Shinsengumi Mokuhiroku Wasurenagusa Volume 3 – Kondo Isami
CV – Inoue Kazuhiko
It was the first year of the Genji era  and we Shinsengumi were in the midst of the era’s chaos. Kyoto was overrun by the Toubaku  and Sonno faction  who believed that they had just cause to be violent. They broke into the merchant houses because they needed more money. Although they claimed they needed more money, they stole alcohol from liquor stores. The city overflowed with those insubordinate men. Although they wanted to do something, the protector’s office was completely unable to handle the situation by themselves. That’s where the Shinsengumi got involved. We dealt with the people who disturbed the peace in Kyoto.
Hmm? I didn’t say the right word just then. Perhaps it’s more correct to say that we eliminated them.
Anyway, the Shinsengumi name, which is built upon the bodies of the Choshu and Tosa clans  who caused violence in Kyoto, began to spread quickly. If we continue to achieve good results, then we’ll become retainers some day, as well as a central figure in this country. Some people laugh and say that my dream is too great, but my men trust me and follow me. They really are good men.
Then the day that made the Shinsengumi well known finally came. June 5th. The troop that I led discovered the Sonno faction troops at the Ikedaya. Several of us went in and it became a free-for-all fight.
Stop what you’re doing! Kill anyone who resists!
Come on, enjoy yourself to your heart’s content, Kotetsu!
You’re always an amazing sword, Kotetsu! Red really suits you!
You’re happy, aren’t you, Kotetsu? I know, because you’re dominating this place.
Look! There’s our prey!
More! More! Kill them, Kotetsu!
Taking many lives and making the Shinsengumi name known to many. That was what had to be done that evening. This evening will make the Shinsengumi the hero of this era. I was certain of that when I ran through the Ikedaya.
 Genji era – An era which began on February 1st, 1864.
 Toubaku – A group who were aiming to overthrow the shogunate.
 Sonno faction – A group who supported restoring power to the emperor and expelling foreigners from Japan.
 Choshu and Tosa – Clans that were enemies of the shogunate and the Shinsengumi.
Ah, it’s you, Miss.
You don’t have to be so formal. Come in.
I’m sorry things have been so hectic around here that I haven’t been able to check up on you. Now I can finally take my time talking to you.
I heard about your situation from Hijikata-kun. You were involved in the disturbance at the Ikedaya and your parents were killed. I feel sorry for you. Have you finished your parents’ memorial service?
I see. Well, don’t get too discouraged. It’s not as if you won’t see them again. Human life passes by in an instant, doesn’t it? Just think of this as being separated from them for a little while.
I suppose that’s no good. It troubles me when you look like that.
Hmm… Ah, that’s right.
Do you like dried candies, Miss? I’ve got some rakugan  here. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about tea, so I can’t offer you any. However, I’m quite proud to say I’m a connoisseur of sweets. I’ve got a few special things here.
I recommend these too – they’re konpeito . Eat as much as you like. Keep it a secret from the others though. Pay careful attention to make sure Hijikata-kun doesn’t find out. He’s a really strait-laced man, you see. If he knew I had all these sweets, he’d throw them all out, and say something like “It would set a bad example for the men if the captain liked sweets!”
I wonder how times he’s thrown them away now. Now Hijikata-kun and I have ended up fighting about sweets! When I hide fresh sweets like steamed buns and yokan , Hijikata-kun finds out about it and easily discovers my hiding place if I don’t eat them right away. But that’s why dried candies are amazing! They last for a long time, so I can eat them steadily. And Hijikata-kun thinks that I’ve given up hiding sweets. Thanks to that, Hijikata-kun has never thrown out my dried candies.
Ah, you laughed! I wonder whether it was because my story was funny or the sweets tasted good. I’ll taste the sweets and see.
These taste good! It seems that it was the power of sweets that made you smile. No matter how sad they were, someone would smile as soon as they tasted these sweets.
Alright, will you talk to me while having some sweets? Isn’t it true you have no relatives? What are you going to do now? Do you have somewhere to go?
I thought so. In that case, I’ve got a suggestion for you. Of course, you can say no if you don’t like it. I’m prepared to give you some time to think as well.
Will you work here? The number of soldiers has increased recently, and we don’t have enough people to do everything. It’d be really helpful if you did the cooking, washing and other chores. I think you already know this, but the Shinsengumi are all men. There aren’t many women, so lots of things aren’t being done properly. I’d like to do something about it, but I think working with all these men will be hard. However, maybe the wounds in your heart might start to heal while you work here.
