W3 – Extra Reading 2: He-y, Come On Ou-t!

This story is alluded to in volume 2 a few times. It is probably Hoshi’s most famous, and it has even appeared in textbooks in the US. I had to read it in a Japanese class I took back in college so it was the first Hoshi I ever read. It was my favorite thing we read in that class. I love the extent of gratuity practiced by everyone using the hole, and the ending and what will come after. It’s a great story, and an important one too.

He-y, come on ou-t!

The typhoon had passed and the sky was a gorgeous blue. Even a certain village not far from the city had suffered damage. A little distance from the village and near the mountains, a small shrine had been swept away by a landslide.

“I wonder how long that shrine’s been here.”

“Well, in any case, it must have been here since an awfully long time ago.”

“We’ve got to rebuild it right away.”

While the villagers exchanged views, several more of their number came over.

“It sure was wrecked.”

“I think it used to be right here.”

“No, looks like it was a little more over there.”

Just then one of them raised his voice. “Hey what in the world is this hole?” Where they had all gathered there was a hole about a meter in diameter. They peered in, but it was so dark nothing could be seen. However, it gave one the feeling that it was so deep it went clear through to the center of the earth.

There was even one person who said, “I wonder if it’s a fox’s hole.”

“He—y, come on ou—t!” shouted a young man into the hole. There was no echo from the bottom. Next he picked up a pebble and was about to throw it in.

“You might bring down a curse on us. Lay off,” warned an old man, but the younger one energetically threw the pebble in. As before, however, there was no answering response from the bottom. The villagers cut down some trees, tied them with rope and made a fence which they put around the hole. Then they repaired to the village.

“What do you suppose we ought to do?”

“Shouldn’t we build the shrine up just as it was over the hole?”

A day passed with no agreement. The news traveled fast, and a car from the newspaper company rushed over. In no time a scientist came out, and with an all-knowing expression on his face he went over to the hole. Next, a bunch of gawking curiosity seekers showed up; one could also pick out here and there men of shifty glances who appeared to be concessionaires. Concerned that someone might fall into the hole, a policeman from the local substation kept a careful watch.

One newspaper reporter tied a weight to the end of a long cord and lowered it into the hole. A long way down it went. The cord ran out, however, and he tried to pull it out, but it would not come back up. Two or three people helped out, but when they all pulled too hard, the cord parted at the edge of the hole. Another reporter, a camera in hand, who had been watching all of this, quietly untied a stout rope that had been wound around his waist.

The scientist contacted people at his laboratory and had them bring out a high-powered bull horn, with which he was going to check out the echo from the hole’s bottom. He tried switching through various sounds, but there was no echo. The scientist was puzzled, but he could not very well give up with everyone watching him so intently. He put the bull horn right up to the hole, turned it to its highest volume, and let it sound continuously for a long time. It was a noise that would have carried several dozen kilometers above ground. But the hole just calmly swallowed up the sound.

In his own mind the scientist was at a loss, but with a look of apparent composure he cut off the sound and, in a manner suggesting that the whole thing had a perfectly plausible explanation, said simply, “Fill it in.”

Safer to get rid of something one didn’t understand.

 The onlookers, disappointed that this was all that was going to happen, prepared to disperse. Just then one of the concessionaires, having broken through the throng and come forward, made a proposal.

“Let me have that hole. I’ll fill it in for you.”

“We’d be grateful to you for filling it in,” replied the mayor of the village, “but we can’t very well give you the hole. We have to build a shrine there.”

“If it’s a shrine you want, I’ll build you a fine one later. Shall I make it with an attached meeting hall?”

Before the mayor could answer, the people of the village all shouted out.

“Really? Well, in that case, we ought to have it closer to the village.”

“It’s just an old hole. We’ll give it to you!”

So it was settled. And the mayor, of course, had no objection.

The concessionaire was true to his promise. It was small, but closer to the village he did build for them a shrine with an attached meeting hall.

About the time the autumn festival was held at the new shrine, the hole-filling company established by the concessionaire hung out its small shingle at a shack near the hole.

The concessionaire had his cohorts mount a loud campaign in the city. “We’ve got a fabulously deep hole! Scientists say it’s at least five thousand meters deep! Perfect for the disposal of such things as waste from nuclear reactors.”

