It’s been four years! Times have changed and the island exile is no more [Nottore! Matsudai Castle 2023] (Part 11)

After our nostalgic reunion with Chief Strategist Murayama, we had another happy reunion.

We also met Mr. Mogu, who has been running the race with us as a member of “Team AWAREMI”.

He lives in Tokyo, but he loves Tokamachi so much that he visits the city several times a year. He always travels by his own car, so we run together during the race but go separately on the way to and from the race.

I met Mr. Mogu for the first time in 3 years. I missed him very much.

When I looked at his chest, I was surprised to see that his bib number was number 1. The reason is that the number 1 is given to “the person who became the owner of the castle in the previous year’s race, in other words, the person who came in first at the finish line”.

It is like the Maillot Jaune in the Tour de France.

I was surprised to hear that my colleague Mr. Mogu was in charge of such a prestigious number.

“What do you mean?”

I asked him, and he replied, “It means that the person who finished first in the last race is the one who is in charge of this prestigious number.

He said, “The person who came in first in the last race is not going to be able to race this year. So I’m number one instead”.

Before I knew it, he had strengthened his relationship with the organizers of the race.

He fanned a piece of paper in his hand and showed it to me.

”Since I’m number one, I’m going to give the Warrior Pledge at the opening ceremony,” he said.
”Wow, isn’t that amazing? So you will be the representative of the contestants?”
”But the text isn’t very interesting. But the writing is not interesting. I asked the secretariat if I could add my own words. I asked the secretariat if I could add my own words, and they said yes, so I added a lot”.

Indeed, the folded paper in his hand is quite voluminous. It looks like a sutra being read by a monk.

They are quite spirited. It makes me really happy to see my friends like that. Ah, how nice, this feeling.

I am also happy to see this person again!

We Team AWAREMI members call him “the brave man”. He is a regular participant in the race every year, wearing a Western-style Yoroi helmet of his own making. He is a very pleasant man who brings new weapons and equipment to the race every year and finishes the race despite being exhausted from the weight of his equipment.

I asked him, “Do you have any new equipment this year?” and he replied, “This year I brought something I have used before.

Looking at him up close again, I saw that he was wearing a chain katabira inside a leather yoroi. It must be heavy and difficult to move, and he really is an amazing man. He is also carrying a huge wooden sword on his back. He hardly looks like a person who will participate in a race with a 3-kilometer mountain trail to follow.

This year’s competition has no system for judging performance. Therefore, the number of people in cosplay was extremely small. Also, there were almost no large groups of people who participated in the race and enjoyed themselves. Compared to the past, the atmosphere of the participants is subdued.

Even in such an environment, I think it is wonderful that he has consistently taken the same stance in challenging this race from the past.

I have always worn the camouflage uniform of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force for all six times I have participated in this race. This is because I wanted the people who participate in the race every year to think, “Oh, you are wearing camouflage again this year. I wanted to make myself a regular part of this event, even in a very small way. This year, however, I was so busy with my children that I forgot to bring my camouflage uniform. Now that I think about it, it’s a shame. I should have worn the same camouflage uniform as in the past, even if I did not participate in the race.

As I was talking to my friends, “It’s been a while,” music started playing in the hall. It was the Warrior Entrance Ceremony.

Wow, it has already started.

Compared to the past, the schedule has been shortened. So I was surprised to see the event moving so quickly.

Even though I am not participating in the race, I am entering the venue with the warriors who are participating in the race. I am not a racer, but I walk at the back of the line. When I used to participate in races, I used to get very excited during this entrance procession.

I am not wearing my trademark camouflage, and Ishi, who is running for me, is dressed in plain clothes. The only thing that might attract people’s attention is that I am accompanied by a two-year-old in a baby carriage. Of course, there is no one else like her in the race.

The snow began to melt as the temperature rose. It became very difficult to move the stroller.

In the past, with nearly 500 warriors attending, it took a while for everyone to get to the front of the stage.

This year, however, only half of that number attended. With the small number of people, everyone was able to go around and get everyone in front of the stage in no time. And in no time, the opening ceremony began.

The pace was really fast.

We were placed on the right side of the stage. On the left side of the stage are the people who want to be at the top of the race, trying to get as much advantage as possible. This is where the non-racers and the 2 year olds should not be. It is a place where the start will be at the end of the race and we will be completely late in the race, but that is the reason why we took a position on the right side of the stage.

There is a brave man in front of me. The sword is just huge.

This year there are no obstacle nets, so there are only pillars in the corners of the venue. It is an unusual and unfamiliar sight.

The “military rank” given to the person who won first place in the previous race and was recognized as the “Lord of Matsudai Castle” was returned to the tournament organizers by the castle owner’s representative.

The MC announced that the lord of that castle would not be present this year because he was “away at another battle” this year.

Mr. Mogu reads the warrior’s oath on behalf of the lord of the castle, who is “on an expedition.

The reading was originally supposed to be completed in a few dozen seconds, but due to the addition of his original text, Mogu-san proudly goes on for several minutes.

He goes on to describe what a wonderful place Tokamachi City is, and the highlights of each of Tokamachi City’s spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons.

He talked too long.

So I thought, “Is he doing comedy?” I thought, “Is he doing a comedy act where the audience yells at him all the time?”

If so, my role would be to scold him and say, “You’re talking too long! I wondered whether I should speak up or not, since it would be my role to make the comedy work.

Later I asked him about it, and he told me that he was very serious about this warrior oath. I was in danger of being really rude if I yelled at him during the oath. And I wasn’t a player, just a spectator.

Since the “Kabuki-mono” performance was not part of this year’s opening ceremony, it did not take long for the race to begin.

The annual race briefing by Chief Strategist Murayama began.

When I applauded, “I’ve been waiting for you!” I gave him a big round of applause, and the military commander was so enthusiastic that he almost lost his voice. It’s been a long time, everybody. Everyone is happy and enjoying this event.

(to be continued)


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