pillars stone

Dungeon Design: Guiding Player Movement Part I

This is a guide to influencing your players to go where you want them to go. It’s like railroading, but more calculated and nearly invisible during a game. Here in Part 1 I am talking about purely visual properties and composition of a dungeon map. Throughout this post I am using a map from a previous dungeon my players went through. For context, it’s an ice cavern made into a lair for a clan of frost giants. Hidden somewhere within is a secret entrance to the lost tomb of a hero, which is their goal to find for this floor. Check out Part II here.


Leading the Players

Leading lines are lines that lead the players from one point of the map to another, much like in the composition of a photo or painting. Use them to less-than-subtly direct players in the direction you wish. Strong leading lines start from a large shape and end at a small shape, subconsciously simulating depth. Imagine someone pointing at a faraway object. You start at the person’s body, then arm, then finger, and finally at the direction they are pointing.

In the above image I’ve drawn out the leading lines. They are formed by the lines denoting elevated areas in the northwest room, the barrels in the northern room, the stone pillars in the eastern room, and miscellaneous objects in the southern room.

The stars on the map indicate the end goals that lead to the next level (there were two possible places in case they found one area before the other). The leading lines try to funnel players towards these goals.

Ways to create leading lines:

Actual lines: walls, barriers, elevation changes (marked by a line), floor tiling, rugs, long tables, etc.

Repeating Pattern: repeated objects that form a sequence can create a leading line.

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“Mom,” Dean gasps, relieved beyond measure. It had been exhausting cutting their way through hoards of demons and angels alike, but they’d finally found her among the wreckage. “You’re ok.”

Sam raised an eyebrow, spattered with black gore. “And in charge, apparently.”

Mary made an embarrassed little gesture, the beret on her head tipping down slightly. “There’s no nationalities here anymore. Just people. All of us, united against this. It’s what I wanted from the beginning.”

Dean nods; he can appreciate the simplicity. “Still, you look like you did pretty well for yourself.”

Mary smiles, small and secret. “Well, I had some help from a friend.” 

She looks over her shoulder. Dean and Sam twist to look as well.

From around a pillar of stone comes a snatch of a coat whipping in the wind, not tan but black, but the eyes are still the same.

Dean’s lips part in surprise. Sam gives an awed smile. “Cas,” he says.

This Castiel joins Mary’s side and sticks his hands into the pocket of his coat. “Hello,” he says, stiffly but almost shyly. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Dean’s heart drops to somewhere around his knees. I’ve heard. Because this is a world where Sam and Dean never existed. Castiel has never met them before.

Castiel looks at him. “You must be Dean,” he says, but it’s wrong. The voice is the same, but the way it says his name isn’t. The tenderness that comes with the sort of friendship they had is totally absent, and it’s so jarring that Dean actually feels like he’s going to cry.

What is it with the revived and his expectations lately?

Dean swallows past the lump in his throat. “Yeah,” he croaks.

It’s been six months since Castiel died in the real world. They threw themselves into finding a way to save the one person they could, and now they have this to deal with.

Or, well, Dean does. Castiel turns to Sam and says, “I hear I’m a ‘hugger’” and Sam swoops him up into an embrace, laughing loudly and slapping him on the back like nothing’s amiss. Like this is a gift.

It’s not. It’s just twisting the knife deeper.

“Dean?” Mary asks him.

He snaps his eyes back to her. He shakes his head and turns on his heel.

He can feel the familiar weight of a pair of eyes boring holes into his back as he walks away.

Ok like, this panel made me think.

So Dio and jojo had a perfectly normal conversation one day about what they would want to be or do in the future and Dio giving his opinion on that and jonathan just accepting Dio’s point of view by saying that it’s just like him, meaning he knows Dio enough to know what he would think. Like you know they didnt fight about it or get angry or such.

Just a normal sibling talk ya know

It feels nice

Bucky x reader 

Notes: angst(ish), PTSD, fluff, service dogs, isolation, masturbation. 

Summary: Bucky’s been going through the motions ever since he got back from his last tour, missing one arm. Then he meets a girl while walking his service-dog Ziva at an ungodly hour. She might be the breath of fresh air he doesn’t know he’s been missing.

