Shibusawa: The Passing of Old Japan by I. William Adams

Shibusawa: The Passing of Old Japan

byI. William Adams

Kobo ebook | September 15, 2019

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Maido, the lord daimyo, came strolling, late one May day, along a pebbled pathway in his castle grounds at Kanazawa, and while doing so he caught a last glimpse of the great red sun as it slowly sank toward the western horizon. “What a glorious sunset!” said he to himself, as he halted and breathed deeply the sweetened air that floated by, lazily flagging the cherry and cypress trees standing here and there in the garden about him. He paused only a moment, and then slowly approached the family mansion, where he cast his sandals upon the flagstone and bounded upon the polished veranda with a vigour that bespoke a well-preserved age at fifty or more. Once in the house he quietly proceeded to the great chamber and softly clapped his hands, whereupon a servant noiselessly approached, bowed low, and held for his convenience a silken kimono, which he donned and folded in front. Having thus clad himself he turned his back upon Kimon (the Gate of Demons, or northwest comer of the room), crossed his toes under him, and squatted upon the soft, matted floor. A second call brought another servant who placed on the floor in front of him a lacquered brazier filled with live coals, a tobacco tray with tobacco, and a little metal pipe with a long bamboo stem. Maido then sat there, quiet and alone, smoking and wondering, and looking out over the glistening waters at the beautiful sunset, until his eyes closed and his head nodded, and perchance he dreamed of the glories yet to befall the great and good house of Kanazawa. Presently a sliding partition softly opened and there stole to his side a little butterfly whose fairy-like steps did not awaken him and whose presence was unheeded until she cautiously whispered: “Heigh! my lord, my daimyo, am I welcome, that I come?” “Heigh! my wife, my Kakezara, I trust it may not be other than welcome now that you have chanced to come without Maido’s permission.” “Even so, my honourable master, I present you with a child, born erstwhile the seventh day.” “Then have you no better words than these? You know well my wishes. Seven wives have I married and do now give shelter within this splendid castle. To you, the last, is well known my wish, my hope, my command. It is well that you bow low, for if the word be spoken falsely, and speak you shall, then will I unsheathe the sword of Amanosakohoko and bury the tempered steel deep in your heaving breast. No, I will not so degrade you, but will sentence you to harakiri—a death and punishment more befitting your stupid self, for it is a great sin to disobey your lord and master. But speak the word, and truly, and I will raise up your blushing face and mete you the proudest and grandest within my gift. Speak as I command, Kakezara, and you shall be the choice of my heart, the queen of my household. All other wives shall be as servants and shall respond to your bidding. Of kimonos you shall have without number. Your chair shall be inlaid with mother-of-pearl and lacquered with pure gold from the mines of Sado. Sweets suited to your taste shall be made of the best and purest. Speak, O Kakezara, and you shall henceforth reign queen of Maido’s household.”

Title:Shibusawa: The Passing of Old JapanFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:September 15, 2019Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1465632425

ISBN - 13:9781465632425

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From the Author

Maido, the lord daimyo, came strolling, late one May day, along a pebbled pathway in his castle grounds at Kanazawa, and while doing so he caught a last glimpse of the great red sun as it slowly sank toward the western horizon. “What a glorious sunset!” said he to himself, as he halted and breathed deeply the sweetened air that floated by, lazily flagging the cherry and cypress trees standing here and there in the garden about him. He paused only a moment, and then slowly approached the family mansion, where he cast his sandals upon the flagstone and bounded upon the polished veranda with a vigour that bespoke a well-preserved age at fifty or more. Once in the house he quietly proceeded to the great chamber and softly clapped his hands, whereupon a servant noiselessly approached, bowed low, and held for his convenience a silken kimono, which he donned and folded in front. Having thus clad himself he turned his back upon Kimon (the Gate of Demons, or northwest comer of the room), crossed his toes under him, and squatted upon the soft, matted floor. A second call brought another servant who placed on the floor in front of him a lacquered brazier filled with live coals, a tobacco tray with tobacco, and a little metal pipe with a long bamboo stem. Maido then sat there, quiet and alone, smoking and wondering, and looking out over the glistening waters at the beautiful sunset, until his eyes closed and his head nodded, and perchance he dreamed of the glories yet to befall the great and good house of Kanazawa. Presently a sliding partition softly opened and there stole to his side a little butterfly whose fairy-like steps did not awaken him and whose presence was unheeded until she cautiously whispered: “Heigh! my lord, my daimyo, am I welcome, that I come?” “Heigh! my wife, my Kakezara, I trust it may not be other than welcome now that you have chanced to come without Maido’s permission.” “Even so, my honourable master, I present you with a child, born erstwhile the seventh day.” “Then have you no better words than these? You know well my wishes. Seven wives have I married and do now give shelter within this splendid castle. To you, the last, is well known my wish, my hope, my command. It is well that you bow low, for if the word be spoken falsely, and speak you shall, then will I unsheathe the sword of Amanosakohoko and bury the tempered steel deep in your heaving breast. No, I will not so degrade you, but will sentence you to harakiri—a death and punishment more befitting your stupid self, for it is a great sin to disobey your lord and master. But speak the word, and truly, and I will raise up your blushing face and mete you the proudest and grandest within my gift. Speak as I command, Kakezara, and you shall be the choice of my heart, the queen of my household. All other wives shall be as servants and shall respond to your bidding. Of kimonos you shall have without number. Your chair shall be inlaid with mother-of-pearl and lacquered with pure gold from the mines of Sado. Sweets suited to your taste shall be made of the best and purest. Speak, O Kakezara, and you shall henceforth reign queen of Maido’s household.”