Hi! Today we'll be visiting Hirata Estate, or, should I say, Hirata Estate on the bank of the Dragonspring River?.. We'll also explore a bit of character art and go through all the Sculptor's Idols and see how they were localized and what interesting bits we can derive from their original names.
Disclaimer #0 — common sense is still everything. Please do not assume that I have access to some secret true knowledge; I'm just entertained by reading Sekiro in Japanese. My lore theories are just theories so treat them accordingly.
Disclaimer #1 —
trust me, I'm a professional if this fact is somehow important - I am a certified linguist. My major is English and Japanese as foreign languages, my minor is intercultural communication. Fun stuff!
Disclaimer #2 — I am not a professional translator, I have never worked in localization. Yes, I will say that something is translated poorly and something is not, and it will be my personal point of view. People have been complaining that I am picking on minor things or have weird opinions when it comes to "better translations". I want to emphasize that it's okay to have those :) Ultimately, my goal is to give you the information so you can see if the localization was good or not, whether something important was lost or not. My opinion is just that and I choose to share it, however odd it might seem.
Disclaimer #3 — I am not an expert on Buddhism or Shintoism, so if I get something wrong in the religious side of things, I'm sorry :D I will leave links to the religious terms that we will undoubtedly encounter so you can read more on your own, if you are interested.
This is a popular question in the comment section. In a nutshell, Japanese kanji usually have two types of readings: on-reading and kun-reading, there might be a number of them in each category. On-readings have carried over from Chinese since kanji were borrowed from there, and kun-readings are native to Japanese. When a kanji stands on its own and is used as a single word, it is read with its kun-reading. When a kanji is used as a part of a multi-kanji word, it is read with its on-reading. It is slightly more complicated, but in broad strokes I think it explains it.
As far as I know, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was localized into English by Mugen Creations.
[:] — colon after a vowel means that it's a long sound;
['] — apostrophe after a vowel or before a vowel (or between two [n]) means that these are two different syllables, not a single long one.
The transcriptions I give do not follow all academic rules, and I don't think it's necessary. They are just here to represent the pronunciation.
For this research I mostly used Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Official Artworks, English wiki and a number of dictionaries.
The first spread in the artbook (and also the first Sculptor's Idol) is called 竜泉川端 平田屋敷 [ryu:sengawabata hirata yashiki] - Dragonspring river bank - Hirata Estate. In the artbook the Estate is not burning yet, just sleeping. For some reason, I've always thought that's how Kuro got here from the Divine Realm - through this river, just like Harunaga was sent downstream in his pot when he was banished and ended up here. I have zero proof of that, obviously, but since I am pretty sure that all Dragon Heirs are born in the Divine Realm and are then sent to the Ashina Lands, that's how I always imagined Kuro getting here.
I don't think we ever talked about Harunaga save for the Carp Nushi quest. In Japanese he is called 壺の貴人・春長 [tsubo no kijin・harunaga]. For once, there aren't any options, really, to reading his name, it's most certainly Harunaga. The word 貴人 [kijin] denotes all nobles in the game, it means "aristocrat" or "person of high rank". A pretty steep social ladder from a crazy bait producer of Mibu Village. 壺 [tsubo] just means "pot", these pots are all over the game, not only in the Fountainhead Palace but also in the White Serpent Shrine, for example.
The next Sculptor's Idol is called 屋敷通り [yashikidoori], the localization is on point, it's "Estate Path". Honestly, it's a little bit hard for me to match the artbook pictures with the game because in the artbook nothing is destroyed and nothing is burning. The upside is that we can see what Hirata Estate really looks like when not being burned and pillaged.
Immediately near the Idol we can see a 番所 [bansho] - a guardhouse marked with the Ashina banners. The ransacked buildings further down the road and to the right are 奉公人の家 [ho:ko:nin no ie] - servant's houses.
This place is called 霊園の守り人の家 [reien no mamorihito no ie] - houses of the people protecting the park cemetary. 霊園 [reien] is quite a poetic word consisting of "spirit" and "park/garden" and can denote a memorial park or a cemetary constructed in the style of a park.
