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Re: [SCA-JML] Letter Writing in Mediaeval Japan

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  • Anthony J. Bryant
    ... Yum!! ... There is a Japanese grammar written by a Jesuit priest named Rodrigues (Shogun s Alvito Tsukku-san ) for missionaries. It is, surprise, the only
    Message 1 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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      Joshua Badgley wrote:

      > Greetings,
      >
      > Having returned from my journey (I will try to get those pictures up as
      > soon as they come back from the developers, especially the ones of the
      > moya chamber, if they turn out)

      Yum!!

      > and am wondering about several things,
      > including, what is the proper way to write a letter during the Sengoku
      > Jidai?
      >

      There is a Japanese grammar written by a Jesuit priest named Rodrigues
      (Shogun's "Alvito Tsukku-san") for missionaries. It is, surprise, the only
      extant grammar of period spoken Japanese, and it's an incredibly useful tool
      for anyone who wants to get a look at what the spoken language was like.
      Actually, the Portuguese did us a great service when they wrote many
      instructional texts in Japanese, as they used the European tradition of
      inquisitor and knowledgeable person (where the entire text is Q&A, one person
      says, "say, fellow, tell me about the nature of man." and the respondent
      says, "man is the work of god..."). The thing is, since it's all dialogue,
      it's all the way japanese was actually SPOKEN at that time.

      I don't know anyone who's done serious academic work with it, though, and I'm
      not sure how easy it is to find. I've got small chunks of it here. The books
      are written in Portuguese (or rather, with Portuguese orthography) rather
      than Japanese, of course, so you have to learn quickly that "fuque" is Hokke
      (-sect) Buddhism, and that "Xingendono" Takeda Shingen.

      There were definitely differences in speech between then and now, but not as
      much in terms of vocabulary. Japan was a closed country, and very little
      outside influence affected speech from 1550-1850, unlike English or French.

      As part of Rodrigues' works was a book on "how to write letters," intended to
      enable people to correspond in an appropriate way. Somewhere around here I
      have a translation of it. Texts and letters were written in something called
      sourou-bun (which also affected formal speech), in which the verb-supplement
      "sourou" finished off sentences. For example, if I wanted to say "I want to
      meet Mr. Noda," today I'd say "Noda-san to ai-shitai desu." In sourou-bun
      it's "Noda-dono ni aishitaku sourou."

      What you really need to do is take a class on bungo (a.k.a. kobun), classical
      Japanese. There are many elements of classical Japanese that don't exist
      today but which *did* in the 1500s. Mostly there is a loss of many supporting
      verbs of politeness. (e.g., tamau, tatematsuru, etc.)

      >
      > Probably a lot of different ways so I should narrow it down more
      > specifically:
      >
      > 1) Male bushi of lesser rank to one of higher rank. I am looking fo
      > between 1550 and 1580 AD. Any help on special words or phrases to use
      > would be helpful, as would any help on the format. I am also interested
      > as to what kind of writing to use (kanji, katakana, etc.) although as I
      > will be writing this to a real person I would like them to be able to read
      > it so might stick with mostly modern kana as opposed to trying my hand at
      > the older style kana (for which I did recieve a chart from my History
      > teacher, limited though it might be).
      >

      Learn kanbun. That's what most letters seem to have been written in in terms
      of official documents. Hideyoshi's personal letters were written in hiragana
      primarily (with some kanji, of course <g>).

      Forget the "older style" kana; that's like Nara and VERY early Heian period.
      Kana forms were well set by 1000. I find the use of older kana forms in
      anything but ANCIENT text to be horribly affected and not really good
      recreation.

      >
      > 2) Male bushi of lesser rank to noble woman. Would such a thing have even
      > been done? I'm not sure, but I am looking at a letter of thanks and
      > gratitude in both cases.
      >

      Not very likely historically. People didn't write to women they weren't
      related to, as a rule. For recreative (SCA) purposes, just treat it as
      generic lesser-to-superior.

