After exiting Kifune Shrine, we descended down a mountain path to get to the riverside.
As we did so, we could see a few restaurants with Kawadoko dining areas.
(There are actually quite a lot of restaurants doing Kawadoko.)
The ambience in each store also varied, and there were even Western-style Kawadoko restaurants with vermillion parasols. Seeing people eat there while going down the mountain path lifted my spirits.
“The store my father favors is this one.”
Holmes-san pointed at a Kawadoko restaurant that looked like a well-established store, then stepped in without hesitation.
A waitress clad in a dark blue kimono stood at the entrance and bowed deeply.
“We have a reservation under ‘Ijuuin Takeshi’.”
Holmes-san nodded, causing the waitress to nod with a light smile.
“Yes, I understand. You are sensei’s son, correct? You do take after him.” The waitress laughed pleasantly, then said, “Please come this way” and led us through a passage to the interior of the shop.
That passage was still connected to an open-air area.
From the open door, I could see the smoothly coursing river as well as the floor foundations placed on it.
The floor was made up of soft rush mats arranged on top of a vermillion carpet. Black square tables and soft rush zabuton1 were placed on those mats. The ceiling was a bamboo screen that also served as a sunshade.
This was a realm of tranquillity, an extravagant indulgence.
I stood stock still in awe as the waitress said, “This way, please” with a faint smile.
We complied, going down the stone steps in the slippers that had been prepared for us.
The cool mountain wind pleasantly caressed our skin which had been sunburnt during our hike.
“Amazing, it’s really cool here!”
I exclaimed in surprise. In response, the waitress nodded.
“Yes, it’s 25 degrees here even in the middle of summer, and currently its about 23 degrees. Here is your seat.”
We were allocated a table at the upstream end of the platform.
We could easily see the flowing river up close at this spot, so it might be the best seat in the restaurant.
On top of that, due to the difference in water levels, we could even see the water cascading down the river.
“H-Holmes-san, is it really alright for me to be indulging in such extravagance when I’m so young?”
With a serious look, I revealed my concerns. Holmes-san and the waitress’s eyes widened for an instant, then they burst out laughing.
“Extravagance is split into ‘good extravagance’ and ‘bad extravagance’, I believe. For example, you might think that an activity might be too luxurious, but if you can use that experience as spiritual nourishment, then that activity will be a wonderful learning point, and will fall under ‘good extravagance’.”
Holmes-san sat on the zabuton.
“I, I see. It’s like learning about society.”
Feeling grateful, I also took a seat.
“Also, if you’re talking about age, I’ve been brought to surprising places and come into contact with treasures worth hundreds of millions for as long as I can remember, and that was all thanks to my grandfather.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
Holmes-san had certainly used all his experiences as spiritual nourishment.
And as a result, he became who he is now.
Satisfied with that answer, I nodded alone.
Gentle light seeped in through the gaps in the bamboo screen. A pleasantly cool wind blew. The whooshing of the rapids, the murmuring of the clear stream and the cries of mountain birds echoed around us.
It was so brilliant that I could feel the detestable parts of the everyday life get washed away…
Later on, if someone asks, “What is Kibune no Kawadoko like?”, I would be able to properly answer. I could even hold on to this experience as a conversation topic.
Thinking about it, this extravagance might be worth experiencing.
Before now, I’d thought that this was beyond my position, but I also thought that it could be an amazing experience if I forced to try it.
As I was pricking my ears and listening with rapt attention to the murmuring of the flowing water, the food was brought before us.
To start off the meal, there was amuse-bouche2, appetizer, soup, sashimi and salt-broiled trout.
They were all so delicious that I was entranced.
Each dish had a really small quantity, so I was at first worried that I wouldn’t be full, but after finishing everything, I was surprisingly satiated.
But that definitely wouldn’t be the case if just one of these amazing dishes was removed, right?
This feeling of satisfaction existed because the dishes were served at the perfect timing.
Even my body was enveloped in some gentle sensation.
“That was really delicious! I’m so full now.”
