shame and the men also treat her as a pleasure palace. Her mind is an alien territory of insanity and ambiguity, but little do the villagers know that she may actually be from an actual alien territory.

Her son is better adjusted to the life of the village, though he too is ostracized for being the shameful spawn of Osen. Obviously able to speak and comprehend matters, he seems intelligent—only, they don’t know of his secret telepathic ability which he keeps to himself for his own means. The boy, Emon, slowly understands the common emotions of the people and even dips into the neurosis of many of them, including guilt and jealousy. He also senses that his mother, while disconnected from reality, also has the same telepathy but doesn’t employ it as he does.

The linguist part of the story is a slippery one; it may in fact directly relate to Osen’s heredity or it may simply be the observer’s fancy to explain the situation; regardless, the reader is left to draw their own conclusion. The soldier hears snippets of songs and thinks “with only a shift in syllabic division” or “single change of consonants” (163), the children’s song could explain to much more:

Original Song Construed Version
Hitotsuki-tai

“First month—red snapper!”

Hitotsu-kitai

“One: ship’s hull”

Futatsuki-kai

“Second month—then it’s shells!”

Futatsu-kikai

“Two: machines”

Mittsu-enryōde

“Third—we have reserve, and”

Mittsu-nenryōde

“Three: fuel”

From misunderstanding Osen and misunderstanding her song, the village had built Osen’s narrative for her: one with a scrambles mind who sings childish songs. The soldier, however, gets closer to her true narrative: the descendant of a star faring race who recants checklists for their return to space. Whether she’s an insane shame of the village or the insane child of the stars, he place on Earth is hopeless.

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Asura Girl – Otaro Maijo

 Maijo- Asura Girl
Asura Girl (novel) by Otaro Maijo
Original: Japanese, 2003
Translated by Stephen Snyder, 2014
Teenage drama morphs into the surreal and the horrific

Having read science fiction heavily for seven years and having run the gamut of all the genre has had to offer, I’ve finally decided to concentrate on one particular focus: translated science fiction. This focus has been slowly developing for the last two years while reading Stanislaw Lem, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, and some Japanese short fiction. Then, after I read Sakurazaka’s now popular All You Need is Kill (2004), I decided to become proactive in procuring more translated science fiction, specifically Japanese science fiction. Thus, I put the word out and received positive feedback from a couple of publishers: Haikasoru (of the USA) and Kurodahan (of Japan).

Eager to delve into the fiction which has been out of my reach for so long, I opted to start with something modern, something glossy (as glossy as a PDF can be) and new… so new, in fact, that it’s not even available yet (November 18, 2014)—thanks to Haikasoru for providing me with a pre-release of Asura Girl, as translated by Stephen Snyder. Regardless of receiving the book for free, it has been agreed that the review be honest rather than favored by bias.

Asura Girl was originally published in Japan in 2003 under the title Ashura Garu. The author, Otaro Maijo, won the Yukio Mishima award in 2003 for this novel. He has had only one other story translated into English—“Drill Hole in My Brain” (2003)—and this was included in the collection Faust Vol. 1 (2003), which highlights “fiction and manga from the cutting edge of Japanese pop culture”.

Book’s own synopsis:
“Seventeen-year-old Aiko lives a life of casual sex and casual violence, though at heart she remains a schoolgirl with an unrequited crush on her old classmate Yoji Kaneko. Life is about to get harder for Aiko, as a recent fling, Sano, has been kidnapped, and the serial killer Guru-Guri Majin (Round-and-Round Devil) has begun slaughtering children. The youth are rioting in the streets, egged on by the underground Internet bulletin board known as Ten-no Koe, the Voice from Heaven. Expecting that Yoji will come and save her from the madness, Aiko posts a demand for her own murder on Ten-no-Koe, but will she be left waiting… or worse?”

