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July 2nd, 2011

If you read this blog, you might know that I am somewhat of a skeptic. I don’t easily accept stories of the fantastic; my inclination is that if there is a possible alternate explanation which is more mundane, I tend to give it more credence. I would sooner presume that a ‘spectral image’ in an old photograph is a double exposure or chance pattern of reflected light than someone’s spirit, or that a dancing light in the sky is some natural atmospheric phenomenon rather than an interstellar alien spacecraft. If a plant dies unexpectedly, I don’t see it as a sign that someone halfway across the world is in trouble.

On Wednesday, Sachi found that a glass holding flower cuttings had strangely cracked. It was a thick, short, but wide-rimmed colored glass. Sachi had bought some clay thingies with holes in them which, if put in the bottom of a glass or on a small dish, would hold flower stems upright and allow them to take water. One was in the bottom of this glass.

Sachi noticed first that the table was wet, and then that the glass was empty of water. When she tried to move the glass to see what might have happened, almost half of it just came away, as if it had been cleanly sheared–but it had not been hit, dropped, or jarred in any way we knew.

Sachi immediately took this as a sign that Junzo’s health was in jeopardy. However, she had been saying this about many such signs and portents over the past months. My own inclination is to believe that maybe the clay piece was a tight fit at the bottom of the glass, and when it expanded slightly in water, it created enough pressure to crack the glass. However, when I checked, I found that the clay piece was much too small and the glass much too large for that. But, if not that, then anything from aging glass (they had been Sachi’s for many years) to an unknown impact might have been responsible. Even had I been predisposed toward accepting supernatural phenomenon, I would not have assumed this was one such event.

The next day, however, something happened for which it was slightly harder to provide a more mundane alternate explanation. I had come home from work, and while Sachi got dinner ready, I was watching a video on my computer upstairs, in my home office, wearing headphones. Sachi signaled me with our little alarm/light system, and I came downstairs for dinner.

“Who were you talking to?” she asked. I did not know what she was referring to; I had been watching a video the whole time, and told her so. However, she insisted that she had heard me clearly, for several minutes, talking to somebody. She assumed that I had had a short Skype conversation. This really puzzled me, as I had not spoken at all during that time. It is possible I may have laughed at something, but I certainly did not make any sounds that could be mistaken for a fairly prolonged conversation. She had not heard my audio, as it was through headphones. No TV or radio was on. Since we were using air conditioning, all the windows and even the internal doors were closed, muting sounds from outside, and we never hear people talking that clearly from outside in any case. I suggested that she heard something else, but she discounted that immediately–the voice came from above, she insisted, and she identified it as my own. There was no other possible source for such a series of sounds–but I am certain that I made none that could even be close to that. We shrugged it off as strange and unexplained, but probably nothing.

Minutes later, during dinner, Sachi got the call from her brother that her father had passed away–and the timing of his death was almost precisely the time Sachi had, before we received the news, heard the voices.

After we got the call, the voices Sachi heard did not enter our minds as other thought, feelings, and matters pressed upon us. It was only this week that we recalled what happened and tried to explain it–but could not. The timing was certain–I come home and take no more than 15-20 minutes to rest before we eat dinner, so it was easy for Sachi to place the timing of the voices she heard. She mentioned the voices maybe five minutes before we got the call, so it was clearly not provoked by the news of her father passing. She explained exactly what she heard before the call came, so it is not possible that her memory of the details were influenced by the event in any way. Nor is Sachi prone to hearing my voice when I am not speaking; such an event never happened before.

Had she reported the voices only after she received the call, and had claimed she had heard her father’s voice, then at least it might have been possible that her reporting was influenced in some way. The way it actually happened, however, precludes any such thing. Even she did not see any supernatural explanation for the event at the time–she simply had trouble believing that I had not had a Skype call.

I still cannot wholly rule out a mundane explanation–but for the life of me, I cannot come up with any such explanation for what happened. Why my voice, for example? But the fact that she heard something like that exactly at the moment of her father’s death, as reported by the hospital staff, is something which gives you pause.

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  1. July 2nd, 2011 at 19:49 | #1

    The night after my father-in-law’s funeral, everyone went to bed early. Later I went downstairs to the kitchen to root around for some snacks and when I came upstairs the husband was freaked out because he’d heard loud noises from the adjacent empty room and thought it was me trying to scare him. Then about ten minutes later the overhead light went on by itself, one of those lights where you have to yank the string to turn it on, and we hadn’t turned it on at all that night. The next morning at breakfast he told this to his mother and she had her own story, that she’d been kept up half the night by knocking and scratching sounds outside her bedroom. For the next few months she’d wake up in the middle of the night because the lights in the next room went on by themselves, the knocking sounds continued, a few times loud crashes from the second floor scared her so she couldn’t sleep, and when she went up there the next day (with a neighbor), my husband’s CDs and stuff would be scattered in the middle of the floor (and there had been no earthquake). When we visited I’d go up to the bedroom and even in the middle of the day the light would be on, things would be moved around. Eventually, after about five or six months or so, it stopped and since then nothing like that has happened, all quiet on the homeland front. Everyone in the family agreed that the father-in-law was just the type of personality to haunt — very stubborn, strong personality, sort of a jerk.

  2. Frankie
    July 3rd, 2011 at 01:43 | #2

    Ciao Theresa,
    Interesting story. Did it happen in Japan or in the states? My sister that lives in Sapporo, Japan. Had a similar experience. When the nearby neighbor in same appartment committed suicide, strange things started to happen to her. She felt someone pulling her and pushing her from time to time. She thought it was her cat, but her cat was always out of the house. She also has terrible nightmares and often she will wake up in her bed and see an ugly person pulling her leg as if to ask help. This continued for more than a year and she couldn’t handle it anymore. So she went to a nearby Buddhist monk. According to the monk, the person that committed suicide actually did not want to die. So he was caught in the middle of a limbo state, so the spirit tried to attach to someone who is sensible to ask help. My sister seems to be a sensitive type of person. So the monk told her to put some salt in her home in certain positions to help the spirit lift itself upwards. After that everthing was back to normal. I think in Japan there is a ritual which lasts for several days (after the death of a person in a house) to help guide the spirit to the right direction. I forgot how it is called in Japanese. It is difficult to believe, but I think we all have a body, a mind and a spirit that continues on forever. Cheers, Frankie

  3. Tim Kane
    July 3rd, 2011 at 04:48 | #3

    I believe in bothism. One mantains a cognitive dissonance: one mind towards science and another towards empiricism and towards spirituality. Never mind the dichotomy nature is filled with paradoxes.

    I have this kind of bizarre idea (not exactly belief) that the sub, subatomic particles of strings in string theory are really angels, when the strings arch, the scientist theorize that it’s possible that alternate universes are there. If there is a god, that might be the physical science way in which he might influence this world without actually being part of it, while at the same time everything being part of God. Part of that theory kind of sees angels as egg whites to god being something akin to the yoke.

    About 15 years ago I had a similar experience when a good friend died. I had a strange, almost trivial, but still kind of religious experience. It was kind of joke played on me but still religious that happened to me when I was in Chicago for a Cubs game one weekend. I returned home time find one of my best friends had died.

    About 11 or 12 years ago I read Harry Truman’s biography (the well known one by the guy that did the voice narration for Ken Burn’s civil war – name escapes me). Anyway, Harry Truman was sleeping in Air Force one or whatever his airplane was called, when he got a sudden image in his mind of his mother. Sure enough, when he landed he found out that she had died while in flight.

    From this I wondered if when a person dies, they get to say, at least in some sense, one last goodbye to some of those they care about but its just a snap shot in time before they are far far far removed.

    So, this experience Sachi has had is similar. If there is a supernatural, its hard for it to break the natural order of things in this life. However, there is nothing more powerful then the death of a love one at which archways in the strings must arch over or something.

    Anyway, I always take note when these things happen. And as you go forward in life, you see it does seem to happen from time to time. Thanks to Republicans and the Catholic church I pretty much come to loathe religion, but I haven’t been able to deny spirituality.

  4. July 3rd, 2011 at 05:41 | #4

    Frankie, that was in Gifu. I wasn’t interested in the supernatural until coming to Japan, and in fact during my first winter here my roommate and I had a similar experience to your sisters; suddenly I was like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz: “I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do.” I’d gone into the bedroom to turn on the gas heater one night and what I thought was a shadow across the room started zooming around, like a cockroach when you turn on the light. I had a hard time explaining what I’d seen to my roommate, was wondering if it was an alien — it was solid black, short as if crouching, had a pointy head. By morning I was over the fright and was regaling the Japanese staff at the English school with my alien encounter when everyone went quiet. They explained that I’d seen a ghost, that Japanese ghosts have no legs and wear a pointy hat thing. I had no idea. Our boss said, “I know who it is.” A neighbor woman (bar hostess) had committed suicide (gas) a few years earlier. From then on, we’d hear strange echoing knockings and the room went cold and in the morning our jewelry, which we kept in the closet, was on the floor (naturally, we slept in the living room). It wasn’t bad after midnight, so for a few weeks we’d stay out late, go dancing, avoiding the haunting hours. Finally our boss contacted the temple where the woman was buried and the priest came to do a ceremony. We all sat while he did his thing, and the room went cold, we knew she was there. A little incense was burning in a very thick glass ashtray, and during his chanting, when he said the woman’s name, the ashtray cracked in two — flew apart, really, with a loud crack. Well, afterward the priest was very concerned, said this was dangerous. He gave us powdered incense that we had to smear on ourselves every time we entered the apartment, and a prayer to chant, told us to set up a shrine for her with those branches and water and rice and pray for her. The priest thought the problem was probably construction work near her grave. She had no family, so he said he’d take care of the grave and say prayers, he was nice. Things soon got better and then she left us alone. The priest said she might come back to thank us, and she did, but the roommate saw her, not me. Funny, though, that she haunted a couple of foreigners.

  5. July 3rd, 2011 at 07:23 | #5

    Some people believe that the energy of a person who has died can communicate through energy manipulation with those on this plane of existence. The reason that there is no “evidence” of this is that this manipulation is from the energy of the entity which is in another dimension directly to the energy of one currently residing in this reality. Though people may hear voices, there is actually no sound. There is an interpretation of the energy they are receiving in their own mind. They assign the voice as well as apply the language. Often, there is “distortion” during the interpretation because this isn’t in any way communication as we know it. It can be like hearing snippets of a phone conversation and filling in the gaps for yourself, or remembering fragments of a dream and filling in the details after the fact. However, it really is much less concrete than that. It is without the sensory substance of communication as we know it.

    If Sachi is sensitive to such energy manipulation (all people are to one degree or another depending on how open and in tune with it they are – and her work would render her more open than others), she could have received a message from her father when he left, and heard it in your voice because that was the filter her mind passed it through unconsciously. Had you been in the room, you would have heard nothing because you probably would not have been the target, nor been sensitive to the energy. For her, it was like a delicate tapping on the skin. For you, it would have been so light as to not register at all.

    Or, it could all have been a big coincidence and her imagination. Since there will never be any measurable proof (since scientific evidence requires measurable phenomena which mimic human senses and this isn’t a part of that), one has to simply decide for oneself how to interpret such events.

  6. Luis
    July 3rd, 2011 at 10:41 | #6

    The reason that there is no “evidence” of this is that this manipulation is from the energy of the entity which is in another dimension directly to the energy of one currently residing in this reality. Though people may hear voices, there is actually no sound. There is an interpretation of the energy they are receiving in their own mind. They assign the voice as well as apply the language.
    This is, in fact, almost exactly what I suggested to Sachi as one possible reason why she heard my voice–that it was not an actual sound, and since she did not expect to hear anyone’s voice but my own in the house, her mind filled in the blanks (as it will when, for example, you can swear that you saw somebody’s face in your peripheral vision but when you turn it’s nothing like that) and heard “my” voice coming from where she knew I was located. She didn’t buy it (maybe I didn’t communicate it well enough), but it sounds right to me.

    Or, it could all have been a big coincidence and her imagination.
    I discount this on the basis of how vivid and clear it was to her (at the time, she refused to believe my protestation that I had not made any sound), how it came without any other knowable prompting, and how she is not prone to hearing voices when they are ‘not there.’ I am certain that she heard something.

    Since there will never be any measurable proof (since scientific evidence requires measurable phenomena which mimic human senses and this isn’t a part of that), one has to simply decide for oneself how to interpret such events.
    Even if someone happened to be wired up to a barrage of sensors when such a event occurred and showed a range of bizarre readings, I have a feeling that no ‘reputable’ scientist would take it seriously–if for no other reason than the harm that would come to their reputation if they took such a possibility seriously and committed any resources to it, save for an attempt to debunk. Maybe I think too little of scientists in this regard, but I get the clear impression that they have a propensity for stigmatizing entire areas they have deemed are patently untrue, and any form of spiritualism is one of those areas. I am not suggesting that they must believe any claims that come along, but get the feeling they would reject out of hand, or would simply dismiss as random or erratic, any evidence that could lead them to such areas.

  7. Anonymous
    July 3rd, 2011 at 17:20 | #7

    Ciao Luis, if you think about it the name of your blog says it all!
    The blog from another dimension …

  8. ken sensei
    July 3rd, 2011 at 18:26 | #8

    Hi Luis,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your father-in-law. You and Sachi have my sympathy and condolences.

    Your story depicts an interesting chain of events. I’m a skeptic myself, and those are strangely connected in a way that gives even a skeptic pause.

    Although I have never seen a ghost, I have come to believe in them after hearing such stories from rational, honest friends (like Sachi), mostly in Japan. The reports are too numerous too ignore.

    By the way, I believe Sachi has some special training in spiritual matters, which may make her somewhat of a spirit “magnet”. Let us know if there are further incidents.


  9. Anonymous
    July 4th, 2011 at 04:07 | #9

    @ken sensei
    I agree with Ken Sensei. My condolences to Sachi-san and Luis.

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