Shinsengumi Hiyokuroku Wasurenagusa 1 – Saitou Hajime
CV – Takahashi Naozumi
April 1867. I left the Shinsengumi together with Itou-san and Toudou-san and became a member of the Goryou-Eji . Naturally, I’m still faithful to the Shinsengumi. In my mind, I’ve always been the leader of the third troop of the Shinsengumi.
However, I became a member of the Goryou-Eji because there was a rumour that Itou-san, the captain of the Goryou-Eji, was planning to assassinate Kondo-san.
It wasn’t actually clear whether that was true or not.
Then, in December 1867, I left the Goryou-Eji and returned to the Shinsengumi alone. While I was away, the headquarters had moved from Nishi-Honganji  to Fudodo Village .
There must be other things apart from the headquarters which have changed. I didn’t sense any nostalgia about the headquarters, but the atmosphere was certainly that of the Shinsengumi.
While everyone slept at night, I quietly knocked on the door of the headquarters. The joy of being able to wield my sword as a soldier of the Shinsengumi was in my mind once again.
So this is where you were. I’ve been looking for you.
Why are you looking at me like that? Is it strange for me to be here?
Yes, I’m back now. I came here late last night.
I’ve just been to see Kondo-san. It’s been a quite some time since I’ve seen you.
Welcome home, hmm? It feels a little embarrassing, but it’s good to have someone waiting for me like this.
Hey, you… Don’t cry, you idiot.
Sorry I kept you waiting.
Come on. Don’t cry anymore.
Alright. You’re fine now, aren’t you?
The other men will find it strange to see me embracing a crying woman. That’s enough for now.
Seeing as I’ve returned, I want to take my time talking to you.
Kondo-san has given me some free time because I’ve just come back.
So… Will you go into town with me now?
You want me to wait until you’ve finished working? Unfortunately, I’m not a patient man. You can leave your work until later.
I’m insisting on it. You’ll come with me, won’t you?
I see. Let’s go then.
Getting ready? Why can’t you just go as you are? There’s no need to bring anything with you.
Dressing up? We’re not going anywhere special. Why do you need to get changed?
You’re going to dress up because you’re going out with me?
If you insist, then I suppose you have to. I’ll wait for you.
She looked happy. I was worried that her smile might have faded while I was away in Aizu . I’m glad that I had no reason to worry.
 Goryou Eji – A group created by Itou Kashitaro after he and his allies separated from the Shinsengumi.
 Nishi Honganji – A temple in Kyoto which the Shinsengumi made their headquarters in 1865.
 Fudodo Village – The third headquarters of the Shinsengumi, given to them in June 1867, as a reward for their achievements.
 Aizu – A feudal domain from the Edo period (1603-1868) which is in modern day Fukushima.
I haven’t been to this street for a while, but it seems like it hasn’t changed much. Ah, I suppose that’s only natural.
Now that I think about it, I only spent eight months with the Goryou-Eji. I wonder why it felt so long, even though I was busy everyday.
Well, I have a good idea why.
Hmm? That hairpin is…
This is the one I gave you before my mission. Have you always been wearing it since then?
Do you like it that much?
But you get bored wearing the same one all the time, don’t you? Don’t women like to dress up in lots of different things?
When you put it like that, I’m glad I gave it to you. But we’ve come all the way here, so if there’s something you want, then I’ll buy it for you.
Even if you don’t want anything right now, you might find something while looking around the shops.
Come on. You should just give in at times like this.
Okay, let’s go.
What is it? We’re not near the shops yet.
Hmm? The dango shop?
That brings back memories.
Of course you want to have some, don’t you?
You don’t have to shake your head that much. I understand.
My goodness. Your eyes start to sparkle immediately when it comes to dango.
No, it’s nothing.
Come on, sit there. How many plates are you going to order?
This really does bring back memories. This was the dango shop we came to before, wasn’t it? You didn’t hold back at all that time either.
You’re eating well as usual. How do you find room for it? I feel as if that’s a mystery I’ll never solve.
I can’t believe I’m able to sit with you and see this scenery while eating dango again though.
That’s right. You’re always honest at times like this.
Me? You don’t need me to tell you that, do you?
Anyway… You’ve eaten up all the dango, haven’t you? I can’t believe you ate my share too.
No, don’t worry about it. I feel full enough seeing you eat. Order some more if it’s not enough. Just watching is enough for me.
By the way, how about your swordsmanship? Have you been training hard while I was away?
I see. I’m looking forward to how much you’ve improved. I’ve been away for a long time, so I have to prioritise the men’s training for a while, but I’ll train with you again soon. It might not be possible right away, but I promise I’ll do it. Make sure to practice by yourself until then so that you won’t get rusty.
