Monday, 10 December 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 48: Yoritomo started to understand Kiyomori


The moment Yoritomo started to understand Kiyomori
Taira no Kiyomori ep 48 is more about the Heike than the Genji (so I wasn’t trying too hard to understand). But that’s okay. We have two more episodes to go, so I will stomach watching the Rokuhara lord (besides, he had the sweet and kind Tokiko with him). More importantly, this episode is where Minamoto no Yoritomo started to understand the true nature of his enemy (and came to respect him because of that). Click here to watch ep 48 online; the NHK summary is below:

After the loss in the Battle of Fujikawa, Kiyomori reluctantly gives in to Munemori’s tearful appeal for restoring the capital to Kyoto. Learning Kiyomori’s decision, Yoritomo no longer understands Kiyomori’s thoughts toward a samurai-oriented country, and asks Benkei about Kiyomori’s younger days. As he hears of Kiyomori’s boldness and fearlessness, Yoritomo comes to realize that Kiyomori and Yoshitomo had the same ambition for the future as Yoritomo is now trying to achieve. Around the same time, the Taira forces accidentally burn down Todaii Temple while trying to drive out the warrior monks. 

The episode opened with Kiyomori saying something to his subordinates (a speech which I evidently did not pay attention to). Then we have Itō Tadakiyo conversing with Taira no Tokitada (Kiyomori’s brother in law) about, among others, the spirit of samurai.


Ito Tadakiyo and Taira no Tokitada, ep 48

Back at the Genji HQ in Kamakura, the samurai of Yoritomo captured an angry, dishevelled person. I suspect he was a Heike spy. Yoritomo ordered the spy to be...er, terminated? Cast off? Anyway, taken care of. Yoritomo grew more confident in each scene. He continued managing his new HQ in Kamakura. This time, he made a speech about something like... distributing land/wealth? Assigning roles? One of his men argued with him about something, but the level-headed Yoritomo gave a good counterargument. Hōjō Masako was there in the meeting, all the time listening and smiling to see how confident her husband had become.

Hojo Masako (Anne Watanabe) listening to her husband Yoritomo

Munemori etc asked Kiyomori to leave Fukuhara (modern Kobe) and return to Miyako (Kyoto). Kiyomori didn’t agree, so he kicked his son (again). He started to get into habit of this one. Munemori was angry at that, but he persisted and explained why he thought that Kiyomori better off returning to Kyoto. I think he said something about his peaceful brother Shigemori. Poor Munemori. He’s different from what I’ve learned in Wiki (er, yeah, not the best source of reference). He seemed to be not ruthless here.  Anyway, Kiyomori agreed to return to Kyoto and the news was welcomed by many.

Kiyomori (Matsuyama Kenichi) and his loyal wife Taira no Tokiko (Fukada Kyoko), ep 48
Kiyomori et al were later enjoying a singing concert in the hall, but Kiyomori seemed not to see it. He instead remembered the time he was with his frienemy Yoshitomo, then the death of Usagimaru, his pirate friend, then the death of monk Saiko. In general, Kiyomori remembered how he tried to build the Age of Samurai (and how he failed?). Tokiko saw how her husband cried (I feel for Tokiko; she was such a dear person. Did Kiyomori ever realise how lucky he was?). 

Then Kiyomori went out to the see and reached for the shells. A young man, still a boy actually, came with some other men. They said something to him. Kiyomori bowed to him. I don’t know who the whole lot was (the family of Usagimaru, perhaps), but Kiyomori certainly respected the lot. Later, Kiyomori was sitting outside when Tokiko asked him what was in his mind. See, K? You played around with many women, but eventually, Tokiko was the only person totally supporting you. Anyway, I think Kiyomori replied that he was wondering how the world of samurai had been under his command.

Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) was to receive Yoshitsune (Kamiki Ryunosuke)
Afterwards, the scene switched to the Genji. Yoritomo was sitting on the veranda, lost in his thoughts. Masako approached him and asked her husband the same question Tokiko asked Kiyomori. Yoritomo replied that he was pondering about the true spirit of samurai. Tō Kuro came and announced that Yoshitsune and Benkei had arrived. Yoritomo was really happy to see Yoshitsune (whom he called Kurō – for Yoshitsune’s current name was Kurō Yoshitsune). The big brother showed the little brother Higekiri (the Beard-cutter) and told him the story of how Yoshitomo and Kiyomori fought side by side before and during the Heiji Rebellion. 

Yoshitsune conversing with his brother Yoritomo


Yoritomo kept saying something about the true samurai, or what made a person became a true samurai. Benkei was listening all along and suddenly got tearful as he agreed with Yoritomo. Yoshitsune said that Benkei actually knew Kiyomori and Yoshitomo when the latter was still alive. Excited to learn more, Yoritomo asked the monk to tell him about the story of Yoshitomo and Kiyomori. 

Benkei said how he met Kiyomori and Yoshitomo for the first time during a riot. Kiyomori shoot a mirror at a moving cart and how Benkei was so amazed. Benkei told how Kiyomori practiced his archery skill by practicing an imaginary shot on a monk in white. I don’t know the name of the monk, but it must be an important episode somewhere in the past...

Listening to the story, Yoritomo was stunned. Kiyomori would not be able to shoot the mirror with such precision without full concentration. That oneness with the surroundings, that full concentration, is part of what made a samurai.

Yoritomo also realised one important thing: that when Kiyomori spared his life years ago, Kiyomori actually showed the true spirit of samurai. Kiyomori’s actual words as he shoved Higekiri to the ground just next to the teenage Yoritomo was, ‘This is the true spirit of samurai. Pay attention to it.”

Yoritomo also pondered how Kiyomori became an excellent archer by practicing the imaginary shot. Yoritomo suddenly felt as if he himself was being hit by Kiyomori’s arrow. Stunned again, the young Genji leader looked at his intact stomach and realised he was not hit by an arrow at all. It was all in his mind.

Yoritomo realising Kiyomori's lessons (please forgive the double upload. I love this scene so much!)

Then Yoritomo’s narration: “Right at that time... I understood. I observed and recognised.” Just right then, Yoritomo understood what made a person a true samurai. He also understood that the young Kiyomori was actually fighting for the same cause as he was now.

Gosh, Masaki was beautiful there when he understood the true driving force of Kiyomori’s fight. He was shining. OMG. 

Back at the Heike, one of Kiyomori’s younger sons handled an anti-Heike riot by burning a temple. This young (and rather foolish) son reported the event proudly, inviting a beaming Kiyomori. On the other hand, the smart and compassionate Tokiko was appalled. She knew that, despite the Heike’s victory over that riot, the attack was actually bad for the clan for it gave the anti-Heike movement more reason to strike back. 

Ep 49 had Tokiko playing samisen to KY, Yoritomo happily practicing archery, Benkei doing something funny, and Matsuda Shota returning as Go-Shirakawa. I forgot how cute Shota was in his Heian garb. Seriously, these Japanese ikemen, they always look so good in period drama costumes!

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