15 Tsuruoka: Samurai school

Morning: Went to the Chidokan, a school for the Shonai region`s samurai sons near the old castle moat.  A lady with short, brown frizzy hair volunteered to show me around.  She was a gem, considerate and full of information, showing immense pride in a domain that died 140 years ago.

We started at the top in the Lord`s room; its floor and ceiling reinforced with sand and stone to keep out unwelcome ninjas.  The Lord of Shonai was the shogun`s hiito (lit, top of the list – his right hand man), appointed to Shonai to keep watch on the north. 

Shonai remained loyal to the shogun throughout the 250 year Edo period.  It was the last domain to surrender to the southern revolutionaries in the 1860`s Civil War.  After defeat, Shonai was rubbed from the map. Now with no bullet train, Shonai remains cut off from the rest of Japan.  

The word Shonai still lives in advertising though. Particularly food.  I bought my niece a postcard of a Shonai rice field. Might even give it to her one day. 

Afteroon:  Found local food at 山王夢食堂 (The Mountain King`s Dream Restaurant).  A Japanese curry with Shonai rice and loaded with local vegetables, including big, black, tender shikibu aubergine (J).  

Evening:  Still too wet for camping.  Borrowed umbrella and walked from Hotel Stayin to an internet cafe on the busy bypass. Booked a booth in the high-class Kaikatsu (J) chain, opposite the Hello Work job centre.

Just enough space for me to lie alongside my bearpack.  5 foot high plywood walls failed to keepout snores or rustle of wrappers.

Bought a packet of chocolate flakes and watched Tasogare Seibei, The Twilight Samurai.  Not a typical samurai movie as Tasogare was NOT ONLY a master swordsman, but also a doting father, a penpusher inside the castle walls, a fisherman and a farmer, probably of stupendous aubergines.

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