New Arc: Eiroku era, proceeding to the capital

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Early January, 1568

Author Note: I plan to make chapters longer from now on… if it’s too difficult to read, I will split it, so please don’t hold back and tell me.

Translator Note: And he doubled the length.
Because of that, we need to split the chapter.

The scenery of a new year for a samurai in the Sengoku era wasn’t that different from a modern person’s.
They went for their first shrine visit with their relatives or companions and celebrated the new year with sake.
If there was something different, it was going to the castle to greet your lord.
And when that was done, going around to greet senior vassals and other vassals was next.

Keiji and Nagayoshi who were at Shizuko’s village were no exception, so they decided to take a short leave and returned home.
For Saizou, instead of heading home, he wished to visit Atago Gongen1 at Atago Shrine instead.
Shizuko, who knew that Saizo had been deeply worshiping Atago Gongen since he was young, accepted this without further inquiry.
So Shizuko gave them some money and food for travel supplies.
She gave them thinking ‘just in case’, but those three were confused by her excessive consideration.
They considered declining it, but in the end, they gratefully accepted it thinking “it is how she is”.

On the other hand, there was not much change for Shizuko compared to last year; she held a new year banquet with the villagers, went to the castle to greet her lord Nobunaga on the second day, and participated in the drinking party held there.
As she kept the “no drinking allowed” order in mind, she didn’t get drunk and shame herself this year.
Unlike the last time, the number of people who talked to her increased, but Shizuko’s name was still a bit obscure among the Oda vassals.
That being said, she herself didn’t intend to spread her name, so she doesn’t have a problem with being obscure.
Her necessary authority and materials were obtained through Aya, so there was no problem in her daily life in the slightest.
After not drinking even a single drop of alcohol at the party, Shizuko felt a little bit lonely when she arrived back at her empty home.

To distract herself from the loneliness, Shizuko recalled various tools and instruments and sketched them on hemp paper.
She drew things from various categories, such as cooking utensils, earth working tools, and measuring tools.

The reason why she was sketching these tools was a bit complicated.
Unlike the first and second years, Shizuko began to have some free time in her life.
And with this leeway from being worked to death, she noticed that she had been too busy to notice several inconveniences.
The most noticeable were daily necessities.
During the Warring States period, the ores were consumed to become weapons, and as such domestic tools were extremely meager.
On top of being brittle, their size was also not uniform.
Even if it was fine for now, it certainly will be a problem after the unification.
Therefore, Shizuko thought that it was necessary to reproduce daily items.
In fact, one of the reasons why she made a stone oven was because she wanted to reproduce a substitute for a microwave oven.

Shizuko sketched as many everyday items as she could remember.
This time, she used the MKS(Meter Kilogram Second) unit for the dimensions.
Properly speaking, by this time she had tried to introduce the MKS unit to Oda territory in unison, but the confusion of craftsmen due to the large-scale standardization was regarded as a problem.
After a discussion, it was settled in the form of a trial introduction in one village.
As Shizuko had been planning to build a new village for some reason, it was a great chance.
She took advantage of that decision and recruited daily goods blacksmiths, weavers, potters–even if earthenware was already circulated–, and woodworkers who can process bamboo and timber.
Her main target was the blacksmiths.
The other craftsmen –although she felt bad saying this– were only a bonus.

Blacksmiths can be roughly divided into two types: swordsmiths who make weapons of war such as matchlocks and the like and toolsmiths who make farming tools.
While swordsmiths were well regarded and kept close by the local lords all over the country, toolsmiths were seen as lower in comparison to them.
Still, later in the Edo era, their position was reversed; the swordsmiths were asking the toolsmiths to teach them their craft in order to live.
However, because now was still the Sengoku era, Shizuko was worried that there may be only a few toolsmiths around.
But it turns out, she was worried for nothing.