———–

Kendo and tennis may be Aiko’s passions, but her girlish admiration is saved for Yoji; however, Yoji’s attention isn’t paid to her good looks or her cute matching set of bra and panties, a situation which frustrates Aiko’s libidinous attempts. There are been other boys, for sure—including that creep Sano and his attempted facial—but those are merely transient phases while Yoji is the foundation of her being. In the background of her own character lies the idle sub-persona of Kerstein, an invention of her mind—“a Swedish exchange student who has come to American for high school” (16). Kerstein is Aiko’s better half but Aiko sometimes loses herself in the sub-persona’s dreamt-up personal history.

Mildly ashamed of her nocturnal fling with the famous Sano—now infamous to her mind—Aiko arrives at school with a self-defense planned, but she isn’t prepared to be cornered by a group of peers and slapped in the face by Maki. Though Maki may be beautiful and powerful, Aiko springs into violent action and beats the pulp out of the alpha female, shocking the onlookers. After blood has been spilled, only then does Aiko learn of their interrogation of her: Sano has been kidnapped and his little toe sent to this parents’ house. Suddenly, Yoji arrives and takes her away from the scene, so much like the hero she wants him to be… but she also wants him to the same reckless boy she used to know, willing to try anything once and damn the consequences. Sadly, this rebel attitude doesn’t extend to his sex life, much to Aiko’s dismay.

With a distinct online presence yet nebulously existing in her reality, the Voice of Heaven (VoH) is a loose organization of upper teenagers who are bent on catching the infamous killer named the Round-and-Round Devil, whom they believe to be a middle school child. The Devil had kidnapped and mutilated the triplets of a local couple but had never been caught, so with the mindlessly synergetic postings on the VoH’s web board, the mindless teenagers set out to maim, if not kill, all middle-schoolers so as to send a message to the killer: we’re after you.
Aiko entertains her own theories about Sano’s kidnapping—mainly that he has faked his own kidnapping and cut off his own toe for want of the ransom, but VoH or the Devil might also have something to do with it; the realities of his kidnapping at endless. However, Yoji spots a few flaws in her theory and, being the rugged guy he is, sets off to find Sano. At the same time, Aiko’s brother also leaves her at home in order to mount a counter-attack to the brutal tactics of the members of the VoH, leaving Aiko at home alone and worried about her safety as the VoH’s campaign begins to manifest itself in the city: fires burn, children are ran over, blood is spilled, and the din of violence grows closer to her home. Yet, the violence that does meet her at her own doorstep isn’t the violence she was expecting.

————

The above four paragraphs only outline the initial 102 pages of the 224 page novel, which isn’t quite a majority of the novel but it is the most linear and relatable… yet also the least inventive and penetrating.
With a copious amount of swearing, sexuality, and minor drama, the book immediately smacks of being geared towards teenagers. I felt out of my reading comfort zone (a broad expanse including literature, sci-fi, the bizarre, and travelogues… but definitely not teenage novels). When the minor drama shifted into the dramatic horror of the city, I began to invest myself more so into the novel.

The novel is divided into three parts: (1) Armageddon, (2) The Gate, and (3) Jump-Start My Heart. The linear yet—at times eye-rolling-ly—dramatic episode of the novel entirely takes place in Part One. This plot involving Aiko and VoH is revived again in Part Three after an extensive interlude in Part Two.

Part Two—entitled The Gate—is more like a passageway or a tunnel which the reader must traverse rather than simply step through, to which there are two equal sections: (1) surrealism in “The Cliff” and (2) horror in “The Forest”.

1. The surrealism in “The Cliff” is a slippery slope which only becomes steeper and steeper as the reader pushes on; it starts somewhat realistically but soon becomes detached, bizarre, ironic, impossible, and altogether nonsensical. The tentative bridge which links it to Part One is gossamer-thin and relies on Aiko’s unreliable memory about previous incidences. Compound her fractured memory with surrealistic imagery and the result, itself, is fractured and blurred. The 32 pages of detachment have curious veins of either telepathy into Aiko’s dream-state or unconscious inclusion into the lucid circumstances of her escape and rescue.

