Mirage of Blaze: - Fragment - To You, My Beloved | To You, My Beloved Chapter 1: The Lady in White

By Kuwabara Mizuna (author), Toujou Kazumi (illustrator)
Translated by asphodel

The cars moving along the highway had turned on their lights perhaps an hour ago. By the time they arrived in Uozu CityUozu-shi (魚津市)

A coastal city located in Toyama Prefecture, founded in 1952. Its population was around 46,000 in 2005. In the Sengoku Era, the area was controlled by the Uesugi Clan with Uozu Castle as their stronghold.

Uozu is known for three mysterious phenomena: 1) the mirage, which occurs from April to June, during which faraway objects such as ships or the opposite shoreline seem to grow vertically or hang upside-down above them, 2) the firefly squid, which rise to the surface to spawn from the end of March to June and glow with a bluish white light, and 3) the buried forest, a conifer forest buried 2000 years ago such that only their trunks were preserved.
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, Toyama PrefectureToyama-ken (富山県)

A prefecture located in north-central Japan on the island of Honshuu, its capital is Toyama City and was once known as Ecchuu, governed for some part of its history by the Uesugi Clan.
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, it was already fully dark.

“Where are we now...?” Takaya asked from the passenger seat, rubbing his eyes and looking around. He’d fallen asleep, but had probably been awakened by the glare from the headlights of the oncoming cars.

“We’re finally in Uozu CityUozu-shi (魚津市)

A coastal city located in Toyama Prefecture, founded in 1952. Its population was around 46,000 in 2005. In the Sengoku Era, the area was controlled by the Uesugi Clan with Uozu Castle as their stronghold.

Uozu is known for three mysterious phenomena: 1) the mirage, which occurs from April to June, during which faraway objects such as ships or the opposite shoreline seem to grow vertically or hang upside-down above them, 2) the firefly squid, which rise to the surface to spawn from the end of March to June and glow with a bluish white light, and 3) the buried forest, a conifer forest buried 2000 years ago such that only their trunks were preserved.
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. Are you awake?”

“Mmm, yeah...”

The ride had been so quiet that he had unintentionally dozed off. Naoe was driving a Celsior this time; he had evidently recalled a comment from Takaya about wanting to ride in one. Actually, Takaya had been hoping Naoe would come in the Benz, but the Tachibana family had apparently placed some stringent restrictions on his car usage after the wreckage of his Cefiro in YamagataYamagata-ken (山形県)

A prefecture located in the Northeast region of Japan which is encircled by mountains and the Sea of Japan. Its capital is the city of Yamagata.
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. Now he was barred from taking them even when he was traveling afar, Naoe lamented. Not, of course, without reason. Takaya certainly sympathized with Naoe’s family, so even while he harbored a secret desire for a ride in the Tachibanas’ Ferrari Testarossa, he’d made no complaints about a rental car.

Naoe glanced at the time and inquired, “You must be hungry. Shall we stop for a bite to eat somewhere?”

“I’m fine, unless it’s better to eat before getting to wherever it is we’re going?”

“Not really, but I believe it would be better to get there a little later... I do know of a wonderful restaurant along the way—shall we stop there?”

“Sure,” Takaya agreed, eyeing Naoe, who seemed more relaxed today than usual. He certainly had no objections to good food. Naoe appeared to know the area quite well, and navigated its roads and highways with easy familiarity.

He had invited Takaya on this trip to Uozu three days after their return from NaraNara-shi (奈良市)

The capital of Nara Prefecture, it was also the capital of Japan during the Nara Period from 710 to 784 and was modelled after Xi'an, the capital of the Chinese Tang Dynasty.
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. “Has something happened?” Takaya had asked anxiously, but it didn’t appear to be anything urgent. Naoe had only replied that he wanted Takaya to accompany him on a trip.

Toyama PrefectureToyama-ken (富山県)

A prefecture located in north-central Japan on the island of Honshuu, its capital is Toyama City and was once known as Ecchuu, governed for some part of its history by the Uesugi Clan.
, Uozu CityUozu-shi (魚津市)

A coastal city located in Toyama Prefecture, founded in 1952. Its population was around 46,000 in 2005. In the Sengoku Era, the area was controlled by the Uesugi Clan with Uozu Castle as their stronghold.

Uozu is known for three mysterious phenomena: 1) the mirage, which occurs from April to June, during which faraway objects such as ships or the opposite shoreline seem to grow vertically or hang upside-down above them, 2) the firefly squid, which rise to the surface to spawn from the end of March to June and glow with a bluish white light, and 3) the buried forest, a conifer forest buried 2000 years ago such that only their trunks were preserved.
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. Called EcchuuEcchuu-no-kuni (越中国)

Also written as: Etchu

An ancient province of Japan bordering on Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto, which is now Toyama Prefecture. The territory was contested by the clans of neighboring provinces during the Sengoku Era, the Uesugi Clan among them. The Oda Clan took the province from Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Sassa Narimasa governed the area for a number of years, followed by the Akimoto, Matsudaira, and Hosokawa Clans.
during the SengokuSengoku (戦国)

The "warring states" period, lasting from 1467 to 1615, in which the warlords of Japan battled each other for the rule of the country.
Period, it had held deep connections to the Uesugi Clan as one of the provinces bordering EchigoEchigo-no-kuni (越国)

An ancient province in north-central Japan which was ruled by Uesugi Kenshin during the Sengoku Period. Now a part of Niigata Prefecture.
. That was probably part of the reason Naoe had brought Takaya here.

There were people he wanted Takaya to meet—was all he had said.

 

They had dinner at the restaurant Naoe mentioned and finished at around eight-thirty. As they headed back to the car, Naoe said to the satisfied-looking Takaya walking next to him, “You seem to have enjoyed the food.”

“Yeah. I love sashimi. MatsumotoMatsumoto City (松本市)

The largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views.
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has its basashibasashi (馬刺し)

Raw horseflesh served as salami in thin slices dipped in soy sauce, often with ginger and onions added. In Japan, Matsumoto is one of the places famous for this dish.
, but since it’s in the mountains, fish is harder to come by...”

“Oh? In that case we should come again in December. The seafood is delicious enough to make you shiver. Toyama is famous for its trout sushi, but its fish and crab are simply superb. Shall I bring you back to try them?”

“Would you really? Oooh, lucky! Good food, a full night’s sleep—that’s when you really feel grateful to be alive, right?”

Chuckling at Takaya’s enthusiasm, Naoe started the car.

“Our destination is about five minutes from here. It’s a good time to head over.”

Takaya gave Naoe a blank look, recalling that he hadn’t yet heard the reason for this trip. There was no way they had come all this way to eat fish.

“Who are these people you want me to meet?”

Naoe answered, smiling, “You’ll know quite soon.”

Their destination turned out to be an elementary school near the Uozu Electric Railway StationDentetsu-Uozu-eki (電鉄魚津駅)

A station on the main line of the local electric railway, located in Uozu City. It is an overhead station, built in 1936, located on the 3rd floor of the Dentetsu-Uozu Station Building.
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. Alighting in front of the school, Naoe easily unlocked the gates with nendouryokunendouryoku (念動力)

Lit.: "power of telekinesis"; one of the two types of spiritual abilities of the Yasha-shuu which uses spiritual energy to affect a substance. Naoe levitating pebbles against Takaya is one example.
, and the two of them stepped inside. A stone plaque engraved with the words “Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
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Ruins” stood in front of the entrance. Takaya’s sixth sense tingled at the change in the atmosphere.

“This is—”

“The former site of Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
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. This elementary school was built right where the main citadel once stood.” Noticing Takaya’s wariness as he looked around at their surroundings, Naoe added, “You feel it, don’t you?”

“What the heck is this place? It’s crawling with spiritual energy...”

“Influence from the «Yami-SengokuYami Sengoku (闇戦国)

Lit.: "Dark Sengoku", the civil war still being fought by the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period in modern-day Japan.
», I would guess. The onshouonshou (怨将)

Lit.: "vengeful general": the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period, who continue their battles even in modern-age Japan.
must be moving in the area as well, provoking the spirits here.”

“You mean the spirits of the people who were killed here?”

