Holmes of Kyoto Vol 2 Chapter 1: The Philosophy of Judgment (Full Text)

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1

As the seething heat died down, signalling the end of the summer holidays, the new school semester started. Even so, the students were still unable to shake off the lackadaisical feeling of vacation.

For the second year students in high school, many of them seemed to have gone all out in their vacation, for I noticed a significant number of suntanned bodies. Perhaps they were having fun before their entrance examinations next year.

As such, the classroom was enveloped in a languid atmosphere once afternoon break arrived.

***

“Ohh, Aoi, so ya managed to settle things with ya ex-boyfriend?”

The surprised voice came from Miyashita Kaori, who had come in from the class next door hang on.

She’s a girl I became close with through the “Case of the Saiō Representative’s Threatening Letters”, and she was the only person out of my friends in school who knew about Holmes-san and my past.

Incidentally, we’d started calling each other without honorifics.

Since we hadn’t seen each other in a while, we were giving each other status reports by the window, which had great ventilation.

“Yup, although I might have dragged that relationship a little too long…”

After I told Kaori about the events of Gion Festival’s Yoi-yoi-yama, I closed my eyes.

***

—It was the summer of last year. Due to my family situation, we moved from Saitama to Kyoto.

During that time, I had a boyfriend whom I’d continued dating from middle school. Naturally, we were separated from each other, and he eventually said, “Let’s break up.”

At first, I’d thought that there was no helping it. We’d become so far away from each other, so our feelings would also drift apart.

However, the real reason for the breakup was because he’d started dating my best friend… I had a huge shock when I found out about it.

Wanting to return to Saitama immediately and check if that was really true, I visited Kura in an attempt to sell my deceased grandfather’s hanging scrolls for the transport fare. That was in March, when the weather was still chilly.

There, I met a mysterious young man, Kiyotaka Yagashira-san, or better known as Holmes.

Aoi-san, would you like to work here? How about earning your train ticket by properly working here, instead of secretly selling your family’s treasure?”

With his frightening eye for observation, Holmes-san saw through me and invited me to take on a part-time job.

While I was by that mysterious man’s side, I came into contact with beautiful pieces of artwork, healing my emotional wounds bit by bit. I had put my ex-boyfriend and best friend behind me, and given up on returning to Saitama.

However, the two of them came to visit Kyoto on a school trip, so there was a confrontation between us on Yoi-yoi-yama, during the Gion Festival.

Of course, there was no way that it would be cleanly resolved.

My friends were on their side, and I was left alone on a bed of thorns.

The one who saved me there and then was Holmes-san.

He strongly held my hand and pulled me away from that place… I was really saved by him.

“Ya worked really hard, so it’s good to cry it all out.”

He said as he gently patted my back with his large hands.

Thinking about crying into Holmes-san’s wide chest under the light of the lanterns… warms my heart, even now.

***

“So, ya came to like him?”

As Kaori suddenly peered at my face, causing my heart to leap.

“W-What?”

“He came to yer rescue when ya were in a pinch, right? Plus he’s such a handsome guy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if ya fell head over heels for him. Even my big sister’s a huge fan of him.”

“S-So what about you, Kaori?”

I asked hesitatingly, but she openly shook her head and frowned.

“Not me. He just gives me the strong impression of a strange, scary person, although my sister keeps saying that he’s really cool. I’m real afraid of how he saw through everything about me.”

Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be absurd for Kaori to develop a fear for Holmes-san after he perceived the true culprit in the Case of the Saiō Representative.

“So, Aoi, what about ya?”

“T-To tell you the truth, my heart was pounding then… but since my heart was hurting because of my ex-boyfriend, I’m not sure about my own feelings.”

“I see, but didn’t ya get even closer to Holmes-san during the summer holidays?”

“No, Holmes-san went overseas with Owner for the entire period, so I was just looking after the shop.”

“By Owner, you mean Yagashira Seiji, right?”

It seemed that Holmes-san’s grandfather, Yagashira Seiji, or also known as the National Appraiser, was quite well-known to people in the city.

“Yup. Owner has a lot of work overseas, so he always takes Holmes-san with him during the summer vacation.”

“Ah, I see. He’s training Holmes-san to be his successor,” Kaori said with a nod.

That was certainly true.

It seemed that Owner, the global authority in art appraisal, was sparing no effort to get his successor and grandson Holmes-san recognized among people involved in the business.

That effort didn’t start recently, but long ago, when Holmes-san was always dragged along overseas during long holidays, causing him to be unable to study. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t pass the entrance exams for Kyoto University in his last year of high school.

“As a result, I just tended the store with the manager in Kura over the summer vacation.”

“My goodness, so yer holiday was quite far removed from excitement, huh. Tending the store with that manager seems too plain, ain’t it?”

“But there was a really homely feeling, so I had a great time.”

Although he was quite taciturn, Manager was also really gentle, so I also enjoyed spending time with him.

“So that manager always had to watch the house and shop all by himself, huh… That seems rough… Oh yeah, what kinda house does Holmes-san live in?”

Kaori suddenly asked a crazy question, causing me to blink and repeat, “House?”

“Since he’s in the world of antique art, I imagine that he’d live in an old house in the middle of town.”

“Ah, I see. He’s a Kyoto guy through and through, so he certainly seems like he would live in that kind of house.”

I nodded in agreement, but Kaori looked at me with a quizzical look.

“Kyoto guy? Don’t ya mean ‘Kyoto man’?”

