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Thursday, 18 July 2013

My Master Series Episode 9 "The Urn"

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This has to be one of the scariest experiences I've ever had.

It was the autumn of my first year at university. My master in the Way of Occult was in the state of hiatus.
He sort of lacked his usual vigour and his intuitive power seemed to have dwindled.
Even when I said to him, "Please take me to a haunted place or something!" that sparked no fire in him, and his mind seemed to be elsewhere; he would just take out four 1-yen coins*1 from his pocket, shake them a little on the back of his hands, and mutter under his breath, "Nope. Bad omen,' and go back to lying down, thereafter not moving a muscle.

But one day, out of the blue, he grabbed me by the hand and said, "Let me read your palm."
After he had examined it a little, he said, "Oh dear, oh dear. This looks bad. So bad that I don't know what to make of it. You must be dying to know what I mean, yes?"
There he goes again, saying anything as he pleases.
"Well! So that's decided. Let's go, let's go!"
He dragged me along with him by force.
Nevertheless I was glad that he had perked up a little.

He didn't tell me where we were going but I obediently followed him.
We got on a train and headed to the the prefecture next to ours, and arrived at its main city.
After we got out of the station we walked into a mall.

In one corner of the mall, we spotted a small table with a sign that read "Palmistry," *2 behind which sat a middle-aged man.
My master called out to him in a familiar manner, and told me the man was his "relative."
The palmist, who introduced himself as Shuho, said to my master, "So you have come to see it again," with a look of displeasure on his face.
Shuho-san*3 was apparently a well-known local personage, and was also in kinship with  Hachiro Asano *4.

Before I had a chance to find out why we were there, I had my palm read by the man; but he said nothing was particularly bad about my palm, except that I had some lines indicating I might experience some troubles with women.
I was glad when he told me that the Girdle of Venus, *5 which is a semi-circle that starts from between the first and second finger and ends between the third and forth, was vivid on my hand.
The line is supposed to be an indication that I have an artistic trait in me.
"Aren't you going to have your palm read, senpai?" *6   I asked my master, but Shuhou-san glared at him and remarked, "There's no need for me to see his hand. Death is written all over it."
My master just laughed if off.








We had to wait until Shuho-san closed his palmistry stand for the night. Then he took us to his home. He lived in an impressive Japanese-style house.
It transpired that his palmistry was just his hobby, and not his main job.

He served us a dinner and told us we shoud sleep over for the night.
I took a bath, and when I finished my master was waiting for me.
He said, "Come with me,"and led me to the storehouse*7 that stood at the back of the land; there, Shuho-san was already waiting for us.
"I know you have every right to see it. But still, I don't like it," he said.
My master replied, "Come on, don't be so square!!" and went into the storehouse.

At the back of the storehouse there was a steep staircase that looked almost like a ladder, and we used it to climb down. I realised what I was about to see was what my master had come for.
My heart started beating rapidly, all because I saw my master's eyes shine.
When he was like that we usually encountered something really crazy.

The staircase turned out to be longer than I had anticipated. Perhaps we had descended the depth amounting to the depth of two floors, when we at last arrived at a tatami-matted*8 basement room.
A solitary lamp hang from the ceiling, giving off feeble, yellowish light.
It was a crude room,  about 6-jo*9 in size, hemmed in by unplastered clay walls. Tatami mats too seemed to have been directly placed above mud.
Later I learned that it was originally a home-made air-raid shelter.

In the corner of the room loomed a very strange object.
It was a huge earthenware pot. It reached up to my chest in height, and its width was so wide that it looked as though I wouldn't be able to enclose it within my arms.
On top of that it wasn't an ordinary pottery you would see in everyday life; it was a rope-patterned, unglazed pottery.

"Isn't this a Jomon pottery?" *10
 Shuho-san shook his head.
"No, it's actually Yayoi-style.*11 A pottery for storing grains."
 How on earth a thing like that ended up in this place?
My master went closer to it and stared at it intensely.
"This one was brought over here by his*12 grandfather. It was acquired by taking advantage of the confusion during the war."*13
Shuho-san mentioned the name of a famous ruin.

Just then, my master opened his mouth.
"For storing grains? Yeah, right."
It sounded like he was sniggering.
Even under the yellowish light, the urn had a dull, lifeless colour.
Shuho-san  groaned.
"His grandfather, on the other hand, insisted that it was for storing human bones."

