It was a dark room. There were no windows, or to be more precise, there were louvers[A], but without glass, opened. Numerous holes were sticking out from the old wall, from which the sunlight came through. There was a stained stove, but in fact, the whole room was dirty.
Possibly, it’s an old house, to the extent that one could hear it almost screaming in various places. The walls were covered with gray spots, which would explain the use of the charcoal. This house does not use gas, but firewood and charcoal to fuel the fire.
Inside the house one could hear the noise of wood being hit, relentlessly reverberating. Someone was making something using a chisel and a wooden hammer. That was bamboo, a nicely cut piece of bamboo, shaved using a chisel and formed into something which resembles a long, thin skewer. The fiber of this unbelievably thin bamboo kept being shaved every time the wooden hammer was used. The piece of bamboo, which drew a perfect circle, changed its figure each time the chisel was inserted in, turning it into a specific object.
The man in charge of the labor was around 170-ish centimeters tall, with a rather tense body. Judging from the look of his arms and shoulders, they’ve been pretty involved, considering the muscles lightly surfacing on them. He is probably in the midst of his 20s and has short black hair with gray pupils. His masculine expression perfectly suited his face. The man seemed to be wearing cotton made clothes which were not bleached. The sewing traces were rough, probably done using a thick needle. Was it because of the low level of technique, or that man’s low income? Anyway, it had to be one of them.
– Eiji-san, it seems to be quite a minor job there, but what are you making?
– I am thinking about the way to reduce your labor, Tanya.
– Yup, it looks pretty harsh on you.
In front of the man whose name goes by Eiji stands a girl. Her name is Tanya and she’s around her 20s.
Her abundant black hair exceeded her shoulder, and her skin was a little tanned, but still one could notice the white spots standing out. Hers are loose one piece clothes. Tanya’s waist area was tightened, and she had a slim waist to the extent that one could feel it could break at any time. In addition, her chest was pretty voluptuous. Her round and big pupils, which are darker than her hair, were what stood out more than anything. Tanya’s lips, which are a tiny bit thick, seemed to represent both the dimension of her feelings, and her gentleness. From Eiji’s point of view it was clear that she’s a real beauty, and perhaps 9 out 10 would share the same thought.
A look so beautiful that one wouldn’t forget for the rest of their life, yet one could see the tiredness on her face which doesn’t seem to disappear. Her cheeks, even though only slightly, looked hollow and her clothes were cobbled together, both of them giving her a shabby impression.
Despite being such a beauty, it’s such a waste, or so thought Eiji. If only she wears neat clothes and eat more properly, that naturally arranged face of hers will surely blossom noticeably.
In Tanya’s hands there is wheat grass, tons of golden colored wheat grass put together which are yet to be threshed.
In his right hand, Eiji holds 2 slender pieces of bamboo material between which he intends to put the wheat, in order to uproot them from their husk. The wheat, gathered in bundles of 10, is laid in a corner in a great amount. It usually takes a whole day to thresh about 100 of them. While doing so, one would keep their posture continuously bent for a long time. Even for a man it was an exhausting labor.
– It is an important job for me who was left by my husband.
– I do think so. That’s why I want to make a tool that will ease your work.
– Eee!? Eiji-san, are you by any chance an engineer or an inventor?
– It’s not something to boast about. I feel humbled.
Cultivating fields, hunting animals, such manual labor is what a man would usually do. As for women, it would be wheel knitting, preparing meals, doing laundry, and taking care of the household. But for a girl whose husband died for unknown reason, threshing wheat would be compulsory. If someone were to finish farm work, there would usually be no time for threshing. In that case, letting a girl doing field work alone would be considered fine. The labor division system is known for having a good reputation, but it can also be used to force one’s responsibilities onto others. The reason why such inequality is allowed is because of the fact that both child bearing and manual labor are considered of high importance for the sake of keeping a village alive. Whatever the reason may be, a girl that doesn’t bear a child would be looked down upon.
Eiji took a glimpse outside the opened window and judged from the position of the sun that it was quite late already. Yet there was still a work to do in the backyard field.
– I still have to increase the number of the teeth, but with the situation right now, I think it’s enough for the job to progress. Please use this.
– And this is..?
– It’s called a senbago (or senbakoki). You put some wheat grass together and pass it into the space between the bamboos’ protrusion. To be honest, I wanted to make it using iron, but for now please bear with the bamboo-made one.
What Eiji put forward was a tool called senbakoki. On top of the desk attached to its legs, there were 10s of bamboo stick protrusions standing in a row, like a comb.
– I’m going to explain you how it works, please look.
– Please go ahead.
– Although saying how it works, it’s pretty easy. You hold on some wheat grass like this, and hook them between the protrusions.
– And here you go.
Eiji held onto 5 wheat grass and placed them on the comb. As he began to extract, just like the droplets, the fruit seeds started to fall, and Tanya opened her eyes widely in amazement.
– T-this is…eee?
– Obviously, it won’t come off with 1 go, so please repeat it several times. Once I manage to increase the number of teeth, it should be more efficient.
– I-incredible! If I can do this much with 1 go, my work will be certainly much easier.
– You’re probably already tired from the working. Please take a rest once you finish this.
– Eiji… thank you.
Tanya’s facial expression was covered with deep impression, as she bowed down. One could tell that her words of gratitude were spoken with a voice shaken. Her tears flew along her cheeks, without any sound.
– Oh my. Suddenly my tears started to flow. This can’t be. I feel myself quite embarrassed.
Eiji didn’t hear it in details, but as far as what he knows women are supposedly married at the age of 15.