Alright, we’ve had a good meal. Let’s go now.
What do you mean “where”? I told you earlier that I’d buy you anything you wanted, didn’t I?
Don’t tell me dango is enough for you. It’s an apology for leaving you alone so long. Don’t hold back.
Let’s go. Come with me.
There are a lot of things here, so you should find something. I’ll be waiting here, so choose something you like.
What? You want me to choose?
I don’t know what women like.
Alright… What about those hairpins there? They all look the same to me, but I’m sure there must be some difference. I’ll just pick anything…
Here you go. This is fine, isn’t it?
Why are you looking at me like that? I chose something, just like you asked, didn’t I?
You want something different?
My goodness. You tell me to choose, then you want something different. What a bothersome woman.
I’ve given you a hairpin before… But that doesn’t mean I can’t give you another one, does it? There’s no need to stick to one hairpin. So why don’t you consider it?
What don’t you like about it? Just choose what you like after all. I give up. I don’t understand what women like.
Hmm? This hairpin… I said they all looked the same earlier, but now that I’m looking closely, there are several different flower designs.
This is difficult…
This one is a comb?
Ah, it’s you.
You were pretty quick, but have you already found something?
Well, I just picked up this comb because it caught my eye. So they sell ones with camellia  patterns too…
You’re right. I like it. The falling of a camellia flower is said to resemble a person being beheaded, so it isn’t a popular flower.
But while many flowers bloom in spring and autumn, the camellia blooms in winter.
I think the camellia which blooms elegantly, despite being covered in snow, resembles you somehow.
Hmm… That’s right. Doesn’t its ability to survive the bitter cold resemble how strong you are?
Its eye-catching beauty is also… No, it’s nothing…
Anyway… You can use a comb, can’t you? If there isn’t anything you particularly like, then how about this?
What’s the matter? Why are you hesitating?
Ah… You wanted to look at the other things?
I see. Let’s have this one then.
Let me tell you something though. You can’t return this one later just because you don’t like it.
Alright. I’m going to buy it then.
You’re holding it really carefully. You don’t have to do that. No one’s going to take it from you.
It’s nothing that special, is it?
You think you were given something else precious? You’re exaggerating.
It’s already this late? Time really does pass by quickly when I’m with you. It’s completely different to when I was with the Goryou-Eji.
We usually spend a long time apart, but time goes by in an instant when I’m with you.
It looks like we’ll have to go back soon.
Don’t look so sad. We’ll come again when we’ve got free time.
Come on, let’s go. Hold out your hand.
When I’m holding your hand like this, I realise that women have such small hands.
I’m surprised you could keep up with my training.
You’re trembling. Is it because you’re nervous?
It’s alright. It’s nothing to worry about.
No one will look at us holding hands if we just act normally.
It’s only until we get back to the headquarters.
The warmth of your body makes me relaxed.
I’m glad I was able to come back to you like this.
No, it’s nothing. Shall we take the long way home today?
 Camellia – The red camellia (which features on the cover of this volume) symbolises “In love” and “Perishing with grace”. Different colours of camellias also represent “longing” (yellow camellias) and “waiting” (white camellias).
Alright, there’s no one here.
Don’t talk so loudly!
It’s be no good if the other men saw us talking like this.
Listen up. Come to my room tonight. Make sure no one sees you.
It’s fine, as long as you understand. See you tonight then.
Are you here?
Shh! Be quiet!
No one followed you, did they?
That’s good. Come in.
Hmm? What’s the matter? You can relax now.
Oh? It’s nothing. Why do you have such a serious look on your face?
Ah, I see. You’ve misunderstood something, haven’t you?
I didn’t ask you to come here because something happened. I wanted to give you this.
I think it’s called castella . Kondo-san got it from someone important in the shogunate.
Hijikata-san found out he was hiding it and confiscated it. Hijikata-san lost his patience because Kondo-san has been hiding sweets almost everyday. I happened to be passing by and was told to get rid of it, but I said throwing it away would be a waste because it’s an unusual sweet. Then he told me to eat it myself.
That’s how I ended up with it. But it’d probably taste better if I ate it with you, instead of alone. So that’s why I asked you to come here.
It’d be a bad example for the other men if they found out. That’s why I told you to make sure no one saw you coming.
I’m sorry I made you worry for nothing.
It goes bad easily, so we’ve got to eat it quickly. I know you’ve already eaten, but don’t women have a separate stomach for sweet things? You’ve got an especially big appetite.
Couldn’t you eat this quite easily?
