My friendship with the family Minatoya has progressed satisfactorily. They are named Sute and Kamezo. Sute manages the shipping trade and financial arrangements, while Kamezo is a master in sourcing materials and goods. They have taken me almost as an older brother, teaching me about the island and the language. I am happy to be known as their friend. My skill with the Japanese language continues to improve, though people are still surprised every time I speak it.
I sit with them occasionally in the afternoon as business is being completed. We speak on many things. Sute told me a story about her childhood, and an incredible thing that sometimes happens here. The Japanese, as with all other peoples I have met, believe strongly in the power of spirits. In a family, when many of their children die at a young age, they feel it wise to break the spell of bad luck.
When another girl is born, she is taken to an empty field or the forest, and left alone. The family pays another person, of no relation to the family, to pretend to find the child alone in the field. He then brings the child back to the parents home, asking if they will not have mercy and take it into their home.
As is their way, the child is taken back in, and given the name Sute, or Foundling. In this way, her family hopes to trick any evil from falling on their babies; they prevent it from taking yet another of their children. Sute explained this happened to her, hence her name. Her parents had three daughters, but they died at a young age, years before she was born. This was the first I’ve heard of pretend abandonment.