2. Another 32-page foray follows the odd, detached surrealism; the scenes of horror have an even more tenuous connection with Armageddon but, if taken by itself, provides an excellent read. Going beyond Aiko’s tenuous grasp of reality and her connections to fragments of her imagination in “The Cliff”, the horror in “The Forest” slides even deeper into her intricately warped mind. Here, Aiko’s alter ego Kerstein is the protagonist. Amputated limbs speed off through the forest towards tree of children’s limbs that stands erect amid the lush vertical growth. Not only is an unnervingly eerie, but it also has symbolism more apparent than “The Cliff” and introduces the book’s third and final part, Jump-Start My Heart.

————

There’s no one facet of Asura Girl which would draw the mainstream SF crowd, unless you’re a teenaged reader with a palette for the bizarre. The initial so-called dystopia of the book is mildly drawing, the surrealism of the semi-conscious Aiko is bizarre, the horror of Aiko’s sub-persona is definitely creepy, and the return to normality in the conclusion has cursors of intrigue which point back toward some previous revelations.

Posted simultaneously at SF Potpourri and Tongues of Speculation.

Standing Woman – Yasutaka Tsutsui

Apostolou- Best Japanese Tsutsui- Standing Woman

“Standing Woman” (short story) by Yasutaka Tsutsui

From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from Omni, February, 1981

Original: Japanese, 1974
Translated by David Lewis, 1981

Synopsis: For lack of greenery and for want of stiffer punishments, a city turns the unruly into arborous sculptures. A postman and mail clerk complain of their wages only to get their feet planted into the ground to become a manpillar and, one day, a mantree—complete with foliage and bark. The same treatment goes to embittered housewives and students who line the streets, while dogpillars and catpillars occupy gardens to be fed and loved or forgotten to become derelict bonepillars.

Analysis: In a megapolis, dogs and cat—though only a few years old—can be seen pointless additions to the city’s strained resources; further, those even mildly embittered by daily inconveniences are seen as a superfluous part of the population. When a city is pressed to buy and place foliage within its constrained city limits, the excessive parts of the same city are snipped from their functions and placed in public areas.

Because it takes a while for a cat, dog or human to eventually grow into a tree, their initial planting is a reminder to the other urban dwellers to conform. Later, these same catpillars, dogpillars, and manpillars offer the city its greenery in their original form, be it with bark and leaves.

In “Standing Woman”, the reader sees this all through the eyes of a writer who see himself on the border of being rebellious and even superfluous to the city. His old dog Buff was once planted as a dogpillar only to be forgotten about by the city to become a bonepillar. Now, his wife has been planted just outside a hardware store. Though she’s still able to talk and retain some sensation, he fights an internal battle to show her his love by visiting or by respecting her wishes and staying away from her and her eventual pulpy entombment.

“A future society uses a frightening method to provide urban greenery” (130)

Fnifmum – Taku Mayumura

 Apostolou- Best Japanese “Fnifmum” (short story) by Taku Mayumura
From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Original: Japanese, 1989
Translated by Katsumi Shindo and Grania Davis, 1989
“A surreal love story that spans centuries” (121)

Synopsis: His body spanning a length of time, Fnifmum bores of using his “sensory organ” to see the same sights in the same eras along his temporal growth. For want of company, he looks to his tail, earliest in time, to communicate with Honycominah, but the time of their first meeting is too far back. Instead, he looks forward, ahead in his latest growth, to see two human escapees.

Analysis: This story has the most science fiction overtones but is also one of the most slippery to understand. The reader could pour over this story three times and still, perhaps, not grasp the nuances of what Mayumura is alluding to.

Fnifmum is a being with the freedom to move along a singular time-line, free to move back and revisit his history or push forward to view something new in the galaxy. He savors experiencing the mutually shared time/place when/where he met his closes companion, Honycominah. However, his age is much greater than hers and he now becomes aware than his age has affected his ability to reach the past.

