Come Joins Us At Tekko 2017!

As some of you may already know I will be attending Tekko as a panelist again this year. I’ve got 5 panels…well 4 panels and a live show in one of the panel rooms. I welcome you all to attend and here’s the run-down of what I’m bringing to the convention this year:

-Friday, April 7th-

Noon Tekko Gakkou Room – Japanese Heraldry: The History of the Mon. We’ll discuss what Kamon are, how they were utilized, how they are still utilized, where you’ve seen them, and compare them to similar Western Ideas.

2:00pm 18+ Panel Room – How To Write MORE Dirty Stuff. All you adult-y type folks interested in writing, or simply laughing at me comment on sexy gifs, can join me in the 18+ Panel Room for a lesson on Writing Dirty. We’ll address purple language again briefly before touching on setting up a scene, fore and after play.

11:00pm Panel Room 1 – Samurai Gaiden Presents: Live Rakugo! My first ever live Rakugo performance (totally *not* nervous, BTW… 0_0 ). I’ll be giving some information about Rakugo, what it is, and how it works in between my three chosen stories: Xiahou Dun’s Eye, Botan Doro ‘Peony Lantern’, and the Gyurokushujo Monogatari ‘Tale of Orihime and Hikoboshi’.

-Saturday, April 8th-

1:30pm Workshop Room – The Art of Renga – Linked Verse Samurai Poetry Workshop. Come join us and make poetry with us! We’ll give a brief overview of Waka poetry, particularly the Tanka and Renga styles and then we’ll help you to produce Renga poetry together with us! Don’t have a pen or paper? Don’t be silly; free pens and notepads will be provided for the workshop at no cost to you.

4:00 pm Tekko Gakkou Room – Waka – The Classical Japanese Poetry of the Samurai. Did you know that poetry was one of the samurai warrior’s favorite pastimes? Come learn about the poetry of Japan including Tanka, Renga, Bussokusekika, and we’ll even touch on the redheaded step child of Waka: The Haiku.

If you aren’t already going to Tekko this year, maybe considering taking a trip this weekend and visiting with us in between panels. Also a surprising request was made of me this year: I *will* autograph copies of my book if you have one and approach me with it (between panels, of course).

~Rich

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SG: Yoshitomo Update

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you all know that on our new Samurai Gaiden channel I finally fixed the Minamoto no Yoshitomo video from last year that got absolutely buggered somewhere between editing and uploading.  You can find the new video below, on our YouTube Channel, or where the old Yoshitomo video used to be in the Samurai Gaiden playlist:

 

~RCS

New Samurai Gaiden Channel!

With the new year starting we have decided to create a new Samurai Gaiden channel, specifically for our Samurai Gaiden videos.  You can learn more about the reasoning by watching either, or both, of these two videos:

New Samurai Gaiden Channel

 

Update on What we’re doing with the old DickJutsu channel:

We hope this will help to be more productive and enjoyable to all our fans!

~RCS

Happy [Chinese] New Year?

So you may have noticed that we’ve been down for a bit.  We were planning big things for New Years and fell into the death spiral of, “We’ll make the announcement as soon as everything’s ready.”

Well…one thing comes to another and we realize the stuff we’re doing has make the site go down and we’ve not told anyone what’s going on.

So…we are in the process of moving a bunch of stuff over, changing things around, and doing cool new stuff.

So we clearly didn’t get it done time to be a New Years’ thing…so we’ll call it a Chinese New Years’ thing.

~RCS

Hopefully we’re done before Islamic New Years. (September 21, for those unaware.)

Tekko 2016 Review: Friday Part 1

Another year has come and another Tekko has come to pass. The following two days will be our standard post-convention review; this time for Tekko 2016! We generally have too much setting up and preparation to do to attend the first day of Tekko, Thursday, which is generally just a video day. So we’ll be discussing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s affairs both fun and not-so-fun.

