“Hey, life is once. Yeah, you gotta do what you wanna do."
These are the words which have decided the course of my life
(or drove my life insane).
Most people may know this simple fact,
but only a few dedicate their lives for it.
The wisdom behind this teaching was given to me
by Keith Wolfe Smarch,
a Canadian First Nations Totem pole carver,
living in the Yukon Territory.
Mikio Kuroda admires this man as his master
and leans on his teachings to navigate life and hunting.
"This forest was a green field more than five hundred years ago.”
He describes to me scenery of the distant past so vividly,
as if it were just yesterday.
“When the leaf trembles like this,
we will have rain in a moment.”
He predicts weather precisely as a matter of course.
He splits a thick log into two with only one strike of the axe,
although I have to strike it many times to do the same.
Witnessing the precision of his movements resulting in the dry
‘crack’ sound of the wood splitting and flying through the air,
I realized suddenly that this is what a true man is meant to be.
Keith, now in his Sixties,
camps in the bush for days at a time hunting Moose,
Dall Sheep, and Mountain Goat.
He lives under the belief that meat for the family
should be provided for by the patriarch.
Even if the temperature is -20C, he goes out and traps Wolves,
Lynx and Beaver.
Fortunately, after my initial encounter with Keith,
when I repeatedly return to visit him in the Yukon,
he always opens his heart to allow me to join him
on his hunting trips into the bush.
“For my family, two Moose is enough for one winter.
You are not supposed to shoot more.”
“Do not cry after you shoot. The meat brings us joy.
If you grieve too much, it is no good for the animal,
who dedicated their body to us."
“If the animal is still alive after you shoot them,
you have to wait for at least 30 minutes before approaching them.
They need their time to accept the coming death.
And that is the very time for you to pray for them.
"Keith’s’ words are as strong and tough as a gigantic old tree,
firmly rooting in my heart.
One hunting tradition is more important to Keith than all else.
When he fells an animal and after he field dresses the game,
he takes out the wind pipe from their neck,
and hangs it on a nearby branch where the wind blows freely.
Then he prays for the game.
“Although you can no longer breathe anymore,
still as if the wind blow through this wind pipe,
I pray that you can breathe again, and will be given a new life.
After I started hunting in Japan by myself,
I never have missed this ritual.
I inherit the animals’ life, and live my own.
Someday, I am dreaming of being a human being in a true meaning,
namely as a “part of the land, part of the water”.
That should be the reason why I was given birth to this world,
and I am ready to sincerely dedicate my whole life for this purpose.