Winter 1877, date uncertain

If I had to venture a guess I would say it is late January, perhaps sometime in the final week. With the passing days, the mountains have become lidded with more and more snow. It is ironic that is only a little water barring my exit when I crossed so much more in my journey from America. Daily I walk about Nobutada's village and its environs and I wonder at these so-called barbarians and rebels; incorrect names as are pointedly given to these and other such people I have been enlisted to eliminate. It seems as if fate would have me believe that the world is no more than a battlefield of grandest proportions—a mammoth chessboard on which this hateful pawn as found himself ever more westward, until arriving at the uttermost east. Here, on the opposite side, I am taken and defeated, yet I get the sense that I may receive the pawn's prerogative of choosing who I will be from here. Perhaps the West comprises the white pieces which spurned me, willingly to the end of the world. Those great industrials, politicians, and generals, all of them opportunists, would triumph only to have everything become gray as all things mingle—ground together and reformed in the name of commerce.

Here, for a short while at least, there is a peace that allows me to think of what I will become, and what will become of all this. Most often I reflect outside of Katsumoto's temple, where the fragrance of cherry blossoms still lingers. I reflect on the lives that may come. It may be that I will return to the uncaring fold of America, a pawn now and forever, drifting here and there to do the odious work to which I am suited: bereaving people of freedom in the name of liberty. More often I live, in thought, lives that may come with something better, something that does not smack of my accustomed mindless, brutal, hypocrisy.

I am glad to have escaped the onslaught and execution of the western holidays where booze alone was a comfort. Each day here comes with a unique charm. Yesterday Nobutada showed me the way they make sake from rice. Though I understood little of his explanation, I understood that these people carry out this simple yet intricate process with the same exactitude as everything they do. It is only by embodying an unfailing precision that they undertake any task. I can only hope that when my doom falls upon me that I will have replaced some of this bastard cowardice with even the smallest part of the valor that these people employ, in even the most mundane of endeavors.