“Yes,” Naoe replied, beckoning Takaya towards the back of the campus. “This castle once belonged to the Uesugi Clan—the strategic base from which Uesugi invaded EcchuuEcchuu-no-kuni (越中国)

Also written as: Etchu

An ancient province of Japan bordering on Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto, which is now Toyama Prefecture. The territory was contested by the clans of neighboring provinces during the Sengoku Era, the Uesugi Clan among them. The Oda Clan took the province from Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Sassa Narimasa governed the area for a number of years, followed by the Akimoto, Matsudaira, and Hosokawa Clans.
-NotoNoto-no-kuni (能登国,)

An ancient province of Japan, today the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. It bordered on the Ecchuu and Kaga provinces.
. Lord Kenshin would pay a visit to it during every campaign,” he explained, coming to a stop beneath the pine tree standing next to the gates of the school’s kindergarten buildingview map location. Another stone plaque, this one bearing a tankatanka (短歌)

Lit.: "short poem", an ancient form of Japanese poetry composed of 31 syllables, arranged in groups of 5, 7, 5, 7 and 7. Well-written tanka poems are elegant, lyrical, and suggest associations far deeper than the surface words.
poem, rested at its roots.

“The warrior makes of his armor a pillow for his head alone: a solitary repose. The first wild geese cry nearby...” Lord Kenshin composed this poem here. He fought many fierce battles over EcchuuEcchuu-no-kuni (越中国)

Also written as: Etchu

An ancient province of Japan bordering on Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto, which is now Toyama Prefecture. The territory was contested by the clans of neighboring provinces during the Sengoku Era, the Uesugi Clan among them. The Oda Clan took the province from Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Sassa Narimasa governed the area for a number of years, followed by the Akimoto, Matsudaira, and Hosokawa Clans.
, and at one time managed to bring the entire region under Uesugi control. But Lord Kenshin’s sudden death soon after, followed by the Otate no RanOtate no Ran (御館の乱)

Lit.: "War of the Castle". The Otate no Ran was the name given to the intra-clan war fought between Uesugi Kagekatsu and Uesugi Kagetora, both adopted sons of Uesugi Kenshin, for succession to the position of head of the Uesugi Clan after Kenshin died. The war bifurcated the Uesugi commanders and in the end significantly weakened Uesugi's power. The "Otate", or "Castle/Mansion" refers to the residence Uesugi Kenshin built for the Kantou Kanrei, Uesugi Norimasa, near Kasugayama Castle. He used it as a government office after Norimasa passed on the title to him and the lands around Kasugayama Castle were developed.

On March 9th in the 6th year of Tenshou (April 15th, 1578), Uesugi Kenshin collapsed at Kasugayama Castle's privy from an "unforeseen nervous weakness" (some speculate poison or assassination) and died on the 13th (April 19th, 1578) without ever regaining consciousness.

Traditionally, it is held that he died without ever deciding on an heir. Some point to evidence such as Uesugi Kagetora accompanying him on shrine visits at the New Year and not being forced to perform military service (though proof of the latter is sketchy), to support theories that Kenshin favored Kagetora. It is evident that Kagetora, who was adopted from the mighty Houjou Clan, ruler of the Kantou, had unshakeable standing within the Uesugi Clan even after the Echigo-Sagami Alliance fell apart in 1571.

On the other hand, Kenshin had conferred the highest military powers within the Uesugi family on Kagekatsu, and the Uesugi retainers used similar titles for Kenshin and Kagekatsu.

Pointing to some of the above reasons, many historians argue that Kenshin had intended to pass the title of Kantou Kanrei and position of clan head of the Sannai-Uesugi Clan to Kagetora while making Kagekatsu the master of Echigo and the head of the Echigo-Uesugi Clan. There is no way of telling based on current evidence which would have been the sole heir.

In any case, a dispute over the rightful heir to Kenshin arose between Kagekatsu and Kagetora immediately. Kagekatsu moved first. On the day following Kenshin's death, Kakizaki Haruie, viewed as being in the Kagetora faction, was assassinated (there is another theory that Haruie was killed before the Otate no Ran, when his father was accused of treason). Also, according to one primary historical record, Kagekatsu moved quickly to occupy the inner citadel, treasury, and armory of Kasugayama Castle, though the exact date is unknown. Kagekatsu proclaimed himself the rightful heir in a letter dated March 24th (April 30th) and began attacking Kagetora, barricaded in the Third Wing.

Kagekatsu and Kagetora's forces fought in what is now Jouetsu City on May 5th (June 10th, 1578), and until Kagetora evacuated in the middle of the month, hostilities continued within Kasugayama Castle. During that time, both Kagekatsu and Kagetora tried to win the various Echigo generals to their side.

Commanders committed to Kagekatsu:
- Amakasu Kagemochi: Oumi no Kami
- Higuchi Kanetoyo, Naoe Kanetsugu, Ookuni Saneyori
- Honjou Shigenaga: Echizen no Kami
- Irobe Nagazane: Son of Irobe Katsunaga, master of Hirabayashi Castle
- Joujou Masashige: one of Kenshin's adopted sons, Kagekatsu's brother-in-law, head of the Joujou-Uesugi family
- Kakizaki Noriie: Noto no Kami
- Kanou Hideharu
- Kawada Nagachika: Buzen no Kami
- Murakami Kunikiyo: head of the Yamaura-Uesugi family
- Naoe Nobutsuna: Yamato no Kami, master of Yoita Castle
- Ooishi Tsunamoto: Harima no Kami
- Saitou Tomonobu: Shimotsuke no Kami, master of Akada Castle
- Shibata Nagaatsu, Shibata Shigeie, Ijimino Nobumune
- Suda Mitsuchika
- Yamayoshi Kagenaga: head of the Yamayoshi Clan, master of Koba Castle
- Yasuda Akimoto: head of the Echigo-Yasuda Clan, master of Iiyama Castle
- Yasuda Nagahide: master of Yasuda Castle
- Yoshie Munenobu, Yoshie Kagesuke, Nakajou Kageyasu


Commanders committed to Kagetora:
- Ashina Moritaka: head of the Ashina Clan
- Ayukawa Morinaga: master of Oobasawa Castle
- Daihouji Yoshiuji: head of the Dewa Daihouji Clan
- Horie Munechika (who later betrayed him): Suruga no Kami, master of Samegao Castle
- Honjou Hidetsuna: master of Numata Castle
- Honjou Saneyori
- Houjou Ujimasa, Houjou Ujiteru, Houjou Ujikuni: Kagetora's elder brothers, head and generals of the Houjou Clan
- Kaji Hidetsuna: nephew of Uesugi Kenshin, master of Kaji Castle
- Kanamari Chikatsuna: master of Sanjou Castle
- Kawada Shigechika: Houki no Kami
- Kitajou Takahiro, Kitajou Kagehiro
- Kurokawa Kiyozane: master of Kurokawa Castle
- Nagao Kagenao
- Sanbonji Sadanaga: head of the Sanbonji-Uesugi Clan, master of Fudouzan Castle, Iyo no Kami
- Shimodaira Shurinosuke: master of Jouhukuji Castle
- Takeda Katsuyori (who was later bribed by Kagekatsu and entered into an alliance with him): head of the Takeda Clan
- Uesugi Norimasa: Kenshin's adopted father, former Kantou Kanrei
- Uesugi Kagenobu: originally Nagao, head of the Koshin-Nagao family
- Uesugi Norishige: son of Uesugi Norimasa

On May 13th (June 18th), with the lines between the commanders drawn, Kagetora finally retreated from the Third Wing to the Otate and requested aid from his brother Houjou Ujimasa while ordering his troops to set fire to the lands around Kasugayama Castle. He attacked Kasugayama Castle with around 6000 troops on May 17th (June 22nd), but was repelled.

He regrouped and attacked again on the 22nd (June 27th) with the same result. Around this time, hostilities between Kagekatsu and Kagetora's forces also began within the broader region. In Kouzuke, Kitajou Takahiro and Kitajou Kagehiro (father and son) sent forth troops with their aim on Kunohe Castle. Kagekatsu had no troops to spare at this point, and Kagetora's side easily took several castles in Miyano and Ogawa. Kagetora's side had completed organization for drawing Houjou troops into Echigo at this point, but since the distance was great, the Houjou requested assistance from their ally Takeda Katsuyori. Katsuyori sent an advance guard of 20,000 under the command of Takeda Nobutoyo, which arrived at the Echigo-Shinshuu border on May 29th (July 4th).

Aside from the Houjou and Takeda, Kagetora also received assistance from Ashina Moritaka. However, Moritaka met dogged resistance from Kagekatsu's forces and was stopped in his tracks. Still, Kagetora held the advantage at this point. The only problem: Ujimasa had little interest in moving to the offensive.

