Yeast Explores History

(4) Renaissance under the 4th Shichiuemon

Old Well “You come just in time. Can you help me and climb in the quince tree to get some fruit for me? There is only one fruit left at the tip of a long branch, and I can’t reach it.”
Yeast “Of course.” (gliding) “OK, here you are. The quince tree is associated with the 4th Shichiuemon, isn’t it?”
Old Well “Indeed. The 4th generation Shichiuemon Sadayasu Ohta was the fourth son of Giuemon Endo from Hinodeyama in the Asaka district. He became the husband of Kiku, the eldest daughter of the 3rd Generation. At the time of the 4th Generation the family business greatly flourished, and he received the same honors as a town magistrate. He was also favored by the samurai and the castle lord. The main house of Chozaemon was also flourishing, the 8th Chozaemon Yasutada enjoyed a salary of 300 koku as squire and town magistrate, being the head of a domain population of 100,000 koku and having much authority. It were good times during which the whole family was doing well. The following story about the 4th Generation has come down to us. Takeda has in its history been hit by two large fires, and the following story happened during the first fire. On March 27, 1860, fire broke out in Takeda and laid Nezaki to waste: a great disaster in which 658 houses burned down. At that time, the 4th Generation had promised a group of samurai from Nihonmatsu to go together to Tsuchiyu Onsen for a hot spring cure. His family told him he did not have to go at such a dangerous time, but he answered that a promise made to samurai always had to be kept and calmly set out on the trip. His family of course was worried, but the 4th Generation had a plan. Before he knew any details about the great fire of Nihonmatsu, the 4th Generation had on the way to Tsuchiyu bought a large supply of wood. Before he returned home, this huge supply arrived at the burned out premises of the Ohta home, so that rebuilding could be started sooner than elsewhere.”
Yeast “Terrific! At the time of such a serious accident, he was very self-composed.”
Old Well “The years the 4th Generation was head, were the fattest. There is also a story about the quince tree you just climbed. This large quince tree used to stand in the garden of the Miyanoshita villa of the Niwa lord. At a certain time, it was hit by lightning and exactly split in two. One half had been completely scooped out, and that half was given to the 4th Generation by the 9th Niwa lord, Lord Nagatomi. It served as a sign of the popular belief that a tree once hit by lightning would not be hit a second time. And it seems the 4th Generation also wanted to teach his descendants the maxim ‘kane wa karin,’ ‘we don’t borrow money’ (‘karin,’ ‘not to borrow,’ sounds the same as ‘karin,’ ‘quince tree’). This quince tree was planted in the yard of the brewery. It led to the family motto of the Ohtas ‘not to lend to those outside and not to borrow by those inside’ (‘soto ni kashi, uchi ni karin’).”
Yeast “So there was an oak (kashi) outside?”
Old Well “Exactly. What this expression points at is that the domain government asked for big loans at that time, and this quince tree may have been given in compensation. The 4th Generation appears both in the Account of Temples in Nihonmatsu and in the History of Nihonmatsu. He attracted a lot of attention. At the beginning of the Meiji period, an official of the domain administrative headquarters as a jest compared important citizens of the castle town to animals. His Ten Persons from Our Town became quite popular. The first of the ten was the 8th Chozaemon Ohta who was compared to a camel. The fourth comparison was of our 4th Generation, who was called ‘a restive horse.’ This was probably because of his great and unstoppable energy, and his guileless character. Well, let’s preserve the pit of this quince in sugar. It can remedy hoarseness.”