Mother Earth

Volume 2: The Secrets of the Sacred Mountain

Chapter 5: Three Verities

      Kisaburo got in the Obata River sitting astride a cow. He thought of letting the cow bathe in the high noon of a midsummer day. But, by some chance or other, the cow got startled and threw him off its back. He splashed down to the sediment of the river and, taken by surprise, gulped a lot of water. When he dragged himself onto the riverbank, the cow was fleeing on the double. He wrung out his wet clothes and chased after the cow in a flurry. The dairy bovine went back to the corral as it pleased.

      "You brute! Don't make a fool of me," Kisaburo roared in a fit of anger. He hit it on the head, when its horn came off. The cow groaned as if in great pain and lowered its head to sleep. He had not a clue as to why he did a thing like this despite his usual loving care for it. He wondered if it was because he had been irritated by his father's sluggish recovery from illness.

      A young soft horn of about three centimetres (one inch) grew, covered in blood at the root of the broken horn. Kisaburo picked up the horn dropped on the ground, joined it to the root and bound it with a washcloth, but it came down again whenever the cow shook its head. He put his arms around its neck and apologised for its misery of having lost one horn.

      The single-horned cow was in the height of the milking season, giving the most milk than the other cows. Cows that produce a lot of milk after calving have the base of their horns thinned. So the larger the amount of milk they produced, the more easily their horns dropped. Cows may lose horns by bumping against board fences or pillars or by striking each other with horns. Horns grow from their base, and they are delicate in that the number of past calvings is identified by counting the number of horn nodes - namely, dents caused on horns by calving and milking.

      The number of Kisaburo's cows had increased to four or five as he made additional purchases of them. But the milking output plummeted due to the cow's sudden horn injury. Supply could not meet demand. Kisaburo rushed to buy expensive milk from other milk shops by bowing to them for help, added it to his own and delivered it. This outraged Shintaro, who spoke of Kisaburo in the lowest terms. Kisaburo could not make any reply no matter what his business associate said about him.

      The two calves born a year before had grown up to be the same size as their mother. But the calf born just this early summer cried hard for milk. It takes a calf three months to be weaned. Kisaburo made boiled rice porridge from the glutinous rice he bought and fed it to the calf every morning and evening. Still, the rice gruel could never replace milk. The calf grew thinner and pleaded to its master with a sorrowful look against an empty stomach. At night he often dreamed about being assaulted by the calf, springing out of bed each time.

      Unable to fall asleep, Kisaburo sat up in bed and clutched his head in his hands. One of the calf's two horns had been chipped and dropped on the ground, making him feel uneasy about the sinister hunch. He was perturbed to the point of being about to cry out. He wanted to pray to whatever higher being. He waited impatiently for dawn to come and went back to his parents' home. He gazed into his father's face. Kichimatsu was deep in sleep and would not wake up even when his son called him. He was snoring unusually loudly, though. He was haggard and pale as if he were not alive.

      Kisaburo sent telegrams of his father's critical condition to Masaichi, a brother of his who had been adopted into a family in central Kyoto, and to his kin and relatives in such places as Kameoka, Sonobe and Kawachi. He also dispatched Yoshimatsu to Saeki to call for the apprenticed third brother, Kokichi, at his master's house.

      "Kisa..." Kichimatsu apparently said in a faint voice.

      "Father," said Kisaburo, holding his father.

      But Kichimatsu stopped snoring and started breathing painfully. His breathing was soon gone, and his head dropped.

      "Mother..." Kisaburo called Yone quietly, as if not to disturb his father.

      Unaware of it, she was cooking for the kin and relatives gathering in the dirt floor. A grievous cry broke through Kisaburo's clenched teeth. By the time she ran to her husband, he had already breathed his last in his son's arms.

      Kichimatsu died on July 21, Meiji 30 (1897) at age 54. He was eternally released from his hard labour and anxieties of life.

      All the relatives and siblings gathered at the Uedas' after a long interval. The quiet and sorrowful funeral for Kichimatsu went by the book. It was only Yone who was apparently overcome with grief from the heart. Kisaburo lifted up the smiling Kimi, the youngest sister who just turned seven.

      "Your daddy is gone. Aren't you sad?" Kisaburo asked Kimi.

      "Why would I be sad?" replied Kimi nonchalantly. "I'm happy. Daddy is gone, so he can't give me any more fists..."

      Kisaburo got startled. He hurriedly looked around as if to cover her mouth. Yoshimatsu was giving a faint smile, somewhat disagreeably, Kokichi was dropping his eyes, and Yuki and Masaichi were turning their faces away from their father. The sight filled Kisaburo with gloom, forcing him to hold back his tears. He had countless memories of his father's blows delivered to him, but they had receded far into the mist of his consciousness. All that was going through his head at the moment was his father's unassuming yet clumsy love. ... Didn't the father's affection get through to my brothers or sisters...?

      Kichimatsu was a glutton, so to speak. That was probably natural for him because he engaged in strenuous labour, sparing no time from early morning until late at night. But alas, Kisaburo imagined how much his father had endured to restrain his appetite in a poor family like his.

      A "son-in-law" adopted into the Uedas — these words had an indelible impact on Kichimatsu throughout his married life. He had such a keen sense of duty that no matter what tantrum he threw at his kids, he never directed it towards his mother-in-law or his wife.

      Looking back, Kisaburo sensed a touch of cold aloofness in his mother's attitude towards her husband.

      Kichimatsu liked Japanese vermicelli called somen (“white thin wheat noodles”). Not indulging in drinking or smoking, he only enjoyed eating. Among all kinds of food, he especially had a weakness for somen.

      Kisaburo recollected his boyhood days. On one summer evening, his mother had boiled some somen. His father put it in a bamboo sieve to steep it in freshwater. He then came back with the cooled noodles, and his mother dished it out among the family members.

      "Why, looks like I got much less somen," Yone muttered.

      "I inadvertently let some slip...," Kichimatsu faltered.

      Indeed the somen was half gone. Yuki, aged five or six, started crying, giving a reproachful stare at only a few strands at the bottom of her bowl.

      "I know why," said Yuki. "Daddy ate it. I saw him slurping somen at the river."

      Kichimatsu fell silent. Feeling awkward, Yone did not say anything, either. While a chill came over the company, Kisaburo pacified the crying Yuki by dividing his somen out to her. Yoshimatsu stood up pouting and left the company. Never again did Yone ask her husband to cool somen in bamboo sieves at the river...

      It might have been a once in a lifetime awful lie told by the honest father. But, alas, it must have hurt his wife and children, nay, himself. He simply knelt on the riverside, grabbed some somen and avidly crammed it into his mouth — even without dipping it in somen soup.

      A vision of his father stuck in Kisaburo's heart time and again. In it he saw through the shadow between his father and mother. What a pathetic father! The breadwinner of the family, who had worked very hard like a farmer's ox all his life, was able to eat only a little of even his favourite food of somen sneakily...

      Kisaburo hated poverty. He hated it for having compelled his father to eat somen that way. At the same time he may even have hated his beautiful mother somewhere in his heart. The doctor and Yone had suppressed Kichimatsu's insatiable appetite until his last breath due to his stomach illness. And when he died, he was nothing but skin and bones.

