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KUKAMI STORY (the Tale of the Nine Oni)

 

writer: KAKU Wakako

Once upon a time, there was an Oni couple who became followers by having been transformed by Enno Gy
ōja. Dorogawa is the village where the descendants of these Oni reside. In order to peacefully coexist with the human world, they gradually concealed their inherent Oni nature (supernatural abilities) within themselves so as not to reveal it. As a result of blending into the human realm, the descendants of the Oni now possess appearances that are hardly distinguishable from humans.

 

After many years, in the Reiwa era of Japan, individuals who were not originally from Dorogawa began to call themselves "Oni of Dorogawa" across various regions of Japan. There are nine individuals who are creators in total. While they were somewhat unconventional and didn't quite fit in with society, they possessed a certain kind of extraordinary ability (the power to create something from nothing), and each of them carried memories of past lives spent in Dorogawa. It was without a doubt that these past-life memories were awakening their creativity. If the descendants of the Oni of Dorogawa could claim their identity beyond history, these nine individuals were ones who recognized themselves as "Oni of the soul" transcending time and space.

 

People often believe that extraordinary abilities (creativity) are unique to those who possess them. The nine "Oni" understood that they were not special individuals with unique abilities, but that by releasing the seals of common sense, societal norms, and preconceptions, and by becoming conscious of it, everyone inherently possessed the power of divine intervention to create their own world and universe.

 

The nine "Oni" wish for people to remember the power of divine intervention. The awakening of this power could free individuals from anxieties and fears related to survival, and it could attract a respectful and symbiotic relationship with the natural environment. Despite appearing roundabout, it could be an effective means for transforming the world, albeit in modest ways.
 

The poet TANIKAWA Shuntaro, who shared similar sentiments, encountered the nine "Oni" while making a stop in a village during his journey. 

 

TANIKAWA intuited a connection and bestowed poetic phrases to each of the nine "Oni." The "Oni" were moved by these words and collaborated with the “descendants of the Oni” of Dorogawa" to hold a festival. This festival aimed to bring forth the dormant abilities of the "Oni" within each person, abilities that the 

world had kept sealed. It was a celebration to enhance people's daily lives and ultimately overflow this world with vitality.

 

To reiterate, art is not an extraordinary ability. Art and talent belong to no one. Just like the stars in the night sky, they belong to all living beings. The act of creation, the power to create, is indeed an extension of the life force.

 

While it is typically the nature of divine ceremonies to leave no trace once completed, the "Oni" wanted to leave behind a memory of the first "Nine Oni Festival" in Dorogawa, their spiritual homeland.

 

This memory represents the profound and rich nature of Dorogawa that has remained unchanged for thousands of years, and it records the vibrant energy exchanged between people and the nine "Oni". It signifies a continuing story as long as the "Oni" and Dorogawa continue to intersect and interact.

 

Note: 

<Definition of "Oni">

In folklore, the "oni" character often appears as an otherworldly being, but from a folkloric perspective, it symbolizes attributes beyond human understanding, the extraordinary (what we might call the "sacred" in the distinction between "sacred(Hare)" and "profane(Ke)"), supernatural abilities, spirituality, divinity and the like. Moreover, considering the notion of something not artificial, the "oni" can be seen as representing the very essence of both nature and the supernatural. Furthermore, as seen in terms like "Oni-kko" (child with the characteristics of an "Oni"), it can also carry the meaning of being an "individual distinct from others" or an "outlaw." In the sense that they cannot help but necessarily incorporate aspects of life that are not typical of ordinary people and are compelled to live in a somewhat awakened state, artists are "Oni."

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