No, it might be wrong to say that. Holding onto your sadness is another way of living too. I won’t stop you if that’s what you want to do. But the world has its good points. Your personal outlook could make the world brighter. The sadness of losing your family won’t fade that easily. But you could fill in the hole in your heart. You could find someone as important as family here. There are lots of good men here. Love would only cause trouble, so that wouldn’t be allowed, but you’re free to do anything else. You could find someone like a brother to you or you could make friends. If you want somewhere else to work, then that’s fine too. Well, do you feel a little more positive?
This is about all I can say. I’m trying to help as much as I can. Please tell me whenever you need help.
Hmm? What is it? You’re going to accept the offer?
Really? I’m happy to hear that! That really helps. Thank you, Miss. I didn’t think you’d reply so soon.
Alright then. I’ll be counting on you from now on. Tell me right away if you have any problems. If you think of your parents and feel like crying, I’ll share my sweets with you in secret.
Remember that you’re one of my allies now that you’re working for the Shinsengumi. I promise to do my best to help you when you’re in trouble. Understand?
Alright, here’s your first job! Eat all the sweets here. Eat them quickly so no one else finds them!
Good morning, Miss. You’re working hard this morning.
Hmm? You want to know why I’m not training?
Ah. Morning training does start around this time, but things don’t go so well when I’m there. The new recruits get nervous when I’m watching. Their swordsmanship is affected and the training ends up not being that useful.
My goodness. I don’t think I’m important enough for people to get that nervous.
Anyway, although I’m captain, there are times when I end up having nothing to do. Hijikata-kun and Souji are much busier than me.
Ah, I’m sorry I interrupted your cleaning. Don’t worry about me, just keep going.
Yes, that’s good! It seems you’ve got quite used to being here.
How are things going? Is the work too hard? Tell me if you’re having any trouble.
Hmm? You’re not? You’re very hard-working. You can rely on me a little, alright?
Ah, I suppose I shouldn’t say things to spoil you like this. Hijikata-kun might shout at me again if heard me saying things like that.
Hmm? You’re asking whether Hijikata-kun gets angry at me often?
Ah… I’d like to say he doesn’t, but I think you already know the answer. You asked me quite an unfair question.
I was only joking. You don’t have to deny it that much!
The wind is really strong!
Ah… The rubbish you cleared up has gone everywhere. Perhaps you should give up for now? At this rate, your efforts are just going to be wasted.
Excuse me, Miss.
Look, there’s a piece of grass caught in your hair. Stay still and I’ll take it out for you.
Your hair is really soft. It’s shiny too. It’s the type of hair I like.
Oh? Are you embarrassed? Your ears are red.
It’s cute. When you react like that it makes me want to be even more kind to you.
Alright, alright. There’s no need to worry. You don’t have to be so cautious. I won’t do anything to you. You’re like family to me. You’re my adorable younger sister. No brother would lay a hand on his sister, would he?
Ah. I got carried away with patting your head. I don’t have any bad intentions, so please forgive me.
Alright, I got it. Sorry for touching you all of a sudden. I’ll give you something to apologise. Hold out your hand. I just bought these sweets yesterday. Eat them secretly at night. They taste good.
Alright! Hopefully you’re feeling better now.
Hmm? I know you’re not angry. I just wanted a reason to give you some sweets. That’s because a smile suits you best of all.
You look even lovelier when you laugh with embarrassment. I’m worried you’ll get fooled by a bad man if you react so honestly.
Remember this, Miss. There’s no harm in being too cautious when you’re with a man.
Ah, that doesn’t include me. I said this earlier. We’re like family. I don’t mind if you even call me “big brother”. You can call me that whenever you like.
Ah, the wind has gotten stronger. Shall we go inside now? You can do the sweeping tomorrow.
See you later, Miss.
 Rakugan – A hard candy made from rice flour and sugar, pressed into moulds.
 Konpeito – A hard candy made from sugar.
 Yokan – A jellied sweet made from red bean paste and sugar.
Ah! Hey, watch where you’re going!
Oh, it’s you! What a coincidence that we met outside the headquarters. What are you doing here?
Hmm? Ah, you were looking at the street stalls. It’s busy today because the market is open. Did you find what you were looking for?
