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A final thanks [Jan. 9th, 2007]

(Posted on behalf of the (overseas) mod - shinomori_blue)

The mod would like to take the time to thank everyone who made The Meiji Restored possible. The storylines and character histories ran for over two years and that is a milestone that not many communities get to boast. On behalf of everyone at the Meiji, I'd like to thank the readers who stayed by us all this time and cheered and leered with the rest of us. It is a shame you could not join us in the gaming experience as a player but we hope that The Meiji will always hold a special place in your heart the way it will for us.

Now for the less formal...in reverse-alphabetical order...I would like to present to you THE MEIJI AWARDS!!!

(And yes, originally, there was supposed to be a hand-inked drawing by me of each character to correspond to their award, but not only did I run out of time halfway through, I discovered that at heart I'm really a terrible artist XD. That, and I no longer have access to a scanner, so....)

Cut to the awardsCollapse )
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Oct. 18, 1882 - Late Afternoon: Living, Remembering [Jan. 8th, 2007]

[ Current Mood | at peace ]
[ Tags | ]

The hazy glow of afternoon is beginning to fade when I finally lay down my brush, and sigh.

It has been four years now, since I first began this project, and the undertaking has been both harder and easier than I expected. Sitting down, day after day, always at the same spot, always at the same time, letting the words pour out little by little... In the beginning there were days when I could do nothing but stare at the blank sheets for hours at a time, unable to write at all. But as the months wore on, the task grew easier and easier to bear, and the grief less acute than it had once been.

And now I am nearing the end. Another year, perhaps, and there will be nothing left to write.

It seems, in a way, almost sad to me, but at the same time it is also a relief. These days, it feels as if a great burden has been released from my heart...

But this is all I have to write for today.

For I am no longer surrounded by ghosts, but the living. My students, friends new and old, my family...

And so I smile, and wait for my loved ones to return.

/end unless ayu has something to add!
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An afternoon long overdue (10.18.1888) || Offerings at the temple in Asakusa [Jan. 8th, 2007]

[ Tags | , ]

We climb the steps slowly to the top. The children straggle behind, trying to make their way up these steps on their own effort. I do not carry them, because my mother did not carry me that one day we too made a similar pilgrimage.

She wanted a boy, I knew. She wanted a child to make everything right with our father. And she had him -- but did not live long enough to see Susumu grow. And yet, even then, I could not hate this goddess of mercy for hearing her petitions and then snatching life away in kind.

In her leaving, I was not alone. I had my brother -- for a few short years -- I had him to myself.

But even so, fate left me uneasy and uncertain. So to Kwannon I kept returning and asking her for the things I wanted most -- and then found the answers waiting for me at the gates of Daigoji. I found love there and kindness in one man's arms.

As the children draw near and make their offerings to her, I look up towards the heavens where I am sure my mother is watching.

See here, I smile. The fates have shifted.

Pain and suffering are but brief things in life. If one endures... if one is patient.
And as I listen to the children chattering amongst themselves, it is good to know that I am still alive.
And I am not alone.
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October 18, 1882, Kyoto, The Aoiya, Late Morning. [Jan. 8th, 2007]

[ location | The Aoiya, Kyoto ]
[ Current Mood | contemplative ]
[ Tags | ]

I step out onto the engawa to take a short break.

I can hear Okon and Juro behind me in the restaurant as they finish cleaning up after our breakfast patrons. In a little while, I'll have to go back inside to be hostess to those wanting the famous Aoiya noon meal.

I look up into the sky. It's a beautiful blue today--the color matches my kimono.

This is my quiet time of the day, my time to think.

Today has some special significance. It is four years and one day since I last saw Aoshi-sama.

Letters from him have been few, but that was not unexpected. I write him often, telling him all the details of life in Kyoto and how well the Aoiya is doing.

For a very long time, I was very angry at Megumi. After all, it was her fault that Aoshi-sama went away. I had heard that she had left Tokyo, but I did not know where she went nor did I care.

It took me an equally long time to realize that Megumi may not have been entirely to blame. It takes two people to make any relationship work, and two people to make it fail.

I hope someday I'll come to understand what happened between Aoshi-sama and Megumi.

