|“||In the dealings of people, most things are just simple transactions not worth haggling over.||”|
An opportunist with a talent for business-- and not an ounce of talent for writing poetry. To this day, he's not written one waka poem that's gotten any praise.
For thousands of years, matsutake mushrooms have been a prized ingredient. Even though dobin mushi wasn't the traditional method for cooking them, matsutake mushrooms have become a crucial ingredient that people think of whenever they hear the words dobin mushi.
How to Acquire
|Contract||Pleasure to meet you. I'm Matsutake Dobinmushi. You seem quite nice. We'll definitely get along in the days to come~|
|Log In||Attendant, come quick. Help me think of the next line for this waka poem!|
|Ice Arena||If we sold winter clothes here, we'd make a bundle.|
|Skills||Wait for the right time... now!|
|Ascend||Eat well, feel well~|
|Fatigue||Let me... let me sit awhile and take some nourishment.|
|Recovering||That's why I didn't want to do strenuous activity... let me rest awhile more.|
|Team Formation||I'll bring back a souvenir~|
|Knockout||My urn... it's broken...|
|Notice||Food's ready-- Really though, can't we split these jobs up?|
|Idle 1||'When the autumn leaves fall like water, I'll come before you with a business proposition.' Yeah... that's not bad. Very mysterious and elegant, haha.|
|Idle 2||With the right packaging, the most commonplace of wild vegetables can fetch a king's ransom.|
|Idle 3||Opportunities don't come along every day, but you should absolutely take advantage of the one's you create yourself.|
|Interaction 1||I could never appreciate Western painting. It lacks all elegance. You think our traditional Sakurajima paintings are more beautiful too, right Attendant?|
|Interaction 2||This tea urn is my lucky talisman. As long a I have it, there's no business deal I can't seal.|
|Interaction 3||I have a maple card! One more point for me! Oh, that's all of them. Who wins this round of hanafuda?|
|Pledge||From now on, we'll spend our days together. You be in charge of cooking, and I'll make money. We'll each pitch in and make a future together. How about it?|
|Intimacy 1||I'll write a long song for you... Huh? Why are you making that face? You don't want to hear it?|
|Intimacy 2||But these are premium matsutake mushrooms. Just taste it and see, Attendant!|
|Intimacy 3||Each season has its own unique delicacy belonging to it, but I belong to you-- Hm, I should use that in a poem.|
|Victory||Let's keep our momentum going!|
|Defeat||Minimal losses. Could've been worse.|
|Feeding||Such a thoughtful gift! I don't know how to repay you, except to write you a poem...|
- ↑ JP Intimacty 3: For spring, butterbur is a must. For summer, watermelon is a must. For you, I am the one you must have. ... Mmhm, I can use that in a poem.
- The butterbur mentioned in Intimacy 3 refers to Petasites japonicus, known in Japan as fukinotou, and is one of Japan’s most common and favorite spring plants. It can be harvested starting from early spring, so it's said to be one of the plants that marks the arrival of spring.
- It's also one of the kigo (words or phrases that are associated with a particular season in Japanese poetry) for spring.
Before becoming a businessman, I lived at a privately owned school  in my village.
That village relied on harvesting matsutake mushrooms as their livelihood.
Matsutake mushrooms are valuable, but their trading price is not much. Their yearly income is just enough to cover the villagers’ living costs for a year.
The villagers aren’t very concerned with the changes in their country; they only know how to pick the mushrooms on the mountain and only care if they can sell off a bit more mushroom this year.
Of course, the villagers don’t know what kinds of people are purchasing the mushrooms, nor do they know that they could smooth talk customers into a higher and higher sale price.
Aside from that, they don’t have many worries, unlike Master Attendant and I.
The village has a very small private school.
Master is the owner of that school.
Master is constantly worried about the country’s future.
He came from the imperial capital and used to be a brilliant government official. After he’d resigned from his government duties, he returned to his hometown. The villagers respect people like that.
