Chapter 70 – Making Salt (first part)
The sea unfolded.
Reflecting the sunlight, the sea shined with glitters.
Eiji inhaled the intense fragrance of the waves rising over the sea, and held up his hands over his head while staring at the horizon.
Next to him, Fran tried to run with her full speed.
– It’s sea-!
– Uwaah, Fran don’t take off your clothes all of a sudden!
– Please hide your chest and crotch. You’re still unmarried.
– Oh–, thank you Eiji.
Right after moving on the sandy beach, Fran was part of the way through taking off her clothes due to her overjoyment.
It was an environment where neither a bra nor a swimsuit was common.
Normally, someone of her age wouldn’t try to become naked; nevertheless, Fran seemed to be different.
Eiji coiled a piece of cloth and prepared an instant bustle and chest protector.
Fran remained in a position with her hands raised, still, because she didn’t show any resistance, it was easy to put the cloths on her.
– With this it should be fine. However, it’s long past midsummer, so you will get cold if you enter in the sea.
– I’ll be fine. Yahoo-!
Slightly ignoring Eiji’s piece of advice, Fran entered the sea.
She began to swim while pushing her way through the splashing waves?.
Ah, it’s good to be young.
There ought to have been the same period of time in Eiji’s life.
Just where did his vigor from that time go?
It seemed to be quite a long time ago.
He couldn’t move frantically like Fran.
The stiff feeling of the hot sand, the flying seagulls, and the crying of black-tailed gulls.
The scene of a blue sky and blue sea expanded.
What Eiji held in his hand was a wooden cup containing juice from a common pear.
– She’s one energetic girl, isn’t she?
The person who spoke to Eiji while standing next to him was a man called Edo, and at the same time, the one claiming to be the tribal chief of Marina.
Despite him looking like a 60-year-old, his body was tempered and had an appearance similar to that of a man of the sea.
Was it due to his daily exposure to the sunlight and salt wind? There were deep wrinkles on the man’s whole body, which made it look like a profoundly carved sculpture.
Edo laughed with a hoarse voice.
Perhaps the dark sunburnt skin did its job? His white teeth stood out once he laughed.
– Fernando-san, you’re not going to swim?
– Yeah, I don’t like it. Somehow, the sea feels scary when it moves up and down.
– Still, if you swim in a river, you should be fine, I think.
– No, I’ll give up.
Fernando refused with an expression that one could describe as unthinkable.
Was his first time at a sea perhaps too stimulating for him?
Eiji smiled with a grin.
– Fernando-san, the water coming from a sea have a specific taste.
– Taste? Does it even have one?
– That’s right. If it’s fine by you, won’t you try drink it?
– Excellent, let’s try it out.
Fernando progressed toward the coast and scooped some water into his hands.
Watching that appearance of his, Eiji smiled broadly.
Edo, who also grasped Eiji’s intention, made a grin without uttering a single word.
– You might as well try drink it in one go.
– Got it…….*Cough!* salty! Isn’t it salty?!
– Ahahaha, that’s because it’s seawater, you see. Seawater.
– Hohoho. It was a nice course of events.
– Eiji, do you enjoy setting me up that much…?! Rather than that, Mister , you too, if you intend to watch me like that, please stop! Ah, my throat is…I need some fresh water!
– I don’t like it. It’s interesting this way.
At Edo, who asserted this nonchalantly, Fernando became at a loss for words.
Once Eiji brought him the juice, Fernando took it in a snatching manner and poured it into his throat.
After emptying the cup and sucking its remaining drops, he finally took a breath.
– Fuu…my throat is still dry. *sigh*, is Fran-chan okay?!
– She’s all right. As long Fran doesn’t open her mouth, she will be fine. After all, she’s is different from Fernando-san.
– True. That girl has swum numerous times in the sea, unlike you.
– Eiji-kun, is teasing me really that funny?
– It is, but it isn’t just that. Weren’t you able to understand a bit more about what kind of place the sea is?
– Hm…. certainly, it’s as you say. Nevertheless, I can’t quite believe this sea is made solely from saltwater.
Fernando watched the sea as if realizing something. The waves were tranquil, and Fran stood in the shallows, which reached til her waist, while doing something.
Just what is she doing? – Eiji thought
– To begin with, the salt that we use every day is made using this saltwater.