      Kisaburo swore to himself with streaming eyes, I want to be a father loved by his wife and kids. I won't hit my kids. And I will not follow in my pathetic father's footsteps...

      The chief priest of the Kongoji Temple buried Kichimatsu's dead body in the Nishiyama Cemetery. A large weeping woman in a black kimono followed the lonely funeral procession to the cemetery. It was Koto Tada who had kept away from Kisaburo for a while since she dashed out of his home as she learned how he felt about her.

      Koto began to stay at the Uedas' again following Kichimatsu's funeral procession. But Kisaburo had no time for that. He had to repay his late father's debts as he was hounded by debt collectors. It renewed awareness of his responsibility for supporting his family as the eldest son. The circumstances would inevitably chain him to the land of Anao as the head of the poor household in the future. Yoshimatsu, the second son, would not quit gambling, and there were a number of family members, such as the elderly grandmother, mother and siblings, to feed.

      "I hear Kichimatsu-han lost his life because he cut branches of a muku Aphananthe oriental elm to the northeast [1] of his house," one villager rumoured.

      "The curse of ushitora. Kisaburo shouldn't have cut the branches of the elm," another villager agreed.

      The rumour eventually reached Kisaburo's ears. "To hell with the demon's gate in this day and age," he laughed it off. But it was actually weighing heavily on his mind.

      It was indeed true that Kichimatsu had taken a turn for the worse since the branches of the muku elm noisily fell to the ground as Kisaburo cut them. The elm tree in the ushitora direction and the Kyubei Pond in the hitsujisaru direction... Do the omote-kimon and the ura-kimon really curse people? He began to be anxious about the kimon stuff, which had been a long-pending question since he was a child. His ingrained curiosity was reasserting itself.

      Kisaburo carefully studied a magazine featuring Dr. Enryo Inoue's lectures on spectrology, after he had found it in a newspaper ad and ordered it from a publisher named Tokyo Tetsugakukan. Enryo Inoue was a son of the chief priest of Jikoji Temple, located at Ura Village, Mishima Country, Echigo (modern-day Niigata Prefecture). He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in Meiji 18 (1885), where he majored in philosophy and became the first Buddhist to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree. Convinced that the Oriental civilization resided in Buddhism, he founded the Tetsugakukan ("Private Academy of Philosophy"), the predecessor of modern-day Toyo University in Hongo, Tokyo, to strive for the philosophical understanding and dissemination of Oriental thoughts. He also established the Society for Mystery Studies in Meiji 24 (1891) to break down popular superstitions, and he was currently publishing the society's lecture transcripts.

      Kisaburo read page after page of Dr. Inoue's lectures with great expectations but could not be sold on his theory - except the passage that read: "Mystery studies are a gateway to true mysteries through encounters with tentative mysteries. Therefore, if you go forward in the direction of truth with these mystery studies as a guide, you will eventually be able to look up to the sun and moon radiating light of wisdom in your mind's heaven and see the moon of truth floating in the deepest recess of your mind's sea." Accordingly, Kisaburo decided not to be content with these lecture transcripts and instead treated them as a foothold for exploring deeper mysteries to be unravelled.

      Turning his eyes to other approaches, Kisaburo visited such religious groups as the Myorei Kyokai in Miyagawa and the Himorogi Kyokai in Gokencho, Kameoka to ask them questions. But none of their answers made sense to him. His quest for the truth had to continue.

      Kisaburo, who was in constant search of the truth between heaven and earth, decided that neither accessible religions nor philosophies could give him satisfactory answers. He started again to directly negotiate with the tutelary deity. Night after night in early autumn, he knelt down and touched his forehead on the cold stone pavement of Obata Shrine, and to top it off, he walked up the stairs of the worship hall and fretfully crawled on his knees to the deity for divine help.

      "Kami!," Kisaburo tried calling the attention of the Divine. "If you are there, could you please respond to me? Oh Kami, bless me with your teachings, your divine guidance!"

      On the midnight when the three-week term of his vow would end, Kisaburo was lying down on the ground in front of the shrine as he ran out of words to say after screaming himself hoarse praying. The chirping of insects trailed off, and the absolute stillness dominated all around him. Awoken by a voiceless voice, Kisaburo opened his eyes wide, gazing at a point in the dark.

      Gradually surfacing from the pitch-darkness were the next fluorescent characters:

  • Observe the true phenomena of heaven and earth, and you will see the substance of the true Kami.
  • Recognize the unerring functioning of all things, and you will see the energy of the true Kami.
  • Penetrate into the essential nature of living beings, and you will see the spirit of the true Kami.

      Each of these characters was shedding the light of wisdom on Kisaburo's benighted darkness. He felt something invisible and his 5-foot body melted together from inside and hotly united as one. Floods of tears ran down his cheeks. Is this what is called an ecstasy between dream and reality?

      "My Kami! I'm awed! Show me more truth," Kisaburo shouted with all his might.

      In quick response to his plea, the voice of the Kami smote his ears, saying, "The Three Verities are the Kami's revelations. Look around and observe heaven and earth well. And thou will know that the universe is filled with the three major elements of spirit, energy and substance. With this living scripture, recognize that the true Kami is what the true Kami is. Why do thou need to learn from man-made literature? What exists in the universe is only this immutable, practical truth."

      Darkness fell again. Kisaburo was ashamed of his childish act of brandishing half-baked logic in his dogged pursuit of the holy manifestation of the Kami. The logic was tantamount to none other than a statement by blind imitators of old-fashioned materialism. But now, he firmly grasped the true meaning kakurimi ("concealed identity") in Shinto scriptures.

      The four syllables of ka-ku-ri-mi are abbreviated to "kami", which means "having a subtle body", that is, "not having a physical body". The Kami, having no physical body, cannot be seen in the eyes of common mortals. If they were able to see the Kami, it would be a mere phantom, an effect of hallucination, or a morbid phenomenon caused by mental aberration.

      Before going to Sonobe, Kisaburo prostrated himself at Obata Shrine every night as if he were possessed. The villagers ridiculed him as a superstitious person. One night, he assuredly saw an extraordinary divine being on a white horse absorbed into the shrine. Concluding that it was a holy vision would be the first step for him to approach the true Kami.

      One would find a seed of enlightenment anytime, anywhere if one observed all things between heaven and earth with a pure heart that yearns to know about the Kami. Nature is a silent scripture, and the Kami urges one to "open the door of mystery with the key of the Three Verities."

      Then, were the fluorescent characters surfacing from the darkness my visual hallucinations? Was that voice my auditory hallucination? Weren't they characters and voice created out of my soul when it united with the Kami?

      Teachings are the words of the Divine dwelling in heaven and earth
                  Which go beyond the reach of human comprehension.

      Kisaburo muttered this poem to himself unconsciously.

      When he came to his senses, insects were chirping in a deafening chorus. He realised that he had forgotten to ask the name of the Kami who taught him the Three Verities.

      Kisaburo received the divine revelation of the Three Verities at Obata Shrine. But he was soon entangled in a new incident without the time to probe deeply into the verities.

      In the evening Kisaburo came back from home milk delivery, when Shintaro Murakami pressed him for his response to an urgent situation with a threatening look.

      "Ki...Kiraku, what are you going to do about this? Yoshimatsu took a cow away."

      "What? For real? Why didn't you stop him?"

