Occasional Dreams

Black bear, grizzly bear, puma, Steller's sea eagle, tanager crane, wild boar, raccoon dog, fox, hare, civet, weasel ....... These are the wild animals I have come face to face within the forest alone or with a fishing guide. Except for the puma in the distant trees, the encounters were mostly at close range. I encountered black bears and grizzlies when they were still afraid of humans. When they saw me, they turned and went back into the woods. I had a contingency plan, but I never used it. Now that they know humans are delicious and not worth worrying about, I would be dead. The most moving experience was an encounter with a Steller's sea eagle in Hokkaido in early winter. As usual, I was bushwalking alone. I emerged into an open place. The eagle, with both feet firmly planted on its prey, spread its wings as if about to take flight. Its wings were more than two meters long and nearly one meter high. That eagle stared at me and flew away without any sign of panic.

My good fortune in encountering wildlife is due to my hobby, fly fishing. My fishing career has been long, although circumstances have interrupted it at times. My father taught me in early elementary school, and I bought my first fishing tackle with my pocket money when I was twelve years old. Sixty years have already passed.

Some of you may know that I am from Buraku, but I have been an angler longer than I have lived as a Burakumin with self-identification. If I recognize human beings as a bundle of identities, the fly fisher identity was clearly an important part of that bundle. I once planned to retire early from corporate management and spend time as a riverkeeper and ghillie on a river managed by my friend.

However, I have never neglected to learn about the Buraku issue. I was fortunate to have friends in the BLM. One special friend invited me to study groups long before the Institute of Social Theory and Dynamics had ever been named as such. I would work, participate in the BLM, studys, and fish. The order may have been reversed, but all were sincerely joyful.

One day, however, I realized something. For some reason, I kept thinking about the Buraku issue as I stared at a dry fly I had cast for a trout. It was around the year 2000 when I began to feel annoyed with the image of the Buraku that Buraku studies portrayed. Although I mentioned identity, I was deeply offended by the discussion of the lack of identity, not caring that we are hard to identify with because of the nature of Burakumin. Although research may be based on objective data, I felt it incomprehensible that the researchers did not notice their argument that the Buraku were such-and-such specie was so different from the reality of our lives. We are pluralistic and diverse beings who experience both mundane and nonroutine worlds, but it seemed to me that those arguments were forcing us to agree with the image of the Burakumin created by others. I saw that these discussions were the products of subjectivity, regardless of whether the researchers claimed to be objective or not. The situation was, so to speak, Buraku study inflation, and I think it left us with a lot of scars.

Many fly fishers have been influenced by the phrase “Study to be quiet” (Izaak Walton: 1653). There are many interpretations, but in retrospect, the quiet tension of encountering wildlife and gazing at the fly alone in the stillness created by the current of the water was a good opportunity for me to objectify myself. Even though I had no great ability, it seemed to add to my identity as a researcher, albeit in a subdued way. This made me busy with my studies, and my trips to the river ceased. I think this choice was the result of a purpose-rational action concerning the future of Burakumin being connected to me.

Sometimes I have dreams. For example, it is a brown trout (the trout in Schubert's piano quintet), nearly a meter long, slowly breaking the surface of the water and taking my fly in its mouth. I tremble, and then the trout fights me. Or a steelhead (a rainbow trout of the descending type) attacks my fly as if to snatch it, and I land that steelhead against the torrent.

We Burakumin always have hope to win our self-liberation. I will save my dreams until the time when our hopes are realized.

Writing this essay for the website of the Institution of Social Theory and Dynamics, to which I belong, and with permission, I post the English translation on my website.

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