“—Miyashita Draper’s Shop of Nishijin1 is a long-established shop with more than three hundred years of history and deals with all sorts of clothing, from Kabuki2 and Japanese dance costumes to the kimono worn by leading enka3 singers.”
Owner spoke as he took a seat on the sofa.
Having finished the task of bringing the signboard into the shop, I closed the door firmly as I looked up, startled.
Wow, three hundred years!
The oldest store in my hometown was only about a hundred years old.
As expected of Kyoto. Even the histories of old shops here are impressive.
“It’s just old. That’s why even if we put up another shop in Roppongi, it probably ain’t going according to our expectations.” Miyashita-san’s mother said with a wry smile.
It seemed like they had opened a branch store in Roppongi. Nonetheless, the Miyashita family were amazing for having tailored even the clothes of big-name enka singers.
That was what I thought as I started sweeping the floor with feigned ignorance while peeked at the situation.
“So you’re from the Miyashita Draper Shop? I congratulate you for your recent achievement.”
Holmes-san bowed and gave a sweet smile.
What did he congratulate them for?
“Thank you. It has always been my dream to have my daughter be the Saiō representative.”
Miyashita-san’s mother placed a hand on her cheek and smiled elegantly.
Did she say Saiō representative? I whirled around.
The figure of Miyashita-san’s sister entered my eyes as she shrugged in embarrassment.
Come to think of it, Mieko-san did say that this year’s representative was from a long-established draper shop4.
So Miyashita-san’s sister is this year’s Saiō representative.
As Mieko-san enthusiastically exclaimed a few days ago, she was indeed a refined-looking beauty.
Miyashita-san was also a beauty with well-defined facial features, but her sister had by far a better appearance that mesmerized the eyes.
“…So, I presume this visit is related to the Saiō representative?”
Holmes-san folded his hands by his chest and asked. In response, Miyashita-san’s mother twitched in surprise.
“Kiyotaka, threatening letters started being delivered to Saori-san right after the announcement of the Saiō representative.”
Owner spoke in a low voice, as Holmes-san frowned.
Miyashita-san’s sister, Saori-san, shrunk back. By the way, Miyashita-san’s given name is “Kaori”. Their family seemed to be obsessed with the “ori” character5, as might be expected of a draper store.
“Threatening letters, you say?”
Saori-san said “Yes” and nodded slightly, then retrieved a manilla envelope from her bag.
“This is it.”
“…May I inspect it?”
“Yes, please do.”
Saori-san nodded. As always, Holmes-san put on his white gloves and slipped a hand into the envelope.
After staring at the envelope for a while, he took out a white sheet of paper.
“YoU aRe NOt fiT TO BE ThE SAIō rePreseNTaTivE. aNNounCE yOuR reSIgNAtiON imMEdiATely.”
“…It’s made up of newspaper cuttings pasted on a piece of A4 paper. It’s certainly the very picture of a ‘threatening letter’.”
Holmes-san spoke with what seemed like a bit of admiration.
That statement was somehow quite amusing to me, causing me to make a face, which was thankfully not noticed by Miyashita-san’s mother.
“Have you consulted anyone else regarding this?” Holmes-san followed up with a question, to which Miyashita-san’s mother shook her head.
“It’s unpleasant, so the best course of action would be to go to the police, but no actual threats were made, and we didn’t want to make a big fuss right before the important festival. I asked my husband, and he suggested that we consult Seiji-san’s grandson.”
I see. So Owner and Miyashita-san’s father were acquaintances. I imagine that they must have had some lateral communication from a long time ago, being shop owners in Kyoto.
“U-Um, my father said that Kiyotaka-san is a sharp person who’s known as ‘Holmes’ by everyone around.”
Saori-san suddenly piped up.
Her cheeks were tinged with red, which was quite surprising.
Holmes-san might be quite a mischievous, weird person, but he gave off an elegant impression and possessed outstanding looks. This year’s Saiō representative might even fall for that handsome guy.
“No no, I’m only called ‘Holmes’ because my family name is ‘Yagashira’.”
Holmes-san gave the usual reply.
Even though that was not true.
“How were the threatening letters delivered?”
“They were placed in my bag,” Saori-san said and shrugged.
“In your bag?”
“Yes, after returning home from university, I removed the contents of my bag, only to find an envelope that I didn’t recognize.”
“…Did you go anywhere other than the university?”
“I also went for flower arrangement training.”
“By the way, was that the only letter you received?”
Saori-san shook her head, while her mother leant forward.
