Arc 2: Ninth Year of Eiroku Era, Owari Province Agricultural Reform

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Early December, 1566

Reacting to the voice, Shizuko turned around to find a boy of around 10 years of age.

He had a refined appearance, but rather than this being by his will, it looked more like someone had taken care of it instead.

“What is it? Is there something stuck to my face?”

As the boy was inside the castle walls, Shizuko thought that he must be the son of a warrior.

And judging from the fact that he had no sword at his waist, she deduced that he had to be younger than 12 years of age.

In the Edo period, the sword was seen as the symbol of a Samurai, but in earlier times, it was a sign of adulthood.

Even a peasant, upon coming of age, would hang a Wakizashi on his waist, change his name, and adopt an adult hairstyle.

In short, a boy not carrying a sword meant that he has not yet had his coming of age ceremony.

It could be held earlier depending on circumstances, but the coming of age ceremony was usually done between ages 12 and 16 with latest cases being at age 20.

Therefore, Shizuko had judged the boy to be younger than 12 years of age.

“No, it is nothing.”

“I see.
By the way, you, what have you been writing on the ground? I have watched for a little, but to me those writings just look like chicken-scratches.”

“Ahh… I have only been writing done some formulas.
Umm… in a Namban way.”

“Interesting! So arithmetic is performed in such a way in Namban.
Hmm… the more I look at it, the stranger the shapes appear.”

The boy had been surprised by Shizuko’s words, but then proceeded to push her out of the way to crouch next to the formulas.

Mentally commenting on the forceful behavior, Shizuko was aware of their difference in standing and slightly stepped back.

For a while, the boy admired, was surprised by, and nodded in agreement with the formulas written in the dirt.

He probably didn’t understand anything, but was filled with curiosity about the exotic formulas.

Watching this play by, a small smile, unbeknownst to herself, made its way onto Shizuko’s face.

“So this is how they do arithmetic in Namban.
Fine… woman, is there anything else?”

“Huh? Haa… I guess there might be something, but what…?”

“Anything is fine.
I know! Something relating to war would be great.
I can boast about it to father!”

Confronted with this request, Shizuko was slightly troubled.
There was nothing concerning war she could come up with at the top of her head.

But there was one thing that would fit the boy’s criteria.

“……it might not be from Namban, but from China… from Ming.
There is a book on the art of war that has been passed down from antiquity.”

“A book on the art of war?”

Nodding, Shizuko uttered it.
The name of the book on war containing unshakeable strategies that have held true across eras and cultures.

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“The name of that book is ‘Sun Tzu’s Art of War’.”

Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
A book on military strategy said to have been made by the thinker Sun Wu1.

Several millennia might have passed since its writing, but is still considered to be the best book on strategy.

Of course, there are similar books from the Occident too.

Examples would be Carl von Clausewitz’s “On War” or Antoine-Henri Jomini’s “Summary of the Art of War”.

From a latter era, but standing next to Clausewitz’s “On War” is a 20th century masterpiece on war and strategy titled “Strategy” by Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart.

“There are a total of seven great books on the art of war in Ming, collectively called the Seven Military Classics.
What I am talking about is the most famous of these seven.”

“Fascinating”

“‘Sun Tzu‘s Art of War’, ‘Wu Qi’s Wuzi’, ‘Wei Liaozi’, ‘Jiang Ziya’s Six Secret Teachings’, ‘Three Strategies of Huang Shigong’, ‘The Methods of the Sima’, ‘Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong’ are their names—”

“Enough about that.
Hurry up and tell me about this Art of War.”

“(Damn, I couldn’t distract him…) Now then, let me quote famous words from the Art of War.”

Despite proclaiming to be knowledgeable, Shizuko actually knew very little about it.

Initially, she had only lightly read it after her sister had asked Shizuko to buy it for her.
It is stored inside her smartphone as an ebook, but she didn’t go out of her way to read it.

“(You never know what might become useful later in life)… ‘Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.’, ‘Logistics are the life line’2, ‘The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.’”

“Hmm, mhhh….
Quite difficult, no, quite good words!”

The boy nodded with a strangely cramped smile on his face.

No matter how you looked at it, he hadn’t understood the words’ meaning, but neither had Shizuko really done so herself, so she wanted the topic to end there.

But her wishes easily crumbled to dust.

“So, what do these words mean?”

“….‘Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.’.
If you know your own condition and that of your enemy, you will not get into a difficult situation even once in hundreds of battles.”

From the depths of her memory she pulled up a book explaining Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

But since she had only read it out of interest for the impact it had had on other historic individuals she didn’t want the boy to dig too deep.

