Fuda no Tsuji

   He remembered it whenever he got on a tramcar an essay by Nagai Kafu which he had read at school. Kafu wrote about getting on an antiquated-looking tramcar and riding to the end of the line, watching the passengers getting on and off and making up fantasies about the life of each. Nowadays he had little cause to be interested in books. Still, whenever he got on a tramcar, the essay would somehow come back to him.
       It was an autumn afternoon. It was raining. He was sitting on the hard bench of a tramcar headed for the Ginza. He was supposed to attend a reunion of his college class that evening. He hadn’t seen them for . . . how many years was it now? But to tell the truth he’d just as soon avoid the chance of exhibiting himself in his worn-out shoes and his worn-out suit to his former classmates. But there was no way out of it. He had promised he would show up when one of them called him on the phone yesterday at the office. He had given his answer―coward that he was―in a meek, compliant voice. So that was that.
         A damp smell of wet umbrellas and mud mingled with the smell of human bodies inside the tramcar. He looked at them―office workers and students cutting as dreary a figure as he did himself. He wasn’t just imitating Kafu but he did find himself wondering about the day to day “existence” of each person. That middle-aged man over there with fraying sleeves, for example, was the sort you’d find selling insurance policies. He would live in a small house somewhere in the suburbs. At night when he got home from the office he’d set to work on his dinner, a wife sitting on the other side of the table with nothing to look at but his own sour face throughout the meal. After dinner he’d sprawl out to listen to the radio, without saying a word… He had the feeling that the whole life of this middle-aged type was before his eyes. Then, the woman sitting across the aisle with the dirty bandage wrapped around her head. She probably had bronchitis. One just knew that she sat out every day in the dismal waiting room of some hospital. Just sat there waiting, patiently waiting.
           This is the sort of fantasy the man would create about each. And with it a mighty aversion for their way of life―faded, petty thing that it was―would come over him. ‘How can they bear it, the same thing day after day?’But he had to eat his own words. This evening it was he looking as he did who had to appear at a class reunion.
             A damp street shone through dirty windows. It was all muddy where the street was being dug up to make way for a new super-highway. Houses were being demolished too. It was like the Tokyo he knew during the war. Drab-looking advertisements were posted up on a telephone pole, one for Sanyo television, another for a popular brand of oden. A man in a rain-coat was repairing a truck stalled by the roadside. He didn’t care for any of it: dirty houses, dirty streets, the dark rainy sky above. The trouble was he knew no way of making contact with what was out there.
               ‘Fuda no Tsuji! Next stop, Fuda no Tsuji.’
                 The voice of the conductor, tired himself at the end of the day, sounded above the shoulders of the passengers. Twilight was beginning to fall now. He looked out abstractedly at the passing streets. He saw a filling station. He saw a small building. There was a black height with trees on it. Behind the height, or bluff, there was a large white mansion building. Below it, a small cemetery. And above the cemetery he thought he remembered―there were some camphor trees. He caught just a glimpse of the bluff, just a glimpse of the cemetery below as he looked out of the window of the tramcar. But he knew he had stood there on just such a rainy evening as this some twenty-one years ago.
                   Twenty-one years ago he had walked at the foot of the same bluff, shivering in the cold with Nezumi. ‘Nezumi’ was the name they had given to the foreign monk working at the mission college where he studied. It meant a tiny white mouse. Nezumi was trying now to scamper up a deep-path thick with grass and nettles. He was awkward at it. Didn’t even know how to hold his own umbrella. He was his nickname all over, a cowardly white mouse with a tiny face, all dripping with rain.
                     ‘That guy’s really silly.’
                       The young man had gone off to one side to relieve himself having waited already longer than was comfortable. He shielded himself with his umbrella. He glanced over furtively at the monk. Spindly legs in trousers spattered with mud―it was a mouse all right with its frantic little movements.
                         ‘Mr. Inoue. Which way is Kodenmacho!’
                           The voice came from the top of the bluff to which he had barely managed to scramble on all fours. It came out of the darkness mingling with the sound of rain and wind.
