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Re: [SCA-JML] Ronin

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  • Barbara Nostrand
    Noble Cousin! The samurai are a class. If you are employed, then you are not a ronin. I m confident that Baron Edward has told you this already, but I wanted
    Message 1 of 14 , Nov 30, 2000
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      Noble Cousin!

      The samurai are a class. If you are employed, then you are not
      a ronin. I'm confident that Baron Edward has told you this
      already, but I wanted to chip in my two cents as well.

      Incidentally, in general, nobody wanted to be unemployed.
      The whole point of Chushingura (which is a revenge tale
      which parallels to some extent the earlier tale of the
      Soga brothers) is that the retainers were loyal to their
      lord after his death.

      Your Humble Servant
      Solveig Throndardottir
      Amateur Scholar
      --
      +---------------------------------------------------------------------+
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    • Anthony J. Bryant
      ... They were from the Ako han. The Lord was Asano Ako-no-kami Naganori. As to books on the subject, there are dozens (in Japanese). I don t know if there s a
      Message 2 of 14 , Dec 2, 2000
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        Martin Giard wrote:

        > I would like to know more about ronins in general but:
        >
        > 1)The 47 ronins. From wich clan did they came from? What was the name
        > of the warlord that they served prior to became ronins? Is there a
        > book on this topic? Isbn?
        >

        They were from the Ako han. The Lord was Asano Ako-no-kami Naganori. As to
        books on the subject, there are dozens (in Japanese). I don't know if
        there's a particularly good one in English, although I know the subject is
        dealt with in many other books on samurai history (notably Ikegami's
        "Taming of the Samurai"). There are a few translations of the Kanadehon
        Chushingura in English (including a really *bad* Victorian one that even
        "translated" the names of the characters -- ick). Look for titles such as
        "A Treasury of Loyal Retainers" or "The Forty-Seven Ronin" or even
        "Chushingura".

        It's an interesting story.

        Did you know even though some argued that the Ako roshi were only avenging
        their lord, others who approved with the revenge STILL argued that they had
        *lost* their moral right to revenge as they had waited too long, and that
        had they really wanted to show "chu" to their late lord they would have
        attacked Kira immediately?

        >
        > 2)When a ronin takes a contract/alliegance for someone, does he say
        > it when he present itself to someone?

        You mean like the speech of the former Christian samurai to Blackthorne in
        Shogun? No, not as such. There are similar oath pledges that are signed,
        however, and the text isn't all that different, typically.

        > If yes, how (just an example
        > would be helpful...) My real question is what is the proper way (say
        > japanese phrase stucture and etiquette) to present my persona as a
        > ronin in service of a particular family.
        >

        Well, there is no *specific* ceremony for this. It's pretty much a
        catch-as-catch-can type of prospect.

        >
        > What was the real thing about ronin, more than "wave man" or "samurai
        > without master". Did they got so bad notoriety? Did they have
        > particular common tradition, outfit, etc...
        >

        There was none. Watch the film "Seven Samurai" (more aptly titled "Seven
        Ronin." You'll see seven different people join the group and several who
        don't, and they're all different.


        Effingham
      • Don Luby
        ... I have one called The 47 Ronin Story by John Allyn (ISBN 0-8048-0196-7), which I haven t had time to read yet, but is fairly modern (first printing
        Message 3 of 14 , Dec 2, 2000
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          On Sat, 2 Dec 2000, Anthony J. Bryant wrote:

          > Martin Giard wrote:
          >
          >> I would like to know more about ronins in general but:
          >>
          >> 1)The 47 ronins. From wich clan did they came from? What was the name
          >> of the warlord that they served prior to became ronins? Is there a
          >> book on this topic? Isbn?
          >>
          >
          > They were from the Ako han. The Lord was Asano Ako-no-kami Naganori. As to
          > books on the subject, there are dozens (in Japanese). I don't know if
          > there's a particularly good one in English, although I know the subject is
          > dealt with in many other books on samurai history (notably Ikegami's
          > "Taming of the Samurai"). There are a few translations of the Kanadehon
          > Chushingura in English (including a really *bad* Victorian one that even
          > "translated" the names of the characters -- ick). Look for titles such as
          > "A Treasury of Loyal Retainers" or "The Forty-Seven Ronin" or even
          > "Chushingura".

