by Kevin Tsai
TRENTON, NJ--As a result of the recent horrific attack on hapless civilians by the naked man wielding a samurai sword in the United Kingdom, the New Jersey State Legislature passed a law overnight to control samurai licensing through the Department of Motor Vehicles. All current samurai in the State of New Jersey will be required to apply for a license by the end of the week to avoid a hefty fine of 30 bales of rice.
Governor Christine Todd Whitman applauded what she called "a necessary
step in protecting the innocent from crazed medieval warriors." "The problem is that there are many unqualified, undocumented samurai running around out there," the Governor warned, "some even from fake ryuha which cannot establish the authenticity of their history in Japan." An estimated 3,000 in Trenton alone have never received their densho, and even more have never been photographed with their soke, though nearly everyone has a web site on geocities.com.
"Many of my friends perished while growing up in Palisades Park thanks
to all those unnecessary sieges," Governor Whitman continued, "and I hope
this will finally put a stop to the sort of warfare which reminds me of
the Sengoku Jidai. Boy, what a bad time that was." A loud disturbance from
the crowd of reporters woke the Governor from her traumatic childhood flashback,
at which point, unable to tell Sekigahara from the front steps of the State
Legislature, she jumped up from iai goshi, drew her katana, and shortened
two journalists from the New York Times by the length of a head as she
yelled, "Retreat, Kenshiro! Retreat! All is lost!" The mayor of New York,
Rudy Giulliani, wearing a suit of bright red oyoroi, slightly hunched over
as usual, criticized this legislation as a populist political maneuver
to boost her rating. During the press conference he called
himself "Shin, Master of the North Fist," and he refused to respond to "Mayor Guilliani."
The procedure for licensing a samurai includes a written test and a road test. On the written test the applicant may be asked to compose a waka expressing his makoto juxtaposed with mono no aware in the style of Fujiwara Shunzei. Every test will include a portion on cross-ryuha etiquette. For instance, a question administered this morning asked, "An Ono-ha Itto Ryu samurai travelling at 3 miles an hour with six ashigaru meets a lone Kyo Hachi Ryu yamabushi on horseback. The samurai signals by having an ashigaru light the paper lantern. Who has the right of way?" The answer, "What are you crazy? Get the fuck away from that mythical character!" "This obvious preference for the Shinkoshinku is just intolerable," fumes local Seven Eleven cashier, "but I am not really surprised since New Jersey is where people from New York dump their garbage after all."
The road test includes such common fare as parallel-parking your mount, marching up and down the field with the heroic swagger reminiscent of Toshiro Mifune, and declaring your name, lineage, and combative specialty in a one-to-one conflict as described in the Heike Monogatari. Lastly, every applicant would have to demonstate seppuku, samurai ritual suicide as cannonized in works such as the Chushingura. Accusations that this part of the test was designed to eliminate exponents of certain ryuha opposed to the government were quickly silenced by the seppuku assistant, Itto Ogami. "Emperor Meiji would never do that," he said confidently and calmly, as he removed the blood of the accusers from his blade with a quick chiburi.
In the DMV office in Patterson, a man with top knot was heard grumbling to himself as he stroked his daisho, worn thrust through his Gucci belt, "Twenty years in Japan, and now this... Otake s. will be truly upset!" He refused to remove his kabuto and men gu for identification, and a tense stand-off lasting six hours ensued between him and several policemen armed with jutte. The conflict was resolved when they all decided in exhaustion to go out for beer and doughnuts.
A ninja who identified himself only as "The Shadow of Iga" taunted the long line of frustrated smurai license applicants from the ceiling, "You guys oppressed us for centuries! Now this is what you get for brutally abusing your privilege of wearing the daisho!" Since ninja were not members of the samurai class, as the Bujinkan claims, they were not required to apply for the samurai license. Military historians across the country were outraged by this interpretation which, as a local scholar from Princeton University claimed, "completely disregards the cultural reality of Edo Period espionage, which was performed by members of the samurai class with special training in military intelligence--a term which, now that I think about it, is an oxymoron. Oh, well, I'll let that one pass, then."
TIN DEC 1999