Prologue: The Origin – The Prince, the Princess, and the Dog 6-1

Episode VI

Opening the Granary Yoshizane Enlivens Two Counties

Receiving Lord’s Order Takayoshi Chastises Three Outlaws

After capturing a fort  of Tojo, Yoshizane and his followers attacked Takita Castle. but it was a well-build stronghold and they were nearly running out of food supplies. With the aid of carrier pigeons and the farmer recruits inside the castle, however, Sadakane was finally brought down by none other than two of his own top retainers. Now we move on to a key event of the story…

A poster of Nanso Satomi Hakken-den on stage at Kokuritsu Gekijo in January 2015. I hope they’ll do it again.

 

Thus, targetting Donpei and his associates, overflowing number of conscripted civilians from Takita pressed up against the second gate and thundered their battle cries, when they unexpectedly saw a severed head stuck on a lance poke out in the air above the wall.

“What are you going to do to me? I’ve already repented my sins, left the wrong to fight with you, and executed Sadakane. Let us open the castle together and welcome Satomi Yoshizane, Esquire. Do not fight with your comrades.”

With this announcement the castle gate was glided open by men under order to reveal Iwakuma Donpei and Tsumadate Togorou in a flamboyant suit of armour and hitatare garb. They were perched on battle field stools in midst of a large number of armed soldiers standing around them. As the two men beckoned to them with their gunbai war fans, the farmers were struck by the absurdity. They looked up to see the head, which certainly belonged to Sadakane and none other.

“It appears that, realizing there was no way out of this, Donpei and Togorou must already have brought down Sadakane. Damn them!”

As it was pointless to attack their comrades however, they had to take their orders, so they hoisted a surrender flag on the watchtower and pushed the main gate open to allow Donpei and Togorou to lead the group and to by and by welcome the besieging party.

Spearheading the Satomi was Kanamari Hachirou, who took the particulars and received Sakakane’s head. He then had Donpei and others remove their swords according to the martial law and communicated this to his captain. As Yoshizane marched his troops and approached them, Donpei and his men welcomed them by unabashedly digging the pebbled ground with their foreheads. The other castle guards neatly lined themselves up in double file and chanted Banzei.

After a while Sadayuki in the rear caught up. Now aligned in perfect ranks the general entered the castle in a calm manner and made a thorough tour. Because of the sheer extravagance that has been enjoyed since the time of Jin’yo, not a spot was left unpaved with gold nor covered with gems, all in brilliant splendour. Not only that, the granaries were brimming with grain crops and riches Sadakane mercilessly collected from his people and hoarded. It was as if Duke of Pei had just entered E Fang Palace or the General (Minamoto no Yoritomo) had defeated Yasuhira all over again[1].

However Yoshizane wouldn’t even touch any of them. Instead he opened the granary doors to the peasants and farmers from the two counties to let them take their shares. Sadayuki reprimanded him for this.

“Sadakane has been defeated but our great enemies Maro and Anzai still await us in Hiratate and Tateyama. Luck has it that we’ve now acquired this castle and are not short of supplies any longer, but you do not keep a straw to yourself and give everything to the peasants! It’s hard to see any sense in that.”

Said Sadayuki with creased brows. Yoshizane nodded to this.

“It is only natural that you should think so, except that people are the foundation of a country.

“Why do you think these farmers in Nagasa and Heguri have left the wrong and followed their reason? ‘Tis because they wanted to escape the cold and hunger after suffering bad government year after year, is it not? If I too acted avaricious and refused to feed these long suffering people, I’m no different from Sadakane and his followers. If my people’s hearts are not with me, with whom would I defend the castle; with whom would I fight against the enemies, even if our granaries were stocked up with a surplus of millet?

“People are the very foundation of a country. My people’s wealth is my wealth. Virtuous governance can never be in vain. At a time of needs troops will gather without being called for. It is not the time for frugality.”

Hearing this Sadayuki and other men found nothing more to say or do but to excuse themselves, for they were having difficulty containing the tears they were moved to[2].