Kagekatsu, at a disadvantage now that he was being attacked from three directions, took a big gamble. He sent an advance guard to Katsuyori's camp offering a large amount of money and Kouzuke's rice fields in exchange for a Kagekatsu-Takeda alliance. How Kagekatsu knew that Katsuyori was painfully short on funds after his ignominious defeat at the Battle of Nagashino to Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu is unknown. Katsuyori arrived at Kaidu Castle and conferred with Nobutoyo. He entered into an alliance with Kagekatsu on June 12th (July 16th).

Now that Kagekatsu's side had successfully bought Takeda, they no longer needed to watch their backs. On the day the alliance was made Kagekatsu took Noumine Castle, allowing him to communicate with Sakato Castle from Kasugayama Castle. On the following day, Kagetora's side lost Uesugi Kagenobu, and their situation worsened day by day. Kagekatsu pressed towards various castles held by Kagetora's forces in Ecchuu. Katsuyori continued peace negotiations with Kagekatsu at full tilt; they were concluded on June 29th (August 2nd), and he withdrew his troops on August 28th (September 29th).

In the following month, Ujimasa finally began moving in earnest. Houjou Ujiteru and Houjou Ujikuni set out for Echigo by Ujimasa's command. They crossed Mikuni Pass and took Kabasawa Castle, within striking distance of Sakato Castle. However, the castle was well-guarded by Kagekatsu's forces, and with the onset of winter the Houjou forces could not advance to Kasugayama.

Finally, with Ujikuni and Takahiro left behind to guard Kabasawa Castle and Kagehiro acting as rear guard, they retreated. The Takeda forces, withdrawing from the lands around Kasugayama Castle, loitered between Kasugayama/Otate and Sakato Castle, in the end acting as a deterrent against Kagetora and Houjou forces. At the end of the year (January in the Gregorian calendar) Kagekatsu married Katsuyori's younger sister.

Having skillfully removed external threats and gathered support within the clan, Kagekatsu decided that the internal war would be resolved before the snow thawed. On the other hand, Kagetora was losing both supporters and castles. On February 2nd (February 27, 1579) Kagekatsu ordered a general offensive against Kagetora at Otate. Kagehiro was killed.

Kagekatsu recaptured Kabasawa Castle from the Houjou. Kagetora escaped from Otate and, with no hope of relief from the Houjou, who were blocked off by snow, sent his eldest son along with Kenshin's adopted father Uesugi Norimasa to negotiate for peace. On the way to Kagekatsu's camp, they were surrounded by Kagekatsu's troops and killed (there are accounts that the order actually came from Kasugayama Castle). On his flight from Otate towards the Kantou, Kagetora stopped at Samegao Castle. There he was betrayed by its master, Horie Munechika, and committed suicide along with his family on March 24th (April 19th, 1579).

Though Kagekatsu won the internal war, he would continue to face resistance from Honjou Hidetsuna, Kanamari Chikatsuna and others, and would not have total control of the clan until a year later.

The Otate no Ran would become one of the underlying reasons for the destruction of the Takeda Clan and the drastic decline of the Uesugi Clan's power.

Note: Japanese dates given in this entry are based on the lunar calendar; Gregorian Calendar dates in () were calculated using NengoCalc.
, plunged EcchuuEcchuu-no-kuni (越中国)

Also written as: Etchu

An ancient province of Japan bordering on Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto, which is now Toyama Prefecture. The territory was contested by the clans of neighboring provinces during the Sengoku Era, the Uesugi Clan among them. The Oda Clan took the province from Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Sassa Narimasa governed the area for a number of years, followed by the Akimoto, Matsudaira, and Hosokawa Clans.
into chaos and allowed Oda to slip through and begin its recapture."

Takaya grimaced. Naoe glanced at him and added, “Though that is probably a painful tale for you.”

“No... it’s okay. Go on.”

Naoe took up the story again at Takaya’s urging. “With your death putting an end to the battle for succession, Lord Kagekatsu took the field to recover EcchuuEcchuu-no-kuni (越中国)

Also written as: Etchu

An ancient province of Japan bordering on Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto, which is now Toyama Prefecture. The territory was contested by the clans of neighboring provinces during the Sengoku Era, the Uesugi Clan among them. The Oda Clan took the province from Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Sassa Narimasa governed the area for a number of years, followed by the Akimoto, Matsudaira, and Hosokawa Clans.
. This castle became the all-important front-line base for both Uesugi’s control of EcchuuEcchuu-no-kuni (越中国)

Also written as: Etchu

An ancient province of Japan bordering on Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto, which is now Toyama Prefecture. The territory was contested by the clans of neighboring provinces during the Sengoku Era, the Uesugi Clan among them. The Oda Clan took the province from Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Sassa Narimasa governed the area for a number of years, followed by the Akimoto, Matsudaira, and Hosokawa Clans.
and defense of EchigoEchigo-no-kuni (越国)

An ancient province in north-central Japan which was ruled by Uesugi Kenshin during the Sengoku Period. Now a part of Niigata Prefecture.
. The Oda forces put everything they had into their assault against it.”

He looked at Takaya.

Sassa NarimasaSassa Narimasa (佐々成政) Feb. 2, 1536 - July 7, 1588

Also known as: Kuranosuke—nickname (内蔵助)
Titles: Mutsu no Kami, Ecchuu no Kami, Chamberlain

A daimyo of the Sengoku, born in Owari. His father was Sassa Morimasa. His two older brothers, Sassa Masatsugu and Sassa Magosuke, died in battle, so Narimasa became head of the clan and master of Hira Castle in 1560. He distinguished himself in the loyal service of Oda Nobunaga and fought in many of Nobunaga's battles. His name was first on a list for the Kurohoro-gumi, an elite group of Nobunaga's bodyguards.

In 1580, he backed Jinbou Nagazumi against both the Uesugi Clan and the Ikkou-ikki in Ecchuu, and was given half the province. The following year, he was named governor (Kami) of the entire province when Jinbou Nagazumi lost his standing. He made Toyama Castle his main castle and performed extensive repairs and renovations on it.

After Nobunaga's death in 1582, Narimasa continued to engage in fierce battles with Uesugi Kagekatsu. He took the side of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobukatsu against Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but later surrendered to him in 1585 when Hideyoshi laid siege to Toyama Castle with 10,000 troops. He lost Ecchuu, but was given a fief in Higo in 1587 for merits in the suppression of Kyuushuu, along with instructions on refraining from hasty reforms. Ignoring those instructions because of illness or perhaps misunderstanding, Narimasa immediately set out on Hideyoshi's nationwide land survey, resulting in rebellion of the province. He was charged with misgovernment and committed ritual suicide.

He wrote the following as his death-poem: "The shell of my begging bowl in which I have placed the evil delusions of these recent days now breaks" (この頃の 厄妄想を 入れ置きし 鉄鉢袋 今破るなり).

Narimasa is said to have brutally killed his concubine, Sayuri, along with her family for a rumor of infidelity. The legend goes that Sayuri cursed him before she died, and the curse was responsible for his death at the hand of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

In Mirage of Blaze: He is kanshousha who has entered the «Yami-Sengoku» as one of the Oda's commanders, described as a tanned, fearless-looking young man, a "mountain cat in human skin." He and Mori Ranmaru don't appear to be on the best of terms. He later seeks his death at Sayuri's hands in remorse for the way he brutally tortured and killed her in their previous lives.
...was one of those commanders. He was ordered by his master Nobunaga to take control of EcchuuEcchuu-no-kuni (越中国)

Also written as: Etchu

An ancient province of Japan bordering on Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto, which is now Toyama Prefecture. The territory was contested by the clans of neighboring provinces during the Sengoku Era, the Uesugi Clan among them. The Oda Clan took the province from Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Sassa Narimasa governed the area for a number of years, followed by the Akimoto, Matsudaira, and Hosokawa Clans.
, and appeared determined to drive the Uesugi out under any circumstances.”

“...”

“The Oda contrived to have Lord Kagekatsu receive word that ShinanoShinano-no-kuni (信濃国)

An ancient province of Japan which is now the Prefecture of Nagano. Its abbreviated name is Shinshuu. Shinano was one of Takeda Shingen's centers of power during his battles with Uesugi Kenshin and bordered on the provinces of Echigo, Etchu, Hida, Kai, Kozuke, Mikawa, Mino, Musashi, Suruga, and Totomi. Its capital was located near the present-day city of Matsumoto.
’s Mori NagayoshiMori Nagayoshi (森長可) 1558 - 1584

Born as the second son of Mori Yoshinari, Nagayoshi became head of the Mori clan upon the deaths of both his father and older brother in battle in 1570. He served Oda Nobunaga and participated in the attack and annihilation of the Takeda clan in 1582, capturing Iida Castle and Takatoo Castle in hard-fought battles. He was awarded a 20,000-koku fief of 4 districts of Kawanakajima in Shinano as well as Uozu Castle.

