“That was a really fascinating story. It was good that we stopped to listen to it.”
With the main hall behind us, I spoke excitedly as Holmes-san looked at me with gentle, narrowed eyes.
“You’re right. Coming to a place like this and listening to that story was an extraordinarily good use of our time, I think.”
“Yes, I think so too. But Zena-san was also quite good at talking. If it were me, I would have probably said something boring like ‘He prayed with utmost effort, but no one knows how many times he actually prayed since it wasn’t counted.’”
“At that point, when he said ‘He prayed one million times’, I felt that it was really smart and humorous.”
We continued our discussion while we returned to the lively Handicrafts Market.
As he was looking at an antique stall, Holmes-san suddenly went “Hm?”, stopped moving and strained his eyes to get a better view.
“Holmes-san, is something wrong?”
Slightly bewildered, I turned around to look at Holmes-san who had suddenly stopped.
“Ah, no, just that I recognize that stall owner in that antique corner over there.”
Holmes-san’s eyes were on the middle-aged man selling antiques.
“…He’s called Kanebayashi-san, and he also used to operate an antique store, but I believe it was closed down last month.”
“So he’s setting up a stall here to deal with all the antiques left from his old store?”
“I suppose,” came the reply. A little further away from us, an elderly lady approached Kanebayashi-san.
“My my, if it ain’t Kanebayashi-san? I was worried when you said you closed down your shop.”
Upon hearing the lady speak, Kanebayashi-san’s face lit up with a smile.
“Long time no see, Nakamoto-san. Yeah, I went bankrupt. The antiques weren’t selling very well, so I shut the shop down and started a business in Osaka.”
“I see, that’s good to hear. So, do ya getting rid of yer stock?”
“Yeah, so please buy some. Ah, but this one’s just there as a sign to draw customers; it ain’t for sale.”
Kanebayashi-san said as he pointed at a tokkuri1 on a table.
“Oh, is it something good?”
“Yep, it’s a ‘washed-up bizen ware’2. Ya must have heard about it too, Nakamoto-san.”
“I’ve certainly heard of washed-up something or other. Is it rare?”
“Exactly. It’s a rare treasure that is hard to obtain. That’s why I placed it here, as a good luck charm for my business. And that’s why it ain’t for sale.”
As I listened to their conversation, I glanced at Holmes-san.
“…Holmes-san, what’s ‘washed-up bizen ware’?”
“A ‘washed-up bizen ware’, huh… Sometime in the first ten years of the Showa period, a sunken ship was found in the Seto Inland Sea3, and bizen ware from the Momoyama period4 was retrieved from the ship. At the time, it was huge news in the antique world, and it was known as ‘washed-up bizen ware’.”
“So it’s like a treasure sleeping in a sunken ship?”
Holmes-san explained without taking his eyes off Kanebayashi-san.
“If ya were to sell it, how much would ya take for it?”
“Hmm, three hundred thousand, I suppose. There probably ain’t anyone here who can come up with that money, so I don’t need to worry about that. But this treasure of mine’s gonna be worth even more in the future.”
“Three hundred thousand, huh. It’s amazing that the price will go up even further.”
As the lady continued staring at the tokkuri, the stall owner spoke.
“Don’t just look at this one, look at the rest, too. I’ll sell them to ya for whatever price you care to name!” Kanebayashi-san grinned.
“Kanebayashi-san, I’ll play ya three hundred and fifty thousand, so could ya sell it to me?”
The lady asked with a serious face, but Kanebayashi-san’s face clouded over.
“Even if ya ask me like that, it’s my treasure… But three hundred and fifty thousand, huh. I was just in need of some money for my new business. But still…”
Kanebayashi-san muttered, apparently still mired in hesitation.
“Please wait while I get the money,” the lady said as she energetically left the area.
“Well, what can I do?”
Kanebayashi-san murmured with a smile.
Does he usually us this tactic of putting on airs to sell his items? I wondered.
Holmes-san slowly walked towards him.
“Long time no see, Kanebayashi-san.”
Upon seeing Holmes-san’s figure, the stall owner’s eyes opened wide in surprise.
As expected, Owner was widely known.
“Could you show me the ‘Washed-up bizen ware’ too? If it’s in good condition, we would be willing to offer five hundred thousand for it.”
Holmes-san asked with a sharp look in his eyes, and in response Kanebayashi-san’s face stiffened.
“Nah, no can do. I wasn’t plannin’ to sell it to anyone in the first place.”
But before he could hurriedly hold out his hands, Holmes-san had already picked up the tokkuri.
After carefully studying it, a grin appeared on his face.
“Unfortunately, this is a fake, Kanebayashi-san.”
“T-That’s an unreasonable claim…”
“No, I do have every reason to say it. There are many points that are off about it, but the most recognizable one is this. Take a look at the stand.” Holmes-san said, pointing at the base of the tokkuri.
