February 04, 2006

Chapter 43 (A Thousand Leagues of Wind)

All major cities are essentially castle towns, with the castle compound itself surrounded by an inner loop road, and accessible through twelve gates, each assigned a member of the Chinese zodiac: 子門 (rat), 丑門 (ox), 寅門 (tiger), 卯門 (hare), 辰門 (dragon), 巳門 (snake), 午門 (horse), 未門 (ram), 申門 (monkey), 酉門 (rooster), 戌門 (dog), 亥門 (boar). The dragon gate (辰門) is the east south-east gate.

This configuration is not unique to Asia. From a history of Norwich, England, in the 13th century (here the gates are named after Christian saints):

Walls, mainly of flint, were built on the bank encircling the town. Twelve gates gave access to the town (and also facilitated the collection of tolls). They were King Street, Ber Street, Brazed Gate, St. Stephen's, St. Giles, St. Benedict's, the small postern Heigham Gate, and on the north side of the river, St. Martins, St Augustine's, Magdalen Gate and Pockthorpe Gate. Bishop's Gate controlled the river crossing.

More about how closely the characteristics of the kirin in Ono Fuyumi's novels track the original Chinese mythology can be found in this Wikipedia entry.

明郭 [めいかく] Meikaku, capital of Wa Province

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# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
I notice that this chapter says a kirin without a king won't live beyond 30. But that has been an arguing point for a while - the timeline on http://www015.upp.so-net.ne.jp/juunikirin/index.htm says that the Enki previous to Rokuta died at 38 yet he never chose a King. I suspect this is better explained in "Sea god of the east azure sea of the west"? I don't know if you have heard anything more about this?
2/06/2006 8:01 PM

# posted by Blogger Eugene
This is more my error. Another look at the text suggests that the better translation here is "approximately" (前後): "The shortened lifespan of a kirin without a king was approximately thirty years." In that case, 38 would not seem out of range.
2/07/2006 9:33 AM

# posted by Anonymous Retrooo
it should be noted that the 12 earthly branches (地支:子丑寅, etc.) were not originally associated with zodiac animals. it wasn't until later on in chinese history that, there being 12 branches and 12 animals, there was a connection made before the two.
2/15/2006 7:29 PM