      "How could an old man like me stop a reckless guy like him? You're his older brother. You have to take responsibility for it."

      "You got that right. He was born to be reckless. All right. Be right back."

      Kisaburo started running towards Kameoka.

      Yoshimatsu had been indulging all the more deeply in gambling since his father, the one he was most scared of, had passed away. He blatantly ran away with household effects of the Uedas and sold them to raise money for gambling. He even tried cashing in on the all-important cow.

      This is too far... a real mess. Darn it! Ueda Milking and Dairy Farm in Anao has my name in it, but it's actually a joint venture funded by three people. No excuse will work with the other two contributors. Actually, not just those two, but also lots of other good customers who look forward to our milk in the mornings and evenings. What should I do with the lean calf? I feel so miserable and sorry for myself I can't even shed a single tear...

      Kisaburo knocked on the door of every cattle dealer he could think of in Kameoka, but it was too late. Yoshimatsu had already sold the cow at a loss. Holding the neck of his beloved cow in chains, Kisaburo started repurchase negotiations with the cattle dealer, only to reach an impasse. He promised to pay the dealer a hefty commission to buy back the cow the following day before going out of the dealer's house as the night fell. He boiled with anger. He knew the whereabouts of his brother - the gambling house in Amarube. Major gambling houses in Amarube and Katagihara were adjacent to Kameoka and on the pilgrimage route to the Grand Shrines of Ise. There was a saying that went: "Everyone in Amarube gambles except the 'jizo' guardian statues."

      In those days, the big boss of gamblers in the Kansai region was a man named Kakutaro Yamamoto, who lived in the vicinity of the Minamiza kabuki theater in Kyoto. Lower-rank bosses under his hierarchy included Jimbei Tsuchioka in the Santan area (Kameoka, Sonobe, Ayabe, Fukichiyama and others), Fusajiro Hasegawa nicknamed Fusa-bon of the Iroha-gumi group of gamblers in the territory covering Nishijin, Shimabara and surrounding districts of Kyoto, Isaburo Masuda nicknamed Isami-yama in the territory covering Fushimi and surrounding districts, a certain Yamanaka in Sasayama, and a certain Ishida in Kita Kuwata. Jimbei Tsuchioka (his real name: Chisaburo) in the Santan area, born in Ansei 6 (1859) and aged 39, lived in Amarube (later moved to Yanagimachi) and had a large following in each place. It is said that in and around Kameoka, the nine senior members under Tsuchioka each had quite a few followers and divided the turf among themselves.

      The nine men under Tsuchioka were: a certain Oishi (who went by the name of "Tsuruwatari") in Teramura, Sannosuke Hatta ("Kankichi Kawachiya") in Anao, Kamekichi Tada ("Tadakame") in Nakamura, Shotaro Takeoka ("Shoroku") in Hiedano, Umakichi Teramoto ("Umako") in Hatago-machi, Manjiro Tsuchioka ("Man-san") in Nishitatsu-cho, Gennosuke Yata ("Yatagen") in Gofuku-machi, Sotaro Ueba ("Sota") in Kyo-machi, and Kyukichi Kawakatsu ("Tsukinuke-cho") in Tsukinuke-cho.

      Of the nine senior executives, the one who controlled Anao together with Tadakame was Sannosuke Hatta, also known as Kankichi Kawachiya. He was a rising 26-year-old hot-blooded "knight of the town". He was strong. In fact, he enjoyed a reputation, far and near, for his strength in sumo wrestling offered to local Shinto shrines. His father, San'emon, was also a knight of the town named "Santetsu".

      Kankichi took Tami Yagi, who lived in Kawazeki, Chiyokawa Village, as his de facto wife. He had her run a small inn named "Kawachiya" in front of the eastern gate of Anaoji Temple. Tami was tall, good-looking, and reliable. She was as young as 18 years old but was in a class of her own when it came to a verbal knack for attracting customers.

      The inn was very small no matter how many customers were cleverly lured into it. It consisted of three rooms, including the living room for the family, totaling a mere six tatami mats (approx. 1.7 sq.ft.). When they had a lot of customers, they changed the kitchen into a bedroom with quilts and mattresses borrowed from a neighboring inn named "Yorozuya", and they laid wooden boards next to the bathtub and slept there. When they had no customers, they did not heat a bath; instead, Tami took Kankichi and their newborn eldest son to Yorozuya for a bath. This may be an exemplary case of sound management without making any useless equipment investment.

      Gambling had flourished in Anao since olden times. The first week of the New Year witnessed a number of "knights of the town" in haori short coats with their forelocks parted pass through the northern gate of Anaoji Temple and enter in droves the noodle shop at the corner of the street to gamble. The owner of a rice cake shop in Nishi Honme had stayed at Yorozuya for a little over four months to gamble. When he lost, he bilked the inn charge of 40 yen and ran back to Nishi Honme. The room rate was 30 sen [2] for an overnight stay with breakfast, a boxed lunch, and supper. Yuta, the wife of the founder of Yorozuya, went to Nishi Honme to collect the debt from the rice-cake shop owner. All she got, though, was only fifty sen. Since this incident, Yorozuya had never ever received any gambling customer.

      It is said that gamblers gathered at cemeteries in the mountains and made fires there day and night to gamble. Occasional screams in the middle of the night were a sure sign that losers in gambling were being physically punished by other gamblers due to their inability to pay their debts.

      Kankichi Kawachiya opened his gambling house in Amarube, a major gambling place, in the autumn of 1898 (Meiji 28). Since then, young villagers in Anao had been lured into the gambling house one after another, day by day, as if a mouse stole a rice cake away, making their parents or siblings sad about their money or property taken out. They would not lend their ears to any remonstrances under the pretext of Kankichi the Boss. Remonstrators had to bear the silent treatment out of fear for possible retaliation from Kankichi if their remonstrances reached his ears.

      Yoshimatsu had been a regular at Kankichi's gambling house since its opening. He often carried out the household effects of the Uedas by coaxing his mother into acquiescence with such words as "give me five yen, or I'll be killed" or "a gambling friend is crying to me for money. I'll lose my honor if I don't help him." This time he undoubtedly took out the cow to make up for a gambling loss.

      Kisaburo stood still before a house which looked like a former store, and soothed his agitated heart. He felt obliged to take his brother home no matter what and remonstrate with him in place of his deceased father. He would also have to take back the money for the cow; otherwise, his milking and dairy farm business would reach an impasse. He opened the front door prayerfully. A petty underling with a piercing look on his face stood up and came near glaring at Kisaburo.

      "Hey, good evening," said Kisaburo. "Is my brother here?"

      "Who the hell are you?" replied the underling. "What are you here for?"

      "Don't you know my name? How stupid of you," Kisaburo chided. "I'm Yoshimatsu Ueda's older brother, Kiraku."

      "Ah! In Boss Tada's territory..." the underling responded.

      "H'm, well, Koto is one of my women..., so I'll go in."

      Seizing this opportunity, the underling began to act ingratiatingly. Meanwhile, Kisaburo took the fire hook hanging on the wall of the dirt floor and swept into the inner part of the house. He opened the sliding door of the room where he suspected that his brother was gambling. Some half-naked men seated in a circle were in the middle of gambling with dice. Kisaburo abruptly caught the kimono sash of his brother seated with his back to the catcher using the fire hook and dragged him hard. Yoshimatsu rolled on the tatami floor, letting out a strange cry. The men in the room stood up all at once.

