Shinsengumi Kekkonroku Wasurenagusa 4 – Hijikata Toshizo
CV: Hosoya Yoshimasa
Around two and a half years have passed since the Ikedaya Affair. This is a chaotic era where no one knows what tomorrow will bring. We Shinsengumi are living in that era. At some point, the Shinsengumi name became widely known. To outsiders we’re nothing more than a group of assassins and there are many who hate us. But no matter what society thinks of us, our will won’t change.
No matter how notorious we become, my place will always be here. The Shinsengumi is something I would like to protect, for better or worse. If I can protect the troop in exchange for my life, then I would not hesitate to offer myself.
I might get laughed at for being a foolish man. But if that was the best thing I could do now, then I would not choose any other option. I would be as demonic as is necessary for the sake of the Shinsengumi. To the lawless men and to the soldiers. And to myself.
Are you preparing dinner?
It smells good. It’s so good that it almost feels like poison to someone returning from duty. You’re torturing me quite a lot by making me wait another moment to eat it, aren’t you?
Hey. Could you give me some water? I’m tired from all the walking I’ve done today.
Ah, sorry for the trouble.
The sound of the woman you love cooking isn’t bad. Hearing that is enough to make my tiredness go away.
Hmm? What’s that look on your face for? Is it strange for me to say that?
Ah, you were reacting to “the woman I love” part. You’re such a simple woman. You’re much too innocent.
There’s no need for you to shake your head. Your cheeks are red. Don’t think that you can lie to me.
Anyway, how about you get on with the cooking? The men will complain if dinner is late.
Hmm? Your hair has come loose. Are you okay leaving it like that?
Ah, so your hands aren’t free at the moment? I’ve got no choice then.
Don’t be like that. I’m going to tie it up again. Be quiet and concentrate on the cooking. As you can see, I’m good with my hands. Long ago, I used to help my sister-in-law tie her hair. Tying anyone’s hair is the same.
Does it tickle? Your hair is much finer than mine. It seems just like cat fur. It must be difficult to tie up because it’s so soft.
Hey! Don’t wriggle.
You can feel my breath on your neck? Just put up with it. It’s not as if I’m going to do anything to you now.
That’s what I’d like to say… But now that I’m looking again, your neck is quite pale and beautiful. I can’t help wanting to kiss you…
Hey. You’re not cutting the radish evenly now. If this is enough to bother you, then I’m concerned what might happen if I go even further.
Listen carefully. You and I are lovers. I’m going to touch you like this more often.
If you react like that every single time, you won’t be able to do things as you wish. You understand what things I mean, don’t you?
Are you going to play dumb? Never mind.
Alright. That’s fine for now, isn’t it? Tell me if you need it tied up again. I can do this kind of thing if I’m not busy.
Ah, you don’t need to thank me. Just make some good food quickly. I can’t work when I’m hungry.
The number of soldiers has increased recently. So making enough food is more difficult than before. The headquarters were also transferred from Nishi Honganji , so there must be more places to clean too. Get the men to help you if you can’t manage everything.
What? I’m kinder than before? No, that’s not right. It’s because you’ve matured as a maid since the time you first came to the headquarters, so I don’t have to tell you off so often. That’s all it is.
Don’t misunderstand. If you’ve done something to break the rules, I won’t hesitate to kill you. I’ve decided I’d even kill the woman I love for the sake of the Shinsengumi.
Well, I’m sure you won’t do anything to betray the troop though. Anyway, just get dinner ready.
Me? I have some business with Kondo-san. He should be back from his duty soon, so I’ll wait here for a while. It’s easier to hear the door from here than in my room.
Am I distracting you? All I’m doing is sitting here. Just imagine I’m not here.
I wonder when I began to think it was natural for you to be here at the headquarters. I also feel as if peaceful times like this have become strangely more frequent.
I’m feeling quite tired.
Hey. Wake me up when Kondo-san gets back. I’m going to rest for a little while.
 Nishi Honganji – A temple in Kyoto which the Shinsengumi made their headquarters in 1865.
Hey! What’s the matter? You’re holding back! You’ll get injured by the enemy if you keep that stance! Straighten up! Next!
Why do your eyes look like that? It’s obvious that you’re afraid! Have the determination to kill!
That’s right! That’s how your eyes should look!
Good! If you move like you just did, then the enemy will not confront you. Keep going like that!
Hmm? Ah, it looks like we’re out of time. That’s the end of training for today!
Continue with the training if you have time.
I lost track of time while training again, did I? I’m sorry you had to come and remind me.
Hey. Bring a handtowel to my room. Prepare some tea too. Make some delicious tea.
Alright, put it there.
Hey, wait. Don’t leave yet.
Today the men’s morale was high. I couldn’t help getting into the training. My arms are tired, will you massage them a little?
You still have some time before you make dinner, don’t you?
Give me the handtowel. I want to wipe off my sweat first.
Why are you looking away? You should have seen men undressed here plenty of times. You didn’t look away all those times, did you? Or are you saying that your master’s body is different?
You’re so easy to understand.
Come on. Give me a massage. This is going to cause problems for me later.
