Samurai: Cherry Blossoms Fall by Josh Brown and Alex Ness by Josh Brown and Alex Ness - Read Online

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Samurai - Josh Brown

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Introduction

A samurai is a total human being, whereas a man who is completely absorbed in his technical skill has degenerated into a ‘function,’ one cog in a machine.

Yukio Mishima

Samurai. The word in Japanese means to serve. When applied to a person it refers to one who serves another. In specific, a samurai is a term used to describe a warrior in Japan who serves a lord, using combat skills and living by the code of bushidō. But not everyone followed the code so directly, nor was every samurai so bold and courageous. So while the truth is somewhere between the idealized icon of fidelity and bravery, and bullies with swords, this work features the samurai who lived by their code.

The era of the samurai came from around 700 to 1800 AD. There were peak events, and civil wars, and while the Japanese were insular in many ways, they did reach out and affect other countries, by war, such as Korea. There were also times when the world came to Japan, and the samurai tried to lead the defense against invasions, and visits. The Mongols tried to invade Japan twice but weather, luck and tenacity sent them back to China and Korea with extremely heavy losses.

Later in Japan’s formative time of nation building, there were periods of civil war, and outright chaos. The Three Great Shoguns of Japan rose to the moment to take Japan’s destiny to its height. To that point each had specific talents. Nobunaga was a strategist, and tactician. Hideyoshi had great ambitions for the role of Japan and while a cruel, forged alliances to his advantage and that of the shogun’s office. Tokugawa Ieyasu was different in many ways than Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. He was a great general, but, his greatest strength was alliance building, understanding of the intentions of his foes, and creating the structures within the Shogunate to create patron client relations.

Or, to say it much quicker, and cleaner, a little bird was bought and all three Shoguns had a chance to make it talk. This is how they tried to make it do so:

Little Bird if you don’t sing for me I will kill you.

—Oda Nobunaga

Little Bird if you don’t sing for me I will make you sing.

—Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Little Bird if you do not sing for me, I will wait for you.

—Tokugawa Ieyasu

Through short stories, poems, and quotes, this work is meant to evoke, however briefly, life from the viewpoint of samurai of that era.

Alex Ness, 2015

1.

When the Barbarians Struck

An enemy fleet appeared upon our shores at Hakata Bay. Very quickly with explosives, poisoned arrows, numerous innovations that were far beyond the abilities of our forces, they worked their way inland. We fought like every generation of samurai before us had been taught, we called their best warriors out to duel. They responded with hails of arrows. Our armor deflected most arrows. While we rode across the sand shores and called the enemy out, our ashigaru and bushi hid behind the walls and poured fire back against the main body of the enemy. It was not enough. Our ways were unknown to them. And their ways were not ours. They fought without honor. For us, honor was everything.