Unable to touch the nostalgia, Fnifmum looks toward the future end of his expanding being… and sees two aliens of which he has never seen before: a bulbous head, two manipulating limbs on top and two locomotive limbs on the bottom. Clutching each in fear of the coming Space Troops, the deserted duo—with limited oxygen and clambering upon an airless world—decide to test their fate by employing the “emergency escape time-mechanism” (128).

A new emotion springs from Fnifmum, a sort of empathy he’s never shared with any other being. Gradually, as his fore-self extends into the future, he can see their fate unravel little by little, but he is not yet able to see their true fate—life or death. For this, he returns to a restful slumber in which time dissolves from his past and materializes in the future, where his own fate will day end.

Triceratops – Tensei Kono

Apostolou- Best Japanese Kono- Triceratops

“Triceratops” (short story) by Tensei Kono

From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from Omni, August 1982

Original: Japanese, 1974
Translated by David Lewis, 1982

“A funny thing happened on the way home—a dinosaur crossed our path” (104)

Synopsis: A father and his son bike in the hills surrounding their home’s subdivision when they witness a shadowy giant cross their path. His wife discredits their exaggeration of the rhino-shaped intruder as no news report had surfaced, yet again the oddity manifests itself in their garden only to disappear through a stone wall. Later, other dinosaurs appear transparent in the daylight to the duo, who also witness a massive carnivore/herbivore confrontation.

Analysis: Upon first reading this story, I thought it was a simple juvenile story of father-son bonding over an inexplicable event in their lives—being the only witnesses to dinosaurs roaming their neighborhood. This sense of awe stemming from the son and the bond it induces with his father works only so far… until the herd of triceratopses is massacred by a band of tyrannosaurus rexes, a battle scene which leaves all of their entrails sprawling over streets. This is a rather gruesome end to a seemingly juvenile story of bonding.

One paragraph denotes a literal wind of change and frames the conclusion to the story in a sympathetic light of innocence (the Japanese?) destroyed by the aggressors from the directional west (the Chinese?) or the figurative west (the Allies?): “It was a day when yellow sand blown from the continent filled the air and turned the sun the color of blood, a harsh, unpleasant day” (116).

China has a number of deserts (notably, the Gobi Desert). Though the Japanese were never conquered by foreign forces from the directional west—be they Chinese or Mongol—they later accepted an unconditional surrender to the Allies, the figurative west (the Mojave Desert). The destruction of Japan at the hands of Allies speaks through one triceratops’s inner thoughts: “[W]hy did you keep butchering us?” (119); meanwhile, the father and son also witness everyone else carry on with their pedestrian lives, like the average America immune to the suffering of the average Japanese.

Take Your Choice – Sakyo Komatsu

Apostolou- Best Japanese Komatsu- Take Your Choice

“Take Your Choice” (short story) by Sakyo Komatsu

From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from William H. Wheeler’s SF International #1, January-February 1987

Original: Japanese, 1967
Translated by Shiro Tamura and Grania Davis, 1987

“The ultimate escape: a one-way ticket to the future” (85)

Synopsis: Roaming alleyways in search of a shop which promises one-way time travel, a man hopes that his 2.5 million credit payment will be worth his choice of three possible futures: an ultra-modern technological society through door one’s scene, an ecological Eden for society in door two, and a nuclear holocaust in door three. Knowing the seen future is twenty years away, the man chooses door three, as so many others have chosen.

Analysis: A symptom of today’s increasingly complex and technological society is uneasiness. There are many who cheer on advancement and are keen on the next new thing, but there are also many who see the silliness in all the rush and seek peace away from modern society. If the world were bipolar, these would be the only two options—options presented in doors number one and two, respectively. Those seeking a far-flung ultramodern future have the freewill to choose their path just as well as those whose seek a bucolic social bliss.