She reacted the same way as Holmes-san when I mentioned that phrase to him the other time.

She was apparently curious about my arrangement of a phrase that had existed in Kyoto from a long time ago.

“Well, as you know, Holmes-san is more of a ‘Kyoto guy’ than a ‘Kyoto man’. It kind of has a lighter feeling that ‘Kyoto man’, you know?”

“—Ah, now that you mention it, I think I can understand that nuance.”

She nodded in comprehension.

In fact, on top of understanding it, she also seemed to accept that arrangement.

“So, ya don’t know about Holmes-san’s house?”

As we returned to the original topic, I regained my senses and looked up.

“Yup. Haven’t been there, or seen it yet.”

Although I have heard about the Yagashira family’s housing situation. Owner’s house is near Ginkaku-ji1, while Manager’s mansion is around Yasaka2, so Holmes-san has to travel between both houses.

“I see. So they don’t all stay together, huh.”

After hearing about the Yagashira family’s housing situation, Kaori folded her arms in fascination.

“And I’ve just been invited to Owner’s house.”

“Nice! Ya can tell me what kind of house it is.”

“He also wanted you to come along as well,” I replied, but Kaori went “What?” in a hysterical voice.

“Me? Why? I don’t really wanna meet Holmes-san.”

Kaori shook her head violently, as if her entire body was rejecting that notion.

“Eh? Why?”

“It’s really scary how he seems like he can perceive everything.”

Kaori answered seriously, causing me to laugh instinctively.

“He’ll probably be able to read your mind, but it’s alright.”

“So he can do that? That’s scary! But why are ya fine with it? Wouldn’t ya hate it if he does that?”

“M-Me? I was a little shocked at first, but I’ve recently gotten used to it. I’ve started thinking that it actually helps to speed up our conversations.”

“Yer way too used to this. But again, why me?”

It wasn’t unreasonable for Kaori to want to know why she was invited as well.

“It was something that happened… yesterday.”

As I slowly started talking, Kaori gulped.

2

—It was the day before, which was a Sunday.

Holmes-san had finally returned to Kura after one month away, so the store, which had for some reason been aflutter with activity before, settled down.

While Holmes-san was the shop owner’s grandson and just a student, I once again realized that he was an indispensable existence for Kura. With a sense of calm, I did some work as usual in a laid-back manner.

“Aoi-san, are you free next weekend?”

Holmes-san looked up from the account book and asked, as if having just remembered about it.

“Next weekend?” …I should be working here next weekend, as always.

I took a glance at the calendar on top of the table, and remembered that Kura was taking a rare break next weekend.

“Come to think of it, the shop will be closed next week, right?”

“Yes, it is.”

This shop didn’t have any regular holidays.

There usually weren’t that many customers coming in, and it didn’t seem to depend on sales, but since “a feeling of loneliness would drift into the arcade if the shop closes”, Kura was fundamentally always open.

It was therefore rare for Kura to be closed for two straight days next weekend.

(Incidentally, that’s the first time since I started working here.)

I wonder why he’s asking me about my plans?

My heart was thumping for some reason, but I still managed to reply, “I don’t have any plans.”

“Would you like to come over to my house? Ah, I mean my grandfather’s house.”

That would be the residence near Ginkaku-ji.

“Eh?” Jubilation triumphed over my shock, causing my cheeks to relax.

I was in fact curious about what the Yagashira house was like.

“And could you be so kind as to invite your friend Kaori as well?”

“Kaori-san?” I asked in response to Holmes-san’s request, perplexed.

Why did he ask me to invite Kaori?

Was he interested in Kaori, and wanted to use me as a pretext to invite her to his home?

…It might be selfish of me, but I definitely wouldn’t be satisfied with being treated as just a pretext.

While I brooded over that possibility, Holmes-san took a short breath.

“Yes, it would be a much more joyous occasion with as many people as possible. Especially since that person loves having women around, whether they’re old or young.”

“—That person?”

“Oh, sorry. Actually, my grandfather’s having a birthday party at his place next week. It’ll be a celebration of his kiju.”

Kiju is the celebration of the 77th birthday, I believe. Come to think of it, I remember my grandfather inviting all his relatives for his Kiju celebration as he neared his 77th birthday.

So Owner will be 77 years of age. He’s really healthy, or rather, powerful.

“Congratulations.”

“Thank you. In counted age3, he’s 77 years old, but under the modern age system, he’s only 76. To celebrate the joyous occasion, he said that he would throw a party at his house, and invited a lot of his friends and acquaintances.

“We’d also like you to attend, but since I’ll probably be busy running around on that day, I thought that if you had a friend around, you wouldn’t feel so uneasy.”

With those words, Holmes-san explained his intentions behind wanting to invite Kaori as well.

I see, so it’ll be a party with a lot of guests.

With Holmes-san busy with a bunch of things, there was a chance that I would be left alone.

He thought that I would feel less lonely with a friend around. As usual, he was being really sensitive and considerate.

“Y-Yes, that would be great. I’ll invite Kaori, then.”

“Great. The party will start in the afternoon, so I hope you’ll be there.”

 “Saturday, huh… But why is the shop also closed on Sunday?”

“Because it’s possible that the party will go on until the next day.”

Holmes-san shrugged, while I laughed and replied, “I see.”

“Since it’s a party from the afternoon, you’ll have your hands full with preparation, right?”

There’ll be lots of people coming to the party, so the preparation would probably be quite a chore.