Therefore, before he could think about it and ask questions, she continued on to the next explanation.

“‘The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.’ Fighting hundred battles and winning them is not the best strategy.
Breaking your enemy’s will to fight without a single battle is.”

“I don’t quite understand.”

“Simply speaking, taking the enemy country while having all your soldiers left is the best result.
If you have 40,000 and the other side has 30,000 men.
Rather than wasting them in a battle against the other side to take the country, wouldn’t it be better for the future if these 40,000 men remained ready to use? That’s what is meant.”

While saying this, Shizuko wrote Kanji numerals in the dirt.

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“For example, if you win without fighting and can just take in the entire enemy army, you would suddenly have 70.000 men.
If you fight and win after both sides lost half their men, you would only have 35.000 men left.
There might be matters of military achievements to consider, but wouldn’t avoiding an unnecessary battle while at the same time retaining all your men be better?”

“Urgh… t-that is true….”

“Of course, there are times when fighting is necessary.
So until that time comes, you should conserve your troops as well as possible, and when the decisive moment comes deploy their full strength, which will reduce the losses significantly.
And that is where the last quote, ‘Logistics are the life line’ comes into play.”

Drawing a rough map into the dirt, Shizuko continues her explanation.

“Let us say your country has enough rations for 50.000 soldiers, and the enemy has enough for 40.000.
If you want to move that many of your rations into enemy territory, it will turn into a great expense.
Then how about acquiring the supplies from the invaded land? And that is exactly why generals should try to procure as much food as possible from the enemy territory.”

“……Hm, mhhh….for Namban and Ming to have thought about war this deeply.”

Having finally understood it, the boy nodded in admiration.

To him it was an unusual way of thinking, but as he was still a boy, he thankfully didn’t reject the idea out of hand.

And since the boy was not a military commander, some of Shizuko’s words might not even have sunken in.

“It was a fairly interesting conversation.
As I have to return now, I am vexed that I can not inquire any further.”

“Is that so.
Then please keep any further questions until the next time we meet.”

In her thoughts she sincerely wished for that next time to never come to pass, but she couldn’t speak such words out loud.

After all, while she didn’t know his identity, Shizuko knew him to be the son of a warrior, so needlessly upsetting the boy was a bad idea.

It was easier to just split true thoughts from facade, and stick to an inoffensive choice of words.

“Great! By the way, what is your name?”

“…….my name is Shizuko.
Um, would you also give me your name——”

“Fine, Shizuko, I have remembered your name.
I hope our next meeting will be soon.
Well then, farewell!”

Shizuko had wanted to know his name, but before she could get an answer the boy had run off.

Just as suddenly as he had appeared, the boy vanished from her sight.

“……let’s go home.”

Muttered Shizuko after taking down the hand that had only grasped air.

On the other side, the boy was happily humming to himself.

A voice called out to the boy who was happy enough to almost begin skipping.

“What’s up Kimyoumaru, you seem to be having a lot of fun.”

In mid December, when the cold was starting to seep into her house, a certain facility in it had finally been completed.

“Tadaa, an Irori (hearth).”

“You seem amused, Shizuko-sama.”

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That facility was a Irori.
A type of indoors fireplace that can be used permanently and is mainly used for heating and cooking.

In the past they were also called Hitaki or Jikaro, and are something that every traditional Japanese house has.

Irori are used for a wide variety of purposes such as heating, cooking, providing light, drying clothes and wood, improving the durability of the building with wooden tar, and providing a place for communication with the family.

‘It has so many useful functions!’, Shizuko’s enthusiasm failed to infect Aya, leading to her dull reaction.

“Boo, that reaction is too dull.
But with this, we’ll finally be able to stave of the winter cold.”

The house itself had been built quickly, but there hadn’t been enough materials for the Irori, so its completion had taken more time.

This matter had caused Nobunaga to scold those involved in the construction several times.

“Rather than that, Shizuko-sama, what is that there?”

More so than the Irori, something else had garnered her interest, which she now asked Shizuko about while pointing at it.

It was an oblong, tatami-chair3 like object made of wood.

It was long enough for Shizuko to lay down on it with place to spare, and would be half empty if Aya were to do so.

But Aya wasn’t used to tatami-chairs, or rather, she couldn’t see how it could be useful in the first place.

“That’s a tatami-chair.
It has a back, so it’s pretty comfortable.”

“Tatami-chair…?”

“Ahh… something like a Shougi? But this is made to sit leaning onto the backrest, so I guess it’s a little bit different.”