I could get one of the men to do it, but I’d like you to do it instead.
Yes. You’re good with your hands. It feels quite good. Please massage a little lower. Yes, that’s right.
Women have good hands. I’ve asked Souji to give me a massage before, but it was no good. He put so much pressure on my bones that I thought he was doing it to annoy me. I remember getting bruised because he only massaged one place.
Well, now that I think about it, it was foolish of me to ask Souji. There’s no way that he would give someone a proper massage. I should have asked Harada to do it.
Hey. Don’t stop moving your hands.
Ah. You’re bothered about the pipe? You want to know if smoking tastes good? A child like you probably wouldn’t understand. It’s not a matter of whether it tastes good or bad. When you breathe deeply, it makes you feel more relaxed, right? It’s just the same as that.
Since becoming the vice-captain of the Shinsengumi, I’ve had to make all kinds of plans more often. Particularly ones regarding battles, where people’s lives are at stake. Those are not matters where failure would be forgiven. I can’t go without smoking this pipe when I want to concentrate on something or I want to relax. I think that’s how it is. Well, it could simply be a habit though.
Hmm? You really are a child if this smoke is enough to make you cough. But the kisses I give to you must always smell like this. Why don’t you get used to it already?
I was only joking. You don’t need to make such a big fuss of moving away. Goodness, it’s interesting how good a reaction I get from teasing you.
Can you massage me a little more? I’m still feeling tired.
Hmm? Ah, it’s almost time for you to start making dinner. You’ll have to go then. Concentrate on doing that. I’ll ask you again after I’ve had a bath. You can take your time later.
Alright, you can go.
She’s always such an innocent girl.
Hmm? Ah, it’s you.
Have you finished your work?
I see. Sit next to me if you have time. The wind feels good.
Is there something strange about me today?
You just called out to me with a worried look on your face, so I thought you’d sensed something. You are strangely observant.
It seems as if you are able to see inside my heart and sometimes it even feels uncomfortable.
I thought so. I wonder why you knew even when none of the men realised.
Never mind. I’m going to tell you first. Heisuke is going to leave the Shinsengumi.
Why are you so surprised? It’s not unusual for people to have differences of opinion. He’s going to form the Goryo Eji  with Itou-san. A few other men will also be leaving the Shinsengumi.
There’s no way I can stop him. When he spoke to Kondo-san and I, Heisuke had made up his mind. He won’t change it, no matter what we say. He won’t be able to keep wielding a sword if his will is different from ours. That’s the kind of person that a warrior is.
I know that Heisuke doesn’t plan to betray the Shinsengumi. I know that Heisuke is a considerate man. There’s no need to worry.
It’s just that our aims are different. However, I honestly have my doubts about Itou-san. Kondo-san seemed to be fond of him, but I don’t particularly like him. It might just be that we don’t get on well, but I’m going to send Saito-kun as a spy, just in case. If I sent Yamazaki, people would naturally be suspicious of him. I don’t want to be suspicious of Itou-san immediately, but I can’t let men go just like that either.
Of course, if I don’t find anything, then that’ll be fine.
If it’s a place where Heisuke can fit in as a warrior, then that’s alright.
Another person is leaving now.
No. I didn’t say anything.
Make sure not to tell anyone about Saito-kun. Not even the captains. Got it?
Alright, I’ll be going back to my room. There’s lots of paperwork I’ve got to finish. You get back to work too.
Stop looking so sad too. Even if Heisuke and Saito-kun are leaving, there’s no need for you to feel sad.
 Goryo Eji – A group led by Itou Kashitarou and made up of former Shinsengumi members.
Yes, I just got back.
Hmm? Hey. Your face is red. Is something the matter?
What? Your body feels heavy?
Your forehead is warm. Don’t you have fever?
Goodness. Why didn’t you get some rest if you were feeling ill?
Getting behind on your work isn’t a reason. If you had too much work to do, then why didn’t you say so sooner?
I’m sure I told you to ask the men if you had too much to do.
Tch. Come on, come here.
Sit there. I’ll get some medicine.
This medicine is good for fevers. Take this and rest.
Ah, so it was your first time taking Ishida Sanyaku ? Now that I think about it, I haven’t given you this medicine before. It’s the medicine my family made. When I was younger, I used to go out with a medicine box to sell the medicine.
Is that unexpected? It certainly might be difficult to imagine me honestly walking around and selling medicine, considering the way I am now. I’m well known as the vice-captain of the Shinsengumi, but I was born into a farming family. I wasn’t born to be a soldier. When I went out to walk, I would also go around selling medicine. Of course, I would walk around Edo. There were even times I would go as far as Shinano .
Visiting different places was more interesting than selling medicine. All of those things were a good experience. I’ve never thought that my past was useless. And in one sense, this medicine was the reason I became vice-captain of the Shinsengumi.
Yes, I was raised by my brother and his wife. My father died before I was born and my mother died when I was five. I knew my mother, but I don’t really remember her face. I vaguely remember that she was a kind person.
