Podcast: became a yakuza

Episode from Hidemi’s Rambling  by Hidemi Woods 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.  Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
When my great-great-grandfather passed away, the family sought any possible way to sustain a line of the family succession. He had four sons. His firstborn, who had been supposed to succeed the family, was perverted possibly because his father had drunk up the family fortune. He had tattoos all over his body and became a yakuza, a Japanese Mafia member. His father disowned him and kicked him out from the family. He drifted in from time to time though, and the family member asked him to leave with some money.
My great-great-grandfather’s second son died young and his third son had been adopted to a samurai family. As his fourth son was too young, the family called back his third son as a successor from a samurai family. That’s my great-grandfather.
By then, most of our ancestral land and all the servants were gone thanks to my great-great-grandfather’s lavish extravagance. My great-grandfather needed to work as a farmer by himself on a scarce piece of the remaining land instead of making tenant farmers work for him, which his ancestors had been doing for a long time. While he worked side by side with the ex-tenant farmers whom the family once employed, he got married and had a daughter and a son who is my grandfather. Since my great-grandfather wanted my grandfather to be a teacher, I suppose that he was poised to end the family’s farming business and its succession.
But in reality, things went to the contrary. Because of his unaccustomed work and way of life, he got ill and passed away in his middle age. His son, that is my grandfather, gave up what he wanted for his life and began to work as a farmer to support the family. He did it well, gained back some land and passed it on to my father. Both the family business and its need for a successor sustained.
Even my great-great-grandfather who dissipated his inheritance money, his first son who became a yakuza, or his third son who wanted to close down the family business couldn’t break succession. They continued to live and raise a family on the same ancestral land, and their children did the same. Unexpectedly, it is I who finally moved out of the house and am very much likely to end the family by my way of living…

“It was a fox! A fox got me!”

The elders of old families in the hamlet where I grew up had regularly practiced a Buddhist chant when I was little. My grandfather was one of them. He didn’t come home from the practice one night by the time he was supposed to. When we were worried and about to go look for him, he turned up at our doorstep sweating and getting muddy. He was shaken by fear and said, “It was a fox! A fox got me!”

 Usually, he would come home by passing through the narrow unpaved alley that led to a wider street near our house. According to him, he was walking home on the familiar dirt alley as usual after he left the elder’s house where the chanting practice was held. But on that particular night, the alley he had walked hundreds of times didn’t come to the wider street. It didn’t end. When he reached the end of the alley, the entrance of the same alley started again instead of the street. The alley continued endlessly and he couldn’t get out of it. He began to panic, ran, tumbled, repeated countless trips through the alley and finally landed onto the street.

 In my hometown, people believed that an inexplicable incident like this was caused by a fox that bewitched them. A fox sometimes pulled mischief around us, and my mother had a similar experience. Because it had been a common knowledge throughout the neighborhood, everybody in my family was fully convinced that my grandfather’s story was true – except I inwardly suspected that a fox might mean drunkenness. By the way, we call a shower when the sun is shining a fox’s wedding…

episode from An Old Tree in Kyoto / Hidemi Woods