Prologue: Moon Magic


Cool and velvety soft,

she pressed the last of her tiny flowers

into the open palm of his hand.…

–Legend of the Cherry Jewel

A small shrine on the grounds of the temple, w...
A small shrine on the grounds of the temple, with cherry blossoms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Year of the Dog 1503

 

On the summit of Moon Mountain, the last fire-shards of sunlight glistened against the remnants of spring snow. Dusting the ground and the upturned roof of the shelter whereHinata Jintori stepped beneath, into the narrow space.

A frozen wind blew the hem and sleeves of his robe as he broke the skin of ice that covered the stone basin. Scooping the chilled water, he drew his cupped hands toward his lips where he sipped and then rinsed his mouth of impurities. He spat the warmed water onto the ground and then shook loose the freezing droplets from his fingertips. Having completed the purifying ritual, he turned and made his way toward Sakura Jinja, a smallish shelter, enclosed by four walls that stood a few short steps away.

Into the narrow entryway of the Cherry Shine, the outer sanctum, he crossed. A few steps beyond, he moved into the heart of the holy place. Only the rasping shuffle of his sandals against the wooden floor and the sound of his breathing broke the silence of approaching twilight.

Illuminated by the soft glow from a lantern, a silver platform occupied the direct center of the room. On the platform sat a wooden cutout, carved from the sacred Sakai tree into the shape of five cherry blossoms.

Five tiny bells dangled, one each, from the five petals, “Shards of the Sakura Hooseki”–the “Cherry Jewel.” Multihued lights flickered between the shards, accompanied by a soothing drone–like the whir of hummingbird wings.

From the topmost petal the blue-sapphire bell hovered over the jade-green bell on one side with the ruby-red bell on the opposite petal. In turn, the green bell swayed above its golden sister while the pulsating ruby-red bell bled into the brooding bone-white shard beneath it.

As he entered the room, Jintori lifted an incense burner from its place on the wall and lit the brass bowl that hung from the end of an ornately carved cherry tree branch. Standing beside the silver pedestal, he waved the bowl over the breathing Shards, sending tendrils of scented smoke that filled the room with pungent sweetness.

His warm breath formed a cloud in the frozen air as he chanted, “The Spirit Shard for the renewal of inner Chi.” At his words, the blue shard beamed with an azure glow.

He continued the chant, “The Shaman Shard for physical healing.” The jade bell shone with a verdant light, while the sapphire bell grew dim.

“The Dominion Shard, for power over the enemy.” The light from the jade bell faded as the next bell radiated a bloody aura

“The Death Shard ripped from the land of Yomi.” The ruby bell dimmed while the bone-white bell glowered like a skinless skull.

“The Eternity Shard with the power of life over death.” The glaring light from the white bell dimmed as the golden bell shimmered like a star point…

(Continued…)

 

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HI EVERYONE!

I’ve been out of the loop for a bit now, busy with the business of writing etc. For those following my book’s progress, it is pretty much decided that the local middle school is using my novel, LEGENDS OF THE HENGEYOKAI, BOOK ONE  TENGU PRINCE as curriculum next April. I’ve been doing fine tune editing to make sure the book is ready for a teacher to read and teach to a class full of sixth graders. This is so exciting!

TENGU PRINCE has a new cover that I hope projects the theme of the story a bit better than the first one did. Also, I am fine-tune-editing book two in the series: CHERRY JEWEL. I hope to have it ready by this October, but a lot is happening now withTENGU PRINCE so not sure if I will find the needed time to spend on CHERRY JEWEL just now. It will be ready by April of next year at the very latest.

English: James Franco at the Austin Film Festi...
English: James Franco at the Austin Film Festival in October 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Johnny Depp at the Austin Film Festiv...
English: Johnny Depp at the Austin Film Festival in October 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am looking for an agent and plan to attend the Austin Film Festival next month. I have gone twice before and find it an exciting place to meet other writers as well as movers and shakers in the film industry.

Hope all of you are having a fantastic September! I wish all the best for you.


A wonderful and informative post.
PLEASE MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL BLOGGER’S POSTS. They were kind enough to let me share this wonderful article with you.

百物語怪談会 Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai

Translated from Mizuki Shigeru’s Mujara

In Goto city in Nagasaki, on the morning of the 15th day of the Obon festival of the dead, it was said that an evil wind blew. Anyone who felt the caress of this evil wind would fall sick and collapse. This day also happened to be the traditional day for visiting the graves of ancestors. It was believed that the souls of the unworshiped dead flew on the winds.

Since olden times, the people of Japan believed in and feared the unworshiped dead, called muenbotoke ( 無縁仏). Farmers blamed everything from droughts, to strong winds, to infestations of insects on these unhappy spirits. And so, during the Obon festival of the dead, along with the usual offerings of rice and sake to the ancestor spirits of the family, they would try to calm the spirits of the muenbotoke and the Buddhist hungry ghosts, so…

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Watasumi Sanjin: Legendary Dragon


 Monument of the Legend of Izumi Kotaro in the Omachi Dam lakeside park.                   (See larger image at this link.) http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Izumi_Kotaro_statue_in_Lake_Ryujin.jpg

Dragons are big news in Japan and have been so for a very long time. The most ancient of them all is Watasumi Sanjin, also known as Ryujin, who ruled the upper, middle and lower sea. Named the “Great Watatsumi  (sea) god” in the Kojiki, the oldest chronicle of Japanese myths and compared to the mountain god, Ohoyamatsumi.  The deity, Izanagi–who escaped from Yomi, the underworld created Watasumi along with the Sun and the Moon and nine other gods in Japanese mythology.