We had some panels to run this year and our first one was 3:30pm on Friday, so we planned to get there by 2:00pm to make sure we had time to register, meet with Con Ops to get set up and get to the panel room in time to set up and get the first set of jittery nerves out of the way.

We actually wound up being exhausted from Thursday’s work and I managed to pull a muscle in my back after the vacuum cleaner broke while trying to vacuum the steps. So…we went to bed early Thursday evening and wound up waking up super early Friday, so we actually got in around noon. We got our badges; we preregistered so it took about five minutes to get through.

We did the Premium Badge again this year and one thing I have to say is that the Premium goody bag…kind of sucked. It had a nifty little portable speaker in it, but other than that it was just some marketing materials from Funimation in a DBZ bag…and the bag was about an inch too short because the posters in the bag cut the hell out of my fingers while trying to carry the bag. No treats or anything like that.

'Bluetooth' is not a state of mind.

‘Bluetooth’ is not a state of mind.

The speaker was a nifty little toy, much like the battery backup devices they doled out last year, but the whole thing just seemed so half-assed compared to last year. Especially since it was downright fraudulent in its labeling. The box says “Bluetooth Speaker”, but it’s not Bluetooth; it’s not even remotely wireless. The directions clearly say you have to plug the silly thing into the device you want to play from. The only thing ‘wireless’ about it was that you can plug it in and charge it and then play from it on battery power; but it’s certainly not Bluetooth.

At least it looks cool...shame it's almost useless to me.

At least it looks cool…shame it’s almost useless to me.

I don’t know if this year’s stuff was sucky or last year’s was just that awesome. Either way, we were disappointed in the goody bag.

So on to actually getting into the convention. We roamed around a bit and tried to gain our bearing and figure out how the building was set up this year. We checked in with Con Ops and took a sweep through the Premium Lounge.

Allow me to digress for a moment. A few years ago when we looked at getting the Premium badges, we saw that one of the features was access to the ‘Premium Lounge’. A little place where Premium badge holders could go to sit around and waste away the time.

We thought that was just the stupidest little idea. Who would go to a con just to sit around and maybe watch a live-feed of whatever was going on in the main event stage? Is that worth the extra money? No way.

Fast-forward to the first time we got the Premium badges after the lounge was founded…

Dog-lounging-around

…god damn do we spend a lot of time in that lounge, now. It’s a great little place to unwind in between things. Got a panel at 7 and another at 9? Hit the lounge from 8-8:30 to unwind and stock up on complimentary bottles of water; you’ll need ’em for all that talking in the panel.

Anyway, back to the review at hand! We figured that we had some time to kill so we watched the first Nancy Kepner show in the lounge. Nancy can be a little awkward at times, but she’s a nerd musician in a room full of nerds; she was probably the least awkward person in that room. Nancy’s sweet and adorable, though, and she’s got some hilarious songs. The wife really enjoys her Yaoi Song and her Crossplay Song. I always enjoy the Weeabo Song and this year every time the wife and I passed the J-Pop Music vendors in the Dealer’s Room we would turn to each other and sing the chorus of her Sexy Asian’s Dancing Song.

Once the show was over we headed to the Tekkou Gakkou room where our first panel would be…in about an hour or two. We sat in on the Sides of the Spectrum: LGBT in Anime panel. They discussed a few anime we weren’t familiar with, but didn’t flood it with spoilers, so that was nice.

The opening of the panel was informative and I’m sure we could have gotten more out of it if we were more familiar with the anime they referenced. We got the Madohka and Sailor Moon references, but many of the other references were lost on us. Our fault, not theirs, really.

EastWest-Opening1

Click me to watch the East vs. West Panel Main video!

The next thing we did was set up for our own panel, East vs. West: Arms, Armor, and Lifestyles of the Knights of Europe and Samurai of Japan.

With this first review post we will begin debuting the videos of our panels. There are 5 videos in total, we decided to split them into 2 parts: Panel Main and Q&A, rather than split them into 10-minute mini-vids and then a full-on panel video as well. The exception is the final video which is about an hour long, but only has 8 minutes of Q&A, we just put the whole thing together in one video.