Like cooking, for example. Could Holmes-san be doing all the cooking?

“Yes. However, we left the cooking to a traditional Japanese restaurant we’re acquainted with, so all I’ll be doing is the setting.”

So the food is being catered. It’ll be quite a lavish spread, I presume.

In that case, Holmes-san should be able to prepare for it on his own…

“Umm, if you’d like, I can come in the morning to help out. Although I probably won’t be of much help…”

I suggested, causing Holmes-san to blink and go, “Eh?”

“Ah, as I thought, I’d just be in the way, right?”

“No, not at all. But are you really fine with that?”

“Yes, of course.”

“…Thank you very much. I’ll be counting on you on Saturday, then.”

“Yup!” I nodded energetically.

“I’m really grateful. You’re so kind, Aoi-san.”

With those unexpected words of praise, my cheeks grew hot instantly.

3

 “—I see, so there’s a party for Owner’s kiju!”

Kaori’s eyes lit up upon hearing my story.

“It starts on Saturday afternoon, so I hope you’re fine with that. By the way, I’ll be arriving in the morning to help out.”

“It sounds interesting! Alright, sign me up!”

“Thanks. I wasn’t expecting that, though. I thought you’d say ‘Not interested’ and reject the invitation.”

While surprised by her immediate response, I placed a hand on my chest in relief.

“I mean, it’s that Yagashira Seiji’s kiju party. There’s definitely gonna be lots of amazing people who’ll show up there as guests. Ya only moved here last year, so ya probably don’t know, but Seiji-san regularly appeared on Kansai TV until about two years ago.”

“Really? That’s the first time I heard about that.”

“Ya know of the program ‘Hunt for Heirlooms’, right?”

Hunt for Heirlooms— That was a TV program which displayed appraisals of heirlooms that had been left at home.

It used to be quite a popular show, but since there weren’t that many families with heirlooms, it was cancelled a long time ago.

“Here in Kansai, ‘Hunt for Heirlooms’ is really popular, so they periodically produce a special program like it.”

“Oh, really?”

“Seiji-san occasionally appeared on that special program as an appraiser, so he’s quite a famous person in Kansai.”

“Wow, I didn’t know that.”

Why didn’t anyone tell me about that before? But now I understand why it is that no matter where he goes, people recognize him and exclaim, “It’s that Yagashira Seiji!” That’s the power of television for you.

“Since it’s basically a show targeted at the elderly, I never saw much of it, but Seiji-san always gave off the air of a distinguished, elegant gentleman, and managed to grasp the hearts of the ladies in the audience.”

“The air of a distinguished, elegant gentleman, huh…”

It seemed that Owner feigned morality whenever he appeared on TV.

Even though his hearty, easy-going side would be popular with the viewers, too.

“That’s why some celebrities could appear.”

As Kaori’s eyes shone even brighter, I was taken aback.

“C-Celebrities?”

What would I do if a celebrity really appears? I’d be so nervous! I was panicking, when Akihito-san’s face appeared in my head.

…Ah, come to think of it, that person’s also a celebrity, huh. He’s also quite the handsome guy, too.

As I had that thought, my tension dissipated.

“I’m so looking forward to it!”

Kaori’s eyes narrowed in excitement, causing me to blink in surprise.

“…Wow, Kaori, I wasn’t expecting you to be such a celebrity chaser.”

And I thought she was cool with that sort of thing.

“What are ya talkin’ about? People in Kyoto are all quite the celebrity chasers.”

“What? Really?”

“Yup, although lots of people make sure it doesn’t show. By the way, we also love new fads, bread, Western cuisine and ramen!”

“Come to think of it, there are indeed plenty of bakeries and ramen shops.”

The two of us looked at each other and laughed.

4

After that, Holmes-san started becoming busy with the birthday party preparations as well as his studies, so he stopped showing up at Kura.

The person in charge of the store was mainly Manager.

Whenever Manager was stuck on a piece of writing, he couldn’t continue while staying in the same place, so he’s had to leave the store on multiple occasions already, but his pen has been flowing smoothly in recent times. As a result, he’s left the shop on a lower frequency, and was usually able to put his story to words at the counter with undivided attention.

Today, he didn’t even notice when I entered the shop and said, “Good morning.”

That was some amazing concentration. Although I’m not sure how useful that would be for someone tending the shop.

I silently giggled, then started doing the cleaning as quietly as possible, so as to not bother Manager.

There were many types of goods, so it was tough work dusting all of them.

I cleaned as Manager’s pen skittered across the page. I didn’t mind spending time like this, too.

After a while, he stopped writing, stretched and muttered, “Alright”.

It seemed that he’d reached a stopping point in his writing.

I was still in the middle of my cleaning, but I immediately headed to the pantry to prepare some coffee.

“Here you go.” I placed the coffee cup on the table, causing Manager to come to his senses and look up.

“—Ah, Aoi-san, thank you very much,” he replied happily with a sweet smile.

“Did you manage to reach a good stopping point for your draft?”

“Yes, it was just a short passage, but I managed to complete it.”

“Good work.”

Manager mumbled a word of thanks, then slowly sipped his coffee.

That action there really resembled Holmes-san.

Noticing my gaze, Manager shot me a quizzical look.

“Is something the matter?”

“No, I was just thinking that it’s going to be Owner’s party soon.”

I replied, causing Manager to shift his eyes towards the calendar on the table and sigh weakly.

