September 25, 2005

Prologue 2 (12 Kingdoms)

The Rikkan (六官), or Six Ministries: Administration, Education, Protocol, Defense, Justice, Public Works (治・教・礼・兵・刑・事). Also known as the Ministries of Heaven, Earth, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter (天官・地官・春官・夏官・秋官・冬官).

The nengo system, called kokureki (国歴) in the novel, resets to year 1 upon the accession of a new emperor. In the past, technically, emperors could chose a new nengo whenever the fancy struck them, which is why you can have a nengo of "Eiwa 6" when the king has been ruling for 30 years.

The Japanese emperor is never addressed by name (first or last) as are European royalty (e.g. Prince Charles). It is also considered rude in general for a subordinate to refer to someone of higher social stature by their actual name. Title is preferred. Even within families, a younger child will refer to an older sibling as aniki (lit. "older brother") or aneki (lit. older sister) rather than by name or even the pronoun "you" (the worse insults in Japanese are derivations of "you").

"loaf of bread": I couldn't reisist the Jean Valjean reference; originally 「一個の餅」 or block of mochi, pressed and dried rice that has the approximate consistency and appearance of hard paraffin. Pre-refrigeration, it was the only way to store cooked rice.

芳 [ほう] Hou (kingdom name)
峯王仲韃 [ほうおうちゅうたつ] lit. "Summit King" Chuutatsu of Hou
峯麟登霞 Hourin Touka (kirin of Hou)
孫 [そん] Son
建 [けん] Ken
永和 [えいわ] Eiwa
鷹隼 [ようしゅん] (arch) lit. "hawk and falcon," Youshun
蒲蘇 [ほそ] Hoso
祥瓊 [しょうけい] Shoukei
佳花 [かか] Kaka
恵侯 [けいこう] Marquis of Kei, Kingdom of Hou (Kei Province Lord), not to be confused with the Kingdom of Kei (慶)
月渓 [げっけい] Gekkei
梧桐 [ごとう] Godou
白稚 [はくち] Hakuchi
二声 [にせい] Ni ("two") + sei "voice")