"You can see the faces of the dead - his grandfather used to say - just by looking down inside from its opening."
I trembled.
It was still the beginning of autumn and too early to feel a chill in the air; but I felt coldness creeping up on me.
"He would say that sometimes the dead would even climb up from the urn. They would come out and fill up the room, even the whole storehouse; and when you then bolt the storehouse on the outside, they would give out pitiful cries that would echo throughout the town."
I felt a strong shock as if someone had hit me on the head.
A sudden wave of vertigo came over me. It felt like thousands of flies were swarming inside my head.
Putrid odour filled the air.

This is bad. This urn is really bad. I'd had a fair number of paranormal encounters, and my experience was warning me of danger.

My master was peering down into the urn.
"They're coming. They're climbing up. Come on, climb up, climb up!"
His eyes were shining with glee.

Ear-ringing  -  as if there were a large swarm of flies.
The ear-ringing was sharper than any I'd ever had before.

Something went crash! and the light went out. Before it got dark, I saw blue flames coming out of the urn.
"This isn't good. We've got to get out of here."
Alarmed, Shuho-san said hurriedly.
"Look at them!  These guys are still stuck here inside, even after two thousand years!"
My master shrieked, even as Shuho-san held him fast.
"They were eating f**king humans! This is our original sin!"
I felt my legs give out.
"Come here! If you call yourself my apprentice, see it. Look inside. See the darkness.  The darkness that belongs to this world of ours*14 is bottomless. There's no salvation in the next life. It's the karma of man-eaters, of cannibalism! Every time I see it, it strengthens my conviction - that humans are, by their nature,  scumbags who have no right to live!"

I rushed up the stairs without a second thought.
Shuho-san, having forcibly pulled my master out of the place and locked up the storehouse, said to us,
"Sleep now and go home tomorrow morning."
Terrible gales raged throughout the night, and I slept with my hands pressed over my ears.

After this incident, my master regained his health and spirit, but it left me with uneasy, hard-to-define feelings.





++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
*1 1 yen coin (pictured right) : the smallest denomination coin in circulation in Japan
*2 See the second picture from the top in the text for an example of the palmist stand.
*3 Shuho (宗芳). "San" (さん) is an honorific suffix
*4 Hachiro Asano (浅野八郎): The narrator mentions this name as if the person were well-known, but I personally have not heard of this name before, nor has my search on the net led to any useful, relevant information. (added 20/7/2013: There's a Hachiro Asano, born in 1931, who has devoted his life to the study of human psychology and personality science, and who has so far published over 300 books to date. His book, "Palmistry," published in 1962, became an instant best-seller. He is said to have a deep knowledge about astrology and the practice of fortune-telling in general. Reference: Wikipedia (Japanese)  /Hachiro Asano's personal website /Hachiro Asano's books in Amazon)
*5 The Girdle of Venus  - see the picture on the left.
*6 Senpai (先輩): A term used to call someone who is your senior (Wiki)

*7 Storehouse: 土蔵 (dozo) in the original text. Also called 蔵 (kura), the dozo is a traditional Japanese storehouse, the wall of which is typically made with clay coated with plaster. See the last picture inserted in the text.
*8 Tatami (畳) : a type of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms. (Wiki)
*9 6-jo : "Jo" (畳) is an area unit widely used in Japan. Traditionally, the size of a room is measured by the number of tatami mats it can contain. One jo is equivalent of the size of one tatami mat. So a 6-jo room would be equivalent of an area containing 6 tatami mats. 
*10 Jomon pottery: (縄文式土器 Jōmon-shiki Doki) is a type of ancient pottery which was made during the Jōmon period (14,000 BC to c. 300 BC) in Japan. The term "Jōmon" (縄文) means "rope-patterned" in Japanese, describing the patterns that are pressed into the clay. (from Wiki)
*11Yayoi pottery: (弥生土器 Yayoi Doki) is a type of ancient pottery which was made during the Yayoi period ( 300 BC to AD 300) in Japan. The first picture at the top of the post shows an example of a Yayoi pottery.
*12 his grandfather : that is, Master's grandfather.
*13 acquired by taking advantage of the confusion during the war : meaning the pottery was stolen by the grandfather during the World War II.
*14 this world of ours: 此岸 (Shigan) in the original text. It is a buddhist term describing the world we're living in, as opposed to the world of the dead (i.e. 彼岸 Higan).

25 comments:

Saya Yomino said...

Please do forgive me if you have commented but haven't received replies from me. As I wrote in FAQ I sometimes overlook some of the comments when there are a lot of them, and I often don't reply to the comments posted at older posts. But rest assured I read every single comment that comes and appreciate them all.

KC said...

well , so what's the connection between the title "Urn" and "Palm Reading" ?

arshvein said...