                             ‘Over there, I think,’ Inoue answered wearily.
                               ‘Over toward Nihombashi’,
                                 ‘Come on up. Can’t we see it from up here!’ came the voice from above again.
                                   ‘What the hell’s he talking about?’, the young man grumbled to himself. Scowling, he set off on the narrow path that led to the top.
                                     The monk was a foreigner attached to the college in Yotsuya where the young man studied, the mission school which took anyone no matter how many other colleges had turned him down. This sort of monk was different from the priests who taught there. They worked in the university offices and attended to various odd jobs about the monastery.
                                       They called him ‘the Mouse.’ Of course, he had a real name. It was Freilicher, some other German Jew’s name of the kind. None of the students called him by it. It was too difficult for them to pronounce. Instead they gave him this nickname. It wasn’t just his looks. It was also the way he would stealthily peer―tiny white face, stuck out of the Bursar’s Office―to hand over to students their various papers and identification cards. He was like a timorous white mouse darting out of his small hole.
                                         Still, it wasn’t just his character but also the way he moved that made him seem to go about everywhere in fear and trembling. The war was going badly. All foreigners in Japan, even Germans, began to be viewed with a suspicious eye. A school like this one, owned and operated by a foreign religious order, was under constant surveillance by police and the military. The students themselves were aware that military police were on the campus from time to time to keep an eye on the monastery. Just the year before the young man entered the University there had been the incident over the Yasukuni Shrine. It has even got into the papers. It had to do with students refusing to go to the Shrine to worship, as the Ministry of Education compelled them to do whenever Imperial Rescripts were to be read. It was the year after this that an officer, a lieutenant colonel fresh from the Chinese front, was assigned to the school as the supervisor in military training.
                                           On cold winter mornings, the students often saw the officer astride his horse riding along the moat at Yotsuya, shoulders squared, chest out. The whole atmosphere was as tense as a drawn bow-string. The officer was as nervous as a countryman new to the city. He must have had the feeling that here especially, in a school run by foreign priests, he had to show that he was a man to be feared. He was careful to see that his riding boots shone like burnished. Screwing up his red face with its carefully trimmed mustache he would receive the student salutes as he dismounted from his horse in front the university. Along the corridors or outside the classrooms, wherever students were gathered smoking or just taking it easy, there would be a sudden exchange of knowing looks when the sound of the colonel’s riding boots was heard coming along. Cigarettes would be hastily put out, and there would be a sudden dash for the classrooms.
                                             It wasn’t just the students who feared this man either. The sound of his leather boots could be heard down the halls outside the classrooms, drawing closer and closer, during lectures and lessons. The sound would make priests and teachers raise their eyes from their textbooks, with a disagreeable expression on their faces. The squeaking would come closer and then it would begin to recede. One day a certain foreign professor was supposed to have blurted out, ‘Swine!’, ‘Peasant!’ or something like that as the click of leather faded away.
                                               He still remembered things like the reading of the Imperial Rescript, one overcast morning. It was customary for the students to be lined up in a special area of the campus to hear the official reading and to observe the hoisting of the national flag that accompanied it. The national flag wasn’t an especially brilliant one anyway, he remembered thinking, but today especially it was a lifeless rag hanging there against the dark cloudy sky.
                                                         ‘Salute. Dismissed.’
                                                   The colonel had just given the order when he suddenly turned on his heel stopping in their tracks the school officials who had begun to move away. He went back on the platform. For a long time he gazed over the lines of students with a keen, hardset look. It was funny to see the childish way in which he was trying to display his authority. Yet no one laughed. No one even dared whistle.
                                                     ‘The whole bunch of you are de- de- degenerate.’ He had a habit of stammering when he was excited. ‘Degenerate, all of you, and not just you alone. The f- f- foreigners here too. The whole damn administration stinks.’ He remembered looking up and down the faces of the teachers lined up on both sides of the platform. Not one who wasn’t standing stiff and rigid in his place. A dull sound like the roar of an aeroplane engine could be heard high in the distant sullen sky. An eddy of wind blew together dust and scraps of paper from the corners of the grounds. There was no one there who did not listen to the angry voice of this insolent man in silence.
