Sake with a Three-Stringed Guitar


Rai Kamishiro

In my company in Japan, I came to know of a young man who seemed, if it was possible, to have woken up from a 100 year dream. The words he spoke were as old as katana rust, and he was quite the oddity in our mountain.

Roushi, we called him, the old child. We were never sure of what ailment he suffered, only that his past years were of deprivation and possible madness, to cause him to continuously act like one from several eras back.

The clothing he chose was of the typical cotton male kimono, and he refused to eat strangely bright colored foods from other countries, or even ones processed in Japan.

Compared to the native sons, his muscles were horribly atrophied from lying in a hospital for much of his life, so I was 'commissioned' to be a companion/maid/cook for his Old World tongue.

The first day I went, I was sent back by his overbearing aunt, for she claimed that a half-Japanese, orange haired, yellow eyed mongrel would only distress him and exacerbate the problem. Seeing what the commotion was, the boy came out, demanding to know what was causing the hysterics. Remembering the tricks and tales of my grandmother, and how some mountain people believed that a strain of my family came from foxes, I claimed that I was one, hoping my blatant lies would appeal to his superstition loving mind.

Happily, it worked.

My objective filled, The first week of my existence was filled with learning the workings of the old fashioned, and thus utilitarian, old cooking fire, dodging the Aunt who despised me, and mostly finding it imperative to leave as soon as possible and correct my reward.

My attitude and aptitude only changed after the Aunt left for pressing business, the boy preferring to sit in his room and read while she was there, ventured out for my company. Hearing from my grandmother that I retained and researched Japanese mythology and folklore, he asked me for tales of ghosts and spirits, ones that would mitigate the feeling of a lost culture whenever he looked down in to the technocratic world.

Spinning what tales I could remember, and daily walking down towards the library for more, I felt unprecedented interest in Roushi as I had only seen him as a demented little child before. Speaking with him, however, was like speaking with a grandfather, and I soon realized that he did not, as I thought, think himself a samurai era child, but believed he was a very old man.

After we exhausted fairy tales we moved on to conversations on Zen and the nature of the world. It was peaceful for many days, he would sip his sake and rhetoric on his theory that there was no chaos in the world, and that everything was preordained. I, playing my shamisen and being a bit of a Xaosite my self, contradicted him until we realized upon the great epiphany that we were both correct and that was the nature of Zen.

My days of playing the three stringed guitar came to a quick close when doctors appeared, wielding the blood stained katana they believed to be a complete panacea that they called medicine. Roushi went away for a while, and I was sent home.

The next time I chanced upon him, he was cured. He was a neo-Tokyo techno blonde child, drowning in the world through bright green eyes and no longer thought of Zen.

I went home and cursed the cure to the human soul.