Saturday, December 24, 2022 @

Chapter 35, Part 1

 Among the vast capital, residences of middle-class commoners are concentrated in the eastern and southern parts of the capital... the areas called Tōkyō and Nankin.
 Well, to be more precise, the residences and warehouses of court nobles, feudal lords, and wealthy merchants, as well as government-related facilities were concentrated in the north, and the industrial area with many craftsmen's cities and workshops was concentrated in the west. The fact that the southern and eastern parts of the country are geographically difficult to defend is also a factor. After all, many temples and shrines were built in the south and east of the capital to serve as fortresses in case of emergencies.
 ...Oh no, I'm getting a little off-topic here. In other words, for Tachibana Kayo, whom I am escorting here, she has visited the northern parts of the Capital many times, And because the western parts of the Capital have a strong craftsman city flavor, such a place is not suitable as a playing place for a woman. Therefore, the place she will visit this time is either east or south of the capital. In other words...
 "Ha~a... Although having passed by the place several times by oxcart, it has a different atmosphere when walking directly there, doesn't it?"
 Kayo mutters in admiration as she peeks out through the gap in her bamboo hat.
 Of the markets authorized by the Imperial Court in the east, west, south, north, and west, East Market is the most spacious, chaotic, and lively. It is no wonder since it is intended to meet the demands of the common people who make up the majority of the capital's inhabitants.
 In the blocks arranged like a grid, there are grain shops, grocery shops, fish shops, clothing stores, bookstores, barbers, pharmacists, bathhouses, florists, restaurants, taverns, general stores, street stalls, etc... A variety of goods, from daily necessities to luxury goods and foreign and imported delicacies, are lined up in rows of stores. Along the city streets, vendors paraded around touting their goods in hand. Despite the large number of people, the city is safe and secure, since the official from Kenhiishi responsible for the security of the city makes periodic patrols.
 However, this is still the standard for the commoners of the capital, which is not a good place to play around, especially for the court nobles, feudal lords, exorcists, and wealthy merchants who are concentrated in the northern part of the Capital. Therefore, although Kayo had been passing by in an ox cart, it seemed that this was the first time for her to walk directly along the street and see the sights. Well, when an ox cart is used, the moment people see her family crest, passers-by open the street and become silent.
 "Where should we look around first, Yuzu?"
 "Didn't you know that? Since you declared it yourself, you should at least lead the way."
 I ask, and the girl orders in a tone of voice so grim that I can tell even from under her shades. Well, well, well... I can't argue with her.
 (Though I can't argue with that...)
 I think about my schedule again, considering her expectations, and also those of the watchdogs.
 For her... Tachibana Kayo, this trip out is probably something she has been looking forward to, expecting a lot of things. This is not in a romantic sense but in a purely recreational sense.
 Born into a wealthy merchant family, she does not have the official status of a feudal lord or a noble family. Even so, she would have been treated practically the same way.
 And her father was overprotective... She may have played among the lower class (although living in the capital, she was above the middle class for a person of this country) in disguise. However, her position and responsibilities probably did not allow her to play so freely. In the words of the old maid, she didn't have the freedom to do what she wanted, probably to the displeasure of her father, the chairman of the trading company. And so, it would have been a harmless sight-seeing.
 (I would have done the same for her, but...)
 The Kizuki family's tour of duty and guard duty in the capital is almost over anyway. In a month or so, leaving some of the retainers behind, we will be back in Kizuki's domain. It is possible to respond to her properly and leave her as it is. But...
 (...I know it's unlikely, but I don't want to drag the main character down because of me...)
 It is possible, though not very likely, that she will be more hard on Kizuki's family because of me. Especially, Tachibana Trading Company has a good selection of rare items.
 Even if it is not so, if I make her displeased, her father, who has a soft spot for his daughter, might put pressure on the Kizuki family for this or that. If that happens, my position in the family will become severe, and it might be a death flag for nothing.