                                                       There were students who ingratiated themselves with the colonel. For them this meant mischief­ making and contempt directed at the school’s foreign priests, teachers and monks. It was this kind of atmosphere that would make the tiny face of the ‘Mouse’, handing round identification cards and papers from the small window in the University Office become more and more pale.
                                                         The foreign priests and monks were usually tall men. But the ‘Mouse’ was remarkably small. Even when you compared him with the students themselves, who were showing the effects of the war years by this time, he would stand out as puny, with head, arms, and legs like a child’s. It wasn’t just that his stature was small. The impression came from his face as well. It was a little like that of the silent picture comic Harold Lloyd. This face, this foreign monk, became the object of the students’ derision and jest. There were innumerable stories about this frightened little man circulating among the students.
                                                           For example, this one. About a year ago a student had an accidental fall from the third story of one of the school buildings. He had been playing with a friend and was leaning against a window when it fell open. Students from all over came running and crowded round the place where he lay on the ground. He was unconscious. His face and hands were cut by the pieces of broken glass. After he had been carried off on a stretcher, the students noticed the ‘Mouse’ deathly pale, leaning against a nearby telephone pole. He must have felt sick at the sight of blood and the cut face.
                                                             Another story was told by the son of the school doctor. The monk had been hospitalized with a severe case of peritonitis about a year ago. He wouldn’t trust a Japanese doctor. He is supposed to have gone crying to the senior priests absolutely insisting that they let him have a foreign doctor.
                                                               ‘I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.’
                                                                 This is what he cried out from his bed, face bathed in sweat, to anyone who entered the room, whether they were nurses or visiting students. He had no sense of shame, no thought for what they would say later about him. He had pictures of his mother and sister placed beside his bed. And permeating the room was that close, unpleasant smell like cheese that everyone associated with foreigners. But what made the students really laugh was what the son of the doctor had to say next. It was something he had seen himself.
                                                                   ‘What that guy’s got for sex is just about the size of a little bean. Nothing more than some puny little bean.’
                                                                     The cheese smell coming from his body. Crying like a child because he didn’t want to die. And then to have for sex nothing but that bean-like object. Stories about the monk not only got laughs; they made him a figure of contempt among the students. Their country was fighting a war against white men like him. The students abused this timid little man in one cruel way after another.
                                                                       Something happened one evening to bring Nezumi and the hero of this story together.
                                                                         For no particular reason the young man had stayed late after school. He sat in the middle of the classroom. No one was around. With his chin on his hands he was gazing dreamily at the reddening sky, the darkening waters of the moat and the dark houses in the distance. He heard or rather only half-heard the click of riding boots as they sounded along the hall. To hear them as late as this was something new. He didn’t quite understand. But when it did finally dawn on him who it was, his reaction was to dart out of the classroom and make off down the hall.
                                                                           ‘Halt! What about your salute?’ The officer reprimanded his lack of military bearing. He took his name. The young man held himself so badly that the officer ordered him to recite something from the Soldiers’ Manual. The young man stammered something. He had forgotten to memorize it, although they had been assigned it as part of their military studies. He tried to hide his embarrassment by allowing a faint smile to appear on his face. The very worst thing he could have done.
                                                                             “You stupid―”
                                                                               The officer struck the young man right across the cheek. When the student put up his left hand to shield his face the officer struck again. He would have struck again and again if the ‘Mouse’ hadn’t arrived on the scene just by chance.
                                                                                 He hadn’t come to save the young man. It was just that from time to time he was accustomed to open the Bursar’s office door there at the end of the hall and thrust out that Harold Lloyd face of his into the corridor. The monk stood frozen to the spot. He was afraid. He saw the thin trickle of blood down the student’s cheek and the threatening face of the colonel. He just looked.
