Tamashizume: Twin Village
|"It is mere hypothesis, but I will attempt to interpret these lyrics."|
This article is a fan translation. Content may change if an official version becomes available.
Although we had intended to go straight to Minakami Village, we first stopped at a nearby village. Just as I had expected, the villagers kept their mouths tightly shut and would not talk about the place.
"You said that you are going to that village? It would be better if you stopped now."
The old woman at the house we were treated to tea at gave us a similar warning. "Now? Perhaps it would be a good idea to come back another time." The woman would not say any more than this. After we had said our thanks and left the house, I felt that all of the villagers were staring at us with unpleasant looks. It had not been obvious when we had first arrived. An unsettling feeling descended upon us as we left the village. Soon afterwards, Munakata noticed that a child had been following us. I asked him if he was going into the mountains and he said no, then returned the question. When I answered "yes", the child spoke with a pale face.
"You shouldn't go into the mountains on years when there's a Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. The demons will come after you, mister."
I wanted to ask him what he meant, but he seemed to have run away and returned to the village.
"The Crimson Sacrifice Ritual is the name of a festival performed at the village we are heading to," said Munakata. He told me what little he knew about the ritual. The "Crimson Sacrifice Ritual" is performed approximately once every decade (for reasons he does not know, on rare occasions the ritual may occur early), and requires twins, called "Twin Shrine Maidens", who live in the village. If there are no girls able to perform the ritual, boys are used (and in this case seem to be called "Altar Twins"). It is not directly related to the ritual, but twins are born in the village at an astounding frequency. I have thought hard about this, and wonder if it is related to the "sacrifice" in some way. The twins assume the role of shrine maidens, their fate...
The ritual cannot be performed without twins, and so they continue to be born... Could the Minakami villagers' life cycles be governed by some kind of god, to whom an offering is made during the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual?
Now that I think about it, I have heard that twins can run in the family. When twins are born, the probablity of their descendants also giving birth to twins increases. In these closed-off mountain villages, if there is no interaction with surrounding villages, marriage between those who share the same blood occurs often and repeatedly. Due to this, I would think that there would be a high possibility that twins would be born there.
A festival which occurs roughly once every decade. In neighbouring villages, when I ask them questions concerning this subject, they turn their heads away and avert their eyes. It seems as though we are about to enter the village.
We exited the forest, with its dense foliage, and set our sights upon a beautiful stream along the mountain path, which we headed towards. From the stream we continued along the narrow path, until we could see the entrance to Minakami Village. As we passed the next Dosojin statue, carved into the shape of twins, we climbed a steep hill and found ourselves in an open space.
"This place is called Misono Hill. There's a pedestal in the centre, you know. When it's time for the festival, the villagers all gather here."
I suppose that this place is just the right size for a gathering. What seems to be a pedestal is surrounded by stone columns, and sacred ropes called shimenawa are wound around them. Could this place really be the "gate to hell"? No, surely such a place would not stand out in such a fashion. I surveyed the area carefully. From the hill, I could see the entire village. There are four to five large residences, which are ringed by a group of smaller houses. The village itself is shrouded in a thick fog, which I doubt that one could manage to navigate without a guide. Munakata had stopped at Misono Hill, and I hurriedly followed him. We stopped on the doorstep of a house which bore a nameplate reading "Osaka", and Munakata called out to its inhabitants.
An old man came out of the house. His face was covered with white hair, and he took a good look at us.
Leaving us with these words, the old man slowly vanished into the village.
"When I came here, I couldn't go into the village until the Osaka family had been informed that I was allowed to," Munakata had said whilst putting his luggage down on the floor beside his feet.
I see... so the lattice window near the entrance hall in the Osaka family house was constructed so as to allow communication with the outside. It seems that they are always standing guard, keeping watch over those who enter the village. Surely, if I do not get permission then I will not be able to go into the village.
Munakata and I waited idly for the old man's return for some time. The old man did not return, but a man who went by the name of "Kurosawa" came to greet us. It seems as though we are allowed to enter the village. We followed him, and he lead us to the largest house in the village.