      Kankichi the Boss roared, "Hey, Kiraku. What brings you here?"

      "As you see, I'm here to take back my brother. Do you have a bone to pick with me?" Kisaburo replied, throwing out his chest.

      "Huh, the nerve of you to come all by yourself to mess up my gambling place with a real man's reputation."

      "You're just exaggerating. I'm only saying I'm going to take back my brother, even if I have to drag him. Hey, Yoshimatsu, go ahead home leaving everything to me."

      Yoshimatsu sat up on the tatami floor and turned away pouting.

      Kankichi said in a deep, threatening voice, "I won't let you have him. He's gambling lavishly today. He's a great customer. Don't you ever think you can get out of here unscathed when you're ruining the dice game."

      Kisaburo was surrounded by several henchmen. A murderous atmosphere was approaching. It won't pay to have my arm broken by these bozos...

      "This is going to be awesome. You guys are trying to sell yourselves as 'real men'," Kisaburo said, his tone sarcastic. "And now you're ganging up on an honest man like me. Must be quite a spectacle. Not enough space here. You guys go out!"

      Kisaburo held the fire hook and made the underlings clear the way for him to get out to the street in front of the gambling house. The dark level street continued to Anao under a moonless sky. The moment he threw away the fire hook, he turned around and shouted at the top of his voice, "Murderers! Help!" Looking askance at the dumbfounded underlings, he ran away frantically under cover of darkness.

      Kisaburo rushed into his dairy farm and tightly barred the door. Then he held a muku ("Aphananthe aspera") stick.

      Suddenly the cows started making some noise, probably because they were frightened by the sign of human presence. The pursuers apparently gave up halfway through, and a great silence fell over the outside environment. However, they were not the type of guys who would let Kisaburo off the hook. They would surely come attacking him. Kisaburo shuddered at the tragic thought that this night would be the last chance to see his beloved cows. He flopped down into the long unmade bedquilt.

      Thinking what became of Yoshimatsu, Kisaburo was overcome with vexation, which then turned into misery, making him weep sad tears. He guessed some desperate quagmire Yoshimatsu was in had cornered him into selling his brother's cow at a loss just to gamble. Kisaburo agonized over his inability to give his brother even a single cow to financially support him. Kisaburo burst into sobs while wondering what excuse he would use to apologize to his customers for suspending the milk delivery from tomorrow on.

      Kisaburo marched into the gambling house in a fit of anger, only to drive himself and Yoshimatsu into a damning predicament.

      He heard someone knock on the door — they finally came.

      "Hey, Kiraku-san, I want to talk with you. Can you give me a moment?"

      That was the nasty voice of Kankichi. Kisaburo sensed the presence of four or five others. He held his breath, pulling the muku stick close to himself. The door rattled. He heard a few guys' footsteps going to the back of the dairy farm. A cold sweat slid down under his arms, depriving him of his nerve from inside.

      "Hey, get up," one guy shouted. "If you don't come out, I'll break down the door."

      Another cried, "You want me to set fire? Yeah, roasting Kiraku and his cows must be awesome."

      A fire hook violently ate into the front door. Out of the blue, a woman's voice followed, "Why, the boss of Kawachiya, what on earth are you doing here?"

      "Well, Koto-san...What can I do for you...?" said Kankichi, playing dumb.

      "Oh, come on," Koto replied. "You said 'What can I do for you?,' but this is actually my house. If there's something I can do for you, I'll be to your house."

      Kankichi said, "Well, it's nothing to trouble you about. Kiraku-han came messing up my gambling place, so I just want to thank him for that..."

      "A buddha in hell" (an oasis in the desert) — this was what Kisaburo felt about Koto's appearance. He found himself close to tears, hearing her reliable voice. He placed his last glimmer of hope on her and strained his ears.

      Koto said, "Oh, very funny...only my love and the cows are sleeping in the farm. You, the boss, have brought your underlings to make a raid on this dairy farm...? Impossible. People would laught at you."

      "I know what you mean," Kankichi replied, his tone defensive. "But Kiraku found fault with me, and I shouldn't let it go...."

      "Ho, ho, ho," Koto laughed it off. "Allow me to save your face. Why not go down to Kuwazakeya to have sake with me? Or me, the daughter of Tadakame, is worthy of a better role, you think?"

      "No, no, I was also in the mood for sake," Kankichi said, echoing her words. "Going for a drink with Koto-san...sounds great. Hey, you guys, go back first."

      The amorous glance Koto cast at Kankichi made him feel enervated in no time. They seemed to go to a bar that served kuwazake(sake brewed from mulberries) in Yoshikawa Village five or six cho (about 0.3 - 0.4 mile) down the road from the dairy farm. The whole area of Yagi was the home of the mulberry sake.

      Kankichi's men were retreating from the dairy farm, sputtering, "Pshaw! Ridiculous!"

      Kisaburo heaved a sigh of relief and eased the tension in his whole body. It drove home to him that he was powerless and cowardly. No matter how much the poor and the weak scrabble for a foothold to rise in the world, do they end up downtrodden and bullied by the rich and the strong to their hearts' content, only to bear their treatment silently? Am I also one of those toadies who do exactly as the strong say to survive after all? No, no way! What's the point in living for bread when you are fooled and drowntrodden? Kisaburo tossed and turned in bed.

      Footsteps were approaching in the middle of the night. Startled, Kisaburo gripped the muku stick.

      "Kiraku-han, are you still awake? It's me," said Koto.

      "Oh, Koto. I'll open the door right away," Kisaburo answered, lighting the lamp to let her in the farm quickly.

      "What did you do with Kawachiya?"

      "I drank him down pretty much and left him at the bar."

      "Thanks. You're the angel of the hour. I was shaking in fear."

      "Who wouldn't fear bad guys like them? Simply ignoring them is a smart move. But I..."

      "What?" Kisaburo said, his tone prompting her to continue further.

      "I really want to be recognized in the world as your wife," Koto sighed with a faint smell of sake, buring her face into Kisaburo's chest. "Please take me as your wife. I'll do anything and work hard."

      Kisaburo remained silent while holding Koto's fleshy and reliable back. He was wavering. Without academic qualifications, you'll be denied opportunities to be a government official or a member of the military. The study of Japanese classical literature, philosophy, the investigation into Japan's national polity, the outlook on the universe and other subjects are too lofty for a weak and tiny person like me to reach. At least to fight my way out of being downtrodden, I need to have the strength to vie with the rich and influential by risking my own life. The only solution is to become a "knight of the town" (gambler) and make a name for myself. Luckily or unluckily, my dead father can no longer feel sorry for my being a gangster.

      Koto raised her face and focused on Kisaburo with her tear-filled eyes, "Kiraku-han, don't you like me?"

      "Yeah, I sure do. I've made up my mind," Kisaburo said.

      "I'm so happy," Koto replied. "Are you going to have our wedding?"

      "That can wait," Kisaburo said. "I'll be a gangster. I'll stake my life on being a strong man...strong enough to beat them. I'll throw away the old Kiraku who'sa wimp and chicken. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to have training with your father to be a knight of the town. I'll be a Banzui-in Chobei [3] of the Meiji period to rout the Kawachiya scums because they bully rice farmers and make the weak cry. Only after that will come our wedding."