“When we first saw the letter, we had a bad feeling about it, and were wondering what to do. But then again, nothing happened, so we were thinking that it was just someone being jealous, when another one was delivered.”
“This is it.”
This time, a piece of paper that had been folded down four times was presented.
Holmes-san accepted the letter and carefully opened it.
“hUrrY uP AnD rESigN. YOU’re aN eYeSOrE.”
“This one’s also made up of newspaper cuttings, I see. Was it delivered in a manilla envelope, like the last one?”
“No, it was found in the bag, just like that.”
“I see. Saori-san, you have an idea about who could have sent these threatening letters, don’t you?”
Holmes-san looked Saori-san squarely in the eye, causing her to quiver.
“W-Why do you think that?”
“For someone who’s received a threatening letter, you seem quite calm. Rather than having absolutely no clue about the sender, you must have thought, ‘Could it have been that person?’, right?”
He had probably hit the nail on the head, for I could hear Saori-san take a breath, even from over here.
“…Yes, there is someone who I think could have done this.”
“What, really? Why didn’t you tell us?”
Her mother exclaimed in surprise. Right after that, Miyashita Kaori-san, who was in the same grade as me, spoke up with a stern expression on her face.
“Mom, that’s because you would overreact even when there’s no evidence! During that time when Sis was being left out of a group, you stormed over to their house and shouted at them and it was so embarrassing! After that, Sis was bullied even more, right? Mom, you just don’t understand.”
Her mother muttered, apparently shocked. In return, Kaori-san lowered her eyebrows.
“It’s fine, Kaori. I was actually wondering if the culprits were from the family that my mother intruded on.”
Saori-san spoke with a sorrowful countenance. Holmes-san did not say anything, instead waiting for her to continue.
“…There were two girls I was close with in high school. They were the daughters of a small restaurant and a ryokan. Since our families owned fairly well-known shops and we attended the same flower arrangement class, the three of us hit it off and we became good friends. After a small incident, I was left out from that group and became quite troubled…
“I talked about it with my mother, who flew into a fit of rage. She then forced her way into their houses and yelled, ‘I ain’t forgivin’ ya for leaving out our Saori. From now on, we won’t have anything to do with yer businesses, and we ain’t introducin’ our customers!’”
…Wow, a monster parent.
I frowned as I listened to her story.
“As a result, my relationship with the two of them deteriorated even further, to the point that it was hopeless to salvage it. However, my high school and university are on an escalator system6, and we’re still in the same flower arrangement class, so I still have to see them all the time.”
…That must be really awkward. I would certainly feel like running away from that situation.
“When the Saiō representative was decided, the flower arrangement teacher was the first to tell us about it. Delighted, she announced, ‘Everyone, the Saiō representative has been selected from our class.’ At that time, the two of them became quite excited, thinking that their names would be called out.”
Upon hearing that, Mieko-san’s words floated at the back of my mind.
“I’ve also heard that if you take lessons in tea ceremony or flower arrangement, the teachers might ask for you to be considered as a candidate.”
—Those two might have heard about that and could have momentarily thought about being referred by the teacher.
“After that, when the teacher said, ‘That person is Miyashita Saori-san!’, the two of them made faces that I will never forget. Up until now, it had been something of a cold war in which we didn’t talk to each other, but they openly showed their malicious intent…”
Saori-san cast down her eyes, while Holmes-san nodded and said, “I see.”
“Could we meet these two people?”
“You want to meet them and ask them directly?”
Saori-san asked, her eyes wide in surprise. Holmes-san shook his head.
“No, I want to meet them while hiding the fact that I’m acquainted with you.”
“If so… our class will be holding an exhibition on flower arrangement this weekend. All the students will be attending.”
“I see, that would be great. I would certainly like to visit.”
Holmes-san said, a sweet smile on his face.
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Editors (Tier 2) : Smash the Oni, Sam D., Steven Baltakatei Sandoval, Yazmin Arostegui
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- A district in Kyoto, well known for the traditional textile produced there.
- Classical Japanese dance-drama that begun in the 1600s and is known for the elaborate make-up used.
- A popular music genre that resembles traditional Japanese music stylistically.
- Errata: I translated it as “Dry goods store” in part 1, which is the usual translation for 呉服店, but a dry goods store sells things other than clothes like toiletries, and I don’t think that’s the case here, so I changed it to “draper shop”.
- The character in question, 織, means “woven items”.
- A system by which students automatically advance to high school and university without having to pass an entrance exam.