NIW Chapter 9: The objective is to encourage commerce Part 2

The time of the Ram. In my previous life, this meant between 12 and 2 P.M. Five men came in a hurry to the meeting I planned while lowering their heads. This included three famous generals who were the pride of the Azai Clan, also referred to as the Kaiakagame1: Tsunachika Kaiho, Kiyotsuna Akao, and Kiyosada Amenomori , accompanied by Sukechika Azai and the last person was Masamoto Azai.

This meeting is not a formal one but one I called out for personally. Starting with the council next month, in order for arguments and resolutions to flow more smoothly, I thought it was better to interview them individually in order to express my personal thoughts and speak to them in advance. Oichi was silently sitting behind me, firmly watching the scene unfold.

“You lot, you did well in coming here.”

“Yeah.”

I started off with calling to them in a grateful voice, making them lift up their faces.

“The reason I called you all here is none other than to discuss the advancement of the “Goals for the Country” plan that I previously mentioned.”

“Is that so…”

Kiyosada nodded. For him who also plays a huge role in the internal administration, he is probably the person who pays the most interest in this plan. The reason I called out the ones who are in charge of our armies; Tsunachika and Kiyotsuna was merely to prevent future rumors.

“Nagamasa-sama is trying to tear Amenomori-dono away from the Kaiakagame.” If a rumor like that were to spread, it might cause a divide inside the Azai Clan. Although it wouldn’t be that big of an issue if rumors like that were to spread between the different levels of vassals since Endo Naotsune could easily iron it out. However, with the current faction struggle inside the Azai Clan it’s better to prevent the scattering of such seeds of discord.

“First of all, if we look at the troubling points inside our domains, the first thing that comes to mind is that we are not taking full advantage of our geographical supremacy of some important transportation points.”

Tsunachika silently nodded to this statement. For someone in charge of military affairs like him, a problem in transportation also affects supply trains for battle, which greatly concern him.

“Therefore, the most important objective of those of us stationed here at Omi is the administration and maintenance of our many main roads that make up our highway. But that would take an unusual quantity of gold…”

“Certainly, the maintenance of our main roads would make the deployment of our troops much faster as well, but on the other hand this would also mean that it would be easier for our enemies to attack us.”

Kiyotsuna said so while crossing his arms.

“While the current dispute with the Rokkaku Clan continues, doing maintenance on the main roads could be very perilous.”

“But it is possible to use the roads that go along Odani and Sawayama, right?”

The lands compromised from Odani Castle in the northern part of Omi all the way down to Sawayama Castle in the southern part of Omi are all under the influence of the Azai Clan, and the many citizens that it holds have all pledged their obedience. In the Sengoku Era, the public order is generally safe, and the possibility of being attacked by enemies in the middle of paving a new road is slim.

“However, older brother… I deeply apologize but as you know the Azai Clan might not be in dire straights concerning money, but we can’t be called rich either. To handle the maintenance of the roads leading from Honjo to Sawayama, even though I’m not sure what it will cost… The reality will be that we won’t be able to afford it.”

My younger brother, Masamoto, said so in an apologetic voice. The reason I called for Masamoto is that he is the one who single-handedly supervises the financials of Odani Castle, making him a superior financial bureaucrat that can easily summarize whether my plans are executable or not. No matter what era, if there’s no money, there’s no way to act.

“That is correct indeed… And it is for that very reason that we need to raise our funds to shoulder those costs…”

“Hmmm.”

The five men all crossed their arms and started pondering about what was said. That being said, you would think that Daimyo’s have easy ways to make money, but in reality, it’s quite hard.

For a Daimyo to attain some quick funds, all they would have to do is tax the farmers by taking some of their grains and exchange it for gold. However, by doing so, we could be incurring the resentment of the farmers, and there is a possibility of a large-scale riot breaking out. Leaders come in many different patterns from warriors to monks, however, in reality, the ones who make up the biggest numbers are the farmers.