“Yes, so it is…”

He didn’t seem to be too thrilled about it.

“Are you having trouble with your work?”

“No, no, it’s just that I’m not very good with appearing in front of people. Since it’s my father’s birthday, I’ll have to greet everyone, right? I’m so nervous that my stomach hurts.”

He let out another gloomy sigh. It might be impolite to say this, but I think Manager’s quite cute this way. He’s different from Holmes-san and Owner in this respect.

Even though Owner had appeared on TV already.

“…By the way, I heard from my friend that Owner has made appearances on TV. Is that true?”

“Yes. Did you not know, Aoi-san?”

“I didn’t. No one told me about it.”

“My apologies for that, I thought it was common knowledge. On top of that, he hasn’t appeared on TV since two years ago.”

“He hasn’t appeared on TV after that?”

“Yes, he has been invited, but he has always rejected them.”

“That’s a shame. I wish I could have seen Owner on TV, too.”

Manager chuckled at my display of disappointment.

“On TV, he looked so prim and proper that he seemed like a different person entirely.”

“I’ve also heard about that from my friends. Why does he reject the invitations?”

“Well, that’s… there are a few reasons for that,” he responded vaguely, causing me to squint and reply with “Hm?”, when the door opened with a tinkle.

“Wow, what a beautiful shop! It’s just like an antique café.”

“I think I’d like to get some ceramics.”

Two customers that looked to be tourists entered the shop.

“Welcome! Please take a good look around!”

I hurriedly faced the door and quickly produced a courteous smile.

5

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”4. 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.”

“E-Ehh?”

“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-ji5, 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.

“Wow, it’s as if Ninen-zaka6 is leading to Kiyomizu-dera7.”

“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?”

“I-It is?”

“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.”

“T-That’s amazing.”’

“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?”

“What? Really?”

“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 Heisei8”, 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 sometsuke9 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.

6

“The house is over here.”

As Holmes-san helped push my bicycle, we walked a short distance out of the shrine road and went into a medium-sized pathway.

“I wonder what kind of house it is.”

Dizzy from excitement, I followed behind.

Would it be like a temple?

Or would it have the taste of a country home?

“There it is.” After looking in the direction of Holmes-san’s finger, I was at a loss for words.

When I saw that building, I wondered if it was an art museum.

It was a Western-style stone building overflowing with dignity and composure. With its grey stone walls, it looked like it came right out of the Meiji period. It seemed like there would be these kinds of cultural heritage buildings in the streets of Yokohama and Otaru.

It’s totally not Japanese-style at all!

“I-It’s amazing!”

That was an understatement. The mansion wasn’t that big, but gave off an immense intensity. It was just like a small art museum.

“This was the residence of my grandfather’s uncle, who was also his master.”

Kiiii! The doors, which were fitted with black metal railings, opened with a sharp screech.

“Owner’s uncle was his master?”

“Yes, he was. He was a wealthy merchant, and at the same time, an outstanding art appraiser. Some might even say his success was earned from his highly developed insight. He built this house to show off articles from his collection to guests.”

In other words, it was formerly an “art exhibition residence”.

On top of that, the building itself was just like an art museum.

“My grandfather moved here because he was officially recognized as the heir after his master retired, over forty years ago.”

“He didn’t leave his house to his children, but left it to his nephew?”

“The master didn’t have children, so he made it public that he would choose the most fitting person out of all his relatives and disciples to be his successor. At that time, my grandfather had a lot of rivals, so he worked hard in every respect to be recognized.”

“…I, I see.”

So this residence was like a garland of victory…

Surrounding the stone Western-style building was a Japanese-style garden, which seemed to be quite inappropriate.

“Such a mismatch, don’t you think? My grandfather said that he liked having a Japanese-style garden because it exudes more wabisabi10. It makes you able to enjoy all four seasons, depending on the location.”

“I see. It might be a mismatch, but looking at it now, it does seem to fit to a tee. It’s great!”

That was certainly a good example of Japanese-Western eclectic architecture. Come to think of it, Kura also managed to fuse the Western and Japanese styles, so that could be a characteristic of the Yagashira family.

“Aoi-san, over here.”

“Ah, right!” I noticed that Holmes-san had stopped my bicycle at a corner of the garden.

We ascended the stone staircase, and opened the two large doors to the entranceway, revealing a wide hall that functioned as an atrium.

“S-Sorry for intruding.”

I nervously treaded into the hall.

The room featured a wall clock and a gorgeous chandelier. With paintings, jars and sculptures displayed everywhere, it was really like an art museum.

“…Um, where do we place our shoes? Do we wear them throughout the house?”

“We wear shoes on the first floor, but change to slippers on the second.”

“Heh?”

“Basically, this first floor is considered to be a space to exhibit works of art to guests.”

“Ah, I see.”

In a sense, it was truly an art museum.

Satisfied with that explanation, I stepped into the hall, when a voice called out.

“—Welcome back, Kiyotaka.”

The door to an adjacent room opened, and a beautiful woman clad in a chic black dressed appeared.

She had coiling chestnut-colored hair and scarlet lipstick. The mole near her lips made her look enchanting, and paired with her slender body, gave her a lively style. Her dress emphasized the shape of her body, and her bright red high heels were impressive.

With her lustrous hair, the woman radiated an unparalleled beauty.

She was… in her late twenties, or was it her early thirties?

—Who is that? Could it be Holmes-san’s girlfriend?