I was also aware that my brother and his wife considered me a troublesome person. Of course, my brother would not have admitted that. So I felt a little calmer when I wasn’t at home. It’s also the medicine my mother and father made. I felt that I was somewhat able to repay my parents who gave me life when I went around selling the medicine. But I still didn’t feel like continuing to sell the medicine. It was my older brother’s job to take over the family business. If I, the fourth son, had taken over, it would only cause trouble if I were to always stay at the home where my brother and his wife lived.
I wanted to avoid that. I enjoyed wielding a sword too. Aiming to become a soldier, I sold the medicine whilst going from dojo to dojo. Before long, I ended up at the Tennen Rishin Ryu , where Kondo-san was. Souji followed soon after me. He was a cheeky child, but his sword skills were greater than those of an ordinary child.
Then I formally joined the Tennen Rishin Ryu and formed the Roshigumi , which later became the Shinsengumi. The place I was meant to be became more certain little by little. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this medicine led me to the Shinsengumi.
Ah. This brought back memories and I couldn’t help talking about it. I suppose it was something I shouldn’t have talked to a feverish person about.
You were happy to hear what I just said? Hearing about my past can’t be interesting at all. You’re a strange girl.
Never mind. You should feel a little better if you take this. I’ll tell Kondo-san to let you rest today.
You don’t need to thank me. Hurry back to your room and get some rest.
 Ishida Sanyaku – A medicine made by Hijikata’s family which was used for treating bruises and broken bones.
 Shinano – An old province of Japan, located in the present day Nagano prefecture.
 Tennen Rishin Ryu – A martial art style founded in 1603 which was used by several members of the Shinsengumi.
 Roshigumi – A group of masterless samurai who were protectors of the shogunate. Many Shinsengumi members had also been part of the Roshigumi.
Has Yamazaki already gone?
I see. Then immediately prepare the guard for this area. Hurry!
Were you able to capture them?
What? You couldn’t find them? Don’t be ridiculous! If we leave them be, they’ll keep coming back to attack the Shinsengumi! The fact that they had hidden themselves is not a good enough reason! Look thoroughly for where they might be hiding!
Just go and look for them again! Make sure you find them!
Tch. How did things end up like this?
Hey, you! Bring some medicine and bandages to Kondo-san’s room. Hot water too!
It’s obvious why I’m asking! Hurry up and take them there!
I’m coming in.
Sorry I got angry at you earlier. I just got a little worked up.
There was only one reason I asked you to bring bandages. Kondo-san was injured.
Because the injury was treated quickly, his life isn’t in danger. But he has a deep cut on his shoulder. He won’t be able to fight for some time.
Who injured him? It seems that it was someone from the Kodaiji faction . They are the survivors from the group of men who planned to assassinate Kondo-san. I can’t believe they didn’t give up, despite all the bad things they went through. I’ll be taking charge of most of the battles while Kondo-san recuperates.
You also know that Yoshinobu-kou  recently returned power to the Imperial Court, don’t you? Imperial rule has been restored. But it seems that Satsuma and Choshu  won’t be satisfied unless the shogunate is overthrown. Because of that, Yoshinobu-kou will be staying at Osaka Castle for a short time. As a result, we Shinsengumi will also be going to the south of Kyoto.
Do you understand? We are said to be going there as security, but that is not the reality. We are actually going to blockade upper Kyoto. We’re going into battle.
Now that Kondo-san is unable to move, I’m the only one who can take charge. It will be a great battle. Not all of the men will return home alive. Even so, we have to go. That is the duty of the Shinsengumi.
So what will you do? Of course it’s a dangerous place. You’ll be safe here at the headquarters. But I’m going to ask you what you want. What would you like to do?
You want to go?
I see. I thought you might say that.
I will probably feel a little calmer if you’re by my side. Even though you won’t be on the front lines, I won’t let myself die so easily if you’re nearby. It will be a difficult battle, but I want you to come with me to assist the Shinsengumi. Please come.
We’ll be leaving these headquarters in a few days. Get ready for that. You won’t be able to relax for some time, but you’ll do all you can to carry out your mission as a member of the Shinsengumi. Understand?
I’ll be going to see Kondo-san for a while. His injury is a painful one and he has hardly eaten.
No, don’t come with me. Kondo-san has his pride as a captain. He probably doesn’t want too many people to see himself in such a terrible state. Just let him be for now.
You get some rest now. See you later.
 Kodaiji faction – A group headed by Itou Kashitarou, who had planned the assassination of Kondo Isami.
 Yoshinobu-kou – The last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. He unsuccessfully tried to reform the shogunate.
 Satsuma and Choshu – Two powerful clans which were attempting to overthrow the shogunate.
The fourth year of the Keio era . The Shinsengumi took 150 warriors and based themselves at Fushimi  in the south of Kyoto. The battle was started by the shogunate and the Satsuma. Although I had taken charge, the battle with the Aizu Domain  turned out to be worthless and the shogunate army was effortlessly scattered aside. The anti-shogunate faction possessed guns and we were no match for them when we challenged them with swords alone. The soldiers who had lived together with me died one after another. I was unable to hold back my anger as I looked upon that scene.
