Translator : Kenar Editor : Myoe
Arc 1 – Eight Year of Eiroku Era, Fateful Encounter with Lord Nobunaga
Year 1565, Early August
The result of the trial harvest was excellent
Even the villagers, who were frightened at the dish’s appearance at first, were rushing to the dish after knowing its taste. It seemed like a feast to the villagers since sweet corn and pumpkin were vegetables with a sweet taste. However, it wasn’t only a trial harvest this time, but they also had to present this harvest to Nobunaga. It was necessary for them to regain back Nobunaga’s trust by presenting the yield to him ahead of time since they didn’t present enough yield until now.
“Do I have to go to the lord wearing that difficult to move formal dress…”
This time, the presented vegetables to Nobunaga were sweet potato, pumpkin, sweet corn and tomato. Although the sweet potato wasn’t in the time to harvest it but it wouldn’t be bad to let Nobunaga taste it’s trial harvest. So she thought that it was fine to add it to the offering. Unlike the trial harvest, the pumpkin would be sun-dried first and the sweet corn and tomato would be harvested in the morning of that day.
Those vegetables would be placed on a large (hand?)made cart. It would be pulled by a cow originally but they couldn’t lose the only village cow as a cow was a splendid workforce for farming.
“Kanezou-san, Tagosaku-san, thank you”
Shizuko called out to the two person who would pulling out the cart in exchange for the cow. They raised a thumb in reply to Shizuko’s call. The one who taught that hand sign was of course Shizuko but unexpectedly the villagers (especially the men) liked it.
Shizuko walked in the same pace with them as they finished their preparation to pull the cart. For the most part, Mori Yoshinari already conveyed the matter regarding her visit to Nobunaga. However, Shizuko felt considerably afraid because of the answer at that time was “I’m looking forward to it”.
“I want someone to change my place…”
She turned toward Kanezou and Tagosaku while saying so but they splendidly averted their gaze. She looked up to the clear sky after unintentionally sighing.
“It looks like it will be hot again today”
She muttered just a few words when she saw the cloudless blue sky.
It took many hours to enter the castle town, received the permit to enter the castle after explaining things to the castle’s gatekeeper, finished various preparations and changed to formal dress, waiting at the empty audience chamber for about 10 to 20 minutes, and Nobunaga finally appeared.
“I wish to talk about showing the harvest result today”
Shizuko who lowered her head to Nobunaga simply informed so.
“Show me the result. So raise your face”
Shizuko raised her face in response to those words. And she said
“For today’s matter we shall be showing the harvest result, please enjoy the dish made from the harvested crops”
“A dish… you say”
She sent an eye signal to the nearby person to get them to carry the offered crops and a dish made from those crops. Shizuko didn’t miss the moment when Nobunaga reacted slightly at the dish.
（Nobunaga loves rare things. He is a person who has a flexible mindset, enough to understand a globe while being a person of this period. So he will be interested in a never before seen dish… or he should be）
“Let me explain this”
After having lowered her head once again, Shizuko began to talk while touching the harvest piled up in front of her.
“There are three samples for today’s presented harvest. The first one is pumpkin, the second one is corn, and the third one is tomato. The last is sweet potato which is not in harvest time yet but I wish that you do some test sampling so I can add it to the offering”
“How should I say it… this is full of things I have never seen before”
The surrounding war chiefs who saw the offering made a commotion. However, that commotion died quickly when Nobunaga raised a hand.
“You may continue”
“Yes. And then about the dish… first of all, the pumpkin and the deer meat are cooked in miso, the corn is boiled, Onigiri made from sweet potato and miso, and please eat the tomato while only sprinkling it with salt”
“Hou~… this corn you said, is tinged with a color close to glittering gold. But I will eat the pumpkin first”
He took it with chopsticks and put it in his mouth as he said so. Shizuko thought “Is it really fine eating that without doing poison tasting first?” but Nobunaga seemed like he was unconcerned about such a matter. Shizuko waited for Nobunaga’s next words while thinking that perhaps the poison tasting was already done beforehand.
