Translator : Kenar Editor : BirbPenguin
Arc 1 – Eight Year of Eiroku Era, Fateful Encounter with Lord Nobunaga
Mid October 1565
There were five large holes and around thirty pots of steamed potatoes were lined up in the shelves inside of them.
There was an abundant harvest for sweet potatoes this year. It clearly declared that they wouldn’t have any trouble regarding food until summer next year even if they used only sweet potatoes. Furthermore, it wasn’t only able to fill one’s stomach but also had a sweet taste. So it was understandable that the villagers got excited. In the first place, any food which tasted sweet was treated as high class food in the Sengoku period.
“Roast~ Roasted potatoes~”
While watching a bowl of roasted potatoes, Shizuko let out a happy sounding mumble. The sweet smell wafted faintly as if provoking her stomach. It was the same with the villagers, they swallowed their saliva when looking at the mountain of roasted sweet potatoes.
“It seems that everyone is already gathered here. Everyone, let’s pick the potatoes-”
With Shizuko’s voice as cue, the villagers as far she could see swarmed the mountain of roasted sweet potatoes. The mountain of sweet potatoes completely disappeared within a minute.
“Village chief, please give us a word or two”
Contrary to her expectations that the villagers would start eating as is, they turned to Shizuko. Although she was thinking that she wanted Ondō, her back jolted from being stared at by thirty people at once.
“Eh~, well, I won’t say long and difficult things”
Shizuko who cleared her throat after saying that was surprisingly in high spirits.
“Everyone, thank you for your hard work. It’s thanks to everyone that we have an abundant harvest of sweet potatoes. Let’s drink and eat to the fullest today! And hope for abundant harvest next year!?”
When Shizuko raised the potato in her hand high in the sky, the villagers raised their potatoes too as if to respond to it. It was surreal in a way but their motivation was more important more than anything. Let’s say that it wasn’t too good to mind every little detail.
Shizuko’s voice was a cue to start the festival.
“Well then, my golden potato-san. What kind of taste do you have~”
Shizuko slowly peeled it’s skin while watching the villagers who ate their potatoes with the skin on get choked up. She felt a cheerful feeling differing from her age every time she saw golden color when she peeled the potato.
“Ohh, it certainly looks delicious”
When she peeled one third of the skin, a voice suddenly came from behind. She turned around in response to the voice but her hand which grasped the potato was strongly pulled before that.
“Uh huh. The moderate sweetness is delicious”
The man who pulled Shizuko’s hand presumptuously bit the sweet potato in her hand. About half of the peeled part of the potato was instantly gone. However she didn’t say any complaints towards that person, on the contrary, she was shocked and frightened to the point of trembling all over.
The person who ate Shizuko’s potato was Oda Nobunaga, her master.
“Dried sweet potato, huh. It’s moderate texture and sweetness is a delicacy”
Nobunaga who ate the served dried potatoes looked at Shizuko’s stunned expression. Shizuko didn’t receive any messages regarding the visit, as expected since it was really a sudden visit.
“Umm, Milord. What kind of business for your visit today?”
“I’m going to use the hot spring before departing to the front(war). And I have a task for you too”
(Departing… ahh, it’s about time to attack Mino)
It was said that Oda Nobunaga became a daimyo who owned two provinces, Owari and Mino, in the tenth year of Eiroku Era (1567). It was written in Nobunaga’s biography named “Shinchō kōki” that he ruled Mino around August. Although the exact time was unknown, it seemed that there was a royal decree from Emperor Ogimachi to Nobunaga contained an order to restoring goryosho(shogunate’s estate) in Mino province on 9 November in the tenth year of the Eiroku Era. With that as a basis, it was good enough to say that Nobunaga ruled Mino by tenth year of Eiroku Era (1567).
Of course, there were various skirmishes before that happened. Shizuko understood that one of these will happen soon.
“…Eh? For me?
She couldn’t understand that there was a task for her regarding the war. Shizuko couldn’t but to tilt her head since she didn’t know what kind of important matter her lord needed her to do.
“Regarding the villagers here and the newly added fifty farmers. They won’t be taken to the battlefield. Instead, you need to use them to reform this place into a great production base”
“After that, I can receive these dried sweet potatoes”
“Yes… that is not a problem. But why are you ordering us to make a production base?”
Although Shizuko did think to increase the production from the very beginning, it wasn’t an order from Nobunaga but simply from her own plan. Therefore it seemed strange to Shizuko that there was suddenly an order from Nobunaga to change this place to a production base.
“…. You, what do you think about this country?”
That was a sudden question to Shizuko. Although Shizuko was ready to answer, Nobunaga wasn’t expecting any answer but he was simply want to say that. That was why, Nobunaga kept talking without caring that Shizuko was ready to answer his question.
“Even now, skirmishes between fellow daimyo keep continue. The country and it’s people are already exhausted. So we have to unify the country soon. Otherwise we will be left behind by Nanban and Ming”
Nobunaga said that after wearing a thinking expression for a brief period.