Master Attendant hoped the villagers could lead a better life outside of mushroom picking. Then, for the sake of allowing the children to leave this piece of land, he allowed the villagers to send their children to study at his school during their free time.
I don’t disagree with this simple kind of village life, there’s no need to change it.
But in my view, this sort of life is a bit too boring.
The school’s reputation is esteemed, or as I should say, Master Attendant’s reputation is esteemed. Even the residents of neighboring villages, who have a bit of money and status, would all send their children here, requesting him to teach them.
I would usually accompany them home after class. On the way, I’d also buy some goods only available in bigger villages. If some people needed things brought back to the village, I would sell it to them at its ‘original price,’ including errand fees, along with my latest poem.
This ‘original price’ refers to the price that they know.
After all, every time I buy something, I ask for a discount to get the lowest price I can.
This whole bargaining process is always so fascinating; I just can’t refrain from it.
But Master Attendant didn’t like it. He thought these small spats were not practical.
But at a village like this, how else can I expand my business? It’s not like I could leave Master Attendant, who I had to protect, and move to a distant and large city.
Master Attendant’s past students would sometimes visit the school for a variety of purposes: to reminisce, to ask for advice, or to invite him to the mountains.
Aside from the students who remained in school to study with him, Master Attendant always let those guests remain only for one night, before asking them to leave.
But they never once felt disheartened. After periods of time, there would come new people.
Some of them are officials from the imperial court, while others are merchants.
But regardless of status, their hearts belonged to this country.
When they came to visit Master Attendant, they would always bring some novelties from the capital; they were all high end goods that a village like this could never have.
These one-of-a-kind items made me curious about the capital city, my curiosity eventually growing into a sort of yearning.
What was my Master Attendant like in the capital city, when he regards fame and fortune as much?
My curiosity for the capital never ceased until Master Attendant passed of illness.
During his lifetime, the Master cared deeply for the school, but it was as if he knew I had an ambition for goals outside our reach. He did not let me inherit the school, but instead, passed it to one of his students. This allowed him to continue teaching the youth, letting these children not be chained to status or family and one day, even become an official for the country.
Master Attendant’s final words to him me only one sentence, he said:
“Do not wait for others to give you opportunity; you must make it yourself, as that’s the only way you can be sure it won’t slip through.’’
At that time, as I sat next to Master’s bed and held his hand, I thought, ‘As expected, Master Attendant knows everything’.
After I finished handling Master’s affairs, I didn’t leave in a rush. Instead, I stayed in the school, waiting for matsutake mushroom season.
I knew many nobles in the imperial capital loved to eat matsutake mushrooms.
The merchants who came to the village to buy mushrooms sought only to please those nobles.
It was a rare occasion when I’d personally go up the mountains to pick mushrooms.
I also used what little inheritance that Master Attendant left me to buy all matsutake mushrooms that the villagers picked.
When the villagers learned that I wished to go to the imperial capital, they decided to sell me the mushrooms at a price even lower than the price they sold to the merchants. It was a good opportunity, but I did not agree.
I promised the villagers I would purchase the mushrooms at an even higher price, but not now. After I made a profit at the imperial capital, I would make up for the gap for them.
From now on, they won’t need to sell the matsutake mushrooms to those merchants; they can make even more money through me and live an even better life in the future.
At this time, I felt that this was a praiseworthy idea, I even wrote a poem about it.
“The mountain is scattered with autumn frost, Ōryōki  full of matsutake mushrooms, bartered into gold and silver, joining hands with the monarch.”
Not too shabby of a poem, right?
III. Fame and Fortune
It’s difficult to obtain your desires in this world. The mushrooms that I brought to the capital city did not sell like how I wanted.
Even though my prices were lower than those of other merchants’, the mushrooms couldn’t catch even the slightest glance from the imperial nobles. Because they had no beautiful packaging, they even suspected I was passing off shoddy goods as delicacies instead.
