An Inquisitive Man's Experience Of Hades

: Aino Folktales

Three generations before my time there lived an Aino who wished to find

out whether the stories told about the existence of an under-world were

true. So one day he penetrated into an immense cavern (since washed away

by the waves) at the river-mouth of Sarubutsu. All was dark in front,

all was dark behind. But at last there was a glimmer of light a-head.

The man went on, and soon emerged into Hades. There were trees, and

> villages, and rivers, and the sea, and large junks loading fish and

seaweed. Some of the people were Ainos, some were Japanese, just as in

the every-day world. Among the number were some whom he had known when

they were alive. But, though he saw them, they,--strange to

say,--did not seem to see him. Indeed he was invisible to all,

excepting to the dogs; for dogs see everything, even spirits, and the

dogs of Hades barked at him fiercely. Hereupon the people of the place,

judging that some evil spirit had come among them, threw him dirty food,

such as evil spirits eat, in order, as they thought, to appease him. Of

course he was disgusted, and flung the filthy fish-bones and soiled rice

away But every time that he did so the stuff immediately returned to the

pocket in his bosom, so that he was greatly distressed.

At last, entering a fine-looking house near the beach, he found his

father and mother,--not old, as they were when they died, but in the

heyday of youth and strength. He called to his mother, but she ran away

trembling. He clasped his father by the hand, and said: "Father! don't

you know me? can't you see me? I am your son." But his father fell

yelling to the ground. So he stood aloof again, and watched how his

parents and the other people in the house set up the divine symbols, and

prayed in order to make the evil spirit depart.

In his despair at being unrecognized he did depart, with the unclean

offerings that had been made to him still sticking to his person,

notwithstanding his endeavours to get rid of them. It was only when,

after passing back through the cavern, he had emerged once more into the

world of men, that they left him free from their pollution. He returned

home, and never wished to visit Hades again. It is a foul

place.--(Written down from memory. Told by Ishanashte, 22nd July, 1886.)