As this review is up here on Sunday, we will be releasing a video every day this week, culminating with the May Samurai Gaiden video ending the week on Friday. This month we’ll be talking about one of the guys I mentioned in the Samurai Mythconception panel and going a little more in-depth with his life. Come back again every day this coming week for more Tekko 2016 videos and reviews.

~RCS

Samurai Gaiden: Arimaka no Yorozu (Updated)

Okay. You might think we’re jumping the shark here a little too soon, but I’ve been reading a bunch of great stories of the Heian Era. Now, our target area is the Sengoku Period, but we can look at the Heian Period occasionally, too.

I read the story of the young samurai Arimaka no Yorozu and couldn’t help but convey it to you folks. So let’s begin…

totoribe_yorozu01

Arimaka no Yorozu (??-587)

First let me just say that history has failed to record young Yorozu’s full name. He was from a small village south of Osaka, which at that time was called Naniwa. The village he was from was named Arimaka; so for the purposes of this video, I’ve opted to call him Arimaka no Yorozu (Yorozu of Arimaka Village).

[Note: You may also find him by looking for Totoribe no Yorozu, as Totoribe was his court rank.  It translates as something akin to Bird Catcher, as I mention in the video.]

A little preface so you have some idea of what’s going on. Japan at this time is ruled by Emperor Yomei. Yomei died at the tender age of, well, 69 and he had only ruled for two years after the death of Emperor Bidatsu, his elder brother. With Yomei’s death there were two major choices for succession, his son Prince Shotoku and his brother Prince Anahobe.

The Emperor at the time had two major ministries who served him; they were the Emperor’s right and left hands, so to speak. One was the O-omi, or Great Administrator, which was a civil position that controlled everything within the capital; this position was held, hereditarily, by the powerful Soga clan. As a matter of fact, Emperor Yomei’s mother was of the Soga clan, as was his wife…who was actually his mother’s daughter from another marriage. So yeah…Emperor Yomei married his own half-sister.

Anyway, the other major position was the O-muraji, or Great Chieftain. His job was to control everything outside of the capital; so all of the lesser clans in the provinces answered to him. He also had the added duty of controlling the police forces and, essentially, the Imperial Army. This job was hereditarily controlled by the Mononobe clan.

Now to get even more off-track I have to mention that there was a huge religious issue brewing in the country. You see, only recently had Buddhism come over to Japan from China and Korea and many devout Shintoists wanted to prevent its spread.

Well guess what? The Soga were Buddhist and the Mononobe were devoutly Shinto. And while the late Emperor Bidatsu was also pro-Shinto, his younger brother Yomei was neutral in the debate, having been a follower of both religions; much like modern Japanese culture.

So we have the Shinto Mononobe who controls the provincial Armies and supports the pro-Shinto Prince Anahobe and on the other side of things are the Buddhist Soga who control the civilian offices within the capital and the Imperial Guard along with pro-Buddhist Prince Shotoku.

[Pause for dramatic effect.]

Now I told you all that to sum it up in a very anti-climactic way. They came to blows and the Soga and Mononobe went to war. The Mononobe called up the entire provincial army which surely would outnumber and surround the Soga with ease.

Would…assuming any of them had responded. Unfortunately most of the provincial clans refused to answer the Mononobe’s orders and the Soga managed to win the civil war in a matter of days, culminating in the disastrous Mononobe defeat at the Battle of Shigisen. Both the Mononobe leadership and Prince Anahobe were killed in the battle.

Now I told you all that to tell you about a guy on the losing end. One of the Mononobe Lord’s samurai, Arimaka no Yorozu. Yorozu was a member of the “bird-catcher’s division” [Totoribe] which probably means he was tasked with caring for the Mononobe Lord’s hunting birds (his hawks, falcons, and eagles).