“I’m back. I see that you’re fully prepared, Yoshie-san.”

“Oh, Holmes-san, you’ll have to get ready soon.”

That woman, who was apparently called Yoshie-san, folded her arms as she looked at Holmes-san disapprovingly.

It seemed that she wasn’t Holmes-san’s girlfriend.

As I was overwhelmed by their appearance, the woman turned to look at me and displayed a kind smile.

“Hello, nice to meet you. I’m Takiyama Yoshie. I hope to get along well with you.”

“N-Nice to meet you. I’m Mashiro Aoi.”

Still not knowing who exactly she was, I introduced myself and bowed.

“I’ve heard about you from Seiji-san. He said that a really cute part-timer came in and is working hard at the shop. That’s great, isn’t it, Kiyotaka?” she said as her eyes narrowed in joy.

“Yes, that’s great,” Holmes-san nodded.

This is somewhat embarrassing… but more importantly, who is she?

But I didn’t have time to wonder about that, for the door opened again, this time revealing Owner.

“Aoi-chan, thanks so much for coming over today.”

He usually wore a stylish kimono, but today he was actually clad in a tuxedo.

“Congratulations, Owner. Um, as a small gift, here’s a high-quality sake from Saitama.” I presented the box containing the wrapped-up sake bottle, causing Owner’s face to wrinkle up in delight.

“Thanks, but ya didn’t have ta bring anything.”

“No, it’s fine. By the way, that’s the first time I’ve seen you in a Western suit.”

“It’s good, ain’t it? But I’ll put on my kimono later.”

“So it’s like iro-naoshi11?”

“Yup.”

He’s doing an iro-naoshi even though he isn’t a bride in a wedding. As expected, Owner is flashy in whatever he does.

Yoshie-san happily walked towards Owner.

“As I thought, you look fantastic in a suit, Seiji-san!”

“Of course!” A proud smile formed on Owner’s face.

—Umm, so who exactly is this person?

As I tilted my head, Holmes-san sensed my puzzlement and whispered into my ear.

“…Yoshie-san is my grandfather’s girlfriend.”

“G-Girlfriend?” My voice betrayed my thoughts.

“Surprised?”

“Y-Yes. There’s a huge gap between their ages, right?”

“Yes, there is an age gap, but… she might look young, but she’s already over forty.”

“Y-You’re kidding!”

“I call her ‘the witch’ since I’m familiar with her.”

Indeed, she possessed the youthfulness of a witch.

“She works at an event consultant agency that deals with the arts, and has been a client of ours before. She started dating my grandfather about ten years ago, but since both of them are so stubborn, they’re constantly in a cycle of dating and breaking up. I’d say that they’re more like in an inescapable relationship.”

“I, I see… they’re in a relationship in which they constantly break up and get together…”

In blank amazement, I turned to look at Owner and Yoshie-san, who were standing together.

With such a beauty as his girlfriend, I think I now understand the secret behind Owner’s youthful spirit.

“To do an iro-naoshi, Owner must be really excited…”

“That’s true. Just for today, my grandfather went to a tailor in Yokohama for his suit and shoes, a hatter in Kobe for his hat, and the Miyashita Draper Shop for his kimono.”

Holmes-san added, causing me to be even more shocked.

What should I do? I didn’t know it would be such a fancy party.

While Yoshie-san’s wearing such a beautiful dress, I came here in such a rough outfit because I thought I’d be helping with the setting up!

…Then again, Holmes-san’s also in a rough outfit.

“Holmes-san, are you going to continue wearing that?”

“No, I’ll be changing clothes later on.”

“S-Should I go home to change too?”

“No, you’re already cute like this.”

“There you go, forcing yourself to say something like that again.”

“No, no.”

At that moment, Yoshie-san, who had apparently been listening to our conversation, stepped in and said, “It’ll be alright.”

“I’ve brought a few dresses, so I can lend one to you, Aoi-chan. Come, let’s get a change of clothes.”

“Ehh?”

“Over here.”

Still in a state of confusion, Yoshie-san forcefully pulled my hand and dragged me into the room.

***

“Aoi-chan, which color do you prefer, pink, white or light blue?”

Upon entering the room, Yoshie-san opened up a suitcase delightfully.

“Ah, umm… light blue?” My face stiffened in bafflement.

“Oh my! But since it’s such an occasion, let’s go with pink, shall we?”

“Pink is a little too…”

“It’s fine. It’s not a deep shade of pink, but a pale one,” she replied as she showed me a light pink that was actually closer to white. It was a simple, but really cute design.

“That’s a beautiful dress,” I truthfully remarked, causing Yoshie-san to chuckle.

“I brought dresses that young people would like because I thought I could be of help to you, Aoi-chan.”

“Eh, is that so? Thank you very much.”

As expected of someone who has been long acquainted with the Yagashira family, she’s a really considerate person.

“You’re welcome. I was looking forward to meeting you, after all. Once again, I hope to get along well with you.”

“Y-Yes, I hope so too.”

“It’s quite unique that everyone in the Yagashira family is male, don’t you think?”

“Y-Yes.”

“I think that you’re too tolerant when dealing with the men of the Yagashira family. It’d be good to just spit out your true feelings, you know?”

“Tolerant…?” Was I really like that? I was sometimes at a loss whenever Manager went out of the shop while working on his script, but I wasn’t really that troubled by it.

Holmes-san is also occasionally mean, but he’s nice to me most of the time.