      >
      > Any help with the above would be appreciated. Resources are more than
      > welcome and I will be looking through my library to see what I can find.
      >
      > On another subject, were place names a common name element? If so, how
      > were they used and by whom? I have seen what appears to be people-place
      > names (one used for either) but am not sure if that is just a coincidence
      > or if there is historical evidence for its use ("PLACENAME no
      > SHITANONAMAE"?)
      >

      Yes, but in a strange way. Something like 85% of modern Japanese surnames are
      in fact locatives, at least half of which are city/town names. The Ashikaga,
      Tokugawa, Suwa, Soma, Nitta, etc., all took their surnames from the towns in
      which they established themselves. My own SCA surname, Hiraizumi, is from the
      seat in Oshu of the Oshu Fujiwara, Hiraizumi.

      >
      > Still searching for a good, wholesome family name, unfortunately
      > everything I can find that I like has airs attached to it and I wonder if
      > I should be so arrogant. Then again, look at some other names in the
      > SCA...

      Where do you want to be from?

      Effingham
    • Anthony J. Bryant
      ... That s modern. I think Lord Godric was asking about historical letter styles. ... Ummm... yes, it has. Quite considerably. ... I m not quite clear on
      Message 2 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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        Barbara Nostrand wrote:

        > Noble Cousin!
        >
        > There are of course books in Japanese instructing you in the correct
        > way to write letters.

        That's modern. I think Lord Godric was asking about historical letter
        styles.

        > As for the general layout of a Japanese letter,
        > it hasn't changed that much since the Mongul invasion.
        >

        Ummm... yes, it has. Quite considerably.

        >
        > As for specific words and phrases, that sort of thing does progress
        > as the language evolves. You should expect to use -gazaru a lot more
        > than in modern missive and sourou less than in a Kamakura missive.

        I'm not quite clear on exactly what you're saying here viz-a-viz "sourou"
        and Kamakura and "gozaru."

        >
        > Basically, unless you are prettending to be the emperor, you should
        > probably just use contemporaneous polite language for the period.
        >

        Contemporary for whom and when? When I try to write a Heian or Sengoku
        letter, I try to write a Heian or Sengoku letter, not a Heisei 12 letter.

        >
        > As for noble women. Women were desired offspring in the Heian period
        > as they could be married up the hierarchy. (Yes, that is quite a bit
        > earlier than you are interested in, but it gives you an idea of
        > cultural history.) As for writing to a "noble" woman of higher rank,
        > it depends upon what particular positions she occupies at the time.
        > If she is in charge of something (this continued at least through
        > the middle of the Kamakura period), then you could possibly have
        > reason to write to her.

        No, actually. He would write to her secretary, her office, something like
        that. He wouldn't write directly to her.



        Effingham
      • Barbara Nostrand
        Baron Edward! Technically, he should write to the office if he is expressing thanks. Prior to that, he should enquire with the secretary as to an appropriate
        Message 3 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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          Baron Edward!

          Technically, he should write to the office if he is expressing
          thanks. Prior to that, he should enquire with the secretary as
          to an appropriate gift. You are pretty much always told what
          sort of gift to give to a superior in Japan.

          As for the layout of Japanese letters. This is of course from
          my very unreliable memory, but the general form advocated by
          the modern guide to letter writing which I have roughly
          corresponds to letters in a collection of Kamakura period
          letters which I also have (unless of course the collection is
          a fake.)

          Your Humble Servant
          Solveig Throndardottir
          Amateur Scholar
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        • Anthony J. Bryant
          ... ? ... I think you might want to look at those letters again. Effingham
          Message 4 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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            Barbara Nostrand wrote:

            > Baron Edward!
            >
            > Technically, he should write to the office if he is expressing
            > thanks. Prior to that, he should enquire with the secretary as
            > to an appropriate gift. You are pretty much always told what
            > sort of gift to give to a superior in Japan.
            >

            ?

            >
            > As for the layout of Japanese letters. This is of course from
            > my very unreliable memory, but the general form advocated by
            > the modern guide to letter writing which I have roughly
            > corresponds to letters in a collection of Kamakura period
            > letters which I also have (unless of course the collection is
            > a fake.)

            I think you might want to look at those letters again.


