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By Hendry J.

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Sample text

They had a record of the numbers of children in each house, and the schools they attended. They knew, of course, of the criminal records of any of their charges, and they also appeared to know about the gang members in the area. Our local oyabun had established 42 Part I: Settling in and making contacts himself there some sixteen years previously, they explained, when he took over a large plot of land as payment for a gambling debt. He and three yakuza neighbours were registered as ‘without occupation’, though this the police explained was probably because they had failed to cooperate with the officer who had called to collect the data.

When the nephew reached the age of 18, he grew tired of waiting to take his uncle’s place, so he had killed him and forcibly taken the reins of power. His triumph was short-lived, however, for he was himself assassinated by his cousin, the son of the fourth lord, who thereby secured the family line for his descendants. These were difficult times, and life was rough within and without the family. At about this point, in the sixteenth century, the country of Japan came under the relatively benevolent rule of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and the Satomis were granted the district of Awa to administer.

They were ‘up’ and ‘down’, by themselves unremarkable, but these are the characters which, combined, describe the system of hierarchy which pervades Japanese social relations. Individually, they also qualify a number of other concepts as superior or inferior in some way – johin are high-quality goods, gesui is the sewerage system! Life for Hamish did not continue as positively as it had started, unfortunately, and on the day that Callum finally ran happily into school Hamish came home early reporting that he had been involved in a fight.

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