It was a dark room. There were no windows, or to be more precise, there were louvers1, 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.
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)2. 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.