And then Saturday arrived.
I met with Holmes-san at 9 in the morning at the entrance of the Philosopher’s Walk.
By the way, to get to the Philosopher’s Walk, you would have to turn East along Imadegawa-dori and get to a street called Shirakawa-dori.
The entrance to the Philosopher’s Walk is just on that street.
Taking a bus would be fine, but it’s a distance I can reach by cycling, let’s cycle there.
That was what I thought as I headed there on my bicycle, as I usually do— when I reached the gentle upward slope after passing Higashioji-dori that seemed to last forever!
Naturally, it was tiring (Although the return journey would probably be comfortable).
I diligently pedalled on as my present for Owner jolted around in the basket.
Incidentally, it was a high-quality sake from Saitama called “Tenranzan”1. Not knowing what to give the man with one of the sharpest eyes in the world, I consulted my mother, who said, “You can’t go wrong with sake,” and gave me a bottle.
I eagerly rode on, and eventually saw the end of the hill when I reached a small bridge with the words “Jōdo Bridge” written in Hiragana. To its right was a sign saying, “The Philosophers’ Walk”, and on the bridge was Holmes-san, who was smiling and waving a hand.
His rough yet refreshing outfit consisting of a shirt and jeans caught my eye.
“S-Sorry for making you wait.”
I crossed the traffic light and got off the bicycle when I reached the bridge.
“As I thought, you came here by bicycle. I see you managed to endure the slope of Imadegawa.”
Holmes-san chuckled, then handed me an unopened sports drink.
Apparently, he’d predicted that I would come here by bicycle and prepared that drink.
Once again, I was touched by his insight and preparedness.
“—Thank you. I thought I would be fine with a long distance ride on my bicycle, but I never thought the slope would go on for so long.”
I pulled off the cap of the pet bottle and drank in huge gulps.
I could feel the sweat permeating from my tired body.
“If you’re coming here by bicycle from Rakuhoku, shouldn’t you have turned to Shirakawa-dori from Kitaoji-dori and headed straight all the way from there?”
“What? You should have told me that earlier!”
I turned my face up in exasperation as Holmes-san laughed and replied, “Yeah, I really should have.”
“Shall we go, then? Ah, I’ll push your bicycle.” Holmes-san gripped the handlebars of the bicycle and pushed it while slowly moving forward.
“…Thank you very much.”
Once again in admiration of his smartness, I quietly followed behind Holmes-san.
We walked along Lake Biwa Canal, which was lined with trees that only had a few red leaves remaining on them.
With all these sakura trees here, this place must look picturesque in spring. As if to match the peaceful sound of the flowing water in the canal, the leaves on the trees danced in the wind.
I spotted a few classy cafes here and there, causing my heart to leap.
The Philosopher’s Walk was indeed a wonderful place, the most suited for one to take a leisurely stroll while having some thoughts.
“…Is the house near here?”
“It’s just a short walk from here.”
“I see. I’m looking forward to it!”
I wonder what kind of house it is. It belongs to Owner, who always wears a kimono, after all.
A traditional Japanese residence, I suppose?
It would certainly be big enough to throw a party.
Ah, I’m really excited about it.
“I’ll work hard to help out!”
I clenched my fists and said some words of encouragement to myself, but Holmes-san looked at me apologetically.
“Sorry, but the setting was completed between last night and this morning.”
“Well, since we’re here, I thought I’d take you to see Ginkaku-ji. How about it, Aoi-san? Have you been to Ginkaku-ji before?”
I smiled wryly upon hearing that question.
“I’ve… been to Ginkaku-ji on a field trip in middle school, but I don’t remember much about it. I do remember The Philosopher’s Walk, though. As for Ginkaku-ji, we saw it after Kinkaku-ji2, so I had the strong impression that it wasn’t silver in color.”
I shrugged, while Holmes-san said, “I thought it would be like that,” and nodded.
“There are people who say that, but Ginkaku-ji is great too. The temple itself isn’t silver, but it makes you feel the tastefulness of oxidized silver.”
“…Oxidized silver, you say?”
“Yes, exactly. If my flashy, carefree grandfather is like Kinkaku-ji, then my calm, mellow father is like Ginkaku-ji.
I wasn’t expecting that analogy, but it was easy to understand, so I laughed.
“Y-You’re right! Owner does give off the feeling of the luxurious and gaudy Kinkaku-ji! And now that you mention it, I’d like to revisit the Ginkaku-ji that resembles Manager-san.”