“Therefore I feel that your talk about [National Prosperity and Defence] is necessary to begin with. It is absolutely impossible without a strong foundation such as unifying this country”
After saying that far, Nobunaga inhaled grandly and then slowly exhaled it out.
“Shizuko, perhaps there won’t be any lords that understand your achievements. However I know your achievements. And the difficulty of carrying out mass production with a small number of people”
“Thank you very much”
“For this reason, I order you to begin mass producing rice. Your role, I will certainly give it to you”
Shizuko deeply lowered her head in response to Nobunaga’s words, who wore a thin smile. Shizuko felt a strange feeling. What Nobunaga said was an order and there was no guarantee that she would receive a reward when she fulfilled her order. However her strange feeling didn’t turn into an unpleasant feeling. Rather it turned into a feeling of wanting to know how far Nobunaga would go.
“Once we unify this country, we will make a country that exceeds even the Ming and the Nanban after that. Then-”
Shizuko knew. She knew that Nobunaga who talked about his dream would never be able to unify the country. About his life would end in the midst of his dream because of rebellion.
Even so, Shizuko still wanted to know. Just how far he would walk his path. Shizuko wanted to know from the bottom of her heart about how Nobunaga went through his life for an instance.
(Not the Nobunaga who was written down in history. What I want to know is the Nobunaga who stands in front of me)
In the end, almost all of the dried potatoes which were made by Shizuko and co were brought back by Nobunaga. But it could be said that it was better than being ordered to go to the battlefield. Normally the harvest would be collected as a tax and the farmers who were able to work were taken to the battlefield.
“Increase the harvest amount in accordance with Shizuko. That is your duty!”
Nobunaga announced the villagers from horseback. Shizuko understood intuitively. Regarding Nobunaga’s intention to strengthen the foundation of his country.
(In several years until reaching the capital phase, do you plan to make a national base exceeding common sense?)
In the Sengoku period, the amount of rice and crop harvest varied depending on the number of farmers and the land. There were no concepts of mass production nor effective farming techniques. The harvested amount couldn’t even reach the lowest amount of harvest in the modern era and it could be said that the amount of harvest was nearly up for the fates to decide.
“Milord, please expect us. Next year from now on, please be surprised at the amount of rice harvest we will bring”
However Shizuko was mistaken. In her head, there was a cultivation technique invented in between Sengoku period and Modern era. By using modern era’s knowledge, the harvested amount was remarkably varied even by using only the cultivation technique.
“Hoho, I’m looking forward to that”
Nobunaga laughed at Shizuko who could look straight into his eyes. Several of the villagers seemed wanting to shriek only from that sight but it was only Shizuko who thinly smiled back to Nobunaga.
It wasn’t like she had absolute confidence. There was no use applying modern era common sense to the Sengoku period. Even though she did bring tools from modern era during the time slip, it wasn’t so almighty that it could clear any problems with it. Since she had to prepare spare tools when they were broken, it couldn’t be readily used until it broke. And yet she smiled.
It was fun. It was so fun that she couldn’t help but to smile. She couldn’t help herself because cultivating the land and producing a large amount of harvest from it was fun for her.
“By fully making use of my knowledge, please look at which country is able to and not able to imitate the same yield as us”
“Such great self-confidence. Then work hard so that you won’t only amount to only a great talker”
“I can’t say that my success this far is mine alone. However, for me, I have people who followed me for nearly six months. And if I join effort with them, I will surely succeed”
Shizuko who said so turned her eyes to the villagers.
She was fully understood that the harvests until now weren’t successes because of her efforts alone. It was precisely because of she got the villager’s cooperation that she succeed in harvesting sweet potatoes and corns.
They were inexperienced people who looked less than 20 years old but they silently followed her. At first they reluctantly went along her because of threats but they were tied with a strong bond now. That was why Shizuko was convinced that she wouldn’t fail next time.
“Haha! I’m looking forward to it, then!”
After saying so, Nobunaga turned his horse neck as if saying that it was the end of their talk. Shizuko who saw that deeply lowered her head and the villagers who saw Shizuko hurriedly lowered their head. Shizuko still lowered her head when she could heard horse’s hoof and she slowly raised her head soon after she couldn’t hear it. Naturally there was no Nobunaga’s figure there.
“*Sigh* I will face all sort of troubles huh”
She didn’t seem like the person just now who brimming with self-confidence when talking to Nobunaga, her voice just now was tinged with a bit of easygoing.
 Part of the Japanese Obon celebration involves participating in the local community dance. The tradition of the Bon dance, or Bon odori (盆踊り), dates back a few hundred years, and it is usually accompanied by the local tune. In recent times, new music has been used for Bon dance accompaniment, including late enka hits and music written specifically for bon dancing. The “ondo” rhythm has always been common in Japanese folk music, but even the newer music written for Bon dances has been written in this style.