“…and so war will come again. The old woman was worried. The Shogun and his mighty samurais have swords to protect their wives and daughters, but what about the lowly peasants like her and her 2 beautiful daughters. Since her husband died, her son was the only male in the family. The old woman was no fool. If her son tried to protect the honor of his sisters, he would die by the swords of the samurais. They cannot run as they had nowhere to go and the roads were filled with bandits in this time of war. Worried, the old woman prayed to her ancestors for guidance. There had to be a way to protect her daughters.
The next morning, the old woman was in the fields when she saw a man walking by the road. The old woman could see that the man was a sohei. The warrior monk was in a dusty monk robe, but it was his face the old woman was looking at. The old woman could not see it. As was popular then, the monk was wearing a hood over his head and he had thrown a scarf over his face to protect himself from the dust of the road. The old woman knew her ancestors had answered her prayers.
When the war came, the samurais burned the fields and retreated back into the castle. As the old woman suspected, the lowly peasants were left at the mercy of the invaders. The invading samurais looted and pillage to their heart’s content. All the young beautiful girls in the village were raped by the invaders. All but two.
For the old women had given both her daughters a hood to place over their head. A veil was sewn to cover the lower half of the face and the old women ordered both her daughters never to take off their hood in public. She also told them not to speak in public, lest their beautiful voices tempt the samurais to try to find out what treasures were under their veils. The invading samurais never touch the 2 girls as they could only see the eyes of the 2 girls. They believed that both were so ugly they had to cover their faces in public, a lie the old woman and her son did their best to agree with.
When the war was over and the invading samurais left, there were only 2 beautiful virgins in the whole of the village. Marriage proposals came in from everyone, even some lowly samurais in the castle. The dowries the family got when the 2 daughters were married were so high; the son went into the merchant trade. Through the prayers of an old woman and the guidance of her ancestors, not only were the honor of the girls saved, the family had went from lowly peasants to wealthy merchants.
That was the first time the hoodveil was used. Since then, to honor the old woman who had saved her daughters, a tradition was born. Women throughout the 12 provinces of Vippon had donned the hoodveil when they came of age, never pulling it off in public. Silent and unknowing except to their families, the women of Vippon were to everyone. Thanks to one smart old woman.”
Miyazaki Saito closed the book gently. “That’s all for today,” he said quietly. “Time for bed.”
“That was great papa.”
“Thanks,” Saito kissed the forehead of his youngest daughter. “But you are still sleeping now.”
“Another story? How about “Unseen Love”, the one of the love of the samurai and the noble lady he never saw?”
“It’s too late. That’s all for today.”
“But I want another story”
“How old are you Kumiko-chan?”
“You will be a big girl soon,” Saito said gravely. “How can you take the veil if you can’t take a simple order like this from a man?”
As he expected, Kumiko kept quiet. At times like this, Saito always went back to the tried and proven. Taking the veil is a rite of passage for all young girls in Vippon; without taking it, Kumiko would forever be a little girl. Saito would never put his daughter in such a position but it was a good threat to use at times. Saito bended down and kissed her forehead again. “Goodnight”
After he left his daughter’s bedroom, Saito went to the kitchen. At the entrance of the kitchen, he looked into the kitchen and saw his other daughter sleeping soundly. He had to be quiet about it. As a young woman of 15, Saya has moved out of the children’s room and he shouldn’t be checking on her like this. 2 years ago, Saya had her rite of passage and moved into the kitchen after taking the veil. Unlike Kumiko’s soft mattress and thick blanket, Saya is sleeping on a straw mat with only a hard pillow for company. It hurt Saito a little to treat his own daughter like this, but as a young woman, Saya must be trained in the arts of a wife.
Like most woman her age, Saya has been undergoing training in housework under her mother since taking the veil at 13. As part of the training, she must sleep in the kitchen without a blanket as this will improve her toughness and dedication. Saya must also always ensure the hoodveil is forever on her head and covering her face. It takes a lot of discipline to do this and everyone knows that a good wife is a discipline woman who is both tough on herself and dedicated to her family.
