Prologue: The Origin – The Prince, the Princess, and the Dog 6-2 (End of Episode 6) – with original illustration

 

Episode VI-ii

Opening the Granary Yoshizane Enlivens Two Counties

Receiving Lord’s Order Takayoshi Chastises Three Outlaws

 

The renowned stronghold Takita has finally fallen and the two vassals who had been tormenting people for years have met their fate. Now the court procedures move on to the last one of the accused, Tamazusa – Mitsuhiro’s beautiful courtesan and Sadakane’s wife, but Takayoshi will soon find out that she’s in a totally different league as Donpei and Togoro. Meanwhile, at the fort of Tojo, Ujimoto has to singlehandedly face the enemy…

 

*This episode proudly presents an original illustration by Pan Jama Lammy! Your feedback would be awaited with much eagerness and enthusiasm. Thanks millions!

 

Poor Tamazusa, the fickle beauty of her blooming figure was suffering from the midnight storm. Unable to escape the heaven’s fishing net, the queen of the castle awaited her unfathomable fate. Even though it was not yet close of day sparrows flew around quivering as if their nests were being disturbed. Made to be seated in the dusk under the double-layered eaves, she felt uneasy of her acquaintance Takayoshi’s presence and wouldn’t lift her head even for a moment.

Kanamari called to her.

“Raise your head.”

He then sat forward.

“Tamazsusa, everyone knows you were Lord Jin’yo’s courtesan but you took advantage of his love to entice him and meddled with politics while destroying many a loyal retainer. That was your first sin.

“You dressed yourself in silk and satin, indulged in exquisite tastes and lived pure extravagance. There was no end to your voracious appetite for wealth and power but as if that hadn’t been enough you committed adultery with Sadakane. That was the second. These things are already known to Takayoshi and are in no want of reports from witnesses.

“Thus, on the very day Sadakane concluded his treacherous plot and robbed two counties, you became his wife with no shame or remorse and survived to see the fall of the castle. It was nemesis visiting evil deeds. You shall live to be restrained by punitive bonds and die to be an oni demon left enshrined by no one[1]. See Heaven’s Wrath and earthly fury for yourself!”

Illustraion by © Pan Jama Lammy

 

As Takasyoshi scolded her, Tamazusa, finally and slowly, raised her head.

“Your words hardly make sense. Women are born frivolous and have no residence in the Three Realms[2]. If we must make our husbands’ house our residence, wouldn’t you say we’re not to be held responsible for our own joys and sorrows of 100 Years?

“Besides, one was not Lord Jin’yo’s rightful wife. After he was gone leaving me nowhere to go, it so happened that I was cared for by Sir Sadakane and attended to in the inner sanctum, but it must be my karma from past lives that I am now a trapped woman unable to return to my previous dreams.

“Also, when people say ‘Yamashita harmed loyal retainers from the beginning of his office by confusing official matters with his personal affairs’, it was jealousy talking and there were no facts like that.

“Take Jin’yo’s retainers for example, generally, senior or junior alike, and even those on high payrolls with heavy responsibilities, do not feel a trace of shame in serving two masters. There’s even one like you who would go as far as to evade his duties in disdain for his master and further serve the Satomi and take the castle of Takita, which was no more useful than some rabbit fluff for Lord Jin’yo.

“In this way individuals serve this one and that one for their own fame and fortune. Even men are like that. Let alone women, many of who would add to the number of their Tsukuma pots[3]. And yet you hate Tamazusa alone so much, incriminating me over things I’ve never done. Those are slanders I find extremely hard to accept.”

She stared back with menace in her eyes. Hachiro struck his seat.

“That’s an embellishment! An exaggeration! Your wickedness is already beyond my speculation. Eyes have seen it and fingers are pointing at it. Nevertheless, you still would not concede and give yourself permission to illustrate the lies. A demon disguised as an angel; appearances are deceptive. You are no different from toxic crystals wrapped in a brocade bag. Unless you were a woman of such tenaciousness, how could you make a castle decline?

“Do you know, whilst being Jin’yo’s fudai – hereditary retainers, those Kokuroku and Donpei forgot justice for profit, served the evil and added to the sins. Unable to escape divine retribution they have all been quartered.

“I am different from them. By taking ashes and painting lacquer, I changed form, devoting myself to marking Sadakane to take revenge for my deceased master.

“It was not to be achieved by myself alone, and a clenched fist is better than individual fingers’ flicks, so I accompanied Prince Satomi and assembled comrades who share the same spirit. Now I have perished Sadakane and his allies. My mission is completed. Would you still say that my doing is no more useful than rabbit fluff for Lord Jin’yo?

“Pigs in your arms don’t smell[4]. They say women complain, but how on earth you dare pardon yourself to impeach someone else? Be prepared.”, declared Takayoshi.

Tormented by the logic, Tamazusa sighed despite herself.

“Indeed I am sinned I presume[5]. Nevertheless, Sir Yoshizane is a benevolent ruler. Whether it’s in Tojo or here, I have heard his highness awards heavily and penalizes lightly, even sparing the lives of officers and privates to be placed in service, as long as they submitted. Women and children are hardly worth adding to the number. May I be as bold as to wish his highness would kindly acquit me and send me home, to my unparalleled delight?

