God knows if I'll ever see this weird little book again, but I have to record some choice quotes as I read it here in Ryoso Kawasaki, with a lovely view of the ocean and a pagoda tower before me, along with a can of hot coffee. It's a truly odd mixture of fantasy, history, folklore, and Miyajima tourism promotion.

The author's introduction explains that he visited Miyajima after a hurricane, and began pondering its tragic history: across the ocean from Hiroshima, and the site of the war between the Heike and Genji clans.

The story begins as an unnamed miko (shrine maiden) secretly gives birth on Miyajima, where women are not supposed to give birth as it's impure. (She got pregnant by secretly having sex with a man in the stable of the mechanical white horse, which was clean since neither horses nor monkeys are allowed on Miyajima. By the way, I have a photo of a white horse statue here, which is probably what was referred to. It's creepy.) Omens were bad: the fortunetelling thing where omens were predicted by seeing how crows eat dumplings didn't go well. That is called otoguishiki, and since googling it turned up a photo of a crow flying off with a dumpling, I assume it's real.

She is spotted by tengu, who tells her if she has sex with him, he won't tell anyone about her baby and will give her the ability to see the past. She does so (no details, alas) but it of course turns out to be a curse. No mention of what happened to her baby. The author plunges into a history of the Heike clan which assumes all readers are as up on it as he is. I am not. But it's entertaining anyway, complete with a really gross two-page description of exactly how to cut someone in half diagonally.

Things are bad in Kyoto: There are even stories of people being so hungro that they ate other people. Ever since then, it has come to be said that human beings taste like pomegranates.

Tomoe Gozen just turned up. Usui commends her beauty, horsemanship, and martial prowess.

After describing how an arrow pierced a fan across the sea (I'm sure this is a famous event from the Heike tales), Usui pauses some tourist assistance: As for Miyajima souvenirs or gifts, there is nothing better than the momiji manju. It was conceived by the proprietress of an inn in Momijidani after the Meiji era started.

A gay quarter existed, and men very much fancied and fully enjoyed it. The legend that there is a very jealous Goddess named Ichikishima-Hime in Miyajima and that when a married couple visits the island, the two will be torn apart, came from the thinking of protecting the male paradise.


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