Chapter 4 Notes -  Bunkyoku Star - Star of Fate (second half)

Chapter title. The name of the chapter is the name of the star that Bao is referred to as being, namely the fourth star of the Big Dipper. The classic name of Bunkyou (as read by Japanese) is actually a nickname for Bao, I’ve discovered. The more common name given is “Tenken” or “Heaven’s Power/Authority.” He is actually considered to be a judge for the Afterlife. Because of the way the discussion between Bao and his Advisor go in the Spirit world (the kanji used), I’m changing the title officially to Star of Fate… because that sounds a bit better than Star of Judgement.

Pg 38 – I spent a long time trying to figure out if the guard was saying it’d be over in a second, but it really does use the counter symbol for scrolls or books of literature. I suppose the implication is that the series would end in one book, too, though they don’t necessarily say that.

JADE THING – omg. Everywhere from now on, I just say Jade Ornament, which is wordy, but there’s no other real translation for the thing. –They- are always using the formal name for those types of ornaments, specifically the really expensive versions. This is an archaic word.

Kaihoubu/Kaihou Office – Yeah, so. After a bit more study I realized that the last symbol is Office/Administration. In the next chapter we have Kaihou city and region as well, so I thought I’d just start clearing that up now.

Pg 41 – We have this little monologue where Hou Sen is thinking about how she can’t satisfy both her honor to her family and her honor to duty that she ought to report her father as a possible murderer. I hope that comes through in my translation, but the original didn’t really have space for that explanation because that tension is very clear to most Japanese.

Pg 46 – I went with Floating Sage Pillow. Why? Just ‘cause. Deal. XD

Pg 48 – the dude doesn’t get special text this time. He’s got normal text in the original, I suppose because now they are both in the Spirit World and he sounds normal now.

Pg 49 – Book of Life and Death. If you’ve ever seen much anime or read much comics, you’ll be pretty familiar with this concept. In case you haven’t, it’s supposedly got the whole record of a person’s life, notable things they’ve done, that sort of thing. Theoretically, if you could read the book, you’d know when you are supposed to die and how.

Pg 50 – I said before that I’d gotten the impression that Bao had sort of snuck away from his duties. This, however, indicates the opposite. That he was somehow fulfilling something that Heaven had decreed.

Pg 55 – Shu Naiji is what they call him. As mentioned before, Naiji is a particular rank of Eunuch. I just dropped the Naiji in favor of calling him Eunuch (since that’s what the suffix calls him anyway). If you are interested, the kanji for his name is a type of red.

PG 72 – 1000 (silver) Ryou … As pointed out on Wikipedia, in the movie Yojimbo, 50 Ryo is treated as a huge amount of money. Conversion from then to now pretty much sucks, but the term “ryou” is the Japanese reading of the Chinese Tael and is simply a weight term. In general, a tael was about 40 grams of silver. 40,000 grams of silver is about 1141 oz, and in today’s market, that’s anywhere between $30K to $32K USD or around 19,722 Euro (depending on silver purchase rates of the different countries – silver appears to be worth slightly more in Europe). Now, silver’s not worth anything like as much now as it was then, so you can put it to your imagination how much money this would be in Song Era. Lots.

Mind you, this is the amount he got just for finding an eligible pretty chick and moving the paperwork along to move her to the Palace. If she never caught the Emperor’s eye? She could petition to go home after a couple of years and could marry whomever she wanted. If she did catch the Emperor’s eye, she was going to be powerful and Have Lots of Money, and she would owe him for getting her there.

The other incentive of getting a position in the Palace, which would generally have much greater pay and would probably result in a higher Court Rank, would also be a pretty major one. Remember, he was pretty frustrated by Bao pointedly mentioning he was Lower Court rank.

PG 72 – Concubine ranks. As pointed out in the forum comments, the rank word I’m having trouble translating “Chouhi” is probably the Japanese reading of the Chinese “Kihi” which is a rank of the Imperial Harem. Since I started translating this, I started watching more period dramas, and have discovered answers to several things that were making me bash my head against the wall (for instance, Shin’ou is actually a rank – specifically Crown Prince).

Anyway, a woman enters the palace as a member of the harem, and can sit around twiddling her thumbs on the Imperial Dime and Be Pretty. Most, however, tried to get Imperial Favor, which means getting the Emperor to sleep with you. Upon having intercourse, she IMMEDIATELY gains a certain amount of rank. She might, after all be pregnant, and that child might be heir potential. The ranks of women who are thusly favored are decided partially by the Emperor, simply by how often he *ahem* visits, but also by the ranking Queen, who decides how much of the Imperial Harem Purse the ladies get (it doesn’t matter so much how much the Emperor likes you if the Queen doesn’t give you a stipend, after all). There’s another automatic rank bump if said lady does, indeed, get pregnant. These rank changes are generally life-long, but can be taken away as forms of punishment. These women don’t rank the Queen, and if they have a male child before the Queen, can sometimes end up losing the right to raise the boy, as the Queen takes charge of raising the first born son as heir until she has a boy child of her own. It’s sort of mind-bending, and there are several dramas out right now that deal specifically with Consort-driven politics in various periods of the various countries. Oh, and as an added fun, if you’re starting rank isn’t great, you can enter the Palace as a Palace Maid, and if the Emperor decides to chase your skirt you could be elevated to a consort, again because you got it on with the Emperor. In practice, it wasn’t really -that- easy, but that’s the general outline.

The incentive for those who had no reasonable expectation to catch the Emperor’s attention was that Palace pay was pretty good, and you got good benefits. Girls who served as servants would be there until they were of a certain age, then were rotated out with a severance pay sort of thing that was supposed to help them get married. Some stayed in the Palace, of course, but only if they managed to obtain a certain rank and opted to stay. Most of the time, the Emperor wouldn’t keep someone from retiring out. Even then, in several periods, it was actually somewhat up to the Queen, not the Emperor.

Pg 76 – Okay, that note doesn’t really need to be there. But it really amused me. When he died, he really did have three wives, and a baby by one of his maids. He was generally regarded as not good looking (severe expression and very dark skin were not beauty marks), but man if those ladies weren’t falling ALL over him. And now, there’s this spirit chick waiting. Presumably going, “I saw him first, so back off” when they all cross over.

….

 

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