Government authorities granted permission. Nuclear power plants fought for contracts. The people of the village were a bit worried about this, but they consented when it was explained that there would be absolutely no above-ground contamination for several thousand years and that they would share in the profits. Into the bargain, very shortly a magnificent road was built from the city to the village.

Trucks rolled in over the road, transporting lead boxes. Above the hole the lids were opened, and the wastes from nuclear reactors tumbled away into the hole.

From the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Agency boxes of unnecessary classified documents were brought for disposal. Officials who came to supervise the disposal held discussions on golf. The lesser functionaries, as they threw in the papers, chatted about pinball.

The hole showed no signs of filling up. It was awfully deep, thought some; or else it might be very spacious at the bottom. Little by little the hole-filling company expanded its business.

Bodies of animals used in contagious disease experiments at the universities were brought out, and to these were added the unclaimed corpses of vagrants. Better than dumping all of its garbage in the ocean, went the thinking in the city, and plans were made for a long pipe to carry it to the hole.

The hole gave peace of mind to the dwellers of the city. They concentrated solely on producing one thing after another. Everyone disliked thinking about the eventual consequences. People wanted only to work for production companies and sales corporations; they had no interest in becoming junk dealers. But, it was thought, these problems too would gradually be resolved by the hole.

Young girls whose betrothals had been arranged discarded old diaries in the hole. There were also those who were inaugurating new love affairs and threw into the hole old photographs of themselves taken with former sweethearts. The police felt comforted as they used the hole to get rid of accumulations of expertly done counterfeit bills. Criminals breathed easier after throwing material evidence into the hole.

Whatever one wished to discard, the hole accepted it all. The hole cleansed the city of its filth; the sea and sky seemed to have become a bit clearer than before.

Aiming at the heavens, new buildings went on being constructed one after the other.

One day, atop the high steel frame of a new building under construction, a workman was taking a break. Above his head he heard a voice shout:

“He—y, come on ou—t!”

But, in the sky to which he lifted his gaze there was nothing at all. A clear blue sky merely spread over all. He thought it must be his imagination. Then, as he resumed his former position, from the direction where the voice had come, a small pebble skimmed by him and fell on past.

The man, however, was gazing in idle reverie at the city’s skyline growing ever more beautiful, and he failed to notice.

Posted in W3 | 5 Comments

W3 – Extra Reading 1: Bokko-chan

I don’t think I’ve told you this yet, but if you didn’t know, the rabbit character in W3, Bokko, has her name taken from one of Shinichi Hoshi’s most famous stories. It was maybe Hoshi’s favorite story he ever wrote. He said most of his stories involve a great deal of time and patience, but Bokko-chan was effortless. It’s a pretty funny story. I’m putting it here and not on Hoshizuru because I didn’t translate it! It was just on some random spam-ridden blog and so I copied it and am putting it here.


The robot was really a work of art. It was a female robot and, being artificial, she was designed to be the perfect beauty. Every element that went to make up a charming girl was taken into consideration. The trouble was that she looked a little prissy, but who can deny that a prissy air is an indispensable prerequisite for a beauty?

Nobody else had ever ventured to build such a robot. Indeed, it was silly to build a robot just to do the work of a man when for an equal amount of expense one could design more efficient machinery or hire suitable workers from among the many whose applications jammed the “Situation Wanted” columns of the classified ads.

However, this robot was made at leisure by the master of a certain bar. A bar-master, in general, will not drink at home at all. For him liquor exists only as his stock-in-trade which should never be consumed for private use. And those haunting drunkards who frequented his bar so willingly helped him to make money with which he was able to spend his off hours in pursuit of a hobby.

It happened that his hobby was the building of a charming robotess.

Since this was his only hobby he spared neither effort nor money in designing her. For instance, she was covered with a skin so smooth that it could hardly be distinguished from that of a real girl. It is no exaggeration to say that she was more enchanting than the genuine beauties around.

Unfortunately, like many great beauties, she was rather empty-headed, since the designing of a complex brain was beyond the capabilities of her inventor. She was able to answer questions of the simplest form and perform simple motions, such as taking a drink.

The bar-master named her “Bokko-chan” and placed her on a chair behind the counter of his bar so that she would not be too close to the customers. He was afraid the robot might show her cloven hoof upon close examination by the patrons of the bar.