                                                                                   Under any other circumstances the officer would probably have gone off without further ado. But he saw the frightened face of the monk looking at him. The fact that it was a white man who was looking at him now made that peculiar complex the Japanese feel about the foreigner burst out. He shouted something or other, a word or two, but there was no understanding it. He grabbed hold of the ‘Mouse’s’ black robe and dragged him out into the corridor.
                                                                                     “Y- Y- You and this whole damn school are one big mistake!”
                                                                                       The colonel turned on his heels and left, the sound of his leather boots echoing down the hall. The student wiped away the blood around his mouth with his fist. He cleared his mouth a number of times, spitting out of a window. When he had finished he turned around. The hall had by this time grown dark. The ‘Mouse’ stood in one comer still frozen to the spot, unmoving. The student didn’t want to meet his eyes. He walked away.

                                                                                         Even in this wartime atmosphere there were still teachers and staff who wanted to preserve in some way or other―however modestly―the pre-war atmosphere of the University. One of the ways of doing so, one of the ways of displaying opposition, even if not openly, against the times was a gathering such as that which took place once a month in a small reading room of the library. It was the ‘Christian study group’ made up largely of majors in history.
                                                                                           The young man had no interest in Christianity as such. But as student life grew more and more oppressive, the need for some kind of relaxation became more pressing. He showed up at the meeting once.
                                                                                             He came in just as a young Japanese instructor in the Department of History was talking about some historic relics of the early Christian movement in Tokyo. He stood at the rear, without paying much attention to what was going on. There were about thirty students in the room. The talk never really caught his attention. He was more interested in the earnestness of students taking notes and in the whitehaired, solemn-faced foreign priests. As he looked at their backs he began to feel that he had really come to the wrong place. He began to feel sorry he had come at all. He couldn’t actually be sure about the talk. It was something about fifty Christians who were martyred at Fuda no Tsuji in the time of Iemitsu.

                                                                                               In October of 1624 the authorities received information from an informer. On the basis of this they arrested a number of leading Christians concealed in Edo. They confined them to a prison at Kodenmacho. Two months later they led them together with two foreign priests from Muromachi through Kyobashi, Hamamatsucho and Mita to the place of execution at Fuda no Tsuji. There they were tied to fifty crosses and burned.
                                                                                                 He could remember parts of the talk even now. For example, there was the description of the prison itself. The young instructor read from an eye witness account by a monk called San Francesco.
                                                                                                   The prison at Kodenmacho was partitioned into four. The roof was low. There was one opening, large enough to admit a single plate of food. Practically no light got in. In front of this prison the Christians were stripped of their clothes and left naked except for a loin cloth. They even had to give up the rosaries which they valued more than their lives themselves. The jailors made them bend down, and thrust them in.
                                                                                                     In the pitch-black, narrow rooms criminals seemed to be crouching piled up one upon another. Once inside, the Christians bumped up against the emaciated bodies the bony arms and legs of the criminals there in the dark. They became aware of the stench, stronger than could ever be imagined. The longer wall in the place was about ten meters. The shorter wall was about four. The criminals had been lined up and sat in three rows. The first and third faced each other. The second squatted between. The sitting and squatting figures were packed in like sardines. No one could stand. Of course, no one could stretch out an arm or a leg. Lice and fleas were free to crawl about all over the bodies of the convicts.
                                                                                                       There was no way of moving. So, of course, the sick simply relieved themselves right where they sat. Hence the stench that struck the Christians when they were inside. Once a day food was passed in through a small hole in one partition. The strongest grabbed it and ate it. Water was given them just about twice a day. Inside the prison it was unbearably hot. In addition there was the heat of so many bodies bunched together. They begged ceaselessly for water working their parched tongues in vain.
                                                                                                         Outside, in addition to the regular watchmen were twenty-four men specially assigned to go round the enclosure shouting. If there were any disturbance within they would climb up and pelt the konvicts with all sorts of filth and garbage. From these peltings the bodies of the convicts had become indistinguishably befouled and begrimed. Of course, every day some one died. Sometimes the dead bodies were left for as long as seven or eight days. The stench of decomposition, the stench of urine and of human faces mixed into a single putrification. All this was torture to the Christians.