Even as I said so, I brought a piece of melon to my mouth. It was flavorful, and had a smooth texture.
“You might be full, but the fruit after the meal are an exception.”
Holmes-san commented with a sweet grin.
With all his elegant mannerisms, it was truly fitting for him to be in a place like this.
Earlier, I couldn’t help worrying that I was out of place.
If not for Manager’s plans, I would have no business being in a place like this, and might not even get a chance to come here in my entire life.
I should thank him when I get back.
“…Come to think of it, does Manager himself come here often?”
“Yes, he apparently comes here once a year. On top of that, his author friend Kajiwara Naotaka-san owned a mountain villa in Kurama, and they often dined here together.”
“Kajiwara-sensei passed away three months ago, right?”
“Yes, he was reaching his 60th birthday, but his diabetes condition deteriorated.”
“Yes. Born in Kyuushuu, he was a large-hearted man who loved to drink sake. He did receive warnings from doctors, but he refused to heed them, saying that he would drink and eat whatever he wanted to. In a sense, this might be a ‘bad extravagance’, but the man in question recognized that, and probably led a carefree life.”
“…I see. He was a completely different type of writer compared to Manager, huh.”
“And that was likely why they got along so well.”
At that moment, the waitress approached us cheerfully.
“Um, you have a phone call from Kajiwara-sensei’s residence.”
Upon hearing those words, Holmes-san stood up, replying, “Ah, yes,” and followed the waitress to another area.
Speak of the devil, as they say.
I wonder if they wanted to ask about our time of arrival?
Anyway, I could really feel the romance of two writers chatting at Kibune no Kawadoko.
The stream babbled on as the leaves of the trees fluttered in the wind.
It was so beautiful that I would want to write if I had the ability to.
But since that was impossible, perhaps I could try a haiku?
“…Falling summer rain, swiftly flows as it gathers…”
No, that’s not good, I’m just ripping off Bashō5!
Also, this river isn’t ‘swiftly flowing’, and isn’t fast at all.
“What about the summer rain?”
Holmes-san’s voice came from behind, causing me to jump in surprise.
“Ah, no, nothing, really.”
“Were you talking about the Mogami River6?”
“Y-You heard everything, didn’t you? That’s mean!”
Feeling my face turn a deep shade of red, I raised my voice.
“By the way, the river here is just called ‘Kibune River’.”
Holmes-san explained as he stifled a laugh.
Ugh, that’s the calm, slightly mischievous smile. The mean Kyoto guy is going strong.
“M-More importantly, what was the phone call about?”
I changed the subject with a pout.
“Ah, sorry about that. Kajiwara-san said that he would pick us up from here if we’re fine with it. So how about it? Do you want to stroll around some more before meeting him?”
“Ah, it’s fine. We’ve done quite a lot of hiking already, so I don’t mind going to Kajiwara-san’s place now.”
“I shall reply to them, then.” Holmes-san retraced his steps.
“Eh? You were in the middle of the phone call?”
“Yes, I thought that I would only give them a reply after getting your consent.”
“Y-You don’t have to be so considerate for me…”
But even as I said that, I felt a little happy.
Holmes-san sure is a gentleman no matter where he goes.
(Although he’s also mischievous.)
I wonder what the deceased author’s family wants to consult Holmes-san about?
Did he leave behind some antiques that needs to be appraised?
If that was the case, they wouldn’t have to go out of their way to ask for Holmes-san.
Still confused, I gulped down the rest of my cold plum juice.
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- Flat floor cushions used for sitting and kneeling.
- A bite-sized Hors d’oeuvre.
- Refers to noodles made from konjac yam.
- Very thin noodles, usually served cold with soy sauce and dashi dipping sauce.
- Refers to Matsuo Bashō, recognized as the greatest master of haiku. The poem that Aoi is copying goes “The showers of May, swiftly flows as it gathers, Mogami River.” (This is my own translation, so I apologize for any inaccuracies since I’m not very familiar with haiku translation.)
- A river in Yamagata Prefecture.