Dream of Edo

The story created by Uno Nobuo for Sanyutei Ensho VI

Edo-no-yume by Ensho

"Late autumn, persimmon...No... ummm... matured persimmon, that's better..."

Buhei, a good-natured countryman, was absorbed in Hokku, three-line poem. He had been working hard since childhood without any hobby. But now, past middle age, he found his leisure time at last and enjoyed it in his way.

"Oh, you there? I've been looking for you, dear"

His wife Oraku found him standing under a persimmon tree.

Without turning back, Buhei talked to his wife.

"Look at the tree. This is a good year for persimmon."

"What are you doing here?"

"As you see, composing Hokku. I was about to make a good one, but when you called me it gone away. Pity."

"Forget Hokku! We have a big problem!"

Buhei raised his eyebrow slightly but said nothing.

"You must be frightened to hear this. Brace yourself, all right?"

Struggling for self-control, Oraku took a deep breath before divulging her big news.

"Well, Oteru, our Oteru told me..."

Half crying Oraku began to spill out . 


"Can you believe it?! She told me she wanted to marry Tosichi. I couldn't believe my ears. How absurd!!"

"Uh? ....... I see."

Buhei didn't seem surprised that surprised Oraku.

"Hey! You are so calm! How could you accept such enormous idea?"

"But dear, if they want to marry, that is that."

"Are you out of mind? You are the head of this village. Oteru is our only daughter. Yes, I would not deny Tosichi is very diligent man, honest, and kind, as well as handsome. But he is just a servant. And he wouldn't tell about himself. Do you remember when he began to work here? He asked us to employ him, saying 'Please never ask about my background.' We don't know where he was from, not even his father nor mother. How could we accept such man as our son-in-law? Think about it!"

"But I know him. I saw him every day for years. He is a decent man."

"Then why he won't tell us who he is? Oteru deserves to somebody a lot, lot better!"

"But she wants to marry Tosichi, doesn't she?"

"I do NOT."

"But it is she who will marry, not you."

"No! I do NOT want, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!!"


Oraku was furious indeed. However, no parent could stand to see their child cried and depressed. After a reasonable upset, that most of mothers might make under the circumstances, Oraku finally accepted Tosichi as her son-in-law. So Oteru and Tosichi got married at the end of the year. Since Oteru is only daughter of Buhei, the head of the Hikage village, however small it might be, some youths were jealous of Tosichi and expressed catty remarks sometimes. But Tosichi's attitude did not change, working hard and helping others as always, so finally no people spoke ill of him.


"Well, dear,"

One night Oraku told her husband.

"I thought at first this idea was quite absurd. But look at them. They seem so happy and you see Tosichi loves Oteru by caring her so tenderly. I must admit I was wrong. Maybe this is destined."

Buhei smiled but said nothing, just sipping his tea. Oraku continued.

"And Tosichi managed this household very well. So how about you and me visiting Edo once in life?"

"Humm, not bad."



When they told their plan to Tosichi, he said immediately,

"That's good for you, sir! Please go and don't worry about the household. I'll take care of it. And when are you going?"

"Well, not now, of course. Maybe late spring or early summer,"

"Yes sir, it is ideal season for tour."

"Fresh greens to eye,

little cuckoo in mountain

and first bonito"

Buhei quoted the famous Hokku of Basho.

"I like tuna better. People of Edo compete to eat the first bonito in the season, but I prefer tuna." Oraku jeered.

"Who talks about food? You don't understand Hokku at all, Oraku."



Next day, when Buhei returned home after a meeting of the village, Oteru and Oraku were worrying over Tosichi who was not back since he left home in the morning.

"He must have something to do. Don't get into a fuss about trifles."

Buhei scolded them. But it had grown so late and Tosichi not returned yet. Buhei seemed calm, but actually he also began to worry. "Is he gone forever? No, it couldn't be." He denied himself.

It was almost 4 tsu (about 10 o'clock today's time) when Tosichi finally got home having a man carry a cart in full of tea plants.

Buhei yelled.

"Where have you been, Tosichi?"

"I'm sorry, father. I suddenly wanted tea plants for planting and went to the next village. But there was not good one. So I went to another village. I should have informed to Oteru, but if I return home it would take longer, so I rather hurried to the village. I'm so sorry, father."

"You ought to have told! We had to worry unnecessarily. Consider it next time!"

It was quite rare Buhei expressed his anger so openly. Probably, in deep Buhei angered himself for doubting Tosichi, even if it was a moment.


Long winter had came and gone, and it was almost spring. Tosichi had been caring the tea plants whenever he found time.

"Tosichi, I made a tea. Have a cup."

Sitting on the porch Buhei called Tosichi who is showering on the tea bush.

"Oh, thank you, father."

"You love the tea plants so much." Passing a cup, Buhei said. Tosichi scratched his head.

"Well, I had worked for picking the leaves and so on when I was younger. I'm familiar with tea and somehow feel comfortable with them."

Buhei started to say something, but reconsidered. He just nodded.

Sipping the tea, Tosichi continued.

