As uncle Toshi used to grow rice and tea on his farm. Wakana had to weed out one part of the farm, she spent the entire morning weeding and fell asleep among the tea plants. Toshi carried Wakana to the house and put her on the bed. Wakana woke up an hour later to the smell of freshly cooked rice. Wakana went to the kitchen and saw Toshi had left a note, that he had gone to the market and had left food for her to eat. She ate her meal and really liked it.
Ever since she came she had wanted to explore the forest behind the house. So she locked the house behind her and headed out. In the forest, she was happy. There was nobody in the forest and it was quiet except for the occasional sound of an animal. She was looking for the small, stone house structures, the ones she had seen the previous day. She went over the small hills and through thick bushes but couldn’t find it. She was very sad because she wanted to see those houses. Suddenly, she felt as if somebody was watching her and as she turned, she just managed to catch a glimpse. It was a shadowy figure that was walking behind her. It appeared to be translucent and that is when Wakana got really scared. SPIRITS!
She then decided to follow the spirit as she was sure that the spirits would go to the houses that were for them. She followed at a safe distance and it seemed that the spirit who she named ‘Haku’ didn’t take notice.
After following Haku for fifteen minutes, a bend in the path came and the spirit walked right off the path. Wakana looked down from the path but couldn’t see anybody. However, just as she walked along the path she found those little houses. She had brought along her camera and took many pictures of those houses.
The moment she took her first picture, a loud angry roar came saying, “Wakana, my child don’t do that”. Wakana was very surprised by this and thought that somebody was playing pranks. This really spooked her out and she ran back.
She ran back home with just seven pictures of the small houses. Toshi had left another note asking her to come to the farm after her return. But before going, Wakana wanted to move the pictures to her pen drive. As she she switched on the computer she noticed that there was a note under the keyboard. It said, “Delete the pictures from the camera”. But Wakana didn’t take the note seriously and threw the note in the dustbin. She moved the images to her pen drive and strangely, as she saw the pictures., all she could see were blurred areas inside the small houses and she thought that it was the camera’s fault. So, she took another picture to check the fault but this time there was no blurred area.
Wakana was very scared but just then she remembered that Toshi had called her. She quickly locked the house door and ran to Toshi’s farm, which was in the valley below the house.
Once she reached there she was wishing that she had stayed in the house because the ‘interesting’ job was to manure the fields! There was a huge pile of manure lying in the middle of the farm and Toshi had brought out three shovels. Toshi was so good at spreading manure around his farm that he used to do it with two shovels, one in each hand. Wakana took a shovel and she did it. She looked as if she was about to vomit. They spread the manure all the way to sundown. Not surprisingly, Wakana had done only a fourth of the field.
While walking back to the house, Wakana told Toshi about her day and of course her experience with Haku. Toshi was quite surprised by the story. Wakana hadn’t told about her taking pictures of the spirit homes and when she was about to tell Toshi said, “Well, I am sure they don’t harm anybody and won’t harm you unless you took a picture and then moved the picture to some other place like a computer.” Toshi saw Wakana’s terrified face and immediately got to know that she had done exactly that.
They reached home to find ten more notes like the one Wakana had got in the afternoon. In every room, there were notes like the one from the afternoon. Wakana showed the pictures to Toshi and he could see the blurred area just like Wakana had seen. Toshi got really scared and decided that the best way to deal with the problem will be to go back to the forest and just show the spirits that they were sorry and destroy the photos in front of them.
Wakana agreed but she was scared of the spirits and Haku. She didn’t tell Toshi what Haku looked like so he thought that Haku was another spirit but Wakana thought the Haku couldn’t be a spirit. All the other spirits were white, calm and were in their houses. Haku on the other hand was roaming the forests, was black and much larger than all the other spirits.
When she went to sleep, she went and saw the seven pictures she had taken. After carefully looking at the pictures, she saw that in one picture she had managed to capture Haku also. Haku’s eyes were yellow and where he was standing wasn’t a blurred area. Wakana froze when she saw Haku’s mouth. It looked as if he was saying her name. Wakana ran to Toshi’s room where he was sleeping. Wakana woke him up and told him what she thought of Haku. Even Toshi got scared and told Wakana that she should sleep in his room tonight. Wakana ran to her room to get her pillow when she gave out a loud scream. Toshi came running to her when he also saw why she had screamed. The room was full of those notes that Wakana had received earlier. Toshi took Wakana to his room and they just managed to sleep.
Next morning, Toshi and Wakana went to the forest with the photos. Toshi had taken a knife and had notified his friends and told them to wait near the edge of the forest. Wakana took Toshi to the place where the spirit homes were and immediately they saw Haku there. Wakana went forward, bent down and nicely apologised and gave the photo. Haku picked up the photo and said, “Totemo Yoi” and left.
Immediately after the spirit left, the real and small forest spirits appeared and started swarming around Wakana and Toshi. Then both of them got to know what happened. Those spirits were probably ruled under the horrible black ghost and were like slaves. Now, that Haku had left the forest spirits were celebrating.
Wakana felt very happy that she had freed the forest spirits. She visited the forest often during her visit. She even helped Toshi manure his garden behind his house and this time she was more efficient. Wakana had learnt the lesson her parents had been wanting to teach her; she learnt to appreciate nature and wasn’t a city girl anymore who lived in Yokohama.