Posts Tagged ‘job-hunt’

The Last Temptation Before the New Era

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Back in July, I met with one of the nobles and one of the fighters of Clan Ōkiten, who are based in Kamishichiken. This clan operates in the same areas as Clan Iwinaga, so my knowledge would be useful… and they also need ninjas with Pagoda Bearer skill.

But they are very busy and hectic, like a small upstart group, and I am not sure I would thrive there.

Today, I suddenly received a message from their herald. It is not simply a request for another appointment or negotiation; they want to actually offer me a position with the clan. I could use my 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”., not the strangely curved wakizashiThe shorter of the two gracefully curved swords that a samurai carries. Much like the longer katana in shape and style, except short enough to be a one-handed, secondary blade. The wakizashi is effectively the katana’s “baby brother”.

Note that the ninja-tō, the sword most often carried by ninjas, is not a wakizashi. It’s about the same length, but straight rather than curved — and generally of inferior workmanship, as ninjas couldn’t afford the materials or smiths that samurai had access to.The shorter sword of the two that a samurai carries; the “baby brother” of the longer katana. that Noriaibasha would require. I would roam the back streets and alleys of the pleasant Kamishichiken district, and never have to travel to Izumi Province…

But I do not think I would thrive. And negotiations with Noriaibasha are so close to being completely concluded.

I have told Ōkiten no.

And, almost like a blessing from Buddha, a few minutes later I received a message from 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.: I can report to Castle Noriaibasha tomorrow to begin my service there.

Noriaibasha Has Accepted Me!

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Akane has already journeyed off to the Central Provinces with her mother, there to visit other members of their family. Today, I also depart from Iga to meet them. I will be in the Central Provinces for the weekend, and then Akane and I will return to Iga and Hoshiakari on Monday.

We will doubtless be quite tired, and we will appreciate the creature comforts of our home after the long days in the rusticNo laptop means: It doesn’t even matter if the hotel has wifi. We’ll have NO INTERNET! Aieee!No laptop means: It doesn’t even matter if the hotel has wifi. We’ll have NO INTERNET! Aieee!, uncultured lands.

But a week after that, I will go to Castle Noriaibasha, in the city of Sakai, and be given my first assignments. I will not truly be of their clan; I will actually be a member 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., whose herald found me the assignment with the Noriaibasha. But I will be on long-term assignment with the great clan of Izumi, and there is some chance that I may eventually be inducted into their ranks… if all goes well.

So I must report to the Shomei-gumi during the days between my return to Iga and my first day at Castle Noriaibasha. Aside from that, I have a week to spend at my leisure. Then I will go back to undertaking missions in stealth and violence.

Hoping for a New Clan

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Even while Akane’s mother has been visiting, I have continued to meet with heralds and clans. And it seems my perseverance may have paid off! I have spoken with various fighters and other clan members of Clan Noriaibasha, and they have sent a message via their herald to offer me membership in the clan. However…

As one of the largest of the clans of Izumi Province, their security is paramount. They must have their agents investigate my background, and ensure that I am not a mole or other deep-cover enemy.

Of course, researching the background of a ninja from Iga is often an activity fraught with some peril, so this may take a bit of time. It is still conceivable that something might go wrong, but I pray to KwannonAlso known as Kuan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.Also known as Kuan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. that everything will turn out successfully.

In the meantime, I have gone to an interview with Clan Zajutsukura — yes, the ones who were once the on-again- off-again allies of Clan Tenya. They asked me to show them some 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. 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., and I performed them well enough. (My recent practice seems to have been helpful.) Then they posed me some problems involving broad strategies and Shima-style net-fighting. Where they had only contemplated two ways of attacking the problem, I came up with a third strategy that combined the strengths of both. They were very impressed.

But sadly, they are a small, upstart group, with few warriors and no Zen monks, using ever-shifting tactics to try to pursue multiple campaign strategies at the same time. And their castle is full of the usual games and amusements, but has no privacy or places to concentrate. If I joined them, I would get to use 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 Jōgesen styleA popular modern school of sansetsukon fighting, well regarded for its powerful techniques and its ease-of-use.A popular modern school of sansetsukon fighting, well regarded for its powerful techniques and its ease-of-use.… but I know that I would not thrive. It would be a repeat of my experiences at Clans Nettobuku and Tenya.

Instead, I will pin my hopes on Noriaibasha. If I join them, it will be like my time at Clan Iwinaga: I will use 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. and 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 specialize in city fighting. Occasionally, I will have to use the wakizashiThe shorter of the two gracefully curved swords that a samurai carries. Much like the longer katana in shape and style, except short enough to be a one-handed, secondary blade. The wakizashi is effectively the katana’s "baby brother".

Note that the ninja-tō, the sword most often carried by ninjas, is not a wakizashi. It’s about the same length, but straight rather than curved — and generally of inferior workmanship, as ninjas couldn’t afford the materials or smiths that samurai had access to.The shorter sword of the two that a samurai carries; the “baby brother” of the longer katana., and there will be no occasion for me to use the sansetsukon or ninja-tō. I will have to deal with samurai, and work alongside them, and I won’t get to do forest fighting.