      "I'm so happy. I'll be a respectable and strong woman, too," Koto said.

      "You already are. No need to be stronger," Kisaburo replied, his tone puzzled.

      Kisaburo often saw Tada Kame in Nakamura Village between his dairy farming jobs. Seizing this opportunity, the old knight of the town began enthusiastically to instill into Kisaburo things Japanese gangsters need to know.

      Tada Kame said, "First I'll teach you how to grip the dice, how to play false dice, and how to develop a sharp eye for false dice. Well, okay, you should throw the this."

      "I can't take those dice," Kisaburo interrupted Tada Kame, pressing down his hand holding the dice pot. "I cannot gamble. It's my late father's will. Just a sight of those cubes gives me the hives."

      "You're a pain in the neck," Tada Kame grumbled. "But there're a few knights of the town who don't play dice, though."

      "I want to be a strong fighter. I'm going to be a man of chivalry who puts his life on the line, helping the weak and crushing the strong, in the world of Japanese gangsters..."

      "You'd best first travel around the world to train yourself in being worldly wise. Go rely on each of the famous bosses for sheltering and food. And down the road you'll encounter daredevil gang warfare with gang obligations entangled..."

      "Oh, no way. I have my own farm. I can't be a traveler."

      "Hmm, no choice. Well then, first about how to make formal greetings customary among gangsters. Gangsters' greetings need to follow certain ways and rituals. Poor greetings are against good manners, and you can't complain even if you're killed because of that. Keep this in mind. First offer a new hand towel like this. Next stoop lower...draw in your butt's not like squatting over a squatting-type toilet."

      Tada Kame checked Kisaburo's every move so that he could make gangster greetings.

      "It is a great honour for me to be given this opportunity to greet you," Tada Kame showed an example to Kisaburo. "Allow me to introduce myself in this sacred space under the eaves. I was born in Tamba. Tamba is a large area as people say...hey, try what I did."

      Kisaburo rolled his tongue to copy the gangster greeting smoothly.

      "You memorized the lines only at one time," Tada Kame said surprised. "Then, next repeat this after me: 'Mysterious connections have led me to be a relative of my boss, Kamekichi Tada, in Nakamura Village. I'm only a mean fellow...'"

      "'A mean fellow' is absurd," Kisaburo complained.

      "Don't waste your breath, you jerk," Tada Kame retorted.

      "Gangsters always follow the same greeting style, and it hasn't really been changed since the Kojinyama incident," Kisaburo said. "Is it okay if I use the Anao-style greeting?"

      "What's it like?" Tada Kame asked.

      "My hometown is Anao, Tamba," Kisaburo started off. "I make the best udon noodles in the world. I'm a refined man nicknamed 'Ankanbo-Kiraku' as a relative of the great boss Tada Kame. Let us be good neighbors."

      Tada Kame shouted, "Nothing intimidating, you idiot!"

      The topic of their conversation shifted to how to prepare oneself as a knight of the town.

      "What it takes to be a knight of the town is, one, iron nerve, two, iron nerve, three, iron nerve, and four, quick wit," said Tada Kame. "If you want to make your name as a knight of the town, you need the guts to let other guys break your head or rip your arm off. Otherwise, you wouldn't become the real thing. Just give your life to square off against your enemies, and they'll run away, even hundreds of them."

      Then, Tada Kame gave Kisaburo a reminder in a menacing voice.

      "I have a large following, but none of them are great enough to succeed me. I'm going to adopt you as Koto's husband and groom you as my successor. So train yourself hard to make an excellent knight of the town."

      "Well, about my adoption...," said Kisaburo.

      "What? Aren't you happy to become my son?" Tada Kame retorted. "I've kept quiet about your seeing my only daughter for a reason. Don't tell me you are just playing with her out of a passing whim."

      It brought back the bitter memories of Kisaburo's marriage with Shigeno [4]. He thought he knew everything about her, but once she assumed the marital throne, she changed into a different woman he would never dream of. Who could say Koto would not change like that? Besides, Kisaburo was afraid of his own fickle temperament.

      On the spur of the moment, Kisaburo responded to Tada Kame with the quick wit he learned from his master just now, saying, "I'm not playing with Koto. But, if I get married and succeed you as a new boss now, your followers will say I've shot to bossdom thanks to nothing but the prestige of my father-in-law or my wife. I don't want it to happen. I want to win fame as Kiraku Ueda from scratch, on my own, with my iron nerve. After I become a true boss with an established reputation, then and only then, I will proudly take Koto as my wife. Could you wait till then?

      "No wonder Koto has confidence in you," groaned Tada Kame. "She's right about that. Okay, I'll pick up your ashes, so just risk your life to try everything you want, in disregard of Koto."

      It was October 19, a clear deep autumn day. In the interval of delivering milk to his customers, Kisaburo came back to help his mother cut rice plants . An old bent-over woman entered the rice field with tottering steps.It was Kono, the mother of Jiromatsu and a relative of the Uedas.

      "Kisa-yan, we're in big trouble.Hurry, come with me," Kono said.

      "What's wrong? You look pale," Kisaburo replied.

      Kono did nothing but nag Kisaburo whenever she grabbed him, but this time, she pleaded with imploring eyes.

      "Kawachiya is mocking my son, Matsu," Kono explained. "He says he will stuff Matsu in a straw bag to throw him away in the Jigoku River if my son can't pay two hundred ryo [5]. Rescue him, please. Hurry, hurry..."

      Jigoku gawa is a crrek which going the Inukai river flowing from Chozuka mountain to the side of Amakawa Village. Kisaburo said, "Hum! I thought he would come." KIsaburo penetrated into Kawachiya's inner motive. Only the other day, Jiromatsu had confessed to him, turning pale.

      A dancing mistress of mature age named O-Tama, about forty years old, had lived in rural retirement from Osaka in Anao Village. Jiromatsu, being a widower, fifty-two years old, made love to her against his better judgment. He lost control of himself concerning women, moreover was suffering from the gonorrhea.

      But, a man unexpectedly appeared before him. The man, the boss Kankichi Kawachiya, said in a deep voice, "Hey, what do you doing with my wife?" Jiromatsu was very surprised at his appearance and flew apart from her, "Oh, oh. Is she your wife?" "Sure. Take responsibility for your soiled acts!" Jiromatsu was frightened and cried, "Is your wife certainly Tami-san?" Kankichi Kawachiya said, "How are we to deal with this soiled affairs that you flung mud at me?"

      Kankichi attached Jiromatsu who tried to run away. Jiromatsu, after being knocked down hard, ran back home and pulled the bedspread over his head trembling for fear. His face went ashen. Just at this time, Chokichi, a man short in stature and twenty five years old, looks only fifteen or sixteen years old. Chokichi said, "You have very hard trouble, now. If Kawachiya gets angry with you, you will certainly be killed. I feel sympathy for you. If you rely on me, I'm going to mediate between you and the boss to settle the trouble." Jiromatsu supplicated him with joined hands, "I rely on you. I feel myself indebted to you." Chokichi said, "But, you ought to present him a hundred ryo at the very least as your apology for him." Jiromatsu cried loudly, "Oh, no! How cruel!" Chokichi said, "Think that you exchange your life for money. It is very cheap." Jiromatsu who was a stingy fellow by nature, deposited with Chokichi fifty yen that he had scratched together with a sensation of excruciating pain and complaining of misfortune.

