Required by the 1866 Sanitary Act to make provision for disposal, some local authorities initially relied on soil or ash closets, or night-soil
collection using pails, rather than incurring capital expenditure to install drains and sewers.
In the fields the yoked women bear the night-soil
buckets, an odor a chemically attuned nose may even come to appreciate.
Her graphic accounts include "the casual excretory habits of the courtiers" and Samuel Pepys' consternation when the night-soil
men "slopped their way through [his] house" to recover a neighbor's waste which had backed up through his own cess-pit.
Her pursuit of this argument takes Hanley down paths unfamiliar to most Tokugawa specialists - into the investigation of the minutiae of housing design and maintenance; diet, cuisine, and nutrition; bathing habits and hygiene in general; toilet design and upkeep; night-soil
collection and sewage systems; clothing; bedding, etc.