“Shall we go, then?”
Holmes-san asked with a sweet grin.
We progressed further into The Philosopher’s Walk, then turned left (North) and entered the road that preceded Ginkaku-ji.
It was such a small path that you could miss it if you were on a car.
Lots of souvenir vendors had set up shop there.
“The scale isn’t as large here, but it certainly gives off an enjoyable atmosphere.”
Holmes-san nodded as he pushed the bicycle.
Since it was still early in the morning, many of the stalls were still closed, but I presume it would be quite busy in the afternoon.
There were also a few fashionable cafés, and I think I’d like to slowly browse through them next time.
“Holmes-san, have you ever gone into that café?”
I asked while looking at a café and asked, causing Holmes-san to look at me in surprise. I was bewildered by that reaction.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“Aoi-san, that’s a foolish question?”
“Well, perhaps that’s an overstatement, so I apologize for that, but I absolutely love cafés. I’ve probably been into all the cafés in the city of Kyoto,” he retorted with a sharp gaze. Now it was my turn to be surprised.
“Eh, really? You remember every single café in the city?”
“Yes, I record my thoughts about them in my notebook.”
“I aspire to produce a report book entitled ‘Hunt for Cafés’ some time.”
“Wow, that’s brilliant!”
“Nope, just kidding.”
“Please stop making hard-to-understand jokes!”
I don’t know how to put it, but Holmes-san is… such a weird person!
“I was joking about publishing a book, but I’d like to turn Kura into an antique café after I’m finished with graduate school. It’s hard to enter the shop with how it is now, right? If it’s a café, people can enter it with ease, and we can have them get into contact with antiques.”
“I see. That’s also a lovely dream. It’d definitely be easier to enter if it was a café.”
“Thank you. I’ll be getting a lot of help for you during that time, so I’ll be counting on you, Aoi-san.”
My pulse rose as Holmes-san smiled gently.
How many years later would that be? It is really alright for me to be working there until then?
“Y-Yes. I’ll do my best!”
“Although that will be quite far in the future.”
I was unable to stop my heart from pounding excitedly as Holmes-san gave a mirthful smile.
Having finished walking the full distance of the path that wasn’t long at all, we parked the bicycle and entered the grounds of Ginkaku-ji. By the way, Ginkaku-ji is just a nickname, and the actual name of the temple is Higashiyama Jishō-ji.
“Here you go.” Holmes-san passed me an admission ticket, which he had paid for without me noticing.
“Thank you. Um, why is it called ‘Ginkaku-ji’ when it doesn’t use any silver?”
“The one who had Ginkaku-ji built was the 8th shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, and he built this mountain villa in Higashiyama with reference to Kinkaku-ji, which was constructed by his grandfather, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. The building material for multistorey buildings in Higashiyama was called ‘Ginkaku’, so the temple and the buildings in its grounds are called Ginkaku-ji as a whole.”
As I admired his vast stock of knowledge that flowed out smoothly as usual, we moved inside.
The first thing that appeared before our eyes was the pitch-black temple (Kannon-den).
Indeed, its composed bearing gave off the refined feel of oxidized silver.
I didn’t feel anything during the school trip in middle school, though… or rather, I was disappointed in Ginkaku-ji, but perhaps because I was told about the tastefulness of oxidized silver, I had that exact feeling from the power of suggestion.
It wasn’t splendorous, but it was calm, gentle, thoroughly elegant, and— refined.
“I-It’s really just like Manager, Holmes-san!”
I turned around and exclaimed, causing the other people around to gape at us, and myself to hurriedly covered my mouth with a hand.
“The temple that has the tastefulness of oxidized silver, right?”
“Yes, it has a charm that you wouldn’t get unless you’re bigger. I certainly didn’t when I was in middle school.”
“So you’ve become bigger then, Aoi-san?”
My cheeks grew hot upon hearing Holmes-san’s earnest words. There it is, his plain mean attack!
“P-Please stop saying that. More importantly, you compared Manager-san to Ginkaku-ji and Owner to Kinkaku-ji, but is there a temple similar to you, Holmes-san?”
“Me? That would be presumptuous. However, the temple I like most is Kiyomizu-dera. It contains Kiyo from my name, after all.”
With a hand on his chest, Holmes-san looked off into the distance with bright eyes.
Ah, so he likes Kiyomizu-dera… I thought as I also narrowed my eyes to look into the distance along with him.
“I like it, but I wouldn’t say that it’s like me. Shall we stop staring off into the distance, then?”
