Posts Tagged ‘Akane ai’

Note: This phrase is Japanese for “loving Akane” or “the love of Akane” (or even “Akanephilia”).

After the Wedding

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

I promise, I am not dead.

Far from it, in fact. Two weekends ago, Akane and I were married in a joyous ceremony in Ueno, the capital of Iga Province. We were surrounded by friends and family, and everyone was happy. Akane wore a beautiful white uchikakea type of highly formal, ceremonial kimono, generally only worn at court functions or weddingsa type of highly formal, ceremonial kimono, generally only worn at court functions or weddings kimono with silver embroidery, and everyone remarked on how lovely it was.

A week before the wedding itself, I went out with many friends for an evening of dedicated carousingbachelor partybachelor party. (Akane, meanwhile, did much the same with many of her friends.) Since my venture involved some travel along the Tōkaidō, we naturally stopped in at the town of Kusatsu, and I gave my Kongōshu style a try. My friend Rikio, something of a mix of 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 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., immediately found a problem with it, and I had to make some changes. Still, it was enjoyable to give my nascent fighting a style a real test!

After the wedding, Akane and I spent a week relaxing at some hot springs in the mountains before returning home. Now I am back at Castle Noriaibasha, where my clanmates are pleased to have me back.

I will report more when I have time.

Breaking My Long Silence

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

I am not dead. I assure you of this.

I have been quite busy. The word for this summer is 「結婚式」、 or “kekkonshiki”, which is Japanese for “marriage ceremony”. Last year, I asked Akane if she would marry me, and she was delighted to say yes. The ceremony itself will be later this summer, and we are both consumed with preparations. Relatives will be arriving from all over Nippon, and many of our friends from here in Iga Province will be attending as well. It will be an occasion of much joy, but it also requires much planning and effort.

Aside from this, the Saitekika campaign proceeds apace. Every day, I must meet with the Nichiren priests and sometimes even the Tendai priests, to ensure that our path is Righteous and Harmonious. When there is time between those meetings, I must go to the cities we are trying to capture, and find our enemies and slay them.

And finally, I have resumed progress on my own Kongōshu style. After a day of battling Noriaibasha’s enemies with the chain and 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., it’s nice to come home and get out the sansetsukonA three-sectional staff. Looks vaguely like a nunchaku with an extra section. Famously used as an intimidation technique by one of the bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark, who smiled evilly and then folded it up into a coat-hanger.

Three-sectional staff; weapon that looks like a nunchaku with three sticks instead of two. and keep up my skills in the Steel Road ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts..

But all of this leaves me very little time to write these tales. I regret that this is not likely to change soon. Some time ago, I wrote that I would be updating more frequently. I must now change that; I should not promise that which I cannot deliver.

There may occasionally be short messages. And these tales will not cease altogether. But I do not know how often I will be able to write them.

How to Advance Without Meaning To

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

A few days ago, I was talking to Akane about the difference between various clans I have been a member of. She claimed that my life had never been so good at any clan before this; I noted that it was nearly as good at Clan Iwinaga, but I had left because it seemed I had no opportunity to advance my career there. Here at Noriaibasha, I said, I still have no real chance to become a leader or captain, but I no longer care; I am content to be a rank-and-file fighter without needing to seek advancement.

“But,” she said, “if you wanted to advance at Clan Noriaibasha, I have no doubt you could.” I agreed this might be true, but it was irrelevant.

Today there was a lunchtime feast, to rally all the troops and others who have been part of the Shiemesu Raisei and Saitekika campaigns. Various nobles and priestesses of the prestigious Tendai order spoke about how we are making great progress. While chatting with Amon, Kento and Makishi, Amon introduced me to one of the Tendai priestesses.

“This is Ichirō, one of our ninjas,” he said. “Ichirō fights in the cities, and he is very skilled. Even when Kento thinks an enemy would be too difficult to kill, Ichirō often speaks up and says, ‘Actually… I know a way I can eliminate that person.'” I tried not to blush, and thanked him for his very kind words.

Later, one of the ikebana masters under Kento’s command, a man named Torai, came to see me. He had a question, one which he said he would normally ask Kento. “But I have looked, and he seems not to be here in the castle right now. So I thought I would ask you, since you are Kento’s right-hand man.”

I simply answered Torai’s question at the time, and did not express the astonishment I felt in my heart. Right-hand man? Kento has said nothing of this… but as I look at the missions he sends me on, and compare them to other missions and duties that Sakito and Satonori are assigned, I begin to see that I am highly valued on Kento’s team.

It seems Akane was quite right. She is wise.

