Memories of Ajewarlae



Mother and Child at Seascape

1989, back when I was still in elementary school, my family and I visited an island called Ajewarlae. Since it was our first trip outside of Japan, I remember my parents studying the Ajewarlaen language day and night.
  My sister was only four or five years old at the time. She doesn't remember a thing. My memory is also vague but I remember there were abnormal amounts of dogs on the island.  There were dogs all around us when we landed in the airport --unchained and without leads. I was afraid at first in fear of being bitten.

We passed by the beach on the way to our hotel.  As expected, there were many dogs there as well. My mother picked one of the dogs up and after playing with it muttered, “I wish this was a cat island instead.” My sister kept chasing the dogs but she gave up after they ran away from her each time. A continent could be seen across the horizon and my mother said, “could that be the Soviet Union?”

The sky then looked like it could rain any moment while the murky black sea put out an odor similar to that of a leek --it was extraordinary, to say the least. Feeling uncomfortable, my sister and I told our father, “let's go, ”But he gave no response, our voices possibly muted from the resounding waves. Finally, he stretched his body outwardly and only said,“ I'm so glad we came here. ”

2The Person with Red Spots and an Unknown Bird / Twilight Dog

On the Ajewarlae island, we stayed at Hotel Canary. I heard my father say it was the best hotel in Ajewarlae though it cost the same as a canned juice in Japanese yen. At the reception, I saw my father talking to a man with red spots on his face. Atop the reception table was placed a birdcage with a bird inside that was clearly not a canary. It swayed slowly in the cage.

When my father finished with the reception, he received the keys and led us to our room. As we were making our way through the hallway he said, “the receptionist said to never go out after seven at night and when it is raining. But “At least there's nothing wrong with the hotel,” my mother cheered him up. ”He looked a little disappointed.” To be honest I couldn't understand half the things he said.

The sun was going down but we decided to take a stroll just outside the hotel since my sister complained of not being able to touch any of the dogs.
  The black sea was calm. It was illuminated by sunset which reminded me of a dark mirror rainbow.

It was almost night time and there was no one else on the beach. Whenever I remember this trip, I do not remember anyone but my family sharing the landscape. Maybe certain people erase their existence from old memories. Perhaps this is not a phenomenon limited to Ajewarlae.

3. Hotel Canary

The next day, we stayed inside the hotel room.
  In spite of the sunny weather, it was pouring rain. Earlier, my father attempted to go outside, but the hotel staff had stopped him. 

I was feeling anxious about the bizarre weather. My father was the only one out of the family strangely excited. “This is what makes this island so unique!” He exclaimed as he looked out the window. Out of pure boredom, my sister and I continued to use the bed as a trampoline, and when we got bored of that we competed on who could pretend to be a better corpse on the floor. My mother got fed up with us and bought us playing cards from the lobby. Yet, we didn't know any rules to card games so we randomly decided strong cards and made the cards fight each other.

It continued to rain all through the night. As it got dark outside, so did our room because nobody had bothered to turn the light on. My mother and sister had fallen asleep with the latter sprawled face down on the floor amongst the playing cards. “Why don't you sleep?” I asked him but there was no reply. Only the sound of rain echoed. Enclosed by darkness, I felt as if my family had turned into a bunch of unresponsive corpses. I panicked and tried to bring myself to sleep but no matter what I did my eyes remained awake.

4.The Silver Man / Karwaminoha

The sun was out the next day so we went out to explore the island. We soon found strange photographs stuck in various places on the island. These were called “Karuwaminoha”. It was a photograph of a clay doll, resembling a polished frog, striking a pose in front of a flower-patterned cloth. We were told that a few years ago these dolls were popular toys among children who would play with them outside.

Later on, I researched the context of these photographs. It turned out there was an incident on this island in which children who had possession of these dolls disappeared in masses. Since then these dolls were viewed as cursed and adults would burn them right away when found. At one point this “Karuwaminoha hunt” escalated enough that the shop that made these dolls were turned to ash as well.