The next day, we retreated to Osaka Castle, believing that there would be no more battles coming. However, there was no sign of Yoshinobu-kou, who had already escaped to Edo. At that time, we Shinsengumi had no choice other than to follow him. Kondo-san was now able to move and so we headed towards Edo together.
Hah. I can’t believe how difficult that battle was.
What is it? Have you come to take pity on me?
Well, thanks for going to all that trouble.
You haven’t? What are you trying to say? I’ve already sacrificed many men. I know the enemy were using guns, but I’m sure Kondo-san would have thought up a better strategy than I did. We were defeated because of how useless I am. What other feeling than pity could you have for someone like me?
Although the battle is over for now, the men are gradually decreasing in number. Where there were 150 men before, now there are 100.
Do you know why?
Yes, they deserted us.
Even as I’m talking to you, there are men who have decided they can no longer stay in the Shinsengumi and are running towards somewhere else in secret.
I don’t feel like chasing them or watching over the men.
Of course not. I’m not going to stop anyone who has looked down on me.
Nagakura and Harada will be leaving the Shinsengumi too.
Things got like this all of a sudden.
Before long everyone will disappear like this.
Don’t touch me! Stop trying to sympathise with me! I’ve got no intention of letting you comfort me!
What good will it do for you to try and console me?! The bonds of the Shinsengumi shouldn’t have been weakened by something like this! I’ve lost so many of the men that Kondo-san protected! This is all my responsibility.
Are you trying to tell me to forget what has already passed? Or tell me that I’m not at fault? If you are, then you really don’t understand. There’s no way that you could understand my pain!
How am I supposed to take responsibility for the lives that have been lost? How should I ask for forgiveness? How can I turn back time? What can I do?
Don’t touch me! I told you not to touch me!
Tch. Just go away somewhere else. Hurry up!
 Fourth year of the Keio era – 1868.
 Fushimi – An important area near Kyoto during the time that the Tokugawa shogunate was in power.
 Aizu Domain – They were on the side of the shogunate and were also sponsors of the Shinsengumi. The Aizu were located in modern day Fukushima.
Have you got a moment?
Is the injury on your hand still not better? I’m sorry I got angry at you the other day. I was just taking things out on you. Even though getting angry at you wouldn’t have changed the situation. On top of that, I pushed you away and hurt you. Does it still hurt?
Ah, your bandage is loose. I’ll wrap it up for you again. It’s red and swollen.
You think it’s actually gone down quite a bit?
Roll up your sleeve. I made you have a painful experience, didn’t I? I’m sorry.
It’s alright? You’re such a foolish woman. There’s no need to smile at me like that, is there?
You should just look down on me, just like the men who ran away.
Alright, that’s fine now. It should alleviate the pain a little.
Ah, right… There’ll be a festival held around here tonight. I heard that it’s a traditional festival in this town. Well… I can take you when there aren’t so many people around, at the end of the festival. If you’d be interested… Will you got with me?
Alright. Get ready then. We’ll be going near the end, but you should be able to get a sense of the festival atmosphere.
I’ll be leaving here again tomorrow. You should take your time looking around the town today. I’ll go and get permission from Kondo-san. I’m sure he’ll ask for some sweets as a gift, but most of the stalls will probably be shut. Let’s not expect anything when we go there. Alright, see you later then.
Most of the stalls really are shut around this time. I’m sorry this was the only time I could take you.
Ah, you look quite happy. So I suppose it doesn’t matter to you that the festival is almost over.
Hey, don’t run!
You’re hurt. It’d be no good if you fell over in that state. You should quietly walk behind your master.
Just do it. You don’t know who might suddenly walk into your path. It’d be no good if you bumped into them.
Anyway, is there something you’d like to eat? We’ve come all the way here, so ask for something.
A candy apple? Are you okay with that? You’re such a simple woman. Fine then, wait here a little while.
Here you go, eat up.
What? Is there something wrong with me buying one for myself too?
I ate a candy apple once when I was a child. I was just feeling a little nostalgic.
Ah, it’s as sweet as I remember. It’s as if my throat is burning. I’m not sure I can finish it.
It should be alright once I get to the apple? I see. Well, I’ll try my best to eat it then…
Hmm… You look happy. Does it taste that good? Well, you haven’t been able to eat sweets recently. Eat as much as you like.
Hey! I told you not to start running all of a sudden.
There’s a goldfish? You really are like a child.
My goodness. If things were going to be like this, I should have tied a rope around your neck. You’re so clumsy.
Hold out your hand. I can’t hold your hand when it’s covered in bandages, but you should be able to link arms with me. Come on.
You’re such a bothersome dog.
No, it was nothing.
There’s a river there. Let’s sit down for a while. Come on.
Are you cold?
I see. That’s good then.
The river at night is nicer than you’d think. The air is clear and I feel calm.
Ah, it does taste pretty good once you get to the apple. But that makes me feel like I should have just had an apple to begin with.
Don’t get so angry.
Yes, you’re right. I said something inconsiderate. I’m sorry.
Hmm? What’s the matter? You’re staring at me. Is there something on my face?