Seeing that his daughter was soundly asleep, Saito quietly crept away. Passing Hira’s room, he paused. Thinking better of it, Saito went pass his son’s room without looking in. Unlike with his daughters, Saito has never told bedtime stories to his son. A boy will grow into a man someday, and in Vippon men are supposed to be leaders. It would not do to spoil his son with too much affections and make him weak.
Saito entered his bedroom and was greeted with the spendid sight of his wife. Miyako, kneeling on the floor, bowed her head to the floor at the sight of her lord. As Saito had expected, the bed was already made. He moves forward as Miyako lift her head from the floor. Saito saw that his wife was wearing a red kimono with her normal black hoodveil covering her head. The head covering was actually 2 three-foot cloths which is tied securely around the head. One of the cloth is tied on top of the head; it totally cover the hair and is then tied to the second piece of cloth which cover the lower face as well as the neck area. Combine together, the 2 cloths totally covered the whole face outside the small area near the eyes.
Saito laid facedown on the bed. Almost immediately, Miyako starts the massage. After a hard day at work, the nightly massage by his wife was something Saito looked forward to. This explained what happen next.
“You saw Saya before coming to bed, Saito-sama?”
“Yes” Saito immediately regretted the words.
After a short silence, came the expected response from his wife. “You shouldn’t do that Saito-sama; you dishonor Saya with these children affections.”
“I know,” Saito sigh. “I can’t help it.”
“You have no such problems with Hira! Treat Saya the same way as Hira. A firm hand is what’s needed at their age.”
“They’re different.” Even to Saito, that seems weak. “Hira’s a boy. Young boys have to be tough or else they will be weak men in the future.”
“Young girls too, Saito-sama,” his wife intoned. “How would Saya be able to be a good wife in the future if we are weak in our education now?”
“Ha. You mean if I’m weak in our education, right?”
“Your strikes are hard my husband, but they are filled with love.” Miyako hesitated for a moment but then continued. “It would be better if they were filled with anger as well.”
Miyako was speaking of the daily punishment the women endured under the care of Saito. Every night before going to bed, the women would be punished by Saito for the mistakes they had made in the day. Saito would make a sweep of the house after he came home and made notes about the cleanliness of the house. If there was any dust in the house, both Miyako and Saya would be punished for the mistake. They would knee and bowed their head to the floor as Saito used the bamboo cane on their buttocks. Just earlier tonight, he had given both of them 20 strokes of the cane after finding some dirt below the dresser in Hira’s room. The fact that little Kumiko will be joining them in 3 years time is something Saito rather not think about.
“I’m looking to find Saya a husband with love in his heart.” Saito defended.
“Things change my lord and men can change as well.” Miyako remained him yet again. “A good wife is one who will accept her husband’s changes with all her heart and change herself accordingly. Only a strong woman can do this.”
Miyako had to stop the massage as Saito turn himself onto his back. There was nothing he can say to that, this had the way it’s been even before Ito Tagowa conquered the 12 provinces and united Vippon for the first time…and that was over 2,000 years ago.
“Now my husband,” Miyako said coyly. “It’s time to do your duty.”
With that, Miyako untied the obi on her kimono. The sash acted as a belt for the kimono. Standing up, Miyako let the red kimono slide off her body like a snake shedding her skin. Even after all these years, Saito marveled at the naked body of his wife. Standing there with only her hoodveil on her, Saito study the body of his wife and not for the first time in his life, wondered what great things he had done in his past life to be granted this beauty as a wife.
“You are right, Miyako-chan,” he said sternly. “Come to bed; it’s time for me to be head of the household.”
“Is this your command my lord?”
“Yes, it is my command.”
Miyako giggled. “Then a wife can do nothing but obey”
Vippon has the well-deserved reputation as one of the safest country in the world. Saito can say with pride that he is one of the reasons why. Looking at the arrays of display screens in front of him, he feels proud to be working at City Safety Control.
The experiment first started in Tokuto, the capital of Vippon. Called “A Thousand Hundred”, it was a mad idea to have a thousand cameras on a hundred street corners to help the police maintain law and order on the streets of the capital. The images will be transmitted to a new department designed just for these cameras. If the officer at CSC sees a crime being committed, he will instantly call the nearest neighborhood police post that will sent an officer running to the scene. Amazingly, it worked better than anyone thought possible.