          I have one called "The 47 Ronin Story" by John Allyn
          (ISBN 0-8048-0196-7), which I haven't had time to read yet, but is
          fairly modern (first printing 1970), but with the caveat that the
          inner dust cover blurb starts with "Here at last is an entertaining
          account ...", so the historical authenticity may be a bit wanting.
          But hey, it's from Tuttle, which usually puts out good works, and only
          costs $10.

          > Effingham


          Koredono

          -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Don Luby Magariki Katsuichi no Koredono
          djl@... Yama-kaminari-ryu
          Pittsburgh, PA Debatable Lands, AEthelmearc
        • Susan and Frank Downs
          Greetings noble company! I, Takenoshita Naro, feel as if I m leaping into dragons jaws in this, my first post to the list, but I feel the most learned
          Message 4 of 14 , Oct 5, 2001
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            Greetings noble company! I, Takenoshita Naro, feel as if I'm leaping into
            dragons' jaws in this, my first post to the list, but I feel the most
            learned Solveig Throndardottir is overstating her case a bit in saying:

            "A lone warrior in Japan is last I heard a ronin. In short, unemployed
            riff-raff. Not the knight errant of Western fantasy literature."

            While I have no interest in romanticizing or encouraging this class of
            personage, it seems to me that there are ronin and there are ronin. One's
            riff-raffiness appears to be a matter of personal circumstance and
            individual conduct (Riff-raff is as riff-raff does). Forty-seven of them
            seem to be pretty well respected, at least. True, other samurai would
            likely look down on them and not let them join in all the samurai games, but
            I believe peasants would see them in a different light, or several different
            lights. I'm not so sure that this isn't pretty close to the _reality_ -- as
            opposed to fantasy literature -- of the situation for European knights
            errant. Comparing real-life ronin to Lancelot seems a bit like comparing
            apples to _The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes_. William Marshall's is also a
            fairly exceptional case, but doesn't Miyamoto Musadhi's compare favorably?

            Peace to all,

            --
            Takenoshita Naro
            Frank Downs
          • James A Barrows
            ... Nope, she s probably understating it a bit actually. The best metaphor I have heard for Japan is that of a fishing village. Somewhat apropos. If you are
            Message 5 of 14 , Oct 5, 2001
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              On Fri, 2001-10-05 at 14:01, Susan and Frank Downs wrote:
              > Greetings noble company! I, Takenoshita Naro, feel as if I'm leaping into
              > dragons' jaws in this, my first post to the list, but I feel the most
              > learned Solveig Throndardottir is overstating her case a bit in saying:

              Nope, she's probably understating it a bit actually.
              The best metaphor I have heard for Japan is that of a fishing village.
              Somewhat apropos. If you are not part of the fishing village, you are
              dangerous, because no fishing village in their right minds throws out
              perfectly good people. Not to mention that perfectly good people are
              busy helping to suppor their families and therefore their village.
              As with all metaphors, this one is not iron clad.. but it does give a
              feel for the loathing with which the Japanese would view strangers.

              >
              > "A lone warrior in Japan is last I heard a ronin. In short, unemployed
              > riff-raff. Not the knight errant of Western fantasy literature."
              >
              > While I have no interest in romanticizing or encouraging this class of
              > personage, it seems to me that there are ronin and there are ronin. One's
              > riff-raffiness appears to be a matter of personal circumstance and
              > individual conduct (Riff-raff is as riff-raff does). Forty-seven of them
              > seem to be pretty well respected, at least. True, other samurai would
              > likely look down on them and not let them join in all the samurai games, but
              > I believe peasants would see them in a different light, or several different
              > lights. I'm not so sure that this isn't pretty close to the _reality_ -- as
              > opposed to fantasy literature -- of the situation for European knights
              > errant. Comparing real-life ronin to Lancelot seems a bit like comparing
              > apples to _The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes_. William Marshall's is also a
              > fairly exceptional case, but doesn't Miyamoto Musadhi's compare favorably?