"Do you know something father? Now we are having this green tea, Sen-cha. I heard this tea was introduced by Eisai Zenji, a great priest, from Kara (Ancient China), then Myoue Shonin, a holy priest, planted the three seeds in Togano-o (in Kyoto). Thanks to the saints we can drink this now."

"You are a scholar, Tosichi." Buhei was amused, and added.

"OK, then, do you know how many seeds produced when we began to drink it for tea?"

"How many seeds? No, sir, I don't know at all."

Tosichi was perplexed with the unexpected question by his father-in-law.

"Remember well. We began to drink it for tea when the seeds multiplied to a thousand (sen)."

"I've never heard of that." Toshichi said in round eyed.

Buhei chuckled.

"That's why we call it sen-cha."

"Oh, you got me!"

"Ha, ha, ha... of course this is joke. Make it cha (joke)."

"You hit again! Ha, ha, ha..."

It was a warm day inside as well as outside.


Spring was gone and it was almost early summer. The night before Buhei and Oraku to leave for Edo. Needless to say in those days the travel for Edo was a big event and they were so exciting in wide awake.

"Hey, Oraku, Oraku, there?"

"I'm here. What's up, dear?"

"Well... ummm... how about...ummm.... abandon the plan?"

"Silly! What are you talking? After making such fuss?"

"Oh, yes, yes, of course."

Buhei was not serious and Oraku knew it.

"Excuse me, father. Are you still awake?"

Behind a shoji, a sliding paper door, Toshichi said softly.

"Who? Tosichi?, Come on in. We can't sleep."



"Well, I have something to ask you a favor. Are you going to visit Asakusa in Edo?"

"Asakusa? Oh, sure. It is the most famous place for visitors. We will visit the temple, for sure."

"Then I heard there is a district called Namiki nearby. And there is an old store of tea leaves called Nara-ya. Its master is regarded the best connoisseur of tea leaves, so they say. Well, I made the tea leaves by my own brew and I wanted for him to examine it whether it is good or not. Could you visit him and ask it?"

Pretending not to, but Tosichi's face was somewhat tense. He is crazy about tea as I am with Hokku, Buhei smiled himself.

"OK. That's nothing. What did you say? Nami?"

"Namiki, sir."

"Oh, yes, and you said the name of the store something?"

"Nara-ya, sir."

Toshichi repeated uneasily. Oraku cut in.

"Nara-ya, Namiki, Asakusa. Don't worry Tosichi, I won't forget. Count on me." Oraku assured him.



"By the way, " Oraku faced him knowingly.

"I suspect that Oteru is expecting, am I right?"

Tosichi blushed.

"Yes, mother. I also guessed that and asked her. You are right."

"Really? How wonderful!"

"Expecting what?"

Buhei alone could not understand.

"Of course, that"

"What is that?"

"You are hopelessly slow, dear. When we say she is expecting...."

Before Oraku finished her remark,

"Father, I made mame-cha (beans tea) you like."

with pleasant aroma of roasted beans, Oteru entered the room.

Oraku asked her immediately.

"Oteru, when we can see the face of baby?"

"I'm now..... three months."

Oteru answered in shy manner but with pleasure, of course.

Now Buhei understood "that".

"Oh, really? What a nice news before our departure. Then, next year another family member drinks this mame-cha with us, isn't it?"

"Silly. A baby does not drink mame-cha."

Oraku snapped Buhei but he didn't care.

"Good, good, Oteru, take care of yourself and ask anybody if you want to take something in upper place. And give birth to a boy. I want the first grandchild to be boy, OK?"

"No, no, girl first. Girl is easier to bring up. Oteru give birth to a girl, OK?"

Oraku insisted.

"No, boy!"


"Then, both!"

The household was filled with their bursting laughter.



Buhei and Oraku arrived Edo and visiting famous temple, shrine, market, fair, and other attractions every day. At first they were thrilled at anything they saw, however, as days passed 3, 4, and 5, they did not excite any more and began to feel tired of the crowded people.

"Hey, Oraku"

One day Buhei said,

"Don't you think we saw everything we want? I'm about to think going home. How about you, uh?"

Oraku began to laugh.

"As a matter of fact, I feel so too. But I couldn't say so because I thought you would laugh at me saying 'So soon?'. Yes, we saw enough. I want to go home. After all, no place like home."

"Then, why don't we visit Asakusa tomorrow and after that we directly to take the way going home?"

"Good idea."



Next day, at Asakusa, they visited Nara-ya. It was a very old store and they were overwhelmed by its magnificent appearance. Maybe such great store did not retail but exclusively serve for people in the highest class.

"Excuse me, sir"

After two or three calls, a man who seemed a butler appeared in front of them.

"May I help you, sir?"

"How do you do? I came from Hikage village at which I am serving as the head. I and wife visited Edo recently."

Buhei was an old countryman, but as the head of village he was used to speak in public that gave the butler an impression he was true gentleman. Buhei explained him the purpose of his visit.

"So, my son-in-law wanted for this master to examine his tea leaves. Could you tell it to the master?"

The butler frowned.

"Sir, our master, Nara-ya Somi, does not appraise tea leaves. I assume you have wrong person."

"I'm sure this is the store. Right?"

Buhei turned back to his wife. Oraku nodded positively.