                                                                                                           The young instructor read from the letters of San Francesco describing the conditions of the prison at Kodenmacho. A sound something like a sigh though it may only have been more than usually audible breathing could be heard in the room. Students shifted in their seats as though the story was sending ripples through the room. Here war conditions had grown worse. The streets were dark. Food was gradually getting scarcer. But when they compared their everyday life’ in wartime Tokyo with that of the Edo period, they had the feeling that they were still a lot better off today. The young man, as the other students did, listened to the telling of this ghastly story and to the description of the terrible place with the same feelings he might have had if he had witnessed the silent movie. He thought of it as an event in a now quite vanished past. It had absolutely no bearing whatsoever upon him and his generation.
                                                                                                             Among the incarcerated Christians were two Spanish priests and a samurai called Hara Shusui. This Shusui was a son of the house of Hara of Chiba. He had even served the Shogun himself. Despite the advice and efforts to dissuade him of his friends he did not renounce his faith. Twice he was arrested. After that the tendons of his arms and legs were severed. A cross was branded on his face. They led him off to Kodenmacho.
                                                                                                               These stories of martyrdom were like the feelings he might have in the rain, looking away to where the sun would be shining brilliantly upon a hill in the distance. It wasn’t so much that these were people in the past who had had faith. There was a basic, a fundamental difference between himself, a man who had no faith and those strong-willed people. Both determination and courage had been theirs from birth. Yet perhaps it was the faith of fanatics. When the instructor came to tell of their last moments, the young man for some reason or other thought with anguish of himself, his own pitiful condition the other night with no one in sight when he had been battered in the hall by the colonel.
                                                                                                                 Just before the session was over he caught sight of Nezurni sitting along with students in a corner of the reading room. That other night Nezurni had first stood frozen to the spot and then been pulled out into the hall when the colonel grabbed hold of his robe. For him to be sitting there now completely passive was funny. ‘Just like his nickname, the ‘Mouse!’ the young man thought. Yet it wasn’t so much funny as hypocritical. It all came together: the feeling he gave you of being a hypocrite; the sickroom gone all foul―enough to make you vomit―with its cheese smell; the story of that little bean of a thing he had dangling there for his sex.
                                                                                                                   The lecture was over. The young man struggled to suppress a yawn. He joined the other students filing down the stairs. Then from behind came a voice. It came from a face behind glasses in which weak eyes were squinting. The speaker came up beside the young man.
                                                                                                                     ‘Fuda no Tsuji. Where would that be?’
                                                                                                                       ‘Fuda no Tsuji?’
                                                                                                                         ‘You know, the place that came up in the talk.’ The young man had just some faint recollection hat the lecturer had mentioned Fuda no Tsuji as the place where the fifty Christians had been executed. But it was unpleasant for him to have Nezurni speak to him alone among all the other students there.‘I suppose he thinks we’ve become friends now, after that other night. Fellow sufferers, I suppose,’ was what he thought.
                                                                                                                           ‘Maybe it’s not that so much as his wanting to talk to me about his own cowardliness. Perhaps he thinks that talking to me will make it all right.’ He stopped on the stairway and ldoked long and hard into Nezumi’s face.
                                                                                                                             ‘And what if I do know where Fuda no Tsuji is?’
                                                                                                                               ‘Let’s go, just once, to Fuda no Tsuji.’
                                                                                                                                 ‘Well, I …’ It was embarrassing for him and he showed it as he swallowed the rest of the words.