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In just two days, all types of job positions were already filled.
It was natural; the current Oda territory was a place overflowing with money and goods.
As it was easier to set up a business or find a job in Oda territory than in other territories, it was easy to get craftsmen and merchants to flock in.
Of course, the opposite also happens, but their number was insignificant.
Therefore, when they heard that the Oda clan was looking for craftsmen, it was no wonder that they came like a flood.
Because there were so many, a screening test had to be conducted to reduce the number, but thanks to that, they were able to secure many skilled craftsmen.
On paper, they were engineers employed by the Oda clan, but in reality, they were employed by Shizuko.

There was a reason why Shizuko took the trouble to employ a group of engineers.
The peasants who inherited the agricultural technology from Shizuko were able to acquire a harvest yield that they had never experienced before.
At first, they were happy, but soon the crazy amount of harvest turned into a big problem.
Namely, that they hadn’t prepared large enough storage facilities.The peasants had obtained way more crops at once than they and their families could use or preserve for worse times.
It was also obvious that they’d get undercut if they tried selling it to merchants.
A more fundamental problem was that selling it without prior permission from Nobunaga would be a violation of their contract.
Doing so in secret would bring down a punishment none of them could gauge.
Troubled by this, the peasants came crying to Shizuko.

But this situation was an issue, even for Shizuko.
Disregarding the comparatively long-lasting grains, the low shelf-life crops such as vegetables could go bad in the few days it would take to obtain permission to sell them.
Yet suddenly slotting all of them for consumption was unreasonable as well.
After mulling it over, Shizuko decided to teach them processing, preservation and storage methods she hadn’t planned to.
As for why she hadn’t planned on doing so, preserved food was something handed down in each family, which gave birth to uniqueness.
And she didn’t want to streamline that away.
On the contrary, Shizuko pushed for each household to keep its own style of seasoning.

Anyway, they built a simple storage facility at a break-neck pace and tried to store the processed crops.
But this time, they ran out of tools for the processing.
This was something Shizuku’s knowledge couldn’t help with, so she had to rely on merchants and Nobunaga to procure them.
In the end, they had to throw away close to a tenth of the vegetables but somehow managed to do all the processing steps.

While the peasants could breathe a sigh of relief, Shizuko still looked unwell.
She had noticed it with this incident.
That she had become convinced that everything would work out if she just relied on Nobunaga.
Deeply regretting this, she was determined to not have this happen again, and saw the need to secure enough tools in the future.
But in the war-torn Sengoku period, craftsmen producing things related to daily life were scarce, so the procurement turned out to be a difficult undertaking.
So Shizuko had an idea.
If these craftsmen are scattered all about, why not gather them and make a village? And why not spread the MKS system while you’re at it?

A prototype2 would be necessary for meter, kilogram, and second.
For the meter, she decided to use the stainless steel and bamboo rulers she had among her possessions from the modern era as prototypes.
Atomic clocks are the best prototype for the second, but in the Sengoku period even observing single atoms was an impossible feat.
In the end, she decided to get people sundials as a daily item so they could develop a sense of time.

The most troublesome was the kilogram prototype.
Furthermore, a prototype of weight would be important to remove deception when it comes to measuring quantity.
While thinking about what to do, Shizuko remembered that there was a kilogram prototype during the Edo period.
As those were meant to be used with a balance, an initial source of the weight scale was necessary.
She wondered whether there was something weighing a single gram.

Something close at hand solved that problem: modern currency.
In Shizuko’s era, a 1-Yen coin weighed 1 gram while a 500-Yen coin weighed 7 grams.
And while that might be off by some milligrams, she didn’t worry about that.
Anyway, with this basic material in hand, she could make gram prototypes based on the 1-Yen coin, and then get enough of them to make a kilogram prototype.
Not to mention the gram prototypes, the kilogram prototype would deviate quite a bit, but she decided to just not worry about that.
Recreating it perfectly would be impossible, and rather than perfecting the system, spreading it among the people was more important right now.

Around the time she had the prototypes duplicated and the people in the technical village had started using the MKS system, a single suspicious man had come to Shizuko’s village.

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The man was suspicious at first glance.

“Hehehe, a wonderful day to you, Shizuko-sama”

The name of the man greeting her while rubbing his hands was Kyujiro.
Despite his appearance, he was one of the merchants who had permission from Nobunaga to enter Shizuko’s village.
With no known last name, this man had been born in Oumi, but became a merchant after coming of age and moved around from place to place.