– Hou, you seem to know about the method of producing salt, don’t you?
– Not in detail. But, I at least know that you can make it by simply boiling down the salt water.
– I’m surprised. We made into a secret so that nobody else apart from the villagers know.
– Ah-, no. I just know due to some special circumstances.
Edo’s eyes looked at Eiji suspiciously.
I messed up.
Even though Eiji didn’t intend to have anyone be wary of him.
Finally, Edo gave up.
Perhaps, the village of Marina was taking on the salt production single-handedly.
Well then, how should I make him let his guard down? – Eiji thought.
– Despite being able to grasp the method, we live far away in the mountains, you see. Even if we wanted to produce salt, we can’t since there are no seas in that region.
– Fumu, I guess that would be the case.
– Saying so, if it’s fine with you, can I watch and observe the actual process of making it?
– No, that’s…
– I think I should’ve mentioned this before, but there’s no way for us to imitate your method from just its appearance. What’s more, I think it will become useful for you later on.
At Eiji’s strong statement, Edo pondered for a moment.
He understood that the risk of disclosing the village’s secret and the back bouncing of the profits in afterward negotiations are in the balance.
Umu – Edo nodded after a while. It seemed that he had reached the conclusion.
– It can’t be helped. You can watch if you want.
– Thank you very much.
– Hmph, in exchange, will it really become useful to us?
– I promise you.
Edo shook his head from side to side in a giving up manner and shrugged his shoulders.
The reason why Eiji was firmly obsessed with the observation study wasn’t due to him wanting to see the whole process of salt production.
When considering the attempt of improving the efficiency in various labors, the answer, without a doubt, will arrive at reforming tools.
That also applied to salt making, which was probably no exception.
In other words, he thought about trying to see through what tool would be needed by observing the actual scene.
Eiji’s action was inspired by neither development of the village nor trade, but rather by his intuition as an artisan that happened to catch a glimpse of possible hardships in one’s labor, and by his inner force that deemed it necessary.
It would be fine to say that he was aroused by these thoughts.
Once Edo took him along and moved to the seaside, an elevation consisting of a range of trees that looked like a wall appeared.
Apparently, it wasn’t created by natural means, but deliberately in order to intercept the visibility from the exterior, at the same time, not making it look obvious to the outside.
It looks quite complicated, indeed. – He thought.
Eiji braced himself.
The method of salt production here was considerably standardized.
Even the level of concealment was much higher than in other villages.
As soon as they passed through the trees, a bank made at the coast appeared.
Inside of it, there were many large, empty spaces.
And then, there were villagers performing their job in front of the extending beach.
Edo directed a question toward Eiji, who observed.
– Are you curious about those holes?
– Yes, do they have some sort of a role?
– Right now, there are no waves, which can reach those holes, coming, but whenever it becomes a full moon, saltwater will flow in from that direction.
I see, so it’s the matter of high and low water?
At the time Eiji guessed Edo’s intention, Fernando tilted his head to the side.
– What kind of relationship do the moon and wave’s height have with each other? Won’t the water come in every day?
– It’s determined by period of time. The amount of seawater may vary depending on the date or even a single day.
– I thought the river water increases whenever it’s raining, but, is it possible for such thing to occur?
– If you spend everyday at the seaside, you will understand even if you don’t like it.
It couldn’t be helped for Fernando to hold doubts after seeing the sea for the first time.
Being guided by Edo, they approached near the shore.
The shore was tightly packed with stones without leaving any gap and strengthened with concrete.
The sand from their footsteps was slightly whiter in comparison with the sandy beach a while ago.
Furthermore, it was clearly harder.
– As you can see, the sand that was soaked numerous times with saltwater have changed in color. What’s more, the change in color only affects places near the surface, whereas the bottom remains its original color.
– It is because this sand contains saltiness, right?
– The reason for this is unknown to me, but it’s as you say.
– The surface doesn’t feel wet, but I wonder, how does it contain the saltiness?
Fernando’s doubt was also a natural response.
It would be easier to understand if the salt covered all the places, nevertheless, was there some sort of principle as to why it only gathered near the surface?
– Could it be…
– Eiji-kun, can you understand?
– It might be due to the capillary phenomenon.
– What’s, that? I’ve never heard of such thing.
