Memoirs of an Opium Eater
Nineteenth Year in the Reign of Hantei XXXVIII, Ninth Day, Month of the Horse
It had been several years since I visited Ryoko Owari — but still, its walls upon the hill and the great jagged stones of the Gate of the Oni’s Teeth still make my eyes widen with wonder, just as when I was a girl.
Uncle Kinto, however, seemed to have shrunk. I did not recall him as being so tiny, so white haired, so frail! He looks like a ricepaper kite to be blown away in the lightest wind.
He was delighted to see me, as always, and begged me to spend my first night in the city as his guest; although I was eager to see my own home, I couldn’t refuse him.
After a fine supper, he took me out back to his garden. It, at least, has not shrunk! In fact, he has obtained a parcel of land in back of his, leaving his modest home at the front of a large and […] as always — but he had something to show me as well. While digging in his garden, he found the stones of an ancient foundation. He told me he used a scroll to speak with the spirits of the stones, and they answered him in a foreign tongue! Convinced that he had found an ancient site, he has been digging industriously in the area and has unearthed several strange statues. He showed them to me — their craftmanship is very unusual. They appear to be very detailed, but strangely stylized — as if they weren’t trying to show the thing they obviously are. He says they are statues of Naga — women and men who are great serpents below the waist.