It was a moonlit night in early summer, about a year after the great tsunami.

As waves broke gently on a beach half-obscured in fog, Fukuji a local fisherman could just about make out two people walking along: a woman and a man.

Fukuji frowned. The woman was definitely his wife.

He called out her name. She turned, and smiled. Fukuji now saw who the man was, too. He had been in love with Fukuji’s wife before Fukuji had married her. Both had died in the tsunami.

Fukuji’s wife called to him, over her shoulder: ‘I am married now, to this man.’

‘But don’t you love your children?’ Fukuji cried out in reply. His wife paused at that, and began to sob

Fukuji looked sadly at his feet for a moment, not knowing what more to say. When he looked up, the woman and the man had drifted away.Her visit and presence haunted him in a lingering way,

From Tōno Monogatari or Legends of Tōno (1910) by Kunio Yanagita, author’s translation.

This is a true story. Or so the man who wrote it down wanted his readers to believe. Kunio Yanagita was one of Japan’s first folklorists. He collected such tales from the village of Tōno in Japan’s northeastern Tōhoku region, publishing them as the Legends of Tōno in 1910. His hope was to rekindle in the inhabitants of big, modern cities such as Tokyo and Osaka the feel of nature’s mystery and magic – the unknowns of the world – which, Yanagita worried, these people had of late begun to lose, mislaying it amid the noise and smog and reassuring distractions of urban life.

We shall often be haunted by our unfinished business, thoughts and actions – Unknown

Peace and Love, Jim

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