Kou Houju (黄 凤珠 Kō Hōju), more commonly known by the name Kou Kijin (黄 奇人 Kō Kijin), is the Minister of Revenue.
Kijin has a highly unusual appearance. Instead of binding his hair up according to the custom, he leaves his hair loosely flowing and is almost never seen without one of the masks from his wide collection. These masks usually conceal his entire face, although they have a lower panel that can open to uncover his mouth whenever he eats or drinks in public. Many of the masks were made by Kou Reishin, who is one of his few close friends and with whom he often enjoys meaningless arguments.
Although his masks are widely assumed to conceal a deformed or hideous appearance, they serve the opposite function by concealing a face with dazzling beauty that it can drive people insane. The masks also muffle the true sound of his voice, which is as silky and beautiful as his hair.
Personality & CharacteristicsEdit
Almost no one knows his original personal name and he is widely regarded as mysterious and eccentric, mostly because he constantly wears a wide array of unusual masks.
Hōju was a contemporary of Kou Reishin and they became friends through Tei Yuushun during the year they were all studying for the imperial examinations. He grew to value his friends greatly and when Yuushun was appointed a position in the dangerous Sa Province, Hōju persuaded Reishin to remain an official so they would be able to reunite with Yuushun when he returned to the capital.
When he took the imperial examinations as a young man, Hōju's beauty caused the legendary occasion of "The Nightmare Exam" by distracting everyone else in the hall so much that thirty officials had to be sacked. Only two other candidates, Reishin and Yuushun, passed the exams at all; he won third place, receiving the title of Tanka. The event was a source of great consternation for Hōju, who felt his high score was only because his appearance had distracted everyone and prevented them from passing.
During this time, Hōju met Kou Yuri, a woman who was working as a servant for Reishin. Because Yuri was unaffected by his appearance, he became interested in her and invited her for tea. After learning that Yuri felt she had no place to go back to without Reishin, he fell in love with her and offered to marry her and bring her into the Ko clan's protection. However, his proposal was met with an apparent rejection from Yuri stating that she "can't stand beside someone with a face like yours." Unknown to Hōju, the message had actually been sent by Reishin, who also loved Yuri and eventually married her. On Reishin's wedding night, Hoju changed his name to Kijin (which everyone else already called him, as a nickname meaning "weirdo") and began to wear masks, which he has continued to do by official sanction.
During Reishin Kou's trial for malfeasance, Kijin removes his mask in front of the court to confront a corrupt official, who nearly loses his mind as a result; the other officials are warned to look away but some of them forget to plug their ears, causing them to faint or go into hysterics.
Skills & TalentsEdit
In his official capacity, Kijin tends to be very strict, but he is gracious to Shuurei when she begins to work for him. Although she is disguised as a man, he already knows that she is Reishin's niece; though he does not identify her to the rest of his staff. and he comforts her when she is upset by a violent thunderstorm. When she falls ill, he brings flowers to her: tsubaki (camellias) in the novel, orchids in the anime . He also teases Reishin into a rage by claiming he is thinking about marrying her.