May 29, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/15)

We last encountered Boushuku in chapter 27 (book 1).

At the imperial level, the Daiboku (大僕) commands the Praetorian Guard and serves the emperor as his personal bodyguard. At the provincial level, the Daiboku is the Taiho's or the province lord's bodyguard. The Daiboku serves under the Shajin (射人) in the Ministry of Summer.

Here the term is being used to refer to Kouryou's role in Taiki's retinue.

The author employs a narrative device at the end of the chapter that isn't difficult in Japanese but can be a real pain in English. Not once is the person Yari is talking to identified by a name or pronoun, only by title. In everyday Japanese, it is common to refer to a superior by a title only, such as the ubiquitous senpai.

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May 22, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/14)

To provide a little background to Rousan's lecture, Youko's predecessor abdicated and died. The Imperial Kou died after Kourin succumbed to the shitsudou. The Imperial Hou was assassinated along with the Taiho in a coup d'etat.

I think the "Divine Will" can be roughly analogized to the "will of the people" in the democratic process. There is a gap between the expression of that will (the election) and the inauguration, during which the elected official (unless an incumbent) has no actual political power.

Contemporary coronations and even ostensibly secular inaugurations often include an unapologetically religious component, suggesting that a "Divine Mandate" has descended upon the elected leader, along with the mandate of the people.

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May 15, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/13)

The Koushi (郊祀) ceremony ("ritual of the outskirts") is described in chapter 6 of A Thousands Leagues of Wind.

It was the empress who calmed the heavens and the earth, who propitiated the gods. Of the rites and rituals, the most important was the Festival of the Winter Solstice. The empress's role during the winter festival was to travel to the southern district of the city and there make offerings to Heaven and pray for the protection of the kingdom. This ceremony was called the Koushi.

The roboku (路木) is the riboku located at the heart of the Imperial Palace. As with the thorn oak, new species of plants can essentially be bioengineered via the roboku. The process is also discussed at length in "Blue Orchid."

The Black Tortoise (玄武), explains Wikipedia,

is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. It represents the north and the winter season, and thus can be called the Black Tortoise of the North. In Japan, it is one of the four guardian spirits that protect Kyoto and it is said that it protects the city on the north. The creature's name is identical to that of the Taoist god Xuanwu, who is sometimes (as in Journey to the West) portrayed in the company of a turtle and a snake.

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May 08, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/12)

Raising the Yellow Banner (黄旗) over the rishi announces the commencement of the Shouzan (昇山). As depicted in The Wings of Dreams, the Shouzan is an arduous journey to the heart of the Yellow Sea, at the end of which the kirin selects the next emperor from the candidates who survived the gauntlet.

Though as with Youko and Shouryuu, the kirin may dispense with the Shouzan and initiate the search himself.

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May 01, 2021

Hills of Silver Ruins (2/11)

I've posted chapter 11 (book 2) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

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