Our Historical Journeys Chapter 1 — Sumpu Castle in Shizuoka

fiction, May. 2019


A journalist, Katsuaki Ayabe, writes about local historical sites with full of knowledge and varied trivia. He has been getting a good reputation.

On the other hand, he makes clear that he will never write on any magazine or website again if its editor breaks a promise on his work, and thus, some editors or publishers refuse to work with him altogether.

On the most recent engagement, Katsuaki quit working with such a publisher: he was going to head for Shizuoka to write about Sumpu Castle, but at the last minute the publisher told him that they wouldn’t let him go unless its editor accompanied to him, and asked him to adjust the schedule which he already fixed.

Don’t be silly. He thought he was underestimated as a professional journalist.

So, Katsuaki decided to write about the Sumpu Castle for another publisher: for several years, he has been writing on the web media “Historical Research as Hobbies”, which is run by a major popular literacy publishing company. He already knows it’s a trustworthy publisher.

“You know that Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s castle was found at the excavation of Sumpu Castle, right? I wanna write about it.”

Katsuaki called and told Manabu this, an editor at “Historical Research Hobbies” and also Katsuaki’s friend. Manabu immediately accepted Katsuaki’s suggestion.

The excavation of Sumpu Castle started in 2016 to investigate Tenshudai — the basis of a castle made by stones — that Tokugawa Ieyasu constructed.

Tokugawa Ieyasu Leyasu was a lord of Sumpu Castle, and moreover, the first military dictator (Shogun) who started the Edo period, which lasted for over 250 years.

Unexpectedly, the excavation revealed that the Tenshudai of the castle of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who united and ruled Japan before Ieyasu, was founded. Actually, Hideyoshi’s subordinate took over Ieyasu’s castle during the Tensei period.

This fact is not written on historical documents, so it is a great discovery.

The excavation site is open to the public, and Katsuaki heard that visitors had increased after the discovery of Hideyoshi’s castle, and he knew it was true when he arrived.

Every visitor seemed excited at this new historical discovery, and it was the same for Katsuaki, too. That’s why he can’t stop visiting historical places.

However, his bright expression became cloudy when he saw a familiar face. He recognized her white skin and blonde short bob. She also looked at him and seemed surprised, but immediately smiled like a naughty kid.

Hanging an SLR camera, which apparently had a better performance than Katsuaki’s, she also seemed to be taking pictures of the castle excavation.

He thought for more than a dozen seconds and stepped out towards her. It might be only about 30 steps, but it was a very long distance for him.

“What a coincidence…right? I never told you my schedule?”

“Yeah, it’s a coincidence. I won’t invite rivals to my work,” she replied in Japanese, with nearly a native pronunciation.

Mary Whitley is English from Canterbury. Her achievement as a journalist goes far beyond Katsuaki, even though she is only two years older than him. After all, Mary writes articles in the science and geography magazine called “New World Science,” which is published all over the world.

First launched in 1834, New World Science is a prestigious magazine, which deals with nature, geography, weather, history, folklore and cutting-edge technologies of every region in the world with significant pictures.

Mary has established herself as a journalist who is particularly familiar with Japanese history and culture in this famous magazine, and her publicity is far beyond Katsuaki’s because he mainly writes articles only on online magazines.

“Well, actually I’m jealous of your achievement, and always considering how your skills are at a different level than mine.”

Mary made a bitter smile at Katsuaki’s words.

“There is no need to do so. I rather envy you, Aki. You write on various media. I think you are better in terms of a personal reputation.”

“I’d like to write as long as possible in one certain magazine. That would be easier, and the reward higher.”

“Oh, that’s not always true, Aki. New World Science has always been famous for its stinginess. You know, I’m so reluctant to pay 10 euros at restaurants at the airport!”

Saying so, Mary hugged Katsuaki, who was staring at the ceiling of the room on the bed.

It was a uniquely Japanese style of accommodation for couples, so-called “love hotel,” and it happened to him to stay over with Mary. But it was not the first time to do so. Katsuaki first knew Mary when he was still a teenager.

“Let me show you something interesting.”

It was 5 o’clock in the morning. Mary, who rolled sheets on her hourglass- shaped body, got up from the bed and said so.

Katsuaki, on the other hand, was still laying down on the bed, very tired and sleepy from last night. However, Mary wouldn’t let him sleep over.

“I’m sure you wanna know the cover of the upcoming New World Science.”

A few seconds after Mary said this, Katsuaki literally jumped out of bed.

Yes, it was worth jumping out of the bed. New World Science is a monthly magazine and published as an online version too, but its cover and contents will not be released until one week before it goes sale. Once released, its cover and contents were on the press release of the newspaper in the old days, and nowadays on the web media.

Mary would tell him such a secret. Showing the cover of the magazine, she said:

“This cover story is not the one for the next month’s but will be at least three months ahead … maybe I think it’s for more than half a year ahead.”

“The publisher already makes a cover story so far from in advance?”

“It’s not unusual, especially since the editor-in-chief became the current Shorty John. Everything is well-planned under her.”

Then, Mary also showed Katsuaki a tablet. On the screen, he read “New World Science” with the yellow font on the entire retro-Japanese map and the big eye-catching red font written:

“People Of Japan.”

“A special feature of cultural anthropology?,” Katsuaki asked.

Mary shook her head and said,

“Not only that. The magazine deals with not only humanities, you know. ”

“Oh yeah of course I know.”

Katsuaki took the gum on the table beside the bed and put it in his mouth.

“Well then, what is the specific content of this cover story?”

“It’s the top secret, I mean, I don’t know yet,” Mary continued, “but I will let you know one thing. Both the London and Tokyo branches of the magazine are quite interested in Historical Research as Hobbies…the magazine you write for, Aki.”

“Well…but it’s just a local online magazine that only some Japanese read and there is no paper-based one. For history-related magazines, there are more big ones.”

“Be proud of yourself, Aki. Shorty John is thinking about headhunting you,” Mary said and showed Aki another picture on the tablet.

It was a portrait of a historical figure, which was familiar to the Japanese from early childhood.

“To begin with, I think it’s time to look into this great Tycoon of this country. Why don’t you come with me, Aki?”

To be continued.

Sumpu Castle Park

The excavation is until Feb. 2020 and open to the public.

written by


Twitter: @tech_sawada

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