Archive for November, 2010

A Race Against Time

Monday, November 29th, 2010

In Ichimen town, the district of Miseru-Kakusu is going to be of critical importance to our campaign. It sits in between Ichiban’yōshi and the Migaku region, and there will be a lot of to-and-fro happening there. It’s a rough, lawless place, where I’ll have to do a lot of interesting things with my manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
.

Even the city guard don’t go there. Underworld gangs rule the area with a brutal hand. Clearing out such vermin is one of my chief pleasures in life.

If I can get this done before Akane and I leave for Ikaho Onsena very popular resort spot in the mountains of central Nippona very popular resort spot in the mountains of central Nippon, I will have cause to be very proud of myself. Especially since most of tomorrow is occupied with meetings inside Castle Noriaibasha. Any time I spend in meetings is time I can’t use to hunt down and destroy the Miseru-Kakusu gangs.

I Thought I Already Killed Those Guys…

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

By the end of Monday, I had done well in the Keishutsu region of Ichimen. As per the plan, I had wiped out the gang who meet in a hideout on Kochira Street. So I moved on to Ichibanyōshi and started scouting out the situation there.

This morning, I had a talk with Jōichi, and mentioned the gang on Kochira Street. “No, it should be Sochira Street,” he said. What? I looked at the campaign strategy, and there was bit of a smudge of ink over the first character in that word. And it seems there are both a Kochira Street and a Sochira Street in Keishutsu.

I must go back and find an entirely different gang to hunt down and kill.

Usually, I like this kind of thing. But in this case, we’re already behind schedule, and I feel like: “Didn’t I already kill these guys? Why do I have to kill them a second time?”

Things Proceed Apace, as Fall Becomes Winter

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

All is prepared. Early in December, Akane and I will go off to Ikaho Onsennote that “onsen” is the Japanese word for “hot spring” (though it’s often used to describe the kind of resort town that accumulates around such a spring)note that "onsen" is the Japanese word for "hot spring" (though it’s often used to describe the kind of resort town that accumulates around such a spring), a very popular resort spot in the mountains of central Nippon. I have told Clan Noriaibasha that I will be away for just over a week. Akane and I are looking forward to enjoying the hot springs and the entertainment there. During our vacation, I doubt I’ll have the chance to do any ninja-ing at all. I will have little, if anything, to say here.

I will have to be extra-diligent in my scouting and sneaking and killing before and after this trip; we wouldn’t want the Teitōken campaign to fall behind schedule. For now, I have made great strides in the neighborhood of Keishutsu; most of our enemies there are gone, and I have a good knowledge of the back alleys and the best places to ambush anyone else that might get in our way.

Now, I’m ready to start working on pacifying the areas of Ichibanyōshi and then Miseru-Kakusu. This will require some intricate manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
work, which should be quite fun. These neighborhoods will be a central part of our objectives, and they must be completely under our control before we can consider the campaign a success. Seijun and Rajan will be counting on me.

Starting the Teitōken Campaign

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Over the past week or two, I have been slowly becoming more involved in the campaign that will take up my next few months at Clan Noriaibasha. It is called the Teitōken Campaign, and it will be a major push by the clan’s armies. Kento has instructed me to make it my highest priority.

I spent most of yesterday in meetings with a pair of samurai who will be handling our operations in the forests. One is Seijun, a warrior who I have heard good things about. The other is Rajan, a new arrival at Clan Noriaibasha. He says that he has no knowledge of urban tactics, and so he will be relying on my expertise for planning our city operations.

There is a single medium-sized city that we will have to capture in its entirety: Ichimen, which is composed of many neighborhoods that we’ll have to take separately. This will involve a good deal of rooftop fighting, which makes me happy. I have already started scouting the alleys and rooftops of Ichimen, and will soon be ready to take on the city guard on their own turf.

However, not all is well. Jōichi, who sits in the same compartment with me, has been involved in some of the high-level planning meetings with the nobles in charge of this campaign. At least one noble keeps insisting we use certain combat techniques — particularly the Bright Square tactic — even though Jōichi has repeatedly warned that this is not in Harmony with the terrain. Indeed, it is probably also not righteous, and may lead to problems with the peasants.

I do not know who this noble is. Even if I did, I understand she is adamant. I hope this will not lead to trouble for the campaign, but I suspect it will.

Upheaval in the Shomei-gumi

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Two weeks ago, I had a lunch meeting with Megumi, the herald of the Shomei-gumi“group”Japanese for “group”; can refer to anything from a “five-person group” (a common work-unit in Japanese corporations) up to an entire branch of the Yakuza such as the Yamaguchi-gumi. who secured me my position with Clan Noriaibasha. Her supervisor, a woman named Rīna, was also there. The two of them wanted my advice on some other warriors who might be of use at Noriaibasha… and Rīna also mentioned that they had been in touch with Tsukimi, the commander of the Keitai Team. Apparently they have heard very good things about me from Tsukimi — her instructions to the Shomei-gumi were “Please send us two more of Ichirō”.

