Sabishii is an important Martian city, home of the planet's most famous university. It is located South of Burroughs, in Tyrrhena Patera, close to Jarry-Desloges Crater (275°, 15°S). Sabishii means "lonely" in Japanese.
Sabishii was founded by a team of 240 Japanese colonists in 2034, just seven years after the First Hundred arrived. Among these issei were Nanao Nakayama, Kenji and Tariki. Unlike the First Hundred, the issei remained a close-knit group and despite massive changes in the Martian political and physical environment they asserted their neutrality and continued building and developing Sabishii throughout their lives. Keeping their ways and clothing (barefoot, long hair, tan jumpers, sumo straps, earrings, necklaces, or beards), they were the old wrinkled Japanese sages of Mars.
They first conducted research on areobotany, radiation-proof clothing, aquifer location and climatology in the equatorial belt.
Unlike other tented cities that were created to develop moholes, Sabishii was already in place when a mohole was dug nearby. The Sabishii issei eventually took over the mohole dig and used the excavated rock as more construction material for the city and also for carving faces or figures or pictographs or Shinto and Zen shrines out of or into large boulders that they placed in the trail that gave access to the city. From these early years, the Sabishiians arranged the rock excavated from the mohole so that it formed snaking low hills and what ultimately became a mound in the shape of a dragon as seen from above.
Soon enough, they started disapproving of the rapid expansion of Burroughs, of the mohole next to them, and the pressure they received from the Japanese government to "find gold" -- resources and profit.
So eventually they secretly dug numerous tunnels and rooms in the rock mounds of the mohole tailings: spaces that could be used as shelters or hiding places. This complex was the Sabishii mound maze. Tunnels that allowed access to the mound maze far from the city were dug.
Capital of the demimonde
During the revolution of 2061, Sabishii declared itself neutral. While the First Hundred fought and parted and died, the Sabishii issei kept the control of their city and were left to their own. They gardened the surrounding terrain with alpine krummholz.
They issei kept good relations with Hiroko Ai and were open to the Martian underground. Their neutrality made Sabishii the center (and inventing place) of the demimonde. The maze was developed so that it could eventually hold as many as 20,000 people for an entire year, and it was open to people who might come from the underground refuges in the South. Sabishii became renowned for its university, the University of Mars, where the issei often taught in classes. Other Sabishiians and Martians and also visitors from Terra would teach. Both natives from the underground and Terran immigrants came to attend courses in Sabishii University; the university was open and no records were kept, students would only have to deal directly with the teacher. The city developed an intense student and night life, with numerous thetres and calypso, steel drum or marimba music groups. Nirgal and Jackie studied there in the 2090s.
The city was fashioned like a Martian Kyoto, with streets, gardens, open pavilions, ponds, cafes and broad streetgrass boulevards. Most of the city had low wooden buildings. The few big buildings were faced with polished stones that contrasted with Mars's red colors: alabaster, jade, malachite, yellow jasper, turquoise, onyx, lapis lazuli.
After traveling by night and hiding by day, the visitors found it a pleasure to walk in the sunlight between low wooden buildings, under plane trees and fire maples, through stone gardens and across wide boulevards of streetgrass, past canals lined by cypress, which occasionally widened into lily-covered ponds, crossed by high arching bridges. They were almost on the equator here, and winter meant nothing; even at aphelion hibiscus and rhododendron were flowering, and pine trees and many varieties of bamboo shot high into the warm breezy air.
In the years leading up to the Second Martian Revolution, Sabishii welcomed refugees from the underground who fled the destruction of their cities in the South by UNTA forces. In ca.2122, Hiroko Ai and her entire Areophany team from Zygote were visiting Sabishii when security troops invaded the city. The takeover was violent and several people were killed. The issei along with many others hid in the caves they had built, but Hiroko and her group went missing. They bodies were never found, nor did they give any signs they had survived either. While some kept believing that Hiroko and her friends had escaped elsewhere, this was a great blow to the morale of the underground. Sabishii was given back to the issei, however it was kept under martial law and troops performed systematic identity checks, essentially shutting down the city from access by the underground.
- Green Mars, p.352
During the independence revolution in 2127, Reds retook Sabishii and occupied it, asking for their demands to be met and telling the people that were still hiding in the mound maze, the previous residents, to go away. The Reds were not able to hold on to the city for long, as a UNTA expeditionary force from Sheffield reached the city and took it back. After resisting with guerrilla fighting, the Reds retrieved to the maze. The UNTA forces, unable to deal with the maze and asked to deal more urgently with Burroughs, set fire to the city and left. The mazes protected the population from the fire, however the city was destroyed. The issei were confident that they would build it again.
After Martian independence
Sabishii was represented at the Pavonis constitutional congress.
In the years that followed, Sabishii was reconstructed; co-ops participated in the effort. The gardening around the city developed. Continuing on the gardening tradition of the issei, many ecopoets settled in the city's outskirts and tended a patch of land, turning Martian soil into fertile ground. For a time, Nirgal was one of them.