            Effingham
          • Joshua Badgley
            ... I m looking for what I can find. Unfortunately, hardly any of my Japanese friends seem to know much about it, and most of my Japanese teachers, it seems,
            Message 5 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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              On Sun, 2 Jul 2000, Anthony J. Bryant wrote:

              > What you really need to do is take a class on bungo (a.k.a. kobun), classical
              > Japanese. There are many elements of classical Japanese that don't exist
              > today but which *did* in the 1500s. Mostly there is a loss of many supporting
              > verbs of politeness. (e.g., tamau, tatematsuru, etc.)
              >
              I'm looking for what I can find. Unfortunately, hardly any of my Japanese
              friends seem to know much about it, and most of my Japanese teachers, it
              seems, don't know where to begin. They seem to mostly just brush it off
              as being too hard to get into. I am going to see what I can find in the
              library, though. Actually, as my time here narrows I'm looking at asll
              these books and wondering what it will cost to photocopy what I need so
              that I can go over it in a more leisurely fashion back home, where I would
              not be able to get them, most likely.


              -Godric Logan
            • Joshua Badgley
              ... Obrigado, I will see what I can find/afford. ;) -Godric Logan
              Message 6 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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                On Sun, 2 Jul 2000, Anthony J. Bryant wrote:

                > If your Japanese is up to it, another useful source is the bookstore's selection
                > of high-school texts on kobun. I recommend the Super Sigma (Suupaa Shiguma)
                > "dekiru kobun (kokugo 1-2), by bun'ei do (it's B5 size). Another source (in
                > English) is Introduction to Classical Japanese by Komai & Rohlich (pubbed by
                > Bonjinsha). A *required* book is McCullough's "Bungo Manual". All but the latter
                > can be bought in Japan.

                Obrigado,

                I will see what I can find/afford. ;)

                -Godric Logan
              • Anthony J. Bryant
                ... Then while you re there, grab a good kogo jiten. I recommend either Obunsha s kogo jiten, or perhaps better, the Obunsha zen yaku kogo jiten. Another
                Message 7 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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                  Joshua Badgley wrote:

                  >
                  > I'm looking for what I can find. Unfortunately, hardly any of my Japanese
                  > friends seem to know much about it, and most of my Japanese teachers, it
                  > seems, don't know where to begin. They seem to mostly just brush it off
                  > as being too hard to get into. I am going to see what I can find in the
                  > library, though. Actually, as my time here narrows I'm looking at asll
                  > these books and wondering what it will cost to photocopy what I need so
                  > that I can go over it in a more leisurely fashion back home, where I would
                  > not be able to get them, most likely.

                  Then while you're there, grab a good kogo jiten. I recommend either Obunsha's kogo
                  jiten, or perhaps better, the Obunsha "zen'yaku kogo jiten." Another good one
                  would be the Benesse "zen'yaku kogo jiten."

                  If your Japanese is up to it, another useful source is the bookstore's selection
                  of high-school texts on kobun. I recommend the Super Sigma (Suupaa Shiguma)
                  "dekiru kobun (kokugo 1-2), by bun'ei do (it's B5 size). Another source (in
                  English) is Introduction to Classical Japanese by Komai & Rohlich (pubbed by
                  Bonjinsha). A *required* book is McCullough's "Bungo Manual". All but the latter
                  can be bought in Japan.

                  Effingham
                • Anthony J. Bryant
                  ... The latter two I think you can order/find here in the States. The kogo jiten and possibly the Super Sigma book are more important, and only available there
                  Message 8 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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                    Joshua Badgley wrote:

                    > On Sun, 2 Jul 2000, Anthony J. Bryant wrote:
                    >
                    > > If your Japanese is up to it, another useful source is the bookstore's selection
                    > > of high-school texts on kobun. I recommend the Super Sigma (Suupaa Shiguma)
                    > > "dekiru kobun (kokugo 1-2), by bun'ei do (it's B5 size). Another source (in
                    > > English) is Introduction to Classical Japanese by Komai & Rohlich (pubbed by
                    > > Bonjinsha). A *required* book is McCullough's "Bungo Manual". All but the latter
                    > > can be bought in Japan.
                    >
                    > Obrigado,
                    >
                    > I will see what I can find/afford. ;)

                    The latter two I think you can order/find here in the States. The kogo jiten and
                    possibly the Super Sigma book are more important, and only available there (unless
                    you order it via Kinokuniya online).