Rumors said the “Silver Man” snatched these children away, or they said the doll has hypnotic powers to make the children sleepwalk to the unknown. Wherever lies the truth, there was a sudden drop of the population in children close to my age on Ajewarlae ..
When I talked to my father about this he only laughed and said, “I would have loved to obtain such a rare item!”

Now that I look back, I find it strange that so many children disappeared on such a tiny island. I'm sure if the adults of the island worked together, they could have found the missing children. The name “Karuwaminoha” was not the doll's original name. It is the word for “death” in the Ajewarlae language.

   Doggy Style Dog Fur

One of my most vivid memories was of an institution that housed numbers of dog breeds just like a pet shop. Similar to a dog shelter in Japan, it was hard to call it a tourist site. But unlike a dog shelter, the dogs brought there Due to this shelter, most of the dogs on the island were not violent, but kind --or should I say, hollow?

“The wild dogs don't bark, huh?” My mother said. It was true, they didn't bark.
On the way back my father remorsefully said, “this is just like Romeo and Juliet.”
“That's true,” my mother seemed to agree from the bottom of her heart. To this day I do not know what part of this was exactly Romeo and Juliet, and even when I asked my father about it recently he only said, “I never said such a thing. You must be remembering things wrong. ”I have no way to find out whose memory is correct.

6 Searchlight and the Night

That night, my father proposed we go and see the stars. “But we mustn't go outside, right?” My sister and I asked hesitantly. Yet my father answered, “there shouldn't be a problem.” My mother seemed to have thought it was a good idea as she said: “I'm sure it's pretty.” I noticed the landscape out the window was absolute darkness so I stood my ground but my parents soon declared to leave me behind if I didn't go with them, so reluctantly I followed. I did not want to be alone in the room with the creepy yellow bird figurine atop the television.

We found the lobby deserted and the red-spotted receptionist nowhere to be found. “Let's go through the woods. There might be something interesting,” my father said. The forest was strangely quiet. Not even the sounds of insects could be heard. My sister seemed to be free of fear as she kept playing with her flashlight --swinging it like a searchlight. Shapes of sleeping dogs, flowers, plants, and other unidentifiable creatures were illuminated one by one by the light.

Just then for a split second, I saw a person clinging unto a tree doing something. My family didn't notice. I knew then that I had seen something that I was not supposed to see. I immediately clung unto my father, shivering and keeping caution as I kept up with my family. I wanted desperately to tell my family what I saw but no voice came out.

At last, when we came out of the woods, a starry sky like I had never seen before filled my vision. I was still frightened and kept quiet as I kept clinging onto my father. My mind was elsewhere.
  “Hey, what are you still up to? I told you there was nothing to worry about. On the other hand, look at the beautiful sky!” My father exclaimed. With the starry sky behind him, my father was like a huge mass of shadow.

7 Memories of Ajewarlae

More than twenty years have passed since the trip. I had completely forgotten about it had I not heard the word “Ajewarlae” on the evening news recently.
  As I dig into my memories, I realized I have no further recollections from the point where I saw the person in the woods. But I do remember how purely frightened I was and the furious longing to retreat home, as well as the relief I experienced beyond words when I returned home safely. 

The contents of the news went like this: a good amount of dogs had been found in Russia, coasts of China, and even Hokkaido who's believed to have gotten there by crossing the ocean. The dogs were found weak and worn out due to the excess With evidence of DNA and water currents, it was revealed that all of these dogs came from the island of Ajewarlae.

Because of this controversy, a field survey was commissioned. It was completely desolate --they found no one on the island. The buildings on the island remain, but no clothes, daily commodities, nor even one strand of human hair could be found.