The artbook also depicts a 庭園 [teien] - a garden - but I am not sure where it is in the game. It is a garden with a pond, but the only such garden is the main one, so maybe it didn't make it into the game. A beautiful sight though!
The place where we go through the mikiri tutorial, otherwise known as Shinobi Hunter Enshin of Misen, is called 竹林坂前広場 [chikurinsakamae hiroba] - a square before the bamboo thicket slope. Enshin is depicted in the artbook as the archetypical Shinobi Hunter, his original name is 忍び狩り・弥山院圓真 [shinobikari・misen'in enshin], and, funnily enough, I don't think that "Enshin" is his name, as the English localization makes it appear.
We discussed Misen Temple when we talked about Gokan Sugars that are manufactured there. I voiced a doubt that Misen is actually a temple because the 院 [in] part confused me. Later I got a comment where someone told me that this kanji actually can indicate a temple as a suffix, which prompted me to research in a different direction. Thanks for that comment! I found a bunch of words - some of which I knew, ironically - that have to do with temples and have this kanji in them, like 寺院 [jiin] - Buddhist temple, or 修道院 [shu:do:in] - monastery or abbey, or 別院 [betsuin] - branch temple. So 弥山院 [misen'in] is probably Misen Temple, given that Misen is a real holy mountain in Japan and a place of pilgrimage. But what is "Enshin"?
The clue lies in the kanji, as usual. The first kanji immediately caught my attention because I researched it some time ago, it's 圓 [en], an outdated kanji for 円 [en] - yen, Japanese monetary unit. It also means "circle" and is used now almost exclusively in the names of many Buddhist sects. There are many schools within Buddhism, some of them are exclusive to Japan, and within those schools of Buddhism there are sects, and the temples of those sects are often named with the 圓 [en] kanji. The second kanji, 真 [shin], proves this point since one of its meanings is "Buddhist sect", and it is used, for example, in 真言宗 [shingonshu:] - Shingon Buddhism, one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan.
Let's make a brief acquaintance with Kūkai (空海), a Japanese Buddhist monk who founded Shingon Buddhism. You'll never guess where he was in 806! On Mount Misen :D Even though eventually he chose Mount Kōya as his holy site, Miyajima Tourist Association insists that Kūkai visited Mount Misen in 806.
The shinobi hunter is nameless but his allegiance lies with a Buddhist sect from the temple on Mount Misen, and it all might be a reference to Shingon Buddhism and its founder Kūkai who supposedly visited Mount Misen. Yeah, I didn't expect to uncover something like this either :D
This Idol's original name is 竹林坂 [chikurinsaka] - bamboo thicket or bamboo grove slope. There isn't much concept art in the artbook from this part of the Hirata Estate, but there is still some. For example, when you get the Temple Key from Owl and follow the path through the chasm, you grapple to small Hokora shrines that we discussed in the previous post. These ones are called 鯱飾りの祠 [shachihoko kazari no hokora] - hokora shrines decorated with shachihoko. Shachihoko is a mythical carp with a body of a fish and a head of a tiger that is believed to be able to cause rain to fall, that is why they often adorn temples and castle roofs to protect them from fire. Well, these shachihoko and the shifun dragons from the roofs of the Ashina Castle are certainly struggling with doing their job because both these places end up engulfed in flames.
There are also wave-shaped decorations on the roofs here and those are called 火除け飾り [hiyoke kazari] - protection against fire decorations that replicate the shachihoko in their form.
Turtle is a symbolic animal in Japanese culture, it symbolizes longevity, support and protection, that is why it's been one of the favorite motifs in decorations for centuries. The artbook pictures 亀飾りの金具 [kamekazari no kanagu] - metal fixtures adorned with turtles.
To reach our next Idol let's climb 洞窟の壁 [do:kutsu no kabe] - the cave wall.
As for the Lone Shadow that we meet here after using Owl's omamori bell, it's the same Masanaga the Spear-Leg that appears in the Serpent Shrine of the Ashina Castle after the first invasion, only here he is younger and has a few more tricks up his sleeve. His name, however, is unchanged, we'll cover him in the second Ashina Castle post.
As we emerge from the well, the Idol we touch is 平田屋敷 主殿 [hirata yashiki shuden] - Hirata Estate - Main Building.