My Master series is always interesting! Here we saw the occult connection the Master had, and it seems it's in his family. A jar to put human remains that's cannibalized in Yayoi era.. and the Master somehow knew and revitalized by the darkness of humanity.. that was fascinating. We knew that he has bad ending in the previous series (later on chronologically), but really, seeing the occult things from a (relatively) normal person perspective like this was very interesting.

Thanks for wonderful translation Saya!

Chester Ho said...

This story is simply amazing.Sorry for couldn't come up with a clever or original comment.
Thank you so much for your posts Saya.Good bye and have a pleasant day.

toyboxed said...

My lovely series is back! thank you so much Miss Saya! hohoho

man, starting from the wierd stair that goes down for about two stories buling is aleady scary, plus the 6 tatami size room with a big urn and its dark pretty sure, how come they could go up so fast :p

Tia said...

Yes! Another episode of My Master Series! These gem-of-a-story posts are always riveting to read! :) The ninth episode however seems to me as if the story of our dear Narrator is coming to an end... I don't know, i have this feeling particularly because of the fact that the death of the Master has now been officially confirmed by a 3rd party...And well, that kind of stuff always have "HINT" written all over them. Besides that, it is an intriguing yet highly disturbing fact that the Master seems to extract energy out of such dark beings as the cannibalised souls of the urn. Perhaps that will be the cause of his untimely demise, the dabbling with the evil forces...or just the part where he single-handedly pisses them off, like we have read in previous episodes! :P Nonetheless, a didn't expect any less from you, Saya chan, awesome post as always! ;)

Saya Yomino said...

@KC: Nothing, dear. There's no connection between the palm reading and the title "the urn." Palm reading thing was just an excuse for the master to take his apprentice to Shuho's place.


@arshvein: I love the way that we get to know about master little by little as the episodes progress. Thank you for your enjoyable comment, dear! :D


@Chester Ho: haha, no need to leave a clever or original comment, dear, just be yourself.
I'm always glad to get comments from you. Thank you and hope you have a great day too!


@toyboxed: When I hear "hohoho" it makes me think about Father Christmas lol

In the time of need, people always find skills and strength to accomplish a feat that they aren't able to do under normal circumstances, dear! A person running for his life would run faster than a gold medal runner!


@Tia: The episodes from My Master Series are one of the stuff I enjoy translating most. I always feel a deep satisfaction after I finished translating them. It's as the old saying goes, "the dearest child is always the most troublesome child." Apart from the hard-to-translate text, I had to search for appropriate pictures and numerous footnotes to go with it. The only things that motivate me to go to this length is the pure enjoyment I derive from it, and the feedback I get from you dear readers!

There's someone on the net who put these stories in chronological order. He conjectures that the first time the narrator meets master is in the spring of 1997, and this episode "The Urn" happens in the autumn of the same year.
Master's disappearance apparently occurs in the autumn of 1999. We have lots more episodes between these years, so have no fear! :D

The pleasure is mine, dear. I'm always happy to get comments from you! :D Thank you very much!



THANK YOU EVERYONE AGAIN, for your lovely comments! take care!

NepNep said...

Hachiro Asano is the author of books titled
"Hands: The Complete Book of Palmistry". At least that was i got from skimming over the internet.

A.J Tutanes said...

Hm, quite a curiosity, considering the fact that the Master was seemingly "re-energized" from the essence of those tortured souls...

Anyways, awesome translation once again Yomino-san! Keep up the good work and know that many people are supporting you :3

*rolls away*

Adorably Dead said...

I absolutely love the Master series. Very creepy. I wonder how they got the spirits back in.

Maybe they got bored. :p lol.

Ai said...

Ah, finally! This series is like a fresh breeze for me, it's my favorite. It has more depth than the usual stories; I don't know whether it is because of the story or the writing style or both. Good job on translating it Saya-san, I know you're trying hard to translate it and make it enjoyable to read.

I like how twisted the Master is, and somehow I find his excitement cute. Poor apprentice dragged along with his Master's bizarre antics. Maybe it runs in the family, seeing his equally twisted grandfather. What a wacky family lol

Saya Yomino said...

@NepNep: Thank you, dear. I've heard of this Hachiro Asano before, but it slipped my mind because I originally translated that "Shuho is a descendant of Hachiro Asano." The Asano you mention is still alive, so I thought he couldn't be the one that the narrator talks about. However, I looked at the original Japanese text again, and I thought maybe my translation was wrong. The narrator says that Shuho is Asano's "系列" which can simply mean Shuho is Asano's kin. I corrected the info in the footnote and the translation too. Thanks again for your help!