His real age was in his early twenties, but he looked like he was in his late thirties.
Thanks to his dangerously thinning hair at the crown and the back of his head, his looks were the most conspicuous of all the traveling merchants.
But true to the name of Oumi merchants, his skills as a merchant were number one as well.
In particular, his nose for the “selling point” of goods was good, allowing him to sell products he bought from Nobunaga faster and for higher prices than other merchants.
That astuteness may be one of the reasons why Noubnaga has taken a liking to him.

“What kind of business do you bring today?”

“There is a product I would like you to have a look at… hey.”

Answering Shizuko’s question with a shady grin on his face, Kyujiro called out to the man behind him.
The man gave a short reply before placing the left one of the two wooden boxes he was carrying in front of Shizuko.
He then stepped back behind Kyujiro.
Keiji, as one of her Umamawari, cautiously opened the box.

“What’s this?”

Confirming the content, Keiji let out a confused voice.
And that was no wonder, as the box was filled with only stones of different sizes.
Reacting to Keiji’s outburst, Saizou and Nagayoshi looked into the box as well.
While Saizou tilted his head in confusion at the stone-filled box, Nagayoshi pointed at Kyujiro and shouted.
Even after seeing their reactions, Kyujiro’s expression didn’t change in the slightest from the shady grin.

“Okay, that’s enough everyone.
Could you show it to me as well?”

 

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Saying this, Shizuko pushed the three away to get a look at the box’s contents.
She took one in her hand and looked at it closely and something white spottily mixed in.
There was a completely white stone as well, but it was fairly soft and crumbled.
With what looked more like a mineral than a stone in her hand, Shizuko spoke to Kyujiro.

“Where did you get your hands on this rock?”

“Normally, the source of my products would be a secret, but since it is none other than you, Shizuko-sama, asking this question, I shall answer it.
Those are from around the territories of Uesugi and Yusa.”

“… I see.
I’ll buy these at your desired price.”

Shizuko said while putting the rock back into the box.
Her three companions were surprised by her buying some stones, but chose to remain silent as she had made this decision.

“As expected of you, Shizuko-sama.
It pleases me that you understand what these are.
Well, I only learned that from you as well, so I can’t really be too self-important about it.”

“Well, I think it should be the real deal.
But until I have the results, wait before getting more of it.”

“That’s fine.
He was a foreigner, but I had someone knowledgeable confirm it for me… he seemed certain of it.
Well, I had to pay for that person’s “silence”.
Whoops, I should stop talking about irrelevant things.”

“I see… Aya-chan, would you bring me the money?”

Shizuko understood that the “silence” he spoke of meant “getting him into a silent grave”.
He must have thought that, if this rock was what Shizuko thought it was, having foreigners who knew how to use it dig it up would be a hindrance to his business.

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“(Hey Shizuko, is this rock really something this valuable?)”

A curious Nagayoshi whispered to Shizuko.
The other two seemed to have been curious as well as they listened to their hushed conversation.

“(I’ll tell you later.
First of all, if this rock is what I think it is, we can use it.
He probably factored that I will make something out of this in his calculations.)”

“(… what a sleazebag.
But I understand, I’ll ask about it later.)”

“Did you finish your conversation? Next is this… I’m sure you will like it, Shizuko-sama.”

The instant Nagayoshi moved away from Shizuko, Kyujiro stepped up, called out to her, and signaled the man with him.
He moved the box in front of Shizuko to the side and placed down the other box.  In contrast to the other box, this wooden box was rectangular.
Keiji made Shizuko step back before opening the box with the same caution as he did the one before.
His eyebrows furrowed in confusion this time as well.
Shizuko, who could see the box from behind him, felt her face turn slightly rigid.

“Shizuko-sama, I have brought the money.”

“… Kyujiro-san, I’ll buy this as well.”

Forcefully taking the sturdy wooden box containing gold from Aya, Shizuko placed it in front of him.

“Take as much of it as you want.”

 

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