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As I explained earlier, I will be presenting Hakoiri musume menya ningyo one page at a time. However, some of the illustrations in the book are two-page spreads—like today’s for example. I am still presenting the text one page at a time, but I will share the full spread on both days to avoid disrespecting the illustrations.
Today’s illustration depicts the Dragon King. He is the god of the ocean realm, and rules everything under the water. He lives in a great palace called Ryūgūjō at the bottom of the sea. My illustration is based on statues of the Dragon King and other gods on display at Sanjūsangendō.
“The river never stops flowing, yet the water we see flowing in front of us is not the same water. The bubbles that float on the surface disappear here and reappear there, and do not remain in the same state.” So wrote Kamo no Chōmei in Hōjōki six hundred years¹ ago, yet it is just as true today. Nakazu Shinchi² has returned to its original flow, but the reality is that land becomes water, water becomes land, and so forth, changing over and over faster than a peep show³. Oh no! I didn’t mean to sound so rhetorical!
Anyway, just like that, Nakazu, which belonged to the human world until yesterday, has become submerged and from today is back under control of the Dragon King.
- Hōjōki is a collection of Buddhist essays written in 1212 CE. Nearly 600 years ago from Kyōden’s perspective in 1791.
- Nakazu Shinchi was a downtown section of Edo about 1000 square meters in size. It was built in 1771 by land reclamation where the Sumida River met the Hakozaki River. The village of Tominaga was built on this land, and became a prosperous district full of homes, shops, and unlicensed prostitutes. It was demolished and turned back into river land in the first year of Kansei (1789), thus “returning to its original flow.”
- This refers to mechanical nozoki karakuri peep shows found at sideshows and spectacles which were all the rage at the time. These shows were where you’d see things like petrified mermaids and other yōkai, so this plays right into the mermaid theme of the book.