                    Effingham
                  • Eva Grammer
                    Greetings to all worthy patrons of this list... My name is Cynwise æt Sceaduwode. I am joining this list due to a nine-year-old s insatiable curiousity for
                    Message 9 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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                      Greetings to all worthy patrons of this list...

                      My name is Cynwise æt Sceaduwode. I am joining this list due to a nine-year-old's
                      insatiable curiousity for all things Japanese. She wants a Japanese persona in
                      the SCA. Of course, I realize that she can't even really register a name until
                      she is 18, and that this might be a phase that she could grow out of, but I feel
                      very reticent to squelch her curiousity.

                      Therefore, I have joined this list to learn how Japanese is done in the SCA. We
                      have done some preliminary research, and while she is interested in the Heian
                      period, I have real reticence about all those robes, especially in Meridies summer
                      heat! (read: humidity, humidity, humidity!) She already has problems dealing
                      with the heat as it is.

                      Anyway, if any gentles on the list could give me an idea of "Japanese lite" for
                      my daughter, I'd really appreciate it. I sew marginally well, but have not tried
                      anything more complicated than a T-tunic yet. I would like to get info on a
                      period Japanese name for her, as well as some simple garb. And who knows, she
                      might like it enough that she continues with the Japanese persona for the rest of
                      her life, you never know.

                      Thanks in advance,

                      Cynwise æt Sceaduwode
                      mka Eva Grammer
                      Vulpine Reach, Meridies
                      --
                      You can get paid for reading emails! Check this link out:

                      http://www.sendmoreinfo.com/id/849085
                    • Barbara Nostrand
                      Lady Cynwise æt Sceaduwode! Greetings from Solveig! ... I do not recall anything in the RfS which restricts registration of Society names to those who are 18
                      Message 10 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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                        Lady Cynwise æt Sceaduwode!

                        Greetings from Solveig!

                        >the SCA. Of course, I realize that she can't even really register a
                        >name until
                        >she is 18, and that this might be a phase that she could grow out
                        >of, but I feel
                        >very reticent to squelch her curiousity.

                        I do not recall anything in the RfS which restricts registration of Society
                        names to those who are 18 or older.

                        Now then. Your child is 9 years old. She is not expected to wear court
                        robes yet. In fact, it is rather inappropriate for her to do so as she
                        would not receive a court appointment until she was at least 12 or 13
                        at the very earliest.

                        Concerning heat and humidity. Parts of Japan are quite hot and humid during
                        the Summer. The Japanese wore clothing which would allow people to survive
                        that sort of weather.

                        Japanese clothing can be just about as simple as a T-tunic. As for Japanese
                        names. I can try to find my copy of History of Japanese Female Names by
                        Pennsic and bring it with me. I will be giving a class on the Origin of
                        Japanese Names. Incidentally, your daughter would have a childhood name
                        at this point. Japanese customarily took new names at their coming of age
                        ceremony. For that matter, an active life could give a Japanese person lots
                        of opportunities to change their name or collect new ones to add to old ones.

                        Your Humble Servant
                        Solveig Thronardottir
                        Amateur Scholar

                        Sorry for not being of greater help reight now. I have to vacate my office
                        within the next two days. (The perilous life of the itinerant academic. I
                        am off to a new post in the Autumn. Strange things happen. A place whose
                        temporary job I turned down a few weeks ago called at the end of last
                        week to offer a tenure track job. If the current tenure track offer falls
                        trough, then I will take the newly offered one. *SIGH*)

                        --
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                        | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM |
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                      • Barbara Nostrand
                        Noble Cousin! Yes, there are a lot of auxiliary verbs and joshi and all sorts of other stuff that was around in classical Japanese, but isn t now. By 1500,
                        Message 11 of 22 , Jul 2, 2000
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                          Noble Cousin!

