A translation of Iwamura Tooru’s “A Great Scream” (大叫喚)

From the Minato City website:

1870-1917. Art historian and art critic. The firstborn son of a government official, Takatoshi Iwamura. From 1888, for five years he studied art in the United States and Europe. In Europe he learned painting techniques and read the history of Western art at the Academie Julien in Paris. When he returned to Japan, he formed the Hakubakai with Kiyoteru Kuroda, whom he met in Paris. He later became a professor at the Tokyo Art School (now the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music). He also served as judge for a Ministry of Education art exhibition and devoted himself to founding the National Association of Art.

This short story was published in 1909. Source text.

A Great Scream

They must have been the spirits of Americans. At that time, there were already a fair number of mysterious stories about the great railway which, starting from San Francisco, cut across the center of America itself, and even now, each time it passes through one of the innumerable mountain recesses in its path, you can see hundreds upon hundreds of deserted villages, giving you an unpleasant feeling. When this railway was still incomplete, due to flaws in the construction, the parts of the railway that passed over the mountain peaks would sometimes break away, and the bridges of iron over deep valleys would fall down. As a result of unforeseeable accidents like those, great numbers of people met untimely deaths on many occasions. When you later passed by those same locations on train, deep within the mountains’ folds where no people live, you would see an enormous crowd of people gathering by the tracks and wailing. The conductor would blow the train’s whistle over and over again to warn them, but none of them would seem to notice, and not a single one stepped away. Eventually, the train would have no choice but to resume, but when it passed by where the people had been, not a single one could be seen; at the same time, coming from some unknown place, the horrifying shrieks of many people could be heard reverberating through the valleys, growing louder and louder as it did. Unable to bear the terror, the train’s passengers would all shut the windows tight and tremble in their seats as they passed through. I am told by a certain American that at that time, this was not an uncommon experience.



October 5th, 2022 | Posted in Japanese

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