The bandits that we fight throughout Hirata Estate are called 野盗 [yato:] - brigand, bandit. Some of them wear a piece of chest armor with the Hirata Sigil crossed out. I wonder if they stole it from the actual Hirata soldiers or these are actually the Hirata soldiers who betrayed the clan.
There is an incredible spread in the artbook depicting the burning garden: 主殿炎上する庭 [shuden enjo:suru niwa] - burning gardens of the main building.
His original name is うわばみの重蔵 [uwabami no ju:zo:], where うわばみ [uwabami] literally means "large snake" but can also refer to a heavy drinker, which is much more fitting in Juuzou's case. He drinks sake while you fight him and drops a bottle afterwards.
You have a chance to fight this giant man twice if you pursue the Purification Ending and return to Hirata Estate through Owl's omamori bell.
Juuzou reminds me of the Headless because of his gianormous size, Wolf is barely up to his hip :D He also wears purple, which is worn by very few characters in Sekiro.
Let's see what the Prayer Necklace has to say about him.
七の念珠 [nana no nenju] - seventh prayer necklace. The localization is correct: Juuzou used to be an exceptional (類まれ [taguimare]) wrestler serving a mighty feudal lord, but he fell from grace indulging in alchohol, and was banished. Thus, he became a bandit and was named Juuzou the Drunkard.
Inside the main building there are a couple of Shinobi Hunters and Inosuke with his mother, we covered them in the Outskirts post. This Idol is called 平田屋敷 渡り廊下 [hirata yashiki watari ro:ka] - Hirata Estate - Passageway. The original name is referring to the roofed corridor that connects the main building and 裏書院 [urashoin] - a study at the back that hides the entrance to the Hidden Temple.
Finally, Hidden Temple! We can't get any Idols until we defeat Lady Butterfly so let's talk a little bit about this place. Why would Hirata Clan hide the Buddhist Temple underneath the heart of their estate? I don't really have an answer, the only thing I can think of is the tension they had with the Ashina Clan. Ashina were considered heretics because they worshipped the Fountainhead waters; Isshin is clearly opposing Buddhism, as he speaks disrespectfully about the business Genichiro conducts with Sempou Temple and he also hunts down temple's agents as Tengu. There isn't a single Buddhist temple, I don't think, in the Ashina Castle or in the vicinity save for the ruins of the Dilapidated Temple far in the Outskirts. They have the Serpent Shrine though.
Hirata probably did not support Ashina in their beliefs and wanted to continue the religious practice of Buddhism but, being the cadet branch of Ashina, they couldn't really do it openly. So they continued the practice in their hidden temple, so that the Ashina clan wouldn't know. It was possibly one of the many points of tension these two clans had.
But then again, the temple doesn't really look like it's been visited much recently; whether burning or not it doesn't look like people come here often if at all, so it's another mystery that I don't really have an answer for.
Back to the temple! It is called 隠し仏殿 [kakushi butsuden] - hidden buddhist temple. The giant Buddha is called exactly that: 大仏 [daibutsu] - large statue of Buddha, traditionally at least 4.8 meters high. In the artbook the temple is depicted without the flames and with a different type of statue (although the one from the game is also depicted on the same page), and the temple looks very solemn, if somewhat abandoned.
Here we fight the one and only まぼろしお蝶 [maboroshi ocho:] - Phantom Lady Butterfly, we talked about her extensively when we discussed Remnants. In the artbook there is an early concept art of her smoking a pipe, her hair is in a ponytail without the binding, and I think her shawl is longer, more like a cloak. The artbook also depicts her long kunai that look so sharp I am not even going to touch their image or I'll get cut by it :D She also wears a lot of purple, which kind of makes sense.
After defeating Lady Butterfly, we can access the Idol - 平田屋敷 隠し仏殿 [hirata yashiki kakushi butsuden] - Hirata Estate - Hidden Buddhist Temple.
It was a brief visit to the Hirata Estate but an interesting one nonetheless. Next up - Abandoned Dungeon, there won't be much idols or concept art to discuss but I think we have a bunch of notes to go through.
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Thank you for your time.