- Author: エンゲイキ / Yuan Yihui
- Nationality: 中華人民共和国 / People's Republic of China
- Date: 2020.9.22
Mt. Hiei underworld traveller’s journey ? Something emerges when the fog rises.
Under the worsening conoravirus situation, I barely went outside except to buy food. But I one day, I couldn’t stand the boredom anymore so decided to climb Mt. Hiei. Fortunately, there weren’t many tourists, and so, I could dare to breathe the fresh air.
[Panel 2] “Huh, they’ve got a cable car It has been a while since I’ve exercised. But, yeah.”
[Panel 1] Cable Car Yase Station
[Panel 2] “…but the Japanese summer is so hot.”
[Panel 3] “Even if I take the cable, It’ll be too late to visit the shrine. Well, that wasn’t my plan anyway.” “A one-way ticket for now.”
[Panel 4] “Woah, show me the scenery worth this price.” Cable ropeway ticket: Yase to Mt. Hiei. Adult fare. 900 yen.
[Panel 5] “The shrine will already be closed. Let’s go home.” “That’s…”
Before the train departed, the only other people who came by were an elderly couple. The lady had come to worship at the shrine, so decided to go home after all.
[Panel 6] “I guess it’s tough for men at any age. Looks like I’ll get the cable car to myself.”
[Panel 1] The driver was already inside the cable car. I sat in the front and waited for us to depart.
[Panel 2] Thinking back now, the driver was quiet, barely uttering a word. And even though he was nearby, his face seemed dark and indistinct.
[Panel 3] “Departing now with two passengers.”
[Panel 4] “Two?”
[Panel 5] At some point, another person had boarded, and was purposely keeping their distance, staring at me from the back door.
[Panel 8] We departed, and soon were in the midst of the mountains. The fog lifted, and the previously hot and humid air suddenly cooled.
[Panel 9] As I gazed out at the mountain I felt instantly uneasy, and an ominous feeling came over me.
[Panel 12] “Hello.”
[Panel 13] “Aaargh, what?” I had thought his face was dark because he was in the shadows, but even up close, he had an unclear form, as if cladded with mud.
[Panel 1] I thought there would be something unusual about Mt. Hiei, the mother mountain of Kyoto and indeed Japanese Buddhism. But, I never thought I would be confronted so quickly…
“Don’t come near me”
[Panel 2] “What.. Don’t be afraid. I just have a favour to ask. That you send something for me.” “This.”
[Panel 3] “Favour.”
[Panel 4] “Here you see, the ‘Tendai hokkesh? nenbun’engi’ (Yearly account of Tendai Nichiren sect of Buddhism) written by Dengyo Daishi. Could you deliver it to the west tower of Enryakuji Temple?”
[Panel 5] “I beg of you. It’s very important.” “Oh, sure.”
[Panel 6] “Eh, I didn’t mean to take this.” “I’m giving it back.”
[Panel 7] But as I went to speak to him, he suddenly fell silent and froze.
[Panel 8] Then he became fainter and fainter, and disappeared right in front of my eyes.
[Panel 9] I thought this must have been some kind of spirit or ghost, and so fearing a curse, I decided I should follow his wishes.
[Panel 10] I researched it afterward and think that maybe he was the monk, Raigo, from Miidera Temple. During the mid-Heian period, Enyrakuji Temple obstructed the building of an ordination platform he wanted, and he fasted in protest and died. He was reincarnated as a rat and ate the scriptures of Enryakuji. He was given the name Tesso (iron rat) in Toriyama Sekien’s ‘Gazu Hyakki Yagy?’ (The Illustrated Night Parade of a Hundred Demons).
[Panel 11] Speaking of which, he definitely had a rat-like face, and wasn’t very good at taking on human form.
[Panel 12] Mt. Hiei ropeway
[Pane l] “Hmm, this seems nice.”
[Panel 10] “Left, to the west tower.”
[Panel 1] The way to the west tower was through the forest. Being alone in these circumstances was certainly disheartening, but it couldn’t be helped.
[Panel 2] Shortly after entering the forest, I felt a little as though someone was watching me from behind.
[Panel 3] But whenever I looked back there was no sign of a presence.
[Panel 4] After walking for some time, I entered a spacious open area with a good view.
[Panel 5] There were Jizo bodhisattva and stone monuments all lined up.
[Panel 6] Usually, looking at the calm expressions of the Jizo up close gives me peace of mind. But this time I couldn’t see them as I’d would normally. Instead, a grotesque aura hung in the air.
[Panel 7] There was a bench up ahead, and I thought I would rest, but then suddenly from beyond I heard a rustling voice in the grass.
[Panel 2] “Eh!”
[Panel 3] “Today really is strange.”
[Panel 4] The cat-like thing was keeping its distance from me. I sensed danger from it, and ran for my life.
[Panel 6] “What was that …a cat?”
[Panel 1.] Just as I expected, it came after me.
[Panel 3.] “Is that Raigo being chased again? It’s about time he grew up.”
[Panel 4.] “Oh, you’re…”
[Panel 5.] Something else appeared. Like a monk, but a ghost… “Ah!” “Is that Dengyo Daishi’s… It seems you have been put through quite some trouble.”
[Panel 6.] “Dengyo Daishi… Do you know this? I’m on my way to take it to the west tower by request of a person like a mouse. But a cat-like thing chased me.”
[Panel 7.] “There is no need to panic. If you throw it towards the cat it will all be taken care of.”
[Panel 8.] “Throw this?”
Just as the monk said, as soon as I threw the scripture, the giant cat disappeared.
[Panel 9.] It seemed that the ‘incident’ was over.
[Panel 10.] The monk slipped back into Sannoin Temple without saying a word.
The monk’s true identity was Chisho Daishi Enchin, the founder of Tendai Jimonshu sect (Jimon-ha).
The Jimon-ha had been conflict with the Sanmon-ha sect, which occupied Mt. Hiei; and Raigo had died during that confrontation. Then he became Tesso (the iron rat) and began his curse. To counteract that, the monks of Enryakuji summoned forth a giant cat to exorcise Tesso.
It seems that somehow or other I had unexpectedly gotten caught up in their dispute.