Business in the capital had long been monopolized by a certain breed of entrepreneurs; they spent their entire days trying to please nobles, understanding all too well the life of a noble, and catering to their tastes
I, who came alone to the capital city, did not know any of this. Naturally, I kept hitting dead ends.
For a time, I was angered, yet saw no alternatives.
Since there were no opportunities, I would have to create them and seize the chance.
Luckily, I still had some savings on me.
I used up all the savings I had, putting all of my hopes on this venture, and collected information on the nobles. Then, I acquired a completely new outlook on those mushrooms laying inside the wooden boxes.
I found a student of Master’s in the capital city and requested him to form connections for me, allowing me to personally promote my mushrooms.
Everything after that went smoothly.
Elaborate and delicate packaging, expensive prices, clever words, strikingly vivid descriptions of mountains and forests. These all made the nobles believe me that these mushrooms were grown on a mountain abundant with water and rich soil.
These are the most nutritious, most valuable mushrooms that they can get nowhere else.
When I first brought my goods to the capital, the hubbub and magnitude could definitely be breathtaking and dazzling. However, it made me feel that the capital city was nothing more than that.
The initial novelty and curiosity gradually disappeared after many days of admiring, but this journey let me find a new direction.
How can I earn even more money?
Aside from matsutake mushrooms, what other business can I do? Aside from the capital city, where else can I go?
The same good in a different place, can they still be sold at such a price? My next destination, will I be able to make even more?
In the process, how much enjoyment can I acquire?
I couldn’t help but want to travel to Sakurajima.
To travel everywhere, to understand each place’s specialty, then my business could flourish everywhere.
I wanted people who lived in different regions to understand what was happening elsewhere through the goods they receive, to understand local customs that are completely different from their own.
The fame and fortune Master Attendant generously doled out (and was subsequently praised for), was a key to upper class society in the capital, causing many to scramble for it.
But I only hoped to succeed in using this fame and fortune to reach my own goal.
What’s more, the path to achieving my goal must be filled with elation.
The night before I left the capital city, for some reason, I went to the capital city’s most famous location, but most taboo to speak of.
It was a land of fantasy that belonged to the night. It was a dream land where men and women can unite in love. It was a brothel  that brought delight.
Walking along a bustling street full of people coming and going, I frequently looked left and right, but there was no flower that could make me stop and admire.
Suddenly, there was a shout from the front. Shortly afterwards, I heard the sound of hand bells, causing people part and make way.
The beauty underneath the umbrella was dressed in gorgeous finery, walking on shockingly tall wooden clogs as they took steps at goldfish’s pace, dignified but not without charm.
It was an Oiran . Like everyone else, I stopped to silently watch the gorgeous Oiran strut through the streets.
I casually asked the man beside me:
“Do you know who she is?”
“She is the most beautiful Oiran on this district.”
“What must one do to meet her?”
The man did not answer my question. Instead, he let out a laugh, lifted the tobacco pipe in his hand, and slowly took a drag.
It’s only then I noticed that he wasn’t dressed much differently from the “tourist girls,”  behind him, inside the fences.
White smoke lingered around him. He passed through the smoke to draw closer to me, and spoke in a soft voice:
“If you wish to have her, that would be very difficult. A nobody has no way of pulling down the moon. But if you’re only looking for love, it can be found throughout inside that brothel. Her, her, them, all can provide you with rapturous love.”
For some reason, the man came closer, his tone teasing. I felt he must be feigning it. I couldn’t help but smile as I lifted my eyes, meeting the man’s eyes under the dim moonlight. “Then what about you?”
This was how Junmai Daiginjo and I met.
The Oiran that I saw that day was Daiginjo’s Master Attendant. At first, I thought Daiginjo was the same as everyone else in this brothel, every word and every action were to sell their ‘love’. But after getting to know Daiginjo for so long, after realizing the feelings between Daiginjo’s Master Attendant and a certain samurai, I had the faint sense that I’d misunderstood Daiginjo back then. Perhaps Daiginjo was simply trying to relieve the pressure on his Master Attendant, who’d already promised to elope with her love.