In June of that year, the situation in Shinano became unstable upon Nobunaga's death, and Nagayoshi fled back to his former stronghold, Kaneyama Castle in Mino. He died fighting against Tokugawa's forces in 1584 (it was said that he died instantly from a rifle bullet between the eyes). His younger brother Mori Tadamasa became the next clan head.
had invaded EchigoEchigo-no-kuni (越国)

An ancient province in north-central Japan which was ruled by Uesugi Kenshin during the Sengoku Period. Now a part of Niigata Prefecture.
, which left him no choice but to return to KasugayamaKasugayama-jou (春日山城)

Also known as: Hachigamine-jou

Kasugayama Castle was Uesugi Kenshin's primary fortress, located in present-day Niigata Prefecture. It was built by the Nagao clan, and Kenshin became its lord in 1548 (some say Kenshin built the castle). Uesugi Kagekatsu won control of the castle in the Otate no Ran after his adopted father's death.
view map location
. Unable to send reinforcements to Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
view map location
, the Uesugi commanders and soldiers there were told to surrender the castle—but they refused, and continued to resist the besieging army.”

Naoe gazed at the dark shapes of the school buildings.

Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
view map location
...fell. The three thousand soldiers of the castle garrison died in battle, and its seventeen1 Uesugi commanders committed ritual suicide in the ruins of the inner citadel... Ironically, this was the day before Nobunaga died at Honnou TempleHonnou-ji (本能寺)

A Nichirenshu Buddhist temple located in Kyoto, famous for being the site at which Oda Nobunaga was betrayed and murdered by his vassal Akechi Mitsuhide.
.”

Takaya stared at him. Naoe’s eyes fell slightly.

“The Oda army withdrew with its troops in confusion, allowing Uesugi to recover the castle, though too late to save those sacrificed soldiers. Fate’s sense of irony is far too cruel; if they had endured but a few days longer, they may yet have been saved...”

Pale phosphorous lights began to dance in the dark courtyard.

“The souls of Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
view map location
’s three thousand fallen sleep here.”

Takaya froze. His breath caught as ghostly energy roused across the entire campus. He could hear the chiming of a bell.

“Naoe. That sound...”

“It is the ‘Bell of Spiritual Repose.’ She is coming.”

A human shape appeared out of a mist of smoke-dark spiritual energy. Its features gradually gained clarity as it approached them, resolving at last into a woman with long hair, dressed in a white kimono. She appeared before Takaya and Naoe with a small bell in her right hand.

“She is the tutelary deity of this land—we call her the 'Lady in White'.” She has pacified the spirits of Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
view map location
."

The ephemeral 'Lady in White' stilled the bell in her hand and kneeled, bowing respectfully to Takaya.

“Please answer her greeting. You are her master. She, too, is a member of the Meikai Uesugi ArmyMeikai Uesugi Gun (冥界上杉軍)

Lit. "Underworld Uesugi Army"; the army formed by Uesugi Kenshin to hunt down the onryou so that the peace of modern-day Japan is not threatened by centuries-old conflicts. It is composed of all the spirits who have some connection to the Uesugi and who were called upon by Kenshin. The Yasha-shuu could be called its commanders, though Uesugi Kagetora is the only person with the authority to lead it.
.”

“She is? But she’s not kanshoushakanshousha (換生者)

Those who possess others by driving out the soul from a body and making it theirs.

Unlike normal spirits, kanshousha cannot exchange bodies at will; they can only switch to another host body when their current body dies. Because kanshousha become the owners of their bodies, choubuku does not work on them. It is, however, still possible to exorcise kanshousha when they are in spirit-form (i.e. between possessions).
.”

“The Meikai Uesugi ArmyMeikai Uesugi Gun (冥界上杉軍)

Lit. "Underworld Uesugi Army"; the army formed by Uesugi Kenshin to hunt down the onryou so that the peace of modern-day Japan is not threatened by centuries-old conflicts. It is composed of all the spirits who have some connection to the Uesugi and who were called upon by Kenshin. The Yasha-shuu could be called its commanders, though Uesugi Kagetora is the only person with the authority to lead it.
is composed of all the spirits who have some connection to the Uesugi upon whom Lord Kenshin has laid his claim. We the Yasha-shuuYasha-shuu (夜叉衆)

The five kanshousha at the head of the Meikai Uesugi Army ordered by Uesugi Kenshin to hunt for the onshou who are disrupting the peace of modern-era Japan in a battle which has lasted four hundred years. Led by Uesugi Kagetora, with Naoe Nobutsuna, Kakizaki Haruie, Yasuda Nagahide, and Irobe Katsunaga. The name "Yasha" refers to soldiers in the army of Bishamonten, called "Yaksha".
could be called their commanders.”

“Then they’re also—” Takaya gazed at the host of countless wraiths filling the schoolyard. Behind the 'Lady in White' stood the commanders who had committed seppuku in this place, Uesugi’s Thirteen Generals.

“They became onryouonryou (怨霊)

Lit.: "vengeful ghost"; the spirits of those who died in the Sengoku period who are still so filled with rage and hatred that they continue to exist in the world as vengeful spirits instead of being purified and reborn.
after their deaths. But they heeded the summons of Lord Kenshin, God of War, to join the Meikai Uesugi ArmyMeikai Uesugi Gun (冥界上杉軍)

Lit. "Underworld Uesugi Army"; the army formed by Uesugi Kenshin to hunt down the onryou so that the peace of modern-day Japan is not threatened by centuries-old conflicts. It is composed of all the spirits who have some connection to the Uesugi and who were called upon by Kenshin. The Yasha-shuu could be called its commanders, though Uesugi Kagetora is the only person with the authority to lead it.
, and were thus reclaimed. They usually sleep quietly on this land, but once given the command, they will fight for us. You are the only person with the authority to lead them.”

Takaya gazed at the 'Lady in White' kneeling gracefully before him, then at the spirits gathered in the courtyard all around him.

“We have many such people in place all over the land, a system of guardian spirits like the 'Lady in White' who relay the movements of the local onshouonshou (怨将)

Lit.: "vengeful general": the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period, who continue their battles even in modern-age Japan.
back to us. They are the reason that we have an idea of the activity of the entire «Yami-SengokuYami Sengoku (闇戦国)

Lit.: "Dark Sengoku", the civil war still being fought by the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period in modern-day Japan.
». But of late there have been many cases of formerly pacified spirits being agitated and roused by the maneuverings of the onshouonshou (怨将)

Lit.: "vengeful general": the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period, who continue their battles even in modern-age Japan.
. —Though the guardians of the land can usually keep them quiet, there have also been times when they can no longer keep the spirits under control.”

As Naoe had pointed out, Takaya could sense that the aura of these spirits was indeed much stronger than that of ordinary onryouonryou (怨霊)

Lit.: "vengeful ghost"; the spirits of those who died in the Sengoku period who are still so filled with rage and hatred that they continue to exist in the world as vengeful spirits instead of being purified and reborn.
. Realization dawned.

“So we came here to pacify them?”

“This is also one of our jobs. It is our duty to keep them from wrecking havoc in ordinary people’s lives.”

Takaya still looked uncertain. Naoe gave him a sideways glance, then approached the 'Lady in White'.

“Then again, it’s certainly true that this area has always been known for its ghost legends. ...Now, Kagetora-sama.”

Takaya walked up to Naoe as one after another the Thirteen Generals exclaimed in wonder. He stood still within the crowd of spirits, opening himself to their fellowship, respect, love...

