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【POP CULTURE】Jamie on the Go


By Jamie Lano


 "In Japan, every neighborhood has a ghost story." So Lilly Fields, the director of Haunted Tokyo Tours, told me on a brisk autumn afternoon. She passed me an EMF meter, a device that measures the electromagnetic frequencies in the air. It's said that when a reading is high, there might be ghosts around. "Watch it during the tour and tell me what you see," she said with a grin.

 We set off on Haunted Tokyo Tour's "Blood of Samurai" ghost walk. It's based on the legend of the 47 ronin samurai who were forced to commit seppuku after avenging their master.

 Lilly led us to what she called the "Tree of Blood." The massive tree, on a hill overlooking the Shirokane-Takanawa area, was full of twisted branches. The wood was dark and the bark was flaking off. Even in daylight, there was something evil about it. Something bad had happened here...

 "This tree stood in the Hosokawa garden where the seppuku took place," Lilly said. I snapped about a million pictures, hoping a ghost would appear in at least one of them.

 A few minutes from the old tree was the spot where the band's leader, Oishi Kuranosuke, and 16 of the 47 ronin killed themselves. The eerily small garden was surrounded by a wall and a gate, as if to ensure their spirits remained undisturbed.

 I looked around. We were in a normal neighborhood with everyday houses and everyday children playing in the street. But the sign told a different tale: Sometime in the past, something very out of the ordinary had happened here.

 After visiting the ronin graves at Sengakuji temple, we found ourselves at "Yureizaka" or Ghost hill. "This is one of more than a dozen hills that have or once had this name in Tokyo," Lilly informed us. I checked the EMF meter. Hadn't the needle just moved? Would a ghost pop out in front of me? What would I say to it if it did?

 I've never told anyone, but I had a ghostly encounter when I was about 4 or 5 years old.

 We lived in a small house in rural Washington state. One morning I walked into the laundry room and saw a transparent white shape hovering above the washing machine. Tall and see-through, it looked like mist had formed into the shape of a human.

 Tiny little me stared at it, speechless from shock, and I somehow knew that it was staring at me, too. I was terrified! I screamed and ran down the hall to my parents' bedroom.

 We lived in that house for another year, but I never saw it again. Though scary at the time, I soon wanted to see that ghost again. Ghosts are everywhere, and I really, really want to talk to one someday.

 Sadly, no ghosts came out and said hello during the tour, although I definitely felt their presence. As Lilly had told us, every place in Tokyo has a ghost story. So maybe, just maybe, I'd be able to find one at home to talk to. With Halloween right around the corner, it's the perfect time to go on a ghost tour, don't you think?

(Haunted Tokyo Tours の情報は、ウェブサイト http://www.hauntedtokyotours.com/ で閲覧できます)

  • EMF meter 電磁波メーター。EMF=electro-magnetic field
  • set off on 〜に出発した
  • avenge(-ing) 〜の敵を討つ
  • flake(-ing) off はがれ落ちる
  • snap(ped) スナップ写真を撮る
  • band (同じ目的を持つ人の)一隊
  • ensure 〜を確実にする
  • everyday ありふれた
  • out...ordinary 日常とは違う
  • pop out ひょっこり現れる
  • ghostly encounter 幽霊との遭遇
  • hover(ing) above 〜の上の空中に浮かぶ
  • see-through シースルーの、透けて見える


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