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Chapter 128 – Ukiyo-e Painting

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 2598 characters
Translator: Silva English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1836 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

For a moment, Lily was dumbfounded.

Noticing Lily’s expression, Ehiro exclaimed in shock, “No way, you really don’t know how?”
Lily was so embarrassed she couldn’t lift her head, “Sorry, can I have big sister teach me how?”

“Tsk, you are for real… it’s useless even if you act cute now! Although I am proficient in making decorative sword inscription, but they are just that, decorations. Some high-level swords might be able to contain a little Spirit Power in the inscription, but that’s not my specialty. There is a master in Suruga that is proficient in making sword inscriptions. I can actually ask him to work with me to forge the sword, but I reckon you must be the one who draws the inscription right? Those kinds of spiritual inscriptions aren’t really the same as the fixed inscriptions that we make. You must have a special skill in the art of painting, known as Drawing Concept. Once you’ve learned the Drawing Concept and linked it up, you will then be able to write those sword scripts.”

“T- then where can I go to learn this skill?”
“But first, can you even draw? If you don’t know how and have to start from the fundamentals of drawing, then it really is hopeless.”

“I can draw!” Lily answered immediately. One had to know this body was proficient in the four arts, and even while she was still a boy, her only talent lies in her ability to draw a little. When she was lonely, she’d kill some time to draw the girl of her dream. Although she wasn’t that good, it was still a fine art that’s somewhat vivid.

“That’s good then…” Ehiro continued, “If that’s the case, you should go find Hishikawa Moronobu’s1 place on the main street of Suruga and learn ukiyo-e2 from him. He could be considered the best artist in the Kanto region. In his ukiyo-e painting, there is naturally a Drawing Concept that corresponds to one’s spirit. It’s not like just any Drawing Concept can be used on the sword inscriptions, but I think that ukiyo-e’s Drawing Concept has the best marriage with it.”

“Right… ok, I- I’ll go and learn…” Lily tried to stand up but she felt a little dizzy in the head.

Ehiro got up to support her, but of course, she didn’t forget to use this chance to grab her underarm.
“You look pretty tired eh, Miss Kagami, why don’t you rest at my place for a while?”

“Eh?” Lily could feel a subtle change in the atmosphere and quickly responded, “No need… I, uh… will go back to rest at Saionji’s mansion house.”

“Ugh, fine,” Ehiro was slightly disappointed, but she was still more concerned about Lily than trying to take small advantages of her, “The conditions over there are obviously much better compared to mine. You go back to bathe and take a good rest. After you’re dressed appropriately, you may go pay an official visit to Master Hishikawa Moronobu. Ukiyo-e is an elegant art, you don’t think it’s appropriate to visit the master in that kind of outfit either right?”

“Yeah… what Master Ehiro said is very reasonable. Oh, that’s right, I have something else to show you.”
While speaking, Lily retrieved the Demon Hound’s steel-like fang from the bag.

“Oh! I- isn’t this the fang of a powerful demon! If we ground some of them into powder and mixed some into the metal as well as the Grade 5 charcoal used for heating up the blade, then we can improve the durability and sharpness of the blade one step further! This is good stuff!” Without waiting for Lily to explain, Ehiro had already said everything. It was exactly like the Demon Hound had said.

While thinking of the Demon Hound, Lily was emotionally moved; not because it gave her the fang, but because of its loyalty towards the master it couldn’t forget even in death.

She killed Hojo Dijon’s brother in order to save Nanako, and then she had taken the tamahagane and anima which should have belonged to him, it was only a matter of time before a fight broke out between Hojo Dijon and herself!

However, she was still far too weak compared to Hojo Dijon who was already a High-Tier Sword Saint. For the time being, she could only avoid him to the best of her ability.

But Lily would never forget about the promise she made with the Demon Hound.

“Then, Miss Ehiro, I will take my leave first,” Lily got up and said.
“Alright, you can leave your tamahagane and Demon Hound fang at my place for now. I will slowly grind that fang in advance, so you can be at ease?”

“Why is the grandmaster posing that as a question? Lily has absolute trust in the grandmaster.” It wasn’t easy to reach that level as a swordsmith, why would she want to ruin her trust and reputation just because some treasures are laid in front of her.

Ehiro also smiled knowingly.
After leaving Ehiro’s workshop, Lily returned to the Saionji’s residence while ignoring the gazes of the passers-by.
Kotoka was so distressed when she saw Lily coming back with such an appearance.

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“Miss Kagami, did you… perhaps run into some bad guys?”
Lily heaved a long sigh of relief, “It’s a long story, but running into bad guys huh… I guess it’s more or less like that. However, it’s not like what the madam is imagining.”