                                                                                                                                   But they did set off, the two together, one rainy evening to Fuda no Tsuji. They got off at the car stop and walked a bit in the direction toward Shinagawa. There was a tobacco store and a vegetable store and other houses in a row. And there was a small temple, too, the Chifukuji. Nezumi had learned beforehand from the young history instructor who gave the lecture that the former place of execution formed part of this temple.Within the temple grounds there was a handful of graves. Where the graveyard ended, began a bluff of black soil covered with nettles. On the slope of the bluff grew two hemp palm trees intertwined with vines. One old camphor tree with wide spread branches stood nearby. There was also a little clump of mixed oak and nettle trees. Only these trees, growing thickly here, looked as though they might have remained from those earlier days.
                                                                                                                                     The young man and Nezumi stood together on the top of the bluff holding up their umbrellas in a light rain. The sky, the ground at their feet, houses, the road, everything seemed to have begun to be enveloped in a dusky evening haze mixed with rain. The factory chimneys at Shinagawa near the sea helped to add to the effect of dusky evening mist.
                                                                                                                                       ‘Well, that makes Kodenmacho in that direction, doesn’t it?’
                                                                                                                                         ‘That’s about right, I think.’
                                                                                                                                           Of course, nothing in the direction of Kodenmacho could be made out in the mist. But it was annoying for the young man to be asked so he gave an answer he thought might quiet his companion.
                                                                                                                                             The Christians were led along on foot from Kodenmacho through Shimbashi and Mita. Each had been made to hang a plate with his own name over his shoulders. ‘Kakuzaemon.’ ‘Yosaku.’ ‘Kudayu.’ ‘Shinshichiro.’ ‘Kisaburo.’ They were all names you could find anywhere in Edo. And at the end only Hara Shusui was allowed to ride on a bare-backed horse.
                                                                                                                                               Fifty posts were standing on the execution ground. Bundles of faggots were heaped up at the base of each. A great crowd of spectators had already gathered outside the execution ground. They were eating lunch or drinking tea waiting for the hour of execution. When he saw the place of execution one of the fifty prisoners unexpectedly cried out. He wanted to renounce his faith. They undid the ropes and he was set free on the spot.
                                                                                                                                                 The rest were bound to the posts. The executioners went about setting the faggots on fire. There was a wind that day. Because of it the smoke and flames immediately enveloped the posts and the men bound to them. The two Spanish priests died first. Next was Hara Shusui. He seemed to want to grasp something, to move his arms. But then his head sank down on his shoulder.
                                                                                                                                                   Standing on the very spot where the execution ground had been the young man had the feeling that the event which before he had thought of only as a scene from some silent movie actually did take place on this spot. It even made him a little dizzy. But still he couldn’t get rid of the feeling that these martyrs lived lives that were remote from his own, lives that could never bear any relation whatsoever to his. Such superhuman acts could only be performed by the specially chosen, by the strong. The very dimension in which they lived their lives was different from that of people like himself.
                                                                                                                                                     He cast a sideways glance at the ‘Mouse’ who stood dripping in the rain beside him. He felt he could imagine what the monk was thinking. He was no believer himself. He was just a plain student. Yet he had the feeling that these Christian martyrs belonged to a remote world of their own, a different kind of humanity. But this man beside him―they may call him a ‘Mouse’, but he did come to Japan as a monk―for him to compare the faith of those foreign missionaries with his own cowardliness―what unbearable shame he must feel!
                                                                                                                                                       ‘You’d never stand a chance,’ (the young man thought about his companion). ‘I would probably never make the grade myself. But you―you would never stand a chance.’
                                                                                                                                                         He was able from his own experience, to conjecture the limits of Nezurni’s world. A coward is always a coward. He can never become the man of courage that Hara Shusui and the other martyrs had been. The two of them had been struck by the colonel that evening in the corridor. They hadn’t been able so much as to make a move to escape. The two of them belonged to the race for whom the spiritual had lost its meaning when once they were confronted with fear for their own skins. Both he and Nezumi were types who, rather than set out for the execution grounds, would undertake any sort of proof that they had once and for all renounced their faith.
                                                                                                                                                           ‘Do you have any family at home!’
                                                                                                                                                             It was the first time that his curiosity was aroused about Nezumi. So when the question came to his lips, the monk gave a sudden start as though he had been aroused from a dream. ‘What?’