So you weren’t looking for anything in particular, and you just stopped by on your way home from running errands? I see.
Will you come with me for a while then?
There’s a shop around here that I’d like to see, so I made time for that, but going alone isn’t that interesting. I’d be glad if you came with me.
Oh, are you worried about getting back late? Who asked you to run the errand?
Souji? That’s no problem! When we get back I’ll explain that you came back late because of me. Souji will forgive you if I do.
Now that’s sorted out, let’s go! Come on, come here. Let’s hold hands.
Pull my hand if you see a shop you’re interested in.
Hmm? Me? I’m only looking for one particular shop. There it is. Can you see it?
That’s right. It’s a sword shop. I heard they’ve got something special there. I was curious about it, so I made sure I was free.
I went out without saying anything, so I think I’ll have to hide from Hijikata-kun when I get back, but I can’t help that. Denying yourself things is no good. I’ll let him get angry at me this time. I’d like to run away if I could though.
I know that I have to see Hijikata-kun tomorrow. If I run away, I’ll have to deal with a long scolding from him.
Hmm? You want to know if I’m going to buy a new sword?
Ah. Haven’t I told you? I’m very fond of swords. I like beautiful and flexible swords which fascinate their owner. I also like swords which are amazing enough to cut through skin and bone. My Kotetsu is probably the latter of those.
I believe that Kotetsu was created for my sake. He is the type of sword that would take someone’s life by force. When I remove him from his sheath, his wildness really fascinates me. When he cuts into the body of the person he kills, I can feel that he is happy. He looks good with the blood clinging to his point. He is quiet when I take care of him but when he gets a taste of blood, he cries with delight. I know that. Kotetsu truly loves that.
Hmm? Ah, I’m sorry! I suddenly started talking about something strange. It seems that I can’t stop when I begin talking about swords. It’s alright for you to stop me when my conversation about swords gets bothersome. If not, I might not ever stop.
Ah, we’re here. This is the shop.
Alright, I’ll get them to show me what I’m looking for.
Hey, Mister. I want to see the best sword you’ve got.
No, I’m not interested in those cheap swords. You’ve got something special today, haven’t you? Could you show me that?
Come on, don’t be so reluctant! If it’s something I like, I’ll buy it at the asking price.
Alright, show it to me.
Hmm. Well, well… Alright, I’m going to take it out of its sheath. It has quite a beautiful curve. It seems to be an impressive work of art rather than a weapon for killing. The maker put a lot of effort into making it…
Wait a minute. The blade seems thinner than I first thought. So it’s a little too heavy at this weight… The gravity is somewhat misaligned. That would slow you down when you return to your position after pulling it out from its sheath.
Is this really the best sword you’ve got, Mister?
Alright then. Sorry, but this isn’t the type of sword I like. Thank you anyway.
Let’s go, Miss.
Hmm? You want to know why I didn’t buy it even though it’s a beautiful sword? That’s simple. It’s because it was fake. That was a fake made to seem as if it were made by Kunimitsu. It was nice to look at but I knew when I picked it up that it wasn’t for practical use. That old man seemed to believe that it was made by Kunimitsu, but his business won’t last long if he thinks like that. Well, it’d be a different matter if someone is foolish enough to believe him. That really was a waste of time.
No, I suppose it wasn’t. I didn’t expect I’d get to go for a walk with you. I’m glad I came into town.
Don’t you want to look at the other shops?
Hmm? I see. It’s going to get dark soon, so it’d be better to go straight back. If it were a little earlier, we could have looked at hairpins or decorations for obi together. If you go into that road over there, there are ornament shops. We don’t have time today, but would you like to come with me to the next market?
Ah! So you’ll come with me? Thank you.
Hmm? Why am I so happy? Because now I’ve agreed to meet up with my lovely little sister, she won’t go shopping with another man. I should support you because going out with another man might heal your wounds, but on the other hand, I’d want to know whether that man was right for you. In the end, I wonder what would be the right way to react…
But I’m relieved to know I was worrying too much. Ah, I’m not telling you not to be in a relationship with a man. I don’t mind if you find someone from outside the quarters. But being like your brother complicates my feelings. Alright, I won’t think about things like this now. I’ll think about it when that time comes.
Haha. I’m sorry for worrying about such strange things. The sun is going down, let’s hurry back. Come on.
Are you busy now? I’m going to come inside.