                          Yes, there are a lot of auxiliary verbs and joshi and all sorts of
                          other stuff that was around in classical Japanese, but isn't now.
                          By 1500, Japanese starts looking pretty recognizeable. Even so,
                          there is a "translation" into modern Japanese of Ryorimonogatari
                          (17c) Regardless, a good text is:

                          The Guide to Japanese Literature
                          Shogakukan
                          ISBN 4-09-504501-9

                          Your Humble Servant
                          Solveig Throndardottir
                          Amateur Scholar

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                        • Anthony J. Bryant
                          ... We re not talking about now. We re talking about 16th Century Japanese. ... Shakespeare is fairly recognizable too, but there are many points of grammar
                          Message 12 of 22 , Jul 3, 2000
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                            Barbara Nostrand wrote:

                            > Noble Cousin!
                            >
                            > Yes, there are a lot of auxiliary verbs and joshi and all sorts of
                            > other stuff that was around in classical Japanese, but isn't now.

                            We're not talking about now. We're talking about 16th Century Japanese.

                            >
                            > By 1500, Japanese starts looking pretty recognizeable. Even so,
                            > there is a "translation" into modern Japanese of Ryorimonogatari
                            > (17c)

                            Shakespeare is "fairly recognizable" too, but there are many points of
                            grammar and syntax in Shakespeare that are not common in contemporary
                            English. The same with elements of Shakespearean vocabulary. Ask Lord
                            Goderic about those Kyogen and Noh texts he's been trying to work on.
                            That's *not* modern Japanese.

                            Let me quote something as an example.

                            Let's be specific, too, since we're talking about letters. Here's a letter
                            in its entirety which was sent from Ieyasu to Hideyoshi who was in the
                            midst of a campaign (my apologies to those who don't speak Japanese and
                            can't catch why this is different):

                            "Tsusshinde gonjou. Somosomo kondo Kishuu omote ni oite kakushuu to shite
                            goriun no dan omowazariki ni, shojin botsuraku su. Kore mata gokenryo no
                            hoka nari. Iyoiyo bangun genke taigen no ittou kijiku shi, tokoshinae ni
                            tsuranatte taishi taiyou ne ni kashite chouken nari. Naozari ni rikkoku,
                            narabi ni kitaru koto kaku no gotoshi. Jin'i wo Kyuushuu ni furui, ikioi
                            nao moppara nari. Hatamata gokikan sottaku tsusshinde hofuku su. Yotte,
                            kudan no tou. Sonkou sonhitsu uyamatt mousu.
                            "Nangatsu itsuka Nanigashi
                            "Fujiwara Hideyoshi-kou
                            "Teishou shitatematsuru gobandokoro."

                            The translation:

                            "With deep respect, I report to you. Just when I did not expect you to be
                            victorious in your present campaign in Kii province, the opponent being so
                            persistently hostile, all enemy camps collapsed. This again is nothing but
                            [evidence of] your wisdom. More and more, all armies have no option but to
                            vanish before you like apparitions. Entwined for all eternity, branches and
                            leaves become roots, healthy and strong. It happened just as easy as
                            conquering the Six Provinces all at once. When you extend your divine might
                            to Kyushu, your strength will become even more complete. Moreover, I
                            prostrate myself in anticipation of the propitious occasion of your return.
                            Thus the foregoing. With deep respect, I remain your humble servant.
                            "Some month, some day X
                            "Lord Fujiwara Hideyoshi
                            "To the guardhouse that will present this letter."

                            Does that look very modern? No desu. No gozaru. Hell, no sourou. Inflected
                            verbs and adjectives. Honorific joshi.

                            That's kobun showing there.

                            If you've not had any exposure to bungo, reading or writing 16th C.
                            Japanese won't make very much sense at all.

                            Effingham
                          • Kass McGann
                            ... facial ... on ... headwear? ... about ... I personally have made a tsuboshozoku, commonly referred to as a bug hat . Basically it s a big basket-like hat
                            Message 13 of 22 , Jul 5, 2000
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                              --- In sca-jml@egroups.com, "Anthony J. Bryant" <ajbryant@i...> wrote:
                              > Mikazuchi Ukyo wrote:
                              >
                              > > With the summer months here now, and having suffered a nice
                              facial
                              > > sunburn from the East Kingdom War Camp day...anyone have any idea
                              on
                              > > where I can purchase, or preferably make some nice Japanese
                              headwear?
                              > > I have a late 16th century persona that is still being worked on
                              > > heavily, but I'm dying for some shade. =)
                              >
                              > Well, some martial arts stores sell the conical straw hats. That's
                              about
                              > as close as you'll get this side of the pond. Unless you make a big
                              > jingasa out of metal or leather and lacquer it all up.
                              >
                              > Effingham

