Shinsengumi Kekkonroku Wasurenagusa 6 – Nagakura Shinpachi
CV – Maeno Tomoaki
It was the first year of the Genji era . I protected the city of Kyoto as the captain of the Shinsengumi’s second troop. I joined the Shinsengumi because of my absolute confidence in my sword fighting skills. You could say that sword fighting is what makes me who I am. That’s how important it is to me.
If all I needed to do was earn enough to eat, then I could have just become an instructor at any dojo. Unfortunately, I don’t like being bored. That’s why I joined the Roshigumi , which later became the Shinsengumi. Once you’ve picked up a sword in this violent era, you’ll be faced with life and death at the same time.
In one sense, sword fighting is the same as overthrowing the shogunate. The urgent feeling of not knowing when I might die became my reason for living. I picked up a sword because I wanted to know what living feels like.
Despite my expectations, all my opponents were nothing special. I became tired of their empty and superficial stances when I went out to battle. Considering their skills, I was surprised they had chosen to fight.
It was the same at the Ikedaya . Even though they had great ideals, the Joui  didn’t have the intelligence to uphold those ideals. I fought off those fools single-handedly. However, when I heard Heisuke’s voice from behind me, I let my guard down for a moment. The Joui men took that opportunity to throw themselves at me, brandishing their swords.
That was a big mistake. I looked at my hand, all covered in blood and wondered whether my blood really was being shed for the sake of the Shinsengumi. To be honest, unlike the soldiers who were working hard everyday, it wasn’t as if I was attached to the Shinsengumi; but because I had my friends like Heisuke and Sano there, I stayed out of habit. If there is somewhere else where I can be even more true to myself, then I probably won’t hesitate to go there instead. That’s right. If I find a better reason to fight and put my life in danger…
What’s the meaning of this bandage? I think you overdid it, Zaki-san… I can’t go to the red-light district like this…
Hmm? Ah! That was close.
Can’t you look where you’re going?! Look at this huge bandage wrapped around my little finger! I know I’m well-built, but that doesn’t change the fact that you…
Oh? A woman?
Huh. You’re small, so I thought you were Heisuke. Well, I suppose Heisuke is a little bigger than you.
Hey, what is a woman doing at the headquarters?
Hmm… Ah, are you the woman Hajime found?
Oh, you’re quite a short woman. A beautiful woman would’ve been better.
No, it was nothing.
My hand? It happened at the Ikedaya. I don’t get hurt like this normally, but I let my guard down for a moment. But don’t you think this is too much, considering all I got was a little cut on my finger?
I don’t know whether to say Zaki-san is too disorganised or too proper about treating people.
Ah, I can’t move my hand or make women happy like this.
Hmm? Do you understand the meaning of what I just said?
It means that I can’t touch women somewhere good.
Hahaha! Your face is bright red. I was sure you’d be an innocent girl.
I’m right, aren’t I?
I thought so. You look as if you don’t know anything about men.
Well, there’s no need to worry. I’m not interested in plain women like you.
You should look straight ahead and pay attention while you’re walking around the headquarters.
Be careful now.
 Genji era – An era which began on February 1, 1864.
 Roshigumi – A group of masterless samurai who were protectors of the shogunate. Many Shinsengumi members had also been part of the Roshigumi.
 Ikedaya Affair – An armed encounter between masterless samurai employed by the Choshu and Tosa clans and the Shinsengumi.
 Joui – Refers to “Sonno Joui” who supported revering the emperor and expelling foreigners.
Hmm? Oh? You’re cleaning up the garden?
So you ended up becoming the Shinsengumi’s maid. It’s useful to have someone who can do the chores in a place full of men. I’m glad to have you here!
Anyway, let me introduce myself. I’m Nagakura Shinpachi, the captain of the second troop. I’m also a sword fighting instructor here. I think I’m the most skilled swordsman here, if I may say so myself.
I heard you had a bit of trouble becoming a maid here, didn’t you? I’m impressed you got Kondo-san to agree. Well, your parents owned a restaurant, so I guess that’s how you made things work.
Now that you’ve been acknowledged as a maid, I’m expecting some good food from you! All the food men cook is so unrefined. It’s much better for women to cook.
Aren’t you working too hard, even though you’ve only just started though? Have you gotten some rest?
Working helps you forget about bad things? Are you talking about your parents getting killed? I heard about it from Kondo-san and the others. It seems like you had a hard time.
It’s only natural that you wouldn’t want to remember what happened. Well, the headquarters is a big place. There’s plenty you can clean. Someday you won’t even have time to remember. You dried all that laundry too, didn’t you?
