Shirasu

Three days. For three days now they’ve been questioning me. I’ve stopped caring for… How long has it been? I can’t even remember. All I can think about is the pain from sitting on the ground, in this… this… gravel. I don’t understand why they are keeping me here so long. I have told them everything I know about the incident. Maybe… Could one of the commissioners be involved? Ow, why should it bother me? I should get back in town as soon as possible. I have business that needs doing. Gosh, the sun is hot today. Do these people not sweat? Ow good, we’re continuing. Let’s get this incident sorted.

Shirasu literally translates as “white sandbar”. During the Edo period (1600-1868) these were courtyards spread with white gravel in commissioners’ offices. Commissioners of temples and shrines (jisha bugyō), of city affairs (machi bugyō), of finance (kanjō bugyō), or regional intendants (daikan) usually had them attached to their offices. They were used to adjudicate civil and criminal cases. Members of the lower classes, such as peasants, were made to sit on the gravel during trails. Members of the upper classes, such as samurai, sat on stairs leading from the gravel to the commissioner’s desk.

Further reading:

“shirasu” In: Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Kodansha.