      Kisaburo heard of the occurrence from Jiromatsu. He also heard the rumor that one young man was charmed by Tama and was plucked of a great deal of money by the same trick by Kankichi. In a word, it was the badger game.

      Kisaburo guessed that Chokichi Ueda caused a rupture of negotiations with Kankichi. Kono, Jiromatsu's mother cried loudly, "Hey, Kisa-yan, hurry up to help my son, Matsu. He will soon be killed by Kankichi if you can't go between my son and Kankichi." Yone, Kisaburo's mother, desperately signaled with her eyes for him not to go. If the result is another rupture of negotiations, Kisaburo will certainly be thrown into the Jigoku river together with Jiromatsu.

      The old woman, O-Ko (Kono), with her white hair shaken loose tried to threaten Kisaburo who hesitated to act, "You aren't going to help your relative who will soon be killed. Heartless! Remember that I have lent your family twenty yen. Pay your debt to me at once. Hey, now pay back this fellow! If you fail us in your need, you shall have some trouble." Yone, Kisaburo's mother interrupted them, racked with anxiety, "You are confused between the money and this affair. Please, don't deal with such an outrageous fellow, I am very anxious that Kisaburo will be seriously injured by him." Kono cried loudly, "You allow that outlaw to kill me and my son, do ou? Well okay, I'm going to circulate the story that Kisaburo ran away out of fear of Kankichi, failing his relative in the village."

      Kisaburo was settled in his resolution. He had been able to obtain the chance of training by Kame Tada in the chivalrous spirit. He decided to try helping Jiromatsu through engaging in a mortal fight. Kisaburo said to his mother, Yone, beside the old woman, O-Ko (Kono) speaking daggers to her, "Mother, I will just go and see how Jiromatsu is."

      Kisaburo was walking out throwing away a grain sickle. Kono clung to his wrist crying loudly, "Don't so! Wait, wait!"

      Kisaburo and Kono entered the back room of Jiromatsu's house passing through two hedges with the spider webs. The angry threatening voice of Kawachiya tingled their eardrums. Peeping through the fusuma (the sliding door) in the room, Kankichi was seen sitting back on the wooden foot of the room attracting obliquely the gangsters' gaze from outside the door of the house. Jiromatsu was prostrating himself before Kankichi, and three petty underlings in the unfloored part of the house. There were a lot of people in front of Jiromatsu's house, though it was the farmers' busy season. They hated Kankichi, but were interested in the victim Jiromatsu who had spread scandal about persons blending truth with fiction.

      According to Onmyodo, the Top of the Star called Hagunsei (to break the forces formed a sword and is putted the seven stars of the Great Dipper) is said to suggest unfortunate places and occurrences, I hear. If Kankichi sits down in front of the oblong brazier in back of Jiromatsu, the point of the sword points to Kankichi and his followers. Kisaburo clenched his teeth to keep from trembling in fear. Hoping to make a good gesture to build up his reputation, he tried to put on a heavy quilt in the shape of a kimono patterned the well curbs design (a particular kind of traditional raised pattern called Izutsu Moyou). Kisaburo stepped up to the oblong brazier taking the attitude of an actor at his first appearance on the stage.

      One of the audience called, "Kisa-yan! Stick to it!" Another cried, "Hey, Kiraku-han, cheer up!" There was a general stir in the audience turning their heated eyes.

      Kisaburo cried loudly, "Hey, Mr. Kankichi, Omy boss, Kankichi! What are you doing gathering a lot of your followers for such faint old man? I'd like to listen what you say instead of JIromatsu, repeating your words to this Kiraku." Kankichi roared as a big bear displaying his brutality, "Ki...Kiraku, you were going to interrupt us again. This dirty old man flung mud at my face to make a pass at my wife. I must throw this old man into Jigoku river to satisfy myself. If you want to say anything, moreover, you too will go into this river!"

      Jiromatsu cried out with tears in his voice clinging to Kisaburo's waist, "Kiraku-han, please tell him that I will deliver the boss, Kankichi, fifty yen!" Kankichi roared, "Hold your tongue! Only twenty five yen to me! It is not possible to get out of it by accepting such paltry sum of money. Hey, old man, I'm not a man to be made a fool of."

      Just then, Chokichi entered the house being pushed on his back by his elder brother, Usokatsu. Katsukchi Ueda who calls himself Usokatsu, has influence with the young men in the village, and has a different character from Chokichi's. He is skillful in lying, known by the name of Usokatsu (this means that telling a lie is effective profit in Japanese). He rather feels honorable, being so criticized, Usokatsu's grandfather, called Usotsuru, also boasted of telling lies. He always made the introductory remark: I can't tell a lie as a lie.

      He lived in a lonely place on the way from Kameoka Village to Anao Village called "Under a pine tree," where an old cherry tree and a pine tree embraced each other. His isolated house is similar to a pigsty. There are twenty straw bags of five to (a to equal 18.39 liter) full of ricehulls in the narrow garden in Usotsuru's house. Finding a rich person, Usotsuru attracted him or her into his garden to show these straw bags, and said, "See these straw bags full of rice, totalling ten koku (a koku equals 180 liter). I'm going to wait the chance to excite high bidding. Hey, loan me a small amount on my rie." He skillfully obtained a large sum of money.

      If one was so absentminded as to touch Usotsuru's straw rice-bag, he said, "I see you touched it. Give me three three hundred yen as the penalty." Finally, Usotsuru planted small branches of holley tree around the straw rice-bags as a defense against rats.

      Usokatsu and Chokichi who were blood relatives to Usotsuru, and are very skillful liars. Never the less, they were liked by the villagers for some unknown reason.They are out of the chartered lias family.

      Jiromatsu began to cry in a tremulous voice, seizing Chokichi by the lapels, "Hey, Choki (Chokichi), where do you hide my money? I deposited fifty yen with you.Are you hiding half my money, twenty-five yen? Chokichi also trembled and began to weep and said,"I don't tell a lie. I delivered your money to O-Tama-han" Jiromatsu talked back, "It can't be that O-Tama tells a lie, I believe. You fool!" Hereupon Chokichi sank suddenly into silence, and smiled mysteriously through his tears. Kisaburo said in slow tone. "Maybe both Chokichi and O-Tama-han told a lie about the money of Jiromatsu." Kankichi said ridiculously, "It's sure that Choki of the liars faimily of Usokatsu told a lie!" And, squaring his shoulders, Usokatsu advanced to Kankichi walking with the sidewise crawl of a crab.

      Usokatsu said, "Let me say to you, O-Tama is a great liar. Choki confessed everything. O-Tama said leaning coquettishly against Chokichi, 'If you give me secretly a half of your money, fifty yen, I'm trying to be interested in everything with you,' I hear. When petticoats woo, breeks may come speed..., and Choki raised himself in the estimation of the world. Namely, a half of Jiromatsu's money went to the boss, and other half to the pocket of O-Tama. Hey, Chokichi, it's true." The onlookers exploded with laughter. Kankichi and his followers stood vacantly a moment. Kisaburo quickly caught Chokichi who tried to run away. Kankichi had a rush of blood to the head. With his face all aglow he grasped Chokichi by the scruff of his neck like a small rat. Kankichi roared, "Hey, deliver that man Chokichi to me, to throw that fellow into Ji...Jigoku river."