Hmm? You’re trying to say it’s impossible?
I see. Well, if you’re too full to eat, then I suppose I’ll have to throw this away. I don’t want to eat it by myself.
What are you reaching out for? Why are you holding onto my sleeve?
My goodness… You should have been honest from the start and said you wanted it.
Here you go. Eat as much as you like.
Don’t rush and end up choking.
Haha. You really do look like you’re enjoying it.
Hmm? Me? I don’t want any.
I’m full after eating the food you made.
Is it really that tasty?
I see. In that case, I’ll try a little.
This is enough.
Not just your lips…
Your ears are too… And your neck…
They’re all sweet and taste good.
I was able to push you over so easily…
What’s the matter? Aren’t you going to resist?
You got tears in your eyes all of a sudden.
Are you expecting something?
How about you say something instead of staying quiet?
Don’t try to get away.
No one saw you coming here, did they?
Then no one will notice you.
Now that I think about it, it’s been a while since we were alone in this room together.
I won’t stop unless you use all your strength.
The night is long. You can eat them later.
Right… I’m going to see if it tastes sweet here too.
Hey. Don’t hide away.
That’s right. Show me even more.
Tell me everywhere that feels good. I’m going to taste you all over. You should just let my tongue drive you wild.
Your body has warmed up. Your eyes are filled with tears too. I won’t be able to stop myself if you let me see that.
Stop feeling embarrassed.
This is in the way too. Take it off.
It’s been a while since you last felt embarrassed like this? I’ll undo your sash then.
You can’t take off your kimono by yourself either? But you’re not going to say no, are you?
You look so indecent…
You’re feeling even warmer than before.
Even though I wasn’t touching you directly, it’s already overflowing.
It’s so easy for you to destroy my sense of reason.
I want to… I want to feel you even more. I want to hear your voice.
You still want more too, don’t you?
Running my fingers along here a little was enough to make you tense…
When you look embarrassed, it only seems like you’re trying to tempt me.
I couldn’t usually imagine you like this.
Keep your voice down.
It looks like you haven’t had enough.
In that case… How about this?
Relax. It’s been a while. This might hurt a little.
When our bodies are close like this, I feel sure that I really have returned.
Your warm cheeks, tearful eyes and dishevelled appearance…
Just looking at you makes me want to make love to you forever.
When I took you away from the Ikedaya that day, you said that I saved you, but meeting you might have been what saved me.
Come on… I’m going to feel you completely tonight. As long as my heart can take it.
You’re finally awake now? You slept well.
It’s unfortunate, I wanted to see your sleeping face a little longer.
It’s no good saying that. It’s more difficult for me not to look.
Hmm? Hey. Don’t cover your face. Let me see more clearly.
It’s because I couldn’t relax like this while I was away on my mission.
And when you’re beside me, I don’t even feel like sleeping.
It’s strange. Now that I think about it, I didn’t have time to think about you during my mission. Like what you were doing at that time or if you were lonely.
At night, I couldn’t help wanting to touch you. It’s still the same, even now that I’ve returned.
I wanted to spend time with you tonight too. The sweets were nothing more than an excuse.
I see. So you’d begun to realise too. I’m impressed you saw through it.
How about you? Did you feel as if you wanted to spend all your time with me?
I see. So you felt the same way as I do.
In that case, you want our bodies to be close like this too.
Come closer. I haven’t had enough yet.
My goodness. You really are tempting me.
There’s still a long time until morning. I’m happy to be with you like this again.
 Castella – A popular sponge cake which was brought to Japan in the 16th century by Portuguese merchants.
Hmm? Oh, it’s you. Come in.
Ah. You came to give me my kimono? Sorry for the trouble.
You really are working hard. Why don’t you rest a little?
I’m glad that you’re fine, but don’t push yourself too hard.
It’ll be no good if you push yourself too hard and end up collapsing.
Look. The moon is beautiful tonight.
It looks quite thin. Is that a crescent moon?
Hmm? Why are you staring at me? Is there something strange?
Ah… No… That’s right. I was just thinking about something.
I was thinking about you.
I’m not sure how to say this… It might have become a habit. While I was away from here, I often looked up at the moon and thought of you.
Because you have to turn away from other things during a mission, I couldn’t be absent-minded.
Times like this when I looked at the moon were my only relaxation.
That’s right. I’m really glad I was able to come back. If only I’d been able to bring Toudou-san back too though. But Toudou-san probably held onto his beliefs until the very end. The same goes for Itou-san.
But I can’t believe that there was a day when I had to cross swords with my comrades who carried the flag of sincerity … The same thing might happen again from now on.
Hmm? Why are you holding my hand?