You haven’t seen me smile for a long time? Is that so? Well, I certainly have been frowning a lot recently.
You think I’m really going to become a demon if I keep doing that?
That doesn’t matter. As the vice-captain who leads the Shinsengumi, I must harden my heart. I decided that quite some time ago. It doesn’t matter now. I promised that I would be the opposite of Kondo-san, who is a gentle man.
I think I actually became the kind of person I wanted to be. The men look at me in fear and no one talks to me without good reason. But I’ve never felt alone. Because I did it all for the sake of the troop.
But the captains somehow became close to me. I’m sure they had noticed my loneliness at some point. They’re such bothersome guys. The same goes for you too.
You’re about the only idiot who would have approached me earlier. Even though you’ve been hurt, you look at me with unclouded eyes.
Hey. Why are you so insistent upon staying by my side? You should just leave a man like me alone. Am I wrong?
Don’t be silent. Say something.
Because you love me? What’s that supposed to mean? That’s not much of a reason.
I understand. Fine, just stop looking at me like that. Don’t you think it feels strange?
What’s the matter?
What? A shooting star?
Ah, you’re right. You can see the sky clearly today.
They may be beautiful, but shooting stars are said to be a bad omen. They’re not something good.
Hey. Why are you closing your eyes? If you like the stars, then why don’t you keep looking at them?
So if you close your eyes and make a wish before the shooting star disappears, that wish will come true?
What a strange thing to believe. Did you parents tell you that?
So shooting stars make wishes come true, hmm? It’s not as if I believe that shooting stars are a bad omen. If I’m going to believe in something, then I’ll choose to believe your words.
My wish would be…
I gently closed my eyes at the starry sky which seemed about to fall. I heard the sound of the flowing river, the silent night and your breathing.
I had plenty of wishes that I wanted to come true. The Shinsengumi. Kondo-san. Souji. And you too. I know that making a wish to the sky won’t do anything, but I thought I would try anyway.
I wonder where I’ll be going next. I wonder how much time I have left. The more I think about it, complicated feelings begin to reside in my heart. Even though I must firmly plant my feet on the ground and keep looking forward. Now, as each moment passed by, I began to turn my eyes away. Sacrificing my life for the sake of the Shinsengumi is my reason for living. Even if my heart stops on the battlefield, I won’t have any regrets.
But I wish that I could have just a little more time. I suppose that is a sign of my weakness. Whilst I feel your warmth beside me, I hope that your smile won’t fade too soon, like the flame of a candle, despite how sad the farewell that comes might be.
What did I wish for? Of course I’m not going to tell you. Wishes don’t come true when you say them out loud. But I’ll tell you if there comes a time when I am able.
It’s a nice evening, isn’t it? It’s quiet and beautiful. It feels as if you and I are the only ones who exist.
You idiot. Closer than that.
In one sense, happy times are the saddest thing there is. The more often people experience times like this, the more they think of the time that they have lost. The despair that those times will not return stays with them. Even your pure gaze gives me a lump in my throat. My life probably won’t end peacefully. I’ve been prepared for that since I became vice-captain of the Shinsengumi.
Even so, I get scared sometimes. I hope that I won’t disappear. I feel even more like that when I think of leaving behind this land I’m seeing with you now.
So from now on, please don’t ever forget this time.
I shouldn’t talk as if I’m going to die right away?
You’re right. I have to fight for a little longer. Against those who want to overthrow the shogunate and against myself. When everything has been resolved, I will finally be able to hold you once more. Now isn’t the time for me to be captivated by a woman. So until then, I can’t die so easily.
Alright, let’s go home soon. Kondo-san will probably be worried.
Ah, I completely forgot that we were going to bring him some sweets as a gift. Well, we’ll just tell him that all the stalls were closed.
Come on. Let’s link arms so you won’t fall.
No, it’s not like that. You’ve got to stay by my side like this. Understand?
Then we Shinsengumi moved to Shimosa, Nagareyama . But we faced a difficult battle and were surrounded by the new government army immediately. The number of men just kept on decreasing. Even with the skills of the Shinsengumi, we were no match for our opponents’ strength. Soon after that, I received a report that Souji’s condition had gotten worse. Kondo-san had also been arrested as the captain of the Shinsengumi. Everything fell, as if it were rolling down a hill.
I hurried to Edo to plead for Kondo-san’s life. Later, as a member of the former shogunate, I fought my way to Aizu. It wasn’t as if things would go well when I had not taken action until now. I have to look forward and face the battle, holding Kondo-san’s and Souji’s will in my heart. But perhaps my tiredness brought me trouble, and I injured my leg on the battlefield. Having my moment of weakness seized upon was nothing more than humiliating. All I could think was “now is not the time to be doing this.” I was shocked by cowardly I had become.
It would be wonderful if I could go to the battlefield immediately. I clenched my fist as I looked upon my leg, unable to move from the pain.
I thought it was you. Recently, I’ve been able to tell just by hearing your footsteps.
Of course I would. All I’m doing is lying in bed day after day.
Dinner? Ah, I’ll have mine later. Leave it around there.
