Posts Tagged ‘Edo’

‘Introduction to the Characters’, From “The Nightingale’s Song”

March 3, 2015

Samurai in Battle on Horse

Some time in late March I will publish “The Nightingale’s Song”.  Actually, Nick Nicholson and I will publish it.  Nick is travelling the US in a black Mustang convertible, having the time of his life.  Nick comes from Canberra, Australia, and in his last trip here, formatted “Pitcher of Moon” (April, 2014). 

I wrote this saga three years ago, but have added chapters to it, and some essays on the Man’yoshu, the great 8th century Japanese document of poetry that inspired so much of “Nightingale”.

It is good to have this work finished. The cover painting is done, and there are a few surprises inside in the form of graphics.  We will publish this book at Createspace,

Lady Nyo





In Old Japan there was an even older daimyo called Lord Mori, who lived in the shadow of Moon Mountain, far up in the Northwest of Japan.  Lord Mori ran a court that did little except keep his men (and himself) entertained with drinking, hawking and hunting.  Affairs of state were loosely examined and paperwork generally lost, misplaced under a writing table or under a pile of something more entertaining to his Lordship.  Sometimes even under the robes of a young courtesan.

Every other year the Emperor in Edo would demand all the daimyos travel to his court for a year.  A clever demand of the honorable Emperor. It kept them from each other’s throats, plundering each other’s land, and made them all accountable to Edo and the throne.  This only worked on paper for the nature of daimyos was to plunder and cut throats where they could.

Lord Mori was fortunate in having an exemption to attend the Emperor. He was awarded this exemption with pitiful letters to the court complaining of age, ill health and general infirmities.  He sent his eldest, rather stupid son to comply with the Emperor’s demands. He agreed to have this disappointing young man stay in Edo to attend the Emperor.  Probably forever.

Lord Mori, however, continued to hunt, hawk and generally enjoy life in the hinterlands.

True, his realm, his fiefdom, was tucked away in mountains hard to cross. To travel to Edo took months because of bad roads, fast rivers and mountain passages. A daimyo was expected to assemble a large entourage for this trip: vassals, brass polishers, flag carriers, outriders,  a train of horses and mules to carry all the supplies, litters for the women, litters for advisors and fortune tellers, and then of course, his samurai. His train of honor could be four thousand men or more!

But this tale isn’t about Lord Mori. It’s about one of his generals, his vassal, Lord Nyo and his wife, Lady Nyo, who was born from a branch of a powerful clan, though a clan who had lost standing at the court in Edo.

Now, just for the curious, Lord Nyo is an old samurai, scarred in battle, ugly as most warriors are, and at a loss when it comes to the refinement and elegance of life– especially poetry.  His Lady Nyo is fully half his age, a delicate and thoughtful woman, though without issue.

But Lord and Lady Nyo don’t fill these pages alone. There are other characters; priests, magical events, an old nursemaid, women of the court of Lord Mori, an ‘invisible’ suitor, birds and frogs, samurai and a particularly tricky Tengu who will stand to entertain any reader of this tale.

A full moon, as in many Japanese tales, figures in the mix. As do poetry, some ancient and some written for this tale.  War and battles, love and hate.  But this is life.  There is no getting one without the other.

The present Lady Nyo, descended from generations past.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

“Fortunate Fate”

October 6, 2008


Hana Takate was nineteen years old, a courtesan in old Edo. When she appeared in public, men’s eyes turned like sunflowers to her sun.

Lovely Hana had bones like melted butter and skin shaped from powder.  She was a creature so luminous a flower of purest jade could not compare. When she rose from a nap, wearing a simple gauze robe, free of makeup and perfumes, she floated like a spider’s web. A vision of culture and desire, her laugh was a tinkling bell, her hair of  bo silk, and her movements like cool water.

One day during cherry blossom time, she was entertaining, her robes folded open like gossamer wings, her rouged nipples suckled by another. A young daimyo was admitted to her rooms by mistake.  This new lover was so angered he cut off the head of his rival with his long sword in one swift blow.

Hana knelt before him, head down, exposing her swan neck, awaiting death.  Seeing her trembling fragility, her obedient meekness, he could not take her life and disappeared to write some bad verse.

She became known as “The Immortal Flower”, a courtesan of first rank. She prospered and became fat.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008

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