Age by Kyoko Nishimoto

August 29, 2011

I’ve been doing this job for a very long time. And I know perfectly well that ferrymen have already had their day. But this boat is loaded with memories.

When the young bride boarded with her groom, we comforted her together as she cried and cried over leaving her family. Naturally, I offered a kind voice to the children travelling alone and talked about the world with the elderly. Now, when I’m told to give it up the thoughts of the past stand in the way.  

I am aware–you know–that it’s now the age of the car. Big bridges are the call of the age and my power has been outmoded. I sigh as I stare up at the huge bridge crossing over above my head. Bridges across the Sanzu River–why did they come up with something like that?

Up on the bridge a bus carrying a load of the deceased comes thundering past. Their numbers have been on the rise ever since the nuclear war.

The Sanzu River, or River of Three Crossings, is a Japanese Buddhist tradition and religious belief similar to the River Styx. It is believed that on the way to the afterlife, the dead must cross the river. They have three ways to go:

1. They use a bridge (if they’ve lived a good life)

2. They use a ferry (if they’ve lived an average life with a balance of good and evil)

3. They wade through deep, snake infested water (if they’ve lived a very naughty life)

The one’s who make it across get stripped naked by a female demon and have their clothes weighed on a tree by a male demon. The weight of their clothes determines the weight of their offences.


One Response to “Age by Kyoko Nishimoto”

  1. Yoko Says:

    oooh very interesting story and very good translation! xx

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