The simple, movable seats used in shrines or during weddings were called Shougi.

They were made of two legs crossed in an X-shape with a piece of hide or cloth connecting the tops forming the seating area.
For transportation, the legs are folded together.

As chairs only came to Japan in the Meiji era, this type of seat was still widely used until the early modern times.

Even in the modern era, although rare, they can still be seen in use.

It is possible for a backrest and footrest to be attached, but normally only a plank was attached as a footrest.

The reason for this was that in case of an attack from behind, a seat with backrest requires an additional movement compared to a seat without.

Although this might only be a slight difference, this could be the deciding factor between life and death, so basically no one attached a backrest.

“When you lay down on it like this, it’s a simple place to sleep on! Ahh… how comfortable.”

Using the tatami-chair as a simple sleeping place, she rested her head on a cushion, nay, pillow made from precious cloth.

It is filled with chicken feathers, so it isn’t as comfortable as a cotton filled pillow, but for the Sengoku period it was a luxury item nonetheless.

“Is that so… wait, don’t sleep in a place like this.
Properly sleep in your… Ahh, really! You are drooling!”

Thanks to the warmth of the Irori, the sleeping place in form of the tatami-chair, and the comfortable fluffiness of the pillow, Shizuko fell asleep easily.

Shizuko was in the land of dreams until Aya put the ultimate brute move of kicking her off the tatami-chair to use.

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After the Irori had been completed, Shizuko had started working centered around that room.

If there was nothing special to do, she would spend her day basking in its warmth.

Necessarily, Aya also started operating centered around the Irori, causing both of them to shut themselves in that room more often.

But it wasn’t only the two of them withdrawing into their house, with everyone around acting similarly.

The villagers, who were usually active from sunrise till sunset, in winter would only be active from just before noon to an hour before sunset.

The women who did household chores were up and about a little earlier, but they also now did their laundry with lukewarm water from the hot springs, and made more simpler food such as soups that would warm up the body.

The men behaved similarly, trying to avoid cold water as much as possible and taking baths in the hot spring after farm work to warm their bodies up.

While the villagers were taking measures against the cold as well as they could, Shizuko wondered whether there was something else they could do.

When placed in a cold environment, the human body tries to preserve its temperature by contracting the peripheral blood vessels and shivering.

Concomitant to this, muscle movement becomes more sluggish, hampering manual labor.
This, combined with the cold induced stress, becomes a burden to both body and mind.

Wanting to alleviate these as much as possible, Shizuko came up with “stretching after warm baths” and “radio calisthenics”.

Stretching after a long bath stretches the muscles, making your body more flexible as well as causing a relaxing effect via the parasympathetic nerve system.

Especially increasing the body’s flexibility helps avoiding jerky movements, which in turn helps preventing hip pain or coldness due to poor blood circulation.

Radio calisthenics can improve the blood circulation to the brain, activating the nerves, waking up the sleepy head.

Furthermore, it contains 13 different movements in just 3 minutes and 10 seconds, stimulating more than 400 different muscles.

It combines elements of aerobic exercises, muscle training, stretching, and balance exercises, effectively moving both muscles and joints.

Continuing on, radio calisthenics is thought through in every aspect as it helps with building up skeletal muscle, which is important for generating body heat and maintaining your posture, improving blood circulation, and increasing metabolism rate.

She spread these two things to the villagers, but as always, the villagers were skeptical at first.

But after continuing both for around 1 to 2 weeks, effects started to show, causing other villagers to imitate it.
By now, all villagers do radio calisthenics in the mornings and stretch after baths in the evening.

“…there we go.
Hm, I’m starting to be able to turn around quite far.
But this spreading feeling of warmth is really great–”

“I can bend a lot further than you.
Because of this, I can sleep soundly at night.”

“Hey.
Can someone please push my back–”

With happy voices resounding from everywhere, Shizuko’s village was enveloped in a time of serenity one wouldn’t expect from the Sengoku era.

All of the villagers thought, no, prayed would be more accurate.

That this time would last forever.

 

Manshiro: Quoting wikipedia here: “His birth name was Sun Wu and he was known outside of his family by his courtesy name Changqing.
The name Sun Tzu by which he is best known in the Western World is an honorific which means ‘Master Sun’.
Manshiro: This is a literal translation, the quote itself is: “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” Manshiro: Tatami-chair means something like this: https://img.alicdn.com/imgextra/i2/183073316/TB2KHiybSBjpuFjSsplXXa5MVXa_!!183073316.jpg

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