“’Washed-up bizen ware’ all have snake-eyed stands, but that is not the case for this one. This is just a normal piece of bizen ware.”
Kanebayashi-san was lost for words.
He was apparently shocked by the revelation that his treasure was a fake.
…Kanebayashi-san himself might have believed that it was a real piece of bizen ware, even though he didn’t have much conviction about it. Someone could also have told him that it was the real deal.
“…You don’t seem to be intentionally selling this fake, but it would be a crime if you took three hundred and fifty thousand for this.”
“Y-You stinking brat!”
With an unsteady posture, the enraged antique seller made a swipe at Holmes-san.
Unable to move, all I could do was cover my mouth with my hands.
It happened in an instant.
Holmes-san caught Kanabayashi-san’s hand, and in the next moment, the older man was on the ground.
“—Ehh?” I was dumbfounded.
“I was made to do aikido since young to build up my body.”
Holmes-san casually explained.
At that moment, the bearded potter from earlier rushed over with a worried facial expression.
“Mister, did anything happen? Is everything okay?”
“It’s fine. He just tripped and fell.”
Holmes-san replied, then offered a hand to Kanebayashi-san.
Kanebayashi-san stood up without taking the hand, dusted himself off and started packing his goods into cardboard boxes. It seemed that he was going to retreat.
“Kanebayashi-san, you’re really not suited to managing an antique shop. It was the right choice to close your shop and sell off the rest of your goods.”
Holmes-san directed those words at the stall owner’s back.
“What did ya say?”
Kanebayashi-san turned around, enraged.
That rage was understandable. Why did Holmes-san add fuel to the fire?
As I watched on nervously, Holmes-san smoothly retrieved a white pair of gloves from his inner pocket.
That was what he always did when he was about to appraise something or hold a valuable item in his hands.
“I’m really surprised,” Holmes-san said as he picked out a red tea bowl from an assortment of tableware.
“…Yeah, there’s no mistaking it. I’m truly surprised.”
With the tea bowl in his hands, Holmes-san’s eyes narrowed.
“What is it?” Kanebayashi-san growled irritably as he stared at Holmes-san.
“This is a Kawakita Handeishi5 tea bowl, and it’s the genuine article. I was surprised that you didn’t take notice of such a treasure, and treated it like a normal tea bowl.”
The corner of Holmes-san’s lips curled upwards as Kanebayashi-san stared at him.
“A genuine Kawakita Handeishi tea bowl, you say?”
“There is no mistaking it. You should bring it to a suitable place and have it appraised. It can probably give you additional funds for your new business.”
Holmes-san gently placed the tea bowl back on the table.
“So, how much would that fetch?”
The bearded potter who had been listening from the side suddenly leaned forward.
Nice, Mr Potter, I was about to ask that myself.
“Hmm, I suppose two million would be trivial.”
Holmes-san clearly asserted, causing the bearded potter, myself, and most significantly, Kanebayashi-san to open our eyes wide and lose our ability to speak.
“Yes, so please take good care of it.”
“Understood. Thank, thank you very much, mister.”
Clasping Holmes-san’s hands, Kanebayashi-san shook them spiritedly.
Wow, what a complete reversal in his attitude.
At that moment, the lady from earlier ran over and said breathlessly, “Kanebayashi-san, I’ve withdrawn the money. Won’t ya sell me the washed-up bizen ware?”
“Ahh, Nakamoto-san. Sorry, but I can’t sell this. There ain’t any appraisal note, so there ain’t any proof that it’s genuine. Still, thanks for ya interest.”
Kanebayashi-san lowered his head apologetically, naturally unable to say that it was a fake.
“…I see, it’s too bad then.”
“Well, I’m still clearing my stock, and it’s still filled with a bunch of goods, so please take another look and see what ya like.”
With a look at Kanebayashi-san talking cheerfully, we softly left the area.
As we did so, the bearded potter approached us and said, “Wow mister, looks like you should be the one called ‘sensei’ here.”
Hearing that statement, I instinctively smiled.
As expected of Holmes-san.
As always, he had a good eye for appraisals.
This post is made possible by our amazing patrons!
Editors (Tier 2) : Bennet Kilian, Yazmin Arostegui, Steven Baltakatei, Smash the Oni, Joshua Fisher
Assistants (Tier 1) : Daniel Betts, Jaime Cuellar, Javier Rivera, zqy47d, Fred Valenzuela, Gajusz Kubasik
Thank you very much for all your support!
- A flask that serves as the server of a sake set.
- I couldn’t find a standard English translation for 海揚がりの古備前, so this was the best I could manage.
- The body of water separating Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū.
- The final phase of the Sengoku period, from 1573 to 1600.
- A self-confessed amateur artist who is known for bringing life and innovations to the then stagnant field of ceramics in the 20th century, as well as setting the foundation for the ceramic revival of the Showa period.