He chewed it normally but that Nobunaga, who suddenly stopped, put down his chopstick. His face seemed slightly surprised. Shizuko, who had somes weat running down her cheek, and the surrounding retainers were naturally flustered.
“Mi-Milord! Don’t tell me! Shizuko-dono poisoned it!”
Hideyoshi, who hurriedly misunderstood that the dish was poisoned, was stopped by someone’s voice right before he grabbed Shizuko. Of course, the owner of that voice was Nobunaga. He looked at Shizuko with a serious expression unlike just now.
“Mi-Milord? That is…?”
“This food, I have never tasted food with this kind of texture until now. And yet, this food’s taste when being chewed is truly nice. It is also able to produce a slight sweet taste. Delicious, truly delicious”
Nobunaga said so while smiling. The retainers, who understood that the poisoning was a misunderstanding, patted their chests out of relief after looking at Nobunaga’s expression.
After that, Nobunaga ate the dish in silence. Nobunaga was said to be indifferent regarding his meal but he ate it because he might be curious about the new food’s taste. Nobunaga turned toward Shizuko after slowly putting down the chopstick.
“It was certainly delicious. And it must be an abundant harvest if you were able to present it with only this much of a portion”
Shizuko patted her chest out of relief at Nobunaga who spoke while smiling.
But that was only for an instant. Nobunaga, who changed his expression quickly, asked Shizuko while glaring at her.
“What is the reason for you not choosing rice? Rice is different than other crops in that rice is an important supply item. You aren’t trying to produce it too looking at your state. Tell me about your reason. Don’t tell me, the reason why you do that is because of this rare food?
In the Sengoku Period, the reason why ther were many wars that broke out in winter was because of farmers finishing the farmwork for producing rice during that time. Since rice was an important supplies for war unlike vegetables. And the means to secure a lot of rice was more important than the war.
“…Let me explain the reason behind this to my esteemed lord and also his retainers”
“I don’t mind. Speak”
Shizuko stared at Nobunaga after lowering her head once and said,
“I consider it is necessary for the sake of my esteemed lord to accomplish the unification and building of a 『rich country, strong army』 nation”
“Did you say rich country, strong army?”
Shizuko gave a small nod at Nobunaga’s word.
“It means improving the economic industry and strengthening the army my esteemed lord”
However, Shizuko continued further, her words after saying the sentence she just said with a bit of stress.
“There is no country that is able to become a 『rich country, strong army』 as far as I know”
Nobunaga’s expression changed for an instant. According to Shizuko’s story, it meant that no daimyo , not even the shogun couldn’t do 『rich country, strong army』 yet depended on the way he interpreted it. In short, Nobunaga was included in that too. Naturally the retainer’s expression also changed but Nobunaga stopped them by hand before they were able to say anything.
“You may continue”
“…Let me explain myself beforehand, I have no plan to make a fool of my esteemed lord, not in the least. But, it doesn’t change that what I just said was true”
“I don’t mind. But, from the way you say it, you have a plan to fulfill that 『rich country, strong army』 thing, right?
Shizuko felt that there would be no mercy if she had no answer judging from the sharp gaze pointed at her by Nobunaga when he asked her the question. A sweat drop unintentionally streamed down her cheek at his vigor but Shizuko braced herself as if she was driving away her fear.
“Within 『rich country, strong army』 is a powerful army which can be realized with doing military system reformation by reinforcing the armaments. However, regarding the rich country… to sum it up, it is necessary to devise a plan to strengthen our national power”
“Today’s presented and eaten crops can be cultivated even in barren land. Furthermore, we can cultivate it with almost no time and effort. In other words, it is possible that it can be cultivated along with the rice”
Cultivating the rice couldn’t be excluded because it was the cornerstone. However, if they cultivated nothing but rice, the farmer would lose their food when there was a bad harvest. Therefore, the crops that could grow even in the barren land became essential.
（Especially, sweet potato’s have a high reproductivity ability, they will grow even in the barren land unless there is a mistake in procedure. Therefore, it is relatively easy to be raised by a beginner. There is a reason that sweet potato’s was cultivated extensively as a measure for famines since the Edo Period）
Moreover, the sweet potato which used by Shizuko wasn’t the hereditary one in these days but the one which had undergone selective breeding from modern science. Sweet potato, pumpkin, tomato, sweet corn and sugarcane were quite resistant toward pest and disease and there was no worry that they would die unless in rare circumstances.