Regardless of his normal duties he led a force of one-hundred men and had been ordered to protect the Mononobe villas in Naniwa, what is current-day Osaka. When Yorozu heard that his clan had been totally destroyed he very loyally…abandoned the Mononobe villas and escaped back home to Arimaka.

He passed the homes of his in-laws and hid in the hills near Arimaka, apparently hoping that the anti-Mononobe vibes would die down quickly.

He would be very disappointed. The Soga commanders reported his actions to the Emperor, the new one that is, Prince Hatsusebe. Wait, what happened to Shotoku, you ask? Yeah that’s a good one, Hatsusebe was another younger brother of Bidatsu, just like the late Emperor, Yomei, and the late Prince Anahobe. Now Hatsusebe had been installed on the throne by the Soga and his nephew, Shotoku, and was known as Emperor Sushun.

Long story short, Soga convinced Sushun to name Yorozu as a rebel and the Soga army marched to Arimaka to kill him. They knew he was hiding in the hills nearby so they announced, per Imperial Decree, they would murder Yorozu’s entire family.

Yeah, civil war is usually a tough gig for innocent bystanders. Nonetheless now I’ve finally weighed you down with enough backstory to get to Yorozu, himself.

Yorozu, emaciated and dirty in tattered clothes, came down from the hills and presented himself to the Soga army. He was armed with the usual accoutrements of a warrior, but had abandoned his armor.

The Soga commander intended to finish things quickly and sent several hundred soldiers to surround the young warrior. Yorozu, seeing he was being enveloped in what could easily become a 300-on-one battle, dashed into a grove of bamboo trees.

He brilliantly rigged up a system of ropes to the bamboo which allowed him to strategically make decoy movements by causing the bamboo to shift by pulling on the ropes.

At one point he moved one of the bamboo shafts enough that the Soga believed he was hiding there. They rushed at the decoy and attacked the nothingness there.

At this point Yorozu drew forth his bow and unleashed arrow, after arrow. One dead, two dead, three dead…every arrow struck and killed a man until the Soga soldiers were too frightened to enter the bamboo grove.

With them properly cowed, he undid the string from his bow, tucked it under his arm, and burst from the other side of bamboo grove and rushed back toward the hills he had been hiding in. The Soga army managed to get enough willpower to pull out their bows and fire at Yorozu.

The entire hundreds of them fired at him as he tried to cross a river toward the hill. And…they all missed.

Finally one soldier managed to get ahead of Yorozu and planted himself at the far end of the river. When Yorozu crossed the river, this soldier fired an arrow at him. It struck him in the knee.

And so ends the tale of Arimaka no Yorozu…

Yeeaah, sure it does…

Yeah, right. Yorozu yanked the arrow from his knee and, with a wounded leg, re-strung his bow; shooting and killing the poor schmuck that had just wounded him.

He then turned to face the Soga army that was approaching the river to fight him, still outnumbered by several hundreds and cried out to them…

“I am a loyal shield to the Emperor and wanted nothing more than to show my bravery! His majesty has never called upon me before, though! And now I am put into this extreme situation? Please somebody tell me…do you intend to kill me or to capture me?”

The Soga response was basically what you’d expect…they pulled their own bows back out and fired upon him from across the river. They challenged each other to see which one could kill Yorozu first and started firing arrows at him.

Yorozu, not one to easily die, swatted away the arrows and pulled his own bow back out. Once again he fired back at the Soga army. One dead, two dead, three dead…over thirty men were shot to death by Yorozu.

But alas, he was wounded in the leg and couldn’t run away, and now he was out of arrows. He drew his sword and sliced his own bow into three parts so that it could not be taken and used by the Soga soldiers as a prize.

Similarly he bent the sword and tossed it into the river he had just crossed. Finally, he drew his dagger and in one of the earliest accounts of seppuku before seppuku was even a thing, he jammed his dagger into his neck, killing himself.

When the report was filed the Soga-controlled court ordered that he be hacked into 8 parts and each part be impaled on a spear and put up in one of the eight provinces that comprised Japan at this time.