A/N: Hi guys! This story is a one shot AU.Hope you enjoy it! x

There’s something -everything- so calming about being outside before the crack of dawn; sure, it’s because Bucky has trouble sleeping and wakes up at four in the morning and is unable to go back to sleep, but, still. It’s like the world is his own for a while. A short while, maybe an hour before the first early birds show their faces, but a while at least. Usually long enough for him to clear his head after another short night of sleep, maybe after being awoken by a nightmare.

Having a reason to go outside, is even better, gives him a sense of purpose; even if his German Shepard, Ziva, usually gives him the stink-eye for waking her so early.

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I know we talk a lot about how soft Cas and Dean would be with each other if they got together and I’m not arguing against that. But think about how much they already act like an old married couple. Both of them are as stubborn as one can be without actually being a stone pillar.

I’m sure that once they’re a couple, you’ll hear doors slamming in the bunker at least once a day and half the time it will be Sam because he can’t stand their bickering about who should be allowed to protect whom on their next hunt.

Dungeon Design: Guiding Player Movement Part II

This time I’m going to go over some factors that guide movement that are less about visual composition and more about content. I am using the same map from Part 1, a map of an icy cavern frost giants are using as a lair. An entrance to a hero’s lost tomb is located within.

Mechanical Design

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The Godbloods' run-in with the Horror Genre

[The party is subjected to a situation in which a creature is lurking around them, stalking them, even harming the familiar of the Half Dragon. They decide to stick together.]

Moments later…

Storyteller: You hear the sound of a tail sweeping against the stone, but looking to your walls or floors you see nothing. Then a drop of something wet hits the ground in an audible plip.

Half Dragon: I raise a pillar of stone to crush it.

Storyteller: [is left fucking shocked at the reaction time]

Storyteller: [Can’t find any possible way it would have survived, so concedes defeat.]

And that is how a party of Godbloods defeated a Xenomorph in a single action.

10

LOTR CHAPTERS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING - Chapter Eight: Fog On The Barrow-Downs

The hobbits sprang to their feet in alarm, and ran to the western rim. They found that they were upon an island in the fog. Even as they looked out in dismay towards the setting sun, it sank before their eyes into a white sea, and a cold grey shadow sprang up in the East behind. The fog rolled up to the walls and rose above them, and as it mounted it bent over their heads until it became a roof: they were shut in a hall of mist whose central pillar was the standing stone.

The Happiest of Accidents (Jared Kleinman x Reader SMUT)

More smut (shocking) so I’m combining 4 and 8 on my queue cause 4 was just Fluffy smut? And 8 actually had a plot.

 Requests by: anon Enjoy! 

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Hades!Harry pt. 1

  A/N: “Could you write about Hades!Harry??xx” I’ve never written anything like this before but i was so excited to step out of my comfort zone. I got a bit carried away so there will be a Part 2. Enjoy!


    Y/n didn’t find herself in scary situations that often. Her days consisted of tending to the crops, making sure her younger siblings are fed three times a day, and treading the two hour journey to the nearest market to sell anything she possibly could for extra cash. Her routine had been this way since her parents were killed out at sea a year ago. That’s all she knows; no major details or even a chance to bid them farewell.  

   They left, one morning, with the intention to trade goods with villagers that resided a couple hundred miles east of the Atlantic. They promised her and her two younger brothers that they would return in a month’s time. Unfortunately, the day after they departed, Y/n received a knock at the door and an unsealed letter with no return address stating that her Mother and Father had died. 

  “Ship caught fire. There were no survivors, sorry for you loss” 

    Y/n had been only seventeen at the time, but her wisdom was well beyond her years. It was that very wisdom that allowed her to take charge of the household and become the new guardian for her brothers. She wouldn’t call the death of her Parents ‘scary’. Incredibly tragic? Yes. But she had been raised to take on challenges when they’re thrown at her.

   The girl always stood by that, even when she found herself being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night by two dark figures. She kicked, flailed and scratched every chance she got. There was no way they would take her without a fight. The brawny black figures had managed to pin her down to the bed and tie her hands behind her back with chains. She blew a stray strand of hair from her face as they picked her up and made their way towards the door. She began to wonder how she had not heard them break the door down. 

 'God I’m so stupid’ she thought to herself, though she knew very well that even if she had heard them break into the cottage, she would’ve ended up in the very same position.