I looked sad? I see… That’s what it looked like to you.
That’s right. I had a lot of thoughts about what happened. But just like the Goryou-Eji had their beliefs, there’s something I can’t give up either.
You understand too, don’t you?
Wielding my sword for the sake of the Shinsengumi. That’s my belief. I’ve continued to wield my sword again today in order to hold onto that belief. That won’t change from now on. Since the time that I became a member of the Shinsengumi, I decided to devote myself to them.
The Shinsengumi made me what I am today. Even if I’m facing my former comrades or even if those around me look down on me, I won’t have mercy for anyone who inflict vengeance on the Shinsengumi. No matter how much blood my sword is soaked with, if that is the duty of the Shinsengumi, then it is a sincere duty to me. I want to keep hold of that belief as long as I live.
No… I’m going to make sure I do it. I’m sure that’s my reason for existing and the one thing I can do for the Shinsengumi.
I’m sorry for keeping you here. I didn’t planning on talking for this long, but it seems that I start talking about a lot of different things when I’m with you.
You’re probably the only woman who’s glad to hear what I say. It’s not just Toudou-san… The Shinsengumi is also quite different from before.
But you should just stay as you are. If you do, then no matter what happens from now on, I believe that I’ll be able to come back here to you.
Yes, those words are more than enough.
Ah… There’s something I want to ask you. You know that Lord Yoshinobu  returned power to the Imperial Court, don’t you? But the Imperial Court wishes for the fall of the shogunate. Concerned about Lord Yoshinobu, they’ve decided to head towards Osaka.
The Shinsengumi will go there too. We’re saying it’s for defence, but it’s actually more than that. There will definitely be a battle. I’m sure that the difficult war will continue. I won’t be able to come back to Kyoto for a while.
What will you do? Will you come with me or will you stay here?
You’re giving me your answer right away? I thought you’d say that.
But I don’t want to lose you. My sword exists for the sake of the Shinsengumi, above all. I can’t be concerned with protecting you all the time. Once I go out onto the battlefield, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to take care of you. Your life might often be in danger. But no matter which battlefield I end up on, I want to devote myself and my sword to the Shinsengumi who acknowledged me, until the very end. So I definitely can’t say “I’ll protect you, so come with me”.
I won’t let you die though. You have to learn to protect yourself on the battlefield.
Do you really understand? A difficult situation, where I don’t even know when the next battle will end or when I might die, is going to continue for a long time. You’re saying that you’ll still follow me?
You’re right. I’ve taught you how to fight with a sword. If you’ve kept up with your training until now, then I’m sure there’ll be a way for you to survive. You’re a strong woman.
Alright. If you’re prepared, then I’ll respect your wishes. But promise me that you won’t push yourself too hard.
Let’s go together then.
 Sincerity – The symbol of the Shinsengumi is 誠”Makoto”, a concept which roughly translates as “sincerity”.
 Tokugawa Yoshinobu – The last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. He unsuccessfully tried to reform the shogunate.
After that, the Shinsengumi ended up fighting as members of the former shogunate, but as expected, the battlefield was a harsh place, and the new government army had the advantage.
In October 1868, after the Battle of Bonari Pass , Hijikata-san believed there was no chance of victory in the current war and decided to abandon Aizu, then head to Sendai.
Of course, I was asked to come too. But since Hijikata-san was headed towards Sendai, I decided that I’d stay in Aizu to fight the new government army, so I turned down that invitation.
I want to keep on protecting the Aizu Domain, who has acknowledged the Shinsengumi.
When I said that, Hijikata-san laughed and said that was just what he expected of me. Although I’d be fighting somewhere different, I would hold onto my sincerity, as a member of the Shinsengumi. I didn’t say this, but our feelings are the same.
Leading the men who stayed with me in Aizu, I headed towards the battlefield. Everything is for the sake of the Shinsengumi. That belief is the only thing that cannot be changed. That’s right. It’s because I’ve made that promise in my heart.
Hey. I’m coming in.
Are you a little less busy with your work?
I see. I’m going to give you some training now then.
Come with me. Get ready immediately. Otherwise I’ll leave you behind.
There shouldn’t be anyone else here. We can concentrate on training without worrying about our surroundings.
Why now? I made a promise to you in the tea shop, didn’t I? That I’d give you some training soon.
There’s no way that I’d forget. I don’t lie about sword fighting. I’ve never broken my promise to give you training, have I?
It’s been a long time since we fought against each other like this.
Let me see how much you’ve improved while I was away.
Come on, take your stance. There’s no need to hesitate. Come at me from any direction.
Dodging that kind of attack is too easy!
