Note: A young kabuki actress from a rich family named Hana Shimura is forcefully paired with a selfish, arrogant, conceited, egotistic actor from another family known as the Bando family.
Hana does not like Chojiro one bit. She soon falls in love with a middle classed man named Eikichi Deguchi, who is a little bit of a rebel, but he has a heart of pure gold. Eikichi loves Hana in return and is willing to do anything for her, even learn the ritual art of tea ceremonies. However, the Shimura family is still outraged with Hana's decision. All they wish is to be together with one another and one day marry. Will they have their wish ?
Chapter 1—Arranged Hell
Hana Shimura had always been a talented, gorgeous, bright young lady who enjoyed studying, meditation and karate in her spare time when she wasn't acting. Her life had been relatively uncomplicated, but she had been reaching the age where she would be old enough to be married. Hana didn't wish to think about this since she was only eighteen years old.
She wanted to fall in love with someone and then consider the prospect of marriage. However, her parents weren't about to let her do that. The Shimuras were a wealthy family and they wanted the family to continue amassing wealth. Hana thought this was a silly idea since money was such a temporary and transitive object. She had no desire to marry for wealth, but she knew she couldn't speak against her parents in this matter. She had to continue living up to the reputation of being a perfect lady and an exceptional candidate for a wife and mother. Of course, she already had all of these capabilities including the fact that she could cook like a master chef and carried on the ancient Japanese tradition of tea ceremonies and Shinto religion. Most of the time, Hana wore a yukata even though she preferred wearing something more comfortable and casual. She did get away with doing that sometimes, but when she was performing it was stifling on stage to be in a yukata.
It seemed to happen in an instant. Hana's life had become very hard for her once her parents had introduced her to the Bando family and their son, Chojiro. Chojiro was also an actor and had been performing Noh since he was about ten. Chojiro was quite a looker, but his personality was horrendous. He was conceited, egotistical and stupendously selfish. He wanted nothing more to get all the money he could from the Shimura line. Hana's parents were blind to Chojiro's insidious, greedy nature. However, she knew she couldn't speak out against their decision. They thought they were doing what was best for her and the family, but they were sadly mistaken. Compliantly, she nodded and smiled. Inwardly, she wanted to scream, and run away from the situation. However, she knew that such an action would be immature and insensitive of her. As much as she loathed it, she had to be near Chojiro for a couple more hours trying to enjoy her mother's cooking and her parent's company. She wasn't even certain if the Bando family knew that their son was such a lying, conniving brat. Ignorance was bliss, she supposed. She went back to serving the Bando family and her parents more tea before they departed. After that, Hana departed for the washroom and allowed herself to soak in the healing warm waters of her family's natural spring water.
Chapter 2—The Rebel with the Long, Black Hair
The next night consisted of another big performance for Hana. Of course, she was also keeping herself busy with her high school studies, so she was hoping the performance would be shortened in order for her late night cram sessions. As much as she hated to admit, she was always cramming for tests but she never procrastinated and she always finished work on time with exceptional results. Her classmates could always count on her to excel in everything, and many of her friends practically worshipped her. Now, the gossip of her school was the fact that she would be the wife of Chojiro Bando some day. Chojiro was a typical hunk with features that just about any girl would find attractive. He was nothing more than a pretty face with a tainted heart in the mind of Hana. She wished the whole arranged marriage prospect would disappear, but it was unlikely that such a thing would ever occur.
That night, after a long, sweaty performance, Hana had noticed someone standing at the entrance of the theatre. He was dressed in a black leather jacket, a T-shirt that had the kanji for "Warrior" on it, blue jeans with holes at the knees and western tennis shoes. His violet eyes were peaking out underneath iridescent shades and his raven hair glistened in the bright sunlight. He grinned at Hana, applauding her. Intrigued, Hana knew she had to learn more about this man of mystery and his appealing smile. She didn't know what had attracted her so much to him to begin with, but he seemed very sincere from the first heartfelt grin.
Hana began talking to the young man and learned that his name was Eikichi Deguchi and he worked at the local bookstore a couple miles away from the theatre. The two began to chat and discovered that they had many things in common. Eikichi might've been a little rough around the edges but he was a true gentleman. He was an extremely kind young man with a tender soul and a love for arts and culture. He was kind of a rebel though, acting a little more like an American rather than a Japanese man. That was what gave him his allure though.