But there will be nobles who have experience leading, and Zen monks and Nichiren priests to guide us in the ways of righteousness and harmony. There will be enough treasury to keep the armies well stocked, and the clan will not be finding its way uncertainly, constantly stumbling and trying new things like an upstart group.

I have high hopes.

A Whirlwind of Interviews

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Akane’s mother is visiting from Edo, but this has not slowed down my hunt for a new clan.

Only a few days ago, I was contacted by a herald who told me of a possible position with Clan Noriaibasha, one of the mightier of the clans of Izumi Province. Within a day, she had arranged a meeting with one of their captains, who was impressed with my kata and told the herald that he would like me to visit the army’s barracks next week. I have high hopes for the outcome of this visit.

In the meantime, I will spend much of tomorrow speaking with the warriors of Clan Gakkotsu, who make some interesting helmet-fittings that are thought of highly by many warriors and nobles. They are probably too young a clan for me, but it is not certain, and they are worth investigating.

And today I spoke with the chief warrior of Clan Zajutsukura. Yes, the very same clan that was sometimes an ally of Clan Tenya. The man I spoke with knew me by reputation, and he said that it was not his decision to break off his clan’s alliance with ours. We spoke of the kata I developed for Tenya, and the missions I had performed on behalf of both our clans. We are agreed that I should come to speak with others of his clan, and make a determination of whether I would be well suited to join them.

In the meantime, Akane and I are busy with entertaining her mother during her short stay with us. Akane’s mother is quite fond of the cocktails I mix with sake and shōchū, so we bring her back to her inn every night in a happy mood.

I continue with my Jōgesen studies when I have time. This is not as often as one might wish, but I am making progress.

A Busy Week of Dealing With Upstarts

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

This week has been quite busy with interviews and combat tests. On Monday, I traveled far off to the Mikawa Peninsula (requiring a journey by boat) to talk to Clan Kokkyū. They are a quite large clan, but it turns out that the group that is interested in me are a very small detachment who operate like one of the new, upstartstartups, that isstartups, that is groups.

Yesterday I went to a grueling interview with all the warriors of Clan Shōshindō except for Kirika. I was questioned about my history, about tactics, and about the uses of various weapons, and I also did some sparring. Their warriors are quite skilled, but they are yet another upstart clan, and I would not be well suited for a life with them.

After that, I stopped by Yagyū for a 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. test for the mysterious 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. from Kawachi Province. They wished to see me perform some kata using 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 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.)
. Unfortunately, I made an elementary blunder with the manrikigusari, trying to use the Jeikyū grappling hook (which I’ve been using more and more lately) in a way that only works with the Pirōto hook (which is what I started off with, years ago). By the time I realized my error, it was too late; I had already failed.

I returned home to Hoshiakari and Akane in low spirits. A visit from our friend Arujin was a helpful restorative, as he is most convivial and witty.

Today, I have spent the morning exchanging messages with a herald who represents Clan Ōkiten, who are based in the pleasure district of Kamishichiken, near where Clan Iwinaga once had its castle. Apparently they are a larger, more mature clan, and I am to speak with one of the lower nobles in their leadership. I must prepare myself.

A Scroll That Goes Well With Tea

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Various clans and 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.s may actually be interested in me. Plans are afoot, which will involve me visiting a number of castles next week in order to talk to captains and nobles, and demonstrate my 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. and skills.

At least one of these will be a test of my knowledge of the Jōgesen ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts.. A long time ago, when I was a member of Clan Nettobuku and learning the way of Aka Hōseki Jōgesen for the first time, I purchased a scroll by the Pragmatic Warriors, called Sure-Footed Combat With Jōgesen. I still have it. I am alternating between reading this scroll while sipping some delightful tea that Akane and I purchased on our last trip into Heian-kyō, and practicing some of the moves in the yard of our home. I am working on some kata that I may actually be able to put into practice some day.

Of course, I should also be working on Living Stone ryū kata with 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”.. There is a clan with a castle in Kamishichiken, very close to where Castle Iwinaga once was. They have need of a ninja with skills in the Pagoda Bearer and Living Stone styles; my Pagoda Bearer skills are as sharp as ever, but I can always use a bit more practice at Living Stone. If I can impress them, I may find that they are the right clan for me. (As long as they don’t require archery skills. The herald I have spoken with was quite unclear on that point.)

The Days Creep Forward

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

The world is full of perplexing things. After my discussion with Binya of Clan Atsuzen — which I thought had gone so well — I heard from his herald that my answers had not been sufficiently pleasing. I have asked her to supply me with more information, so that I might improve my skills.

But the timed test 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. for Clan Shōnindō? I was not able to complete all the moves and strikes in the time allotted, and I suspect that nobody could. But what I did complete was apparently sufficient to please them. Next Tuesday, I will visit Castle Shōnindō and meet with Kirika, the warrior woman I have spoken with. I shall probably meet others of the clan, as well.

I am still fairly sure that Clan Shōnindō is too small and young for me. But the fact that they have female fighters among them speaks well for them.