I’m sorry for coming here all of a sudden. I want to talk to you about something. We’re going on a raid tonight. It’s going to be a night attack.
You don’t have to look so worried. I think it won’t be as dangerous as the Ikedaya. There’s a possibility that the Choshu who’ve been causing trouble will make their move. We’re keeping an eye on them so they don’t, but we don’t know what might happen. I’m going to leave some men here. Make sure not to go outside tonight. Alright?
Hmm? Why do you look so worried? It’s alright. I won’t be here, but I’m not taking all the skilled men with me. Even if something happens, you won’t be in danger.
Oh? That’s not what you’re worried about? You don’t want something bad to happen to me?
What are you talking about? During a fight is when I’m at my best. I’ve always been that kind of man. So it’s alright. I’m invincible when I’m with Kotetsu.
Alright. I’m going now. You get some rest.
Don’t stop me. The future of Japan depends on this sword and the Shinsengumi. I have to go.
You hate dangerous things? Well, that makes sense. Your parents died when they got caught up in one of our fight. I understand your feelings. But there are times when we have to fight to protect what’s important to us. If I don’t go, many lives will be devoured by the madness of this era. You’re one of the important things I want to protect too…
I’m a selfish person, so there are a lot of things incredibly important to me. Listen carefully, Miss. The smiles of the people in Kyoto are beginning to fade. I know that behind their smiles, they fear the lack of public order every day. If we don’t do anything, that fear will spread throughout the country. Everyone can feel that. I’m going to fight because I don’t want the smiles of people important to me to fade even further. Nothing can be protected without wielding a sword. I believe that the men follow me because they realise that.
People often say that those with nothing to protect are strong and that might be true. Having no weaknesses can become a strength. But I want to be a strong man who has weaknesses. I can become strong because I have many things I want to protect. I might be lying dead somewhere if there was nothing precious to me. I’m just that kind of person.
I have a dream too. I want to make this a peaceful country. A peaceful place where people can live with smiles on their faces. That’s my aim. So I’d be happy if you believed in my path and followed me. I suppose this was a little difficult to talk about. Everything will be finished before you wake up. Don’t worry and get some rest. Goodbye then.
Hmm? Ah, it’s you.
Come here. You can come in.
How was it? Did you sleep well last night?
I see. But you still look quite tired. You worry so much.
What’s the matter? Did you want something? If it’s a mission from Hijikata-kun, then I’d like to refuse…
Hmm? That’s not it… You think I’m acting strangely?
You’re right. I’m not that happy. We lost an important general last night. When I think that we made the same mistake we did at the Ikedaya… The Shinsengumi gets involved in many fights like raids, and I know not everyone can survive in that situation, but recently, there have been many nights where someone has died. When that happens it makes you feel upset. I can’t let everyone see me looking pathetic like this. I wonder why I started complaining to you. I don’t even know the reason myself. I know I’ve said a lot already, but will you listen a little longer?
I see. Thank you.
I told you I had a dream before I went on the raid, didn’t I?
That’s right. I dream of making a peaceful country. But when I see my allies dying like this, I feel as if I might be taking their lives for the sake of this country’s future. All the men who died might be unfortunate people who were made to go along with this for my own satisfaction. I know that’s not actually the case. And if I hesitate it would mean denying the leadership of those who trust and follow me. Although I know that… But for some reason that really affected me this morning.
Hmm? Why did you go into the garden? Is there something interesting there?
A flower? You picked one that was growing in the garden? For me?
This is the first time I’ve been given a flower like this. Come to think of it, I haven’t felt like taking the time to look at flowers for a while.
It’s beautiful. It seems it’s true that flowers relax people’s hearts. I wouldn’t have thought of picking a flower to cheer someone up. You have a pure heart, Miss. I’m going to put this flower in my room. I think I’ll cheer up if I look at it when I’m upset. Thank you. I’m happy.
Hmm? It’ll only last for a few days, even in a vase? I see. That’s no good. I don’t want to see the flower you went to the trouble of picking me wither away.
Then you’ll pick another flower for me before it does? I’d be happy if you did! Is that alright though? Don’t do it if it’s too much trouble.
It’s not? I see. Then I’d like you to do it. Thank you. I think this will help me to appreciate flowers.
But if you’re kind to me at times like this then my feelings will be confused. You’re a troublesome girl.