Legends claim that each hack against his corpse was met by torrential rainfalls and claps of thunder, but finally…his body was cut into 8 pieces. Now Yorozu was said to have had an all-white dog. The dog barged into the butchering and stole his dead master’s head, taking it into the fields near Arimaka and burying it. The dog then laid himself atop the buried head and starved itself to death.

When the Soga forces reported that to the Imperial Court they responded that such a show of loyalty was remarkable in that day and age, especially by a dog. They decreed that the dog should be honored for his loyalty and that Yorozu’s corpse should be pardoned and the remains were turned over to Yorozu’s kinsmen who built two tombs in Arimaka Village, one for Yorozu and just beside it was one for his faithful dog.

Thus, really ends the tale of Arimaka no Yorozu. A tragic story of a talented youth who got the short end of the stick.

By the way…remember that Emperor Sushun guy? Yeah well he pissed Soga off a couple years later and Soga had him assassinated. And he was replaced by Prince Shotoku, right? Nope, Emperor Bidatsu’s wife, Empress Suiko took over. Well, at least Shotoku finally got promoted to Regent under his step-mother’s reign, I guess.

Man, this Heian stuff is weird. Maybe we’ll go back to Sengoku stuff next month. Unless there was something else Heian-y you wanted to know about? Let me know what you’re interested in, in the comments. And like, share, and subscribe or Arimaka no Yorozu’s spirit will return from the grave and…I dunno, like…pet your dog or something.

Yeah, I’m not great with the threats.

~RCS

Samurai Gaiden: Date Masamune (Updated)

If you’ve ever played a game or watched an anime that has samurai in it, you’re probably at least vaguely aware of Date Masamune. One of the most popular daimyo in modern media regarding samurai. So today, let’s talk about some of the stories that make Masamune such an interesting person. Now, Masamune’s life is full of interesting stories, because even though he came on the scene in the later part of the Sengoku Period he was definitely a unique and interesting individual.

masamune

Date Masamune (1566-1636)

Masamune was the son of the daimyo of Rikuzen-Mutsu, Date Terumune. You might remember him as being one of the men who received the ‘Teru’ character from our first video on Ashikaga Yoshiteru. Terumune was married to Mogami Yoshiko, the daughter of neighboring daimyo Mogami Yoshimori.

The Date clan was descended from the Isa clan of the Fujiwara who were sent to northern Mutsu by Minamoto no Yoritomo for thanks in helping in the Genpei war and in the wars with his brother.

To get an idea of the situation the Date was in, they were surrounded on all sides by other clans: The Soma, Hatakeyama, Ando, Kasai, Ashina, and the aforementioned Mogami clan.

Masamune was a brash, arrogant young man who was married and had led troops in battle by the time he was fifteen. In the year 1584 Terumune decided to retire from the daily life of being daimyo and planned to install Masamune on the throne. It sounds like a good plan, retire from your job at the age of forty-one, make your son rule, it’s really not a bad idea. However there are a few concerns that had to be dealt with.

First of all…the clan elders didn’t appreciate Masamune’s brashness, among other things. They also thought he was unfit to rule for a physical reason.

Now would be a good time to mention that when Masamune was a child he was afflicted with small pox which damaged his right eye. It is said that the eye was so badly damaged that it actually hung from the socket.

During a council session with the clan retainers, one of the elder samurai remarked that Masamune could not be a warleader. “What if you got into a duel and the enemy grabbed you by the loose eye?”

Masamune responded by laughing, reaching to his face, and tearing the eye right out of the socket. He then casually tossed the eye to the elder.

“I’d better keep an eye on you.”

Another theory is that Masamune’s trusted retainer, Katakura Kojuro, was made to gouge it out in protest of the elder’s accusation of his inability to fight. However this story is both believable and dubious for the same reasons.