"Yes sir. I'm sure. Nara-ya, Namiki, Asakusa. This is the place, sir."

"Please tell your master."

Buhei repeated his request.

"But, sir. We would not do such things."

Polite but firmly the butler said.


"What's up?"

An elegant man about 60 years old, appeared from backroom.

"Well, this gentleman insists...."

The man interrupted the butler, and greeted Buhei.

"Excuse me sir. I am Nara-ya Somi. How do you do?"

"Ah, you are the master? How do you do, sir? I am Buhei from Hikage village. I visited here because our son-in-law wanted you to see his tea leaves. Could you..."

Somi looked Buhei thoughtfully.

"Yes. I heard of that. Thank you very much for visiting me. All right. I'll see the leaves your son-in-law made."

"Oh, thank you! Thank you very much! Hey, Oraku, take out the leaves."

Oraku as well as Buhei happily passed the leaves in a small canister to Somi.

Somi unfolded kaishi, a paper made specifically for tea ceremony, and put a pinch of leaves on it. After sniffing it, he put one or two leaves in his mouth and chewed. Then he closed his eyes.

"How about it? Is it good or bad?"

Buhei asked cautiously. Somi opened his eyes and said.

"I have something to talk to you. Please come in. It won't take time."

Somi whispered to the butler and the butler bowed.


Buhei and Oraku was ushered into a tea room. No country man feels at ease in the small, sophisticated tea room. Buhei could not understand why city people believed such tiny, simple room was smart.

After a while Somi entered the room. He served tea to them and Buhei received a cup with his big, suntanned hands. It tasted so bitter that he could not help to put it down after a sip.

"It is made from your son-in-law's leaves."

Somi said quietly, then nonchalantly added.

"What kind of person is, your son-in-law?"

"Aha, he is a very good guy called Tosichi. He married our daughter."

"From same village?"

"No sir. Well, actually, he is not."

"Oh? Could you tell me about him, if you don't mind?"


Buhei cleared his throat.

"Well, he has a story. It was six years ago. One of our servants, Yasichi, went to town with goods on cart and on the way back he hurt his leg and couldn't walk. Just when he met Tosichi, who was on a pilgrimage to Konpira Shrine and kind enough to help Yasichi bringing home. After that he continued to help Yasichi and later wanted to work for us. We were short of servants and employed him. He was so diligent, bright, and gentle to others that we began to like him very much and cared him always. And my daughter, our only child, ha, ha, ha, cared him much, much more than ours, you know, and she wanted to marry him. This one,"

He pointed his wife.

"opposed at first, but gave in eventually."

Oraku smiled and modestly cut in two men's conversation.

"Yes sir. I thought at first it was absurd for my daughter to marry a nobody. But we are happy now. And you know, mister, my daughter is now expecting a baby."

She could not keep the happy secret.

"Oh? That means your first grandchild?"

Blooming his face, Buhei said.

"Yes sir. Maybe you think I am boasting, but I believe my son-in-law is the best son in the world."

Somi's eyes narrowed. After a moment he said.

"By the way, your so-in-law likes drinking liquor?"

"Tosichi? Oh, no. He said he couldn't accept liquor by nature. Therefore, at a gathering or banquet he always runs away from drinking, ha, ha, ha."

"Does he?"

Somi let his head droop. Afterward he looked Buhei sternly and said.

"Well, Mr. Buhei and Madam, here is a strange story. About this tea. This tea, that was made by your son-in-law, is of a secret brew. Formerly we presented the tea to the Shogun family. Strange thing is, there are only two persons in the world who know the brew of this tea leaves. Me and my son. And my son,"

He paused.

".... was coincidentally gone 6 years ago."



Buhei cried.

"Then Tosichi is your...."

"No! My son died."

Somi strongly denied.


"Yes sir. Like your son-in-law, my son was bright and reliable man, and had a very gentle heart. He, however, liked drinking sake much, and one day he had quarreled with a man at drinking party and killed him."

Somi's story made Buhei and Oraku stunned. Somi added quickly.

"Such thing happened once, to MY son. But now,"

Somi's eyes got distant.

"he was gone far, far away."


Buhei could not utter a word. Gazing Buhei's eyes, Somi continued.

"Your son-in-law achieved the secret brew by himself that nobody but me and my son knows. Please tell him, I, Nara-ya Somi, appreciated the taste and enjoyed very much. Please.... please...."

Somi's word broke off.

After swallowed hard, Buhei simply said.

"Yes, sir!"


"Hey, dear, wait! Why you walk so fast?"

"Just walk."

"Tosichi must be the son of the master, mustn't he? Mustn't he?"

"Walk, just walk."

"But, but, look! The master still seeing us, bowing to the waist. Ah...!"

Oraku's face was smeared with tears.

"I knew he was a decent man."

Buhei muttered. Oraku cried loud.

A swallow, describing an arc, dashed toward a nest, that was built on the eaves of the old store. Turning a corner, Buhei found his cheeks finally relaxed.

"Swallow sees

the story of

noble family"

"Oh, forget Hokku!"

Oraku stumbled over her blurred view. Buhei took her hand.


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