I'll refer to that friend here as K. K and I were close from childhood. Being close from childhood, it goes without saying that we share the same hometown roots. K was the son of a Shinshū priest. He was not the eldest son, though, but the second. That being the case, he was sent to the house of a certain physician as an adopted son. The Honganji sect held great influence in my home region, and a Shinshū priest could live in relative comfort. As an example, if a priest had a daughter, and that daughter came of marriageable age, the parishioners would get together and find a suitable household into which she could marry. The expenses involved, of course, would not be borne by the priest. For such reasons, temple finances were generally in good order.
K's household was well enough off. However, I don't know that they could have sent a second son to Tōkyō for schooling. I also don't know what role educational opportunities played in deciding K's adoption. At any rate, K was adopted into the physician's household. This was when we were still in middle school. I remember my surprise when the teacher called roll in class and K's family name had suddenly changed.
K's adoptive father was a wealthy man. K was provided with educational funding and came to Tōkyō. We didn't come to Tōkyō together, but after arriving we both took up lodgings in the same place. At that time, it was not uncommon to sleep and study two or three to a room. K and I took a room together. Like a couple of animals captured from the hillside and caged, we embraced each other within our confines and viewed the surroundings outside with suspicion. We were wary of Tōkyō and its people. Even so, from our six-mat room we talked about ruling the world.
We were quite serious. We had every intent of achieving greatness. K was especially driven. The word "devotion," harkening back to his temple upbringing, was constantly on his lips. And in all his deeds and actions, it seemed to me, devotion was duly embodied. Inwardly, I always held him in highest esteem.