                              I personally have made a tsuboshozoku, commonly referred to as a "bug
                              hat". Basically it's a big basket-like hat with a strange
                              cylindrical protrusion at the center and "curtains" of silk gauze to
                              keep the bugs (and the eyes of on-lookers) away. It ties onto the
                              head in a way that makes it very stable. It's still rather heavy,
                              however. But since I'm used to wearing all those Heian robes, I
                              don't much mind a heavy hat.

                              I highly recommend making one. Someone taught me how to basketweave
                              and I made a reasonable replica on my first attempt.

                              If you'd like to try it, email me privately and I'll give you some
                              instruction. Or perhaps I'll see you at the next EK Warcamp in
                              Eisental?

                              Fujiwara no Aoi
                            • Anthony J. Bryant
                              My apologies for not getting back to you sooner! ... { snippage } ... Welcome to the madhouse. Pull up a zabuton, have some sake, and sit back for the ride.
                              Message 14 of 22 , Jul 6, 2000
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                                My apologies for not getting back to you sooner!


                                Eva Grammer wrote:

                                > My name is Cynwise 誥 Sceaduwode. I am joining this list due to a nine-year-old's
                                > insatiable curiousity for all things Japanese. She wants a Japanese persona in
                                > the SCA.

                                { snippage }

                                > Therefore, I have joined this list to learn how Japanese is done in the SCA.

                                Welcome to the madhouse. Pull up a zabuton, have some sake, and sit back for the
                                ride.

                                > We
                                > have done some preliminary research, and while she is interested in the Heian
                                > period, I have real reticence about all those robes, especially in Meridies summer
                                > heat! (read: humidity, humidity, humidity!) She already has problems dealing
                                > with the heat as it is.
                                >

                                Well, the japanese survived it... and in Kyoto. A more muggy and humidly icky place I
                                have never visited. Actually, multi-layering of loose clothing is remarkably cool;
                                more layers to catch a breeze or wick heat away or some such idea. I'm really not too
                                clear on it.

                                Fortunately, for kids, you don't have to deal with all those layers. If your computer
                                can read JPEGs or GIFs, I can scan in and send you a couple of color photos of
                                Heian-era girlchild garments. And they're really easy to make, too, being almost
                                entirely composed of rectangles.

                                It's possibly a bit beyond a nine-year-old, but you might want to get and read (if
                                only for your own edification) a copy of Ivan Morris' "The World of the Shining
                                Prince." It's starting to show its age (c. 30+ years) but it's still arguably the
                                best popular look at Heian life and custom. It's in paperback, and you can get it
                                from Amazon.com.

                                >
                                > Anyway, if any gentles on the list could give me an idea of "Japanese lite" for
                                > my daughter, I'd really appreciate it. I sew marginally well, but have not tried
                                > anything more complicated than a T-tunic yet. I would like to get info on a
                                > period Japanese name for her, as well as some simple garb. And who knows, she
                                > might like it enough that she continues with the Japanese persona for the rest of
                                > her life, you never know.
                                >

                                You should also grab Compleat Anachronist #65, "A Japanese Miscellany" -- it's got a
                                lot of basic info on doing Japanese in the SCA, including a section on naming
                                patterns.

                                Effingham
                              • kujika@aol.com
                                Solveig this is Kuji you where kind enuff to do Tea at my camp last year , I will have Igo at war
                                Message 15 of 22 , Jul 7, 2000
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                                  Solveig this is Kuji you where kind enuff to do Tea at my camp last year , I
                                  will have Igo at war
                                • Kass McGann
                                  ... year , I ... Kuji! You unapologetic lurker! Fujiwara no Aoi
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Jul 7, 2000
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                                    --- In sca-jml@egroups.com, kujika@a... wrote:
                                    > Solveig this is Kuji you where kind enuff to do Tea at my camp last
                                    year , I
                                    > will have Igo at war


                                    Kuji! You unapologetic lurker!

                                    <in a huff>
                                    Fujiwara no Aoi
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