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The Rising Sun

By Deon L. de Jongh

Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt for Deon L. deJongh’s book, “Genkaku: The Translated Journal of a Foot Soldier," an epic adventure set in 16th Century Feudal Japan, depicting the journal entries of a foot soldier, called Namida Uta, who in the pursuit of truth, discovers a life altering family secret that sends him on a perilous journey.

“The First Entry”
1572
Period: Azuchi Momoyama Genki 3 (1570-1572)

What I know…

I was the only child to my father, Kenshin Uta, age 38, and my mother Taiyou Uta, 33 in years, of the village Toyama in the Etchu Province, on the Japan Sea side of central part of Honsyu main land. They worked for a wealthy rice farmer, a Mr. Yusihato Kano. He was a man of ill and cruel reputation. My mother was in her last with a child, and Mr. Kano insisted she help my father work the rice fields for the market merchants. This left my father with anger and bitterness, for there was no compassion in the ruthless heart of the selfish Mr. Kano. I don’t even know why I still call him Mr., there is no worth in his existence and I wish him much ill and despair for what he has caused in my life. I wish his soul to find the depth of hell and remain there in anguish and pain… No, wait!! I can not speak as such, I was taught better, but his name creates waves of anger in my peaceful mind. Please forgive me, Great Sacred Holy Buddha, I repent and have remorse for the words I uttered in anger. Forgive my actions and heal my wounds so I can be a pure soul and find rest when my day of sleep arrives.

What I was told…

The year was 1572, the 7th Day of the 7th Month during the Azuchi Momoyama Genki 3 period. The night was filled with cold, anguish, despair, tears, and joy when my mother, Taiyou Uta was about to give birth to me by my father Kenshin Uta, in our two-room home. The only mid-wife for the farm workers in that region was Mrs. Nakamura of 68 years. She was as large as two men, yet as gentle as a mid- summer’s breeze. Many believed that she had love for life to keep her young, and hatred for the farm owners to keep her strong. Mrs. Nakamura lived alone, but in close quarters to her son, Mr. Kinjo. The distance to her place was the length of five thousand strides away from our home, and my father had to make haste to get her. He took what light there was in the house and journeyed for help while my mother endured the darkness of uncertainty with much pain and discomfort. The weather had a merciless grip on his every stride, hindering and testing his will to turn back and go about matters on his own. All my father knew was how to attend to tobacco and be a husband; the confidence and knowledge of childbirth evaded him like hard labor evaded the farm owners. When he reached the home of Mrs. Nakamura, its was said that he became the force of a thousand storms when the call was made against the door to summon help.

The little house of Mrs. Nakamura shook as if the Spirit of nature tested its very structure, and thunder came knocking on the door to make a personal house call. Without hesitation Mrs. Nakamura dressed in haste, long expecting the frantic cry for help. Before my father could apologize for his behavior and untimely arrival, Mrs. Nakamura was already trailing the path back with her granddaughter, Haruko, who accompanied her with a pack of needed accessories. Haruko was in her youth of seventeen years and adamant to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, much to her father Mr. Kinjo’s disapproval. Mrs. Nakamura raised her voice at the sky, and much to my father’s amazement, the journey back seemed faster due to the sudden change in the weather. It was rumored in Toyama that that Mrs. Nakamura was more than special, for she could speak stern words to the forces of nature whenever they hindered her ability to perform a task. Somehow, it seemed they always listened.

Upon arrival, my father was ordered, as if a child, to have hot water and sheets ready within the completion of her breath. Most people in Toyama dared not to argue with Mrs. Nakamura, who went by the nickname “Ryuu”(Dragon). With her words of fire, claws of determination, and existence of righteousness, no one dared say otherwise. There was a frantic scuffle to go about things in an orderly fashion. My father was asked promptly to leave the room and wait outside, for his anxiousness clouded the air with uncertainty. The screams my mother uttered could be heard echoing the nearby mountains; not even the howling wind or thundering blizzard could overpower such sound.

The commotion and noise stirred the house of Mr. Kano so much that he dispatched his farm guard Taro to silence whatever was making such sounds. Taro was a big and strong man to contend with. He lived in separate, yet very comfortable, quarters to the main house. He served as protector and watchman over the daily events and evening affairs. No one quite liked him; he was as course and rigid as the bark on a winter tree. The sound drew him directly to our home where my father stood outside, awaiting the outcome of such a crucial phase in the moment of a woman becoming a mother. Taro angrily asked my father to silence the noise emitting from the house, but he stood strong with fire pouring from his eyes. When Taro saw this look of death in my father’s eyes, he stepped back and realized that size no longer mattered, only determination to resist, and it seemed for the first time he saw the will of my father become bigger than what he ever could become in size. Taro might have had size, but he was very slow and illiterate in intellect, something my father prided himself in having.