“It is also highly nutritious and will reduce children mortality rate due to malnutrition”
If the children mortality rate declined, it meant that the labour force for farmwork would increase. There was a difference in the basis of a country where a hundred children were born but only half of them were able to grow up to be an adult compared to a country where ninety percent of the children grew up to be an adult. Rice and vegetables would be produced through the farmwork and about the military force of course,
“By using effective methods, the yield will be increased. The commoner’s nutrition will be increased as the consequence. And we can be a rich country by realizing those points. And thus, we can plan for the steadily rising number of children to be used to increase our military force. Thus we able to realize the strong army”
A dry sound from the folding fan resounded across the room the moment she finished saying that.
“Splendid! I never took farmwork into account that far. I can certainly ascertain your ability”
Nobunaga said so as he stood up while pointing the folding fan at Shizuko
Shizuko hurriedly lowered her head because all of the warchief who saw that lowered their head.
“Raise your head, Shizuko”
Nobunaga lightly hit Shizuko, who slowly raised her face, at her forehead with the tip of the folding fan. She, who didn’t know what that meant, couldn’t understand what Nobunaga’s conduct meant at all.
“Your quick-wittedness and your steady spirit to not avert your gaze from me are excellent. Its regrettable that you are a woman”
“Let me declare it once again, you are mine. The only time you may leave me is when you die”
Nobunaga kept talking while floating a thin smile after removing the folding fan from her head.
“The thing you should do for me… do you understand it?”
Shizuko tightened her expression and nodded strongly at those words.
Nobunaga’s words were unlike before which it had the feeling of “I’ll kill you if you betray me” when they first met. She felt that Nobunaga began to think to genuinely use her as his follower. That was why Nobunaga asked her about things she should do.
（Since I can’t go home, I will survive the sengoku period…!）
The things she should do meant that it wouldn’t do for her not to work as Nobunaga’s retainer. She had to survive the sengoku period since she didn’t know how to return to her time. Moreover, there was no lord other than Nobunaga who thought that woman could be used as a retainer in this period. Therefore, it could be said that there was no other options for her about how to work for Nobunaga.
Shizuko, who understood it once again, was a bit eager in her heart.
“Yoshinari! Gather about fifty farmers”
“Shizuko, I’m going to attack Mino. I’ll entrust a new territory to you. Create enough productivity to the point that it can sustain Owari by using the gathered villagers”
As she lowered her head, Shizuko thought about history.
（If I remember rightly, Nobunaga become a daimyo who own two countries, Owari and Mino, two years from now in the tenth year of Eiroku Era (year 1567) …. Since his territory expansion will have a surging wave momentum from there, so until then I have to raise our productivity）
The name Sengoku Period was really fitting in this world where there would be a war between fellow countrymen somewhere. However, there was a lot of soldiers, who went to the war, who were originally farmers that became provincial samurai. And then, the people who were killed in the wars, would be connected as it was to the decline of the rice productivity.
(Ichijouin Kakukei (Ashikaga Yoshiaki) get closer to Nobunaga in July of the eleventh year of Eiroku Era (Year 1568) and Nobunaga starts to proceeding to the capital… that means three years from now huh. Hmm, that means I have to prepare enough of that at the time of invasion of theIse huh)
She had to make enough productivity to the extent that it covered up the portion of the farmers who drafted into the war. Shizuko believed that, that issue was the one that she had to tackle.
(Ah, things that I should do are repeating rotated crops cultivation and two crops a year.. We should avoid immediately doing the paddy field and planting the seeds for rice but we have to reform about how to cultivate the seedbed and doing the rice nursery. We need to get a rotary tiller tool for checkrowing, rotary field weeding machine, to harvest the rice by cutting up the tip, and threshing machine to be used for separating the rice from its husk)
The truth was, she had so many tasks that it could roll her eyes. But more than that, an expectation rose in her heart as she was able to use vast farmlands.
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