Crime figures in the capital went down like a stone, and soon all the other cities started their own CSC department. Nowadays all the major cities in Vippon has a CSC department, and Mido City is no exception.
Of course, there are still crimes being committed. Even a country as rich as Vippon can’t put cameras on every inch of the city; but if you are careful, you can walk safely to almost anywhere in the city. When the crime figures went down however, the CSC departments were given another task.
It happened when a group of young women, thinking themselves safe from public eyes, decided to unveil in a public area. They did not realize that the CSC camera was watching them. The officer immediately contacted the police who arrested the women. Public praise for the CSC went through the roof as they were not only seen to be enforcing the law but upholding Vippon traditions as well. Soon laws were passed and the CSC departments were in charge of maintaining ‘public decency’ as well.
Looking at the screens in front of him, Saito look carefully for any woman who isn’t conforming to the rules of society. There are many rules of course, but in general there were usually only a few the public had trouble with. Women must walk with their head looking downwards to the ground and when a couple is walking together, the woman must be at least 3 steps behind the man with the man leading confidently. Most young couples had problems with these rules.
Saito saw an image that surprised him. The camera showed a woman walking along a street with an uchikatsugi on. As the normal hoodveil hug the face, make-up was impossible for women in Vippon. However there are some occasions when women have to wear the traditional make-up where the whole face is painted in white. For these formal occasions, women are allowed to wear the uchikatsugi; a long, wide conical hat with a veil hanging from the edge of the hat, it is as good as the hoodveil in protecting the anonymity of the woman. Saito wonder where the woman was going.
Seeing that all is in order, Saito left the image of the woman behind and look at the other screens. The people of Vippon know and obey the rules of society; the exceptions are usually the young and adventurous. Those are the ones Saito look out for. Young men and women who are not yet fully in control of their own desire and bodies.
Saito saw an image from the train station that concerned him. The electric bullet train connects the various parts of Mido and was widely used by almost everyone. Saito saw that a group of young boys and girls were standing and talking together. They are talking softly but Saito, based on his experience, suspected that these kids are most probably students from a local school who had met up at the train. If they are family, the boys would have ordered the girls to wait at the back of the station. The bullet train is spilt in 2 sections with women only allowed at the back of the bullet train. He placed a quick call to the station police, asking them to check on the matter. Saito kept an eye on them in case the kids left before the station police got there. Luckily that was not the case as the station police arrive shortly. Saito left the problem to the police and went back to the rest of the screens.
The rest of the morning went by without much incident. Saito can’t help but remember the young group of boys and girls at the station. The station police reported that he was right as the kids were students from the local school. Saito wonder about the schoolgirls. Once Saya was 13, he had immediately taken her out of school. Miyako had insisted on this, stating that a girl has more important things to learn than learning plays and doing homework. Saito had agreed with his wife but at times he wondered if he had made the right decision.
Tradition said that he did the right thing. Once a girl took the veil, she must concentrate on her training as a wife. That is the way it has been in Vippon since…well forever. However in modern times, more and more parents are allowing their daughters to continue schooling. His friend Takashi is one such ‘modern’ parent. His daughter is still currently studying in school though she is way past 13. She’s even allowed out of the house on her own!
To Saito’s traditional thinking, that was just asking for trouble. Miyako and Saya were never allowed out of the house alone. Even when they went for their daily grocery shopping, they must do it together. Not only is there safety in numbers, they can also looked out for each other; after all it’s unreasonable to expect a 15 year old girl like Saya not to make any social blunders in public. If they did well for the month, Saito made a point to reward them by allowing them a shopping trip to the local shopping centre. A family outing when everyone must attend. Considering that he usually avoid shopping like the plague, it’s a sacrifice for Saito.
Maybe he was been too traditional. Unlike the Miyazaki household, there were some families who allow their women to walk around the house unveil. Some even forgo the daily punishment altogether! To conservative thinking, this was just plain wrong. Slacking discipline in the family is the first step to social disorder. Afterall, the family unit is the building block of society. Maybe he is just behind the times. Saito smile at that thought. Yes, traditional, behind the times, and proud of it!
