Bring Back the Yin Yang Boys

From KJ 27: THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF KYOTO, BY ROBERT BRADY
 


1200 years ago, when Kyoto was freshly built, the wood still green, the graceful streets as quiet as they were to be for over a thousand years, it was a pretty radical place, laid out and carefully monitored according to precise geomantic rules by the boys from the Yin-Yang Bureau, at the Ministry of Central Affairs. Over the centuries, the usual fires, floods and earthquakes took their toll now and then, sort of cosmic taxes, plus a few wars and so on, after which Kyoto, though sometimes a ghost town for a while, was always rebuilt in the traditional way along traditional lines, because that was the way it had always been done, and the way it had always been done was the only way to do it; everyone knew that; that was the soul of Kyoto, which was the soul of the nation; and all the people in those days knew better than to fool with a proven thing; they know how the spirit was maintained, how the spirit was protected, and how that benefitted everyone, in the long run. People used to know all about the long run. Seems it’s only the short run nowadays.

Not long ago I took an ox-cart to visit the boys back in the Yin-Yang Bureau, in search of some details. During a divination break, I asked the Chief about the purpose of the Bureau.

“Our purpose is to guard against the demons; our task is never-ending! We must keep the demons in check, or chaos will ensue!” he intoned.

“What demons?” I asked. I didn’t see any demons.

He looked around warily. “Do you think I would name them out loud, right here in the heavenly capital? Such a rash act would invite disaster; it is better not even to think of such a thing. Needless to say, these demons have many faces.” He went on to elaborate, without naming names.

Somewhere since then, government did away with the Yin-Yang boys, and we’re now living in the result. And we can name the names. A few of the more obvious demons, as near as I could make out from the Chief’s fantastic descriptions, are nuclear power, neon, pachinko parlors, high-rises, loudspeakers, vending machines, motor vehicles, telephone poles, and political power in the hands of businessmen.

Kyoto needs the Yin-Yang boys more than ever, now.

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