48 HOURS A DAY - S01 E547

5 days ago

Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 547

Fight

When Yamada drew his sword, everyone scrambled to get away; but when Akane Koyama stepped in and blocked Yamada’s sword, the people stayed on, and watching from afar.

Unable to finish what he started, Yamada’s mood worsened. Worse still, the person who stood in his way was a woman. He barked, “Are dojos in such a slump now that they accept just about anyone?! A bloody disgrace!”

The young girl held her ground. “In my opinion, it’s the Choshu Domain that is going downhill — their samurai are experts at bullying little girls on the street.” Yamada’s face darkened, his voice quivering. He was so mad that he could literally kill her at any moment.

“Hey, woman… did you just insult our Choshu samurai?”

Contrary to what most believed, the Shogunate had imposed numerous samurai restrictions during the Edo period— They weren’t allowed to kill civilians simply because they were unhappy. According to Article 71 of Tokugawa Yoshimune’s “Kujikata Osadamegaki, a book of rules for public officials, samurai had the right to strike any individual of a lower class with the sword (and avoid punishment) when their reputation had b by rude behavior.

The rules for disrespect-killing were described in detail in the book. First of all, in most cases, the samurai were only allowed to kill civilians in their own daimyo territory (and the daimyo did not like having their own civilians hacked to death). The chances of civilians being killed in Edo* and Kyoto were high (There were even Edo civilians keen on extreme sports who deliberately provoked the samurais). Secondly, samurais were not allowed to bring up old scores. If they were insulted yesterday, killing the perpetrator today was forbidden. Thirdly, if the opposing party apologized, the samurai were also prohibited from killing that person. Then, after a kill had been made, samurai were expected to undergo thorough investigation and inquiry. Should the samurai’s report be false, he would immediately be deprived of the samurai status. Of course, if there were no witnesses or if the crime was committed by a fast-running Ronin, that was a whole other problem.

So, strictly speaking, Yamada’s attempt to kill the little girls was poorly substantiated. If he hadn’t drunk so much tonight, he would not have drawn his Tachi, especially not in broad daylight.

But the situation had now taken a turn.

This young woman who had appeared out of nowhere was impudent. Yamada might have been drunk as a lord, but his brain still functioned reasonably. As soon as the woman had spoken, however, he began playing the “insulted a Chosun samurai” card. That way, when he terminated her, he would have something to attest to his actions even if he were to be investigated.

It dawned on Akane Koyama that she might have expressed herself too insolently, but before she could say anything, the girl standing next to Chiyo burst into tears.

She was so terrified that she froze for a good while, not showing any reaction.

“Scram!” Now that Yamada had a new target, he could not be bothered to deal with the two little brats. He shoved the crying girl, pushing her down to the ground. Immediately Chiyo ran to her friend’s aid. After making sure that her friend wasn’t injured other than a scrape on her palm, Chiyo turned her pretty, big eyes to Akane Koyama, looking concerned.

Yamada raised his weapon again. Even though he spoke condescendingly towards the dojo girl, he dared not underestimate her because she could block his attack.

Akane Koyama’s swordsmanship had been passed on to her by her father, the owner of Koyama Dojo, a place she practically grew up in. During its heyday, people often visited to compare notes; hence Akane developed a pair of keen eyes and could tell if someone was the real deal by merely holding their sword.

Even though this Choshu warrior appeared to be brusque and ruthless, he was not just all hat no cattle. Not to mention Koyama Akane had only brought a wooden sword, so this fight was not going to be easy for her. More onlookers had started crowding the area. Matsuo and Takahashi were beginning to feel the heat. The Shinsengumi could be nearby and could show up at any time, and it would be pointless even if Yamada won the fight because his opponent was just a lowly woman. In any case, if he lost, it would not only be him, but the entire Chosu Domain would be put to shame.

Matsuo and Takahashi glanced nervously at each other, both wondering if they should just knock down Akane, then drag Yamada away with them. However, a pair of eyes suddenly fell on Matsuo. Sensing danger, Matsuo looked up to meet the gaze of the person. He was dressed like a ronin; he saw Matsuo looking back at him and twisted the sword in his hand as he gripped it tighter. The warning was obvious.

Matsuo cursed his bad luck. He was not as skilled a fighter as Yamada. It was all thanks to not getting accepted in his previous workplace that he reluctantly joined the Tobaku, thinking that when the shogunate was overthrown, a veteran like him would at least be made an official of some kind. It was about the same case for Takahashi-Usually, the pair would just tag behind Yamada and take advantage of whatever they came across with. When they actually had to roll up their sleeves and fight, there was no guarantee that they would win, even if it was a two-to-one.

Even though the guy looking at him looked penurious and unruly, his gaze was fierce and intense. Matsuo was absolutely certain that those who had never spilled blood before would never have such a look in their eyes.

Could he be a thug who had escaped to Kyoto after murdering someone?

To be safe, Matsuo and Takahashi decided to stay where they were and not make a move.

On the other side, Yamada and Akane were focused on the fight, no longer paying attention to anything around them. One of Yamada’s specialties was a sword technique called Oishi Shinkage-ryū, which originated from Shinkage-ryū and was devised by Oishi Susumu. It was said that Oishi once challenged all the dojos in Edo using a bamboo sword and came out undefeated. The main feature of the Oishi Shinkage-Ryu was a high-speed attack with the left hand.

Yamada’s left-hand was lightning-fast and persuasive. On the other hand, Akane Koyama’s area of expertise was handed down by her father, mainly defensive stances. There wasn’t a strike she couldn’t block with her wooden sword.

This was Zhang Heng’s first time witnessing a samurai sword fight. Both Akane and Yamada’s sword fighting skills were inferior to his. According to his calculations, Yamada was at about the start of level 2, and Akane should be at the peak of level 1.

But because one of them was inebriated, and the other had a wooden sword, neither could put their skills to full use. In comparison, Yamada was slightly more affected. Even though Zhang Heng did not know which school of swordsmanship technique he employed, he could tell that Yamada was an expert in speed attacks, something that required great agility and masterful precision. Right now, he could barely walk in a straight line.

In contrast, Akane Koyama’s circumstances were slightly better. Her weapon was a disadvantage, and her swordsmanship lacked versatility, but because she was the type to take the safer route. In Zhang Heng’s opinion as an expert swordsman, the fight was actually not as dangerous as it appeared.

Footnote:

Daimyo: (in feudal Japan) one of the great lords who were vassals of the shogun

Edo: the former name of Tokyo

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