An image from the shopping mall caught his eye. A young woman was shopping in a lingerie shop. She was dressed like a married women but something wasn’t quite right. She looked…strange. Many young girls try to gain some extra freedom by dressing as married women, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise for Saito if this was the case now. As the woman was paying for the lingerie, Saito called up the credit card information from the shop. He smiled as he sees the name and address on the card payment. The woman wasn’t strange; merely familiar. Saito looked at the screen again. Takashi was in for a nice surprise.
“Saito, the meeting will start soon.” Speak of the devil. “Go, I will take over.”
“Thanks Takashi,” Saito gladly gave up his seat to his friend and colleague. He quietly hands the payment information over to him. “I never saw anything. Enjoy the lingerie!”
Leaving the dumbfounded Takashi behind, Saito walked quickly to the meeting room.
As he stepped out of the train station, Saito was hit by the cold evening air of Mido. A good thing too as his head was still spinning from all the sake he had. Saito felt refreshed as he continued the short walk from the station to his home.
It has been a good day at work, followed by an even better night. One of the side benefits of working in a large organization in Vippon was the free entertainment. To build up team spirit, companies would hold weekly (sometimes daily) after work entertainment sessions. Although it’s voluntary in theory, in reality almost no one could says no.
Some nights, Saito’s department would go to bars for some drinks; other times, it would be karaoke nights. Then there are nights like this; geisha nights. These are the nights Saito look forward to the most.
Despite the sake, Saito could still remember the night clearly. The sand garden at the front of the geisha house, the small pond by the stage, and of course the geisha on stage doing the fan dance. Each geisha was wearing a rich blue kimono patterned with pine branches, with sparrows flying gracefully among the branches. A thin string on the sleeves of the kimono was attached to the obi of the kimono. Another thin string on the sleeves was connected to the hoodveil of the geisha. The geishas could neither put down their arms nor raise them above shoulder level. Add to that was a thick rope between their ankles which prevent them from taking anything more than half a step in any direction.
The strings and rope severely restrict the movements of the hands and legs; not that anyone could notice because the movements of the geishas were great. The geishas held a small red fan in each hand and as the music beat in the background, they moved and waved the fans in perfect rhythm with the music. Countless hours of dance training made their movements looked so effortless, you would have swore they weren’t restricted in anyway.
Takashi had left early tonight, which was a real pity as he had missed a hell of a performance. The geishas were as graceful as the sparrows on their kimonos; truly deserving of the title of ‘restrained beauty’.
By the time he reached the house, Saito’s head had cleared and he had a smile fixed on his face. The first thing he noticed was Kumiko sitting sullenly on the sofa of the living room. Saito looked at Kumiko in puzzlement as Hira walked into the room.
“What’s going on?” he asked Hira.
Hira scratches his face in habit and answered, “She’s not happy because I refused to tie her up.”
“Tie her up?”
“I’ve been practicing some new rope techniques,” Hira pointed nervously at the kitchen. “Kumiko is not of age but I needed some real subjects for practice.”
Not truly understanding what was going on, Saito walked into the kitchen and got even more confused. There were 2 huge cloths in the middle of the kitchen, each covering something underneath. Both Hira and Kumiko walked in behind him.
Then it hit him. Hira’s schoolteacher had informed him once at a PTA meeting that his son had a knack for hojōjutsu, the traditional Vippon art of restraining a person using a cord or rope. A respected art in Vippon, it had became a sports of sorts in recent years with competitions held all over the country. Some schools even had it as an ECA and the teacher had told Saito that Hira had a talent for it.
If the people under the cloth was who he thinks they were, it would seen that Hira had a taste for Kinbaku-bi as well.
“I heard from your teacher you have a taste and some talent for ropework.” Saito looked at his son as he said this. “Let see if your teacher was right, show me Saya first.”