If a riot does break out, the feudal lord will have no option but to suppress it by mobilizing its troops. But this would mean that the soldiers will undoubtedly kill farmers who are the main producers of those grains, which in turn would mean that we have less grain coming in on the following years. If we lose our loyalty, our agricultural community will decline. If we lose our farmers, our fields will decline. Even if we were to recover from this situation, it would take years of strenuous effort to return it to its previous glory.

In short, if a riot does break out, the ruling side will always come out in an unfavorable position. For that reason, introducing a new tax to fill the cost needed to maintain our main roads is too risky of a plan.

Since taxes are not an option, the only option left would be for the Azai Clan to use the income from its own territory minus the expenditures that we spend on our soldiers and administration and use whatever is left to pay for the roads ourselves… However, as Masamoto explained earlier, finances of the Azai Clan are currently quite grave. We simply do not have the money to buy gravel for the pavement operations or to pay the laborers to maintain the roads.

However, if we are able to prepare an infrastructure road system like the ones of the Edo Period, the masses would be able to travel around easier. Wishing to live in a place that’s comfortable and cozy is something most humans would want. Thus the maintenance of the roads is a very important enterprise to plunder the masses from the other territories and draw them into the domain of the Azai Clan.

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“That’s why we need to build up an industry and raise our income. As a simple measure to do that, I propose using hot springs and building a hot spring health resort business.”

“Hot springs… you say?”

Sukechika asked so with a blank face.

“That’s right. Surely you know that here in northern Omi there are many sources of hot water, right? In fact, there seems to be one at the foot of this Odani mountain.”

The men nodded at this statement.

“However, that hot spring is in a rough state right now. It’s currently just a fountain coming from the depths of the earth creating a basin where people can soak a little.”

I continued after a short pause.

“In order to prepare a section to hold the hot water, we’ll build a bathhouse. It will be managed by the people of the Azai Clan. You can ask 1 mon2 per visitor and children will be allowed to enter for free.”

“I see… I think it’s a good idea. That being said, as Masamoto stated previously we are financially restricted, so wouldn’t building a bathhouse in northern Omi be equally challenging?”

Tsunachika asked with a calm voice. However, I had already made plans regarding this.

“Before building the bathhouse, we’ll publish an official notice. At the time of the construction, we will be accepting donations. And then regarding the people who contributed to the cause, they will have their names engraved on the walls as collaborators. Below my name of course.”

“I see… Having their name engraved along Nagamasa-sama’s would be a great honor for the townspeople and farmers. If that’s the case, it should attract donations.”

Tsunachika nodded.

“Once the bathing facilities are prepared, we’ll take money from the people using them… Yes, I haven’t thought about that option before.”

“For the time being, let’s assume we’ll get an income out of the bathing facilities. There won’t be many who use them but as the saying goes many a little makes a mickle. With the passing of many years, it should build up a good sum.”

“I see, so that’s what it’s all about!”

Kiyosada slapped his knees in sight of approval.

“Nagamasa-sama doesn’t intend to use the obtained funds for the maintenance of the roads, but is planning on using it on another project, right?”

“That is correct.”

I nodded to Kiyosada.

“I intend to build a workshop for cotton, silk, and soap here in northern Omi.”

“Nagamasa-sama, the silk should be doable, but cotton could be somewhat difficult.”

Sukechika continued.

“Currently, the only people in the entire country who know the process for making cotton are people in the Mikawa province living near the ocean, in other words only people living in the Tokugawa domains. And I don’t expect the Tokugawa’s to hand over that process to us.”

“Hmm…”

I took that comment very seriously. Because perhaps the head of the Tokugawa Clan, Ieyasu Tokugawa and I will have to negotiate directly. There is no doubt that they will demand something of equal value.

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“What do you intend to do about the sericulture3 industry?”

Kiyosada asked me.

“Until now this land of northern Omi has not been prosperous, and sericulture has mostly been a side profit of most farmers. Hearing Nagamasa-sama’s proposal, I can say for sure that we currently can’t support it, with the little sericulture that we have.”

“That’s right.”

I nodded slowly and answered.

