My daimyo has died this day. His second wife, Tsukiyama, was born into my family and taken by the great man in his later years as a concubine. I have visited my mother to see how she fares, and to find out if there is news as to my sister’s fate. It is said she will be one of those chosen to follow the daimyo into death. It is a great honor to do so. She will be wrapped in shrouds, still alive, and placed in a grave near his. If my mother is allowed to attend her, she will slip her a drink to make her go quietly to a sleeping death. My mother weeps for her only daughter. My wife has said she will spend more time with her and speak to her in nyobo koto ba, the “women’s speech”. Everything is as it should be.
Samurai used the bodies of dead prisoners and even live prisoners to practice using their swords. These are the cuts they aimed for.
Today the house of Tokugawa has released the daimyo’s first born from residence in Kyoto. Those of the famous houses must live there for two of the year’s four seasons to show fealty to the ruling house. He will come to watch over the burial of his father. It is said first born of the house of Tokugawa was fond of the daimyo and will bring his entourage. It is hopeful the House of Kurosawa will stand. There are many that will be ordered to commit hara-kiri. There are some who will do so anyway to avoid the order coming down. If they do so now, their families will retain their honor, and the tribute of half their estates will not be required, but if they wait–half of all they own will go to the Emperor
The daimyo has given to my brother’s house a boy of eleven to train as Samurai. He is very beautiful. He will sleep with my brother throughout his training to nurture the bonding necessary them to bring themselves into one mind. If he studies well the ways of the Samurai and learns the Bushido, he will be a strong warrior for the Emperor.
I carried my first son, Shibata Ichiro, in my arms into the bright moonlight. The use of our family name first, the House of Shibata, pays tribute to our ancestors. The sky was cloudless, and the path could be easily seen. I found myself wandering with the child to the grave of the old daimyo who has joined his ancestors for the better part of the moon’s cycle. Not far from the resting place of the daimyo lies my sister. My mother was lying on the ground near her. It will not be long before she will join my father; her grief is that great. I spoke to my son in “men’s speech”, Otoko-Rashi koto ba. He is with his mother much and mistakenly uses nyobo koto ba . He must learn the harsh words of men to survive in these times.
Picture by Lubliner
Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen
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