Making Progress With Living Stone

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Yesterday was a highly productive day for me… which means, I left a half-dozen fresh corpses in Sanigata.

Kento and Sakito have been busy dealing with the 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.-wielding thugs of the area, and Kento has asked me to concentrate on the more advanced chain fighters of the Keiten Mokuba army. This operation requires me to do some Living Stone style techniques with the 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.)
. Since the manrikigusari chain is so flexible, unlike other weapons, that means that the standard Living Stone techniques make very little sense. They must all be adaptedMost object-oriented languages use what’s known as “classical inheritance”, but JavaScript uses “prototypal inheritance”. It requires a different way of thinking.Most object-oriented languages use what’s known as “classical inheritance”, but JavaScript uses “prototypal inheritance”. It requires a different way of thinking. to work differently with the chain.

But I figured out how to do that, and then started my surveillance of the Keiten Mokuba. From time to time, I’d spot one of their scouts in one of the cities of Sanigata — and when I engaged them in combat with my new Living Stone techniques, I found them quite easy to slay.

After a day full of spilling my enemies’ blood, I went to the capital for dinner with Akane at a fine restaurant, and all was well.

Today, much as I might want to continue eradicating the Mokuba army, there is a four-hour meeting with Clan Hekoayu this afternoon. And there was a major meeting in the morning. I have little time for field operations or combat today.

But tomorrow, I expect I can make up for it!

A Weekend of Practice on My Own Style

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

I spent much of this weekend working on my Kongōshu style, doing kataA sequence of moves in martial arts, performed as a practice exercise to train the fighter’s muscle memory and reflexes in preparation for real combat. May be anywhere from a brief, 15-second movement to a full sequence that takes five minutes or more to complete. Usually solitary, but there are some two-person kata.

You may wish to see some videos of standard karate katas.A sequence of fighting moves used as a practice technique in martial arts. in the yard of Akane’s and my house in Hoshiakari. This style is an offshoot of the Steel Road ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts., which is a fairly complicated sansetsukonA three-sectional staff. Looks vaguely like a nunchaku with an extra section. Famously used as an intimidation technique by one of the bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark, who smiled evilly and then folded it up into a coat-hanger.

Three-sectional staff; weapon that looks like a nunchaku with three sticks instead of two. style in the Three-Headed Dragon school.

I was surprised by how well I still remember it. I was able to make much progress… until I ran into a complicated maneuver that I can see will be very necessary. But I cannot yet determine how to accomplish it.

Some day, I have hopes that this style will be useful for people carousing in Kusatsu — I am working on some aspectstrying to make it a good mobile app – using HTML5, not a native app that’s restricted to just one platformtrying to make it a good mobile app – using HTML5, not a native app that’s restricted to just one platform that will be particularly useful in the environs of that rapidly-growing city. But it still has a long way to go.

Akane says she remembers the days when I was a member of Clan Tenya. I would come home from my battles in Ōmi Province and have no desire to pick up another weapon for the rest of the night. Even on the weekends, I was too tired to practice kata. But now, I have spent much of the weekend practicing blocks, strikes, and swirling sansetsukon attacks.

She says this makes her very happy to watch.

Preparations for the Journey

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

I wrote, before, that being selected to represent Clan Noriaibasha at the warriors’ gathering in Hiroshima is a great honor. And so it is — but it also means that I must spend some time preparing! Akane is busy packing my luggage for the long journey. Since I will be representing the clan, and will probably have to attend various social functions, I must bring at least one formal kimono. I will also need food for the journey, and tabiThe split-toed boots commonly worn by ninjasthe split-toed boots commonly worn by ninjas that slip off easily for occasions when the Emperor’s guards inspect the carriage at checkpoints… It is quite a lot to prepare, and I have not much time.

Aside from that, I must have all our opposition in Ogaribamen cleared away before I go. Otherwise, Makishi and his team will not be able to do their work in my absence.

Since Amon and the people of Clan Hekoayu are still identifying exactly who our opponents are, this makes my life quite difficult. I have been given very little time to find and kill these people. It seems every day, I receive new orders: “The twin 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.s? They are still targets, but now you must kill them separately, not together!” — “Don’t worry about the enemy ninja who wears the signs of Ten and One; he can wait for later.” — “The two merchants, the fat one in the green kimono and his skinny partner in blue. They must both die as soon as possible!” “Will Friday suffice?” “Can you make sure it’s done tomorrow? Preferably in the morning.”

Amid all this chaos, I persevere.

The Ninja Perseveres, Even Despite Sickness

Monday, February 13th, 2012

This weekend would have been quite pleasant, except that I got sick during it. I tried for some time to tell myself that I was not ill. “It is merely allergies,” I claimed, as I sniffled and blew my nose.