To Kotoka’s side was Nanako, who looked a little displeased that Lily didn’t take her along, but it was easy to tell she was still worried about Lily in her heart. It was just that her stubborn personality prevented her from showing her concern.

“That’s enough for now, Miss Kagami. We can speak again at length later. For now, just go take a bath, fill your tummy, and take a good rest,” Kotoka said with concern.

Indeed, Lily was really fatigued. She fell asleep soon after taking a bath.
They didn’t get to talk that night.

The next day, Lily woke up feeling fully refreshed. She put on a pink kimono with an abundance of energy. However, after circling in her room for a while, she recalled that she was to visit the ukiyo-e master today. Thus, after a bit of consideration, she decided to change into an elegant black kimono with colorful butterflies embroidered on its wide sleeves.

This kind of kimono was actually worn by women with prominent background, it was very restricting and not what Lily would usually wear since she often went out for adventures.

Lily paid a visit to Madam Kotoka first thing in the morning.

“What? Miss Kagami, you want to learn from Hishikawa Moronobu?” Kotoka was slightly concerned, “That is an uncanny old man, even when the lord of Kamakura requested him to draw, he was unwilling and refused. Moreover, he usually wouldn’t even meet strangers. Be that as it may, our Saionji house does have a bit of connection with him. How about this then, take Nanako with you. Perhaps it might make it easier to talk with him.”

“Then I’ll take the madam up on that offer.”
“Hehe, Miss Kagami, since you’ve started to learn our Saionji house’s secret technique, why regard yourself as an outsider?”
“Huh?” Lily blushed upon recalling the training that night.

As such, Lily hit the road along with Nanako as they made their way towards the master of the ukiyo-e art.

It went without saying that Nanako was pretty familiar with Suruga. She took the lead and they quickly found the residence of the master artist. After turning a corner from the street, there was a relatively quiet garden just beyond the wooden fence. It was filled with various kinds of flowers and plants. However, unlike those of the rich people, these flowers were not trimmed.

After knocking on the door for a while, a young apprentice came to receive them. Upon seeing Nanako, he spoke familiarly, “So it is Miss Nanako, the master is home, please… come in.”

For some reason, Lily felt that he was a little hesitant to invite them into the house.

Nanako and Lily walked past the messy yet somewhat artistic garden, made their way through the old wooden corridor, and finally arrived at the central hall. There was nothing in the hall except for the ukiyo-e paintings that’s outfitted the entire room. The level of mastery, the coloration, and unique designs made Lily gasp with admiration.

“This looks like the studio, let us go in,” Nanako brazenly walked in.
“Ahhh—” There was a sudden cry coming from a young girl.
“Hm?” Lily and Nanako faced each other in doubt. Why would a sound like that come from the artist’s studio? Could something bad have happened in there?

The two hastily made their way to the artist’s studio. Lily couldn’t run that fast with a wide-sleeved kimono, thus she could only run in small steps.
In their rush, the two charged into the dim studio without any greetings.

“Master!” Lily shouted in concern while pulling open the sliding door.
“Huh?”
The scene beyond the door caused Lily and Nanako to blush.3

In the center of the room were a young girl in her prime as well as a short, wrinkled old man with a wiry yet energetic frame. The girl was lying face down on a slanted wooden box with her back exposed, while the short old man, dressed in a casual yukata, stood behind her atop a wooden stool. He held a paint palette in one arm, and with the other he wielded a delicate paintbrush as he painted on the girl’s back with a look of utmost concentration on his face.4

“Ahhh—” Lily almost screamed something rude at this elderly man who seemed to be playing some kind of perverted game, but she quickly realized this must be the ukiyo-e artist!

Even in the modern world, just the presence of a painting on a woman’s back was considered a masterpiece. For this young girl to be lying on a wooden box while having her back painted, surely this was the birth of a new work of art! Truly, this must be art!

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If she were to suddenly become embarrassed and move or squirm, that would be the end of the line. It could only mean that she didn’t understand true art!

That elderly man acted as though there were nobody else present and continued to focus on drawing that long stroke. It caused the girl to shudder in shame. Only after he finished with that did he finally turn his face to look at Nanako and Lily.

“Oh, it’s Nanako huh? Who’s that big breasted girl beside you? Is she going to be my model or— canvas?” The elderly man’s voice was high-pitched.

Canvas?
The color on Lily’s face changed after a quick glance at the girl on the wooden box.

“Of course not!” Lily flipped.
What art, that’s just a perverted old man!



References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hishikawa_Moronobu
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukiyo-e
  3. Silva: Nude art!!
  4. Silva: Oh, it’s just body paint?

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