      Hereupon, it was Kisaburo's turn. Kisaburo said, "Just a moment, Mr. Kawachiya. Hearing your story, it's very strange. A woman named O-Tama, whom I heard the wife of the chivalrous spirit, is shameless. Her method of obtaining money is a trick. Her acts have been tried not only on Jiromatsu and Choki, but others, I guess so. Maybe, her affairs don't bear scrutiny. I think that the boss, Kawachiya, building up the reputation of chivalry now, has known nothing about her acts. I never think it possible that you would make a cat's-paw of a woman to get money with such a dirty trick. Anyway, it is a point of honor with you to deny the rumor, and certainly for the honor of our village. These affairs cause dirty names."

      Usokatsu immediately played up to Kisaburo, "It is true what Kiraku-han said. This is a one-man stage play of O-Tama-han. If this affair reached my boss, Fusa-bon of Iroha club in Shimabara area and the boss, Jinbei concerning you, Kawachiya, it will bring disgrace upon their family. Possibly, there might be something unexpected happening over there between them." Kankichi turned pale, after being flushed. Kankichi said, glaring at his followers, "I'm falsely accused of the badger game, surely. That's a misunderstanding on your part. I don't remember soliciting money from a person using a woman as a tool. Who! Who told Jiromatsu-han to offer the money?" His followers were surprised at the strange atmosphere and mumbled out reproachfully, "Oh, no, no..., we have no remembrance of having said so." Kankichi showed his true color forgetting to speak with a trill in the Edo style and said, "I've a lot of followers, among whom some committed bad acts forgetting my love. It is true that the mouth is the gate of misfortune. I'm going to bring myself to pass the sponge over the offense after hearing his apology." Jiromatsu shouted desperately, creeping on hands and knees. "Great boss, Kawachiya, please excuse me. I ought to know better at my time of life, sorry, I'm sorry!" Following Jiromatsu, Chokichi begged Kankichi's forgiveness with bended knees and head bowed to the floor. Kankichi said, "Okay, I understand what you said. But I lost my honor because an outsider, Kiraku-han, interfered into our problems. The accounts will be settled another day." Kisaburo said, "Well, thank you. Let's hold a reconciliation party. Hey, Jiromatsu-han, give us fifteen yen. Adding to the boss, Kawachiya's fifteen yen, we will hold the dinner party tomorrow evening." Kisaburo's idea is very good for Kankichi Kawachiya who was seeking the time to put an end to the affair. Kankichi gave a ready consent to Kisaburo. Jiromatsu looked refreshed.

      In the wide Kameoka are obtained thirteen areas of town
                  No harlots have deigned to acknowledge their lives.

      There is a popular song in Kameoka-cho even now. All harlots, even geishas and parlormaids fled from Kyoto. All they can do is play the samisen drawing a sash (used for holding up tucked sleeves) which tied a samisen to their guests in the room. It is said that they can love anybody to gain money, and pick up money with their thighs and as called 'the carpenter's pincers'. There were from thirty to forty pincers in some inns in Anao Village.

      On October 20, in the evening, Kisaburo, Jiromatsu, and Chokichi stood in front of the entrance of a small inn named Shogatsuya (New Year Inn), in Gofuku-cho in which a geisha named Ai who was one of Kankichi's sweethearts, served. Kisaburo asked a geisha, "I'm Kiraku Ueda in Anao Village. Kawachiya-han coming in?" The geisha answered with a cold smile on her lips, "Oh! You're Kiraku-han. The boss has already come in with his followers from about the noon." She is Ai. Kisaburo and others stepped to the room upstairs. Five or six dishes of the meal were already set on the zen (very small dining table) and the light of lamp was reflected upon the water of the basin for wine cups. Kankichi's group consisted of six members who fell into a truculent mood. It is sure that Kankichi was unwilling to attend the party. It is easy to change a party to a fighting scene by mere chance.

      Kankichi first greeted Kisaburo and others with a sharp tongue, "Kiraku-han, thank you for coming all that way. You are very good. But, people asked you to help, bowing low because they were in trouble, and forgot you at once after the trouble ended. It is more benefit for you to be moderate in taking an interest in others." Kisaburo answered, "Kawachiya-han, I am already in this affair with both feet, because anyhow, Jiromatsu was a relative of my family." Kankichi said, "Oh, well, I see. You were under indebtedness to him having a loan of money and concerning others, I hear. I know what you are about, okay? In spite of the appearance to the contrary, this Kawachiya, is a man of honor, considerate and sympathetic. Would you hold me dear even a little? Kankichi intended to cut an attitude, but contrary to his intent, produced an empty atmosphere in the room. Next, Kankichi faced about to Jiromatsu, "Hey, Jiromatsu, you have been jolly with my love, O-Tama, I hear. You ought to take care of her without deserting her in future. I am a man of honor. I don't regret giving up a girl at whom you made a pass, surely it is." Jiromatsu often cringed to Kankichi being lost to all sense of decency.

      Kankichi Kawachiya caught Chokichi who was unable to raise his face and tried to be cruel to him picking with the needle of the hated words. He continued to say, "It's all your fault that this little matter has become complicated. How cheeky you are to come to attend the party!" Kisaburo sat up straight to keep Kankichi in his place, "Kawachiya-han, we have expressly visited you at this place to hear that you clearly wanted to become reconciled with us in a manly manner. Do you also want to display O-Tama's affairs to the public again?" If he broke the kind reconciliation party by himself, Kankichi would be in a different situation as the boss, Tada Kame, behind Kisaburo, would inform the boss of Kankichi, Jimbei Tsuchioka. Kankichi suddenly forced a smile and said, "Oh, it's my fault. I bothered Kiraku-han being in a bad humor. Okay, I'm going to exchange cups of sake with you for reconciliation." Kisaburo said, "First, I want you to remember that I am an utterly inexperienced person. I don't know the manner of exchanged cups in the chivalrous spirit. Would you please excuse me if I behave discourteously to you." Kankichi said, "I see. After exchanging the cups with each other, we have become brothers. Hey, Yosa, fill a cup of Kiraku-han with sake at once, please." Kankichi's follower, Yosa filled Kisaburo's cup shaped in the floral pattern of a morning glory with sake. Kisaburo emptied the cup at a draft and delivered it to Kankichi. He accepted it saying in the vacant voice, "Oh, okay." Yosa tried to fill the cup, but Kankichi raised the cup above his eyes to show his displeasure. Kankichi pretended to empty the cup and offered it to Jiromatsu.

      Kankichi said, "Come now, lady killer Matsu-san, please drink enough in my dept." And Jiromatsu carried himself on his knees close at Kankichi and offered the empty cup with both hands. Kankichi suddenly snatched a tokkuri (liquor bottle) from Yosa's hand. Kankichi raised a queer voice, "Oh, no thank you. O-oh, scattered, scattered, oh--" Kankichi, crying this, threw out the sake of the tokkuri on Jiromatsu's knee ignoring Jiromatsu giving a cry. Kankichi laughed loudly, "You seem not to like much my cup because I have poured it all out." Jiromatsu said in a hurry, "What a thing to say! Impious! It is very good sake." Jiromatsu again and again licked his hands touch spilled sake on his knees and the tatami. The host and guests, nine men felt the same anxiety as if crossing a dangerous log bridge over a deep valley.