I think I've changed a lot in the last four years. Omasu keeps telling me that I'm "quite a lady" now, and perhaps I am. While I still practice my kempo and am still considered the Oniwabanshuu clan Okashira, life in general has been quiet for me. I've gotten far more comfortable wearing a kimono than my old Oniwaban uniform. I've had one or two men who wanted to be suitors, but I gently rebuffed them (okay, one had to be threatened away with a kunai). Even though I'm considered of marriageable age, I have no interest in marriage--at least not yet.

"Misao?" Okon calls from inside.

It's time for me to go back in and help prepare for lunch.

I look up at the sky again, and once more think about how much I miss my Aoshi-sama.
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Oct. 13, 1878 - Evening/Oct. 17, 1878 - Night: Windsong [Jan. 7th, 2007]

[ Current Music | Rachmaninov - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Var. 18) ]
[ Tags | ]

(damnit, no amount of editing will ever make this less convoluted than it already is! aargh, leaving it as is.)

Oct. 13

Yuriko. Masako. Uno. Ayu.

I think sometimes there must have been a prophet, some mysterious wrinkled figure come from nowhere to witness my birth, and must have spoken these words: "Beware! For you are cursed, and woman shall be your doom."

Except that would be a lie, even if I do have bad luck with women, because in the end who can say what truly lies at the root of all things?

And at any rate I'm not arrogant enough to think any prophet (assuming they exist, which they don't) would give a damn about a man like me.

Though that, perhaps, is a lie too.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had I never been born, if I had died -- at seven of water, at nine of smallpox, at twenty of recklessness, at twenty-eight of consumption. Would we have won? Would we have lost? I cannot say. I suppose no one can. But I cannot help but wonder, even knowing the wondering is useless.

But I suppose I have all the time in the world to waste now.

Hey misterCollapse )

- - -

Oct. 17

I sit by the pond, leaning against the trunk of some tree, sake at my side. I don't know why I'm still here. Perhaps I am waiting for something. Or perhaps I am simply not yet ready to return, after all.

"Enjoying the view, Sensei?"

I straighten up with a start. "Yoshi! What are you doing here?"

"That's what I should be asking you," retorts Yoshi as he plops down beside me, and for a moment I can only stare at him. "Ayu-neesan is waiting for you. As are Shinichi and Sayuri."


"We're all waiting for you," he says, and his voice softens, returns to its old self. "Sensei."

"I see," I say after a stunned moment, and feel a wry, tired grin creeping onto my face, "that we have a lot to catch up on." And then, "Here, have a drink?"

butterflyCollapse )

The wind sings, a wordless song, and I cannot tell if it grieves or exults. Perhaps neither, perhaps both. I have lived all my life according to wherever the wind blows me, drifting, drifting... and perhaps that shall always be so.

But tonight, I need no wind to carry me.

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October 18, 1882--Noontime--Izumi Household--Aizu [Jan. 8th, 2007]

It's too much, this emotion that I feel.

"...and that is the rest of it, Shigure-san." I look up at the alter turning to pray to my brother.

It's been a long while since I was back to Tokyo, moving to Aizu shortly after the housing scandal that forced me to rethink my goals. As it turns out, the man in charge of said scandal was sent to prison on forgery charges, and I was sent quite a nice compensatory check for my losses a year and a half later. Not that I needed to worry, my husband is wealthy enough. Losing Shigure's home was painful demo, I could not complain with what all of that brought me. Read more...Collapse )
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October 17, 1878 - Temple on the Edge of Town, Evening [Jan. 4th, 2007]

[ Tags | ]

"Look who came crawlin' back."

There are no words for the contempt and relief I feel when I look upon that twistedly confident visage.


"Where's the missus? You scare her already?"

"Something like that."

"Oh," the former castle guard looks at me longer and harder then. "What can I do for you, Leader?"

Relief. The derision in his tone has fled to make way for something more grave, more alert. I seek refuge in it and at the same time am wary of it.

"I want you to take my hair," I say.

"All of it?"

"All of it."

"Damn, Shinomori, that woman must have fucked you up pretty badly."
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October 18, 1882: Yokohama Port Harbor and Train Station [Jan. 3rd, 2007]

[ Tags | , ]

Time has brought even more chaos and change to Japan in the years since I left it. I had been apprehensive about returning as one of "those" who had been abroad, but I can tell, as we disembark off the boat and into the waiting carriage, that the people here view foreign things as simply a part of everyday life.