“Until now, the sericulture has been spread over many different households. However, I feel that we need to change this and make this a business that is being conducted intensively in one place. Raise huge numbers of silkworms, take lots of threads and make lots of silk… If we do so, the day when northern Omi becomes the titleholder of silk products in the nation won’t be a far away dream.”

“Certainly…”

While nodding in agreement, Tsunachika murmured “An intensive sericulture industry… That would give us a huge profit without a doubt…”

“By the way, Nagamasa-sama, what in the world is this “soap” you mentioned earlier?”

Kiyotsuna asked me looking very curious. Ah, right. I completely forgot about that fact. That the word “soap” itself doesn’t exist in Japan in this era.

By the way, the word “soap” appeared after the start of the Nanban Trade4 around the 17th century. Spain in that century was the most powerful nation in the world, one of their biggest industries was the production of soap products. Spain placed soap as the centerpiece of its country’s products, selling it not only in Europe but in Japan and the rest of Asia as well.

At the height of my 8th-grader-syndrome, I was charmed by that little piece of knowledge, so I learned many different ways to produce soap. In the end that will be helping me to raise the funds of the Azai Clan. When and where the experience of my previous life will be useful in my current one is truly unpredictable.

“Soap is something that washes away the filth on humans, horses and quite possibly anything else. It closely resembles the use of rice bran.”

“I see, that is indeed something curious…”

“However, inconveniently enough, we don’t have any stocks. Gathering the necessary materials would also take a good amount of time as well.”

“Then… It’s okay to assume that our first move in this plan would be the construction of the bathhouse, the management of the bathhouse and focusing us on the sericulture industry?”

As our conversation is reaching its conclusion, Sukechika summarized it accurately. His ability to run a conversation or a meeting is surprisingly high.

“A bathhouse that will produce immediate results and a sericulture industry that will take time to produce results but will end up giving us huge profits… I think it’s a good plan, brother.”

Masamoto said so with an extremely enthusiastic attitude. Well, to an administrative officer of financial affairs like him, the idea of increasing income and stabilizing finances must be great to hear. For that sake, he even dares to jump right into an industry that is unknown to him right now.

As I thought, leaving Nagamasa aside, the Azai brothers are the most capable men.

“Well then let’s have a meeting later to discuss this further.”

“Yes. Today we came for a good cause.”

After saying that, I ended our meeting. Sukechika was the first to stand up, and after giving a bow, the men took their leave. With all of their faces bright with expectation, having approved the plan and waiting with anticipation to execute it.

“You did well, Nagamasa-sama.”

After everyone left, I sat beside Oichi, and she smiled back at me.

“Nevertheless, the construction of a bathhouse, huh… It will certainly become useful.”

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“Yeah, that’s right… If it raises day to day convenience, then it should be able to draw in people. However…”

“What is it?”

“I need to work out when I will release it to the people.”

“Those people will be troublesome for when we use it.” Whispering that in Oichi’s ear made her face go completely red and she hid it behind her hands. It seems like she remembered the hot spring situation from last night.

She looked so lovely that without thinking about it, I ended up embracing her around the shoulders. I could feel her soft skin under the thick kimono. I’m embracing it right now, that white and beautiful proportional supple body that I was able to see naked under the sunlight… Thinking about that made the muscles around my spine tremble, and a suspicious feeling began shrouding my hips.

‘I want to change locations right now and do it in our room. I want to spread her legs, making her slowly melt and thrust it into her sloppy honey pot. Then I want to pour lots of my dirty juice deep inside of her who asked to be impregnated with my child yesterday and watch her belly grow through this year.’

Imagining that caused my “big son” to begin awakening by squirming around.

That being said, doing it on the tatami mats while squatting on one’s knees sounds painful, so I’ll have to crush the dark desire to push her down right now and hold out until tonight. When you hold yourself back, anything will taste better in the end. Things that were tasty already will become even more delicious. Then again, it goes without saying that doing things in a rush, will make the taste a little duller.

“Say, Oichi…”

“What is it…?”