Did I surprise you? I’m sorry. But I’m not joking. I loved you as a sister up until now, but I suppose because I saw something unexpected like you picking a flower, I began to see you as a woman instead of a younger sister. I know it’s impolite for me to say this, but you’re a grown woman now.
It seems that I’m worried about you for some reason. I think you’ll be alright, but if any of the men lay a hand on you, tell me right away. I’ll test their faith and if I know they’re guilty, I’ll make them commit seppuku right away.
You think seppuku is too strict? It’s not. The men all promised to follow the Shinsengumi regulations when they joined. If a man breaks the rules and doesn’t commit seppuku, he will be ridiculed. Seppuku is for their own sake too.
It troubles me to see you worried like that. Is there someone you love among the men?
In that case… If you both feel the same way, we can think of a different punishment.
Hmm…but… The man you love is able to experience your kindness completely, isn’t he? I feel jealous when I think about that. I might order him to commit seppuku after all. I’m only joking. It’s no use talking about a hypothetical situation. I’m sorry I made you worry today. It’s unusual for me to get upset like this.
Thank you for the flower, Miss.
The weather is great. I can’t believe I’ve got to stay in my room looking at documents on a day like this. Can anyone understand that I want to give up?
Ah, it’s you. You surprised me! I thought Hijikata-kun found out I left my room and was chasing after me. Or did he tell you to come and look for me?
He didn’t? I see. I’m glad. Then could you pretend you didn’t see me? Even if you see anyone else, you can’t say you saw me.
Hmm? You’re asking if I abandoned my work to come here? Well…I did. I’ve got a whole pile of letters to reply to, but I can’t stay in my room when the sky is so blue, can I? I came here to have a break. I’ll go back soon, so don’t worry. What are you doing here? Are you taking a break too?
Eh? Your laundry got blown away? I haven’t it seen it… Did it get blown in this direction?
I see. Let’s look for it together then. It might be caught on the branches of a tree.
Right, I don’t mind if you think of this as small talk and ignore it…
But I dreamt about you yesterday. The flower you picked for me the other day smelled so lovely and that scent was even in my dreams. The moment I thought “Ah, it’s the smell of that flower!”, you appeared. I wouldn’t say that you looked different, but you appeared to be an attractive woman.
Strangely, I can’t stop thinking about you since I had that dream. When I smell that scent, I think that I might dream about you. I’m a little interested in what you might look like in my arms. Would you be as embarrassed as you were in the dream?
Don’t look so surprised! I told you that you could ignore it, didn’t I?
Is this the laundry you’re looking for? It had fallen into the bushes. It’s not dirty, so you can dry it as it is.
Alright then, try your best at your work. I’ll go back after I’ve stayed in the sun a little longer.
Sorry for asking you out on a walk all of a sudden. Is it alright for you to go out even though you were in the middle of mending something?
I see. That’s good.
The wind feels good, doesn’t it? I like how comfortable autumn is. We should see the autumn colours soon. I’m looking forward to it. I’m always impressed by the maples in Kyoto, no matter how often I see them. The nature in Kyoto is amazing. Even the night sky looks somewhat different to the one in Edo.
Ah, the moon looks even more beautiful tonight. So it’s a half moon… This feels wonderful. The shining stars and half moon are above me. The clear cries of insects delight my ears too. A lovely young lady is also beside me.
I can feel the warmth of your body when we link arms like this and it warms my body from the night cold. Do you think there is anything happier than this?
You think I’m exaggerating? I’m completely serious. I’m beginning to fall in love with you, you see. I feel happy when I’m with you. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like this. Did you know that I’ve been dreaming about you for a while? It happens even when I keep a flower that isn’t very fragrant. I can’t stop thinking about you. Whether I’m awake or not, and even when I’m fighting, your face is in the corner of my mind. Do you know what that means?
If you’re going to run away, now’s your chance. Because you accepted my invitation to go out and linked arms with me, it made me get carried away. Are you alright with that? I think you should sense the danger you’re in.
You think I won’t do anything dangerous because I’m a kind person? That just means your way of thinking is naïve. Men are frightening creatures. I’m no exception. Before, I said you didn’t have to be careful around me. I’ll take that back. Now you should be careful around me. Despite how I look, I’m the impatient type. I don’t like waiting. I want to have the things I want right away.
I don’t look like that, do I? Appearances can be deceptive. So be very careful, Miss.