A Thousand Years of Love
E-Book (available as ePub and Mobi files)
A THOUSAND YEARS OF LOVE is a historical novel set in ancient Kyoto, Japan, and Hangzhou, China, a city described by Marco Polo as "the greatest in the world."
Join Lady Kaishi, a noblewoman of the Heian Court, as she tries to find her mother's grave site, somewhere across the East China Sea. Her search takes her from the ancient city of Kyoto, to the Temple of the Purple Clouds, on the shores of the West Lake in China. Along the way her journey becomes an inner one as well, as she begins to see the people closest to her in a new light.
She is both observer and participant in the romantic encounters of the Heian nobility, struggling to maintain her identity, transcending gender and blood in a display as passionate and brilliant as the silver waves glittering on her layered kimono.
THE HEIAN PERIOD (794-1185), was a fascinating era in world history. It was Japan's aristocratic age, dominated by the "cult of beauty," and the pursuit of aesthetic ideals. Heian Kyo (City of Peace and Tranquility), was located in Kyoto, surrounded by hills, rivers, and mountains. Within this natural setting lived the Heian nobility, in an atmosphere of elegance, mystery, and androgyny. It was a time when the air was filled with the sound of Buddhist priests chanting sutras, and the fragrance of the finest incense...where elements of Chinese astrology, such as The Book of Changes (I Ching), the yin and yang, Taoism, and Feng Shui were studied and practiced in daily life.
Heian society is perhaps best described by the most famous literary women of the Heian Period, Lady Murasaki Shikibu, in The Tale of Genji, and Sei Shonagon, in The Pillow Book.The cover shows the eternal symbol of the yin and yang. A Thousand Years of Love explores the dramatic conflict between the masculine and feminine, played out among the magnificent setting of the Heian world.
Prologue A.D. 813- a terrible flood swept through the Tang Empire. Convinced it was an excess of the ‘yin’ (feminine principle), the ruler Li Ch’un banished two hundred carts of courtesans from the palace... In ancient China a group of nymphs, rain maidens, female dragons, and mountain pool dwellers lived in rivers, lakes, and oceans...these were the known as the water goddesses of the East... The most beautiful and mysterious of them all was known as the Divine Woman, who lived on Shamanaka Mountain in the exotic Yangtze River Gorges... 980-The Sung Period, Hangzhou Harbor, China. THE WOMAN RAN ALONG THE SHORELINE of Hangzhou Harbor. It was difficult, as the long, black, silk scarf flowing over her shoulders got in the way of her feet as they scurried along the beach. She stopped, digging her feet into the smooth sand, and gazed out to sea. A brightly painted red ship rocked gently in the blue waters, its bamboo sails swaying in the breeze. She stared at the ship, her eyes fixed to its bow. Raising her hand behind her, she smoothed the glossy top knots shimmering in the sun. The afternoon light glinted off her jade and agate headdress. She fingered the coral necklace around her neck, staring intensely, her eyes as dark as those of the seagulls flying above. Somewhere she felt the ocean breeze caress her cheek, the smell of the sea…Unconsciously, she slipped her hand into the silk pouch tied around her waist and touched the white shell inside. Her mind was occupied with one thought: to see her daughter. Please let her appear... The sky suddenly turned dark and the wind whipped higher. Waves lashed against the rocks in the shallow waters close to the beach; whitecaps curled against the shore. Off in the distance, about 200 meters to the right, a fisherman sat on one of the rocks, sifting the waters for fish. He glanced up at her figure on the beach, absorbing her fine lines. A man appeared on the ship and climbed a small set of red stairs to a huge taiko drum sitting on a deck. He began to beat the drum. Six men dressed in white began to work the oars over the gunwales, leaning their bodies in a line to the left. The boat slowly began to turn towards the open sea. She dug her feet even deeper into the sand, summoned all her strength, and screamed out, “KAISHI!” Thunder crackled, the sky opened and spit out rivets of rain. Her blouse clung to her and revealed breasts as full as a mountain lake. She was the Yin, the feminine principle. She summoned the power of the Goddess of the Sea and screamed out again, “KAISHI!” A little girl suddenly appeared on the deck. She ran to the red railing and waved to her. “Kaishi!” Bracing herself, she plunged in. Ignoring the cold water against her skin, she began swimming out to the ship in long, even, strokes. She had been swimming in the sea since she was a child, and the water flowed through her body like a powerful current. The fisherman looked up from his work again. He saw her swimming out to the ship, amidst high waves. He stood up and splashed through the rocks onto the beach, staring out to the sea. A huge wave crashed over her, and he watched her disappear under the water. “Crazy woman!” He waded in and began swimming after her. The woman felt herself being pulled deeper and deeper into the water...she couldn’t breathe...water filled her lungs...everything became light and airy...she saw flowers in the sand on the ocean bottom...a deep pool of