What I wanted from Daiginjo is not the love that he talks about. If one were to ask what I wanted, it’s only hidden, yet sincere, interest that I hold towards Daiginjo.
It was after this that I became Daiginjo’s ‘guest’. I maintained an intimate relationship with Daiginjo. Later, it was through Daiginjo that the brothel’s business became regulated.
I returned to my hometown and honored my promise to the villagers.
The next time I set out on a journey, I’m already a travelling merchant.
I used the mushrooms to build connections between my hometown and the capital city, and after I earned enough funds, I acquired new products and used them to open up new trade routes. The more I walked, the further I went.
But no matter which trade route I took, in the end, I will always arrive at the capital city.
Within the capital contains fame and fortune. That draws my interest, but the capital also has that person I’m interested in too.
V. Matsutake Dobinmushi
Ever since Matsutake Dobinmushi came into being, there was never a time where he had the same burning desire to wholeheartedly serve the country like his Master Attendant.
This may be because he was summoned in the wild mountains; his heart contains only himself, his Master Attendant, this land, and the people living on the land.
Matsutake considers himself a cosmopolitan Food Soul, but in reality, his pursuit of fame and fortune was more about more interest than ambition.
It doesn’t matter what he does, the more difficult it is to achieve, the more interesting he thinks it is, motivating him more to do it.
His perseverance for poetry was perhaps because not everyone deemed his poetry good.
If one were to say Matsutake was born to do business, then his insight must’ve come from his Master Attendant. Matsutake’s Master understood his Food Soul all too well, just as he did with every one of his students. He knew which road was most suited for them.
He was never explicitly opposed to Matsutake’s little actions, and he knew that Matsutake could do it bigger, better. But as long as he’s still around, Matsutake can only be cooped up in this small village, doing this small scale commerce.
Matsutake’s resolute decision making in business is not the same towards personal relations. He finds it difficult letting go of his close ones, as he has no intention of abandoning them.
He thought that the bond with his Master was only because of his responsibility as a Food Soul.
He even thought that his concern for Junmai Daiginjo was just because of his interest in Daiginjo’s true self, hidden underneath his mask.
But just like how his continuing curiosity turned into desire, a budding friendship could become kinship. This sort of feeling always happens when one least expects it, and yet, the changes are predictable. You can only wait for the other party to one day become aware of the shifts.
What a shame that with the cycle of time, a new dynasty emerged . It’s only after Matsutake wandered across every corner of Sakurajima that he finally understood his own inner heart. But at that time, everything had already been locked.
In the end, Matsutake did not remain anywhere, but he would often return and stay at the capital city.
After the brothel was destroyed in a fire, he invested in the reconstruction of a Kabukicho , providing a new place for destitute and homeless humans or Food Souls to go. It would also push his reputation in the capital to new heights.
Note: Citations are usually indicated by the [#] hovering near the sentence.
- ↑ Translator's Note: 私塾 or书塾 [old-style private school; a privately established teaching space, there is no fixed teaching materials or age restrictions for students, usually there’s only one teacher.]
- ↑ Translator's Note: 钵 [a small earthenware basin; it also refers to a set of nested bowls that Buddhist monks use for eating.]
- ↑ Translator's Note: 游廓 [ Yukaku; Technically a brothel, but it specifically means the regions in Japan where brothels recognized by the government were situated. So in theory, prostitution was legal only in the Yukaku region.]
- ↑ Translator's Note: 花魁 [Oiran; Japanese courtesans]
- ↑ Translator's Note: 游女 [ ‘tourist girls’; The collective name of Japanese prostitutes, the term was coined during the Shogunate era] Traditionally, Japanese brothels displayed prostitutes through a fenced wall. Look up Yoshiwara, an old Japanese red light district, for pictures!
- ↑ Translator's Note: 江山易主 [end of a dynasty and the rise of a new one]
- ↑ Translator's Note: 歌舞伎町[Kabukicho; An entertainment and red light district that exists irl in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. Here it likely just means your general entertainment district.]