But at this underground shop, where the proprietors use terms like “time-space channel selector and time-scope” (91), many have chosen the third door, which presents a clear and present end to the world. Rather than choosing one of the bipolar options for the future, they have chosen fatalism, a predictable end to life’s uncertainty. Door three offers certainty: “[T]his world has no future … There will be no tedious, prolonged years that will be recorded as an infinite repetition of daily life” (101). Clarity in predictability settles the mind of the man who chooses door number three. What is the cost of peace of mind?

The Savage Mouth – Sakyo Komatsu

Apostolou- Best Japanese Komatsu- Savage Mouth Kurodahan- Speculative Japan

“The Savage Mouth” (short story) by Sakyo Komatsu

From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from Lee Hardings’s anthology Rooms of Paradise (1978)
Currently available from Kurodahan Press’s Speculative Japan (2007)

Original: Japanese, 1968
Translated by Judith Merril, 1978

“A horrific tale by Japan’s leading SF writer” (74)

Synopsis: Sickened by the absurdity of life, one man prepares to turn his own world inside-out. Stocked with pans, knives, slicers, burners, an oven, sauces, vegetables, and relishes, the man sets up the last and most important piece of equipment which he has been procuring for three months. Supine on the table with his legs stretched, the machine cuts and cauterizes, slices and dices. Order up.

Analysis: This is a classic piece of the horror sub-genre known as “body horror” and my favorite piece to-date. Not only is the scenario graphic and horrific, but the underlying allegory plays on a few different levels.

The obvious superficial parallel to the gruesome plot which the reader will first be drawn to is the connection between the consumer and their consumption—here, one in the same. The self-cannibal, an unnamed man as mysterious as his true motives, seeks independence from the vicious cycle of consumption and waste. Slowly, the man is able to work on his grisly task from the ground up—legs, waist, innards, etc. The titled “savage mouth” is the same mouth as the ever-consuming capitalist.

But looking at the man’s original stated motives—“The world we live in is worthless, absurd. Staying alive is an absurdly worthless thing” (75)—the reader can see his desperation for returning to a primitive state where reason is inconsequential and beyond the grasp of the animal-state. Through self-cannibalism and replacing his fleshy body with prosthetics, he becomes less human and more unnatural. His final conscious act of consuming that which makes him conscious is his parting wish, resulting in a animalistic urge to feed without reason—“a blind aggressive compulsion that lies in wait at the heart of all animals” (84).

The Empty Field – Morio Kita

Apostolou- Best Japanese Kita- Omega

“The Empty Field” (short story) by Morio Kita

From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from Roger Elwood’s anthology Omega (1973)

Original: Japanese, 1973
Translated by Kinya Tsuruta and Judith Merril, 1973

“A crowd gathers to witness a momentous event” (62)

Synopsis: Atop a vacant hill wait a group of youth ready to receive messages from a UFO. Though only rumored, their expectations on this barren crest are electric, yet an old man, a reporter for a magazine or television, remembers the bounty that the hill once held. Amid the locusts and gnats, the rumors aren’t real yet only the memory of the past echoing forward through time feels real.

Analysis: Of the thirteen stories in Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories, Morio Kita’s short story “The Empty Field” is the most difficult to read and the most difficult from which to squeeze an analogy. The narrative jumps between a first-person perspective of the landscape and by italicized dialogue that is sandwiched between em dashes (the unusual quotation dash as stylized by James Joyce), some dialogue of which may not even be taking place in the perceiver’s reality.

Long ago, a humble hill once stood green; it was an unassuming mound of earth yet respected for its natural state and simplicity by the people. Then came the wave of so-called progress, turning the sweetly verdant knoll into a muddy, tire tread-worn eyesore. Ignorant to this change to the hill’s nature, the modern youth have flocked to its crest to witness a UFO, an embodiment of even more futuristic progress. They pay no heed to the innate majesty of the hill’s nature while sloppily treading through across its barren nape.

Meanwhile, the perceiver experiences the hill’s ancient and noble majesty yet also tramples through the sterile mud of the hill’s effluence. The echoes of the past leave an alien resonance, an indication of similar intervention.

