Haikasoru

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EXCERPT [Archive]

Red Girls

Manyo looked out of place in the village and when she went into town, but the young couple took care of this strange child, occasionally severe, occasionally affectionate with her. They also sent her to school, but for some reason, Manyo could not manage to learn her letters. “I can’t read,” “I can’t write,” she would say; her studies were of no use.

She would instead make strange predictions every now and then. At that time, the Third Jurisdiction Corps of the National Police Reserve (later known as the National Safety Forces), which was cre­ated by MacArthur after the war, was stationed in Izumo in Shimane Prefecture, and each member carried a carbine thanks to a loan from the US military. The corps was basically made up of young people of that generation, born in the area and also coming in from other regions, who had missed out on deployment to the front. The carbine, a mysterious weapon from which fire erupted, naturally terrified the villagers. Even now, the provincial culture of the Edo period lives on in the village. When someone commits a crime, the people rally at the village headman’s house, use spears and nets to catch the criminal, and then turn the offender over to the authorities.

When the young men in their khaki uniforms swaggered into town, clutching their carbines, little, illiterate, dark-skinned Manyo pointed at one of them, and said, “Be bright, scatter.” (more…)

Dendera

Makura Katsuragawa placed her hand over her nose as if to cover up the ravages of frostbite. “You’ve been saved,” she said.

“Saved? What does that mean, saved?” Kayu Saitoh asked.

“Well, this isn’t Paradise, if that’s what you mean.” Makura Katsuragawa grinned. “We’re on the other side. Of the Mountain, that is. The Mountain’s between us and the Village. So the Villagers won’t find us here. It’s a good place. Now isn’t that a comfort?”

Kayu Saitoh had never thought about life outside the Village during the seventy years that she had resided there, so Makura Katsuragawa’s words gave her a new shock. She understood vaguely on a theoretical level that there were places outside of the Village, of course, but the idea that she herself was no longer in the Village was beyond her comprehension, in the same way that she understood that birds could fly but couldn’t imagine flying herself.

“So you Climbed the Mountain too, right, Kayu?” Makura Katsuragawa lowered her face. “I was mighty sorry to see you in the state you were, collapsed in a heap at the top. But everything’s all right now. We dragged you along to Dendera.”

“Den . . . dera?”

“That’s what we call this place. When I was dumped in the Mountain eighteen years ago I was all afeared and cold, the crows were pecking at me, but then the people of Dendera saved me, just like you. Sasaka Yagi and Naki Sokabe and Nokobi Hidaka all Climbed the Mountain that year too, and all of them were rescued as well.”

“This place . . . has been here since before you Climbed the Mountain?” Kayu Saitoh asked. (more…)

Asura Girl

There was a kid in my sixth-grade homeroom named Takashi Nizaki. He was really smart and got good grades, but at times he could be a sadistic bully and a bit schizo. He would be friends with you one day only to cut you dead the next. He was smart and good at sports, and he could talk circles around everybody, but there was something a bit spooky about him. Still, he ruled the class. The only one who could stand up to him was Masaki Urayasu from the class next door, and when Urayasu was beating the crap out of Nizaki, it was Urayasu’s friend, Yoji Kaneda, who waded in to break it up. (more…)

Phantasm Japan Excerpt

From “Those Who Hunt Monster Hunters” by Tim Pratt

The following was found posted in the profile section of user AmericanRonin48 on a popular online dating site. The user is no longer active.

The monster hunter owns several samurai swords and often wears a fedora. He likes to practice with his wooden sword in the backyard—the neighbors complain when he practices shirtless with bare steel—and though he’s never taken a kendo class, he watches a lot of instructional videos on YouTube and believes if tested by a master he’d rank at least fifth dan. He speaks enough Japanese to impress a non-Japanese-speaking date at a sushi restaurant, and loves the films of Kurosawa, the entire Zatoichi series (he sometimes practices with his wooden sword while blindfolded), and classic anime, from before it became popular in the West. He hasn’t mastered the trick of catching a fly with chopsticks yet, but he’s working on it.

His favorite thing in the world is sleeping with Asian girls, or at least it was until he discovered the pleasures of hunting monsters. (more…)


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