water...when she gazed down into the pool her image smiled back, her hair jet black and adorned with jade, sapphire, and lapis lazuli. When she looked up at the surface of the sea the sky was velvet and studded with stars. The moon was a huge pearl. THE WORLD WENT BLACK for the little girl as well, as she hid her face in her father’s robes, scented with clove incense. She remained silent for the rest of the trip back to Japan. The boat sailed into the harbor at Hakata, the beautiful starry night luring her out of the cabin. She looked up at the moon smiling at her, and it was only then that the tears flowed down her cheeks and onto her robes. She clutched the small white shell in her hand. Arrows The Palace of Heian, 1004, Kyoto, Japan THE IKARUGA PALACE in Nara was famed for its beautiful statue of a meditating bodhisattva. Its face was an expression of maternal love, a quality that seemed to attract many pilgrims to the temple. It was early winter. Icicles hung from the eaves of the roof of the main hall. Drops of snow fell onto the gray tiles, sliding off, slipping down to the four demons guarding the corners. The late afternoon sun slipped out from behind clouds, shimmering, then disappearing to cast shadows on the ground in front of the temple. A paper umbrella with black Chinese characters lay spread out to dry on the verandah surrounding the main hall. The inside of the temple was cold, the air heavy with incense and still filled with the voice of a priest reciting the sutra. Minutes before his breath had been visible in the air, his chant punctuated by the ringing of the bell. The bodhisattva sat on the altar in half lotus position, flanked by two gold lotus flowers. Glittering light from lanterns shone off the closed eyes and the sculptured folds of the cloth covering its knees. Lady Kaishi, daughter of the Minister of the Left of the Palace of Heian, sat alone in front of the statue. Thin, winter light from the verandah lit up her forehead and the bridge of her nose. Her eyes were clear and intense, focused on the bodhisattva’s face. She prayed for one thing. To find her mother’s grave. She sent her prayer into the heart of the bodhisattva, imagining her words as arrows piercing its heart. Her hands rubbed a pair of sandalwood prayer beads back and forth. She prayed intensely, clasping her beads until her knuckles were white and the tips of her fingers pink. She closed her eyes and prayed and prayed. When she opened them, she looked down at her hands. They looked as if they were hugging each other, and for some reason she was comforted by this. When she had finished with her prayer she stood up slowly, her legs unsteady from kneeling so long. Her throat was dry, and she felt she needed a breath of fresh air. She walked out on the verandah and down the wooden steps that led to the garden behind the temple. The garden was directly behind the courtyard, separated by a stone wall. Earlier, she had seen some young priests practicing archery. There was a pond in the garden. She looked into the emerald green water and saw the reflection of sky in water, pink clouds moving between lotus pods...the sun slipped out and shone off her outer robe of crimson beaten silk...light danced off the Chinese flower and tortoise shell pattern. Like ladies in waiting, the sleeves of her five inner robes competed to outshine each other before the sun retreated. A dark red lining through the gauze of Indian sandalwood produced camellia blossom...blue green through white produced bamboo grass...silver waves glittered on the train flowing behind her. She stared at her reflection in the water. Her skin was pale, except for patches where her face powder had come off. Suddenly, she felt something whiz by and a rush of air. She looked up in the direction of the sound. IN THE COURTYARD NEXT to the garden a young priest stood on a wooden board raised about two inches off the ground. He moved his left foot against the board in a circular motion. Raising his head, he stared at the straw target about fifty meters in front of him. His eyes narrowed and focused. Lifting his bow, he drew back the arrow. In his mind’s eye he saw the face of the Dragon Woman. He could see the beginning of her breasts underneath her silk robe and the sheen of her skin against red silk...she held out a cup of sake with a single pearl shimmering in the glass, her eyes beckoning to him, words flowing like jewels from her lips... *“My
Avia Belle Moon is the pen name of a writer who has lived in Japan for fourteen years. She has written articles on Japanese arts and culture for various newspapers and magazines in Tokyo and Osaka, including The Japan Times, The Daily Yomiuri and Kansai Time Out. She has also edited Volume 6 for the classic Japanese manga, "Barefoot Gen-The Story of Hiroshima," and was interviewed by the BBC network for her work on Project Gen.
She is involved in nuclear abolition activities and works with peace organizations worldwide.
She went to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied art history. Upon coming to Japan in 1991 she continued her studies in Japanese art history and the Japanese language. She is currently studying Chinese.
A Thousand Years of Love is her first novel. She has many passions, including pasta, sushi, and Japanese art. She is seen here wearing an antique Japanese kimono.