I haven’t been eating recently?
Ah, I suppose so.
I’m not hungry. I can’t help it.
And I can’t just sit here enjoying food when other men have lost their lives in battle.
How long am I going to be here doing this? I’ve been waiting two months for my leg to heal. I want to pick up my sword right now, but my body won’t do as I say. Even when I try to stand up, I’ve got no strength in my legs and I end up right back on my bed again.
How pathetic. The demon vice-captain would be shocked to hear this. I suppose Souji felt the same way. Souji was sent away from here to recover. He didn’t have the strength to participate in battle.
But Souji was strongly against his treatment. Now I understand his feelings painfully well. If I was in Souji’s place, I would have wished to stay in the battle until the very end. I’m an idiot.
It’s only now I’m aware that I wasn’t able to make him happy in the end. Nothing can save Souji now, except for an incredible miracle. That’s just how weak he has become.
Kondo-san has probably been executed too. While I’ve been stuck here unable to move, Heisuke has also gone. Nagakura and Harada are no longer here either. Everyone important to me is gradually leaving. They’re all leaving my side.
Everyone has gone. Don’t you think it’s strange? There were so many soldiers before, but now only a handful remain.
Do I really think it was right to send Souji away to recuperate? Do Nagakura and Harada regret being involved with the Shinsengumi? Was Heisuke happy? Will I be able to carry out Kondo-san’s will by myself from now on?
Although I think it’d be easier to let go of everything, I can’t do that, no matter what.
It’s strange, isn’t it? I’m so foolish, it makes me sick! I could be of some use if I was able to move my legs.
It doesn’t matter if the mats get stained by blood! This is nothing compared to the pain the dead soldiers felt!
Hey! Where are you going? Wait!
Where are you going? Are you going to disappear from my sight too?
What? You’re going to get bandages? You don’t need to do that. Don’t leave the room for that reason!
My injury doesn’t matter! Please don’t go anywhere. You’re the only one who mustn’t leave… Please.
What would I do if you went away too? What would I…
I’m sorry. I said something strange, didn’t I? I made a big fuss just because you were leaving the room.
It seems as if I’m acting strangely now. I’m sorry for shouting.
What’s the matter? You look as if you want to say something. I’m sure I can accept whatever you say.
You’re not going to leave my side? What are you talking about?
How strange. I’ve lived for years not trusting what other people say. So why do I believe in what you say?
Hey. When did it start? When did you become such an important part of myself? Why do I need you so much?
No. You don’t need to say anything. I’m sure it isn’t something you can put into words. But I can say this. I’m glad you’re here.
As long as you’re by my side, I’m sure I can keep fighting until the end. Will you make a promise for me? Promise that you’ll live beside me from now on. I won’t accept no for an answer. Just stay by my side.
 Shimosa – A province during the Edo period which is located in modern day Chiba and Ibaraki prefectures.
Hey. Are you here?
My leg? It still hurts a little, but I’m able to walk now. It should be fine now that I’m able to move this much.
Anyway, will you come out for a little while? The weather is quite good today. It wouldn’t be that interesting to walk alone. How about we go together?
I’ll be waiting at the gate. Come when you’re ready.
What are you looking at? I told you my leg is fine now, didn’t I? Don’t look so worried. Now that I think about it, I’ve been away from the battlefield for three months, haven’t I? Things still haven’t been resolved with the anti-shogunate faction though. It’s a long battle.
I want to tell you something today. That’s why I asked you to come out for a walk. You’ll listen, won’t you?
The Shinsengumi will be going to Ezochi  next. As before, it will be for the sake of the battle against the anti-shogunate faction. But I won’t be taking you from now on. The battles are getting more dangerous every day. You shouldn’t get any more involved.
I’m sure you’ll shake your head and say you don’t want that. Even so, I’ve decided to leave you behind.
No. You’re going to stay here. I know you said you have no intention of leaving me. However, I’m sure that has nothing to do with the distance between us. Am I wrong?
Don’t look as if you’re about to cry. It’s not as if we’ll be apart forever. Do you think I’m going to lose my life on the battlefield? Who do you think I am? I’m sure you understand that I’m not the type of man to die so easily. I’ll definitely return home alive. I’ll survive and hold you in my arms again like this.
Do you think I’m the type of man who wouldn’t fulfil his promise?
Then believe in me and wait. Don’t make me repeat myself. I won’t die, leaving you alone. After the battle, peace will come once more. Be patient until then.
Hmm? What are you doing?
A pinky promise? My goodness. That’s something children do.
Alright then. I’ll do that if it will satisfy you. You make sure to wait for me too. I won’t go easy on you if you end up with another man. If you break this promise, I’ll make you swallow a thousand, maybe even ten thousand, needles.  Make sure you’re prepared. Got it?
Come on. Let’s hold hands. We’ll go back soon.
What? You want to buy sweets on the way home?
Hey… Don’t talk like Kondo-san would.
Tch. Why does everyone like eating sweet things?
