During a fine journey, the narrator happened to meet a priest, Shūchō. They started to talk and then decided to stay at an inn. Since the man had trouble dealing with the night and was never able to sleep until late, he asked the priest to tell him a story. And so he did. The story includes another journey through the desolate Hida mountains. A dreadful forest with many unpleasant surprises, a medicine peddler that questions the priest's faith...
Come on, admit it. You claim to have renounced the world, but you really want to hold on to your life after all.
...a lovely account about snakes which was a delightful thing to read, especially at night. Such vivid prose that made me almost hear that charming, little hissing and forced me to close my window, just in case. Same thing with the tree made of ravenous leeches that made the priest run in a frenzy of fear and disgust. Charming stuff.
Besides those quaint details, the priest's story was mostly about a woman. A lonely woman that was afraid that under these circumstances she herself would eventually forget how to talk. A beautiful, gentle, yet strong-willed; light hearted yet calm, comfortable, yet fearsome at the same time kind of woman that left this holy man on the verge of temptation. Uncertainty and infatuation flooded his heart as the walls between religion and worldly matters began to collapse.
...and return to that lonely house deep in the mountains where I would spend the rest of my life living with the woman there.
It was a good short story to get acquainted with Kyōka's writing.
A delicate attention to details. Beauty, the supernatural and the grotesque are perfectly balanced. The descriptions of the surroundings and the different impressions of people and their actions were portrayed with an exquisite writing that, at times, sounded like a profound meditation that you simply wish it would last for days.