Resting her face on my chest, while looking at me with a gentle smile, my lovely wife asked me in a sweet voice. Surely, my brother-in-law, Nobunaga would pull his hair in terror if he watched this scene. He would probably say something along the lines of “My dear sister! In merely a week you have become this seductive!” in a panicked voice.

Well in the Sengoku Era there is nothing besides unskillful sex play, so there is a world of difference from my previous life. Also, there is a cultural problem, currently during intercourse, the woman never takes on a dominant position. If we take the cowgirl position as an example, during this era, it wouldn’t be “Let the woman move and ride on the man,” but to “Let the man do the moving by letting her ride on top of the man’s hips.”

In short, in the Sengoku Era, the fundamental for any marital relationship was just for the man to attack and the woman to receive, and there weren’t many sexual positions to pick from either, so they were stuck with the same type of sex. That is why most Daimyo’s looking for “freshness” get tired of their wife and begin to usher in concubines, and once they get tired of their concubine, they indulge in another one.

By the way, the one who shined the most in Japan was the greatest strategist Hisahide Matsunaga. He obtained a how-to sex book called the “Kousomyouron,”5 and he studied it carefully. He experimented with it every night on women and captivated a great number of them, getting the name of the “Sex Leader of the Sengoku Era.” He even passed the secrets of his manual of the night to his subordinates and said: “If the woman is not in the mood it’s better to abstain oneself.” His daughter devoted herself to Christianity and spread its teachings. However, Hisahide’s devotion lay more towards the path of Erotica.

The things Hisahide said, was that sex was not just the act of taking it in and out. The man is satisfied after thrusting it in and out, rubbing it and then ejaculating but for the woman, this creates a feeling of distrust towards the man. The important thing is to raise up one’s mood, that’s what should take priority over anything else. The intellectual spirit of this great tea connoisseur who even denied his enemies their tea bowl by are still being spread these days.6

‘Well if I do meet him I will no doubt be murdered so I absolutely do not wish to meet with him.’ 7

While thinking that, I closed up to Oichi’s ear. Her body twisting in embarrassment was so cute. But being unable to run from my arms she was at her limit. With her cheeks dyed red, Oichi eventually permitted the approach of my lips to her ear.

“Tonight… I’ll make you feel good by filling you up…”

“Na, Nagamasa-sama!”

Her entire face dyed in red she turned herself over while grabbing onto my chest and facing me she said the following.

“You… You can’t! We can’t… do something like that this early in the noon… It’s something we definitely can not do!”

After saying that, Oichi ran away from the room. However, her expression didn’t show any anger at all, on the contrary…

“The lust in her heart was seen through…”

I was unable to feel any embarrassment from her. Last night she wished to be impregnated with my child so every time we touched she must have felt the faint flame of desire burning from the depths of her womb.

“Ah… how cute.”

After murmuring that, I took a look at the outside scenery from the room’s window. Every tree on the Odani mountain is growing fresh, thick and green and its birds remain in silence now.

I wonder if tonight will be cold as well… Having my body tremble from the cold wind that was blowing, made me straighten up my kimono.

Sengoku Era. The winter of January is cold, the coming of spring will be soon upon us. In these tough and cold nights, the only thing to do is to get into my futon while embracing Oichi and carefully warming each other up.

Having raised my expectations for what will happen tonight in our bedroom, I called out a servant and made him bring me a map of Odani Castle and Omi, first of all, I have to plan out where exactly we should focus our efforts on encouraging commerce, so I began examining the maps seriously.

  1. I chose not to use the literal translation but take a piece of their last names like they did in the Japanese name (海赤雨).
  2. Japanese currency. Huge thanks to Okarin to figure this out.
  3. Sericulture is the production of silk and the rearing of silkworms for this purpose.
  4. A period where Japan started trading with the European people.
  5. This is only part of a book written by Manase Dōsan. He was a doctor during the Sengoku Period. Google 黄素妙論 to find out more.
  6. The original translation was ‘The intellectual spirit and noted tea master, he destroyed his tea bowl denying it to his enemies.’ which was a line from the “The Samurai Sourcebook”, however it made no sense in English context.
  7. Hisahide was known to be a cunning schemer.