“Master Hachiro, despite our sex difference, we both served the Jin’yo together in the old days. Now of all times, for old time’s sake, would you just talk to him for me?”

The face which looked up with a radiant smile assumed the tenderness of Hall Crabapple wet with dew; the fragrant jet black of her hair sensually flew down her shoulders in such a way that spring willows would hang down their threads to allure men.

Meanwhile Yoshizane, taking the seat of honour, was listening to the judgement with many of his men sitting by his sides. It seemed pitiable that, Tamazusa, the gem of gems despite some faults, was showing remorse and begging for life. Should she be acquitted?

“Takayoshi, over here.”

He beckoned him to his side.

“Even though Tamazusa’s are no minor sins, it won’t violate samurai codes to save a single woman. Take this into consideration.”

As Yoshizane made a sympathetic suggestion, Kanamari Hachiro’s expressions changed.

“With all due respect my lord, the traitor second only to Sadakane is that seductress Tamazasa. She not only drove many loyal retainers away to be lost, but when sir Mitsuhiro died she was there all the time. Unless she conspired with Sadakane behind his lord’s back, it couldn’t have been achieved overnight. If you don’t take these facts into account and acquit the traitor, people won’t stop criticizing you for passing a verdict in favour of a woman of your fancy.

“This is why Daji was killed in Zhaoge and Taizhen was strangled in Mawei[6]. These women were simply born beautiful enough to ruin a nation and were not of Tamazusa’s kind. Even then, they ended up receiving penalties on the day the country was thrown in turmoil and the castle fell. Should you still be acquitting her?”

As Takayoshi remonstrated him sternly, Yoshizane nodded to himself a few times and raised his voice.

“O, I’ve made a mistake! Quickly draw her out and cut her head off.”

As soon as Tamazusa heard this her blooming face was instantly coloured red. She gritted her pearl-like teeth and glared fiercely at the master and his retainer.

“I will curse you Kanamari Hachiro. If you would refuse your master’s order to forgive me and would cut me, not only you too will turn into swords’ rust erelong but your whole family will die out.

“Yoshizane, you’re useless too. Even before you pull back your tongue that’s said you’d forgive me, you’re refuted by Takayoshi and play with a human life. An idiot of a general unlike the rumours. Kill me if you must. I shall lead you and every one of your descendants to the Realm of Beasts and make you all dogs of worldly passion.”

As she went on thus, Kanamari ordered.

“Do not let her speak. Take her away.”

It took several underlings to take Tamazusa, who was now beyond control with rage, out of the building and to eventually behead her.

Courtesy of National Diet Library

 

Before long, Hachiro upon further orders, arranged to display the heads of the traitors Sadakane and Tamazusa together with those of Donpei and Togoro by the castle. Even though repeated sins might deserve it, the sight was still perturbing and collected more and more crowds over days.

Around this time, one morning before dawn, Sugikura Kiso-no-suke Ujimoto’s messenger called Amazaki Juro Terutake turned up. He had travelled on a fleet horse from Tojo to present the head of Maro no Kogoro Nobutoki whom Ujimoto defeated and to communicate the details of the battle. As this requires more space it shall be told at the beginning of the next episode[7].

Tamazusa’s curse could not reach the virtuous master and men but haunted their children; at first it will bring strange phenomenon on them but the calamity will in the end turn into blessing. Many events will ensue until then. I beg the reader to take heed of that seductress’s oaths.

 

The end of Volume Three 南総里見八犬伝巻之三終

 

Wait for Ujimoto’s awsomeness in the next episode!

 

[1] The Japanese text: 生きては戒めの縄に繋がれ、死しては祀らざる鬼とならん。

[2] In Buddhism the three realms are that of desire, form and formless. Here is a neat explanation about women having no residence in Three Realms. In short, the expression originally comes from this little girl who gave a philosophically profound answer to a Buddha’s casual question. The answer was, ‘I have no residence in the Three Realms’.

[3] In Tsukuma Pot Festival women used to walk in procession to the shrine wearing on their heads pots of the number representing men they had relationships with. In the modern form of the festival women are replaced by girls of about 8 years old,  naturally only wearing one token pot for formality. The festival is said to be 1200 years old and is mentioned in the Tales of Ise, published in the 11th century. Look up 筑摩の鍋冠祭 for photos.

[4] It’s hard to spot your own faults.

[5] As discussed in my blog post, Tamazusa is an intelligent peace of work. Crooked, but intelligent, a whole class above Donpei or Togoro.

[6] Daji is a beauty said to have lived at the end of the Shang (or Yin) dynasty in ancient China. It is believed that Emperor Zhao loved her and did absolutely anything to please her. Taizhen is a Taoist name of Yan Yuhuan or Yan Guifei, the much famed beauty in the Tang dynasty in China. She was Emperor Xuanzon’s favourite consort.

[7] I skipped the phrase ‘I’ll only show the illustration (その図(づ)はこゝに、載(のす)るといへども)’.

 

 

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