English Translation  : Sara Giusto Yasunaga



Memories of Ajewarlae


Seascape mother and child

In 1989, when I was still in elementary school, my family went to an island called Ajiwarura. It was my first trip abroad, so I remember my father and mother studying Ajiwarura's words very hard. My sister is only four or five years old and seems to remember almost nothing about that time. My memory is quite vague, but I remember it was an island with a lot of dogs. When I left the airport, there were stray dogs all over the place, and I was afraid that I might be bitten because there were no leads or chains, so I was pretty scared at first.


I went out to the sea on the way to the hotel. There were still many dogs on the beach, and when my mother held one of them, she said, "I wish I had been a cat island," after a brief sigh. My sister was chasing the dog, but each time the dog ran away quickly, it seemed that she couldn't be caught and was frustrated.

A continent was faintly visible in the distance, and my mother said, "Is that the Soviet Union?" The sky seemed to be raining at any moment, and for some reason it was a strange sign with a pungent odor similar to green onions emitted by the black sea and moist air. My sister and I became anxious and said to my dad, "Let's go now", but I didn't get a reply because I couldn't hear the sound of the waves. Said.



A person with red spots and an unidentified bird / Twilight dog

I stayed at Ajiwarura at a hotel called "Hotel Canary". My father said, "It was the best hotel on the island, but the accommodation cost was about juice in Japanese yen at that time." There was a person with red spots on his face at the reception, and his father was talking to him about something. There was a birdcage on the desk, and an unidentified bird, apparently not a canary, floated quietly.


After talking, my father received the key and guided everyone to the room. As I walked down the hallway, my dad said, "I told him I shouldn't go outside after 7 pm and when it's raining, but to be honest, I didn't really know what I was saying." It looked a little depressed. "But it's okay because I can stay properly," my mother comforted.

The sun was setting, but my sister often regretted not touching the dog during the day, so I decided to take a walk around the hotel for a short while. It was like a dark rainbow mirror, illuminating the calm sea at sunset. No matter where I walked, the dog was looking at me, and my sister was happily stroking the dog, looking sideways at my mother, who was tired of it as soon as she said, "Ah, I'm just a dog." The dog didn't react to it and just looked at me in a daze.


There was no one on the beach. Maybe it's almost night, but when I remember this trip, for some reason there are few people other than my family in the scenery. Perhaps this is not just about Ajiwarura, but people may disappear from the scenery of old memories.


Hotel Canary

The next day I was in the hotel room all the time. It was completely sunny, but it was raining heavily, and when my father tried to go out, the hotel staff said, "Never go out," and he was nailed quite strongly. I was worried about the strange weather I had never seen before, but only my father was dissatisfied and said with excitement, "This is the real thrill of this island," and looked out the window endlessly. Was there. My sister and I were so free that we danced crazy on the bed, and when we got tired of it, we were playing a "corpse mane game" on the floor, but my mother who couldn't see it was playing a card game in the lobby. He bought something like this. I didn't understand the rules at all, but he bought it for me, so I managed to decide the strength of each card and played in a battle format.

It was still raining at night. Nobody turned on the lights and there were no street lights, so the room went black as the outside got dark. My mother kept sleeping, and my sister slept on her stomach, covered in cards. Only my father was still looking at the darkness outside, and asked, "Why don't you sleep?", But there was no reaction, only the sound of rain echoed. I was so scared that everyone stopped saying anything like a real corpse in the dark, and I thought I'd fall asleep early, but my eyes were clear and I couldn't sleep easily. ..


Silver Man / Karuwa Minoh

The next day it was sunny so I was able to take a walk around the island. Strange pictures were posted here and there on the island. This was called "Karuwaminoha", and a shiny clay doll like a frog was proudly posing against the background of a cloth printed with a flower pattern. I heard that it was a children's doll that was very popular in Ajiwarla a few years ago, and many children at that time were playing outside with this doll.


So when I later investigated why the photo was posted all over the island, I found that it was because there were a large number of children with it disappearing. Since then, this doll has been treated as a rather ominous one, and as soon as it is found, it has become a rule that adults must burn it. It seems that this "Karuwaminoha hunting" was overheated for a while, and even the workshop that made it was burned.