   Just before they carried her passed the boys’ room, she was able to peek in and see that they were staring back at her in sheer terror. Her heart broke. She was helpless and she knew they felt the same. It was obvious that whoever these people were, didn’t take an interest in the children and that was the only bright side she could find in this predicament. They throw her in the back of a horse-pulled carriage, one of the men stayed in the back to make sure she didn’t escape somehow. The floor of the carriage was covered in dirt and hay, the walls of it were just high enough to hide her from anyone passing by.

   The man beside her, who she could now see was wearing all black armor, proceeded to tie a cloth of some sort across her mouth to prevent any screaming. He left her nose exposed, which gave her the idea that they wanted her alive for some reason. 

 Numerous hours later

 The sun began to rise and she regained consciousness. She didn’t remember falling asleep but she couldn’t blame herself, she’s human.  The carriage came to an abrupt halt, which caused her to hit the top of her head on the wooden barrier. “mmh!” She groaned in pain; the man that had sat with her the entire night, flashed her an unapologetic smile. A few seconds later she was being lifted once again and pulled out of the cart. 

  She took this opportunity to look around and try to figure out where the hell they had taken her. It was like nothing she’d ever seen.

 Before her, stood a castle, bathed in charcoal colored bricks and dressed with Gargoyles at the large, Redwood double-doors. Her feet were still bare and she couldn’t help but wince every time she stepped on a pebble. The armor clad men showed no remorse as they pushed and pulled her every which way. The doors opened slowly, almost as if the structure itself had been expecting her.

  Once inside, her feet were brought relief by the cold marble flooring in the corridor; her eyes darting across the room. She spied million dollar paintings, two grand stair cases, and several stone pillars that kept the manor standing. It was hard to miss the other knight-like men who were posted at just about every corner. Without a moment to think she was, yet again, being guided rather roughly to a location that remained unknown to her. She gave up fighting a long time ago, figuring that if she kept her sanity in tact, she may be able to think up a way to save herself or find someone who can.

  They dragged her up the set of stairs to the left, and through a massive hallway. The walls in this particular area were made, not of wood or stone, but of skulls. Hundreds, possibly thousands of skulls, bound together to form a wall. She wondered how they did it, and if those people had been killed for that dumb reason. Y/n couldn’t help but wonder if her head would be an addition to the foyer. After examining the enclosure, she decided to look straight ahead. 

There at the end of the hallway, was another set of cherry colored doors. one door was slightly ajar and it allowed her to peek inside, the same way she did as she passed the room of her brothers not so long ago. She saw what looked to be a bed, a big one; garmented in a duvet the color of blood.

A bedroom?

They dropped her, upon their arrival to the room. They finally removed the chains from her arms as well as the cloth from her mouth. She fell to the floor, her arms covered in bruises and welts. She turned to face the men and opened her mouth to demand answers but was cut off off by the sound of another. A deep, raspy voice; coming from somewhere in the spacious room. 

“So glad you could make it”

She turned back to face the front, eyes locking with a man. He was tall and fit. He was someone she had seen before, she just couldn’t put her finger on where. “do i- hmm” she started but had stop and clear her throat, it had been hours since she had some water. “do i know you?” she asked, sheepishly. Something about his presence intimidated her.

“Yes and no” he smirked. He sauntered over to where she was sitting on the ground, rubbing at her sore arms. He crouched down to her level “you’ve probably seen me in an old carving or something of the sort” he ran his index finger across her jaw. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. 

‘i’m Harry. Although, if we’re being cordial I should give you my real name” he sighed. “Hades, lord of the underworld”. He studied the blank expression she was giving him. 

“I mean I added that bit about the underworld. Has a nice ring to it” he stated She still said nothing. “I’m not fond of it either, that’s why I make people call me Harry” he smiled before standing. She stared up at him, swallowing what moisture she had left in her dry mouth. 

“oooh don’t look at me like that” he chuckled. biting his bottom lip.

She clears her throat again “Why am I here?” her voice is smaller than its ever been. Part of her hoped he didn’t hear, afraid of how he would react. “Well, doll” He breathed. “I’ve been lonely for quite some time now. I used to have a lovely wife but….let’s just say….I let my temper get the best of me one evening” he snickered. She heard the men behind her stifle their laughter as well. 