Terashima NagasukeTerashima Nagasuke (寺島長資) ? - June 22, 1582

Vassal of Uesugi Kagekatsu and son of Yoshie Kagesuke who died with his brother, father, and grandfather at Uozu Castle when it fell to Oda forces in June of 1582.
, Sanbonji KagenagaSanbonji Kagenaga (山本寺景長) ? - 1582

Also known as: 宮千代丸、松三、孝長

Son (or possibly younger brother) of Sanbonji Sadanaga, he became head of the Sanbonji Clan and master of Fudousan Castle after Uesugi Kagekatsu become head of the Uesugi Clan. He committed suicide in the Battle of Uozu Castle along with twelve other Uesugi commanders. He was apparently still a young man at the time.
, Takenomata YoshitsunaTakenomata Yoshitsuna (竹俣慶綱) 1524 - 1582

Titles: Mikawa no Kami

A vassal of Uesugi Kenshin who fought in the Battle of Kawanakajima in 1561. He was commended for his bravery when he continued fighting even after losing both his horse and his armor. He supported Uesugi Kagekatsu in the Otate no Ran. Later, he committed suicide in the Battle of Uozu Castle along with twelve other Uesugi commanders.
, Yoshie NobukageYoshie Nobukage (吉江信景) 1537 - 1582

Also known as: Yoshie Sukekata (吉江資堅)

Head of the Yoshie Clan, a vassal of Uesugi Kenshin and a close aide to him in his later years. He supported Uesugi Kagekatsu in the Otate no Ran. He died in 1582 in the Battle of Uozu Castle along with twelve other Uesugi commanders.
... Their names flowed one by one into his mind. And his heart heard, along with those names, their tales of valor in the ferocious Battle of Uozu CastleUozu-jou no Tatakai (魚津城の戦い)

The Battle of Uozu Castle was fought in 1582 between vassals of Uesugi Kagekatsu with 4000 soldiers and that of Oda Nobunaga with more than 10,000 soldiers. The Oda forces, led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa, fresh from successfully taking Toyama Castle, besieged Uozu Castle around March 11 (March 3, 1582).

The castle commanders immediately beseeched Kagekatsu for help, but Kagekatsu's reinforcements, already depleted by the Otate no Ran, were delayed by the betrayal of Shibata Shigeie and the Oda troops remaining in Kai and Shinano after their subjugation of the Takeda.

The Oda forces weakened the castle with numerous fierce attacks. Kagekatsu personally led an army from Kasugayama Castle on May 4 (May 25, 1582). Two days later, the Oda forces occupied the outer citadel of the castle. On May 19 (June 9, 1582) the Uesugi army arrived on Uozu Castle's east bank and set up camp at Tenjin Hill. However, they could not break through Oda's besieging army, and were forced to withdraw on May 27 (June 7, 1582) when it appeared that Kasugayama Castle itself may come under attack.

Abandoned by Kagekatsu after a 3-month long siege and running out of provisions, the 13 commanders of Uesugi, Sanbonji Kagenaga, Yoshie Munenobu, Yoshie Kagesuke, Yoshie Nobukage, Ishiguchi Hiromune, Nakajou Kageyasu, Takenomata Yoshitsuna, Terashima Nagasuke, Tadenuma Yasushige, Abe Masayoshi (sp?), Wakabayashi Ienaga (sp?), Kameda Choujou (sp?), and Fujimaru Katsutoshi wrote their names on wooden tablets and committed seppuku on June 3 (June 22, 1582). Thus the castle fell to Oda.

The Oda army prepared to march on to Echigo, but news of the death of Oda Nobunaga on June 21, the day before the end of the siege, caused confusion and panic within the army, and it retreated.

Note: Japanese dates given in this entry are based on the lunar calendar; Gregorian Calendar dates in () were calculated using NengoCalc.
. With no provisions left and their wounded bodies on the edge of starvation, they had yet kept the onslaught of Oda soldiers at bay. They had fought like demons, surrounded by corpses and severed limbs and howls of agony, with blood soaking through the floorboards beneath their feet.

Under siege...All of them had wept at Kagekatsu’s letter carrying the bitter news that no reinforcements would come. Though Kagekatsu asked them to surrender, his letter only hardened their resolve to fight on. How could they possibly have capitulated, knowing what unspeakably deep pain Kagekatsu must have felt as he had written the words, Forgive me for abandoning you...

Standing silent and still, his eyes lowered, Takaya took in all their emotions. The «Yami-SengokuYami Sengoku (闇戦国)

Lit.: "Dark Sengoku", the civil war still being fought by the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period in modern-day Japan.
» had revived their ancient regret, and they had waited. Waited for him, lost for thirty years, to appear like this before them. Waited for him as they had waited four hundred years ago for Kagekatsu, who had never arrived to save them.

He began the spirit-tranquilization ceremony. He had to put them to sleep for now, for a little while longer. Naoe handed him a charm of Dainichi NyoraiDainichi Buddha (大日如来)

Also known as: Mahavairocana, Dainichi Nyorai, Vairocana, Daibutsu

Mahavairocana is the Cosmic Buddha who represents the center or zenith and is especially important to the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism. He was worshipped in Japan from as early as the Heian Period, and his Mahavairocana Sutra forms the basis for the rituals of the Shingon School.

Dainichi's characteristic hand gesture is the index finger of the left hand clasped by the five fingers of the right, symbolizing the unity of earth, water, fire, air, and spiritual consciouness.
, which he placed gently on the ground. He pressed his hands together around a tokko vajratokko (独鈷)

Also known as: tokko-sho, toko-sho, dokko-sho, dokuko-sho (独鈷杵)

A rod-shaped object with tapered pointed ends used in Esoteric Buddhism rituals, which represents the indestructible nature of Buddhist law and the power to defeat evil. The tokko is one type of vajra.
and slowly chanted the Mantra of Glory.

On abokyabeiroshanau makabodara manihandoma jinbaraharabaritaya unon abokyabeiroshanau makabodara manihandoma jinbaraharabaritaya un

「オン・アボギャベイロシャノウ・マカボダラ・マニハンドマ・ジンバラハラバリタヤ・ウン」

Also known as: Koumyou Shingon: "The mantra of glory/mantra of light" (光明真言)

A mantra of Dainichi Nyorai which expiates sin, and brings fortune, ease, and longevity. It is a powerful all-purpose mantra which can be used to remove illness and injury and protect the user from poisonous creatures, demons, and the dead.
.”

Takaya’s body began to glow with a pale light. His mantra calmed the chaotic spiritual energy around him. Naoe, holding a Buddhist rosary, chanted the Heart SutraHannya Shingyou (般若心経)

「羯締羯締 波羅羯締 波羅僧羯締 菩提娑婆訶 般若心経」

Also known as: The Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra / Heart Sutra / Essence of Wisdom Sutra

Said to be the best known and most popular of all Buddhist scriptures, the Heart Sutra contains a mantra which is described as "The great mantra, the mantra of great knowledge, the utmost mantra, the unequalled mantra, the allayer of all suffering."

The mantra itself is read "Gate gate Pāragate Pārasaṃgate Bodhi svāhā" (in Japanese: "Gyateigyatei haragyatei harasougyatei bojisowaka hannyashingyou") and can be translated "Oh she who is gone, gone! / Gone beyond / Gone completely beyond / Hail to awakening (enlightenment)".
in counterpoint to Takaya’s Mantra of Glory. Pure air enfolded the space around them. Their sonorous voices almost seemed to meld together in a single song, resonating in the darkness of the Uozu Castle-ruinsUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
view map location
.

The ‘Bell of Spiritual Repose’ chimed.

The tokkotokko (独鈷)

Also known as: tokko-sho, toko-sho, dokko-sho, dokuko-sho (独鈷杵)

A rod-shaped object with tapered pointed ends used in Esoteric Buddhism rituals, which represents the indestructible nature of Buddhist law and the power to defeat evil. The tokko is one type of vajra.
in Takaya’s hand released a golden light as his voice swelled with the Buddha’s name. He held it towards the charm in a gesture of offering, and the charm slowly floated into mid-air. The Sanskrit characters written upon it glittered, then blazed with a gentle, pure light that fell like rain onto the spirits.

It acted as a kind of soporific. The generals absorbed that purifying light and disappeared one by one. They would sleep again until the day Kagetora summoned them.

“...Gyateigyatei haragyatei harasougyatei bojisowaka hannyashingyouHannya Shingyou (般若心経)

「羯締羯締 波羅羯締 波羅僧羯締 菩提娑婆訶 般若心経」

Also known as: The Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra / Heart Sutra / Essence of Wisdom Sutra

Said to be the best known and most popular of all Buddhist scriptures, the Heart Sutra contains a mantra which is described as "The great mantra, the mantra of great knowledge, the utmost mantra, the unequalled mantra, the allayer of all suffering."

The mantra itself is read "Gate gate Pāragate Pārasaṃgate Bodhi svāhā" (in Japanese: "Gyateigyatei haragyatei harasougyatei bojisowaka hannyashingyou") and can be translated "Oh she who is gone, gone! / Gone beyond / Gone completely beyond / Hail to awakening (enlightenment)".
...”

