Flash Fiction is a new online series from Stone Bridge Press devoted to bringing readers short stories from and about Japan. This piece is from Ophelia Leong and relates a surreal and self-actualizing experience she had while traveling through Miyama-machi village in Japan.
The rainy season turned Japan lush, like a ripe fruit aching to burst open. Leaves greener than any I’d ever seen before rustled gently on branches like kites, whispering a summer song. The blue sky paled in comparison to the verdant tree-covered mountains rolling across the horizon. Even the warm air lolled languorously against my skin like a cat.
I was visiting Miyama-machi, a rural village nestled in the mountains of Kyoto. Brown thatched roof houses stood tall against the mountains, totems of early Japan. The rice fields stretched out in front of the village, the shallow water glistening in the sunlight.
I was twenty years old and experiencing my first real journey out of California into a country I had always dreamed of visiting.
Before we made our way through the streets of Miyama-machi, I looked around me – at the mountains caressing the horizon with trees bright as emeralds and the sturdy thatched roof houses dotting the fields. In that moment, I was filled with a faint sense of nostalgia; familiarity rippled through me as though that one glance was a stone thrown into the pond of myself.
“I have been here before,” I whispered. The nearby river tinkled in greeting and the long grass waved hello. For one minute, I knew every trail in the woods, every gurgle of the river, the name of every flower. I was caressed by the sweet breeze as it sighed my name in my newly-opened ears. Like a word on the tip of one’s tongue, memories I couldn’t quite recall teased the edge of my vision. The thatched roof homes and fields beckoned me with words I couldn’t quite understand with my ears, but knew in my heart.
I had just found a piece of myself. The feeling had only lasted an instant, but it had been real.
“Opy-chan, let’s go,” one of my guides called, and suddenly, I was back in myself. I was Ophelia once again, a visitor from America lost in the chords of Japan’s siren song.
A bright red mailbox guarded the entrance to the village like a rooster watching his flock and my guides urged me to pose for a picture next to it. I leaned against the mailbox, thinking about all the visitors who had done so before me and will continue to do so after I leave. The mailbox was warm against my body, having soaked up the morning sunlight, and I felt welcomed.
Ophelia Leong is a wife and mother who loves to write and Irish Dance in her spare time. She has been published by Mothers Always Write, Mamalode, Tribe Magazine, Vine Leaves Literary Magazine, Allegro Poetry, Beyond Science Fiction, Unbroken Journal, Eunoia Review, and others. She recently won Mothers Always Write’s 2015 Holiday Poetry Contest with her poem “Christmas With Little Ones.” Follow her on Twitter @OpheliaLeong and check out her blog ophelialeong.blogspot.com .
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