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On a Bridge

My old kurumaya, Heishichi, was taking me to a famous temple in… Kumamoto.
We came to a… bridge over the Shirakawa… I told Heishichi to halt… so that I could enjoy the view. …
“Twenty-two years ago,” said Heishichi… “no, twenty-three years ago, — I stood here, and saw the city burn. …
“The Satsuma men had cannons on the hill… the soldiers in the castle were shooting at them over our heads. …
“I ran away. I ran as far as this bridge. … But they stopped me. …
“Satsuma men… three peasants… leaning over the railing: men wearing big straw hats… rain-cloaks and… sandals. …
“One of them turned… and said to me, ‘You stay here. …’ Then I saw that they were not peasants; and I was afraid. …
“They had long swords hidden under their rain cloaks. … They leaned over the bridge, looking down into the river. I stood beside them… and did just as they did. I knew that they would kill me if I moved. …
“Then I heard a horse; and I saw a cavalry officer coming at a trot, —looking all about him as he came. …
“The three men watched him from under their… hats. … the moment the horse got on the bridge, the… men turned and leaped… one caught the horse’s bridle… another gripped the officer’s arm… the third cut off his head, all in a moment. …
“He did not even have time to shout before his head was off. …
“Then they pitched the body over the railing into the river; and one of them struck the horse… and the horse ran away. … Then all of us leaned over the railing, as before. … After a little while I heard another horse… a cavalry-soldier… No one stirred till he was on the bridge — then… his head was off. … Three men were killed like that…”
— Lafcadio Hearn, “A Japanese Miscellany,” London (1905).

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The North American Post is a community newspaper that celebrates Japanese culture in the Greater Seattle area. Founded by 1st generation Japanese-Americans in 1902, the publication is one of the oldest minority-owned newspapers in the region. Today, with bilingual articles in English and Japanese, the publication connects readers with diverse cultural backgrounds to Seattle’s Japanese community. Our articles include local news, event calendars, restaurant reviews, Japanese cooking recipes, community interviews, and more.