“Anyways, i want another but I have standards. I’m five thousand years old, i’m not getting any younger and I know what you’re going to say ‘Harry you don’t look a day over twenty-three!’” he shrilled in a high pitched nasally voice. 

“I wasn’t going to say any-”

“Shh! I haven’t finished my monologue” he interjects. She, boldly, rolled her eyes.

“Long story short, you’re a smart, headstrong, young woman. I started watching you after your parents died…sorry about that by the way it wasn’t my intention” he confessed. Her eyes widened but she was frozen in shock by what she  had just heard. She waited for him to explain what he meant by that.

“I had gotten in a fight with Poseidon and it got a little out of hand I really am sorry, darling” his voice was filled with atonement. He looked back to her, searching for any sign of forgiveness. Even though was was the god of all things bad, he still possessed somewhat of a heart. She nodded, sensing a little bit of guilt in his words.

“What i’m trying to say here is, You’re my new Wife!” he declared. 

Masquerade: Side Story - Stay Close To Me

Notes: a side story inspired by an idea that @kantonliu sent me, and I couldn’t resist throwing everything aside to write probably the soppiest??? thing I’ve ever written. Have this as my thanks for everyones amazing support. <3 p.s probably some typos. 
Find the rest of Masquerade here


Sometimes, they picked the worst places to meet.

Now was one of those times.

It wasn’t that this huge open spaced establishment sprawling with chairs and tables set for two was subpar. It wasn’t the ambient night sky of hundreds and hundreds of tiny glowing bulbs suspended at different lengths from the high ceiling like perfect stars in their own universe.

It wasn’t the amazing service and other patrons that kept to themselves in groups of only two, always two. It wasn’t the velvet lined booths at the edges of the room that looked safe enough to keep secrets and smother whispers, it wasn’t the fact that there were no Russians or Japanese in sight.

It was the fact that Yuuri was here alone, waiting with his solitary drink at the bar as usual.

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The Trickle Chamber

** Thank you to @superwholockmtg for pointing out that tiles 5 and 6 of the top row are switched around in the photo! **

Deep underground, our intrepid adventurers explore a network of caverns carved through bedrock by a long forgotten civilisation.
Upon entering one chamber, they see a large stone grid on the floor, roughly twenty feet by ten in size. There are two doors leading into this room: the one they entered through, and another leading out (sealed by a perfectly smooth stone slab).

Upon one square of the grid is a short stone pillar, one foot high. Affixed to the top of this is a shallow, carved stone basin, filled with an ethereal and intangible liquid which glows faintly in the darkness of the cavern. The basin has a hole in one side, and the liquid is trickling out, vanishing as it falls. The source is not depleted.
An adjacent square bears a similar (but empty) basin at ground level, with an inlet on one side which points in the opposite direction to the outlet of the raised basin. Neither basin can be lifted or rotated.

The other thirty squares of the grid are covered with stone tiles. Each of these has a strangely shaped carving: shallow channels which crisscross each tile.

If a character attempts to catch the mysterious liquid in their hands, it feels incredibly heavy but vanishes almost instantly on contact. It is immune to magical interaction.

Inspection of the tiles reveals that they are mounted on an ingenious gear system carved from marble. Each tile can be rotated through 360 degrees, given that all other tiles are currently aligned. They are quite heavy and require a strength score of 12 to move one. Each character can turn one tile per turn as an action.
As soon as a character rotates any of the tiles, a stone door falls into place, blocking the way back out. It is impenetrable and resistant to magic.

From this moment onwards, a swarm of 1d4 carnivorous bats enters the chamber every 24 seconds (4 turns), through a small hole in the lofty stone ceiling.

Once a circuit of channels linking the raised basin to the lower one is completed, the glowing liquid flows along the path, draining from one bowl to the other. When the second bowl is filled, the weight of the magical liquid activates a hidden mechanism, raising the door which leads deeper into the caverns.

anonymous asked:

Hi! How are you? I saw the pictures of your previous trip to Japan. They are awesome. I plan to visit Kyoto this April and I would like to ask which Shinsengumi related places are worth the visit? Are there any places where I can buy Hakuouki related things? Last year I watched the whole Hakuouki anime series (all of the seasons, movies, specials) and I became a fan and I would like to visit the places which were mentioned in the anime. As you were there in April was it crowded? Best wishes, Éva

Thank you! I didn’t post nearly enough of them, honestly, I have so much more to talk about because the whole experience was just… completely surreal, but what is time? 

