Like the Gently Swaying Petals

7:11 AM

Sakura blossoms, a quiet corner by the bamboo garden, and striking red shrines are such stark contrasts to a sword in the firelight, the sound of the battlefield and the ruthless political plays. It is such a pleasure and a heartache to write and draw about these women from Japan. I am captivated by this land once again as it did when I was a child. I found myself thinking about it more often and I feel a strong urge to keep illustrating the stories that are in my mind. Here are a couple of them so far. 


Misaki loves to wander around the forest alone with her own thoughts...but she's not truly alone. She can hear the thoughts of the wind as it whispers among the trees like a friend's stories, feel the touch of the sunlight piercing through sun-dappled canopies like a loved one's embrace and taste the sweet scent of the flowers like a treat given by a friend. She seems a little too shy and quiet but her tiny cat mask gives away the childlike demeanor everybody wants her to hide. She is her own person and that is enough to make her feel free.

"Briefly like spring time,
I have come, but I will go.
Life is too fleeting."


She is named Tora. To defend one's land is her duty and it takes up too much of her time. Sometimes she wonders if it was better to have been an ordinary person, tilling farm or making rice, singing songs with her friends and eating with her family at the dinner table. But this is the life that she's been given. She is grateful, but she feels her days and her nights are too short -- life is but similar to the passing of sakura blossoms. She will never know just when the blades or the arrows of her enemies will end her days. In this she feels sorrow but also gratitude -- to die for your people and your country is enough to make the hardship and unpredictability of warfare easier to overcome.

I have taken a stronger fascination with Japanese haikus -- I haven't been fond of them before, but reading some of them again I found myself drawn to it. So much to know and feel in such a short release of breath. When I was making Tora's portrait, I felt her struggle of wanting to become an ordinary person. But since she is trained to protect the land, she must be in constant guard. In her profession, her life seems shorter and restless than the others and because of that, she is trying to come to terms that one day she will be gone and lost in the battlefield. So I wrote the haiku above, trying my very best to convey her feelings. I hope I have written it as well as I have hoped.


Growing up with six older brothers, all Hagumi wanted was to fit right in with the guys. She took up arms and fought in the skirmishes along with them. But that was only in her wildest of dreams. She's stuck feeding the chickens and cooking dinner at home. Not that she hated doing all the women's work, but she longed for adventure... sans the killing. One day she was forced to do what she had imagined doing -- she must fight to protect her brothers' innocence. Oh great, I was just joking, she thought nervously. Well, I could handle a broom so why not a spear? She's quite sure she could do it. After all those daydreams and watching numerous training and sparring with the scarecrow, she could survive the battlefield, right?

I am trying to figure out Hagumi's story in my head. She's headstrong but she knows nothing of the ruthlessness of politics and of the unpredictability of battles. After an unfortunate circumstance of treason, she finds herself trying to keep her head on her shoulders and also to protect her family's name. 

Anyways, I found myself on a spree. I have been reading, watching, playing and drawing everything Japanese. It's really nostalgic, since I was such a dork about Japan when I was a kid. It feels like I am meeting a friend from long ago.

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