Was it difficult? This won’t help motivate you, but we get the same amount of laundry everyday. I think it’ll be pretty tough. But now that you’ve decided to become a maid, just do your best.
Right! If you take a break and want someone to talk to, then I can help you out with that. You probably don’t know much, so I’ll teach you a few things.
Ah, alright. What do you want to know?
About men’s bodies? How to make a move on the man you like? Shall I teach you everything about those? How about you experience them for yourself?
I’m glad you reacted just the way I thought you would. It’s unusual to see a woman who is as much fun to tease as you are. It seems like you lived a sheltered life.
Ah! Oh… You had the leaves all swept up, but now they’ve blown everywhere. I guess I’ll have to help you. It’s my fault for keeping you talking anyway.
Huh? I don’t need to help?
Hey, you. I think it’s okay to depend on someone else at times like this.
You don’t need my help? I see. You’re a pretty serious person. But it’s hard for one person to clean the garden alone. I’ll help you if I have time, so tell me if things get too difficult.
It’s fine if you understand that.
Huh? I’m kind? Me?
Yes, you’re right. I believe in being kind to women. It’d make things better for me later on, wouldn’t it?
Even I dream of settling down happily with the woman I love. So I have to do all I can to find that woman. Luckily for me, because of my looks, it only takes a little kindness for me to win a woman’s heart. The more women who fall in love with me, the more I’ve got to choose from. I’ve never met a woman who has loved me for who I am though.
Ah, it was nothing. I suppose I’ve been talking for a little too long. Oh, well.
Hey. You’re cleaning up, right? How about you get on with it?
You’re moving around so slowly! You’re like a little bird.
Well, do your best with your work, Little Bird.
That’s not right! Bend your knees more!
Because the lower half of your body isn’t steady, you lose balance after swinging your sword.
Good! That’s it!
The strength comes from your back as well, not just your arms. Swing the sword with your whole body!
Good! You pass! Don’t forget that stance.
Alright! Let’s have a break soon! Go and get some water to drink.
What are you doing here? Just watching?
I don’t think watching people learn how to fight with a sword is that interesting though.
Ah. Or were you fascinated by how bold I looked while teaching?
Oh. You agree!
I was only teasing you just now. This is probably your first time seeing someone training. I suppose sword fighting is something the daughter of restaurant owners would never encounter. What you saw just then probably seemed quite impressive, but it would be completely different if someone were holding a real sword. You’d need even more strength. You’d probably be trying your hardest just to keep hold of a sword with your thin arms. Would you like to try holding a sword?
You shouldn’t really hold a real sword, but you seem to be interested. Don’t tell anyone else about this.
Here you go, take it.
Hey! Ah! That’s a dangerous way of holding it.
That’s not right. This is how you hold a sword.
Listen up. You hold the hilt a little loosely with both hands. People tend to put too much strength into their index and middle finger, but on both hands, you should put your strength into your little finger and ring finger. If not, you won’t be able to move your wrist freely. Even that is enough to change the speed of your swing completely.
Haha! Is it heavy? It’s alright. I’ll support you from behind, so you won’t fall, even if you do make a mistake.
A real sword is heavier than you think. When you point the tip towards someone, the weight doubles. That’s because you’re carrying the weight of the determination to kill another person and the life of your opponent, you see. You lift up that weight, aim at the enemy in front of you and then cut.
I only swung my sword into the air just now, but the moment a sword pierces someone’s body, it becomes even heavier. Even so, you can’t stop halfway through. Until your sword goes right through your opponent’s body, you mustn’t lose against that heavy weight. Otherwise, that one moment of distraction…
Are you trembling? You can let go.
Were you reminded of what happened that day?
You’re right. I’m sorry. That was insensitive of me. I’m used to fighting battles, so you and I are different. And you’re…
Look this way, Little Bird.
It’s a spell to make you forget about bad things.
You’re all tense! It seems like the spell worked.
Was that the first time you’ve been kissed? It seems like it was.
Ah, the other soldiers are back. You should get back to work soon too. See you later.
Alright! Let’s start training again!
Get into pairs and put on your armour!
Let your opponent hit you on purpose and see what your stance is like.
At the same time, abandon your fear!
Ah. It’s you, Little Bird. You’re still awake?
Are you used to the headquarters now? I suppose it’s natural that you would be. It’s been quite a while since you came here.
Even so, it’s no good for you to be wandering around the corridors at night, is it? There are many men with strong desires here. Wouldn’t it be better for you to stay in your room as much as possible, if you don’t want to get attacked?
Hmm? The smell of alcohol?
Ah, I suppose it’s because I went out drinking.
Who did I go with? That doesn’t really matter, does it?