Hmm… Although I’m holding back, I’m still impressed you’re stopping my attacks. But it’s not over yet!
Your grip is weak! You need to concentrate better! Put all your feeling into your sword!
Come on! Hurry up and pick up your sword! Don’t just stand there!
Get into a strong stance. I’m sure I told you before that being a man or a woman makes no difference when it comes to sword fighting! If this was a real battlefield, you’d be dead before you knew it!
What are you doing? Don’t let your guard down!
Believe that the enemy is right in front of you now! Don’t think they’ll go easy on you because you’re a woman!
Begging for your life won’t work on the battlefield. You either kill or be killed.
Remember that only your swordsmanship can protect you. Pick up your sword quickly!
That’s it. That strong gaze. Let’s go!
I’m impressed you got this far with your frail arms.
You’re not there yet, but your stance is a lot better. It’s the result of training daily. It’s harder than you think to keep on training alone. A normal woman probably would have given up right away.
But you did well. You’ve done more than enough work.
Hmm? Why do you look confused? Even I compliment other people sometimes. I wouldn’t lie. But just like I said earlier, you’re not there yet. You’ve got to keep training.
Ah… It’s started raining?
We didn’t even realise that it’d gotten dark either.
Let’s go under that tree for now.
It started raining so suddenly. There’s nothing we can do. Let’s just shelter here for a while.
Rain, hmm… It reminds me of that day.
Yes… That rainy day when you didn’t return, even though you were supposed to be training. You can’t tell me you’ve forgotten.
I thought something had happened to you and I couldn’t stay calm. I was incredibly relieved when you came back.
I didn’t say I was worried. Don’t be so arrogant.
Anyway, you’re always doing things that make me tense…
No… It’s nothing.
Looking up at the grey sky, I recalled the time I spent with you. When I found you at the Ikedaya. The day I let you hold a sword. Worrying about whether you would come back to the headquarters. The first time that I kissed you. Not being able to see you for a while after I had become a member of the Goryou-Eji. While I was spending my days with you, your existence gradually grew greater inside me.
That’s right… That hasn’t changed, even now. I care about you even more than I did yesterday. I want to make you happy. That’s why there was a decision I had to make. I don’t understand women’s hearts at all. I don’t know the right way to say things. This is all I can do.
I’ve already fulfilled my promise to train you. You’ve rested enough, haven’t you?
Get up. Unfortunately, it’s raining, but that’ll make things interesting.
Don’t think of what’s coming next as training, but as a serious duel. You only have one chance to win. And if I win, you’ll go back to Kyoto. You understand what I’m saying, don’t you?
You shouldn’t stay in a dangerous place like this any longer. Go back to somewhere the war won’t reach.
Very well. If you happen to win, then I won’t say something like that again. I promise. That’s the only considerate thing I can do in response to your spirit.
How about it? You’ll have a chance if I don’t use my dominant hand, won’t you?
Hmph. Are you dissatisfied with that?
I’m confident I can beat you, even with that disadvantage.
You’re doing better than you were earlier. But there’s no way a woman can beat me!
You’re more skilful than I thought you’d be. I’m surprised things have got this far even though I’ve given you a handicap.
But there’s no way I can lose! You shouldn’t be on the battlefield! Let’s go!
Hmph. It seems that both of us have something we’re not willing to give up. But don’t think you’ll be able to beat a man with those frail arms of yours! This is the end!
You had a good stance just now. I didn’t think that I’d really lose to you.
Hey… Why are you crying?
You don’t want me to leave you alone anymore?
But I want you to live somewhere safe. It’s only natural for me to feel that way. Even if you’re not by my side… It’s fine, as long as you’re safe.
I really feel that way now that you’re staying in Aizu. It’s fine as long as you’re somewhere, smiling.
Ah… You won, didn’t you? I knew you weren’t holding back, but I still thought I wouldn’t lose.
That’s right… I was probably defeated because I was distracted by your tears. I can’t believe I got carried away by my feelings while wielding my sword.
You’re fine with this, are you? It means following me everywhere I go.
I see. I understand.
Don’t cry. I won’t know what to do if you cry.
That’s right. I won’t try to push you away again.
I was feeling stupid for worrying about the safety of a woman like you. I don’t know another woman as strong as you.
We’ll face many dangers from now on. I might even die in front of your eyes. But you’ll still stay with me, won’t you?
I see. Maybe I was drawn to you because you’re like this.
I promise never to let go of you again. So keep hold of my hand until the very end.
 The Battle of Bonari Pass – A part of the larger Boshin War, which took place at Bonari Pass, on the edge of Aizu.