Fernando and Edo put curious expressions on their faces.
Certainly, even if one is told about the capillary phenomenon, there’s no way for that person to comprehend it.
Eiji nodded and decided to explain in detail.
– Whenever a part of cloth becomes wet, it continues to spread, right?
– That’s, I guess so.
– Seawater that penetrates through the bank will soak to the deepest layer of the sand, and just like water spreading inside a cloth, it will scatter and pass in the direction of the sand surface.
– Fumu, I’ve understood til this point. Continue.
– Yes. The surface of the sand will become dry once it comes into contact with the sunlight, making the salt content that is within the seawater turn into salt. The seawater will again be pulled up from the bottom, but the part which has already become salt will mostly melt, without dispersing, and continue to gather on the surface. Depending on the repetition of this procedure, large amounts of salt can be accumulated.
Eiji, who finished speaking, waited for the reaction; nevertheless, there was no reply coming.
Edo gazed at Eiji in blank amazement without moving an inch, whereas, Fernando put an expression filled with astonishment.
This guy is again starting with his thoughtless stuff – is what his face was telling.
It could be that I’ve gone overboard. – Eiji thought.
Was it perhaps too hard to comprehend for the islanders here?
Eiji felt anxious, however, that wasn’t solely the problem.
The level of difference in their knowledge was big, still, what Eiji said wasn’t something that could be deducted to such extent by the islanders after logically stacking up their thoughts.
It wasn’t an environment where people could ponder that much.
If they had that much free time for thinking, they would probably have to prepare themselves for tomorrow’s activities.
Because of that, people who were able to perform deep thinking would be considered as unusually rare beings.
If someone like Eiji was to possess a deep insight or the ability to build up a hypothesis toward a problem, that person would have the word “abnormality” embossed on him whether he wanted it or not.
The reason why Fernando managed to be just dumbfounded was probably due to his trust for Eijii which he had piled up so far.
On the other hand, Edo seemed to be completely overawed.
– To think that you would be able to figure out my doubt, which I’ve tried to solve for many years, with just a single glance…..
Edo’s muttered voice sounded a bit lonesome.
– Well then, it looks like we can shovel with this.
– Yeah, indeed. No matter how tough you say it is, this is sand after all. The pickaxe doesn’t seem to be necessary.
Trying to change the atmosphere, Eiji checked the condition of the sand and proposed the necessary items in their current place.
The “shovel” is also referred to as a “scoop”, nonetheless, it’s actual classification remains ambiguous as it owns a changeable property that make its naming reversal even inside Eiji’s country depending on the west or east side.
At Wakayama, where Eiji used to live, a small tool like that was referred to as a ‘scoop’. Nevertheless, a problem arose when a client from the Kantou region ordered the making of a ‘shovel’.
The tool Eiji brought back after temporarily returning back to his luggage was the one called a shovel, which had a sharp blade and a pointed tip.
This time, it was to be used for scooping the sand, however, its pointed tips is capable of digging up hard soil, removing stems, as well as other uses for land reclamation. It was also now possible for them to transport large amounts of sand. Most of these shovels have been traded favorably.
Edo handed one to a young man who had been working.
– Oi, Rau. Use this thing called a shovel.
– *Astonished*. Understood.
The young man, whose name was Rau, had a sunburnt, masculine appearance, which was suitable for a man living near a coast.
His curly, red hair drew winding curves.
Despite Rau staring at the handed tool bothersomely, he began to shovel the sand without uttering a single complaint.
He turned up and collected the sand mixed with salt, which was also called “sansha”, using his shovel.
Jaku – this sound was generated as the blade cut in the sand.
– Oh…what’s, this?
– How does it feel, Rau?
Eiji loved this moment.
The astonishment of a user toward the result produced by Eiji’s tools; the surprised, although short, voice accompanied with the joy; and then, the doubtful voice raised up as if being unable to comprehend the reality, all of these made Eiji smile unintentionally.
– Tribal chief, I don’t quite get it, but, this is great.
– Is that so?
There is no need for the user to learn about the complex reason.
However, watching the joyful expression of the young man called Rau made Eiji feel unbearably pleasant.
Translator Notes and Comments:
: Meaning it’s still too early for summer.
: Or Oji-san
: Both are english words written in katakana. Apparently, the Japanese use these two words interchangeably…