(Note about chapter name: This is a variation of a poem by Saigyō Hōshi, a famous Japanese poet of the late Heian and early Kamakura period. The poem reads: Let me die in spring under the blossoming trees, let it be around that full moon of Kisaragi month.)
“Aoi-san, would you like to work here?”
That question came from a strange youth in an antique store named “Kura” in Kyoto’s Teramachi Sanjou.
It was three weeks after Yagashira Kiyotaka-san, or widely known as “Holmes”, had invited me to take on a part-time job at his shop.
“I’ll be going off, then.”
It was a Saturday in early April.
Having thoroughly done my hair, I noisily rushed down the stairs and headed for the entranceway.
“Hey! Aoi, I told you not to run down the stairs!”
My mother appeared from the living room and rebuked me. I replied with an “Alright”, as I slipped my feet into a pair of sneakers.
“You have part-time work today?”
“Isn’t it too early?”
My mother questioned while checking the clock.
“I was thinking of taking a little detour with the bike. I’ll be going off!”
I flew out of the doorway and straddled on the bicycle placed outside my house.
The wind gently caressed my cheek as I started pedaling.
It was a warm wind with the fragrance of fresh verdure.
(Ahh, this feels great!)
Since summers here are murderously hot, this is really the best season.
Traveling nimbly on my bicycle, I went south on a straight road known as Shimogamo’s main street.
If I passed Imadegawa Street, the road name would change from “Shimogamo Main Street” to “Kawaramachi Street”.
To reach Teramachi Sanjou, the location of my part-time job, all I had to do was go further south on Kawaramachi Street.
I would usually travel straight down to Teramachi Sanjou, but today I turned left (Eastward) to Shimogawa.
By taking this path, I could reach Duck River, the confluence of Takano River and Kamo River.
At the point where the Kamo River merges with the Takano River, it apparently becomes known as the Duck River1.
Above of, this confluence is a power spot2.
I intentionally took a detour from going to my part-time job just because I wanted to see the confluence that was also a power spot… no, that wasn’t it. The main goal was the row of cherry blossoms blooming on the sides of the river.
“Wow, this is really beautiful!”
My inner thoughts leaked out as I moved my bicycle.
Kyoto was now welcoming the cherry blossom season. In the brilliant sunlight, innumerable petals were scattered over the sparkling Duck River and between the rows of cherry blossom trees. It was truly a sight to behold.
There were probably many other people who traveled a long distance just to see this scenery. By being able to visit this place by bicycle whenever I wanted, I could easily be labelled as an indulgent fellow.
I went down to the riverbed and headed South. With the river to my side and the cherry blossoms above, I pedaled on.
It was really the best. It would have been even better if not for the couples flirting on the riverbanks.
As the figures of those intimate couples entered my eyes, I was suddenly reminded of the person who had broken up with me.
At that moment, I felt a throbbing pain in my chest.
My heart palpitated painfully as I imagined my boyfriend snuggling up to my best friend.
This was no good. It was painful for him to break up with me, it was cruel for my best friend and boyfriend to go out, and why did it have to happen to me? Such unbearable thoughts circled around in a closed loop.
However, I’d gotten news of them going out only through the grapevine.
It could have been a false rumor. It could have also been some sort of misunderstanding. That was why I wanted to go to Saitama right now, to check for myself.
(No, no, there’s nothing I can do even if I think about this now.)
I slightly shook my head and steadily raised my head.
Before my eyes were flower petals dancing in the gentle wind.
My mangled, pained heart was healed a little by that beautiful scene.
For now, I should only think about saving up my part-time pay.
Taking a firm grip, I continued pedaling.
I traveled like this for about fifteen minutes.
Checking that I had reached “Oike Street”, I took the upward path, and after moving a little to the West, I could see Kyoto’s City Hall, a Western-style building that doesn’t fit the typical image of a city hall. It was apparently built in the early Shōwa period, but it reminded me of Meiji Taishō3 romanticism, with its retro, dignified look.
(I was really surprised when I saw this city hall for the first time. As expected of Kyoto to have amazing things here and there.)
As I held that thought, I stopped my bicycle at a bicycle parking area and headed towards Sanjou’s shopping arcade.
It was now 10:50 in the morning; I was told to come in for work at 11.
It seemed that I wouldn’t be late today.
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- Both “Kamo River” and “Duck River” have the same pronunciation in Japanese, but I translated them that way to be able to differentiate between the two. The first is written 賀茂川, with Kamo being the name of a clan in ancient times. The other is written 鴨川, with Kamo meaning wild duck.
- A spiritual spot where one can feel in tune with nature or the surrounding elements.
- Period in Japan from 30 July 1912 to 25 December 1926, coinciding with the reign of Emperor Taishō.