Hira slowly bended down and carefully lifted one of the cloth off the ground. Kinbaku-bi means “beautiful bondage” and is the erotic version of hojōjutsu. One look at Saya and Saito could instantly see why the teacher had said his son had talent. Saya was kneeling with her arms tied to the side of her lower legs. Intricate patterns crisscross the lower legs and arms as they were secured together. To get this pattern, Saya’s chest was forced up againest her knees and her head had to turn sideway on the floor. Hira had another rope wrapping the chest; it tied the body to the knees and another rope connect it to the rope at the knees; locking the whole body in place. Saya’s ass was forced high in the air in what looked like a very uncomfortable position. Even more impressively, the ropes looked tight even though Saya still had her kimono and hoodveil on. Saito walked aroung Saya once and couldn’t see any knots at all. Kinbaku uses very few knots, sometimes only one; Hira had a talent alright!
“Impressive.” Saito had to admit. “Let’s see your mother”
Hira smiled slightly. Again he slowly bended down and carefully lifted the cloth off the ground. Saito mused that his son must consider himself an artist to take such care in showing his work. Such thoughts (all thoughts) immediately vanished from his mind as he saw his wife.
Hira had tied his mother in a kneeling position as well. Unlike Saya however, Hira had taken far more care in the visual aspects of the rope. Hira had tied Miyako in a full body tie called a hishi-kikkou. A tie using a long rope, Hira had created an intricate web around Miyako’s body. When put together properly, as Hira had done, the rope showed off several diamond shapes all across the body. Saito walked to the around his wife and saw that Miyako’s hands and arms were bound behind her back in a “box arm tie”. Her legs were untied, but it wasn’t needed as Miyako knee quietly in place.
“You didn’t take off their cloths or hoodveils?” Saito asked
“No, father.” Hira answered respectfully. “It wasn’t necessary.”
“Your teacher said you had talent,” Saito looked at his son in his eyes. “I can see why.”
Hira’s eye shone with pride. “This is a hobby, or are you serious about this?” Saito waved at his wife as he said this.
“I am serious,” Hira bowed his head as he said this.
Saito wasn’t really surprised by the answer. If he had this much talent for ropework, he would consider a career as a nawashi as well. People who traveled from competitions to competitions are called nawashi. It’s an old word for ‘rope artist’. Their work at the competitions are judged based on creatively, visual beauty and the tightness of the tie. Saito wasn’t sure how Hira would stack up against the pros, but he’s still young, he can try to make a career out of it.
“Very well,” he said. “Try your best.”
Hira bowed again, but Saito could see the slight smile on his face. Saito turned around and made his daily sweep of the house. He quickly walked back to the kitchen after taking the cane from the living room. “The house is dirty. It is terrible!” He shouted at the bound women. “Dinner’s not ready as well! You have been lacking in your duties!”
Miyako bowed her head in shame but Saya answered back. “But father, Hira wanted us for training. We didn’t have time for anything; we’ve been here since early afternoon!”
Saito eyed at Saya in anger. “You are saying I am unfair in my judgment?”
Saya’s eyes widen in terror, but she was saved by Miyako. “Forgive our daughter my lord. She is still young and under training.” She said humbly. “We have been lacking in our duties today. Please punish us in any way you see fit.”
Saito threw the cane to a surprised Hira. “Fifty strokes each for both women for failing in their duties. Kumiko!” Saito turned to his youngest daughter. “You know what time a woman should wake up in the Miyazaki household?”
Kumiko nodded anxiously. “4am father. Two hours before the men wake up; to prepare and clean the house for the day ahead.”
“Have you ever woken up at that time?”
“No father.” Kumiko said embarrassingly. “I’m a child, not yet a woman of the house.”
“Tomorrow you will.” Saito pointed at the two women. “Wake and untie your mother and sister tomorrow.”
Saito then turned to Hira. “Covered them up with the cloth after you are done. They can go without dinner for talking back to the head of the household.” Saito saw that Saya’s eyes were filled with regret. Her actions had caused Saito to punish her mother as well.
Saito looked back to Hira. “After you did that, come for dinner. I’ll ordering some take-out” He had never asked Hira to punish the women before, it’s a grave responsibility. Hira’s eyes showed that he knew the responsibility he had been given. “Hai” his son answered. Saito turned and walked back into the living room as the first strike sounded.