      After Chokichi finished urinating downstairs, the sake hurriedly came upon him. He became more interested in the room downstairs where lovely Ai and two geisha waited to serve everybody in bed were sitting down around a Naga-hibachi (an oblong brazier). Chokichi impudently entered her room. Chokichi said, "Hey, pretty girls, why not come to serve us?" Ai looked aside in a huff and said, "Bless, gods! I'd like to visit Kiraku to serve him, but I am unable to do it because I am praying to gods and more importantly, his service fee is only five yen to ten yen for their meals, pshaw!" Chokichi replied, "Only five yen, you say now. Don't have the impudence to say such a thing! Jiromatsu offered fifteen yen, Kawachiya, also fifteen yen, totalling thrity yen fro the reconciliation party, not to ask victory or defeat from each other, I hear." Ai said, "Foolish! Because the fellow, Kiraku asked the boss, Kawachiya for mercy." Chokichi cried out, "Hey you! Who said such a thing? One man, the boss of a self-appointed magistrate, Kawachiya, and the other, an owner of a milk maker, Ankanbo-Kiraku. If the affair is being settled without victory or defeat, it means that Kawachiya is routed, I truly think so. But, these meals are very poor compared with rate of the party, thirty yen. Suppose we visited Kuwazakeya in Yoshikawa area, we would enjoy more and more costing only five yen." Chattering Chokichi wagged his tongue according to his drunkenness.

      Turning pale, Ai went upstairs. She called out to Kawachiya, "My master, look here." After standing chatting together her in the another room, he went downstairs. The instant Kawachiya found Chokichi, he seized him by the scruff of his neck and threw Chokichi out of the room. Kawachiya shouted, "Hey, Chokichi, this affair occurred only because of you. What are you doing here while I and Kiraku-han are sitting upstairs? You ruined the sacred ceremony's party and spit on the face of a 'knight of the town', this fellow!" From the moment Kawachiya shouted, he kicked Chokichi's head and waist. Hearing the roar and the tearful voice, Kisaburo ran downstairs and said to Kawachiya, "We have exchanged the cup of the reconciliation party. No problem concerning Chokichi who wanted to go anywhere. Tell me what you want if you have a problem with us. I will keep Chokichi until tomorrow morning since Chokichi's parents and brothers asked. Not to Chokichi! But make a complaint about everything to this Kiraku!" Kankichi Kawachiya said calmly, "Okay. I excuse Chokichi out of consideration for Kiraku's feelings only this evening." Chokichi defended himself sniffling, "I'm sorry, boss. I didn't mean what I said. Downstairs, a maid said to me that it is impossible to serve us the meals of the rate of ten yen for only five yen payment. And I said to her it is not true, we paid thirty yen to this inn." Kankichi Kawachiya shouted, "Hold your tongue, fool! Run away at once!"

      Kawachiya said to Kiraku and Jiromatsu, "Would you please drink sake until daylight to regain your temper? I have made an arrangement for your dinner, the first meal of ten yen and the second meal of twenty yen. But, I'm sorry that Chokichi was unable to understand it. I'm going to have a few geishas for a spree." Kisaburo decided to withdraw from the place, "No thank you. I ought to wake up early morning tomorrow to deliver milk to my customers. Please enjoy fully the second meal including our meals with your followers."

      Feeling he escaped the jaws of death, Kisaburo retired from Shogatsuya with two persons. He was very anxious about possibly being attacked by Kankichi's fellows who could be lying in wait for him. Kisaburo struggled for freedom as quickly as possible, but Jiromatsu and Chokichi continued to walk slowly being beasty drunk.

      This time, on September 25th of the old calendar, the moon had risen to the edge of eastern sky close to the shadow of the mountain. But the view of whole sky was covered with clouds and even the moonlight could not be seen. They soon came to Matsunoshita (under a pine tree) ara where Chokichi's uncle, Usotsuru lived. A few shadows of persons suddenly appeared behind the grand tree at the base of the Sangen mountain. Kisaburo ran up the slope of the mountain shouting, "Matsu, Chokichi, run away!"

      Jiromatsu, being flurried, was kicked by a fellow and rolled down into the muddy rice field. All the fellows focused on Chokichi. He uttered a loud shriek. Suddenly, a few pieces of trees and stones were thrown at the rough fellows from the darkness of the mid-slope of the mountain. Each fellow screamed, "Who?" "Who are you?" Kisaburo shouted for joy and threw stones at the fellows at random.

      The attacking members ran away striving to be the foremost, seeming to fear the new unseen enemy. One shouted, "Hi, hi, hittsu! Do you feel my vengeance?" The unexpected ally was Chokichi's elder brother, Usokatsu. He caught Kankichi's plan to attack Kisaburo and others waiting at this place, and baffled Kankichi's design. Chokichi was helped up, fortunately he had gotten only a few bloodless bumps. Jiromatsu called helplessly in a pitiful voice from the muddy rice field. He crawled up from the field by himself, covered with the mud.

      It came to an end on this date. But Kankichi and his followers have always regarded Kisaburo with enmity. On the other side, villagers flattered him and rumored, "No one but Kiraku-han can arbitrate a quarrel." Kisaburo constituted himself the other's arbitration of the quarrel. The helped persons loved and approached him saying "Kiraku-han, Kiraku-han!" As the result he had volunteered to make peace between parties quarrelling with rough fellows, he was beaten up eight times. Kisaburo thought about himself while being under a pelting rain of knocks and blows, "All okay. No problem. I will be allowed to get to sleep tonight, if I hurt the other. I always wrestle naked with fellows with only one belt fulfilled with pebbles, without hurts and pains because my power. As to be with all my strength, i will feel no pain however hard I may be beaten up."

      Kisaburo resigned himself to a rough fellow's will concentrating his power on his whole body, from the tip of the finger to the top of the head. Just before he overpasses his strength, thinking he is done for, someone suddenly appeared to put his enemy to rout or arbitrate the quarrel for him. The year, 1897 (Meiji 30), has come to an end while Kisaburo was absorbed in training himself in the affairs of quarrels in the chivalrous spirit besides being engaged in the stockfarming, milking, delivery of milk, and agriculture.

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[1]^The direction of northeast, or ushitora, and the direction of southwest, or hitsujisaru, were superstitiously believed to be unlucky due to their association with the much-feared Konjin ("Metal-deity"). Konjin was said to be most powerful when residing at the two "demon's gates" (kimon) — one in the northeast was called omoto-kimon ("front demon's gate"), and the other in the southwest, ura-kimon ("back demon's gate").
[2]^A unit of Japanese currency, equal to one hundredth of a yen.
[3]^A well-known "knight of the town" (1622-1657) in the Edo period.
[4]^Shigeno Saito, the third adopted daughter of Kamejiro Saito, had 100 days' married life with Kisaburo. For some unknown reason, they did not have their marriage registered.
[5]^A gold currency unit from the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji era. Ryo was eventually replaced by a yen-based monetary system.


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