Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 551
May I Know the Name of the Famous Dojo In Kyoto?
The first day on the job wasn’t that difficult. As Gabriel said, all they did was enjoy good food and have fun. The two of them went around Kyoto’s city and would head to whichever lively and fun spot. The French businessman even told Zhang Heng that he was free to go in the evening. As they strolled, Zhang Heng could feel some sneaky guys trailing them closely from behind.
Since Gabriel only paid for his translation service, Zhang Heng was not obligated to protect him. Unless they decided to assault Gabriel, where it might cause Zhang Heng to lose his income source, Zhang Heng would ignore them since they were doing nothing except following them.
Gabriel looked cheery, but perhaps he already knew that he was being followed. Or he wouldn’t have just wandered around the city whole doing nothing important.
Zhang Heng had no interest in their affairs. Of course, he would avail himself to all of Gabriel’s bidding, but when it came to rest, it wasn’t his concern. When work was over, he returned to the house that he just rented. After stepping through the mansion’s gates, he scooped some water from the well and drank
The chilly well water had to be the best thirst-quencher of the era. Zhang Heng wiped his mouth with his sleeve after having enough, but it was then that he heard a series of yells and the sound of wooden knives clashing from the Akane Dojo beside his house.
Zhang Heng remembered Akane Koyama’s invitation last night, and he also happened to have something to ask her. He put down the scoop in hand. Since he came home early today, it was a good idea to head to the dojo next door.
A plaque hung above the dojo’s main entrance with two characters on it, Myoshin-Ryūwritten by Akane Koyama. Zhang Heng searched his memory, and he was certain he had never heard of such a sect before. It wasn’t extraordinary, though. The Shogunate was where the last golden era of Japanese swordsmanship. There were more than two hundred recorded sects, and one could bet that there were hundreds of unrecorded ones around.
Unfortunately, most of them would be lost forever in time, where only the most famous ones survived. In the era of Heisei Losers and Reiwa Sexless Men, there were few people still learning swordsmanship. Various sects emphasized self-cultivation, and swordsmanship was no longer considered an essential tool to kill enemies.
Myoshin-Ryū must have drowned in the torrent of history like other insignificant sects. Zhang Heng didn’t delve too much into that and entered the dojo.
The first thing that captured his attention was a verdant grape rack, covered with luscious vines. It wasn’t the fruiting season; hence, few flowers bloomed among the green leaves. Next to the grape rack was a maple tree, its bark wide enough for a person to hug. Akane Koyama had built a fence around the tree to protect it. Other than that, there were three hens and a small crop plot on the chicken coop’s right-hand side. It seemed the vegetables were growing well. Zhang Heng was baffled by the place that he just stepped in. It didn’t look like a dojo at all. Instead, it looked more like a small farmyard. After walking past the little tillage, Zhang Heng arrived at the main house. The first thing he saw was a weapon rack with numerous bamboo katana and karuta. There was also a shrine so visitors could pay their respect to the previous sensei of the dojo. Other than that, there were also small wooden plaques with each person’s name written on them. They were arranged in the order of teacher and student.
The dojo was very lively at the moment. Akane Koyama was teaching her young students. The oldest ones were probably only fourteen or fifteen, and the youngest were perhaps seven or eight years old. Though they were just kids, they were entirely focused on practicing on their swords. They were instructed to form a team of two and sparred with protective gear on them. Akane Koyama walked amongst her students, carefully observing their moves, correcting them, and cheering them up.
When she saw him, Akane Koyama gave Zhang Heng a nod. After learning he had ventured abroad to the west to further his studies, she no longer regarded him as a loiterer and troublemaker.
After Akane Koyama gave the kids some instructions, she walked out of the dojo to talk to Zhang Heng. “Are you here to practice your katana skills?”
“No, no, I want to ask about the famous temples in Kyoto.”
Akene Koyama was stunned. A look of shame and anger flashed across her face.
Zhang Heng then realized that she had misunderstood what he said. He quickly added, “I have no intention to become an apprentice. In fact, I… came to Kyoto to compete with the master here.”
“Eh, what did you say you came to Kyoto for?” Akane Koyama’s eyes widened to the point of popping out. Although she said nothing more, the way she looked at Zhang Heng was more than an explanation.
Akane Koyama’s impression of Zhang Heng had improved to a certain extent. However, when he was at the market, he just stood there and watched the whole thing unfold before him. He did not even dare to save the little girls. It was hard to imagine a person like him would have the bristols to say he was here to challenge the masters. However, Akane Koyama still liked to think that people were generally good. Maybe it was because Zhang Heng had been studying abroad for too long, and upon his return, perhaps he did not know the country that well anymore. He could just be deluded. This man must be thinking that he’s a master. But then again, if he thought he was, then why didn’t he try to save the two little girls?
While the problem got Akane Koyama’s mind grinding, she suddenly saw the middleman running toward them. At the same time, he was yelling, “Something awful is going to happen to you guys! Run now! A group of samurai is asking where your dojo is. They look aggressive. It’s probably your father’s enemy. I pointed them in a random direction, but I think they will get back to the right track soon!”
“Enemies? When my father was alive, he never made any enemies. And I’ve never heard of him having grudges with anyone.” Akane Koyama shook her head.
Zhang Heng’s expression changed. He did remember the three samurai warriors of Choshū Domain from last night. The man who drew the tachi and attacked others was more powerful than Akane Koyama. Besides, this matter involved the honor of the Choshū Domain. It was impossible that they would just let the case slide so easily.
The middleman was anxious.
“This is not the time to talk about this! You should look for a place to hide first!”
“Are you telling me to leave the dojo and hide?” Akane Koyama frowned.
“Or what? You want to bring your dojo with you?” The middleman rolled his eyes.
What he did not expect was that the group would arrive a lot faster than he thought. Before they could come up with a solution, a total of five samurai barged into the dojo. Yamada, who previously fought Akane Koyama at the market, was with Matsuo and Takahashi, while there were two other unfamiliar faces as well.
Yamada looked furious. Last night’s defeat was an utter disgrace. After he sobered up, he wanted to get his revenge at Akane Koyama’s dojo, but unfortunately, they were one step too late. The Tobaku supporters had heard about their fight last night.
Shinji Takeuchi was among the Tobaku supporters, and his relationship with Yamada wasn’t that good. Like Yamada, Takeuchi was also born in the Choshū domain and was a renowned samurai among the Tobaku supporters. It was inevitable that they would start comparing each other, and as time passed, a certain extent of hatred festered between them.
About half a year ago, Takeuchi went to challenge Yamada. He thought it would be a close fight, but Yamada lost the battle quickly to his surprise. The two pulled about a dozen moves, and Yamada was entirely suppressed. In addition to the significant difference in strength, Yamada wasn’t as skilled on the katana as Takeuchi, and hence, the real reason he lost.
After that fight, Takeuchi became more famous among the Tobaku supporters. On the other hand, Yamada showed signs of going downhill. That was how they got the bad blood between them. The last thing Yamada wanted was that Takeuchi knew what happened to him last night. Unfortunately, his worst nightmare came true. The relationship between Takeuchi and Takahashi was excellent. Yamada suspected that Takahashi leaked the matter to Takeuchi. The latter came to knock on his door early in the morning and expressed his doubts about Yamada’s strength. Takeuchi insisted on going with Yamada to the dojo. Otherwise, they would tell more people about what happened last night.
Yamada had no choice but to agree to his request. For today’s battle, not only was it compulsory for him to win the fight, but he had to make sure Takeuchi wouldn’t have room to criticize him. The stakes were high.