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The short lived family

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This is the real story that my great, great, grandfather experienced. I heard this story from my grandfather when I was a kid.

My great great grandfather, let’s call him Goro, worked at a local government in a suburban city of west Japan. He was in charge of ID registration.

His job allowed him to see the names and registered information of every single person in the town.

At the time, the social class system had long been abolished. But in his town, you could still sort of guess which class someone had belonged to by looking at their family names. (Not all names applied)

For example, certain names were seen mostly among the former Samurai class, while other specific names would be seen only in the noble class. And within the common class names, you could tell which name tend to be farmers, money loaners, fabric dye shops, etc.

All of these included exception cases, of course. But overall, the indication of the former classes in the names were much stronger and more accurate than now back then.

You might have heard that there was a very discriminated class in this former Japanese social system. They were at the bottom of the Japanese social hierarchy. The people in this class were called “Buraku”. Even after the social class system was cancelled by the new government, the former Buraku people were still subjected to severe discrimination by others.

Some Buraku people were allowed to adopt regular names, such as Sato or Tanaka, to hide their former discriminated status. But the others were given names where people could easily tell that they were from Buraku.

The lower west side of Japan(Osaka, Kyoto area) had a very large population of Buraku people. The town that Goro worked belonged to this area and Goro had seen the names that obviously represented former Buraku status on the job.

One day, Goro noticed a specific family name that sounded very uncommon in the town. It didn’t sound like Samurai, merchant or farmer class. It sounded more like a priest or shaman names.

Since the Edo period, the Buraku people often took the jobs as shamans or monks. These people would travel around different towns and practice the shaman rituals to the locals.

Since Buraku people were not allowed to own any land of their own back then, it was convenient for the government to appoint them to this role. The names Goro had found sounded like the name that belonged to this type of people.

Of course, in Goro’s era, they already had their own lands and houses registered in their names.

But the historical background wasn’t the reason that it got Goro’s attention. He had noticed a couple of strange things about people with this name.

The first thing was their addresses.

The people with this name were all relatives. But each family lived quite far from one another. More like, every single one of their houses were located at different borders of the village.

This must have made it extremely inconvenient for the relatives to meet since the most common way of commute back then was walking.

Despite the fact the village had large residential areas with lots of vacant spaces available, all of their houses were built on the side of big roads at the border, far away from where the rest of the villagers lived.

He thought their houses were placed at the major entrance/exit points in the village, as if they were the gatekeepers or something.

The second strange thing was that everybody in this family died very young.

Of course, the infant death rate was higher and the average life expectancy was much shorter back then. And this family had below-the-average living standard due to poverty.

But even considering that, their death rate seemed abnormally high. One year, they gave birth to a total of 10 babies in all families combined. All these 10 babies had died within a few years.

The oldest adult in the family was not even 30. And their causes of death were always diseases, despite their young ages.

This was actually the reason that Goro noticed them in the first place.  Goro had to register people’s death for the government. But too many death reports were submitted from this name.

At first, Goro suspected crimes. Goro was biased by the discrimination towards Buraku people. He thought they might be killing their children, or selling their blood. As his suspicion grew, Goro wasn’t sure what to do or who to discuss the issue with. This was a sensitive subject. It didn’t look good that Goro was digging around people’s private information at work.

He decided not to take the risk with this issue and didn’t mention it to anyone for years.

But one month, this family had 3 deaths in a row. All 3 of them had died just a couple day apart from each other. His suspicion started to grow again.  This time, he decided to go and check them by himself. On the next day off, he was going to see their houses with his own eyes and make sure that they were living in safe conditions. And if he saw any suspicious person causing them troubles, he was going to report it to the police.

It was an early summer and the sun was grilling down the town. He walked to one of their houses. He was regretting that he chose to do his investigation on a hot day like this. But as he got closer to the area of the first house, the heat started to wear off.  “Thank god” he thought at first. But the cool air quickly turned unpleasant.

The closer he got to the area, he started to feel extremely cold. The sun was still grilling hot. He was walking under the sun.There was no shade. And although he was indeed feeling the strong sun piercing his skin, he was shaking with cold. His skin was getting goosebumps.

He didn’t have to double-check the nameplate to confirm which house it was. Not only was it the only house standing alone at the end of the road, but his own sense was feeling something malicious from the house. He immediately knew this was the house.

Even though his sense was telling him not to go near the house, he went closer to peek at the yard. The yard was obviously neglected for a long time, filled with over-grown weed. The house didn’t look like their life has been well off.  But he found no signs of crime or the smell of death.

The longer he stays near the house, the creepier he felt, and the colder the atmosphere got around him.

He scratched his head in confusion,

Why is it so cold in here? The weather is so hot today…

He looked up at the sky. He thought he had caught something on the corner of his eye. Something was on the roof of the house. It looked like a small, black monkey. But before he blinked his eyes to adjust the focus, it was gone.

Goro’s thought by intuion, “This house must be haunted by something. That must be the reason why so many people die in this family…

But then, what about the other houses of this family? At the different parts of the town?

Are they haunted too? Is something haunting this whole family?

It didn’t make sense to Goro. He decided finally, it was time for him to inform his boss about his finding.

Next day, he reported everything he noticed to the boss, including the part that he went to one of their houses and saw something that looked like a black monkey.

His boss’s face immediately turned serious. He looked into Goro’s eyes and said, “Don’t tell this to anyone

At first, his boss acted like he knew nothing about them. But in the end, Goro’s persistence won. His boss slowly started talking.

They are sacrifices for this village….

People in the old era believed in spiritual things a lot more than now.  This is before science took place. In the Heian period, the tragedy and diseases were believed to be caused solely by the haunting spirits, and the shaman had a very powerful voice in the political decisions.

When the evil things came to the town, such as haunting god, or evil spirits that harm people, someone was placed at the entrance of the town to be sacrifices for them. As long as the evil things will possess them first, the town is safe.

This town made the Buraku people take this position for a very long time, since the Edo or Muromachi period.

The Buraku people don’t know about this. The government made sure that Buraku people never learn about this. The government gave them a totally different, more honorable reasons to live in those locations.

Some of them might have gotten some clue before, but on the surface, it’s never been mentioned or talked about between them and the government.  But everybody knows that death, disease, or accident rates were much much higher among this family than any other families in the town.

This role was not always been pushed to the Buraku people only. In some towns, some family that committed a crime, or caused a lot of trouble to the community, or the outsiders that moved in to the town could also be the secret sacrifice and live in those locations. Of course, they are never told the truth……

My grandfather told me at the end of this story

Some town still do this now. So be very careful when you move to a new town.

My advice to you is this.

When you move to a new, unfamiliar town, and the local agent persistently recommend you to rent a house rather than an apartment, even if you requested an apartment, or even when you plan to live alone, you should suspect that you are getting trapped to be the sacrifice.

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