Rumor has it that the "silver man" takes the child away, or that the doll's magical nature causes the child to fall into a hypnotic state and go somewhere like sleepwalking. For this reason, it is said that the population of the same generation as myself in Ajiwarura is extremely small.


When I told my father about this, he said with a laugh, "I wanted to get somehow a rare thing with such a word."


Looking back, I wonder where many children disappeared on that small island. It is likely to be found if all the people on the island search for it. "Karuwaminoha" is not the original name of this doll, but a word that simply means "reaper" in Ajiwarura's words.


Doggy Style ✳︎ Dog Fur

The best thing I remember was a facility with lots of dogs, where there were all kinds of dogs like a pet shop. When I think about it now, it's quite doubtful that it was a tourist destination, and I think it's quite similar to a health center in Japan, but in reality, the opposite is true, and dogs brought from somewhere are inspected and educated here. After receiving the training, he was supposed to leave for the field energetically. So many of the stray dogs on the island weren't ferocious, they were all kind, or rather hollow. My mother said, "Where is the dog on this island really not ringing?" It certainly didn't ring.

On his way home, his father muttered sadly, "This is like Romeo and Juliet." My mother seemed to agree with me, and answered, "That's true." I still sometimes wonder what that was "Romeo and Juliet" for them. When I asked my dad about it recently, he said, "I didn't say that. You have something wrong with your memory?" Now there is no way to tell if it's my memory mistake or if my dad just forgot.



Night and searchlight

That night, my father told me to go see the stars. My sister and I asked, "You shouldn't go out, right?" But my dad said, "Well, that's okay." My mother also seemed to be enthusiastic, saying, "It's absolutely beautiful." When I looked out the window, it was so dark that I was determined to resist, and if I didn't come, I would leave it, so I decided to stick with it. Even the yellow bird on the TV felt scared and I didn't want to be left alone in that room.

The lobby of the hotel was a temple, and no one had red spots during the day. "Let's go through the forest because it's a big deal. There may be something interesting," he said. The woods were strangely quiet and didn't even hear insects. My sister said she wasn't afraid of anything, and was playing around with a flashlight like a searchlight. Sleeping dogs, flowers, and various other kimonos appeared fragmented in the light.

At that time, I saw a person clinging to a tree and doing something in the depths of the forest for only a moment. The other three were unaware. Knowing that I had seen something I shouldn't have seen, I immediately clung to my father and quivered, worrying about his back. I wanted to tell them that I saw a person, but I couldn't make a voice.

When I finally passed through the forest, a starry sky that I had never seen was spreading. I was still scared and kept silent while clinging to my father. It wasn't a star. "Hey, what's the matter? Nothing happened, but it's a beautiful sky," he said. With the starry sky in the background, my father was like a big black shadow mass.


Memories of Ajiwarura

It's been over 20 years since that trip. It was only recently that I remembered the trip, and until the word "Ajiwarura" appeared in the evening news, I was almost out of consciousness.

Then, when I traced my memory, I realized that I didn't remember anything after seeing people in the forest. I still remember the hellish feeling of being frightened by the face I saw in the woods and longing to go home, and the tremendous relief I had when I returned home safely.


The reason why Ajiwarura was in the news was that there have been many cases of dogs swimming in the sea recently to the coastal areas of Russia and China, and even to Hokkaido. Although the dogs are debilitated by long-term dog paddles, they generally arrive alive and are now protected in their respective countries. In addition, it was clarified that all dogs are drifting from the island called Ajiwarura from the relationship between the DNA and the ocean current.


As a result of conducting a field survey in response to this, it was found that there are currently no humans on the island, and that it is completely empty. Moreover, the building itself was nothing left, and it was not possible to find even a single piece of human hair, let alone clothes and daily necessities that were traces of people.