              The 47 ronin were in fact looked on as scum, treated as scum and
              generall acted like it as well. It was not until they avenged their
              masters death that they became heroes. Don't forget, that even after
              killing their enemy, the survivors still followed their master into
              death. They did not want to become ronin again.
              Clearly, your illustration falls short. Rice and food came from the top
              down. If you weren't part of that structure you starved, or you robbed
              and murdered to stay alive.
              A good illustration would be the start of 7 Samurai. They were all what
              we would call Knight Errants. They were still pretty scummy. Didn't
              fit that picture at all. The fit what they were, well armed scum not
              afraid to die. Well.. maybe not so much afraid to die, but so close to
              it that it didn't really matter.

              --
              James A Barrows
              Software Developer
              Oppurtunity doesn't knock, it only presents itself after you kick down
              the door.
              --Kyle Chandler
            • Susan and Frank Downs
              Greetings all! Quoth James A Barrows: The best metaphor I have heard for Japan is that of a fishing village. Somewhat apropos. If you are not part of the
              Message 6 of 14 , Oct 6, 2001
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                Greetings all!

                Quoth James A Barrows:

                "The best metaphor I have heard for Japan is that of a fishing village.
                Somewhat apropos. If you are not part of the fishing village, you are
                dangerous, because no fishing village in their right minds throws out
                perfectly good people. Not to mention that perfectly good people are
                busy helping to suppor their families and therefore their village.
                As with all metaphors, this one is not iron clad.. but it does give a
                feel for the loathing with which the Japanese would view strangers."

                Sure, dangerous, feared, possibly loathed, alien, outside the system, but
                "riff-raff?" Universally? Really?

                >
                > "A lone warrior in Japan is last I heard a ronin. In short, unemployed
                > riff-raff. Not the knight errant of Western fantasy literature."
                >

                Again quoth James A Barrows:

                "Don't forget, that even after
                killing their enemy, the survivors still followed their master into
                death. They did not want to become ronin again."

                I don't believe I said that anyone would want to become ronin, but that they
                could achieve a measure of respect through their actions. Couldn't their
                seppuku be seen as an expression of honor rather than of fear of being
                ronin?

                Once more quoting James A Barrows:

                "A good illustration would be the start of 7 Samurai. They were all what
                we would call Knight Errants. They were still pretty scummy. Didn't
                fit that picture at all. The fit what they were, well armed scum not
                afraid to die. Well.. maybe not so much afraid to die, but so close to
                it that it didn't really matter."

                I think _Seven Samurai_ demonstrates my point pretty clearly. The level of
                scumminess of the characters varies depending on their conduct. No, none of
                them are pillars of society, but do you think knights errant would be viewed
                that way? The point was that ronin held a similar place in society to the
                _reality_ of a wandering European sword-slinger. Do you think that European
                villagers flocked to welcome well-armed strangers riding through their
                villages on the way to some tourney? Don't you think their feelings were
                probably pretty similar to those of the fishing villagers in your post? I
                don't want to romanticize ronin, but comparing real-life ronin to
                romanticized knights errant doesn't make sense either.
                --
                Takenoshita Naro
                Frank Downs
              • James A Barrows
                ... Yes of course. Armed wanderers who have no village, no responsibilities to anyone, in a society where cooperation is paramount to surviving? There has to
                Message 7 of 14 , Oct 6, 2001
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                  On Sat, 2001-10-06 at 09:54, Susan and Frank Downs wrote:
                  > Greetings all!
                  >
                  > Quoth James A Barrows:
                  >
                  > "The best metaphor I have heard for Japan is that of a fishing village.
                  > Somewhat apropos. If you are not part of the fishing village, you are
                  > dangerous, because no fishing village in their right minds throws out
                  > perfectly good people. Not to mention that perfectly good people are
                  > busy helping to suppor their families and therefore their village.
                  > As with all metaphors, this one is not iron clad.. but it does give a
                  > feel for the loathing with which the Japanese would view strangers."
                  >
                  > Sure, dangerous, feared, possibly loathed, alien, outside the system, but
                  > "riff-raff?" Universally? Really?