Later, Hana ate lunch with Eikichi and she was taken back home on his motorcycle. She had never been on a motorcycle before, and it had been a real thrill. However, she met her annoyed parents before she could thank Eikichi for a magnificent meal.
"Who is this…this ruffian ?!", Hana's father inquired, very dissatisfied and upset.
"Don't let his rough looks fool you, Father. He's Eikichi Deguchi, an extremely genteel man.", Hana said, hoping to cool the embers of her father's anger, but to no avail.
"Hana ! He's a delinquent ! Get away from him !", Hanzo yelled.
"I haven't had the chance to properly thank him for the lovely lunch he treated me to.", Hana said, being quickly ushered away by her mother.
"Leave, you scum ! We don't want you anywhere near our daughter !", Hanzo bellowed.
"I we see you with her again, you will regret it.", Hana's mother, Harumi said, escorting her daughter harshly away by the arm and back into the house. The lecture that was about to follow would be the first time that she ever heard her parents screaming at the top of their lungs. It was obvious that they didn't like Eikichi one little bit. They wanted Hana to have no part of seeing him again. However, she knew that she had already fallen in love with the roguish Daguchi and he more than likely felt the same way for her. Eikichi was a little shy and quiet, but he really did enjoy being around Hana. Despite her parents' wishes and the threats that had been made against her newfound love interest, Hana was going to do whatever it took to be by his side.
Chapter 3—Defiant for Love
It was a typical day at Sukahara High. Hana's classmates were fawning after her, surrounding her like lost puppies looking for their mother. What she didn't realize was that Deguchi attended the same school but was in different classes. She didn't know this until she bumped into him after lunch. Of course, Hana's fans wanted to know all about the cute young man that was eating lunch before. She didn't want to tell anyone that it was a man that she had recently fallen in love with. This gossip didn't need to be spread all over school. If one syllable got out about this "forbidden romance", her parents would cook her goose.
Hana didn't like to lie, but she had to when it came to Deguchi. However, after classes were over and the day was done she was able to spend time with Eikichi. The two had already become fast friends, but Eikichi couldn't understand why Hana's parents were so strict. Hana sorrowfully explained that she was from a long line of kabuki actors and actresses that were extremely wealthy and that being associated with those who have no social status or "non-conformists". Eikichi didn't mind these stereotypes, since they weren't truthful to begin with. He promised Hana that he would do whatever it took to change her parents' minds about him. At first, Hana wasn't so certain this was such a brilliant idea since her parents loathed him so fiercely. Eikichi didn't care what others thought of him. He knew who he was and no one else could define him. However, he would do anything to prove himself as a worthy friend and companion to Hana.
"I vow to you, Hana. I will do whatever I can within my power to fit in.", Eikichi said, tenderly taking Hana's hands into his.
"Bless your heart, Eikichi. But, why exactly do you want to do this ?", Hana said, questioning Eikichi's sanity a little.
"Because I care about you, Hana. Ever since I met you, I knew you were different than other girls. You are a true woman, a rare find and a precious treasure. I want to hold on to you forever.", Eikichi said, holding her close for the first time. Hana's face grew red at his sudden expression of affection but savored the moment until she departed for the rest of the evening until she saw him again in the late hours of the night.
Chapter 4—Rebel At the Tea Ceremony
Albeit there were many arranged meetings with Chojiro Bando in many romantic locations thanks to the overjoyed parents of both the Bando and Shimura families, Hana was still very much in love with Eikichi. The promise of more wealth in the future, material possessions weren't important to her. Love was the most important concept in the world, and now that she was sharing it with someone, she never wanted it to disappear.
One day, much to Hana's delight and shock, Eikichi appeared at her home and asked to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Harumi and Hanzo laughed aloud at this ludicrous plea, but Eikichi was serious. He had studied the art of tea ceremonies rather extensively and was confident that he would do well. He was even dressed for the part and despite the stoicism in the air, he gave Hana a flirtatious wink and an award-winning smile.
Whatever the outcome was from this solemn ceremony, he would remain laid-back and not allow the stern frowns of Hana's parents unnerve him.
