糞尿譚 💩 (Miscellaneous Book Club - unscheduled)

I’m not reading the book so this may not be the situation here, but I vaguely recall reading that in Edo this ended up being a matter of distance. If you lived on the outskirts, the distance from you to the nearest field was small and your night soil had value. If you lived right in the middle the distance from you to the nearest field was much greater and so you might have to pay to have it taken away to cover the extra labour/transportation costs to get it to its destination.

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Thanks, this makes perfect sense actually. If you can’t sell it directly to farmers, you still need to get rid of it somehow, so you need to pay someone for disposal (or repurposing). Who knew the matter of human waste could be so interesting!

You might be dealing with a middleman in both situations, I think. There’s a sort of economic parallel with old cars. In the UK traditionally cars that have failed completely and are only fit to be scrapped still have some residual value for the metal etc, so you can sell them to a scrap merchant. There was a period when the value of scrap metal was low and the costs of correctly disposing of waste oil and other fluids high and so old cars effectively had negative value. You still called up the same scrap dealers to come and take them away, but you had to pay them rather than the other way around…

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Finished paragraph 5!

The political talk went a bit over my head too, but I got the impression that Tomida wanted to join Akase’s party, and Akase discouraged him by saying that political parties and regional government/city council/whatever don’t mix well. I may very well be wrong on all of that. Tomida was obviously unhappy about our protagonist having been assigned all municipal buildings though, and Akase claimed he had nothing to do with that, it just made financial and practical sense (although apparently his wife has lent Hikotarou some money, so…).

I’ll list the new people here, rather than in the OP, because I’m not totally sure I have everything right:
友田喜造 (とみだ・きぞう?) - P5 member of the city council? dislikes 彦太郎, wants to join 民政党?)
豊島 (年増?)- P5 diet member, 大親分
太田 (おおた?) - P5 had the job of night soil collection from municipal buildings before Hikotarou, used carts?

I was surprised by あたし being used by a man (an older, tattooed man, to boot) but then found in Wikipedia that あたし “was formerly used by male members of the merchant and artisan classes in the Edo area and continues to be used by male rakugo performers.” I don’t think this man belongs to either category though.

We also got an unexpected mention of some Japanese mythology in this paragraph: 素戔嗚尊 slaying 八岐大蛇.

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And 自来也, the toad-riding protagonist (ninja thief?) of a classic tale of the Edo-period.

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I remembered where I’d read this – it’s from Seidensticker’s Low City, High City (which is a fantastic history of Tokyo from the end of the Edo period up to the 1923 earthquake):

Another fun detail:

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Thank you, that’s a fascinating glimpse into the part of history that usually nobody talks about!

I can confirm this from my own experience! Looking at the enormous amounts of food that males can stuff themselves with without getting fat, I get super-jealous :joy_cat:

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After a considerable break - I decided to finally finish this book, and made it my focus this week.

Just like in June, it was very slow going compared to my other reads. It’s so dense! I’d almost forgotten.

Anyway. I enjoyed it a lot! I liked 彦太郎’s voice and getting this close up view of rural Japan over half a century ago - and with such a unique focus! - was a real treat.

I’m glad I read this book, and considering picking up 花と竜 one day… But not anytime soon. These long paragraphs are really draining when you’re not used to them. :joy:

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