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The two stories occur within settings that date back to late 1700’s and early 1800’s. This happens when Japan is still undeveloped as travellers walk on their feet to reach their destination. However, the theme of love is live and takes centre stage among friends and lovers. Lust and prostitution dates back to this age as well as emotional love between individuals. The two stories, A Journey on Foot and Shino and Hamaji portrays this intriguing theme in a humorous way using narration and poems.
A Journey on the Foot narrates the encounters of Yajirobei and Kitahachi. Jippensha Ikku tells the story of the two travellers on their journey between Edo and Osaka in an 1802 setting of Japan. Yaji and Kita reach Nissaka, when a heavy storm prevents them from going on with their journey. Kita suggests that the two stop by the inn for the night since they had made a tremendous step by crossing the Oi River. Yaji resists the idea, but the sight of women entering the inn changes his mind as they make their way into the inn. The two wash and have their supper before asking the whereabouts of the women. The maiden informs them that those women were witches and which prompts Yaji to seek their services.
Yaji asks the witch to enable him talk to his dead wife. The young witch takes on her duty and chants to various gods in readiness for the conversation between Yaji and his dead wife. The witch begins the perceived conversation that is full of the past s sorrowful encounters that Yaji had with his wife. She reminds him of the problems they encountered because of Yaji’s mistakes in life. The facts give Yaji a sad mood that makes him beg his wife not to narrate the old, sad orgies that would break his heart. On conclusion, the wife asks Yaji to give the young witch some considerable amount of money as a fee to her services. Kita mocks Yaji when the witch concludes her services. He felt that Yaji was sadder than he was before seeking the witch’s services. Yaji’s had no secretes anymore, and he was poorer than he was before paying the witch.
During the night, the two travellers plan to creep into the witches’ room and sleep with the young witch without her mother’s knowledge. However, these are personal plans between the two. Neither Yaji nor Kita reveals the plan to each other as they go to sleep. Kita is the first to wake up when Yaji falls asleep. He creeps in the witches’ room, and a witch who welcomes him as he goes in to sleep with her surprisingly grabs him. Yaji wakes up latter and creeps into the room too. Yaji bites Kita’s lips thinking that they were young-witch’s lips. On the realization of the mistake, they engage each other in a confrontation that makes Kita realize that he was in the old witch’s bed and not the young Witch’s bed. Kita moves out of the room and leaves in Yaji, in the grasp of the old witch who wants him to stay with her the whole night. He finally manages to go but suffers for his friend Kita in the old woman’s grasp (Keene 416-422).
Shino and Hamaji tell a story of two lovers who spent the last bit of their time together amid an approaching separation. Just as his name, Shino (filial piety) is a person that has a duty to fulfil. His duty in this context is to love Hamaji and promise her their future together, though shaken with knowledge that he is departing with no hope of returning to her. In the setting, Hamaji slips out of her bed and enters Shino’s room with caution that she does not awaken her parents. Shino worries that an enemy is in his room when he discovers that it is Hamaji. The two engage into an emotional conversation about their love and the idea that Shino was leaving with no plans of getting back to Hamaji. The first conversation portrays a defiant Hamaji who insists that the two should move out secretly and form a couple. However, Shino convinces Hamaji who eventually decides to let him go by his own. When the cock crows, a servant knocks on Shino’s door to remind him of the importance of waking up and preparing early for his journey. Shino asks Hamaji to leave his room before her parents gets her. She recites a poem sadly and talks about cursed roosters that craw in the morning and makes her be chased away from him. The roosters in the poem signify her parents who force Shino to move away from her (Keene 423-429).
The two narrations talk of love stories depicted in some similar scenarios. Yaji and Hamaji are left in trouble with their friend. In the first story, Kita leaves Yaji in the grasp of the old witch who wants his love. In the second story, Hamaji is left in emotional and sad situation by his love Shino. In both stories, the female counterpart begs the male counterpart not to go, but they never succeed in their mission. Yaji succeeds overpowering the old witch who finally lets him go. Shino also manages to convince Hamaji that he has to go on his own and leave her behind. He also manages to make her leave his room before her parents get her in the morning.