                                                                                                                                                               ‘Have you any family at home in Germany?’
                                                                                                                                                                 ‘Yes. A mother and a sister at Cologne.’
                                                                                                                                                                   ‘I wonder what ever made you become a monk?’
                                                                                                                                                                     Nezumi held an umbrella in his hand. He gave no answer. At last the rain was letting up. By this time it was pitch black where they were standing. The young man went first, bracing his legs so as not to slip down the bluff. He descended.
                                                                                                                                                                       After that he almost never had a word to say to Nezumi at school. War conditions grew steadily worse. Then the bombings began. There were no lessons for the students now. Instead they were sent off every day to a factory in Kawasaki. The area around the school at Yotsuya was bombed out. It was some time before the young man noticed that Nezumi had disappeared from the school office. The story was that he had been sent back to Germany. The young man even forgot that the two had climbed the bluff together that evening.

                                                                                                                                                                         He passed Fuda no Tsuji on the street car that evening. For a moment he recalled the event of twenty years ago. He remembered it but with no special emotion.
                                                                                                                                                                           Then neon lights were blurred in the rain where he got off the tram car at Shimbashi. Buses and cars ran this way and that spattering muddy water from their wheels. The reunion was scheduled for a restaurant called Fugetsu. When he got there and saw what it was like, he realized that it would have been better after all if he hadn’t come. With his worn suit wet through with rain, he looked a more and more miserable sight as his former classmates arrived in taxis with hair carefully combed and clean white handkerchiefs peeping out of breast pockets. He was tapped on the shoulder by friends who remembered the past. But listening to their friendly greetings from time to time had the opposite effect. It depressed him to think he was the object of pity.
                                                                                                                                                                             He sat at one corner of the long table. No doubt about it, better not to have come, he thought. He sipped tea in silence. At the table there were reports about what everyone was doing and how things stood. There was a general exchanging of name cards. Stories about classmates who weren’t there and memories of their teachers were the order of the day. He looked with a little envy even at the presence of friendship which he saw here and there.
                                                                                                                                                                               ‘What about Sayama?’ ‘Sayama?’ ‘He’s in Mie Prefecture. He has something to do with maritime shipping.’ ‘Oh, really? Maritime shipping is it?’
                                                                                                                                                                                 ‘Wasn’t there a teacher by the name of Roku?’
                                                                                                                                                                                   ‘Of course, there was. He’s still teaching, Roku is.’
                                                                                                                                                                                     It annoyed him that everyone pretended at times like this to love their alma mater. He didn’t love his university. He felt not the slightest intimacy with any of the classmates who had shared his school life.
                                                                                                                                                                                       ‘What about the ‘Mouse’? He was in the University office.’
                                                                                                                                                                                         It was only then that he raised his face from his cup, straining his ears to catch what would be said without appearing to. More than half had forgotten the name even. Someone recalled in peals of laughter the face and bearing of that timid little monk.
                                                                                                                                                                                           ‘Oh, him. I heard a strange story about him.’
                                                                                                                                                                                             One of them that had remained behind to become a teacher at the University spoke up. Nezumi had returned to Germany. And then because he was a Jew he had been arrested and sent off to a concentration camp. It was called Dachau. Nothing was heard about him after that.
                                                                                                                                                                                               ‘But just recently Vita read this in a newspaper from Europe.’
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Vita was a priest, a foreigner who taught law at the University. This priest had read in a paper sent him from home of a monk that had died in place of a friend in a concentration camp. A Jew in the same concentration camp was being punished with starvation. The monk was supposed to have taken the punishment in his place. And then to have died.
                                                                                                                                                                                                   ‘The story went on that the monk had once come to Japan as a missionary.’
                                                                                                                                                                                                       ‘I don’t know. No name was in the article evidently. But . . . . .’
                                                                                                                                                                                                         ‘No. No. It couldn’t have been a person like the ‘Mouse.’ Beside, that guy didn’t come as a missionary in the first place.’
