It's time for Ooki once again:
Day 4, 11:30
This time it’s not only the Art Club who decided to come to the museum. I’m a bit relieved by that, since I’m no longer the odd one out.
The non-members who did come along are not exactly the most sociable types, though. I guess Lilly would be nice enough, but it’s hard to approach her with Hanako clinging to her every step of the way… And of course Mizuki would be hard to talk to even if she deigned to notice anyone who doesn’t ‘speak’ sign.
Mr. Nomiya is leading the way through the small village - if you can even call it a village… It’s little more than a few houses along the Marimo National Highway. So far I’ve seen a school, a small onsen and the visitor’s center which Mr. Nomiya said we’d visit later.
For now, we’re leaving the village and are walking along a well-beaten path through a light forest towards the lake.
There are a few other tourists going the same way. I wonder what is so interesting over there…
After only about 100 metres the forest ends, and we’re standing at the shores of Lake Akan, but the spectacular view is somehow diminished by the half-dozen ramshackle grass huts huddled on the shore.
A small, elderly man is waiting at the path bowing slightly to Mr. Nomiya as we approach. “Greetings. You are Mr. Nomiya, I assume? My name is Kayano. We talked over the phone last week.”
Mr. Nomiya returns the bow, and stands next to Mr. Kayano to address us. “Attention boys and girls! Mr. Kayano here works for the visitor’s center and he will tell us some interesting things about the Ainu people. His ancestors were Ainu themselves, so don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.”
We follow Mr. Kayano among the huts. When we reach the approximate center he stops and starts to talk. “The first records of the Ainu people date back to the 12th century of the western calendar, when Mongol tribes reported contact with them. Back then the Ainu populated all of Hokkaido and part of the island Sakhalin now belonging to Russia, but they may have lived even in the northern parts of Honshu before that. They were hunter-gatherers and lived mostly close to lakes and rivers to supplement their diet by fishing.”
“In the Tokugawa Era contacts with the Japanese increased and the Shogunate encouraged trade between the two cultures. Mostly these contacts were peaceful in nature with the exception of Shakushain’s Revolt in 1669.”
“The Meiji Era spelled great changes for the Ainu, for the new government moved to formally annex Hokkaido as a part of Japan and tried to assimilate the Ainu into the Japanese culture…”
Great. A history lesson. And a boring one at that. I tune out Mr. Kayano’s ramblings and look around at the others. Rin looks about as bored as I feel, but then she always does. Looking back, that may be the reason I never talked to her much before this trip. She always seemed so aloof. Now I realize she isn’t aloof at all. It’s just… It’s just the way she is. And I think the way she is is really cool.
Leon is fighting a losing battle trying to keep up translating Mr. Kayano’s wall of text for the twins. I wonder why he even bothers. It’s not like they are any more interested in the history of the Ainu than the rest of us.
Lilly is listening politely, but I wouldn’t have expected any less from her. Hanako is huddling next to her, throwing furtive glances at… At whom? Usually she’s most skittish when confronted with strangers, but she doesn’t seem to be concerned about Mr. Kayano. I try to follow her gaze. She keeps staring at Leon and the twins. Did those two audiophobes bully her? I’ll have to keep an eye out for that…
Nanami is the only one who seems focused on Mr. Kayano. I guess she has to to understand what he is saying at all.
I look around the village, if you can call it that. On one hand the huts look so flimsy I’m sure they have to be rebuilt after every storm or decent earthquake, on the other hand rebuilding them probably isn’t much of a hassle… On the gripping hand, I see no reason to rebuild them at all.
There are a few primitive canoes at the shore. They’re probably supposed to represent the contraptions used by the Ainu to fish.
The lake is glittering in the midday sun. This place was built on a small peninsula, so we can see the waters stretching in almost all directions…
Movement draws my attention back towards one of the huts. A man has appeared in one of the entrances. He is clothed in heavily embroidered blue and grey garments, and his face is all but hidden behind a beard. He is followed by two others with similar garb and finally three women carrying musical instruments – harps and something akin to a banjo.
Cool! Rin is going to like this one.
As they begin to play, the four men start something that might be called a ritual dance. At first they’re only swaying left to right, but soon they start jumping and stomping to the music… Well, I think it’s supposed to be in sync with the music, but those guys are beyond bad. I’ve seen the Yamaku music club do better, and some of them
Anyway, I try to commit the details of this dream to my memory so I can describe it to Rin later.
“They’re bad, but it would probably be interesting to paint them.” Rin’s voice sounds from somewhere next to me.
“That’s what I thought too. I’ll describe it to you next time.”
“Why? I can see it myself.”
I turn around and look at Rin confusedly. “Are you telling me that I’m not sleeping and this is not a dream?”
She tilts her head to the side as if she were thinking hard about the question. “Well, you could be dreaming that I am in your dream talking to you. But then I’d have to be dreaming about talking to you in my dream as well. Or wouldn’t I? Maybe the me right now is not real at all and just a part of your dream, and I am only imagining dreaming about you in your dream.” Her brow is furrowed. “This is a very difficult problem.”
I’m not sure I can follow her, but maybe it’s okay to cheat. “Well, the easiest way to find out if I am dreaming would be to pinch me.”
“I can’t pinch you, but I could either kick you or bite you. Which do you prefer?”
“It’s fine. I’ll just pinch myself.”
“Does it work if you pinch yourself? You could just be dreaming about that as well.”
“If that is the case, I could just be dreaming about someone else pinching me, couldn’t I?”
“I don’t know. Could you?”
I don’t know either, but luckily the dance performance comes to an end at that point, so the problem has been rendered moot.
Mr. Kayano invites us all to inspect the insides of the huts. Great. I’m sure he has lots of interesting stuff to say about whatever we will find within.
When I posted the first chapter, I wondered how long I would be able to keep up posting one chapter a week... I hoped I would be able to keep the pace until KS is released, but I'm sad to say, that at this point the chapters I posted have caught up to those I've written. Those last few weeks RL got in the way of me writing much of anything...
So, Tripping is going to go on break for the time being. Note that I AM going to continue the story. I have the ending mostly planned out in my head and it's a tale I want to tell.
In the meantime I might post a bit about the characters from time to time - at least as much as I can tell without spoiling the story.
Thanks for reading so far, and I hope you'll bear with me - you should be used to waiting if you've been hanging about these forums for a while