Ah. Come to think of it, the yuzu  buns that were in Kondo-san’s room before tasted good. I’m sure that…
Then I went with to Ezochi, taking with me the few remaining soldiers and Kondo-san’s will. I told you that my leg was fine, but there are times when it won’t move. This injury will probably continue to affect me from now on. But I didn’t care about the pain as I faced the battlefield. It might be more correct to say that it wasn’t possible to do.
At any rate, once I take hold of my sword, my body moves in the same way it did when I was in Kyoto. Of course I had a feeling that something might happen. Even so, I couldn’t stop just yet.
When two months had passed since I left Aizu, I became the general of the Kando army and was responsible for the care of the Goryokaku . And when three months had passed, the new government army attacked, leaving many dead. The enemy began many attacks against the reduced number of soldiers. Soon, six months had passed since the last time we saw each other.
As a result of forcing myself to use my leg, the pain got worse. It was getting to the point where I wouldn’t be able to run any longer.
Ezochi was being invaded by the new government army. And in May, a large number of enemy soldiers made an all-out attack on Hakodate. That meant it was the last battle.
So the time has finally come, has it? There are those who have somehow managed to get along so far, but of course we can’t tell what tomorrow will be like for them. I wonder whether I will see you again.
I have absolutely no intention of dying, but of course I should be prepared for that to happen. If I write this letter to you and I return home alive, then I’ll just tear it up and throw it away.
The stars really do look beautiful tonight. I hope she is looking at this sky too.
I had no plans when I started writing the letter, but I surprisingly had no shortage of things to say. Rather than that, I was troubled by the many things I wanted to say. I think of you as I put my thoughts into words. At that moment, it irritated me to be too far away to say these words to you in person.
I suppose this is alright?
Hey, you. Give this to the maid at our headquarters if I die during the next battle. You can get rid of it if the next battle ends safely. I’m counting on you.
I hope that letter will never reach her though.
 Ezochi – A state established by the shogunate in 1869 and defeated by Imperial forces in the same year.
 Yuzu – A type of citrus fruit.
 This is a reference of a song used when making promises. The song says if someone tells a lie, they will have to swallow a thousand needles.
 Goryokaku – A fort located in Hokkaido which was built by the shogunate to protect the Tsugaru Strait from invasion by Russia.
Then came the second year of the Meiji era , May. The battle had just begun. Amidst the gunfire, I got onto my horse and wielded my sword.
There really is no way to defend against guns.
Hey! Don’t stop moving! If you stop, the enemy will be able to take aim!
We really can’t get close to the main camp. In that case…
You lot! Listen up! I’m going to attack the main camp now. I’m prepared for stray bullets. When I’ve scattered the enemies with guns, you follow me!
Move! You’re in my way!
At that time, that was the only way for us to fight our enemies. I felt bullets rush past my face as I hurried towards the enemy camp alone. I was prepared for everything. Throwing away my life for the sake of the troop was nothing to me. I know I’ve done this many times before. But it was only this time that my whole body trembled.
The thought of why I felt that way ran through my mind. It wasn’t just a fear of pain or death. It was something different. Yes, I was afraid of being unable to fulfil my promise to you.
Now! Come here! Just a little further…
Amidst my blurry vision, I dizzily looked around me. The high sky was spread out before me. I could just about see a horse stumble by. I realised that my horse had been shot and I had fallen off. I felt a burning pain all over my body. My head felt tense.
Before long, I was feeling strangely comfortable. I suppose this is what death is. Tears ran down my cheeks when I realised that. I slowly closed my eyes at the loud ringing in my ears. Strangely enough, the last thing I saw was not the Shinsengumi uniform or flag, but your smile.
Leave me alone.
I’m sorry. I promised that I’d definitely return.
This is my first time writing a letter to you. It isn’t like me to do this, but just in case something happens, I’ve decided to write this. I hope you won’t get to read this. I’ve faced countless battles in order to raise the Shinsengumi flag. I’ve killed many people. I did so because it was my duty, of course.
You probably cannot understand a warrior’s way of life. But living and dying for the sake of the troop is my whole life. I won’t regret dying willingly. If I can die for the sake of the Shinsengumi, then that is my wish. Even though I’ve always felt that way, I’ve been questioning that since meeting you.
You really did stay by my side until the end. I lost many things, but your smile always stayed the same. Now I’m fully aware of how much you saved me. I don’t know how to thank anyone at times like this. I wish I could have given you something to make you happy, but I know little about what women are fond of. And nothing could match the value of what you’ve given me, regardless of its price. So I hope that I’ve made you feel the same way I do.
You might laugh and say you don’t need that, but what you’ve given is the most precious thing to me. Even if we’re as far apart as the sky and land, I’ll stay by your side, just like you did for me. When you close your eyes, I’ll always be by your side.
Remember one last thing. I’d like to hold you in my arms and whisper this in your ear, but there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s something I’ve said to you once before. It’s the most powerful thing among the words that I have. I suppose you’re the only one I will ever say these words to. I hope that they reach deep into your heart. I love you.
 Second year of the Meiji era – 1869.
Don’t read that out loud!
Tch. I thought you were reading something that sounded familiar. How did you get this letter?
