Imperial Japan [Part 2]
Oliver, who walked at the front of the group, looked straight ahead with a pompous look, but Melsa didn’t really feel the need to look dignified in this situation, so she just let the ninja continue his tour while she checked her surroundings.
She wouldn’t even care if someone called her a country bumpkin for looking around too much.
“We will be able to see the imperial residence soon.
The guests from the Kingdom are given special permission to stay there…“
They could see a big gate at the end of the straight road which connected the port to the city.
It seemed that every country would have a residential area for nobles near the sea where monsters wouldn’t appear.
Now, Melsa was surrounded by government officials, who were tasked to welcome the envoys, and samurais, the security police in this country.
Other than that, many of Imperial Japan’s citizens had also gathered on the streets to catch a glimpse of the foreign Kingdom people, who were a rare sight in their country.
Some people wore kimonos, but some also wore western-style clothes.
Everyone has blue eyes and blue hair.
Their faces and body shape were not that much different from Kingdom people.
Although they looked Japanese, they were not Japanese after all.
As Melsa entered the gate, she could see a large Japanese garden.
Within the complex was a mansion which looked like it came straight out of a Hei’an picture scroll with a dry landscape garden surrounding it.
And at the far back was a towering black castle.
[T/N 1: Picture scrolls produced in the Heian period. Here is an example of one.]
“That big building over there is the Edo Castle.
That is where His Majesty, the Emperor, and the Shogun oversee government affairs.
It is also known as the Raven Castle.
It is the most sacred place in Imperial Japan.” Seeing Melsa gazing absentmindedly at the castle, the ninja explained it to her politely.
[T/N 4: The Shogun is basically the chief military commander (will be explained further at the end of the chapter)]
“…To think that the Edo Castle here is black…“
“His Majesty, the Emperor, is the soul of the Imperial Japanese people.
The Imperial Family rules over the country’s politics, and the samurais under the shogunate protect the people from monsters.
Us ninjas belong to the shogunate, but our position is special because our duty is to protect the Imperial Family.“
The Emperor and the Shogun administrate state affairs together in the Raven Castle… Although it is similar to Japan, it is a different country after all… Melsa could only convince herself that this was a different world.
Melsa and her group were guided to the painting-like mansion in front of the castle.
“Please take off your shoes.”
A ninja whispered to them.
Melsa translated the ninja’s words to the Kingdom language immediately, so as to stop Oliver, who was about to enter the mansion with his shoes on.
The interior of the building was not red.
“Y-you should’ve told me that sooner! Melsa!”
Oliver, who didn’t understand the etiquette of this unfamiliar foreign country, lashed out at Melsa.
“Well then, I will go to report my return.
I will leave your side for a while.“
After excusing himself, the ninja disappeared in a flash.
We are pleased to have you here.” A court lady came out to greet Melsa and the envoys.
The lady standing in the middle of the room was an old woman who looked over 100 years old.
Her hair was not white but light blue.
She was accompanied by a young court lady on each of her sides.
“I am the Head Court Lady, Ume.“
“My name is Melsa Stuart.
I’m here as an interpreter.
We will be in your care during our stay.
This is our country’s diplomat, Oliver deFros, and merchants from the Kingdom’s Rothschild Company…”
Melsa wasn’t here to sightsee, so she put away her nonchalant look and acted professionally.
Ume and the two court ladies were surprised by Melsa’s fluent Imperial Japanese, but they controlled their expression quickly.
“What a wonderful language ability.
How very admirable.
We will guide you to your rooms.
I apologize for the rush, but you will have an audience with His Majesty and the Shogun immediately after.“
Translator’s note: A little bit of background on the shogun, shogunate, and Melsa’s comment about ‘Imperial Japan is not Japan after all.’
Shogun was the title for the hereditary military dictator of Japan from 1192 to 1867.
While the shogunate was originally under the Emperor’s command, it became much more influential later on, and control of the military became tantamount to control of the country, whereas the Emperor only held a symbolic role, or in other words, was a figurehead.
The Shogun and the Emperor did not work together in the same castle (the Emperor remained in Kyoto while the shogunate moved its capital to Edo (now Tokyo)).
[More details on britannica]
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