Can a feudal era General and famed military strategist act as a modern day Cupid?
Episode Three: Winter sets in.
A few weeks after the parade described in the previous episode, I discussed with the Tonbo Group’s leader Mr. Shindo the possibility of incorporating Masayo to act as Lord Yoshitsune in future events. This was especially significant in that the next scheduled event we would participate in, during April 2015, would be the Yoshitsune Festival, held in the Koshigoe District of Kamakura. The parade starts at Ryuukouji Temple and ends at Manpukuji Temple, where Yoshitsune and Benkei stayed while awaiting permission from Lord Yoritomo (Lord Yoshitsune’s elder brother) to enter Kamakura proper back in 1185, and the famous “Koshigoe Letter” was drafted. (I didn’t mention the part about being a good excuse to see Masayo) He agreed. However, in Mr. Shindo’s opinion my spare suit of armor was much too plain for the role of Lord Yoshitsune, so I ended up having to borrow a much nicer suit of armor. Remember how I was scouted for the role of Benkei by the founding member of the Tonbo Group, Kamakura City Council Member Mr. Matsunaka? Well, he had a couple fine suits of armor, so I asked to borrow one for Masayo to wear in future parades. I was elated. So the next time I saw Masayo, we discussed the Yoshitsune Festival and she agreed to take on the Lord Yoshitsune role.
(This is a picture of my friend Zach fitted out in Benkei kit and marching in Yamato city. I couldn’t stay for the entire event, so I asked Zach to take my place instead. The general resplendent in gold and standing next to Benkei is none other than the Tonbo Group leader, Mr. Shindo.)
(This is picture of my Tonbo Group debut, way back in 2010. The other samurai warrior is Mr. Matsunaka. The armor I am wearing in this picture was crafted by the first person to portray Benkei for the group, and this set of armor is now my spare. For the Yoshitsune Festival, Masayo would be borrowing the resplendent suit of armor worn by Mr. Matsunaka in this photo. When viewed together like this, one can plainly see the difference between the two.)
But then, in January of 2015, something happened. You see, things had been going swimmingly with Masayo up until then. I invited Masayo to a lot of Christmas season social functions associated with the philanthropic organization both Yohsuke and I belonged to. I kept falling deeper and deeper in love with Masayo, but wasn’t sure if the feeling was mutual. In late January, I decided I needed to find out. Faint heart never won fair lady, after all. For her birthday, therefore, I went all out. Nice dinner in a fancy restaurant, a large flower bouquet, birthday present, pretty much a full broadside. Driving her home afterwards, I confessed my feelings for her.
Allow me to digress a moment. In modern Japanese culture, this “confession” is a HUGE deal. Here, a kokuhaku (voluntary confession) isn’t just what one does after getting arrested by the police and the evidence against one is so damning one might as well plead guilty and throw oneself on the mercy of the courts to plead extenuating circumstances and seek mitigation, In Japan, when one expresses his or her romantic feelings towards another, this too is called a kokuhaku and is the universally acknowledged starting point for any romantic relationship. Only after this kokuhaku is expressed and received favorably can any relationship progress to the dating stage. Therefore, kokuhaku is the subject of an endless myriad of sappy songs, movies, TV dramas, etc and so forth.
So, how did my confession go? Like the proverbial lead balloon. I can’t say I blamed her. After all, not only have I never been considered God’s gift to womankind, but I was 18 years older, divorced, etc. How could I expect to have a vivacious young lady like Masayo to fall for me?
So, instead of the early spring* I had hoped for, the long winter months set in.
• Spring – during the Edo period, or at least in TV serials set during the Edo period, whenever a young man becomes romantically involved with a young lady, it is remarked “spring has come for him.”
Once again, the key things I would like you to continue to remember:
Location: Zendouji Temple, Tarui town, Gifu Prefecture. Family temple for the Takenaka family.
General Hanbei Takenaka, famous Sengoku period military strategist.
Benkei, famous Kamakura period warrior monk.
Lord Yoshitsune Minamoto, famous Kamakura period warlord and brilliant military tactician, Benkei’s chosen liege.
Modern day persons:
Yohsuke Takenaka, General Hanbei’s direct descendant
Bill Young, your humble scribe and modern day Benkei character
Masayo, soon to be modern day Yoshitsune character