Archive for March, 2012

If Only There Were Three Of Me

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Tomorrow morning, there will be a regular meeting of the Kokakumanzoku division. Daichi and Satonori and I must give a presentation on the things we learned about fighting Mōjin at the warriors’ gathering at the beginning of the month. And this presentation must be understandable by priests and nobles, not just fighters.

We are all woefully unprepared for this.

In the meantime, I still must deal with the huge, tireless bruiser in Masugata. And Makishi is clamoring at me about some problems in Ogaribamen… I thought I’d finished everything there? No?

I foresee a long, hard day ahead of me.

Ginsaku Is Leaving Soon

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

A week after I arrived at Clan Noriaibasha’s headquarters, my fellow ninja Ginsaku arrived. Since then, we have been comrades in battle, fighting for the clan’s interests. But unlike me, Ginsaku was never formally inducted into Clan Noriaibasha.

As a result, there is only so long he can stay here. His time with the clan is now growing short. Soon, if there is time, I hope he and I can go out to an inn and chathave some after-work drinks togetherhave some after-work drinks together for a while before he leaves us.

I understand he has secured a temporary position with the armies of Clan Toyotomi, which is quite prestigious. I am glad for his success and continued good fortune, but I will miss him.

Sakito and Satonori will remain, as will Kento of course. But we will need to find more ninjas to take care of all the urban fighting that needs to be done. (Yes, this means you may look forward to some tales of how we test our applicants, and whether any of them can complete a Three-and-Five Strike.)

Do Not Make a Ninja Angry. You Wouldn’t Like Him When He’s Angry.

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Someone in Clan Hekoayu needs to die. Possibly multiple someones.

For some weeks now, they have been providing us maps outlining the territories we’re supposed to be capturing and subduing. In many places, these maps are extremely detailed. This is no coincidence: It is because we specifically required them to give us very detailed maps. After all, we are the ones who will have to operate in these territories, waging life-or-death battles.

Yesterday, I was in Zaiseikyōiku, following the map I had been given. It claimed that the little alley past the marketplace was an excellent shortcut to the back window of the Iron Monkey inn, one of the more important taverns in town. Being able to sneak in the back could be quite important.

Imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when I went down the alley and found a small building up against the back wall of the inn — completely covering the window. Imagine also that it was nothing compared to my surprise and annoyance at finding that the building housed a group of thugs affiliated with one of the gangs of the town center.

Luckily, they were also startled by appearance. Luckily, I have much practice in quick-draw techniques, and was able to pull out my kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. and defend myself before the first one’s attack could strike me. And luckily, I was able to escape unharmed.

Whoever produced this map should not be so lucky.

I spent the rest of the afternoon checking other details. There is a place where the map says the gap between two buildings is eight feet wide. It is actually ten feet. If I had attempted to leap that gap unprepared, I could easily have fallen to the street below, risking broken bones or even death.

I have reported the problem to Amon, Makishi, Kento — and of course, to Sakito, who is the only other actual ninja in the field, and who is hence relying on these maps just as much as I am. I have urged them to escalate matters to the priests and the nobles, and to ensure that someone has harsh words with Hekoayu.

For now, we cannot trust anything in these maps. It seems that at least nine parts out of any ten are correct. In any ten claims that the map makes, only one is incorrect. But which one?

Too Much to Do

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

There is far too much to do. Sakito and I are busy clearing out opposition in Zaiseikyōiku. In the meantime, there was a project a few months ago to set upinstall a LAMP codebase on a test serverinstall a LAMP codebase on a test server a shrine to Bishamonten and do some Pagoda Bearer fighting… This project was delayed for some months, but it has now been resurrected. This is wonderful news!

Of course, it needs to be done almost immediately. This is not surprising, but it does mean that I am quite busy, rushing back and forth from Zaiseikyōiku to Castle Noriaibasha.

And in the meantime, I have been invited to a large meeting which I must attend. It seems unrelated to any of the other projects that I am involved in. I can only hope that I am not too unprepared to understand what is going on.

Addendum: I arrived at the meeting to find that every other person present was a noble, or a priest of the prestigious Tendai order. “Surely this cannot be the right meeting for me,” I thought. I received a copy of the scroll that everyone else was reading from, and it spoke of all sorts of religious matters and the nobles’ plans.

Obviously, someone made a mistake by inviting me to that meeting. Luckily, as a ninja, it was easy for me to slip out without disrupting the proceedings. Now I can return to the shrine and continue the duties that are proper for me.

Another Day, Another Target

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

I am back in Zaiseikyōiku, alternating between scouting and actual stalking. There are many enemies here, and Sakito and I must each be diligent in hunting them down. We have made a division: He is taking everyone west of Shiiteki Street, and I will handle the east side of town. It was not easy to decide on Shiiteki Street as the boundary line, but we surveyed the various gangs and rōninA masterless samurai, effectively an independent sword-for-hire. A samurai could become a rōnin if his lord died, or if his lord became displeased with him and effectively fired him. During the Sengoku Jidai, things were very loose, and some samurai voluntarily left their lords and went in search of other opportunities, becoming rōnin temporarily until they could find new lords. Some peasants even declared themselves to be samurai, and then went in search of lords to take them in — for them, being a rōnin was a step in their personal advancement plans.