"Writing and living in Japan has allowed me to engage in a process of self discovery on many levels. I hope to continue exploring my half Japanese heritage into the future, hoping that my journey will end in a place of peace and acceptance.
The 21st century holds so much promise to truly be a 'global village.' I would like to create bonds of peace through arts and culture, utilizing them as our 'weapons of mass construction.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my book, and I hope you will enjoy reading my next novel which is scheduled for release in Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a copy now.
"Set in Japan during the Heian period (710 -1185) a period remembered chiefly for cultural advancement and peace, A Thousand Years Of Love is an ambitious, meticulously researched, at times risque historical tale. It follows a Heian courtesan who embarks upon a spiritual quest to Hangzhou, China in search of her mother's gravesite. Rich in detail and written in a graceful, weightless style, the book is a shoe-in for anyone who enjoyed The Tale Of Genji or who seeks to find out more about Japanese history through a pleasant read, particularly this rather free-living period when the heaviest influences on Japanese culture still came from the "east" rather than the "west". "
From the Kanazawa Convention Times
"Admit it; You've tried to plow through "The Tale of Genji," the classic of Japanese literature. But many classics are in Clifton Fadiman's words, "more revered than read;" Genji can be like that,and the subtle love intrigues of the royal household can be hard going. Now Kyoto author Avia Belle Moon has written a novel that is also set in the Heian Period but may be more accessible to many of today's readers, even if not a classic...Moon's research shows throughout the short novel, which is filled with details of daily life that help bring the era alive more than another visit to another shrine or temple."
From Kansai Time Out magazine, July 2004
"This book captures the luxury of the Heian era very well. The Japanese people love the duality of "light and shade," (inyo). The description of the color combinations and design of the kimonos, seen through light and shadows conveys this feeling very well, as similarily expressed in Tanizaki Junichiro's book, "The Worship of Shade," (inei no raisan.) People who are interested in Japanese pop/trendy culture will enjoy this book as well, as it contains omyoji characters(Chinese master of divination) and androgyny seen in girls' manga. I also felt the book would be suitable to study English,as the letter size is very large and easy to read."
Setsuko Tamogami, translator
"Amazingly well-written, fascinating. The words flow, history comes alive. Congratulations on such beautiful work."
Birger, New York
"If a book is a kind of war challenged by the author, then Ms. Aiva Belle Moon conquered me by her tranquil, musk fragrant, shimmering story. Since I got this book, my reading has been interrupted many times. But everytime I restart my reading, I am warmly welcomed by her beautiful sentences. The story is not such a big show, but the author has succeeded in weaving her intention of joining the ying and yang in a brilliant picturesque story of the Heian era. I enjoyed her graceful storytelling and I enjoyed the fantastic story. Honestly, I am enjoying your story most of all. Your description is so warm and beautiful that I am given many picturesque images as I'm reading. I feel as if I'm watching the vivid scenes of a movie."
Michie Nomura, English teacher
"The writing is very beautiful, and I can really see in my mind's eye the rooms, scenery, and also imagine how the people of that period felt. I like the scenes where Lady Kaishi is waving her fan furiously in front of her face."
Kyoko Nishida, Translator, "Barefoot Gen-The story of Hiroshima."
"The Heian Period is written in such detail it's scary! While reading I really felt that Japan was a part of Korea and China, unlike other novels I've read on the Heian Period."
Yukari Kimura, "Barefoot Gen-The story of Hiroshima."
"Make no mistake: A Thousand Years of Love is a fun read. I actually missed my station one night while reading this book on the train, and at 178 pages it is good for several train rides despite the relatively large print. "
The Daily Yomiuri, February 2005
"What is wonderful about Avia Belle Moon's novel is that in addition to being delightful reading, it provides the average Western reader with access to the culture and times of Lady Murasaki in a way no other modern novel I have read - English or Japanese - does. I plan to post more substantive thoughts on the book but I just wanted to pass on my intital delight and high recommendations for this book."
"Your book was wonderful! It was so colorful and picturesque!"
Patsy S, Hiroshima
"I found the detail bringing me directly into the locations of the characters and into their lives."
Chris M, USA
"SUCH A POETIC BEAUTIFUL ROMANTIC CREATIVE - TO SAY THE LEAST - PIECE OF ART THAT I REFUSE TO PUT DOWN."
Genie, Santa Barbara, USA
Interviews with Avia Belle Moon
http://www.independent.com/news/2008/jul/22/lady-kaishi-quest/ http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:7fSgwaTUrNYJ:www.lezalowitz.com/writings/yogapoems/daily_yomiuri_12_05_all.pdf+%22Avia+belle+moon%22+yomiuri&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a Art direction and design concept for all images - Avia Belle Moon
Perfect Bound Softcover