” … combines the pace of a modern science fiction/fantasy novel with an authentic recreation of the atmosphere, society, history and mythology of Japan.” – Amazon 5-star review.
“Voice of the Mirror” is Book 1 of the YA Urban Fantasy trilogy “Sword, Mirror, Jewel”, published by Excalibur Books!
17-year-old Reiko Bergman just wants to fit in.
Being half-Japanese and half-American is challenging enough in modern Tokyo, a city where obscure traditions collide with futuristic technology, and where even the ground beneath your feet can betray you.
But then her boyfriend Hideaki undergoes a bizarre personality change and develops supernatural powers; a samurai-sorceress forces her way into the Bergman family’s house as part of a mysterious quest; and Reiko discovers a mysterious portal in an old Tokyo cemetery – a shattered dimensional gateway, releasing creatures from Japanese mythology into our reality.
Reiko’s world has changed forever, and in the war breaking out in the shadows of Tokyo, she and her friends will have to figure out which side they’re on – before it’s too late …
We sat down on stools around a low coffee table in the center of the room and looked closely at the photos. They were of Yanaka cemetery, mostly taken at night, but there was something odd about them. Little orbs of light, almost perfect spheres, floated in the air over the graves.
“What are they?” I asked him. “Reflections? Water on the lens? Dust?”
He looked at me again with dark, searching eyes. “None of those. I’ve taken hundred of photos of the cemetery, under different conditions, and I’ve checked everything very carefully. I can tell you those orbs aren’t camera flashes reflecting off dust or pollen or water vapor in the air.”
Shunsuke snorted with impatience. “Then what do you think they are?”
“Have you heard the legend of the Hinotama?” Mr. Rigby replied.
Tomoe spoke for the first time. “Yeah, Hinotama are floating balls of fire. They hang around cemeteries because they’re the souls of the dead.”
“I don’t like where this is going,” Shunsuke whispered to me.
Mr. Rigby’s voice was heavy. “How much do you actually know about Yanaka cemetery?”
“Plots for the graves are really expensive, and you’ve got to be pretty rich to be put on the cemetery waiting list. So I guess people are just dying to get in there.” Shunsuke gave a little grin, looked around at us, and then at the floor. “Okay, not funny.”
Mr. Rigby stood up and moved over to the back wall of photos, which reminded me of a teacher standing in front of a blackboard. Somehow the gesture relaxed me a bit.
“Yanaka Cemetery has an odd history,” he said. “The local people believe the plot of land is the center of mystical energy. They call it a power spot.”
“You’re talking about the Ki,” said Tomoe.
Most Japanese schoolchildren, boys or girls, study some kind of martial art during their education, usually Kendo. That’s where we heard about the Ki, the life-stream, the invisible energy that exists both inside and outside every human being.
“The Chinese idea of Feng Shui – or Fu Sui in Japanese – states that the houses or landmarks we build can affect and be affected by the Ki. If a building stands in a certain spot, it can be either lucky or unlucky, depending on its alignment. Some sites actually store the energy, and they’re called power spots. Strange things tend to happen in those power spots. Things and people can suddenly change … sometimes even disappear.”
“They’re places where the barriers between this world and the spirit world are thinner than most,” Tomoe said softly, as if she were quoting from something.
“Many shrines and temples are located on these power spots,” said Mr. Rigby, “which means that ancient people were sensitive to earth energies. These energies are related to the Ki that flows through the human body, and just as acupuncture can change the condition of the body, sacred sites and power spots are the pressure points of the Earth. Tokyo’s strongest power spot is, apparently, the site of the Imperial Palace.”
“Yeah, we can see the Palace grounds from our school tennis court,” put in Shunsuke with a little note of pride in his voice.
“Is that so?” Mr. Rigby turned and treated him to that deep look. At least it took the pressure off me. “Hmm . . . I wonder.”
He pointed to a map of Japan pinned to the wall and surrounded with photographs he had taken. “I’ve done quite a lot of traveling around Japan, and done some research with GPS and digital maps. A lot of the holy places are pretty much laid out in straight lines. There’s the Way of the Sun connecting Hase Temple, Kunitsu Shrine and Mount Miwa in Nara, as well as the Way of the First Morning Sunlight connecting Kazusa Ichinomiya Shrine in Chiba, the peak of Mount Fuji, and Izumo Shrine in Shimane, four hundred kilometers across Japan . . .”
“That’s very interesting,” I interrupted, “but what’s this got to do with Yanaka Cemetery?”
He turned and looked back at us. “Traditionally, the flow of Ki contains both positive and negative elements. The flow of energy from the northeast direction is considered to be particularly negative. Unlucky, if you like. Some people call it … evil. The government of the Edo period, four hundred years ago, were concerned that demonic influences might enter the capital from the northeast, and so they built a network of temples and shrines as a line of protection.”
“That’s why there are so many temples in Shitamachi,” Tomoe added.
Shunsuke licked his lips. “I think I’ll have that tea now, if the offer’s still there.”
Tomoe smiled at him. “Ghost stories make you thirsty?”
My head was spinning, trying to analyze what this could mean to Hideaki and me. “So, what you’re saying is, that Yanaka cemetery is some kind of power station for invisible spook energy, and we just walked into it?”