                                                                                                                                                                                                           For a long while they talked about the time ‘Mouse’ got giddy at the sight of blood, and about the tiny prick he had, like a bean. They all had a good loud laugh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                             Nezumi who would dart a face like Harold Lloyd’s out of the University business office to give out student identification cards and passes. Nezumi who would tip-toe around the campus afraid of his own shadow. Nezumi with the faint weak smile on his face. Alumni with hair neatly parted, alumni with clean white handkerchiefs in breast pockets sang the school song before they broke up for the evening.
                                                                                                                                                                                                               The party was over. Each got a cab at the door for a Ginza bar and a night cap. The man was alone when he got on the tramcar in the rain. It was just the same as when he had come that evening, the smell of wet umbrellas and mud mixing with the stale smell of the human body. He looked at the passengers, each as undistinguished as himself. He did once again what Nagai Kafu had done. He tried to imagine the daily life of each. Across the way a young man had a pencil out in front of him. A girl who looked as if she was just coming back from evening school had a Crown Reader open on her lap but was dozing away. Everyone in the car was just like him. They all lead the dreary, daily life of cowardice. There wasn’t one who wasn’t just as hopelessly buried up to his neck in cowardice. When he passed Fuda no Tsuji he wiped at the window clouded over with rain and gazed in a reverie into what lay out there.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Behind the darkened shops and houses in which lights now glimmered there rose the dark outline of the bluff. There was no way for him to know just exactly what sort of place Nezumi had been put in―that Dachau. But he had seen pictures of concentration camps once at the movies. They didn’t seem very different from the prison at Kodenmacho where the Christians were held. Nezumi’ then, had lived in a place just like that. It was a strange thing for him to have to think about. And if the ‘Mouse’ had, in fact, just as the story said, given his life for a friend, died for love, if that were true, it was no story of old Edo. It was a story which concerned his own heart. Who, what could have changed Nezumi so utterly? Who or what could have lead him up to such a pinnacle? He shook his head. That girl napping in the seat in front of him. That young man with his head bent over the racing form. He looked at them again. Side by side with them―among people just exactly like that―the man thought he saw Nezumi sitting, pulling his Harold Lloyd face, his trousers spattered with mud, and trembling at the knees.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Translated by Frank Hoff and James Kurcap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fuda no Tsuji first appeared in Shincho magazine in November 1963. As his streetcar nears Fuda no Tsuji (literally, Official Bulletin Board Crossroads), a middle-aged man in worn-out clothes on his way to a school reunion recalls coming near here with a much taunted, meek foreigner nicknamed ‘Mouse’ who worked at his Christian college during the war years two decades earlier. Mouse had asked the man to show him where 50 Christians were executed after a period of cruel imprisonment in 1623. At the reunion he learns that it might have been Mouse who, after returning to Germany, sacrificed himself for a comrade in the Dachau concentration camp. The man ponders “who or what” effected such a change in such a man, and how an event from hundreds of years ago suddenly seems relevant in his life. The story presented here is a kind of prototype or condensation of Endo’s literary world which extends to works such as Iesu no Shougai (A Life of Jesus) (1973) and Chinmoku (Silence) (1966), his representative work which boosted his fame onto the world stage. The author sought insight into human nature, wondering what weakness and strength mean from a religious perspective.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fuda no Tsuji was translated into English and published by The Japan P.E.N. Club in January, 1965. (From The Japan P.E.N. News No. 14)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Endo Shusaku Literary Museum

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ENDO Shusaku
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ENDO Shusaku

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Novelist. March 27, 1923 ~ September 29, 1996. Born at Sugamo, Tokyo. The 10th President of The Japan P.E.N. Club. He is one of the greatest modern Catholic novelists who tried to have monotheistic Catholicism take root in pantheistic Japanese society. He won many prominent literary awards, one of which is the Akutagawa Award for White Man in 1955. He also received “Ordine di San Silvestro Papa” from the Roman Curia in 1970. He was awarded the Order of Culture in 1995. A member of Japan Art Academy.

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