There are books dedicated to touring Japan to visit significant sites relating to the Shinsengumi, including two Hakuouki ones (one of which JUST came out). Of course, the biggest issue is that this information is all in Japanese and that’s something you’re going to come up against if you want to visit these places. You definitely don’t have to understand Japanese (I’ve heard of people managing) but it honestly helps.

My personal trip started in Tokyo, then we went down to Kyoto, back up North to Aizu-Wakamatsu and then onto Hakodate. We really just focused on many of the big spots but there’s just so much to cover, two weeks was never going to be enough, especially as it was my friend’s first time in Japan too so we had other things to do. 

As to the crowds, being hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season Tokyo and Kyoto were crowded, but I feel like that’s always a thing since it’s Japan, but the more you go off the beaten path, and the Shinsengumi sites kind of are off the beaten path, it’s not so bad. Aizu and Hakodate are definitely not as crowded, especially with foreign tourists. My friend and I were definitely standouts.

As far as being able to buy Hakuouki related goods, if it’s related to the Shinsengumi your chances of finding Hakuouki things to buy is high but it really depends on the location. I had the best luck in Kyoto, Aizu, and Hakodate since… they’re kind of big Shinsengumi hot spots, but we didn’t spend a lot of time in Tokyo for me to really go looking for stuff there. (I will say there is a disappointing lack of stuff in the Animates I went to.) I’ll be going back in April and focusing more on the sites in Tokyo so I’ll have to report back on that.

Here’s some of the major highlights of my trip that might be most worth noting:

**Warning: Long post is long! Click the location names for relevant links!**

Tokyo

Hijikata Toshizou Museum

The Hijikata family residence where Hijikata’s family resided during his lifetime has evolved to include a museum. Since the site is still a private residence, the added on museum is only open during certain days of the year. Typically two Sundays each month. Hino is considered part of greater Tokyo, but it’s quite a hike from the city itself. This is one of those places you have to be prepared to go to and spend a good chunk of your day at. The museum is small and you won’t be there long but it’s a wonderful place to go. The family runs it and is very pleasant to visit with. This is also where you would go to see Hijikata’s beloved sword, Izuminokami Kanesada. 

Sekiden-ji

Being that Hino is Hijikata’s hometown, there’s more than just the museum to visit. Just a few minutes journey from the museum is the Sekiden-ji or Sekiden Temple which is one of at least four places, I believe, with a grave for Hijikata. It’s a temple with a cemetery, containing many members of the Hijikata family, so it’s important to be respectful but it’s easy to find the stone marker and the grave itself is nearby. 

Hino also has a big Shinsengumi festival every year in May. One of these days I’m going to go to it. 

It’s good to wander around the city a bit. There’s so many houses with the Hijikata name plate and it’s clear this town is proud of it’s famous historical figure. I’m looking forward to going back and exploring it more on my own to see what I missed last time.

Itabashi - Kondou Isami’s Grave Marker

Itabashi is where Kondou was executed and after the war was over, Nagakura Shinpachi built the grave to memorialize the commander in 1876. Hijikata’s name is also inscribed on the stone pillar. Nearby is also a grave for Shinpachi as well. It’s a straight shot from Itabashi station so it’s not too difficult to find. The grave honestly is a memorial to the entirety of the Shinsengumi, but being that this is where Kondou was executed, it has special significance for that reason.

Other places to visit in Tokyo, that I intend to visit when I go back this year, include: 

Shieikan dojo - There’s nothing much remaining here beyond a stone marker, but this is the origin of the Shinsengumi and worth visiting.
Ryuugen-ji - Kondou’s body was brought here (sans his head) after his execution and buried. 
Imado Shrine - This site is primarily famous for being the birthplace of the manekineko or ‘lucky cats’ but it’s also significant for being the site of the hospital where Okita Souji was supposed to be recovering from tuberculosis. It’s not his grave or where he actually died though.
Sensou-ji - But his grave is close at the famous Sensou-ji, however, it is only open one day a year.
Chofu/Mitaka City - Birthplace of Kondou Isami and many members of the Shinsengumi. 
Kashio Bridge - Former site of the Battle of Koushuu-Katsunuma, the battle the followed the Battle of Toba-Fushimi and Kondou Isami’s last battle before his execution.