After thinking for a while, I replied, “No, not really…”

In any case, I haven’t known them long enough or had such a deep relationship with them to feel that I was tolerating them or holding back.

“Yoshie-san, when do you feel that you’re holding back?”

“For example, with antiques, I suppose.”

“Antiques, you say?”

“How he talks too long about antiques, how he forgets about my existence when he looks at antiques, and how he casually goes off overseas just to look at antiques!”

I was overwhelmed by the woman’s energetic outburst.

I see. It must be tough being in the position of “girlfriend”.

“Seiji-san’s abnormally passionate about antiques. He’s so engrossed in them that I once wanted to destroy his collection.”

“You wanted to destroy them?”

“I wasn’t serious about it. It’s just that he was more attracted to antiques than me, and I didn’t like that.”

Yoshie-san spoke imperiously with her arms folded.

From this, I could tell that she really loved Owner, causing my cheeks to relax pleasantly.

“But Yoshie-san, you fell in love with Owner even when he’s so focused on antiques, right?”

“…Yes, I first respected him as an appraiser. But more importantly, I’m a ‘gerontophile’.”

“Gerontophile?”

“Ah, perhaps young people call it differently these days? Anyway, it means I like elderly men, and with Seiji-san’s looks, he’s a perfect strike.”

“So that’s why!”

That made me understand a lot of things, all at once.

“However, Seiji-san always loves antiques more than me, and since he’s so carefree, it’s always so difficult to get a hold of him. I keep saying, ‘I don’t care about him anymore,’ and deciding to break up and with him and look for someone else, but when I actually dated another man, I only appreciated Seiji-san even more! Yagashira men are generally intense in many ways, don’t you think?”

“…You’re right, they sure are intense.” Strongly agreeing to that last statement, I nodded.

“Exactly! They’re too intense in their weaknesses and strengths! It’s impossible to be around them!”

“I think I understand what you’re saying.”

I’ve also been irked by Holmes-san’s weird tendencies, but at the same time I’ve also grown to like them.

“Ahhn, it’s good that I got to talk to you, Aoi-chan! When I tell my friends, they don’t get it at all.”

I could see that happening. Those who don’t know the Yagashira family well wouldn’t understand.

“Really, thank you so much for being here, and listening to my gripes.”

I instinctively smiled as Yoshie-san thanked me happily.

“No problem, it’s been nice to talk to you too.”

At first glance, I thought she was a hard-to-approach, sexy lady, but she’s actually a really nice person.

While having such positive thoughts, we shook each other’s hand.

“Come, let’s get you changed.”

Still perplexed by Yoshie-san’s state of excitement, I just went with her forceful flow and changed into the pale pink dress. She then helped me put my hair up.

“Wow, Aoi-chan, the back of your neck’s really pretty. That’s a strong weapon you got there!”

“You see, you give off a much better impression with your eyebrows done up, so let’s put on some lipstick for you too!” With that, she helped me put on make-up.

After everything was done, Yoshie-san clapped her hands and exclaimed, “Wow!”

“As I thought, you’re so cute like this!”

I was embarrassed, but the person in the mirror was indeed like a different person.

“Ahh, girls are just the best! My son is cute too, but I’ve always wanted a daughter.”

Yoshie-san took a feverish breath.

“Eh? Yoshie-san, you have a son?” I turned around in surprise.

“Yes, I was divorced once, and I had a son from that relationship. He’s currently a first-year student in high school, and he’s studying abroad.”

“A-A first year in high school?”

That’s one year lower than me. It’s absolutely shocking that her son is so old!

Although that might not be so rare for someone in their forties.

Well, it can’t be helped. She looks so young, after all.

“With my son, Seiji-san, Takeshi-san and Kiyotaka, I’m constantly surrounded by men. That’s why I’m so happy that I can get along well with you, Aoi-chan.”

As I thought, the brightly smiling Yoshie-san was beautiful.

“Y-Yoshie-san, you really look young. I never expected you to have a son in high school…”

As I spoke from my heart, she returned a pleasant smile.

“Seiji-san loves beautiful things, so I’m trying my best. And not for his sake, but for mine.”

Those words somehow resonated with me.

It’s amazing to work so hard for the sake of the person you love.

But being able to declare “it’s for my own sake” is incredible too.

“By the way, Seiji-san and I are both humans who love themselves.”

After hearing that remark, I wanted to reply, “That certainly seems like it,” but stopped myself and whispered it in my heart instead.

7

After changing, I went out of the inner room and found that some guests had already arrived, and the hall was bustling with chatter.

The first people that entered my view were familiar faces, with Ueda-san, Mieko-san, as well as Akihito-san.

“—We reached the final day of the performance last week, so we’ll be returning to Tokyo the day after tomorrow. It’s great that we get to attend Owner’s party.”

Akihito-san said. He looked quite smart in his formal party suit and was as flashy as ever, although he did look handsome from the outside.

It’s a good thing that he came, as I’d hoped.

His appearance here would probably satisfy Kaori.

Feeling relieved, I looked at the surrounding guests.

Beside Akihito-san was a middle-aged man in a suit. With his lightly-tinted sunglasses and a well-groomed beard, he gave off the impression of a “person in the business”.

“My, if it isn’t producer Kiyomizu-san,” Yoshie-san said.

So he is actually someone in the business! I raised my head.

“Is that the producer for ‘Hunt for Heirlooms’?”