During the first night of the marriage, which was already late for Tanya, a war had occurred. Her husband, who had set off, never came back. Since then, she continued as a single woman. Her mind and body should be worn down. Primarily, she should have taken another husband, but because of the village’s low population, things didn’t go smoothly. Perhaps there were different main reasons behind that as well.
Eiji couldn’t understand what Tanya is thinking. Probably, she was able to make a happy memory, but he wouldn’t expect her to shed tears. It doesn’t suit such a pretty girl like her. Tanya, who couldn’t understand herself, the reason behind her tears, wiped them with the back of her hand in embarrassment.
As her voluptuous and big chest’s cleavage stuck out from her chest collar, Eiji quickly averted his eyes. This person sure lets her guard down, which makes him wonder what she thinks of men. While trying to suppress his carnal lust, Eiji moved toward the door.
– I’m going to the backyard for a bit.
– To the field?
As he opened the door, a dry and cold wind blew through. The valley made of soil, the expanding wheat fields, the charming sunset sky, and the smell of the green earth. As far as one’s eyes could reach, there was no sight of construction buildings. This was completely different from the world, remote and far away in which he once lived. The last thing Eiji would remember was a row of multi-layered buildings crowded with people.
So as to stop crying, Tanya went out to the backyard in which there was a small field. Crops like wheat and barley are usually imposed with tax which is collected each time an official visits. Nevertheless, vegetables cultivated in a small field for personal use are free of tax.
This one was probably made with her own effort. However, because her maiden hands lacked in power, the depth of the field wasn’t enough, and therefore, it lacked in fertility. As long as the stones aren’t removed, the field won’t become fertile.
Eiji swung using a wooden hoe covered with a bronze tip.
The introduction of iron in farming tools took place unexpectedly quick. In other words, even though there are iron minerals, people in this period decide to use bronze. In this era, the method of forging steel remains unknown, because of that, the iron quickly becomes rusty, and while being called the evil iron, it is quickly considered of little importance. This is without doubt a prehistoric civilization, or so – thought Eiji.
When one would speak about the perfect opportunity, this would be the right time to do it, or so he thought, while digging up the soil. As Eiji carefully removes the small stones and extracts the weeds, narrow stones and cleaner soil starts to surface.
The weeds are put into a bundle and gathered in a basket. Once the clearing is done, fallen leaves are used to make compost.
The wooden hoe doesn’t seem to be able to break through the hard earth. As Eiji swung each time, a paralyzing stimulus runs through his body, making him sweat.
Eiji had the required engineering skills and the knowledge of forging which he could apply to make farming tools, using iron that are way more efficient than bronze, and then, to make a pickaxe.
The reason why he could use the hoe at the beginning was because of the soil area that was soft. If there’s no pickaxe, clearing the hard part of the land is out of question, therefore it won’t work. Certainly I’ll do it – thought Eiji resolutely, as he finishes the leftover work.
After harvesting the planted beans, Eiji returned to house where Tanya was absent. Perhaps, after she finished threshing, she went out to gather some water, so as to prepare for cooking.
While throwing some firewood into the stove with little fire sparks remaining, Eiji carefully blows the wind through a bamboo pipe. The charcoal, even though there’s only few sparks remaining, continues to slowly burn the firewood. The sound started to generate as the surface of wood kept cracking.
– Oh, you’ve returned. Welcome back.
– I’m back. So you went to gather some water?
– Yes. More importantly, that tool was magnificent.
– Once I finish it, your labor will proceed much faster.
So she remembered – thought Eiji as he smiled back to Tanya who was brimming with excitement. Tanya moves water from the jug to the earthen pot, then sets it on the stove. She puts some beans, an old black pan, and some old bacon into a single pot, while continuing to cook. Finally, having confirmed it’s properly cooked, she turns off the stove.
As expected, firewood and charcoal are indispensable materials, as one cannot use them without end. Therefore, gathering dry and small branches is also a part of villagers’ daily routine.
Both Eiji and Tanya decided to eat their meal, before the sun sets. This was rather a belated second meal, as their stomachs made sounds. The meal was quite modest, if it weren’t for water, their stomachs wouldn’t have been content.
– I wonder if didn’t make too little…
– No, thank you for the meal.
However, one cannot say it was luxurious. Everyone was feeling hungry. What’s more Tanya, who is leading a widow life, couldn’t depend on a man. Because of that, it was much more troublesome for her to prepare a meal.
– Please forgive me, as I wasn’t able to make a proper meal.
– It’s fine. Letting me to eat, that’s alone is enough.
– Please don’t fret, as I’m deeply grateful.
In front of Tanya who was feeling ashamed, Eiji deeply regretted making her become like this. Why am I so powerless – thought Eiji, to the extent that he couldn’t express this feeling of annoyance. Clenching his fist, Eiji swore to make the most of his knowledge, so that none of them would have to starve, nor need to restrain themself, and also because of his personal reason.
– It’s because you rescued me, me who has lost his memories.
Translator and reference notes:
: A traditional threshing machine used by the Japanese. For more details:http://oldphotosjapan.com/photos/244/threshing-rice#.VgvHYMnD-jM
: Meaning that it took place in his world.
: Because some people questioned her chastity, sorry for not specifying this clearly enough. What the author meant was that the war occurred before their first night. And you know it means.
[A]: A louver is a window blind or shutter with horizontal slats that are angled to admit light and air, but to keep out rain, direct sunshine, and noise. The angle of the slats may be adjustable, usually in blinds and windows, or fixed.