Kyoto

Mibudera / Yagi House

One of the sites of the Shinsengumi’s headquarters, these two places are a must see. The nice thing is that once you find one, the other is right down the same road, practically around the corner. You’ll see big “makoto” banners that signify they’re Shinsengumi sites. The Yagi House does do tours but they will not be in English (hopefully you get the nice man with the strong Kansai accent–he’s super nice). After the tour you get to go to the little shop that’s out in front for some tea and a treat as part of paying for a ticket for the tour. There’s a little garden in Mibudera that you pay 100 yen to get into but that’s where all the statues and memorials are that are the highlight. Including this really neat prayer board:

Nishi Honganji

The second headquarters of the Shinsengumi. It’s HUGE and it’s beautiful. Definitely worth a visit. Seriously, my pictures do not do the size of this place justice. It was immense. No wonder the squad wanted to relocate here. 

Ikeda Inn/Hana no Mai Restaurant

Now the site of the Hana no Mai Ikeda Inn branch but there’s a stone marker outside that states that this is the site where the Ikeda Inn used to stand. You need to make reservations but worth it for a good meal and where I drank my way through the Hakuouki Shinsengumi XD

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle is a good place to visit just because it’s Kyoto and it’s where the Shogun lived when he was being protected by the Shinsengumi. As I recall it’s the site in the Hakuouki game where Kazama and the other demons reveal themselves to Chizuru while the Shinsengumi are guarding the Shogun.

Sanjo Bridge

We weren’t able to make it here, being on a time crunch, but it is near the castle. A site that is also famous to the Shinsengumi and all of Kyoto in general. This is the bridge where the notice was that Sano protected in Hakuouki. It’s also said that there’s a sword wound on one of the pillars on the east side from the Ikeda Inn Incident. 

Shimabara

Our ryokan was here so we got kind of an intimate experience of the area but it’s a nice little area to explore if you have the chance. The infamous red light district, this is where many men, the Shinsengumi included, would go to relax and drink off-duty. The entrance gate is kind of the major tourist attraction but this is where you can find the Sumiya.

Sumiya

This is the ageya famous for being visited frequently by Serizawa Kamo and the location where Hijikata and Kondou got Serizawa drunk before later assassinating him at the Yagi House. It’s also the oldest remaining example of an ageya still in existence. There’s sword marks inside made by Serizawa on the first and second floor. You need to make a reservation to see the second floor but it’s so worth it. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside (which is pretty typical) but there’s one room that is just covered all over with inlaid mother of pearl and it’s just insane. And they still don’t know how they did it! 

You are allowed to take pictures on the first floor and this is supposedly one of the sword marks from Serizawa:

Our ryokan was literally two houses down from this site and when I realized where we were I might have had an emotional freak out… >_>

There’s soooo many places in Kyoto though, one day I hope to go back and find the others that I know we missed. Fun side-story, one of the things one of my friends wanted to do what do some Shinsengumi cosplay, so he found us a shop that did it and on our last day in Kyoto we dressed up and got to visit the Mibudera in our outfits, it was pretty embarrassing but I’m glad we did it XD

Here, have a picture:

Ironically, it was the one day in our stay that it was RAINING LIKE CRAZY -_-

Aizu-Wakamatsu

Tsuruga-jou (Tsuruga Castle) aka Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle

When Saitou talks about defending Aizu, this is the castle at the center of it all. Tsuruga Castle was the home of Lord Matsudaira Katamori, who is the man responsible for sponsoring the Shinsengumi in the first place. He is the man that they feel indebted to and is basically the man they answered to, ultimately, and this is where he and his family resided. And for me, this is where my fascination with this period in history started, so naturally I had to go back. The original castle had been so riddled artillery fire during the Battle of Aizu, that it was demolished by the new government in 1874. The tenshu, the largest tower of the castle, was reconstructed in 1965 and currently houses a museum on the inside. It really is a must-see for anyone interested in the Bakumatsu and the Shinsengumi. 