                  Yes of course. Armed wanderers who have no village, no responsibilities
                  to anyone, in a society where cooperation is paramount to surviving?
                  There has to be a reason they were thrown out into the wilderness.
                  Probably becuase they were no-goodniks.

                  >
                  > >
                  > > "A lone warrior in Japan is last I heard a ronin. In short, unemployed
                  > > riff-raff. Not the knight errant of Western fantasy literature."
                  > >
                  >
                  > Again quoth James A Barrows:
                  >
                  > "Don't forget, that even after
                  > killing their enemy, the survivors still followed their master into
                  > death. They did not want to become ronin again."
                  >
                  > I don't believe I said that anyone would want to become ronin, but that they
                  > could achieve a measure of respect through their actions. Couldn't their
                  > seppuku be seen as an expression of honor rather than of fear of being
                  > ronin?

                  They had no honor until they avenged the Master. Vengenace is a good
                  thing, especially when it is hard won. THe lengths you go to for
                  vengeance are great, as demonstrated by the 47. They were willing to
                  completely degrade themselves. This would be roughly equivalent in
                  today's society of 47 men becoming crack whores (or lawyers :) ) in
                  order to obtain their vengeance.
                  Since their lord was dead.. they had to follow him, or truly become the
                  scum they had hidden among.

                  >
                  > Once more quoting James A Barrows:
                  >
                  > "A good illustration would be the start of 7 Samurai. They were all what
                  > we would call Knight Errants. They were still pretty scummy. Didn't
                  > fit that picture at all. The fit what they were, well armed scum not
                  > afraid to die. Well.. maybe not so much afraid to die, but so close to
                  > it that it didn't really matter."
                  >
                  > I think _Seven Samurai_ demonstrates my point pretty clearly. The level of
                  > scumminess of the characters varies depending on their conduct. No, none of
                  > them are pillars of society, but do you think knights errant would be viewed
                  > that way? The point was that ronin held a similar place in society to the
                  > _reality_ of a wandering European sword-slinger. Do you think that European
                  > villagers flocked to welcome well-armed strangers riding through their
                  > villages on the way to some tourney? Don't you think their feelings were
                  > probably pretty similar to those of the fishing villagers in your post? I
                  > don't want to romanticize ronin, but comparing real-life ronin to
                  > romanticized knights errant doesn't make sense either.

                  I'm not comparing them to knights errant. I was pointing out that the
                  villagers had to hire scum. That they were scum. Barely surviving. In
                  addition, if you will remember the villagers thought themselves very
                  fortunate that they weren't killed outright by the very ronin they
                  sought to hire. It was, from the story, at least somewhat expected.

                  > --
                  > Takenoshita Naro
                  > Frank Downs
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  --
                  James A Barrows
                  Software Developer
                  Oppurtunity doesn't knock, it only presents itself after you kick down
                  the door.
                  --Kyle Chandler
                • Anthony J. Bryant
                  ... This is a false comparison. By the time of the 47, neo-Confucian philosophy had become the principal school in Japan. The leader of the 47, Oishi, and the
                  Message 8 of 14 , Oct 6, 2001
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                    James A Barrows wrote:

                    >
                    > They had no honor until they avenged the Master. Vengenace is a good
                    > thing, especially when it is hard won. THe lengths you go to for
                    > vengeance are great, as demonstrated by the 47. They were willing to
                    > completely degrade themselves. This would be roughly equivalent in
                    > today's society of 47 men becoming crack whores (or lawyers :) ) in
                    > order to obtain their vengeance.
                    > Since their lord was dead.. they had to follow him, or truly become the
                    > scum they had hidden among.

