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Chapter 43

I realize that art is free.  An artist does not work for pay, she cannot work for pay.  For pay, art will not come.  If a great artist receives gifts or pay, it is a useful convenience.

There was once a woman who danced on the riverside.  Her name was Okuni and she was once a shrine maiden, but for some reason she decided to leave the cloister and dance on the river side for a crowd.  Okuni didn't dance for pay, she just danced.   Her dances mimicked the powers of the day.  Sometimes she danced as men with swords and egos.  Sometimes she danced as cowards, sometimes as the vain or the young or the old.  She could become anyone, and, I imagine, she just loved to dance.  Her art became known as Kabuki, and it was eventually made illegal several times.

And so I live in the city of flowers, where art was once the currency.  Flowers and beauty filled rooms and streets with dreams.  The atmosphere was such a heady broth that even water could be sold here.   People might pay to enter a room or see a show. 

But to tread a path of flowers or walk in a gallery of blossoms, that was free.  The whole main street, the Flower Seller's Street, was a great hall of cherry trees. 

I wonder where Okuni is today.  I arrange my flowers, fresh from the riverside, in the little red bucket by the street.