At the conclusion of their mantras, the 'Lady in White' swung her bell three times. White fire soundlessly engulfed the charm, which fell to the ground in a scattering of ash. The spirit-tranquilization ceremony concluded, the 'Lady in White' also vanished. Naoe ascertained that all the soldiers of Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
view map location
were quiet before parting his hands and turning to Takaya.

“They seem to have calmed.”

“Yeah...”

“The ghost disturbances should now cease as well. I believe there have been quite a few of them in the area lately, such as warriors’ spirits walking around the school and frequent ghost sightings... I’m glad you came. It would probably have taken a considerable amount of time to calm them by myself.”

Naoe lighted the incense bundle he had brought with him and placed it on the ground.

Takaya was still staring dazedly at the dark schoolyard.

“Shall we go, Takaya-san?”

“Ah...yeah...”

Takaya turned from the now-quiet grounds at Naoe’s urging and began walking away. But he could still somehow feel the sorrowful gaze of the 'Lady in White' upon him. His feet stopped abruptly.

They had waited for him here...

“I—...” Takaya murmured softly, turning back to the schoolyard. “I will not abandon you...”

Naoe stopped and stared at him, eyes widening slightly. These were the same words spoken by Kagetora to the Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
view map location
soldiers each time he came here.

It was not the sutra-chanting or the spirit-tranquilization ceremony that comforted them; perhaps these few words from the heart were all that they really wished for.

The wraiths of the castle ruins settled into sleep once more, their minds at peace.

 

The elementary school stood by the coast, with the Sea of JapanNihon-Kai (日本海)

The Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, lies to the north of the Japanese Islands and is bordered by Japan, Korea, and Russia.
view map location
only a short walk away. Uozu was the entrance to Toyama BayToyama-wan (富山湾)

Toyama Bay is Japan's largest open-sea inner bay to the Sea of Japan, and is known for its depth and abundance of fish. It is also famous for the mirage that appears during the spring and winter.
view map location
, and on clear days commanded a view of the distant Noto PeninsulaNoto Hantou (能登半島)

A peninsula that juts from the coast of Ishikawa Prefecture into the Sea of Japan, located in north-central Honshuu. It is a part of Ishikawa Prefecture.
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.

Takaya and Naoe drove to the coastline next to a fishing harbor. The wind carried to them the scent of the tide as they alighted from the car. Glittering stars filled the expanse of the night sky, and the dark ocean stretched out before them. High schoolers were setting off fireworks in the plaza of a warehouse-like building across the way.

“Delinquents getting rowdy, huh?”

Sipping from a can of juice, Takaya climbed onto the seawall and sat down with his legs extended out towards the sea.

“Be careful.”

“I’m fine, I’m fine.” Gazing at the waves breaking against the concrete tetrapodTetrapod (テトラポット)

Large, four-legged concrete structures used to fortify breakwaters. They are designed to dissipate the force of incoming waves and are used along an estimated 50% of the Japan coastline.
blocks, Takaya murmured slowly, “Ah... I wonder how long it’s been since I last saw the sea...”

Naoe stood quietly at Takaya’s side in the sea breeze, gazing out at the coast.

“I believe you can see mirages here from spring until early summer. They say that the buildings move from the opposite shore to the coast, but I have not yet seen it myself. I’ve heard that it’s somewhat confusing for those seeing it for the first time, so they often mistake it for the Noto PeninsulaNoto Hantou (能登半島)

A peninsula that juts from the coast of Ishikawa Prefecture into the Sea of Japan, located in north-central Honshuu. It is a part of Ishikawa Prefecture.
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, but apparently it’s not possible to see the peninsula and the mirage at the same time.”

“Hmm,” Takaya responded with bright-eyed interest, “I’d really like to see that sometime. You can’t see it now?”

“It’s the middle of summer, so I’m not sure. Evidently it happens during the firefly squid’s harvest season... But you wouldn’t be able to see it at night in any case,” Naoe said, turning to the road at the sound of several car engines roaring to life. The group of kids from the warehouse raced off with horns blaring.

“Goddammit, shut the hell up already! Drive if you’re gonna drive, but at least do it quietly!” Takaya yelled, and Naoe smiled wryly. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing. Just wondering if I should be saying the same to you.”

“Hey, I’ve got a muffler on mine! And who the hell would hang around a tacky crowd like that, anyway? Ugh!” Takaya’s lips twisted as if he were truly peeved. “The only time I rode with someone was...for a little while in junior high.”

He abruptly turned away from Naoe back to the ocean. “Stop making me remember stuff like that.” He gulped down the juice with frightful speed and held the empty can out to Naoe behind him.

“Beer.”

“Excuse me...?”

“Go buy some. And get some snacks while you’re at it.”

“What are you talking about? You know I can’t.”

“Oh come on, how often do we come to the sea?”

Sensing Naoe’s wry smile, Takaya turned crossly.

“See? You’re giving me that smile again. You keep treating me like a kid.”

“I don’t treat you like a kid. I treat you like someone who is still underage.”

“Same difference,” Takaya retorted, and turned again to glower at the sea.

Both of them listened to the sound of the waves for a while. Takaya seemed to be thinking of his junior high days.

“I guess I was pretty messed up...”

The mumbled words suddenly spilled from Takaya’s lips, and Naoe peered at him curiously.

“What’s wrong?”

“Ah, nothing, I was just remembering...” Takaya brushed his hair out of his eyes and wrapped his arms around one upraised knee. “In junior high I stole a motorcycle and took it joy-riding. I didn’t know much about traffic regulations, so I just went any which way I wanted. But it felt great, you know? One small rev of the engine was all took to put another few hundred kilometers of the world behind me. That kinda power gives you the delusion that you’re strong. Everything around me just blurred on past. I couldn’t see anything, since it was night, and that was great, too. I really thought that I might hit something and die right there on the spot, and I didn’t care.”

“...”

“’Cause at that point I couldn’t see any sort of future in front of me. I had no hope of anything. It was just like my ride: a headlong plunge into the dark. And I thought, if I hit something, it’d only take a second...”

Staring a little at Takaya’s face in profile with its mixture of nostalgia and amusement, Naoe’s emotions suddenly softened into tenderness. He wanted to see more of the true self of this young man called Ougi Takaya.

“Takaya-san, what sort of occupation do you want to pursue for the future?”

“Me?” Takaya hesitated, then answered haltingly, “Family court counseling...”

“Huh?” the startled question slipped involuntarily out of Naoe’s mouth. “Family court...?”

“Something wrong with that?”

“Not at all,” Naoe replied, looking completely nonplussed. Takaya career choice seemed rather drastically at odds with his projected image.

“Ah, but it’s probably totally impossible for me anyway. I’m too dumb for it... That’s the sort of job you’ve gotta have brains for...”

“I don’t...think that’s true...”

“Hmph, don’t force yourself,” Takaya returned peevishly, staring fixedly at the sea. Naoe wanted to ask him the reason for his career choice, but Takaya muttered to himself as if to forestall his question, “Though I guess this isn’t really the time to be thinking about stuff like that.”

“... Takaya-san.”

The waves murmured sweetly into their ears. Takaya seemed absorbed in his thoughts as he gazed out to the dark sea. But as Naoe was about to speak to him, Takaya mumbled haltingly, “Don’t you...think it’s odd?”

“Eh?”

With eyes downcast, Takaya answered, “Those people, is it okay to keep them there like that...?”

“Those people?”

“The people of Uozu CastleUozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.
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. Isn’t it painful for them to remain in this world? I was wondering if we shouldn’t send them to the next world as soon as we can...”

Takaya brushed the wind-blown hair out of his eyes. “I don’t get this Kenshin guy. He says stuff about spirits violating the natural order of the world, but on the other hand he’s forcing them to stay. It’d be better if he makes them pass on and be purified and reincarnated or whatever. If he’s gonna say anything about the natural order...” he muttered, his tone growing more forceful. “If you think about it, aren’t we the ones violating the natural order? The kanshoushakanshousha (換生者)

Those who possess others by driving out the soul from a body and making it theirs.

Unlike normal spirits, kanshousha cannot exchange bodies at will; they can only switch to another host body when their current body dies. Because kanshousha become the owners of their bodies, choubuku does not work on them. It is, however, still possible to exorcise kanshousha when they are in spirit-form (i.e. between possessions).
keep living and living by snatching other people’s bodies—I mean, we’re the ones smashing the natural order all to pieces. Talk about contradiction. I think we’re a lot more unnatural than the onshouonshou (怨将)

Lit.: "vengeful general": the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period, who continue their battles even in modern-age Japan.
of the «Yami-SengokuYami Sengoku (闇戦国)

Lit.: "Dark Sengoku", the civil war still being fought by the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period in modern-day Japan.
».”