The word rōnin literally means “wave-man”: the image is of a man who wanders endlessly, without direction, like a wave on the ocean. At the end of Pulp Fiction, when Jules Winnfield says his plan is to “walk the earth… like Caine from Kung Fu”, he’s effectively saying he’s going to become a modern rōnin after leaving Marsellus Wallace’s service.A masterless samurai; a wandering warrior whose sword was for hire. and other foes in all parts of the town, and decided that the ones on each side of that border should prove roughly the same amount of difficulty.

The eastern side of town being closest to the docks, it is also where the highest buildings are, and where there is the most chance of rooftop action. I will be meeting with Makishi on Thursday to see if there’s any chance of any rooftop fighting in my future.

In the meantime, there was a rōnin from Heian-kyō who started off in Sakito’s territory. But he just crossed into the east side of town, and now he’s mine. I’m closing in behind him, and my kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. is nice and sharp.

An Unfamiliar Face From a Familiar, Old Clan

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I arrived at Castle Noriaibasha this morning to find a priestess waiting in the courtyard… with a variety of food. “Good morning!” she said brightly, and offered me some.

There were rice and eggs, takuana type of Japanese pickle, often eaten as a traditional breakfast fooda type of Japanese pickle, often eaten as a traditional breakfast food and umeboshia pickled plum, a traditional Japanese food often eaten as part of breakfast or luncha pickled plum, a traditional Japanese food often eaten as part of breakfast or lunch. There was tamagoyakiJapanese omeletJapanese omelet, and miso soup, and even nattoA traditional Japanese food made of partially-fermented soybeans. It’s hard to describe; Wikipedia may be helpful.A traditional Japanese food made of partially-fermented soybeans., for those who like such things. And there were both broiled salmon and mackerel! But who was this woman, and why should I eat her food?

It turns out her name is Kaori (not to be mistaken for Kaoru, the yamabushi who’s teaching a katana course!), and she is one 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., the clan of heralds who placed me with Clan Noriaibasha in the first place! She is here on something of a continuing goodwill mission, to meet with various priests and nobles and remind them that the Shomei-gumi is always ready to supply talented people to aid in any endeavor.

I introduced myself, and she said she has heard my name mentioned at their castle. I told her I had originally been placed here by Megumi, and then Kaisei became my contact, and they were both gone from the gumi now… but they had reported to Rina. Was she still there?

No, she is not. It seems the Shomei-gumi is as turbulent as ever.

But Kaori gave me information on how to contact her, in case I should ever need to speak with someone at the Shomei-gumi again. And I took some tamagoyaki, and of course some of the broiled salmon and mackerel, and went off to my weapons locker to prepare for the day. And now, I must depart and go kill people.

Real-world Note: If you’re confused by the selection of breakfast foods, you may want to learn more about traditional Japanese breakfasts:

on About.com
on Wikipedia

The cultural subtext to the listing of foods in the second paragraph is basically, “Wow, this was quite a diverse spread of tasty breakfast foods!”

The Changing Time

Monday, March 12th, 2012

The Emperor, in his great wisdom, has decreed that the sun shall rise (and set) one hour later every day. Since the Emperor is divine, and descended from the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, his decree has actually come true, and the sun has been altered in its course.

This is very confusing to everyone in Kansai. It is difficult to get up in the morning, and difficult to get to sleep in the evening.

For a ninja such as myself, who often dwells in darkness and often has trouble waking early in the morning, this is doubly troubling. I barely managed to drag myself from my bed this morning, and of course, I arrived at Castle Noriaibasha even later than usual. I am very lucky there were no appointments or meetings that I needed to attend.

Akane is also greatly displeased by this. I have heard from many others of my friends, bemoaning the change. Surely, the Emperor must have a good reason for such a strange decree, but it is beyond my limited, mortal comprehension.

In the meantime, the animals go on, unaffected. I see why the sages seek to emulate their wisdom.

Back From Hiroshima

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I have returned from Hiroshima and the warriors’ gathering. It was quite an experience, and I am still trying to understand all that I learned and experienced.

There were many others there, from skilled mercenaries to ascetic monks to peasant fighters, and I spent much time meeting new people and exchanging stories and sparring with them. In the evenings, there were grand carousing sessions at the inns.

When I returned to Hoshiakari and Akane, I was quite exhausted.

Since then, the past few days at Castle Noriaibasha have been extremely busy. In my absence, it seems one of the nobles decreed that it is not sufficient that we take the region of Zaiseikyōiku. We must also capture the nearby territory called Kihonzaisei. This is a substantial new undertaking, and our schedule is already tight.

This is not made any easier by the large number of meetings I must attend to come back up to speed on the current situation. Makishi and his group want some more of the gangs who lurk in our target towns eradicated. Sakito was supposed to have made inroads in Zaiseikyōiku, but he has been busy with other campaigns.

In the meantime, the yamabushiThe yamabushi were (and still are) a group of mystical ascetics who live high in the mountains, practicing a nature-based spiritual path called Shugendō. In the world of the ninja coder, they’re invaluable to any clan that aims to conquer more than a tiny territory, because their knowledge of the trails and mountain passes is critical for moving troops and supplies from place to place. The word “yamabushi” is both singular and plural; it can mean the group or a single mountain man.Mystical mountain warriors who know the trails and passes in the mountains, and can help clans move troops and supplies around. The word “yamabushi” is both singular and plural; it can mean the group or a single mountain man. woman, Kaoru, is continuing her katana course. I missed one session when I was away in Hiroshima, and then there was another when I had just returned and was still too tired from my journeys. I do not know if I can ever catch up. I do not know if I will even try. I have too many other things I must spend my time and energy on without trying to learn the katana right now.

A ninja’s life is very busy.