@A.J Tutanes: You don't know how delighted I am every time I receive a comment from you readers. Thank you for your support! :D


@Adorably Dead: Me too! I just love the master series. I've already started to translate the next episode. I hope I can show you one or two more episodes before the summer ends! :D


@Ai: The master series is certainly unique, and I agree that the master is a very attractive person in a weird way! :) The more I read these episode the more I become intrigued. Please wait for the next episode with expectation, because you won't be disappointed! :D


THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS, everyone!<3

Serene said...

Hey saya!

I really liked this 'My Master' series. From yoru post I realised this must be quite a while ago, like, about two decades ago? I wonder if the author have seen his master again at this period of time... I also have a question! Is the author of My Master series still posting at this timing? And is it the same account/person posting this series of stories in the same thread?

Interesting read as always! Even though I could understand some of the cultural stuff as you have translated and added the footnote, I really appreciate that you do this to the other readers who might not grasp the cultural significance behind it :)

Recently I was reading Reddit r/nosleep which features supposed 'true' stories of people that are haunted/encounter scary stuff that made them can't sleep. It is really interesting, so give it a try if you have time. :)

But more importantly, I would like you to read this thread about how this foreign exchange student played the one-man hide and seek with her host friend and used blood instead of their fingernails. Regardless of whether if it's true or not, I would like to ask if using blood in the ritual of putting it inside the doll would be really that different?

http://as.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/1gngjh/dont_play_hitori_kakurenbo_aka_one_man_hide_and/

Anonymous said...

I am so so so glad you're back. These stories are fantastic and your hard work is very appreciated. I have suggested this site to some of my friends. Would it be ok if I shared a link to your site so others can read it?

Side note: Shame on people for stealing your work not giving you credit! How hard is it to just tell others where to find the stories? That is how I came across this years ago.

toyboxed said...

i noticed that you said that you were starting to translate the next episode Miss Saya! I am patiently waiting hohoho

Christian Hardjono said...

I actually like the unique timeline...
they jumped all over...
and I pity the narrator but kinda want to feel it myself... :D

unicorn said...

Haha! I just finished reading the first episode up to this one :» I love this series. Why I just decided to read this one?


I'm just confused about the orderof episodes TT and I confused about the cannibalism thing in this episode TT who ate who?haha.


I love the aruku san episode :» hope you translate more of this!

Mimi said...

Yay! Master series! I feel like we really could see the faces of the dead, if we looked into the urn.

I think this master of the Way of Occult would be such an interesting person to meet in real life. I'd love to meet him.

Thank you for your hard work! I enjoyed it tremendously.

Steeple said...

Brr, I wish the ending could have lasted just a bit longer... I wanted to savor that horror more, of the dead crawling up from an immense pot...

By the way... cannibalism? The only thing I can think of is: wasn't there a huge period of famine in japan one time? Maybe that pot and the dead inside are from that period, having resorted to cannibalism. Or maybe they're the ones who were eaten, their bones put into the pot as a makeshift burial? Taking revenge...

I feel almost sorry for My Master... he seems like a very depressed person.

HN3 said...

hey lady, you alive?

I been thinking in traveling to japan, my sister have experience in trips already so its completly possible.

And yay, another episode of my master.

Bleblo said...

Is your real name Saya or is it a pen name? been reading here for a few years now lol but not sure if its your real name or not xDD anyway hope you'll come back with a really long story, cus i love long stories :P hehe

Pound Cake said...

I have to say that this is my favorite story so far on your blog! :D It's so awesome!! <3 Thank you lots for translating and posting this ^__^) <3

Anonymous said...

さやさん、
闇芝居と言うアニメを見たことがありますか?

日本の都市伝説と怪談についています。 
とても面白いと思いますよ!

この物語を書いてくれてありがとうね! ^^

バイバイ!

(sorry if I made any mistakes with my Japanese. I'm still learning!)

Tricia Farin said...

Hey Saya! I really loved this series ad I'm excited to let you know it will be having a drama/anime next year! I can't believe it even has a 100 stories up in 2chan which I wish I could read! Thanks for introducing me to this series! :D

Alex W. said...

Sorry for troubling you but I was wondering if the translation for this series was abandoned, since it's been two years since the last update. The story was really entertaining and it is such a shame to be unable to read it beyond this point.
At any case, thank you so much for translating both this series and many, many, other stories; tons of people really appreciate it.
I truly hope to see you posting again soon. Please take care.