Why are you looking at me like that? Would you hate it if it had been a woman?
Well, no matter what you say, I can do what I like.
Tch. I feel sick. Maybe I had too much to drink.
Hey, can you bring some water to my room? I’ll be waiting there.
Right, I’ll leave it to you.
Why do you look so worried? I don’t want someone to look at me like that just because I had a little too much to drink.
Huh? I’m not depressed. It’s got nothing to do with you, has it?
Hey. Why didn’t you leave this room immediately? Are you thinking of comforting me or something?
A girl who’s been raised well can’t just watch someone in pain.
Hmm… In that case…
I want you to comfort me. These headquarters are full of men. You were prepared for this kind of thing when you became a maid, weren’t you?
I told you earlier, didn’t I? There are lots of men here with a great desire to touch a woman. I’m just like them. I want to hold a woman’s body at this very moment.
Don’t try to resist.
I’m acting strangely? Strangely, hmm?
Little Bird. Aren’t you misunderstanding something about me?
You think I’m a kind person who wouldn’t do something like this?
You fool. You’re too oblivious to what men are like.
Didn’t I tell you this? I’m the type of man who has relationships with many women. You’re not the only woman I’ve been kind to.
What is it? You thought that I liked you?
Shouldn’t you have realised that I was going to do this when I got you to bring water to my room?
Ah. Or were you expecting something?
I can tell by looking at your face.
You’re thinking of going along with this.
Hey. Do you love me?
At the very least, you’re beginning to. In that case, I want you to calm these feelings I’m having. That’s the job of a good maid, isn’t it?
If you want to make me yours, then pleasure me with your own hands.
Shh. If the other men catch you doing this with me, then they might do the same too.
You don’t have to be forceful.
Just like that…
How indecent. My body is getting warmer from this and I think I’m going to go crazy.
I want you to desire me too. Come on, do as I say.
Useless. Don’t do it so thoughtlessly.
Do it gently like this. Come on, keep going.
Good. Just like that. A little more…
You’re an idiot, aren’t you? You should have shouted loudly and run away. You knew that you wouldn’t be the one in trouble if you called someone, didn’t you?
Here’s your kimono.
I’m not feeling drunk anymore.
Yes, that’s enough.
You can go back to your room now. Hurry up and go before the other men get suspicious.
One last thing…
That’s to thank you for having fun with me.
Why? Hmm… I wonder why?
Tch. What am I doing?
Ah. Wait, Little Bird!
What have you got that expression on your face for? You’re on your way back to your room after finishing work, right?
Come on, sit next to me. The wind feels good today. Let’s talk here for a little while.
Spring has come all of a sudden.
Cherry blossoms will probably bloom around here soon.
Why are you so quiet? Are you scared of me because of what happened the other day?
Huh? That’s not it?
I look lonely?
Haha. You say some interesting things, Little Bird. Are you saying that I look different from usual? How can you say that?
Ah. So you’ve been watching me that often then.
Oh… I suppose I don’t need to make that kind of joke.
Jeez, I wonder why you realised.
Whenever spring comes around, I go and see the cherry blossoms with my friends. With Heisuke and Sano, I mean. Rather than looking at the cherry blossoms, it’s more like a drinking competition. I look forward to it every year.
Ah. Despite how he looks, Sano is a weak drinker. It’s strange, isn’t it?
Sano is the first one to get drunk, followed by Heisuke. All we do is drink together until we can’t walk straight and talk about stupid things, but I honestly enjoy those times.
However, I don’t think we’ll be able to do it from this year onwards. There’s nothing we can do about it, but it’s still kind of unfortunate.
The headquarters are quiet now. I suppose it’s because Heisuke and the other noisy men are no longer here.
You heard about most of what happened, didn’t you? Some of the men left the Shinsengumi to join the Goryou Eji . From now on, we probably won’t see them like we used to.
On that night where I treated you a little roughly… Heisuke told me he was leaving the headquarters. He made the decision to leave the Shinsengumi, without speaking to anyone else.
I had realised that Heisuke didn’t trust the Shinsengumi. But I felt comfortable being with him and Sano. I always pretended not to notice his feelings.
I couldn’t accept becoming his enemy, so I got angry and started drinking. But I didn’t end up getting drunk in the end. I’m sorry I got rough and started doing those things to you.
It’s embarrassing for a grown man to say this, but I think I was a little lonely. You noticed I felt that way without me even realising it. This really is shameful.
It’s quite painful to feel lonely. Come to think of it, I haven’t really experienced that feeling before. Have you been able to accept what happened to your parents?
I see. You’re right.