You see, the relationship between Masamune and Kojuro has been romanticized for years. Not to say that Kojuro, also known by his proper name Katakura Kagetsuna, wasn’t a trusted aid of Masamune’s through most of their lives. So the romanticization of their closeness makes the claim of Kojuro plucking the eye out dubious.

Katakura Kojuro

Katakura Kojuro

 

At the same time, plucking your own eye out is incredibly painful and nerve-wracking, so having someone else do it for you would be preferred. Still not a great thing, but preferred. So if Masamune had to choose someone he trusted to cut out his eye…Kagetsuna would probably be the preferred person.

So, fearing having anymore eyeballs thrown at them, the clan elders were on Masamune’s side. Just one more major obstacle: Masamune’s mother, Mogami Yoshiko. You see Yoshiko felt that Masamune was too brash and openly claimed that he was unfit to rule, seeing as how he was now missing an eye.

Yoshiko wanted Terumune to retire in favor of their younger son, Date Kojiro. Terumune didn’t seem to favor the idea, so Yoshiko decided to take matters into her own hands. She attempted to poison to Masamune.

Does she really look like the kind of woman who would kill your own son?  Yeah, kind of, actually.

Does she really look like the kind of woman who would kill your own son? Yeah, kind of, actually.

The story goes that she prepared Masamune dinner one night and for whatever reason, he didn’t eat it. Whether he was suspicious or just not hungry is not known, but apparently he fed the meal to his hunting dogs and one of them collapsed and died.

Masamune, ever the diplomatic sort, marched up to his mother’s chambers of the castle and executed his younger brother. His mother responded by packing whatever she could carry and fleeing to her brothers’ castle in Mogami lands.

~RCS

A Whole Slew of Samurai Gaidens!

Hey folks, by now you probably know of our webseries Samurai Gaiden.  Well we’ve got over ten videos up, including a few of the shorter ‘gaiden’ gaiden videos.  So we made a YouTube Playlist so that you can watch them all without getting interrupted by other people’s videos or even by our own non Samurai Gaiden videos.

Also very soon we will have some transcribed posts to go along with the videos.  We will begin with the first transcribed video (Date Masamune) on January 11th.  From this point on every new Samurai Gaiden will have a transcribed version posted on the site on the first Friday of the month, when the video goes live!

Here’s a link to the playlist:

Hope you all enjoy it and maybe even learn yerselves sumthin’ ’bout them thar Samyoorai!

~RCS

P.S. Also…have a happy new year.  2016 can’t be any worse than 2015 was, right?  Riiighhhttt? 0_0

DJ Comic: September Holidays Part 3

DJComic_009

It’s only like two weeks late, but who’s really counting.

If you have any interest in samurai history then you really should check out Samurai Gaiden.  Rich has told me most of these stories probably about a hundred times each, but he still makes it interesting.

Any bigger and you’ll start confusing the teddy bear for a real bear.

The ideas flow like crazy… until you actually need them.

Doesn’t matter what color the kitty is, I’ll still try to pet it.

Ͼ-Mimi

Samurai Gaiden: Siege of Arai

Well, I forgot to mention that the September Samurai Gaiden went up…on September 4th.  Hey, I’m only 22 days late on this post, right?  It’s about the Ise vs. Miura war in the early 16th century that culminated in the Siege of Arai Castle, also sometimes referred to as the Siege of Misaki Castle.

 

I’m so late on making the post about that video going live, that we’ve actually had a second video go live in September.  It’s about how some samurai families re-used certain names for multiple generations.  That’s right!  A special feature video to make up for the fact that the Siege of Arai video was so short, at less than 5 minutes in length.

Maybe we’ll even shoot for a 5-8 minute length video from now on, instead of actually shooting for a ten minute video.

 

I hope you enjoy them.  Samurai Gaiden videos will now officially be uploaded on the First Friday of every month.  If the month also happens to have a special episode, like the above-mentioned Samurai Gaiden Shorts video, it will be posted on the Third Friday of the month.

~RCS

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