Still, I move about slightly uneasily in this clothing as I look out the window, feeling as if I've betrayed a little bit of what my family was and who I am as a Japanese woman. True -- my journey abroad was to further my education, but I made the choice to do so while turning away from the obvious path to Aizu that had been paved before me.

As I step onto the train and take my seat at the window, I think that all this could not have been accomplished without the help of a certain gentleman who I will now be indebted to for some time. And even though I have missed so much these past few years, I consider that if what I have learned can help him I will not regret having to work and live outside the country these past few years. And if he truly has seen to bring about the end of the group that was responsible for an attempt to revive the manufacturing of opium and that had tried to harm me so many years ago-- then I will be even more obliged to return those affections he had intimated so many years ago.

Even so... I am not sure of my feelings. I had, after all, failed miserably with Aoshi Shinomori. I can not know for certain what these feelings really mean until I see him face to face once more when I reach Tokyo.
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October 18, 1882 | 明治十五の沖田総司 (Meiji 15's Okita Souji) | Mid-morning [Jan. 3rd, 2007]

[ Current Mood | nostalgic ]
[ Current Music | Mae Hwa Bat [A Grove Of Japanese Apricot Blossoms] ]
[ Tags | , ]

A flurry of handmaidens scurry out of the small, nondescript room, carrying with them the tsuno kakushi hood and shiromuku that everybody talked about earlier in the ceremony held in the temple . With their departure, it is as if a chapter in my life left with them, and inside that room...Is a new one.


A lady with clear eyes and a brilliant smile looks up at me in the mirror as she places a stem of ornate flowers in her hair. Ornate, but tastefully simple as it rests against a bun wrapped in blue silk. "Otou-san!" she exclaims with a trace of the 14-year-old she used to be. "Could you please help me with this?" she motions to her hair. "You know I've never been so fussy about these things, but...well..."

"You must look good for your husband, ne?"

A blush clouds her cheeks as she nods meekly.

I oblige, scuttling over behind her and taking the last stem of kanzashi that goes into the opposite side of the bun. Somewhere in the folds of her new furisode Chiri-chan the sprite is playing hide and seek with me.

Perfect.Collapse )

"Omedeto gozaimashita, Takanaka Chiriko-san." I say as I offer her a bow. Her new name will take a bit of getting used to...

She returns the gesture, and the last I see of her as she disappears into the corridor is the fluttering kanzashi in her hair. For a brief, bittersweet moment, I even fancy that she would come running back inside the room to give me one last embrace before she completely becomes a young wife.

She does not come back.

It's been so long since she was a child. Has it really been four years since then? The memories are already fading, and I am somewhat relieved at the thought. Nothing to hold us down, nothing to regret...Not for Chiri-chan but for myself. Nothing to keep me from looking forward to better times. The bloodlust is still there--as I am, and always will be, a Wolf of Mibu--but with such happiness and good tidings around me, I am a bit inclined to set aside the hunter and just be Souji.

Ah, but there are better times to ponder on such things. Out there in the temple is a new life...and I welcome it with open arms.

"Otou-san, aren't you coming?"

Eh! "Chiriko..."

Gentle hands take mind and she leads me out into temple grounds where the guests have already gathered to welcome the newly married couple. Cheers erupt from the crowd as musume-chan and her new husband, Ryuutaro-kun, take their stand atop the stairs.

Saa... "Wonderful, isn't it?" Too bad Nagakura-san could not be here to see this. He does send his regards, however.

Today...is a good day to be alive.
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Oct 17, 1878 - Very late afternoon, Outside Gensai Clinic Bedrooms [Jan. 3rd, 2007]

[ Tags | ]

I had resolved to let it be and yet, I still found myself here before a familiar shoji.

Shinomori Aoshi moved under a compulsion.

Was he ever known for having been driven thus? When surrounded by his fallen comrades, was it then that compulsion took over? Perhaps it was something else. Obsession? Insanity?

Is there really a difference?

My fingers memorize the contours of the wrinkled leather cover as I place the book on the engawa just before the room I know to be Takani's. Not inside. Not again inside. One lesson learned.

I cannot bring myself to linger. I fear the threat of my own rampant emotions will impel me to stay.

*Aoshi exits like a bitch*
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