This morning, it was impossible to deny that I have been afflicted by a cold of some sort. But it was also impossible to deny that I must come to Castle Noriaibasha, get 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 then go off to Ogaribamen and see how many enemies I can kill. It is critical that I make as much progress as I can, for tomorrow, I must return to the Emperor’s court, and operations in Sanigata are about to fall behind schedule.

So I am here today. Despite the rain, I left my home and came here to the castle. I have my kama sharpened, and am ready to depart for Ogaribamen, with my straw cloak pulled tightly about me to try to keep me as warm and dry as possible.

It turns out that Sakito is not here today — he is sick. So is Ginsaku. And Kento says he is working elsewhere, at his own home. I can only wonder if perhaps he is afflicted, as well?

No matter. To Ogaribamen I go, and when the day is over, I will go home and Akane says she will make soup for me.

Nearly Ready for Vacation

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Things have been very peaceful at Castle Noriaibasha. I had thought that the Shiemesu Raisei campaign would occupy all my time, as the Teitōken campaign once did. Accordingly, I told the priests to schedule me only for the one campaign. That turns out to have been foolish — it seems Makishi needs my skills for only a few hours each week, so I am left with much extra time.

We will remedy that when I return from my vacation. Clan Noriaibasha has many campaigns in progress; I can surely join one that needs some city fighting.

Akane’s mother has arrived from Edo. Last night, we went to a tavern near Iga. We are busily packing things for our trip to the island. Boat journeys are unusual for us, so we keep wondering what we’ll need. We look forward to a week of sunshine and enjoying new restaurants and taverns.

By the time I get back, I suspect I’ll be anxiously desperate to kill someone — or at least to creep on a rooftop again.

Working On My Own Kata

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

This morning, I have been doing a bit of work on my Nango kataA sequence of moves in martial arts, performed as a practice exercise to train the fighter’s muscle memory and reflexes in preparation for real combat. May be anywhere from a brief, 15-second movement to a full sequence that takes five minutes or more to complete. Usually solitary, but there are some two-person kata.

You may wish to see some videos of standard karate katas.A sequence of fighting moves used as a practice technique in martial arts.. It’s simply a little “hobby” form that I’m playing with for my own purposes, not something I’d really use in combat (except perhaps in some very odd circumstances). It reminds me, sharply, of some of the differences between the ninja-tōThe short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. It was roughly the length of a wakizashi.

The ninja-tō was also generally of inferior workmanship compared to the more expensive blades available to samurai. Even if a ninja could acquire a katana, it would be too long and unwieldy to carry on most missions; ninja generally relied on smaller weapons like the shuriken and manrikigusari, and on more deniable weapons like the kama.

“Ninja-ken” is another perfectly acceptable name for this weapon; it’s like the difference between saying “ninja blade” and “ninja sword” in English.The short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. Also known as a “ninja-ken”. and the 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.)
 — and it helps keep me in touch with the Living Stone styles.

(I do not completely hate the Living Stone ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts.. I voluntarily decided to make Nango a Living Stone form.)

Soon, Akane and I will go to the capital to do some shopping, and enjoy their fine restaurants… and we will also do some scouting for next year’s wedding ceremony. For this, I will be leaving my weapons at home.

The Reconsecration of the Shrine, and the Last Days of the Teitōken Campaign

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Akane and I have successfully reconsecrated the shrine of Inari. We have even strung 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. around the premises.

Happily, we were done in time to visit the wonderful local restaurant, which makes some of the best okonomiyakiSomething like a cross between a pancake, an omelet, and a pizza. Flat, fried batter with meat and vegetables mixed in, and sauces on top.Something like a cross between a pancake, an omelet, and a pizza. Flat, fried batter with meat and vegetables mixed in, and sauces on top. in all of Kansai. It was quite delicious!

The following day — yesterday — I went back to Castle Noriaibasha. Nobody seems to have noticed my absence the previous afternoon, or if they did, they didn’t mind. Over the past two days, the Teitōken campaign has been slowly and painfully winding down. Every time I think things are done, they find one more pocket of resistance. These are rarely in the city; Seijun’s team has been quite busy rousting out foes in the forest. But occasionally, a message of great and terrible urgency tells me to proceed to Ichimen and find such-and-so target.

Tonight should be the end of this. We are already a day past deadline. I have spent part of the day reading the scrolls and maps pertaining to the upcoming Shiemesu Raisei campaign; that should occupy much more of my time tomorrow.

For now, I have an appointment to meet an old friend in the capital for a sushi dinner.