One of the men secretly gave it to you after the battle?
Damn it! That idiot!
Listen up. I wrote that in case I died. Get rid of it! Burn it!
No. I’m not going to give it back. I’m telling you to get rid of it.
What? You think this letter is something precious?
You’re a curious woman, aren’t you? I don’t have a choice then. You can have it back.
I had intended to give it to you once anyway. You can do what you want with it. But don’t ever do anything embarrassing like reading it out loud again. Understand?
Hide it where no one else will find it. I won’t write a letter like that again.
Why do you have such a dissatisfied look on your face?
Yes, I’m not going to write anything like that again. There’s no reason for me to do so, you see.
Why? That should be obvious.
When I think of you, I know that I can’t die so easily.
When I was writing that letter, I realised once again how much I cared about you.
At one point, I had prepared myself to die, but when I thought of leaving you alone, I couldn’t die there. I was probably able to open my eyes again because of that feeling.
You’re a strange woman. You gave me a reason to live when I had closed my heart. Just as you did for me, I’ll make sure you’re not alone. I definitely won’t leave you alone from now on. The Shinsengumi have disbanded, but I will continue to wield my sword.
From now on, there’ll be times when my life is in danger, but I definitely won’t die. It seems that I can’t die while there is something important to me. You’re the most important person to me right now.
I’m honestly happy to be able to hold you again like this.
I’m embarrassed to do this, but let me say the words I wanted to tell you directly while writing that letter.
I love you.
Thank you to everyone who listened this far. I’m Hosoya Yoshimasa, the voice actor for Hijikata Toshizo.
Which scene left the greatest impression?
Hmm… Well… The point where I thought “He’s definitely Japanese” was when he wrote a letter to the protagonist. This was when he was at Hakodate Goryokaku and when he thought he might die. Although he said it was just in case something happened, he wrote the letter quietly at night in his room while thinking of her. It was like…
During the second world war, there were often stories like that. Considering that, I felt like “oh, that’s really Japanese” and it left a great impression. I wonder about his feelings. Being prepared to die, but also missing someone. Writing a letter whilst knowing you won’t see each other feels very painful and Hijikata-san must have written that way. My heart felt tense.
Could you say something about the character you played?
Hmm… Right… Hmm…I wonder what to say? Until the very end, he kept on playing the part of the “demon vice-captain”. I thought he was cool. In the bonus track, Hijikata-san was reunited with the protagonist. When he almost died at Goryokaku… The Hijikata-san from this story said “the last thing I saw was your smile”.
That was the human side of the demon vice-captain. Because he found someone he loved, he showed his gentle and vulnerable side. I’m really happy to have played Hijikata Toshizo, thank you very much. Please tell him that.
It’s been about a year since the previous recording. What are your thoughts on using the dummy head mic?
Hmm… I can never get used to it. Dummy head mics certainly are in the shape of a face. They have realistic ears. When I’m whispering the lines to the mic, it just stays quiet and doesn’t react at all. So sometimes I feel like “Huh?”
When recording with a dummy head mic, there are specific settings. I think you probably don’t know about this, but there is an inner circle and an outer circle. The space between the inner and outer circles is an odd distance away. There are times when you don’t know whether to get closer or move further away, so I feel as if I need to study the technical aspect of dummy head mics more. I didn’t learn how to use them at acting school, you see. So I think I’m going to learn it as I go along.
In the second season, two new characters, Harada Sanosuke and Nagakura Shinpachi, have been added to the cast, but is there a member of the Shinsengumi who interests you?
Someone among the Shinsengumi? I see, I see. Hmm… Right… I played Hijikata Toshizo this time, so I guess I should say him. But I think he is a really amazing person. He was a medicine seller, then he joined Kondo-san’s Tennen Rishin Ryu school and became vice-captain through his efforts.
He was known as the “demon vice-captain”, but after everything was over, I think that it probably hurt him to kill the allies who betrayed him too. But for the sake of the troop, he would show no mercy to those who broke the rules. While Kondo-san was a charismatic man, Hijikata-san devoted himself to being the one who would be disliked by others. I think that’s a very chivalrous thing to do, so the member of the Shinsengumi who interests me is Hijikata Toshizo.
Last off all, please give a message to the maidens listening.
Hmm… This kind of story isn’t that common. In today’s technological society, where you can easily find information on your PC or cell phone, I think it’s unusual to have situations where you’re writing a letter without knowing whether you’ll see someone the next day. I think that doesn’t happen much these days.
Umm… Well…The people who were the foundation of this peaceful world experienced that kind of sorrow and drama. I’d be happy if you felt that too.
The people of this world are working hard to live. I think that’s good. Let’s work hard too! Having a romantic relationship when you don’t know whether you’ll live or die doesn’t come along that often.
Everyone, please work hard to live, fall in love and sometimes write a letter instead of using your phone.
That’s all. Thank you very much for listening. This was Hosoya Yoshimasa, the voice of Hijikata Toshizo. Let’s meet again somewhere else.
I’m going further away. Ah, I bumped into the chair.
I’m going further away. Aren’t dummy head mics amazing?
See you later!