I told them their words bring me honor, and I will strive to continue to bring honor to Shomei.

Last week, I received a message from Shomei, telling me that Megumi had left the group to seek her fortune with a new clan in Hikone. My new contact in the group is a man named Kaisei, who reports to Rīna as Megumi once did.

So we recently met at a bar in the capital, to get to know each other. He proves to be a friendly, convivial fellow, but also with a thoughtful side — he has spent time meditating on what it means to be a herald and why he enjoys it, just as I have spent time meditating on what attracts me to the Way of the Ninja.

Also, we have similar tastesWe both like good bourbon.We both like good bourbon. in shōchūA strong, clear, distilled liquor that’s often described as “Japanese vodka”. May be made from rice, wheat, barley, sweet potatoes, or any combination of them. Also known in Korea as “soju”.A strong, clear, distilled liquor that Westerners often describe as “Japanese vodka”. Also known in Korea as “soju”..

Is the Oni Gone?

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Shhhhhhh. Don’t look now, but…

Since the battle I fought with the oniA supernatural creature. Usually translated into English simply as “demon”, but oni combine aspects of demons and ogres. Like Western demons, they have horns on their head and colored skin (generally red or blue). They also have sharp teeth, which may be fangs or tusks. Like ogres, they live in mountains and wilderness places, and are generally depicted as being larger than human scale (generally about 8-12 feet tall). They usually carry long clubs with studded iron on the striking end, and are sometimes dressed in animal-skin loincloths.Often translated as “demon”, but also similar to an ogre: Humanoid, generally 8-12 feet tall, with red or blue skin, horns on its head, fangs or tusks, and a large, iron-shod club. Usually lives in mountains and wilderness. last week, I have woken up every morning to find the shrine of Amaterasu unmolested.

It was quite a vicious battle, with the oni swinging at me with its iron-shod, studded club nearly as large as I am. It took all my agility to dodge and avoid being struck; even a half-dodged blow would have broken a leg or arm and left me at the oni’s mercy. I threw shuriken for all I was worth, and attacked relentlessly with the bits of ShugendōThe mystical path or religion practiced by the yamabushi.The mystical path or religion practiced by the yamabushi. I remembered.

I did manage to strike it a few times, and it bellowed in pain.

When it ran off, I saw that it was bleeding. The next morning, Akane helped me clean away the monster’s blood and re-purify the area around the shrine before stringing a new shimenawaA consecrated rope used to wrap and delimit holy ground in Shintoism. Usually hung with holy paper streamers.

As usual, Wikipedia has more information, including some pictures.A consecrated rope used to wrap and delimit holy ground in Shintoism..

There has been no sign of it since. Do I dare to hope that the fiend will never return?

Chaotic Times

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Things have been very busy. Akane and I have a friend visiting from Edo, to celebrate the recent sumō champion. The victory has thrown all of Kansai into celebration; even the people of Iga (who usually keep to ourselves and stay apart from popular fads) have joined in the festivities.

In the meantime, Hoshiakari’s shrine of Amaterasu has been beset by the oniA supernatural creature. Usually translated into English simply as “demon”, but oni combine aspects of demons and ogres. Like Western demons, they have horns on their head and colored skin (generally red or blue). They also have sharp teeth, which may be fangs or tusks. Like ogres, they live in mountains and wilderness places, and are generally depicted as being larger than human scale (generally about 8-12 feet tall). They usually carry long clubs with studded iron on the striking end, and are sometimes dressed in animal-skin loincloths.Often translated as “demon”, but also similar to an ogre: Humanoid, generally 8-12 feet tall, with red or blue skin, horns on its head, fangs or tusks, and a large, iron-shod club. Usually lives in mountains and wilderness. again. I have been rousted out of my bed in the middle of the night to try to drive it off. Each time, I attack with furious blows and the monster runs away before I can kill it… but then it returns again later.

I come to Castle Noriaibasha tired and groggy every morning. But they have good tea here, and so I am able to maintain enough alertness to stalk and kill the targets Kento assigns for me.

Earlier this week, I had a most astonishing meeting with Megumi and another herald from the Shomei-gumi“group”Japanese for “group”; can refer to anything from a “five-person group” (a common work-unit in Japanese corporations) up to an entire branch of the Yakuza such as the Yamaguchi-gumi.. I will have to tell of the good news they brought me, when I have a bit more time.