Kinko Ennis was known to be inscrutable.
No one knows exactly how old she was when she went as a maid to work for the Shogun Iemochi and his new wife Princess Kazu, in the Women's Palace of Edo Castle. She was probably about 8 but no one in the village she was born in tracked time. She belonged to the family of a Samuri, and was taught to be impassive and proud of her high birth. No one ever knew what she was thinking.
Most of the women in the Women's Palace were virgins and some who had been born there had never seen a man. They slept only with the Shogun, but were rarely asked. Their greatest wish was to be the Shogun's number one concubine.
Kinko Ennis wasn't happy and was bullied by the women who demanded impossibly high standards. They were jealous of her beauty and her startling green eyes. She dressed as all the ladies did, in the most glorious kimono, tied with elaborate and long obi in the finest silks, painted and embroidered with plants and animals. Her hair was combed continuously strand by strand, and scented with burning incense. She was surrounded by gold and opulence - furniture heavily lacquered and inlaid with ivory and precious jewels, but her greatest love was the ritualized fighting with a halberd, and dagger. But she was very beautiful and very inpenetrable and despatched several rivals when no one was looking.
Of course when combat failed, there was always poison.
Text and images subject to copyright © Annabel Rainbow.