“Yes, it’d just be too impertinent of me to say so.”
As we laughed while having our meaningless conversation, we proceeded down the pathway.
The pathway that spiralled around the grounds of Ginkaku-ji was a longer walk than expected.
I-Is it that long? I was feeling a little out of breath when I finished climbing the stone staircase, but I was rewarded with a view of Kyoto.
Nestled snugly in the mountains were rows of short houses.
With few tall buildings, you could tell that this town was truly surrounded by mountains.
“W-Wow! This is amazing!”
“It’s the view from Higashiyama of a town in Kyoto. Quite the pleasant scenery, isn’t it?”
“Yup! My fatigue is flying away!”
Under the blue sky and refreshing autumn breeze, I gently stroked my skin.
Looking down at the town from Higashiyama also gave it a different taste…
“Holmes-san, I’m glad I came here. I’ve come to like Ginkaku-ji.”
I turned around when Holmes-san’s smiling face unexpectedly appeared in my field of view, causing my heart to flutter.
“Great! I also love Ginkaku-ji, but I feel that it’s losing out because of its nickname.”
“…That’s certainly true.”
“That’s why I’m happy that you came to like this place too, Aoi-san.”
As usual, he seemed to be holding himself responsible for the town of Kyoto.
“Shall we go, then?”
“Ah, yes, of course.”
Right, there’s a party after this.
“Come to think of it, Owner has appeared on television, right?”
Recalling that bit of information, I asked as we descended the hill. Holmes-san responded with a small nod.
“—Yes, he occasionally made appearances until two years ago.”
“Why did he stop?”
When I asked Manager that same question the other time, he seemed reluctant to answer.
“Two years ago, when he was making a guest appearance at ‘Hunt for Heirlooms ✰ Autumn Special’ two years ago, there was some trouble. He’s always said that appearing on TV is too troublesome after that incident.”
“Some trouble, you say?” I was on tenterhooks after hearing those words.
“Aoi-san, have you heard of the magician ‘Don Kageyama’?”
“Yes, of course. He’s really famous.”
He’s so famous that it bordered on common knowledge. He’s also known as “The Magician of Heisei5”, and is a leading figure in the industry. He also commonly appeared on an information program as a commentator and was well-known for his harsh, sharp tongue.
He gave off the image of an arrogant man, but was proactive and often did charity work, and seemed to exude the air of a wise counselor for the industry of show business.
“That Don Kageyama brought his family heirloom to the show. It was a Joseon sometsuke6 jar, and would be worth an amazingly high amount if it were real. It was an article that could be said to be the centrepiece of the show. However, before they started recording the program, my grandfather checked and found it to be a counterfeit, causing an uproar among the staff.
“The producer tried asking him to ‘declare it as genuine for the sake of the program’. Having no choice, my grandfather naturally went into the recording studio without shaking his head. While it was a recording, there was a live audience there, and he declared it to be fake in front of them. Don Kageyama shouted, ‘Your eyes are clouded!’ and kicked up a fuss in a fit of ire.
“That recording with Don Kageyama was entirely cut out, and everyone gave off the impression that they thought my grandfather was at fault. Of course, he was indignant about it, and proclaimed, ‘I will never appear on television again!’ Well, that’s kind of how it went.”
“I, I see.”
I had nothing but respect for Owner after hearing about that episode. That was so like him.
“It wasn’t broadcasted, so the world doesn’t know, but there was quite an outrage behind the scenes.”
“…So something like that happened.”
As I thought, the world of television is a tough one.
If such trouble happened in the past, celebrities might not even come.
While I was a little relieved about that, I also felt apologetic for Kaori, who was looking forward to that.
…Ah, but if Akihito-san’s coming, then it won’t be so bad, I suppose.
He’s a handsome actor, after all.
Feeling saved by Akihito-san’s existence, I turned my back on Ginkaku-ji.
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- Tenranzan is also the name of a mountain in Saitama. It means “The Emperor Mountain”.
- Literally “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”, Kinkaku-ji is another Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto that has its top two stories covered with gold leaf. By the way, Ginkaku-ji literally means “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”.
- A stone-paved pedestrian road and tourist attraction in Kyoto that is lined with traditional buildings and shops.
- A Buddhist temple in Eastern Kyoto, founded in the early Heian period.
- Period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of Emperor Akihito from 8 January 1989 to 30 April 2019. Incidentally, it is currently the period of Reiwa.
- Blue and white pottery.