Monday, July 16, 2007

Part Two: What I Meant to Say

In Part One I wrote about a Japanese friend of mine who told some kids that they had better not piss off a pair of old baseball bases (below).

The boys didn't get it at first. It took a few more hints until they caught on. Here, I'll let you in on the secret.

The reason she teased them was because of a belief in something called a tsukumo-gami, a kind of Artifact Spirit. Basically, there is a superstition that when inanimate objects reach their 100th birthday they gain awareness -- become alive. And because of this it's not a good idea to treat them badly. You know, just in case.

Some more popular tsukumo-gami are karakasa. Umbrellas.

And a kind of Japanese woven sandal, a bakezori.

Almost anything can become a tsukumo-gami; that is, anything that doesn't use electricity. I guess the Spirits really dislike electricity.

So one day I sat around wondering if I had anything that could possibly be or become a tsukumo-gami. I mean if my husband doesn't break it or the cat doesn't pee on it, there is always the dog who will very cheerfully chew it to nice little shreds.

And then I remembered -- I DO have something. Years ago my mother-in-law gave me an old piece of cloth. She told me then it was well over a hundred years old. Here it is.

I like to pretend that at night, after we all go to bed it looks something like this and dances around the livingroom scaring the crap out of the cats.

Hey, that looks not unlike Spongebob.

{Survivied typhoon. Survived earthquake. I'm expecting Mount Fuji to erupt tomorrow. And yes, I'm knocking firmly on wood as I write this.}


Mysti said...

I love reading your posts and find such an amazing wisdom and insight into a culture I've never truly known a great deal about. I love the fun spirited light that your blog carries!

I did tag you on my site; and hope that you will follow suite. I'd love to learn more about the writer behind the blog!

Matt D said...

I'm very glad you're not dead in a earthquake, typhoon, or nuclear disaster.

As for these tsukumo-gami, we have a couple things that would qualify. Would it work even if it's not "electric" it worked with something that was? Like those old, wax cylinders for records?

Kappa no He said...

Mysti: Cool. Thanks! And I'm mulling over random things about myself to post.

Matt: Thank you. We have one of them there nuclear powerplants not an hour's drive from our house. That and sitting on three plates...I'm living for the moment.

I think the wax cyinder would work. And it would be cool too! Now you know who to blame if the last piece of cake disapears or your favorite CD goes missing.

Anonymous said...

The power plant you're talking about used to have the only IMAX between Tokyo and Nagoya. I was very disappointed when they closed it down. The plant tours were fun, too. Good luck when the Tokai quake hits.
Back to your point. Now I understand why the Japanese are so eager to get rid of old things, even such insignificant ones as needles. Certainly don't want any animated sharp objects dancing around.
Two big earthquakes in different locations in the Japan Sea, near miss on an early typhoon. I live in MD, and I still carry emergency stuff in my school bag. Japan was good training. Have you practiced with the local fire department yet? That's a blast. Those hoses are like wrestling a big snake. Anchored your CD shelves to the wall yet? Got your "go kit" up to date with fresh cans? Yaaaaaaaah! This is why Zen and submission to fate are so big there.
P.S. I'm very sorry that, through me, you introduced momo to "Oshirikajiri Mushi" She needs a dog. "Da Da Da Da Da Da Daaaaa"

Kappa no He said...

Imomo: Ha ha! Tell her if she wants a keychain or charm for her mobile phone I'll get right on it!

That comment about Zen and well, the absolute need for it because of an island that really doesn't want anyone living on her (I'm referring to the infernal summer heat now) was perfect.

We've been pretty active in the PTA and Neighborhood Association so have gotten to play at a lot of the Disaster Prevention practices, mostly digging toilets and making stretchers out of a pair of shirts. All ingenious! As for whether or not my water is fresh or not...let me go check.

Anonymous said...

I love the thought of that. I don't think I have anything that qualifies - wait! I have a frame that has to be a hundred years old. Cool.

I'll have to think on it to get its personality.

Neat concept.


Kappa no He said...

Jaimie: It is a fun idea to think about. Better keep an eye of that frame!