So a new girl appeared at the bar and all of the visitors greeted her pleasantly. She behaved satisfactorily until she was asked something other than her name and age. And yet, fortunately enough, nobody noticed she was a robot.

“What’s your name, baby?”


“How old are you?”

“I’m still young.”

“Well, how young are you?”

“I’m still young.”

“I say, how young are you?”

“I’m still young.”

Fortunately the patrons of the bar were polite enough not to pursue the question of her age any further.

“Nice dress you wear, huh?”

“Nice dress I wear, don’t I?”

“What do you like best?”

“What do I like best?”

“Will you drink a glass of . . . say gin fizz?”

“I will drink a glass of . . . say gin fizz.”

Bokko-chan never objected to a drink. Nor did she ever become intoxicated.

Charming, young, prissy and smart to chat with. The story of the new girl at the bar spread throughout the neighborhood and the number of visitors to the bar increased. And every visitor enjoyed himself by chatting and drinking with the charming Bokko-chan. Indeed, she seemed to please everyone.

“Whom do you like best among us all?”

“Whom do I like best among you all?”

“Do you like me?”

“I do like you.”

“Well, then, shall we go and see some movies?”

“When shall we go?”

Whenever Bokko-chan was asked a question she could not answer she would signal the bar-master who would immediately rush to her side.

“Hey, mister, it’s not polite to be flirting with such a baby so much.”

The insistent visitor could but grin and retire gracefully under the stern admonition of the bar-master.

The bar-master would sometimes crouch at the foot of Bokko-chan in which a small plastic spout had been installed. From this spout he would drain the cocktails that she had drunk and, being a frugal man, he would serve them again to the customers. However, the patrons of the bar were not aware of this, and they never ceased to praise the female robot. They praised her youth and beauty, her steady character, the fact that she never flattered too much, and that she never lost her senses from drinking. Thus the popularity and fame of Bokko-chan grew and grew as did the number of customers at the bar.

Among the many admirers of Bokko-chan was a young man whose infatuation with her became so great that he visited the bar every evening, Night after night he tried to talk her into going out with him without any success at all. Her lack of response nearly drove him crazy and he spent much more than he could afford in an effort to impress her. His frequent visits to the bar caused him to run up a considerable bill and when the bar-master called him to account he attempted to steal from his father in order to pay his debts.

His father caught him at his attempted theft and a bitter scene followed during which the father agreed to advance the young man enough money to pay his debts provided he would promise never to visit the bar again.

That evening the youth returned to the bar to pay his bill and, knowing that this was his last visit, he drank much and treated Bokko-chan.

“I shan’t come anymore.”

“You won’t come anymore.”

“Are you sad?”

“I am sad.”

“In reality, you are not, are you?”

“In reality, I am not.”

“No other girl is as cold-hearted as you.”

“No other girl is as cold-hearted as I.”

“Shall I kill you?”

“Will you kill me?”

The youth pulled a packet of drugs from his pocket, poured them into his glass then pushed the glass toward Bokko-chan.

“Will you drink this?”

“I will drink this.”

Bokko-chan lifted the glass and drained its contents.

“Go to hell, will you?” the boy said.

“I will go to hell.”

The boy quickly settled his bill with the bar-master and ran out into the night.

It was almost closing time and the bar-master was pleased with having collected such a large debt. He drained the liquor from Bokko-chan and set up drinks for all on the bar.

“Drink up , men,” said the bar-master, “this is my treat.”

The patrons of the bar drank a toast to the bar-master which he acknowledged by draining his own glass.

On that night the lights of the bar were not put out, and the radio continued to play music. Nobody departed and yet nobody spoke.

And the time came when the radio said “Good night”, as the station signed off the air.

“Good night,” said Bokko-chan, waiting with all her prissy air for the next man to call her.

Posted in W3 | 1 Comment

W3 – Volume Two


Posted in W3 | 4 Comments

Mako, Rumi and Chi 07 – Rumiko The Troublemaker


Posted in mako rumi and chi | 3 Comments

Biology With Tezuka – Lesson 1


Posted in biology with Tezuka | 4 Comments

Mako, Rumi and Chi 06 – Mom Gets In A Wreck


Posted in mako rumi and chi | 1 Comment

Tiger Books – Akuemon


Posted in tiger books | 8 Comments