Alright! Let’s go eat something sweet to take our minds off things! You haven’t eaten any sweets since coming here, have you? I’ll take you out!
Your eyes look so bright! A sweet shop called Banrakuya opened recently. I often see it when I’m out on patrol and there’s always a long line in front. Apparently their bean paste wafers are quite good. Let’s go there!
Come on. Now that’s been decided, let’s hurry!
Ah! There’s a long line. Business is good as usual. If there’s such a big crowd, then what they sell must be pretty tasty. Come on, let’s join the line.
The customers really are all women and kids.
No, I’m fine. I can put up with it.
No. We’re not going to a different shop. There’s a reason for eating the bean paste wafers here.
Don’t be so concerned about it. It’s fine! I want to eat the bean paste wafers from here, no matter what!
Ah… Don’t laugh! Is there something wrong with a man liking sweets?
Damn it. I said too much.
Hmm? Come to think of it, isn’t this the first time you’ve smiled since coming to the headquarters?
Haha. You always had a frightened look on your face, but you can look happy too. You look pretty cute when you smile.
Ah! The line started moving. I can see the sign. What flavour do you want?
I’ll have… Hmm… I’ll have the chestnut flavour one. But the azuki  flavour looks good too.
Ah. You’re going to have azuki? We’ll each share a piece of ours with each other then.
It’s alright, isn’t it? We’re already close enough to have kissed, you see.
Shall we hold hands then? I don’t mind doing it.
Okay, okay. I won’t tease you anymore. You’ve already seen me at my most pathetic. I don’t need to act like a ladies’ man in front of you anymore.
You found out that I like sweets too. Oh, well.
Hey, how about we eat here? The weather is good and it’s alright to eat outside sometimes, isn’t it?
Here’s the azuki one.
It’s good! It’s no surprise that people are lining up there everyday.
Will you try it too? Come on, open your mouth.
What do you think? Is it good?
It certainly is!
Ah, there’s a crumb on your mouth.
Not there. Here.
I’m not teasing you. Didn’t I just say I’d stop teasing you?
It’s strange. When I see you smiling, it makes me want to do things like this. I wonder why.
Ah. I remember I passed by here once when I snuck out of practice with Heisuke and Sano.
We’ve known each other since we were at the Shieikan . Even when we became members of the Shinsengumi, we would often have fun together. I was sure the three of us would be together forever. Of course, somewhere in my heart, I understood that wouldn’t be the case, as long as we were in the Shinsengumi.
It’s difficult to think that I might end up fighting with Heisuke. But he was prepared for that when he left the troop. I think that took quite a lot of courage.
A long time ago, Heisuke said that if he were to die, he would want me or Sano to be the one who killed him. If that’s what Heisuke wants, then I’ll do it. If someone else is going to end up taking his life, then I want to be the one who carries the burden of his life. But of course, I want to avoid that happening. So I made him promise that we’d all live a long time.
I’m only fond of the members of the Shinsengumi, I don’t actually depend on the Shinsengumi itself. So if I find somewhere else I can be myself, then I’ll have to make up my mind, like Heisuke did.
What about you? Will you stay with the Shinsengumi forever?
Tell me if you find somewhere else, alright? I can give you some advice.
This world is a dangerous place. Just by leaving this place, you could be considered a spy from somewhere. I’ll tell Kondo-san and the others you aren’t that type of person. So tell me if that happens. I think I’ll be able to help a little.
Also… I hate that the people around me are suddenly disappearing.
Ah. I’m sorry. I ended up talking about some strange things.
Haha. I wonder why I say unnecessary things when I’m with you.
The bean paste wafers were good, weren’t they? I’m glad I got to eat them with you.
Come on, let’s go back to the headquarters before it gets dark.
Give me your hand.
Let’s go back like this until we reach the headquarters.
Now that I think about it, this is my first time walking with someone so small. It feels strangely good. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen your smile.
 Goryou Eji – A group created by Itou Kashitaro after he and his allies separated from the Shinsengumi.
 Azuki – A bean used to make the red bean paste filling in Japanese sweets such as anpan and manju.
 Shieikan – A dojo in Tokyo, where several of the major Shinsengumi members met one another.
Ah! It’s you. We almost bumped into each other.
I was just in a bit of a hurry. Sorry.
You want to know what’s wrong? Well…
Come with me. I’ve got something to tell you.
Hajime had gone with Heisuke to the Goryou Eji, but he has just returned to the headquarters. It seems that they’re planning to assassinate Kondo-san. We will soon fight with the Goryou Eji. Of course, Sano and I will be taking part too.
The time that I had been worried about is already here.