                    This is a false comparison. By the time of the 47, neo-Confucian philosophy had
                    become the principal school in Japan. The leader of the 47, Oishi, and the
                    previous two generations of the han lords, had been a student of the n.C.
                    philosopher Yamaga Soko (whose particular bent was so far from the national trend
                    that the bakufu ordered him to be under house arrest for ten years.

                    It is quite probably because of the virulence of Soko's *pure* Confucianism --
                    stripped of everything else, including Buddhist, Mohist, what have you,
                    influences -- that they behaved as they did.


                    Effingham
                  • Barbara Nostrand
                    Noble Cousins! Greetings from Solveig! The 47 ronin were of course post period. Their story somewhat parallels the story of the Soga brothers. In both cases,
                    Message 9 of 14 , Oct 6, 2001
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                      Noble Cousins!

                      Greetings from Solveig! The 47 ronin were of course post period. Their
                      story somewhat parallels the story of the Soga brothers. In both cases,
                      the vitue exemplified was loyalty or filial piety after death. However,
                      you should not casually dismiss the "riff-raff" branding by appeal to
                      either of these stories. In both cases, the heros did to some extent
                      or other live a life of being riff-raff before their hour of glory.
                      As of Miyamoto Musashi. Most of his exploits take place during the
                      Genroku period. He is also known as an accomplished artist.

                      You really should not attempt to be one of these people directly. Their
                      role is not one that you can simply step into.

                      Your Humble Servant
                      Solveig Throndardottir
                      Amateur Scholar
                      --
                      +---------------------------------------------------------------------+
                      | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM |
                      | deMoivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
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                    • Susan and Frank Downs
                      I didn t originally intend to engage in sophistry, but here goes: Sure, dangerous, feared, possibly loathed, alien, outside the system, but riff-raff?
                      Message 10 of 14 , Oct 9, 2001
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                        I didn't originally intend to engage in sophistry, but here goes:

                        Sure, dangerous, feared, possibly loathed, alien, outside the system, but
                        "riff-raff?" Universally? Really?
                        >
                        > Yes of course. Armed wanderers who have no village, no responsibilities
                        > to anyone, in a society where cooperation is paramount to surviving?

                        No. By asserting your claim as universally true, you allow it to be
                        invalidated with even a single counterexample. Clearly there were ronin
                        wandering around teaching martial arts hoping their contract would be picked
                        up by some daimyo. These guys would have to maintain some aura of
                        respectability, or what self-respecting daimyo would even consider letting
                        them instruct the troops? Other guys were simply hoping to get picked up as
                        some of these troops. Sure the daimyo hired riff raff as ashigaru, but if
                        one had previously been a warrior of quality, wouldn't one maintain one's
                        respectability, even in poverty, in hopes of restoration to a similar
                        status? There must have been some premium on quality when demand was high.
                        As Effingham dono has noted, "In the sengoku period,few people really seem
                        to have stayed ronin forever, given the great need for trained fighting
                        men."

                        > There has to be a reason they were thrown out into the wilderness.
                        > Probably becuase they were no-goodniks.

                        Again, no. A samurai's term of service was not always a life tenure. If
                        one's master fell on hard times, he might simply not renew one's contract.
                        The fishing village view of Medieval Japan you promulgate is entirely too
                        simplistic and prone to generalizations. Sengoku Japan had some of the
                        world's great urban centers and a much more fluid social structure than a
                        fishing village. No one in Kyoto or Osaka could know everyone else and
                        therefore be suspicious of every stranger. Yes, my examples are out of
                        period; mea culpa. They were intended to show that through his conduct a
                        ronin could earn a measure of respect. It seemed to me that if this were
                        true under the incredibly rigid Tokugawa regime, it would obviously be true
                        in the more fluid sengoku era. Please ignore them.

                        >>>
                        >>> "A lone warrior in Japan is last I heard a ronin. In short, unemployed
                        >>> riff-raff. Not the knight errant of Western fantasy literature."
                        >>>
                        >
                        > I'm not comparing them to knights errant.