Iimori-yama (Iimori Hill) / Byakko-tai Memorial

The Byakko-tai was a squadron of young teenage boys from the Aizu domain that fought to defend Tsuruga Castle and the city of Aizu during the Battle of Aizu. They were fighting along with the remnants of the Shinsengumi that stayed behind (such as Saitou), perhaps not directly though under the same banner of Aizu, but tragically, when the boys saw Tsuruga Castle burning they assumed the castle had fallen and each committed ritual suicide on the hill. While the castle would eventually fall, the tragedy is the boys’ death was premature. At the top of a long path of stairs climbing up the side of the hill (mountain? Feels like a mountain lol) is the memorial dedicated to them. This was the site where I really felt my first interest in the Bakumatsu and the Boshin War blossoming, so while not exactly a Shinsengumi site per se, it’s still related history and worth visiting. 

Hakodate

Goryoukaku

The famous site of the last battle of the Boshin War. Goryoukaku fort is where Hijikata retreats with what remains of the pro-Shogunate forces when they flee to Hokkaido, at the time called Ezo. Now the site is a park that is infamous for it’s gorgeous cherry blossoms. I was sad that unfortunately we were there a little too soon for the cherry blossoms but practically all the trees on the site are cherry blossom trees so when they are in full bloom it is quite a site I’m told. 

The Magistrate’s Office (lower picture) was only recently rebuilt as a museum over the site of the original office and is the location of Hijikata and Chizuru’s infamous kiss in Hakuouki ;) Though in reality it is the last stand of Hijikata and his beleaguered men. Walking through it is rather incredible as much detail was put into the restoration and one of the rare sites that lets you take pictures throughout the interior. They had DVDs for sale that went through the details and the lengths that they went through to reconstruct the Magistrate’s Office and it is beyond fascinating, I purchased a copy and hope to be able to share it some day.

Goryoukaku Tower

Not necessarily a Shinsengumi site historically speaking but if you want a nice aerial view of Goryoukaku Fort this is where you want to go. Also, personally, there’s two wonderful Hijikata statues here that are worth seeing, and a whole blow-by-blow of the Battle of Hakodate that’s really neat and that I have pictures of that I hope to share at some point.

Shomyo-ji (Shomyo Temple) / Memorial Monument for Hijikata Toshizou and the Shinsengumi

Here’s a description taken from the sign on site:

“After joining Enomoto’s army, Toshizo Hijikata (deputy leader of Shinsengumi) was killed in the battle of Hakodate. Opinions are divided regarding the exact location of his burial; Ippongi in Wakamatsu-cho, Tsuruoka-cho, or Eikokubashi in Jujigai. A record taken from the Kongoji Temple in Hino, Hijikata’s hometown in present-day suburban Tokyo, only noted that Hijikata’s memorial monument was erected in Shomyoji Temple in Hakodate. The monument did not survive three fires during the Meiji era, and the present monument was erected in 1973 by volunteers. 

Four others names of Shinsengumi members’, whose tombstones in Shomyoji Temple were destroyed during a typhoon in 1953, were also engraved on the monument.”

Monument Marking the Site of Hijikata’s Death

Located in front of a rather normal office building, this was the end of our pilgrimage, which I’m not a religious person necessarily but the weight of standing here and having come so far, I cried. Finding this was a little difficult but we had managed to get lucky and when I explained to our taxi driver why we were there and what we were doing and he literally drove us to our last two destinations pointing out highlights and patiently waiting for us at each site. It’s really cheesy, I know, but coming here was the pinnacle of a long journey and I really hope I can go back again one day to pay my respects again.

This person’s blog has some great suggestions of things to see in Kyoto relating to the Shinsengumi: 

http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2140320228711779601?&page=1

Of course, as I said earlier, the only downside is that none of it is in English, which is going to be the struggle for anyone really wanting an immersive Shinsengumi or Bakumatsu experience. While you can get around not knowing the language I feel like, honestly, there would be a lot lacking. Especially if you try to venture further North to Aizu or Hakodate, Aizu in particular would be tough for non-Japanese speakers. 

There were so many places to see and since I was not on my own there was just not enough time to hit them all, but these were the major stopping points on our tour along the path of the Shinsengumi.