After a few words of stern warning, Taro walked back to the main house to report the matter. Unhindered by this, my father was asked to go inside. Mrs. Nakamura asked him if his wife did hard labor in the last two days. My father reluctantly answered with a reserved anger not directed to those present. Mrs. Nakamura said that my mother was in critical condition, for it seemed as if something was wrong inside. She had a look of great concern and asked my father to return outside and start praying like he never had before. The urgency in her voice and the condition of my mother heightened his emotion. As my father stepped outside, Mr. Kano met him with a mob of loyal but scared workers. Mr. Kano had many words of ill to say for the noise caused. Regardless of how much my father tried to explain the situation, Mr. Kano would hear none of it. Just as the words of the two men became entangled, my father was ordered to leave the land. Mr. Kano instructed those around him to forcefully remove my father and my mother on a stretcher to wherever they could find a place that was far enough away to give him rest.

My father became as a beggar and pleaded with the heartless Mr. Kano to just let them stay till the baby was born and the weather had cleared. The tears of despair filled his eyes and cut into his heart as the mob moved in to clear the house. He could see the tears of unhappiness come from the eyes of the men with whom he worked for fifteen years. He touched the one called Kujiro on the shoulder, and said that he knew they had to do it to keep their homes as well. Mrs. Nakamura stormed from the room and gazed upon Mr. Kano as if reliving the speech she had with the storms an hour earlier. When she saw Mr. Kano draw his tanto (knife), she realized that not even her notorious name could alleviate the situation.

Mrs. Nakamura asked the men to wrap my mother warmly before taking her to her own home, which was the only place to go at such short notice.

My father walked up to Mr. Kano and said that my mother would die if she faced the fury of the weather, but not even the coldest weather could become as the heartless mind of Mr. Kano. I cry even more now that I’m writing what I’ve know all along; I think it’s my soul that sorrows. Let me not clutter this journal with my tears.

Knowing that time was not on their side, my father hastily attended to the necessary situation to move within two breaths. So fuufu (husband and wife) were moved over the journey of five thousand strides to the house of Mrs. Nakamura, all so that Mr. Kano could get his silent night’s rest. Throughout the journey, Mrs. Nakamura told my mother to hold on and be strong as the woman she knew her to be, but no words of comfort or encouragement could soothe the tremendous pain and anguish my mother had endured. Through the sounds of her broken words, my mother kept telling my anguished father that it was not his fault and that he was a good husband. Those words fell of his mind as the snowflakes did on his body, disappearing into a white of nothingness. The men who assisted had a silence about them that could not be described with words.

The urgency in my mother’s voice made the human caravan move faster than the gallop of a horse. They arrived at the shelter of warmth and hope. As quickly as the helpers put my mother down in the bedroom, they disappeared hastily and silently into the darkness of night. There was no time to discuss the event that had unfolded. There was only time to attend to the very serious and ill situation that could not be remedied with words, only with warm water, sheets, and a fire to heat the house. Mrs. Nakamura did not have a big house, but it was comfortable and much warmer and well kept than the box my parents lived in.

Just as my father was asked once again to leave, he insisted with a deep sincerity to stay at my mother’s side. Mrs. Nakamura did not question such a request. Her granddaughter Haruko left the house to return to her parents, for she was ill equipped to deal with the emotional enormity of such an event. As Mrs. Nakamura attended to the very serious situation, my mother looked at my father, and in a moment when time stood still, she said that it was not his fault and she honored him as a husband with all her love and spirit. Just as time returned to the present, Mrs. Nakamura shouted that the child was out. In that moment, my mother sat up and asked if the child was well, Mrs. Nakamura slapped my backside and sounds of life came to my body. My mother’s face was like a ghost, drained by the life force of the living, her body covered with blood and her face wet with cold sweat. In that moment when she heard my cry, her hold on my father’s hand died and her body went soft as a petal that has fallen withered from a rose. Mrs. Nakamura started singing with a heart filled with sadness.

And in that moment, tears filled the cold and comfortless night of despair, pain, and anguish, as my mother Taiyou Uta, wife of Kenshin Uta, died while giving me life.

So, I came about my name Namida Uta, the literal translation meaning “Tear Song”.

Note: This excerpt is reproduced on FightingArts.com with permission of the publisher and the author.


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About The Author:

Deon L. de Jongh, also called “Jishin Sensei,” is the founder of the Touhkondo Code and the style Takanami Kito Ryu. He was for many years a student of the late Niehause Josh Sandan Sensei from the Cape Town (Aikikai), Veneri Rokudan Sensei ( Aikikai Italy), Beuka Ciril Sensei (Goju Ryu Karate Do), Dodemead John Sensei (Koga Ryu Ninjutsu), Ishimaru Godan Sensei (Ken-yu Kai Kendo), and Osagawa Yukio Yondan Sensei (Yagyu-Miyate Ryu Kenjutsu), Bato, Daisho, Jujutsu, Kobudo and Iso-Philosophy. D. L. de Jongh is also head teacher and president of the Tokugawa Martial Arts Dojos in South Africa, United Kingdom and United States. Native to South Africa, D.L. de Jongh today lives and teaches privately in New York. Dedicated to the preservation, teachings, and cultivation of 16h century Japanese martial arts and its code of conduct, he has become a writer of Japanese genre, practitioner, and motivational speaker of note in his own right.



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