                        The other main point I was trying to make, other than that not _all_ ronin
                        were riff raff, was that they did, in fact occupy a position very similar to
                        _real_ knights errant as opposed to those of fantasy literature. I stand by
                        this.

                        > I was pointing out that the
                        > villagers had to hire scum. That they were scum. Barely surviving. In
                        > addition, if you will remember the villagers thought themselves very
                        > fortunate that they weren't killed outright by the very ronin they
                        > sought to hire. It was, from the story, at least somewhat expected.

                        And my point is that they were _not_ scum, even those that appeared to be;
                        they were willing to give their lives in protection of those they served,
                        even with little hope of reward, and thus were paragons of bushido and
                        epitomized the word Samurai.

                        > --
                        > James A Barrows
                        > Software Developer
                        > Oppurtunity doesn't knock, it only presents itself after you kick down
                        > the door.
                        > --Kyle Chandler

                        > You really should not attempt to be one of these people directly. Their
                        > role is not one that you can simply step into.
                        >
                        > Your Humble Servant
                        > Solveig Throndardottir
                        > Amateur Scholar

                        I have no intention of claiming to be any of these people. I also have no
                        inention of encouraging people to adopt ronin personae, which I find almost
                        as silly as ninja in the SCA context. Good luck staying out of households
                        and not getting awards! Rather, I think I'll stick with my current persona
                        of 17 years as a retired daimyo (read landed baron), ongoing court baron,
                        and squire (yeah, I know that's illogical, but that's our society) who has
                        no qualms about fealty, thank you.
                        --
                        Takenoshita Naro
                        Frank Downs
                      • Elaine Koogler
                        ... And....a valued member of our Japanese and European households, I m proud to add!!! Kiri
                        Message 11 of 14 , Oct 10, 2001
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                          Susan and Frank Downs wrote:

                          > Rather, I think I'll stick with my current persona
                          > of 17 years as a retired daimyo (read landed baron), ongoing court baron,
                          > and squire (yeah, I know that's illogical, but that's our society) who has
                          > no qualms about fealty, thank you.
                          > --
                          > Takenoshita Naro
                          > Frank Downs

                          And....a valued member of our Japanese and European households, I'm proud to
                          add!!!

                          Kiri
                        • Barbara Nostrand
                          Noble Cousins! Greetings from Solveig! ... Quite so. But, this would be a serious tragedy for the lord who has to discharge retainers. The term of contract was
                          Message 12 of 14 , Oct 10, 2001
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                            Noble Cousins!

                            Greetings from Solveig!

                            >Again, no. A samurai's term of service was not always a life tenure. If
                            >one's master fell on hard times, he might simply not renew one's contract.

                            Quite so. But, this would be a serious tragedy for the lord who has to
                            discharge retainers. The term of contract was (according to my own
                            "godlike" professor) one year and was renewed at New Year. Among other
                            things, the lord was responsible for clothing his retainers and would
                            present the retainer with cloth for that purpose.

                            Your Humble Servant
                            Solveig Throndardottir
                            Amateur Scholar
                            --
                            +---------------------------------------------------------------------+
                            | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM |
                            | deMoivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
                            | mailto:nostrand@... | mailto:bnostran@... |
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                          • Nate Ledbetter
                            Minna-sama e moushi agemasu* Kono Shonaigawa wa kesa Nihongo no Boei Gengo Jukuren Shikken o uke shimasu. Gambarimashou! Shonaigawa To everyone: I m taking the
                            Message 13 of 14 , Oct 11, 2001
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                              Minna-sama e moushi agemasu*

                              Kono Shonaigawa wa kesa Nihongo no Boei Gengo Jukuren
                              Shikken o uke shimasu. Gambarimashou!

                              Shonaigawa

                              To everyone:

                              I'm taking the Defense Language Proficiency Test for
                              Japanese this morning...I'll do my best, but wish me
                              luck!



                              __________________________________________________
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