Saturday, 27 September 2008

Episode 29

Atsuhime is struck with deep grief after learning Iesada's death and blames herself for pressuring him in politics. Atsuhime becomes a Buddhist nun and is named Tenshoin. She faces Ii to pursue Iesada's will to act as Yoshitomi's guardian. Nariakira's death caused confusion in Satsuma which Saigo tries to settle by following the late master's will.
(Official NHK Website English plot summary)

Atsuhime is despondent in her despair over Iesada’s death, sitting in her room and doing nothing, staring into space with tears rolling down her face. Atsuhime confesses to Ikushima that she blames herself for Iesada’s death, feeling that she pushed him into meeting Harris and choosing a successor, forcing him out of his pretense of idiocy. When Atsuhime does not go to morning prayers as usual, Iesada’s mistress, Shiga, begins to worry about Iesada.

Saigo was in Kyoto when he heard of Nariakira’s death. With the bond between Saigo and his lord so strong, the Buddhist monk Gessho is worried that Saigo will commit suicide to follow Nariakira. Urging Saigo to live and ensure the fruition of Nariakira's dreams, Gessho offers to take Nariakira's place, telling Saigo to symbolically place his "life" in the monk's hands. When Muraoka enters the room Saigo attempts to hide his emotions but Muraoka notices nonetheless, and comments on the luck of the Lord of Satsuma in having such good subjects. She then she presents Saigo with a letter from Konoe to the Bakufu, an attempt to put into play Nariakira's dreams. Saigo is requested to present the letter to the Bakufu and is greatly honoured by this request.

After the funeral for Nariakira, Tatewaki is summoned to meet with Nariakira’s half-brother, Tadayuki. Tadayuki remarks that, unlike his worldly brother, he is a country bumpkin and knows nothing of the world outside of Satsuma. He asks Tatewaki to be his advisor, for he is going to require all the help he can get if he is to put into place his brother's dreams. Tadayuki announces his intentions to do just that. Even if it takes many years he wants to build an army and then head for Kyoto and towards Edo. As the two toast the future with red wine from France, Tadayuki worries about how his father, Narioki, could cause trouble for him. Meanwhile, convinced of his son's inability to lead Satsuma, Narioki is planning to return to the domain to take over.

Atsuhime asks Ikushima what Iesada’s mother has been told, and insists that she wants to tell Honjuin about his death. Atsuhime remarks sadly that finding out he had passed away was all the more painful the longer it took for her to be told. She does not want to inflict the same pain on Honjuin and feels that it is especially important for his mother to know he has died.

Shiga visits Atsuhime, bringing with her homemade sweets that make Atsuhime think of Iesada. When Shiga asks abouts Iesada, Atsuhime tells her that it is as she thinks it is. Shiga pushes for a firm answer and Atsuhime tells her that he is no longer of this world, and then immediately apologizes saying that she knew but was sworn to secrecy. A distressed Shiga starts berating Atsuhime for not taking better care of the weak and sickly Iesada, and a stone-faced Atsuhime can do nothing more than apologize. As soon as Shiga leaves, Atsuhime goes to Honjuin’s rooms to tell her as well. At first Honjuin laughs and attempts to shake the news off as some sort of joke. Gradually, however, she realizes that Atsuhime’s story is true and flies into a rage, blaming Atsuhime for killing her son, beating Atsuhime with the flowers she had been arranging. Takiyama goes to stop Honjuin from attaking Atsuhime with wooden arm-rest, but Atsuhime yells not to stop her, apologizing and sayaing that she only just heard her self and she can only imagine the anger of a parent in finding out their son is long dead. When taken to Iesada’s funerary alter, Honjuin breaks down asking Iesada why he went before his mother, why he left her all alone in the world.

In Kyoto the emperor summons the lord of the Mito domain to the court to present him with a chokujo, an imperial order presented directly to the lord and bypassing the bakufu. This blatant disregard for the authority of the bakufu enrages Ii who vows to have revenge on the Mito domain and those who supported Yoshinobu.

Iesada’s remains are interred in Ueno’s Kan’ei-ji, and the women of the Ooku begin to plan for the ceremony marking Atsuhime's new status. With her husband dead, her hair is to be cut and she is to become a Buddhist nun. Ikushima offers to take care of preparing Atsuhime herself, and even manages to coax a smile from the despondent Atsuhime, as she teases the young widow. Ikushima then tells her that when her hair is cut she will be reborn, and Atsuhime comments that she has already lived many different lives. With a soft smile on her face she comments that no matter what, Ikushima will remain beside her. Ikushima's face clouds at this, and she changes the subject deftly. The ceremony is held a few days later, and Atsuhime is given the new name of Tenshoin, which she says makes her feel closer to the departed Iesada who was also given a new name. Shiga decides to withdraw from the Ooku, retiring to become a nun herself In their parting, the two women both beg forgiveness from each other, but Tenshoin tells Shiga she has nothing to apolgoize for, as she was in the right. Shiga responds by asking Tenshoin why she cries, saying that Tenshoin was obviously loved by Iesada, since he showed her his real self instead of pretending to be an idiot. The fact that he never did this for Shiga proves that he did not love her in the same way. Having been loved by one you yourself love, says Shiga, is pure luxury. Shiga’s words prompt Tenshoin out of her despondency, reminding her of Iesada telling her he wanted her to help in the ruling when Yoshitomi became shogun. Tenshoin calls Ii to remind him of Iesada’s wishes, but Ii feigns surprise and says he has never heard of the idea. He insists that Tenshoin should relax in the Ooku, leaving the ruling to be done by him and the others ministers. Tenshoin is angered by this and insists that she will not and cannot ignore the deceased Shogun’s wishes.

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