Naoe was silent.

“Who the hell is this Kenshin, anyway? What authority does he have over who stays or goes? We should just perform «choubukuchoubuku (調伏)

Also known as: choubukuryoku (調伏力)

The special power given to the Yasha-shuu to banish onryou to the Underworld using the dharani of Uesugi Kenshin's guardian deity, Bishamonten. The types of choubuku include "kouhou-choubuku", "ressa-choubuku", "kekkai-choubuku", etc. Each choubuku is begun with the incantation "bai" and the ritual hand gesture of Bishamonten's symbol.

Choubuku does not work against kanshousha, who have bodies of their own.
» on those people too! I don’t know anything about this Meikai Uesugi ArmyMeikai Uesugi Gun (冥界上杉軍)

Lit. "Underworld Uesugi Army"; the army formed by Uesugi Kenshin to hunt down the onryou so that the peace of modern-day Japan is not threatened by centuries-old conflicts. It is composed of all the spirits who have some connection to the Uesugi and who were called upon by Kenshin. The Yasha-shuu could be called its commanders, though Uesugi Kagetora is the only person with the authority to lead it.
or whatever the hell it is, but who the hell are we to call them up at our convenience? If we’ve got the power to exorcise spirits, then let’s let them rest! Let them pass on to the other world, not sacrifice them! That’s what I think we should do, anyway.”

“Takaya-san...”

“That’s why we have this power, isn’t it? Who’s being self-serving here? I just don’t get Kenshin...” he trailed off, closing his eyes hard and biting down on his lower lip as if to hold back the rest of his words.

“I just wanna...let them rest in peace as soon as I can...”

A pang ran through Naoe’s chest. But he held it back from his eyes as he said to Takaya’s back, “It’s true.”

The lapping of waves against the shore rippled across the silence. “We all live within that contradiction.”

Takaya lifted his head and turned.

“... Naoe...”

“But I’m glad of it. If Lord Kenshin had not called me, I would certainly still be wandering as an onryouonryou (怨霊)

Lit.: "vengeful ghost"; the spirits of those who died in the Sengoku period who are still so filled with rage and hatred that they continue to exist in the world as vengeful spirits instead of being purified and reborn.
in the darkness, ignorant of all but my hatred. And—” his gaze went to Takaya “—if I had not performed kanshoukanshou (換生)

To possess another's body, driving out their soul, so as to be reborn with memories intact. Only Naoe of all the kanshousha has the power to perform kanshou on another soul.
, I would never have had the chance to come to understand you like this.”

Takaya’s eyes widened. Naoe’s quiet smile finally reappeared.

“If Lord Kenshin had not chosen me as one of the Yasha-shuuYasha-shuu (夜叉衆)

The five kanshousha at the head of the Meikai Uesugi Army ordered by Uesugi Kenshin to hunt for the onshou who are disrupting the peace of modern-era Japan in a battle which has lasted four hundred years. Led by Uesugi Kagetora, with Naoe Nobutsuna, Kakizaki Haruie, Yasuda Nagahide, and Irobe Katsunaga. The name "Yasha" refers to soldiers in the army of Bishamonten, called "Yaksha".
, you would never have been more to me than my ”enemy of the Otate no RanOtate no Ran (御館の乱)

Lit.: "War of the Castle". The Otate no Ran was the name given to the intra-clan war fought between Uesugi Kagekatsu and Uesugi Kagetora, both adopted sons of Uesugi Kenshin, for succession to the position of head of the Uesugi Clan after Kenshin died. The war bifurcated the Uesugi commanders and in the end significantly weakened Uesugi's power. The "Otate", or "Castle/Mansion" refers to the residence Uesugi Kenshin built for the Kantou Kanrei, Uesugi Norimasa, near Kasugayama Castle. He used it as a government office after Norimasa passed on the title to him and the lands around Kasugayama Castle were developed.

On March 9th in the 6th year of Tenshou (April 15th, 1578), Uesugi Kenshin collapsed at Kasugayama Castle's privy from an "unforeseen nervous weakness" (some speculate poison or assassination) and died on the 13th (April 19th, 1578) without ever regaining consciousness.

Traditionally, it is held that he died without ever deciding on an heir. Some point to evidence such as Uesugi Kagetora accompanying him on shrine visits at the New Year and not being forced to perform military service (though proof of the latter is sketchy), to support theories that Kenshin favored Kagetora. It is evident that Kagetora, who was adopted from the mighty Houjou Clan, ruler of the Kantou, had unshakeable standing within the Uesugi Clan even after the Echigo-Sagami Alliance fell apart in 1571.

On the other hand, Kenshin had conferred the highest military powers within the Uesugi family on Kagekatsu, and the Uesugi retainers used similar titles for Kenshin and Kagekatsu.

Pointing to some of the above reasons, many historians argue that Kenshin had intended to pass the title of Kantou Kanrei and position of clan head of the Sannai-Uesugi Clan to Kagetora while making Kagekatsu the master of Echigo and the head of the Echigo-Uesugi Clan. There is no way of telling based on current evidence which would have been the sole heir.

In any case, a dispute over the rightful heir to Kenshin arose between Kagekatsu and Kagetora immediately. Kagekatsu moved first. On the day following Kenshin's death, Kakizaki Haruie, viewed as being in the Kagetora faction, was assassinated (there is another theory that Haruie was killed before the Otate no Ran, when his father was accused of treason). Also, according to one primary historical record, Kagekatsu moved quickly to occupy the inner citadel, treasury, and armory of Kasugayama Castle, though the exact date is unknown. Kagekatsu proclaimed himself the rightful heir in a letter dated March 24th (April 30th) and began attacking Kagetora, barricaded in the Third Wing.

Kagekatsu and Kagetora's forces fought in what is now Jouetsu City on May 5th (June 10th, 1578), and until Kagetora evacuated in the middle of the month, hostilities continued within Kasugayama Castle. During that time, both Kagekatsu and Kagetora tried to win the various Echigo generals to their side.

Commanders committed to Kagekatsu:
- Amakasu Kagemochi: Oumi no Kami
- Higuchi Kanetoyo, Naoe Kanetsugu, Ookuni Saneyori
- Honjou Shigenaga: Echizen no Kami
- Irobe Nagazane: Son of Irobe Katsunaga, master of Hirabayashi Castle
- Joujou Masashige: one of Kenshin's adopted sons, Kagekatsu's brother-in-law, head of the Joujou-Uesugi family
- Kakizaki Noriie: Noto no Kami
- Kanou Hideharu
- Kawada Nagachika: Buzen no Kami
- Murakami Kunikiyo: head of the Yamaura-Uesugi family
- Naoe Nobutsuna: Yamato no Kami, master of Yoita Castle
- Ooishi Tsunamoto: Harima no Kami
- Saitou Tomonobu: Shimotsuke no Kami, master of Akada Castle
- Shibata Nagaatsu, Shibata Shigeie, Ijimino Nobumune
- Suda Mitsuchika
- Yamayoshi Kagenaga: head of the Yamayoshi Clan, master of Koba Castle
- Yasuda Akimoto: head of the Echigo-Yasuda Clan, master of Iiyama Castle
- Yasuda Nagahide: master of Yasuda Castle
- Yoshie Munenobu, Yoshie Kagesuke, Nakajou Kageyasu


Commanders committed to Kagetora:
- Ashina Moritaka: head of the Ashina Clan
- Ayukawa Morinaga: master of Oobasawa Castle
- Daihouji Yoshiuji: head of the Dewa Daihouji Clan
- Horie Munechika (who later betrayed him): Suruga no Kami, master of Samegao Castle
- Honjou Hidetsuna: master of Numata Castle
- Honjou Saneyori
- Houjou Ujimasa, Houjou Ujiteru, Houjou Ujikuni: Kagetora's elder brothers, head and generals of the Houjou Clan
- Kaji Hidetsuna: nephew of Uesugi Kenshin, master of Kaji Castle
- Kanamari Chikatsuna: master of Sanjou Castle
- Kawada Shigechika: Houki no Kami
- Kitajou Takahiro, Kitajou Kagehiro
- Kurokawa Kiyozane: master of Kurokawa Castle
- Nagao Kagenao
- Sanbonji Sadanaga: head of the Sanbonji-Uesugi Clan, master of Fudouzan Castle, Iyo no Kami
- Shimodaira Shurinosuke: master of Jouhukuji Castle
- Takeda Katsuyori (who was later bribed by Kagekatsu and entered into an alliance with him): head of the Takeda Clan
- Uesugi Norimasa: Kenshin's adopted father, former Kantou Kanrei
- Uesugi Kagenobu: originally Nagao, head of the Koshin-Nagao family
- Uesugi Norishige: son of Uesugi Norimasa

On May 13th (June 18th), with the lines between the commanders drawn, Kagetora finally retreated from the Third Wing to the Otate and requested aid from his brother Houjou Ujimasa while ordering his troops to set fire to the lands around Kasugayama Castle. He attacked Kasugayama Castle with around 6000 troops on May 17th (June 22nd), but was repelled.