Once the ceremony was under way, Eikichi remained calm as he demonstrated how much culture and refinement he had. At first, Harumi and Hanzo were amazed at how well he did but were ashamed at being so judgmental because of preconceived social stereotypes.
They knew they had to seek forgiveness from Mr. Daiguchi and reconsider the arrangement made with the Bando family. Fortunately, no formal contracts were signed and the hardest part would be letting Chojiro go tactfully and continuing their association with the Bandos as friends with no hard feelings.
Before Eikichi left the Shimura residence, Hanzo and Harumi begged him for his forgiveness. They had been shortsighted and had made poor judgement upon his stellar character. The two had learned that it wasn't the size of one's wallet that made them wealthy but the type of soul that resided within them. It was apparent that Eikichi was a pure spirit.
He thanked Hana's parents for the ceremony and the elegant meal and warned them jokingly that they would be seeing more of him. The two parents didn't mind at all but knew that the excitement was far from over.
Chapter 5—Chojiro's Intentions
The night finally came when Harumi and Hanzo had to speak to Goro and Chi Bando.
The two already knew that Hana wasn't in love with Chojiro. The proof was in her expression and how distant her eyes were during their forced meetings. At first, the two families thought this would be a terrific idea because the Shimuras and the Bandos had been best friends since childhood. However, forcing someone to love someone else for wealth was wrong and petty.
The Bandos and the Shimuras had learned from their past, but Chojiro was a little upset by this. He had loved Hana, but only because she was beautiful and had a cute, round rear.
He stated that other women with more adorable behinds would come and walked out of the room, chuckling to himself.
"Forgive us. Our son can be very direct, and blunt.", Chi said, lowering her head bashfully.
"You're being too kind, dear. He's a letch.", Goro confessed. Chi's cheeks turned pink at this assessment but she knew her husband was correct. Despite their hard work to raise Chojiro as an upstanding young man, he was a lewd, crude jerk with one goal in mind, having a harem of beautiful women at his beck and call. Although Chojiro might not ever see this tainted fantasy come to light, nothing really bugged him. With his power and status, he would always have at least two women at his side, fawning at him every moment.
The Bando family left, and Chojiro had already ridden far away to the local club to enjoy some fresh sake and decadent food. He had left a message on their answering machine that he would return later that night before dinner after he had rented some movies. Despite his relationship with his parents, Chojiro took his words to heart and he always returned at the time he said. Inwardly, he had been injured by the rejection of Hana, but outwardly, he was apathetic about everything that had occurred. From that moment on, he had resumed his title as Chojiro the lady-killer, or Jiro the playah.Epilogue
As time went by, Hana finished all of her schooling and was married to Eikichi. Eikichi had a better job as a salesman and built a new home for himself and his newlywed wife. The Daiguchi family was close with Hana's original family that lived a few thousand miles away.
Despite the distance, they kept in touch through calls and frequent visits. As for Chojiro, he is the portrait of a typical bachelor, but loves every moment of it. He lives far away from his parents on one of the Japanese islands that was underdeveloped. As for the remainder of the Bandos, they kept their friendship with the Shimura family. No matter what had transpired in the past, it was just that…the past. Friendship overcame anything, even hasty decisions.
Before long, Hana had become a mother and had to place her acting career aside to tend to her children, Aysumi and Tachibana. She still acted, but not so much anymore. She and Eikichi were making enough money to support themselves and their lovely children and they had enough money leftover to give to the poor and needy. Hana and Eikichi had even begun a charity fund to help others and made a "Make a Wish" society for children that were doing their best to defeat a terminal illness. With her help, and Eikichi's constant encouragement, many children would be able to live their dreams, even if it was only for a day.
As Hana's children grew older, they were able to visit many of the children who had beaten terminal illnesses and they thanked the Deguchi family one hundred fold. It was touching to see the children they had inspired and the newfound excitement they had in their eyes. Aysumi and Tachibana were already making so many new friends with the "Wish Children" and would keep these friendships long into their adult years and beyond. It had proven something about the Deguchi family. They were most definitely royalty, doing all they could to make everyone feel just the same because all human beings are kings, queens, princes and princesses in their own right.
By: Elizabeth Berndt
August 20, 2004