Posts Tagged ‘Iga Province’

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.

Taka Is Leaving Us

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

I have written before about Taka, the servant woman who works with the clan’s supplies and organization division. By her efforts, the Kokakumanzoku division has been effective, efficient and well-organized.

Also, she is a friendly presence at the castle — true, she is not from Iga Province, but she is from the nearby Kōga region. Having her around makes me feel like there is someone here who understands me.

But all good things come to an end. Taka is now leaving the clan, going to seek her fortune with a school in the capital city, one which teaches the daughters of noble families and rich merchants. I am not the only one saddened by this news; the entire division is sorry to see her go. Lord Mayoku, the noble in charge of the Kokakumanzoku division, issued a proclamation yesterday thanking her for her service, and expressing our deep regrets at her departure.

Tonight, there will be a tearful farewell enkaiA ceremonial drinking party, generally organized by a company or other organization. Though an enkai is done by and for the members of a given company, it’s not held in the company offices; envision a company-sponsored pub-crawl.

See more detailed descriptions of enkai.A ceremonial drinking party, generally organized by a company or other organization. Though an enkai is done by and for the members of a given company, it’s not held in the company offices; envision a company-sponsored pub-crawl.. I suspect many of the clan will have headaches tomorrow morning.

The Uprising In Sakai

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

There was a large peasant uprising in Sakai today — just one part of the ongoing unrest that has gripped all of Izumi Province recently. And as one of the larger and more powerful clans of the province, Clan Noriaibasha was one of the targets of the peasants’ ire.

I arrived to find them gathered in front of the castle, shouting demands and chanting slogans. To be seen entering or leaving the castle would be unwise. Of course, since I am a ninja, I was able to slip past them undetected.

But my heart is heavy at having to do so. I have never been a rich man. I was born and raised in Iga Province, where nearly everyone is a peasant of one sort or another. We are simple folk there, and my heart has always been with the peasants, even as my own fortunes in the world have risen.

In another time, earlier in my life, I would have stood with those peasants, shouting that the rich and powerful must support the poor and weak, not trample them underfoot and use their might to steal what little the people still have left. I still believe those things… but this morning was simply not a time that I could spend making political and philosophical statements. I had to meet with Sakito not long after arriving at the castle. I have duties to my clan-mates, and to Akane.

By the time I went out for lunch, the people had dispersed. I wish I had done something to support them.

The Late May Festival in Iga

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The last weekend in May is always a major festival weekend in Iga Province. Akane and I journeyed to Ueno and stayed there in an inn to enjoy the multi-day celebrations. The festivities were delightful, and we got to see some friends of ours.

The inn was not delightful; on the first night, we returned from a late night of drinking and dancing only to discover the tatamiThe thin, flat mats traditionally used as flooring in Japan. Stuffed with rice straw, they were also used for sleeping on in olden days. See Wikipedia for more information.The thin, flat mats traditionally used as flooring in Japan. Stuffed with rice straw, they were also used for sleeping on in olden days. mats were soiled. We had to roust the innkeeper out out in the middle of the night to fix the situation. Of course, I could not kill him during a festival ceremony; it would have brought uncleanliness. However, we made our displeasure very plain.

We have some plans to return to Ueno, but never again to that inn.

This week will be very busy as I resume my battles in the Teitōken campaign. I will write more of that when I have the time.

A Busy Week

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

On Monday, I spoke to the Keitai Team about the tacticsCross-Site Scripting and Cross-Site Request Forgery flaws, and the kinds of attacks that can target themCross-Site Scripting and Cross-Site Request Forgery flaws, and the kinds of attacks that can target them and fighting styles of the Ayamari and the Hakkā clan, and how we can most effectively defeat them. Some of the measures we should take are things that the samurai would have to do in the forests and hillsides, but there are some important things we city fighters should be aware of, too. The other warriors seemed to appreciate my knowledge.

One in particular, named Satonori, had many other useful points to add. I have not mentioned him before, but he is skilled, and he has obviously been studying Hakkā tactics.

In the meantime, my week is flying by far too quickly. Seijun has alerted me to a series of enemies in Ichimen. I must identify and neutralize them by next Friday. Today I’m scouting, discovering who they are and where they’re located. Then I can strike hard and fast, and mop them up quickly. But that will have to wait for next week.

This weekend, there is a major celebration in Iga Province that Akane and I must prepare for. I’ll be leaving Ichimen earlier than usual. Then when I return on Monday, I’ll have to be as efficient and deadly on the rooftops as I’ve ever been before.

頑張ります!Pronounced “Ganbarimasu!”, this is Japanese for “I will do my best”, or “I will persevere and not give up”. It could even be likened, slightly, to “Charge!”Pronounced “Ganbarimasu!”, this is Japanese for “I will do my best”, or “I will persevere and not give up”. It could even be likened, slightly, to “Charge!”

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.

Weekend Kata Practice, and a Hard-Working Herald’s Message

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

There is a fair in Iga tomorrow. Akane and I will be having friends over to join us at our house, so we have made sure it is clean and welcoming. Between bouts of cleaning, I have spent the day playing with a 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”. kata that my friend Michio described to me recently:

“I can see that there will frequently be situations where I have to hang from a tree branch, roof, or overhang, stab an enemy, then haul his body up into the place where I am in order to avoid being detected. And I have a kata that seems to work for that. It was a good learning exercise.” Curiously, I have never had to solve this exact problem, though it’s similar to one I’ve dealt with before.

So I agreed to work out a kata for it, without having seen Michio’s. Then we can compare them. It will make a good way for him to check how well he is learning the martial arts, too.

Well, either it’s harder than it looks, or I’m going at it entirely the wrong way. But my focus has been very scattered these past few days.

I did not go to Yagyū today, of course. But while I was practicing in the yard in front of Akane’s and my house, I got a message from a herald anyway. A singularly unhelpful message, much like the previous message from one of this herald’s 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. yesterday: It specifies what weapon skills and fighting styles I would need to know, but nothing else. There is no mention of any of the things I need to know to decide if I am interested or not.

Where is the clan’s headquarters located? Would I be constantly on the road from Iga to their castle, and exhausted by all the travelling by the time I even arrived every morning? And is this with a clan at all, or with a larger army? Where do they fight, and what are their objectives and strategies?

On Monday, I have appointments with two other herald gumis. Perhaps I can have lunch with a friend along the way.