Watasumi has Shinto Shrines throughout Japan dedicated to him. Ōwatatsumi jinja or Daikai Jinja, in Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka, the Watatsumi Jinja in Tarumi-ku, Kobe, and the Watatsumi Jinja in Kokura Minami-ku, Kitakyūshū.

File:Watatusmi-Jinja.JPGTarumi-ku, Kobe

File:Owatatsumi-jinja2.JPGSumiyoshi-ku, Osaka

Watasumi Sanjin is just one more reason to read Legend of the Cherry Jewel, the urban fantasy action/adventure, set in Japan, when is comes out next year.

(Coming soon to Amazon.com, but you can read the first chapter of Legend of the Cherry Jewel here at: http://lediarunnels27221912.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/legend-of-the-cherry-jewel-chapter-one-lost-and-found/

RELATED LINKS

Dragons of the Orient “Hengeyokai” Shape-shifters http://lediarunnels27221912.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/dragons-of-the-orient-hengeyokai-shape-shifters/

Watasumi  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watatsumi

Sumiyoshi sanjin   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumiyoshi_sanjin

Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumiyoshi-ku,_Osaka

Tarumi-ku, Kobe   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarumi-ku,_KobeTarumi-ku, Kobe

Dragons of the Orient “Hengeyokai” Shape-shifters


Japanese Dragon shrine in Fujiyoshida.
Japanese Dragon Shrine in Fujiyoshida

The awesome Dragon of the orient is sacred, beautiful, and blessed with infinite wisdom and vast knowledge. They are playful by nature, but also have the capacity to destroy entire cities with one swipe of their mighty claws and terrifying magic. They are associated with wealth, water and wisdom. All humans desire wealth, whether they admit to it or not. Water is necessary to sustain life on Earth, and wisdom is something we all seek after.

The Dragons of the orient have long, thin bodies, covered in rainbow-hued scales that are strong as steel and magnificently beautiful to behold. They have no wings and instead can bound from the Earth to the Heavens in a single leap. Their heads resemble horses with great billowing whiskers, like a mighty tiger’s, sprouting from their lips. They hear through a pair of horns worn atop their heads like crowns.

When a Dragon of the orient speaks, their voice is like the jingling of coins, yet they possess a melodic quality unequaled by mortal musicians. Closely linked to the elements of water and air, they were originally created from the storms that lashed the earth a the beginnings of creation. In fact, these Dragons love storms so much that they play inside great typhoons. Their claws slash the ground along with the lightning that streaks from their eyes. Their breath creates great clouds that sail into the sky while rain is formed from the pressure of their feet squeezing water from the clouds as they climb into the sky. The wind itself comes from the passing of their breath as they move.

They are known for their wealth and their generosity with humans they are fond of. They are also known to pay unfathomable riches for the freedom to rule the skies. They are especially fond of pearls and will go to great lengths to gain possession of these gems of the sea. Many a human, who has gained favor with a Dragon of the orient, has been presented with pearls that possess magical abilities.

Their king is Ryu-Jin, the greatest and wealthiest of all the Dragons of the orient. Ryu-Jin’s palace is located at the bottom of the ocean, made from crystal and held upright by magnificent jade pillars, encompassed by walls laced with coral and, of course, pearls. Every day precious stones wash down into his palace from the mountains near the seashores. The stones are so numerous that they pile up like mounds of sand that mingle with great piles of magical trinkets and artifacts that litter his palace.

High in the mountains of the Orient is a secret place with a waterfall known as the Dragon Gate. This is the birthplace of all, but the first dragons and is said to lead to their magical domain.

Dragons can take human form and often come in the guise of a humble scholar. In this form, they have been known to sire children that may or may not have the capacity to shape-shift from human to dragon form. Though not all are born with this ability, they all are physically perfect with unblemished skin, sparkling green eyes and flowing black hair. And there is within them all some level of the Dragon’s magic.

MORE

File:Dragonn4.jpg

Japanese Dragon fountain in Hakone

 

Kiyohime changes from a Serpent, by Yoshitoshi...
Image via Wikipedia

Kiyohime changes from a Serpent, by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka

 

File:Tamatori being pursued bya dragon.jpgThe ama diver Princess Tamatori steals the Dragon King’s jewel, byUtagawa Kuniyoshi

File:One of the daughters of the dragon king who lives in then bottom of the sea.jpgThe Dragon King’s daughter, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

File:Kunisada II The Dragon.jpgThe Buddha riding a sea-dragon, by Kunisada.

File:Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Dragon 2.jpgSea-dragon, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

LINKS

AD&D Character Race:

Hengeyokaihttp://www.mjyoung.net/dungeon/char/race007.html

The World of Darkness Wiki: Hengeyokai

http://wiki.white-wolf.com/worldofdarkness/index.php?title=Hengeyokai

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: Yōkai

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C5%8Dkai

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: Japanese Dragon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_dragon

Yūrei, “Faint Spirit” (Japanese Ghost)


English: Maruyama Ôkyo (1733-1795): The Ghost ...
Image via Wikipedia

It is night. In the upper bedroom of the rented farmhouse, you lie awake against the futon pillow. You gaze up at the ceiling. For some reason, you cannot fall asleep. It’s as if your mind will not shut off. The events of the day keep playing, like a broken record, across your mind.

From the corner of your eye, you detect flickers of blue, green and purple flames just outside the sliding glass door. Your heart skips a beat when you glance in the direction of the colored flames. Standing on the narrow balcony, that rests against the side of the house, is a young man dressed in a white kimono that covers his feet. Long, black hair trails in a disheveled mass around his shoulders and down his back. On his forehead rests a white triangle of cloth. His hands dangle limply from his wrists on outstretched arms that point directly toward you. His dark eyes gaze beseeching into yours.

You grab the edge of your quilt and yank it up around your chin. Your mind cannot conceive of what your eyes see.

After the first initial shock, you wonder what has happened to trap the spirit between this world and the next and who were his relatives, that must have once lived here? He seems to have come back for their help in releasing him from his torment.

Against your better judgement, you rise and walk toward the closed, glass door. Before you can release it, the latch clicks and the door slides open, as if by magic. You find yourself standing only a few feet from the ghostly young man.

You now see a haki maki is tied around his forehead, beneath the white triangle. He whispers the word, “Kamikaze,” and you realize, he must be one of the very young who died as a “suicide boomer” in the second world war. You want to help him, but are not sure how. Nonetheless, you reach your hand toward his and smile.

More Information:

Yūrei幽霊? meaning “faint spirit” or Bōrei 亡霊, “ruined or departed spirit” is also called Yōkai 妖怪 or Obake お化け. In Japanese culture, humans have a spirit called a reikon 霊 that returns to their living family during the summer Obon Festival. If a person is murdered or commits suicide or if proper funeral rites are not preformed, they become stuck in the physical world, unable to travel to spirit world. The restless yūrei must first resolve the emotional conflict that holds it trapped between the two worlds.

The famous Ukiyo-e artist, Maruyama Ōkyo crafted “The Ghost of Oyuki”, seen in the upper right corner of this page.

References:

Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia: Yūre

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C5%ABrei

Mangajin #40: Japanese Ghosts

http://www.mangajin.com/mangajin/samplemj/ghosts/ghosts.htm

Obon, the Dance of the Dead (Japanese Festival)


In the village square, Chinese lanterns and fireflies cast a ghostly glow over the tightly packed shops and houses along the narrow avenue. The sound of clapping hands and beating drums draw you toward a drum tower, situated just below the elevated train station. Atop it, men and boys, dressed in dragon coats, with matching scarves tied around their heads, slam mallets against the sides of drums both large and small.

Dressed in colorful yukata of cherry blossoms, soaring white cranes, and glittering fans with ribbons, women dance in a circle around the drum tower as they sway to the hypnotic “dance of the dead.” Their flowing hands and the drums’ beat call for the dead to arise and join in the celebration, as the spicy scent of cooked sausage floats on the jasmine breeze.

In the willow trees that grow along the street cicadas creep from their brittle shells. The lure of their castanet song adds to the intoxicating beat. The dancers, the drum tower and the crowds of people seem to swirl and bob around you, like a magical dream.

To your surprise, someone whispers in your ear, words from Matsu Basho, master haiku poet.

“Temple bells die out.

The fragrant blossoms remain.

A perfect evening!”

You turn to find a pair of smoldering eyes, like polished jade, gazing into your own. A white prayer scarf, painted with red kanji calligraphy, wraps the apparition’s ashen forehead, pulling long black hair away from its ghostly face and neck.

You stare, dumbfounded as people stroll by, unaware that “something” not of this world, stands in front of you. A small boy, twirling a plastic pin wheel, walks straight through the apparition’s chest. The image flickers as if it might go out like a candle flame as the ghostly image bows respectfully toward you.

“Moonlight and magic,” you whisper. Your thoughts swarm like bees in the summer heat, so fast you can hardly grasp their meaning.

The sharp pounding of the barrel taiko yanks your attention back toward the drum tower. Everything around you seems to spin in slow motion and then tilt-a-whirl fast making you so dizzy you almost lose your balance.

When the spinning stops, you find the apparition has disappeared. You shake your head and walk away, whispering beneath your breath, “It was only a dream.”

Further reading:

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: Bon Festival http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Festival

You Tube: Traditional Japanese Obon dance http://is.gd/aSQUEy

You Tube: KODO – Heartbeat Video 2007 http://is.gd/0ktCPX

Sample chapters from LEGEND OF THE CHERRY JEWEL, a romantic, fantasy, action-adventure set in feudal and modern-day Japan http://lediarunnels27221912.wordpress.com/