Ah. But you don’t have to worry. You won’t be in danger if you stay at the headquarters. And no matter what happens, Hijikata-san has ordered us to save Heisuke. I’m certain that he won’t be killed.
It’s alright. I’m going to protect Heisuke. Don’t worry.
I’m going to get ready for battle now. The other men will be busy too, but you can just wait here. Got it?
Alright. It’s a promise.
Hmm? What’s the matter? Why are you coughing? Have you got a cold?
It’s pretty chilly around this time. A woman shouldn’t let her body get cold. Keep yourself warm and go to sleep. I’m going to where Kondo-san and the others are. See you later.
It was an unforgettable day. November 18th, in the third year of the Keio era . That day, amongst the Shinsengumi, there was a nervous feeling we had never experienced before. In order to put a stop to the Goryou Eji’s plan, we tricked Itou-san and assassinated him when he let his guard down. We left his body at the gate of Honkoji in Aburanokoji  and sent a message to Gesshinin , where the Goryou Eji were.
It was only because of my selfishness that I prayed Heisuke wouldn’t come to this battlefield, but that wish was for nothing and Heisuke appeared anyway.
When they put Itou-san in a palanquin and lifted it up, that was our signal. Heading towards the Goryou Eji, who had their hands full, we wielded our swords. Out of the corner of my eye, I looked for where Heisuke was. He was little way away from me.
I was blocked from getting near him by the fighting happening in front of me. I needed to hurry and take him somewhere so he didn’t get injured in the clash of swords, but I couldn’t move forward as I wished.
You bastard! You’re in my way!
Heisuke! Hey, Heisuke! Get away from here now!
Ah! Watch out, Heisuke!
Hmm? Oh, it’s you, Little Bird.
Yeah. I just spaced out for a while.
It seems that the order to spare Heisuke didn’t reach everyone in the troop. He was wounded by someone who wasn’t aware of the situation.
I couldn’t keep the promise I made with Heisuke. Even though he was relying on me so much. Why am I…
How can I call myself a warrior when I couldn’t even keep an important promise? How can I call myself his brother? Heisuke must be disappointed with me.
What was I doing there?
I wasn’t able to see whether he was alive or not. But I’m sure that injury…
I was quite confident about my sword fighting skills. To the extent that I thought there was no one stronger than me. But I’ve realised that confidence was meaningless. I haven’t become the kind of warrior I admired when I was a child.
My arms are no use to me. I couldn’t even protect someone important to me. My arms…
Let go! It doesn’t matter at all! I don’t need these useless arms!
Hey! Just let go!
You idiot! What if you’d gotten hurt?!
Is it normal to be so determined?
Hey. Why are you crying?
Ah, your cute face is ruined.
I’m sorry I tried to do something strange.
Come on, it’s alright now. Why are you crying? You don’t have to worry about me, do you?
Because you love me?
You idiot. You’re being tricked. You only have that impression because I was the first man to kiss you. There’s no way you could love a weak man like me.
I’m not weak? But I couldn’t protect anyone…
What? I protected you?
I don’t remember doing anything to protect you.
I always stayed by your side when you were sad?
Ah, when you’d just come to the headquarters? That’s because I can’t ignore a woman when she’s alone with a sad look on her face. I told you that I’d made up my mind to treat women kindly, didn’t I? That’s all it was.
No… I suppose it’s more than that. I usually avoid troublesome things. Maybe I just wanted to take care of you because it was you. Now that I think about it, you were always by my side when I was lonely too, weren’t you?
Hey. Do you really love me?
In that case… You can be the one to kiss me.
Your face is bright red. It’s obvious that you’re trying too hard.
Anyway, you’re not even tall enough on tiptoes to reach my lips, are you?
Thank you though.
Can you still love someone worthless like me?
You’re strange, aren’t you?
Stay still. Let me be the one to kiss you after all.
My arms? It’s alright now. I don’t feel like cutting them off anymore.
Eh? You’re sure Heisuke is alive?
You’re right. He was full of life at the Ikedaya Affair. He wouldn’t die so easily, would he?
I won’t let you experience any more pain. Just like you did for me, I’ll definitely be by your side whenever you’re hurt.
Someone will see us? Yes. You’re right.
Too bad. We’ll continue this another time.
It’s gotten quite cold, hasn’t it? Didn’t you catch a cold? Go inside now. Have some hot tea and get some rest.
Hmm? What’s the matter? Go inside quickly.
Hey! What’s the matter? Hey! Hey!
 Keio era – An era which began during April 1865.
 Aburanokoji – The incident where Itou Kashitaro was killed is named after this street where it occurred.
 Gesshinin – A temple that was founded during 1617 and is located next to the more well known Kodaiji Temple.