We took the 9:00 AM bus to Kyoto. Along the way, Ru Xue and Li Mazi chatted and laughed in the back seats. They were so noisy that I couldn’t concentrate. I reminded them a few times to mind their images and not shame Chinese people. Since it was an early bus, many people were sleeping.
Ru Xue pouted. “There isn’t a no-talking sign on this bus. Why can't I talk?”
“Don’t you see that there are many office workers who are sleeping?” I asked.
“Well, they can sleep, and I can talk. What’s the matter…”
Xiao Gao chimed in, “It’s different here than in China. The public areas here are relatively quiet. It’s good to keep your voice low.”
Ru Xue finally calmed down.
I realized that many things were different here. Japanese people respected social order a lot. They lined up when they got on public transportation, and they sorted their garbage well. In our country, the government had always tried to encourage people to do the same, but the majority of the population didn’t have such good awareness. For example, public toilets in Japan were perfectly clean, while the ones in China were dirty and stinky.
I grew up with the notion that Japanese people were ruthless, but when I came here, I realized that they were well-educated.
China had a long history and a lot of resources. After the Reform, the economy skyrocketed. We were able to get rich quickly, but more and more social drawbacks occurred. People got money, but their mindset didn’t change. I thought these social practices were good things we could learn from our neighbors.
My thoughts wandered back to what happened last night. Saito was the leader of a loan shark group. Perhaps that bald uncle had owed him a huge sum of money, and he happened to know a monster. Perhaps he begged that monster to help him finish Saito off.
However, that fox spirit seemed to possess great power. Why did it submit to an ordinary man?
The bus service had a snack bar, and I wanted to buy some as I felt hungry. However, Xiao Gao told me not to buy snacks now and save my appetite to eat kaiseki meals.
It was only forty kilometers from Osaka to Kyoto. We arrived in one hour. Just like yesterday, we got off the bus, checked into a hotel, went to the downtown area by noon, and visited a famous kaiseki restaurant for lunch.
The Japanese kaiseki meals were exquisitely prepared. However, it was strange that they wanted to focus on the color, aroma, and meaning of the dishes. I couldn’t understand what they meant by ‘meaning.’
Anyway, although the kaiseki dishes didn’t taste bad, I thought it wasn’t as delicious as a spicy Chinese hot pot.
After lunch, we went to the pedestrian zone. Xiao Gao was our guide. “Kyoto is an ancient city with a long history. There are many temples, shrines, and cultural sites here. The structure of this city is based on Changan City in China, and it was the capital of Japan for quite a long time through a few dynasties. Its current position is similar to Nanjing in China.”
The atmosphere of Kyoto was completely different from Osaka. Ancient structures were well-preserved, and the people living here seemed to have a more leisure life. The streets were narrow and there weren’t many reinforced concrete buildings. As a whole, this city didn’t look modern at all.
Yin Xinyue said, “This place is nice. I want to live here when I’m old.”
Xiao Gao said, “It’s very complicated to immigrate to Japan. Not to mention the long procedure, but when you come to Japan, you will have to change your name…”
Ru Xue laughed. “Oh, you need to have a Japanese name. Sister Yin, you can be called Yamamoto Yuexin. Brother, you can be Tanaka Jiulin.”
“That doesn’t sound nice at all! I don’t want to move to Japan.” I shook my head.
Ru Xue soon found something interesting. It was a theatre. A handsome man wearing ancient clothes was delivering fliers. He looked like a cosplayer. Ru Xue went to take a photo with the man, and she came back with a flyer.
“What does it read?” Ru Xue showed the flyer to Xiao Gao.
“It seems to be the Abe no Seimei show.”
“Abe no Seimei was the most famous Onmyoji in Japan, right?” I asked.
“Right, Abe no Seimei was the greatest Onmyoji of all time. He subdued countless ghosts during his life. There are so many legends about him. It is said that Abe no Seimei’s mother was a nine-tailed fox.” Xiao Gao nodded.
“Why do Japanese people like fox spirits so much?” asked Ru Xue.
“In Japan, fox spirits are categorized as domestic foxes, wild foxes, fantasy foxes, heavenly foxes, and more. In folklore, fantasy foxes are the farmer guardians. They protect the fields. They are similar to the God of Earth in China. People worship them a lot. The heavenly foxes are godlike existences. In the legend, Tamamo no Mae is the only heavenly fox,” explained Xiao Gao.
“Tamamo no Mae was Daji in China, right?” I asked.
“That seems to be the case. After the great war of the Investiture of the Gods, Xiqi’s army overthrew the brutal Shang Dynasty. While fleeing from Jiang Ziya’s pursuit, Daji came to Japan and turned into the peerless beauty, Tamamo no Mae. She successfully charmed the emperor of Japan, becoming his concubine. Being seduced by Tamamo no Mae, the emperor neglected his court and sank into drinking, playing, and watching beautiful dancers. Eventually, the courtiers started to have doubts, so they decided to invite the Onmyoji Abe no Seimei to subdue the monster.”
He continued, “Tamamo no Mae was killed after a furious fight with Abe no Seimei. Before she died, she condensed her resentful energy into a murderous stone ball. This ball could absorb the energy from the wandering souls within a radius of several hundred miles. Tamamo no Mae could use this energy to rebuild her body. Abe no Seimei knew he couldn’t kill the fox spirit, so he sealed her in a place no one knows…”
Xiao Gao’s story surprised us.
Ru Xue asked, “Those legends are just fabricated, right?”
Xiao Gao smiled. “It’s just a legend, so no one has ever verified it.”
I turned and didn’t see Chuyi. He was standing in front of the small theatre, gazing at the poster of Abe no Seimei.
He turned to me. “I want to watch the show.”
“This is a classical Japanese drama, probably a kabuki drama. Let alone Chinese people who don’t know Japanese, I’m a translator and can’t understand it that well. It’s similar to an American going to watch Chinese Huangmei opera. They won’t understand what’s going on…”
I understood Chuyi’s mood. Although we had different cultures, Abe no Seimei was someone who worked in the same field. Moreover, he was a godlike character!
It was rare to see him interested in something, so I decided to go with him while Xiao Gao and the others went shopping. We would reunite after the show. Everybody agreed to my suggestion.
We bought two tickets and chose two seats near the stage. After a while, the light dimmed. Slowly, the curtains pulled aside, and an actor wearing a kimono and mask walked on the stage. The audience clapped then quieted down to enjoy the show.
The entire drama was around two hours long. The actors sang very well, and the performance was nice with just the right stage effects. As for the story of the drama…
I didn’t understand anything!
After thirty minutes, I couldn’t bear it anymore. My eyelids were so heavy as the melodic foreign language played in my ears. Chuyi sat in the dark and looked very focused. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I had to pull myself together and try to watch the show.
After a while, I really reached my limit. I nudged Chuy and asked, “Do you want to go out for some fresh air?”
Suddenly, Chuyi straightened his back. I was surprised and asked, “Since when did you fall asleep?”
“I didn’t. I was watching the drama.”
He was lying! We burst out laughing. Eventually, he waved his hand. “All right, we should go!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter