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Tomi's Gods

by Margaret W. Eggleston

Just outside the gate of a little Japanese town stood the shrine of the goddess Kishibojin. Every morning for many months, a young girl came to the shrine and bowed before it in earnest prayer. Sometimes she poured cold water over her body as she prayed. At other times she cut off strands of her hair and offered them to the idol. Tomi Kagata was determined to have the answer to her prayer, and she tried in every way she knew to make Kishibojin hear her. Still her prayer was not answered.

Each day, after Tomi’s prayer was over, she worked hard at a factory. Then, in the evening, she went home to care for her ailing father and two small brothers. Tomi was always tired, even in the morning when she went to pray.

Things had not always been so hard. Although Tomi’s mother was dead, her kind father and loving elder brother had taken good care of the home. Then disaster struck. First, her father became ill. At about the same time, Tomi’s brother, Matsui, began to drink. One day he struck a policeman. To avoid paying a large fine, he ran away from home. Now it was up to Tomi to provide for the family.