The Road to the Sea – Takashi Ishikawa

Apostolou- Best Japanese Ishikawa- The Road to the Sea Kurodahan- Speculative Japan

“The Road to the Sea”: (short story) by Takashi Ishikawa

From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from Richard S. McEnroe’s anthology Proteus: Voices for the 80’s (1981)
Currently available from Kurodahan Press’s Speculative Japan (2007)

Original: Japanese, 1981
Translated by Judith Merril and Tetsu Yano, 1981

“A boy searches for the sea he’s never seen” (58)

Synopsis: Having seen the sea in picture-books alone, a boy sets off to see the sea with his own two eyes. On the way, the boy meets an old man at the end of town who locates the sea in the sky alone. Unperturbed by his ill logic, the boy continues on foot over mountains and plains to chase his imagination, filled with whales, sharks, mermaids, octopi, kelp, coral, and pirates.

Analysis: Starry-eyed from the fictitious tales in his storybooks, a boy lives a fantasy in his head of all things oceanic. Seemingly without supervision, he sets out on his own to witness the great expanse of the sea not knowing the distance of location of the same sea. His youthful innocence and inquisitiveness are admirable, yet the old man who stops him is the hurdle in his quest: heed his advice and turn back or push through and seek out.

Though erratic in his words and actions, the old man—a fork in the road of the boy’s journey—is wise with age and his peculiarities may have a grain of truth. Too young to appreciate his elder’s advice, the boy pushes on. Did his culture not engrain in him the importance of heeding advice from his elders? Even if he had accepted this tacit custom, should he allow the subjective truth from one man to smother his dream.

Like the many pinches of salt in the ocean, the boy takes the old man’s words with a grain of salt and pushes forth, directionless, toward the ocean which surely must be over the horizon. He sleeps and walks, repeats these actions, and eventually stops to look at the stars in the desert night, longing for home to which he can never return.

He-y, Come on Ou-t! – Shinichi Hoshi

Apostolou- Best Japanese Hoshi- Hey Come On out

“Hey-y, Come on Ou-t!” (short story) by Shinichi Hoshi

From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from Shinichi Hoshi’s The Spiteful Planet and Other Stories (1978)
Later from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1978

Original: Japanese, 1971
Translated by Stanleigh Jones, 1978

“The discovery of a deep hole has extraordinary impact on life in a small town” (52)

Synopsis: A small village struck by a storm discovers a landslide which has swallowed a shrine and replaced it with a deep hole. Word spreads and reporters and scientists alike come to the scene to investigate the seemingly bottomless void. The town hands over the rights to one man who opens the pit up to anyone wanting to dispose of anything: nuclear waste, evidence, diaries, garbage, etc. Meanwhile, the cities and towns flourish.

Analysis: Initially, the villagers are worried about the bad luck resulting from the shrine’s destruction; though no one visits it anymore, they are still eager to replace the Shinto shrine. However, the discovery of a deep hole stirs their interests—at first a shout down the hole, then a thrown pebble, and a blast from a bullhorn; nothing returns, not even an echo. Deeming it a hazard, they consider putting barricading it off; rather, they hand they give control to the hole to one man who has an idea.

Having forgotten about the humble shrine, the villages—policeman and thieves alike—toss in damnable evidence. All materials deemed a nuisance are thrown into the hole, even the town’s garbage and imported nuclear waste: “Whatever one wished to discard, the hole accepted it all” (56). The magical nature of the hole, like a distant landfill, eased their fears of overproduction—and like a landfill: out of sight, out of mind.

Amid their mindless rush to produce in their commercialized society, they had forgotten the byproduct: waste. Now, the hole offers them a guiltless opportunity; yet like a landfill which grows and grows, the bottomless pit of the hole doesn’t keep receiving without eventually giving something back. As the town flourishes with the commercial success of their waste disposal, but all good things must come to an end.