an English translation of the novel

Page 23-26

There are a couple of lessons in this story.

Kids can easily understand that it’s teaching you to stay within the Holy Barrier. For slightly older kids, it’s probably trying to tell us that we should be more concerned about our village than ourselves, and be prepared to sacrifice our lives for it.

But the smarter you are, the harder it is to understand the real lesson.

Who would have thought that the real aim of the story is to let us know that fiends really do exist?


Tale of the Karma Demon


This story is from about eighty years ago. There lived a boy in the village. He was an incredibly bright child, but had one flaw. As he grew older, this flaw became more and more obvious.

He was extremely proud of his intelligence and looked at everything else with disdain.

He pretended to accept the teachings in school and from other adults, but the important lessons never really reached his heart.

He began to sneer at the foolishness of adults and laugh at the laws of the world.

Arrogance sows the seeds of karma.1

The boy gradually drifted away from his circle of friends. Loneliness became his only companion and confidant.

Loneliness is the seedbed of karma.

In his solitude, the boy spend a lot of time thinking. He thought about forbidden things and questioned things better left alone. 

Unclean thoughts cause karma to grow unchecked.

The boy unknowingly built up more and more karma, and transformed into something inhuman — a karma demon.

Before anyone knew, the village was empty; everyone had fled in fear of the karma demon. It went to live in the forest, but all the animals there disappeared too.

As the karma demon walked, the plants around it twisted in all sorts of unimaginable shapes and rotted.

All the food it touched instantly turned into lethal poison.

The karma demon wandered aimlessly through the dead, deformed forest.

Eventually, it came to realize that it shouldn’t be living in this world.

The karma demon left the darkness of the forest. Before his eyes, he saw it, wreathed in a glittering radiance. He had arrived at a deep lake nestled in the mountains.

It walked into the lake, thinking that water as pure as this would surely cleanse him of his karma.

But the water surrounding it instantly became dark and murky, and started turning into poison.

Karma demons should not exist in this world.

It understood that, and quietly disappeared into the bottom of the lake.

1 Although the kanji he uses is “karma”, I think he actually means sin, because it seems to only be used negatively in this book. “Karma” itself doesn’t have any good or bad connotations; it’s simply the culmination of actions committed in former lives.


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