 No, if that's all, it's still fine. The problem is that it may spread and make it difficult for the main character to contact and get support from her. This would be bad. As a matter of fact, it is impossible for me to help the main character after he has become a daruma (主人公が達磨になったり?) or is locked up. Anyway, the only way to save the country lies on the main character, and to do that, the flags falling on him must be eliminated. I must make the situation not difficult for him.
 "Well then. Let me be so presumptuous as to do so. Then, how about starting with... there, and so on?"
 I made up my plan after a lot of thought and experimentation, pointed to a theater cottage, and announced so.
* * *
 Since ancient times, the performing arts have had political significance for those in power.
 As can be seen from historical facts, the performing arts were originally ritualistic and ceremonial in nature, and over time they became simplified, secularized, popularized, and turned into entertainment. On the other hand, those in power suppressed these entertainments because they discouraged people from working and sometimes led to criticism of power.
 And this was no exception for this country, Fuso-kuni in this world.
 While Gagaku (classical Japanese music and dance) and Kagura (Shinto music and dance), which have a strong ceremonial aspect, were protected and favored by the Imperial Court, other performing arts tended to be treated with a lower level of respect in this country. However, Noh's plays based on historical or mythological events were tolerated by the court nobles and feudal lords. On the other hand, Sarugaku (a traditional Japanese form of theater that originated in the 14th century), with its strong comedy aspect, and Kabuki (a traditional Japanese form of theater that originated in the early 17th century), with its strong humanistic content and satire, are too worldly and rarely approved of, at least ostensibly, by the influential. In fact, depending on the content, there are even cases where they are banned.
 Nevertheless, as they say, where there is a policy at the top, there are countermeasures at the bottom, and like in historical times, the government was finally unable to completely ban this type of entertainment. After all, it was an era when there were few amusements. So, one of the reasons why Kabuki was exist because it was one of the few pleasures for the common people and they could not deny the existence of Kabuki as a venting of their discontent.
 Above all, not a few of the nobles secretly enjoyed Kabuki.
 (So that's why people came to watch kabuki in such guises...)
 In the audience seats of the large Kabuki theater, there were a few groups of people wearing komuso-gasa (straw basket) and ichime-gasa. They were surrounded by girls and women who hid their faces with their gasa, and men who stood up straight and put their swords by their sides for protection. They were probably members of some feudal lord's family. Or it could be the daughter or wife of a feudal lord and his guard, or a secret lover or an unfaithful partner. The absence of family crests on their clothes may be because they don't want their families to be known.
 ...Now, the first performance I recommended to Kayo was the one at the Kabuki, which is similar to watching a movie in the modern age.
 Of course, Kabuki is not just any kind of performance, because the contents of Kabuki vary widely. The one which is too noisy or too juvenile is not good. Considering the audience, the contents were chosen to be mainly romance for women. I thought that the audience would be mostly women, and the noise would be lessened. Though it's a bit of a misnomer to say that I chose it...
 (...hopefully, she is enjoying the show...)
 I glance at Kayo who seems to be concentrating on the contents of the play and is watching the play in a well-behaved manner without saying a word since a while ago. The story is a love story of different statuses, in which a poor girl who is mistreated by her beautiful stepmother and her step-sisters fall in love with a young and brave samurai who rescues her from youkai. The story may be a little bit rough, with some complicated family problems and intrigues added as accents.
 (It's more like a daytime drama, isn't it?)
 I don't know if it's appropriate for girls, though. However, women are not as full of girlish thoughts as men think they are. They are much stronger. Above all, this is that kind of world. Even children are aware that the world is not easy.
 In fact, the contents of this kabuki play were more than enough fantasy for the common sense of this world when it comes to love between different statuses. In this world, free love, or even a union between two people of different statuses, is the most unusual thing of all, and even if both people have feelings for each other, there is usually nothing but misfortune ahead of them. Yes, like the parents of sis (anego-sama), for example?
 "...or, come to think of it, her parents were like that..."