In the meantime, I have yet another test coming up today, this time of my Aka Hōseki JōgesenA very popular sansetsukon (three-sectional staff) style.A very popular sansetsukon (three-sectional staff) style. skills. I have not even touched 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. in a year, and I was honest about this when speaking to the herald who is trying to connect me with some 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. in Kawachi Province. Truly, I suspect that either the gumi or the herald must be somewhat desperate to consider me for their clan, as I am given to understand that they require a Jōgesen expert.

For my part, taking their test costs me nothing but an hour of my time, and may help me refresh a bit. Since I already expect to do poorly, failure cannot harm my self-esteem.

To be honest, I think I am taking this test partly out of boredom. With the exception of yesterday, when I bore a message swiftly to KamishichikenOne of the entertainment districts in Heian-kyō, the capital.One of the entertainment districts in Heian-kyō, the capital. for my friend Arina, I have had no missions to complete. Even that example of courier duty did not include any combat. I must find something to occupy myself.

Test Coming Up. Am I Ready?

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I have been very busy talking to heralds, and even to representatives of clans who might want to take me in. It seems that a flurry of messages back and forth is often needed just to set up one meeting with a clan’s scout.

On Tuesday, I spoke with a captain of Clan Mitsugenso, who was a pleasant type and enjoyable to talk to. Sadly, his clan uses a great deal of mounted combat, and I would have to do horseback riding with armor on. This is not my Way; it would only lead me to be conflicted and unhappy, as I have been before.

A discussion yesterday, with a man from Clan Atsuzen, went quite well. Binya of Atsuzen asked me many questions about combat, urban stealth techniques, and so on, and seemed quite pleased with my answers. I await word from their herald to see what the next steps will be… though I am unsure if the style and culture of the clan will suit me. I must visit their castle and evaluate the atmosphere there.

Finally, last week I spoke with a warrior from Clan Shōnindō. She seems to have been satisfied with my words, because that clan now wishes to evaluate my fighting skills. I will shortly receive a test 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., which must be performed within a short time.

Time limits are not my friend. I have long known that my problem is not in performing executions well or silently; it is in performing them quickly.

So, even though Shōnindō is probably much too small a clan for me, I still should throw myself into this exercise. I must practice being faster, and this will be a good way to do it.

And who knows? I may even succeed.

The messenger who will administer the test should be arriving shortly. I must prepare myself.

GanbarimasuJapanese for “I will do my best” or “I will persevere and not give up”, or even “Charge!” if said with the right emotion.Japanese for “I will do my best” or “I will persevere and not give up”, or even “Charge!” if said with the right emotion..

Your Herald Only Hurts Your Clan’s Cause

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I have just spoken with a man from a clan called Supurānku, who have need of fighters. They are growing quickly; already they are large enough to meet my size requirements easily. But they are still a young clan, and they retain the mentality of one. According to the captain I spoke with, the clan “strives to retain the culture of a small, young, and eager clan.”

This is exactly what I do not need. I told him of my misgivings, and this is a great step for me. Normally, when a clan’s representative tells me that they like my skills and they want to move forward with negotiations, I do not know how to say, “I am honored, but I must respectfully decline, for your clan’s Way and mine are not in alignment.” But I am learning, and I told the captain that I was doubtful.

It only makes me angry then, to have this politeness and professionalism returned by the sudden arrival of one of their heralds, who tried to convince me that I should continue negotiations with Supurānku, and that I will never find an army that gives me what I need. He proved entirely unable to notice my polite statements that we had nothing further to discuss, and I spent far longer talking to him — and listening to his unwanted pep talk — than he deserved.

So even as I am learning to say, professionally, “Your clan is not for me”, it seems I must work harder on learning to say, professionally, “You are irritating me and wasting both our time. You will go away, now.”

When the captain left, my impression of Clan Supurānku was simply that it was a nice enough clan, but not for me. Now, my impression is one of distaste and, honestly, anger. But I have no time for rage; I must put on my tabithe split-toed boots worn by ninjasthe split-toed boots worn by ninjas and prepare to journey into Yagyū, to meet with a man from Clan Kaiketsusaku, who may perhaps be more reasonable.

Too Much Leisure Time is Not Good

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

I have not been as diligent as I could in practicing my skills, or in writing the scrolls I must post in Yagyū. What I have written, I have shown to some friends, and they have been able to provide much good advice. With their help, I should be ready to visit Yagyū tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have been able to enjoy Akane’s company a bit more. Now that I am not spending long hours chasing Clan Tenya’s enemies, I am not so tired that during my evenings at home.

Over the past few days, my friend Michio has sent messages from the picturesque wilds of Kii Province, where he has recently started learning 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”.. I have responded with some tips and pointers, and he seems to be learning quickly and well. It is interesting to see his enthusiasm and his joy in discovering the ways of combat — so different from my current jaded, tired and cynical state.

It is strange not to have done any ninja missions in over a week. At least Akane needs occasional errands run in Kotobasatsuki, which gives me a chance to travel and do some scouting.