“Yes, exactly. Owner was under his care during that time, but I thought they were already estranged…”

Yoshie-san muttered, apparently not having expected that person’s presence.

There was no news from him after all that trouble two years ago, after all.

Next to him was a two-man group that looked familiar.

“Oh, and I think that’s Masamune, that two-man group of entertainers.”

I was taken aback by Yoshie-san’s words.

“Yes, that’s Masamune.”

Rather than entertainers, they were performers who captivated audiences with acts like pantomime and even held performances overseas. They were called Masataka and Muneyoshi, so put together, they were Masamune.

“Is Owner also close with Masamune?”

“Well… I think it’s their first meeting. Kiyotaka-san must have brought them here. I’ll go and welcome them.”

Yoshie-san went over to Owner, who was chatting amicably with the guests.

As the beautiful Yoshie-san approached, Akihito-san ogled at her conspicuously.

She must be to his liking. No doubt he’d be astonished if he learns that she’s in her forties and is Owner’s lover. Thinking about that situation, I giggled.

“Did you see something funny?” Holmes-san asked from beside me.

“Ah, no, but Akihito-san…”

But my words trailed off when I turned to look at him, and my heart leapt from seeing Holmes-san in a formal suit.

His smooth hair, well-arranged facial features and white skin harmonized well with the glossy suit. On top of that, he had an elegant bearing and was wearing a gentle smile.

 The sons of noble families in the Meiji and Taisho periods probably looked like that.

What now? Holmes-san is too dreamy!

It’s a little mortifying that he caused my heart to pound like this.

“…I’m surprised. Did Yoshie-san help you with your hair and makeup?”

Holmes-san asked with an expression of genuine surprise.

“Ah, yes. She didn’t just help me pick out a dress, but also helped with my hair and makeup. I-Is it weird?”

I asked uneasily as I looked up.

“…It’s beautiful. It really fits ya.”

Those words cleanly pierced through my heart.

I-It’s against the rules to use Kyoto dialect there.

***

As time passed, guests started steadily arriving, and Holmes-san went to receive them.

The ones that I somewhat knew were Yanagihara-san, who was a fellow appraiser of Owner, as well as Hanamura-sensei, whom I’d met in Okura Hotel.

There were also many people who were apparently under the same master as Owner.

(Were they the people Owner had rivalries with in the past, I wonder?)

“Aoi!!”

Hearing a familiar voice, I whirled around Kaori with her parents. As expected of a family that owned a draper shop, they were all in kimono.

“Ah, Kaori!”

“In the end, my family was invited here. My sis couldn’t make it ‘cos she’s got an interview on TV.”

“Yup, when I heard that Owner got his kimono from Miyashita Draper Shop, I thought you all could get invited. And Kaori, you look awesome in your kimono.”

It was a madder red hōmongi12 decorated with red leaves. As a daughter of a family that owned a draper shop, it was no wonder that she dressed with style.

“Thanks. Yer also beautiful, Aoi. Hey, is that handsome guy over there an actor? And I heard that Masamune’s also here, right?”

Kaori feverishly grabbed my hand while staring at Akihito-san. So she’s really a celebrity chaser, I thought as my cheeks relaxed.

At that moment, Manager appeared in front of a large door with the words “Exhibition Hall” written on a plate. He quietly held the door open and bowed to everyone.

“—Welcome everyone, and thank you so much for coming all the way to my father’s birthday party.”

Perhaps he was nervous, for he said that in a louder voice than usual, then bowed again. Everyone in the room stopped talking to listen to him.

“T-This house used to be the private art museum of my father’s master, Yagashira Kuranosuke, a merchant who possessed a good eye for art. It was passed down, and today this Exhibition Hall contains the Yagashira Family’s proud collection. P-Please feel free to take a look before eating.”

Manager stiffly said, then opened the two large doors with a clank.

The guests exclaimed, “Wow!” as their eyes lit up, after which they streamed into the exhibition hall.

“It’s Owner’s collection. C’mon, Aoi, let’s go!”

Observing Aoi’s excitement, I nodded, and we entered the hall together.

I took a step and was immediately rendered speechless.

It was definitely not an overstatement to say that it was exactly a small museum.

Many pieces of artwork in Renaissance style decorated the reception hall, along with paintings and scrolls that lined the walls.

Round tables were placed at fixed distances away, and on them were jars, flower vases, pitchers and enormous plates.

“Wow, everything here’s amazing!”

“Well, it’s Seiji-san, after all.”

The guests stared at the artwork in fascination.

“Please do not touch the artifacts on display,” Manager nervously prompted.

As for Holmes-san, he was in front of a pot placed on a table at the end of the room, explaining to the guests. It was a smooth, jade green pot.

“This is seiji, or celadon porcelain from China, and is one of my grandfather’s most treasured antiques.

“It’s a kind of porcelain that is also known as ‘god’s work’, and is said to be a physical representation of a nation’s aesthetic sense, with its simple yet sublime beauty, with its overflowing elegance. Only a few dozen of these have been confirmed to exist in the world, and this particular one was discovered by my grandfather’s master, Sōnosuke, on the continent.

“It’s a supreme art piece worth an incredible amount, so please take this opportunity to admire it.”

 As Holmes-san spoke, I thought, “I can’t believe such a treasure belongs to a normal (?) family!” I was both impressed and amazed.

After he’d finished showing the whole collection to everyone, he whispered to Manager, “I’ll go check on the party room,” then left the exhibition hall.