 Suddenly, I think of Kayo's parents beside me. I wondered if I should withdraw my earlier opinion. At least, she had a good father who was a parental idiot and protected the family well, as I understood from the external biography and other sources. Though, even such a father couldn't handle the fox that made his brain pudding. Unfortunately, there is no way to win against violence, so it can't be helped.
 (But, if it avoided, I ended up in such a stupid role. Seriously, I never know how the world turns out.)
 I let out a sigh so small that the girl beside me doesn't notice it. Well, it's too much of an aftertaste to leave a little girl alone in the world, forced to be a comforter for old men and a hostess for big men, and finally to be used as material for a dirty doujin of sexual nighttime. I did not regret it, though I was about to lose my strength. No, I didn't want to.
 ...well, the play itself, which was fresh in my sense before my reincarnation, sweet as a sugar candy in the sense of this world, and a little painful for me as a man, was over in about an hour. The short time was probably a deliberate choice, considering the audience who came to see this Kabuki play. There were other performances as well, but the combination of a young boy and a girl stood out in particular.
 (Should I say that the happy ending with their union at the end is still a story?)
 The world is full of things that do not end happily. So, I guess people want happy endings at least in a story. This is especially true for girls who came to see a love story.
 "It was very interesting! To tell the truth, I was worried that Gonbei-san might be ignorant of this kind of performance, but I'm glad to hear that my fears were unfounded!"
 Kayo praised me in a terrible way after we left the theater among many ordinary people. Her smiling face is even more cruel than usual.
 "...I'm very flattered by your compliment."
 I can't do it respectfully, so I bow to her with a nonchalant gesture. In fact, there is no reason for me to be praised so much. One of the reasons why I was able to choose a performance that she was satisfied with is that there was an event in the original game in which the main character had a date with the heroines in a theater cottage. And the other reason is...
 'You seem to be very good at putting people in a good mood.'
 A calm, yet cold voice whispered in my ear. It was from a little finger-sized bee on my shoulder, hidden from my surroundings... or more precisely, it was from a shikigami in the shape of a bee.
 "Hahaha... I apologize for imposing you, Botan-dono."
 I replied in a whisper that the people around me could not hear over the din and bustle. In fact, it was a terrible thing to say. From her (Botan) point of view, it would have been absurd for me to help her with this kind of thing.
 It's in the capital. I knew that it was not an easy thing to do, but just in case, I asked the old man Matsushige Ou for support, and one of his granddaughters, Matsushige Botan, who works with him, took over his role. She is a poor girl who plays a minor role in the main game without any visuals, but her appearance is set in the side stories and manga that follow, which is a depressing setting for a depressing game. But I never thought I'd see her instead of the old man.
 '...are you thinking of something strange? '
 "It can't be."
 Matsushige Botan asks in a grumpy tone through the shikigami. I was just thinking of the fact, that's all.
 "Then, Gonbei-san. What are your next plans?"
 Tachibana Kayo, who had not noticed our exchange, turned around and asked about our next destination with an expectant look on her face. As expected, she was a brazen brat, who wanted to entertain herself more and more. Well, well, well, what's the next destination?
 "It's about time for us to get hungry, isn't it? I'd like to take a break and go to a store somewhere... Ah, that's right. I don't mean to be rude, but do you have any likes or dislikes?"
 "Likes and dislikes, you mean? Well... natto and pickled plums are not so good for my palate?"
 Both of them are the usual faces of Japanese food that foreigners don't like. And to tell the truth, I don't like them either. What a coincidence.
 "To tell the truth, I don't like them much myself. So, taking that into consideration, I guess we can go to... Well, since it's a capital event, I'd like to spend a bit of money too. Shall we go to that store?"
 I look around as I walk down the street, and I choose a restaurant a short distance away from the Kabuki theater, which is more of a diner than a ryotei (high-end traditional Japanese restaurants that serve kaiseki cuisine).
* * *

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