It was late on a May night in the ninth year of Meiji, with all gathered together at the Imperial shrine in Shingai.

Otaguru, having purified himself, entered the sanctuary.

The seven leaders sat in a row in the fore-hall of the shrine, waiting to hear the will of the gods.

When Otaguru clapped his hands, the sound echoed loudly from within the sanctuary.

Otaguru's hands were large, though emaciated, and the sharp report of their clapping was as if the palms, like hollowed, rough, hewn cedar planks, had entrapped pure atmosphere, and crushed it with an explosive burst of divinity.

Thus Tominaga, for one, felt that the clapping of those dedicated hands, hands purified by sacred ablutions, echoed as if in a forest glen deep in the mountains.

Especially on a night like this, in the darkness of the small hours with the spring rains not far off, the reverberating echo of Otaguru's clapping seemed charged with yearning and devotion, and the seven heard it as striking upon the very doors of heaven.

Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses, trans by Michael Gallqgher, Knopf, N.Y., 1973, p.78.

PLACE: Japan

TIME: 1930's

CIRCUMSTANCE: a religious ceremony



Suddenly a sound from the roof above shattered the silence. It was the cry of a night heron taking flight. The seven regarded one another. They knew that each had felt the same shudder.

Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses, trans. by Michael Gallagher, Knopf, N.Y., 1973, p. 79.

PLACE: Japan

TIME: 1930's

CIRCUMSTANCE: the end of a religious ceremony