The next day Yoshizane came out to the general affairs office for viewing of the heads. When it was finished he summoned the surrendered, Donpei and Togorou, and had Kanamari Hachiro ask them how they came to kill their master. The two gave the same answer.
“Sadakane was a traitor who killed our lord and robbed him of his land but he was undefeatable. We only temporarily sided with him but in truth we were waiting for our chance. There came his highness’s edict yesterday, upon which we left King Jie of Xia to work for Tang of Shang[3] and brought that head as an offering for the audience with his highness.”

When they finished with a smug look, Kanamari Hachiro sneered at them.

“You’re only embellishing a blatant lie with rhetoric. First of all it’s now clear that you two helped Sadakane along with his wrongdoings and oppressing his people. This is why the civilian soldiers mustered comrades to defeat you two for a start. Then you heard the rumours about it and killed Sadakane so as to escape the accusations, did you not? I Takayoshi have been commanded to interview the folk in the castle. It’s already been revealed. Will you still try to justify yourselves?”

The two were visibly disconcerted, but then, Donpei opened his eyes wide.

“That’s Togorou you’re talking about, your honour. He’s served Sadakane since his early age of Agemaki[4] and is the darling of his camp. And yet he secretly fancied beautiful Tamazusa and wanted to make this secret wish come true. So he helped me and made the first attack. Because I figured his ulterior motive, I’ve prepared a way to prove my innocence. I had Tamazusa caught and locked up, so it’ll be made clear. Please sir perceive the whole picture upon these facts.”

As soon as he said this Togorou glared back at him and raised his voice.

“Master Hachirou, please do not believe what he says. How should I switch sides and kill my master just because I fancy Tamazusa. Donpei used to be Jin’yo’s groom. During the hunting in Ochiba-ga-oka, he fed poison to his master’s horse on Sadakane’s instruction and let him die. After Sadakane robbed the two counties Donpei became his top favourite. Naturally the folk resented him greatly too. In attempting to escape the accusations he’s brought down the lord two generations of his family had been serving. Do not be deceived sir.”

It made Hachiro laugh out loud to see the way they added sins by endlessly brawling and incriminating each other out of desperation.

“Silence is golden. You’ve revealed yourselves by talking rather than defending. In any life or world your wickedness offers no reasons for your heads to remain on your shoulders.

Even though Sadakane was a tyrant, you, Togorou, were his retainer. You’re no samurai if you killed him to save your own skin.

You, Donpei, first harmed your own master for Sadakane, and then you killed Sadakane too when things got out of hand even though you were benefiting from him at the time. This is as wicked as wicked can be.

In his capacity as a parent to all his people, my lord acts merciful in principle. However should his lordship forgive you two, there’d be no law and order at large and consequently good virtues would be lost for good.

Although I’d already uncovered your conspiracy prior to your hearing I still invited you to the court of law to hear your own confession. A verdict has been reached. Your conduct may not be forgiven. Tie them up.”

Soldiers dashed out to kick the two men down to the ground and, holding them down, roped them. Togorou and Donpei made a great fuss begging and cursing as if they were sheep in an abattoir. As they wouldn’t stop rattling on Kanamari bellowed out in fury.

“Evil deeds that come out of you go back to you. They call for a divine judgement. You are to be quartered. Now hurry up.”

Accepting the order, the men dragged to the outside the criminals who were struggling not to get up, and shortly pierced the two heads on freshly-cut bamboo sticks in preparation for the viewing. Meanwhile, Kanamari gave another order.

“Bring Tamazusa in.”

 

And so Tamazusa’s hearing begins… Wait for the next episode.

[1] Duke of Pei is a title used in his early days by Liu Bang, Three Kingdoms emperor. It is said that when he entered Qin palaces he was mesmerized by the wealth and didn’t want to leave. Fujiwara no Yasuhira was the last in the line of the once flourishing Northern Fujiwara that Yoritomo destroyed.

[2] I can’t remember where I read it any more but I read somewhere that samurai freely allowed themselves to be emotional while practising stoic life style. Indeed warriors in Bakin’s story seem to me quite connected to their emotions, while Bakin himself was brought up samurai, so it may very well be true.

[3] Jie (桀) was the last emperor of the Xia dynasty in ancient China. He is known to be a tyrannical oppressor and was overthrown by Tang (湯) who founded the Shang dynasty.

[4] A hairstyle worn by children before coming of age. See Episode 5.

 

 

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