I went to see Ghostbusters last night with my wife and my daughter Julia. As we were driving home, we were talking about how funny the movie was, and Julia brought up how much grumbling there had been among her friends — particularly among her male friends — about the fact that the leads were cast as women.
That got me thinking about gender roles, and (not surprisingly) about Risuko.
Here’s how my thinking went: gender difference exists. Vive la difference, and all of that. (I’m not even going to get into issues of gender fluidity or sexuality here — it’s a complicated enough issue looked at through a binary lens. Sorry.) It exists, but in art and entertainment, does it matter?Continue reading Ghostbusters, Risuko, and when gender matters→
The day after we butchered the cow, we began a new set of morning lessons. As we cleared up the kitchen, Mai, who never entered the kitchen if she could help it, poked her head through the door and informed us that, for the first time, we would be taught by Mieko-san.
As she withdrew, Kee Sun asked whether Mai had actually walked into the kitchen before delivering her message. When Toumi snarled that no, she hadn’t—making it clear that no one in their right mind would enter Kee Sun’s domain willingly—the cook gave a nod and a grunt, saying, “That’s good. ‘Cause I told her if she ever stepped a foot in here again, I’d cut it off.”
It was always a bit difficult to know whether he was joking or not. To be honest, I was never quite able to work that out.
Nonetheless, I was excited by Mai’s news; I had hoped that we would be able to study with Mieko, not only because she was kind and lovely but because the other women in Chiyome-sama’s service seemed to respect her so. Even the boisterous ones listened quietly when she spoke.
Here are two chapters that were cut from the original manuscript of Risuko. This out-take — Crossing the River and Meeting the Mountain — was originally placed between what are now chapters 7 (“The Wind“) and 8 (“The Mountain“—you may recognize one bit of dialogue between Risuko and Masugu from that chapter). I cut them because it was taking too long to get to the Full Moon — to the heart of the story. But there’s some fun stuff, including a meeting with a major historical figure I’ll be talking about soon! (There are a few characters that I’ve cut out as well.)
At the beginning, Masugu and his riders have just found Lady Chiyome’s party at the Mt. Fuji Inn. Masugu offered to let Mieko ride wide him, but she refused, and so Risuko is sitting in front of the Takeda warrior on his stallion as the chapter begins.
By the way, if you read through to the end, there’s a question; be the first to answer it and win a free Audible download code!
Chapter 10—Crossing the River
The whole world seemed to roll and rumble as the great beast leapt ahead, charging down the one street of the town toward a distant white triangle that peeked up over the horizon: Mount Fuji. More Imagawa soldiers lay scattered like deadwood along the street, and several of the tiny houses were burning.
Waste. Such waste.
The rest of the squadron had formed up behind us, and so I felt as if a flood of thunder was pushing me forward. The icy wind whipped the horse’s mane and my own hair across my face until cold tears flooded my eyes. I lowered my head and cleared my vision.
Lady Chiyome makes everything clear, except when she makes everything confusing (Mochizuki Chiyome)
My shaking arms suddenly went still, as if instantly turned to ice. Looking down, I saw that Fuyudori had disappeared. I was trapped and alone.
“Do hurry, Risuko-chan,” said Lady Chiyome in that quiet voice that still managed to sound quite piercing. “I don’t want to have to call Kee Sun to haul you in. He might slip and drop you, and that would be the most awful mess.” Continue reading Read Risuko—Chapter 19: In the Web→
In which Risuko makes a climb and a discovery — and Lady Chiyome delivers a surprise (Teen Historical Adventure)
“If you come with me quietly, Risuko–chan,” Fuyudori said in very hushed tones, waking me from a dreamless sleep, “I can show you something worth watching.” She pulled down my covers, giving me no choice in the matter.
Yawning and shivering, I threw on a winter coat and sandals. Fuyudori placed her finger over my lips, looking down at Emi and Toumi, who were still sleeping.
It always felt as if it were the middle of the night when Fuyudori woke us. But as we made our way out of the relative warmth of our dormitory, there was not even a hint of a winter dawn in the night sky. The snow had stopped and the sky cleared. The stars blazed down on us, big as snowflakes themselves.