He regrouped and attacked again on the 22nd (June 27th) with the same result. Around this time, hostilities between Kagekatsu and Kagetora's forces also began within the broader region. In Kouzuke, Kitajou Takahiro and Kitajou Kagehiro (father and son) sent forth troops with their aim on Kunohe Castle. Kagekatsu had no troops to spare at this point, and Kagetora's side easily took several castles in Miyano and Ogawa. Kagetora's side had completed organization for drawing Houjou troops into Echigo at this point, but since the distance was great, the Houjou requested assistance from their ally Takeda Katsuyori. Katsuyori sent an advance guard of 20,000 under the command of Takeda Nobutoyo, which arrived at the Echigo-Shinshuu border on May 29th (July 4th).

Aside from the Houjou and Takeda, Kagetora also received assistance from Ashina Moritaka. However, Moritaka met dogged resistance from Kagekatsu's forces and was stopped in his tracks. Still, Kagetora held the advantage at this point. The only problem: Ujimasa had little interest in moving to the offensive.

Kagekatsu, at a disadvantage now that he was being attacked from three directions, took a big gamble. He sent an advance guard to Katsuyori's camp offering a large amount of money and Kouzuke's rice fields in exchange for a Kagekatsu-Takeda alliance. How Kagekatsu knew that Katsuyori was painfully short on funds after his ignominious defeat at the Battle of Nagashino to Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu is unknown. Katsuyori arrived at Kaidu Castle and conferred with Nobutoyo. He entered into an alliance with Kagekatsu on June 12th (July 16th).

Now that Kagekatsu's side had successfully bought Takeda, they no longer needed to watch their backs. On the day the alliance was made Kagekatsu took Noumine Castle, allowing him to communicate with Sakato Castle from Kasugayama Castle. On the following day, Kagetora's side lost Uesugi Kagenobu, and their situation worsened day by day. Kagekatsu pressed towards various castles held by Kagetora's forces in Ecchuu. Katsuyori continued peace negotiations with Kagekatsu at full tilt; they were concluded on June 29th (August 2nd), and he withdrew his troops on August 28th (September 29th).

In the following month, Ujimasa finally began moving in earnest. Houjou Ujiteru and Houjou Ujikuni set out for Echigo by Ujimasa's command. They crossed Mikuni Pass and took Kabasawa Castle, within striking distance of Sakato Castle. However, the castle was well-guarded by Kagekatsu's forces, and with the onset of winter the Houjou forces could not advance to Kasugayama.

Finally, with Ujikuni and Takahiro left behind to guard Kabasawa Castle and Kagehiro acting as rear guard, they retreated. The Takeda forces, withdrawing from the lands around Kasugayama Castle, loitered between Kasugayama/Otate and Sakato Castle, in the end acting as a deterrent against Kagetora and Houjou forces. At the end of the year (January in the Gregorian calendar) Kagekatsu married Katsuyori's younger sister.

Having skillfully removed external threats and gathered support within the clan, Kagekatsu decided that the internal war would be resolved before the snow thawed. On the other hand, Kagetora was losing both supporters and castles. On February 2nd (February 27, 1579) Kagekatsu ordered a general offensive against Kagetora at Otate. Kagehiro was killed.

Kagekatsu recaptured Kabasawa Castle from the Houjou. Kagetora escaped from Otate and, with no hope of relief from the Houjou, who were blocked off by snow, sent his eldest son along with Kenshin's adopted father Uesugi Norimasa to negotiate for peace. On the way to Kagekatsu's camp, they were surrounded by Kagekatsu's troops and killed (there are accounts that the order actually came from Kasugayama Castle). On his flight from Otate towards the Kantou, Kagetora stopped at Samegao Castle. There he was betrayed by its master, Horie Munechika, and committed suicide along with his family on March 24th (April 19th, 1579).

Though Kagekatsu won the internal war, he would continue to face resistance from Honjou Hidetsuna, Kanamari Chikatsuna and others, and would not have total control of the clan until a year later.

The Otate no Ran would become one of the underlying reasons for the destruction of the Takeda Clan and the drastic decline of the Uesugi Clan's power.

Note: Japanese dates given in this entry are based on the lunar calendar; Gregorian Calendar dates in () were calculated using NengoCalc.
. And I would never have been able to stand at your side."

“You...”

“I am grateful to Lord Kenshin for choosing as your protector.”

The sincerity in Naoe’s clear eyes disconcerted Takaya, and he turned away in flustered bewilderment.

“You...you’re really weird, you know that? Talking to you always throws me for a loop.”

“Does it?”

“That’s...that’s the kind of sweet-talk you’d feed to a girl, isn’t it?!”

“I am only putting my sincerity into words.”

“And how many women have you put the moves on with that sincerity of yours?”

Naoe thought about it for a bit, straight-faced. “Well, let’s see... How many has it been? I’ve lost track, really...”

“Geez, you know...” Takaya’s fist shook for a moment before he asked as if the thought had just struck him, “Speaking of which, you’re still single, aren’t you? You’re not seeing anybody?”

“...”

Why did he have to ask such a question with such innocent obliviousness? Naoe grimaced.

“I don’t...really have the time for that at the moment.”

“So so so! That means you did?”

Looking at the young man with eyes glinting in his curiosity about another’s private life, Naoe’s eyes softened.

“There have been several women I’ve spent a night with.”

“Huh?” Takaya looked at Naoe oddly. “You...don’t tell me you’re actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing or something.”

Standing in the night wind, Naoe smiled.

“But it never went beyond a practical arrangement for either side. Neither party was looking for anything deeper, so we took only what we wanted and went our separate ways, and that was that. I’m sorry to disappoint your hopes of hearing a sweet tale of love and romance.”

“Wh-who the hell wanted to hear something like that...?!”

Naoe laughed, and Takaya glowered, rather wishing that he hadn’t asked in the first place. There were some things about which Takaya’s views seemed unexpectedly puritanical; the glare he directed at Naoe held a trace of hostility. Perhaps he was yet at that age where he still reacted strongly against adult male-female relationships.

“You’ll understand someday,” Naoe said, looking out at the dark sea. “There are times when you cannot live without relationships whose only objective is each other’s bodies, when you seek the mutual, consensual physical act of love in order to forget... And that was necessary for me, then...”

Takaya, who seemed not to have understood the feelings Naoe described at all, was still glaring fiercely at him.

“But then again, I’m always sincere in my pick-up lines,” Naoe added half-jokingly, and Takaya abruptly turned his back.

“Yeah, whatever. So you’re a real ladies’ man. You’d better watch out, or the women you’re feeding those lines’ll totally take advantage of you.”

The smile hovering at the corners of Naoe’s mouth suddenly vanished, and Takaya, sensing it, stilled. Naoe murmured, his voice dropping, “I wouldn’t mind being taken advantage of.”

“...”

For a moment Takaya’s face was completely open; then—

“I am not a woman!”

Thinking that Naoe was making fun of him, Takaya tried to stand up too quickly on the seawall and inexplicably lost his balance.

“Uwagh!”

Naoe caught hold of his arm even as he cried out in alarm, and the firm grip saved him from a headlong plunge into the sea. A glance at the billowing waves below was enough for him to break out into a cold sweat. He looked up at Naoe.

“Ah, thanks...”

“...”

The words died on Takaya’s lips. Naoe’s gaze on him was disconcertingly intense. Realizing that the grip on his arm was more forceful than necessary, Takaya asked uncertainly, “Naoe...?”

Realizing it himself, Naoe’s eyes immediately softened with his gentle smile.

“Now you see why I can’t leave you alone.”

Annoyed, Takaya immediately began defending himself. Naoe, still smiling, listened patiently to Takaya’s rebuttals as they returned to the car.

The sound of waves lapping against the shore accompanied them.

A car’s engine rumbled on the wharf...

footnotes

  1. 17 is the number given in Naoe’s tale, though 13 is the number given in the rest of the chapter and historically.