The opening of this collection to the public was probably a way of buying time before the food was ready.

As I watched Holmes-san’s figure leaving the exhibition hall, Akihito-san walked over to me with a full smile on his face.

“Hey, Aoi-chan, you look so mature and wonderful today!”

“Thank you, Akihito-san.”

Next to Akihito-san was the two-man performance group, Masamune.

“Amazing, it’s a team of entertainers!”

Kaori said in a small voice as her eyes sparkled joyfully.

“Akihito-san, this is my friend, Miyashita Kaori-san. She’s the daughter of the family that owns Miyashita Draper Shop.”

I introduced Kaori to him without delay.

“Ah, I see. Your kimono’s also brilliant. I’m glad that I’m able to get to know high school girls who can wear kimono so well.”

Holding Kaori’s hand, a handsome smile appeared on Akihito-san’s face.

“T-That’s…”

Kaori looked down as her front turned bright red.

Akihito-san has been established to be a playboy, but I suppose it’s fine. Kaori seems to be overjoyed, after all.

At that moment, Manager said, “Ah, Aoi-san,” and quickly walked over to me.

“Sorry, but I have to leave for a while, someone’s calling me from the party room. Can I trust you to lock up this room with this key when you leave?” He asked as he held out a key with an antique design.

“—Ah, yes, sure.”

I accepted the key, and Manager hurriedly left the exhibition room.

What in the world happened?

His looked quite pale, so perhaps his stomach hurt because of his nerves. Anyway, locking up this room seems to be a heavy responsibility… there are lots of amazing works of art here, right?

While I was feeling some panic from holding the key, one of the entertainers in Masamune, Masataka, suddenly exclaimed, “Wow!” as he looked up at the ceiling.

“I just noticed, but that’s an amazing chandelier!”

Upon hearing those words, we raised our heads to look at the chandelier.

The chandelier had a design similar to those in the party hall of a palace. With many crystals linked together, it let out a great amount of light.

“Yer right! This is some luminescence!”

“Yeah, I bet this chandelier also costs a bundle.”

“It’s amazing!”

I let out a sigh of admiration while looking at the ceiling.

“The preparations for the party room are complete, so please move there, everyone.”

Manager’s voice rang out from the other side of the door.

“Finally, it’s time for the party. I can’t wait!”

The guests streamed out of the room, all of them smiling.

I walked together with them, but stopped at the door.

After Kaori, Akihito-san and Masamune had exited the exhibition hall, I checked that there was no one left inside, then carefully locked the door.

I turned the door knob to ensure that the door was properly locked, then nodded in satisfaction and headed for the party room.

At that time— I didn’t have the slightest idea that an unbelievable incident would occur right before our very eyes.

8

When I reached the party room, I noticed that the food was laid out in a buffet spread.

I could also see waiters dressed in white uniforms. White crosses were attached on the long tables, with Japanese, Chinese and Western food arranged on them. It really looked like a buffet in a hotel.

“Wow, that looks delicious!”

“Let’s eat as much as we can! Holmes, can we start already?”

Holmes-san laughed at our gleaming eyes.

“My grandfather will soon be giving an extremely long address, and then he’ll lead a toast, so please help yourselves after that.”

An extremely long address… We looked at each other after hearing that phrase.

“So it’s a buffet style, huh. I thought it would be different since you ordered from a traditional Japanese restaurant that your family was acquainted with.”

I said while looking around the hall. In response, Holmes-san replied, “Yes, I suppose,” and nodded.

“We thought this style would be best for a party. But still, I was surprised.”

“Eh? What do you mean?”

“We’d just finished the preparations and I was going to call the guests from the exhibition hall, but everyone suddenly entered.”

“But that’s because Manager said, ‘The preparations are done,’ isn’t it?”

“My father said…?”

Holmes-san looked shocked, but at that moment, Owner, who was standing in the middle of the hall, let out a cough. Everyone immediately stopped talking and gave their attention to the geriatric.

“Thank you all so much for coming all the way here to celebrate my kiju.”

With those words, the address started.

As Holmes-san had mentioned, Owner’s address was indeed— incredibly long.

He talked about whether he had been a good successor to the Yagashira family with his efforts.

He expounded on how much he loved works of art.

He even recounted the impact he received when he first came into contact with a Shino tea bowl…

“And now I’m 77 in counted age. I’ve only been able to get this far thanks to the support of my cherished family and comrades, and I say that from the bottom of my heart. Thank you all so much. Cheers!”

With the leading toast finally in place, everyone raised their glasses and shouted, “Cheers!” in relief.

“—It seems that the sensei is healthy, as usual. Actually, I was thinking of having you appear on television again.”

The producer’s words entered my ears.

“Kiyomizu-san, I was in your care, and I might even have caused you some trouble, but I won’t be going on television ever again.”

Owner replied stonily.

“Oh, don’t say that. There’s been talk of remaking ‘Hunt for Heirlooms’.”

“We’re supposed to be having a celebration today, so I don’t wanna shout. Stop talking about work-related issues.”

As I watched that exchange from a distance, I thought, “I see.”

As I thought, the producer from the TV station didn’t come here with pure celebratory feelings.

The business world sure was a tough one.

“Hey, Masamune. Could you two teach me pantomime?”

On the other hand, Akihito-san’s carefree voice from the side of the room somehow made me feel at ease.

Akihito-san had a therapeutic quality about his person, as usual.

“Sure. The first simple step is to make a wall.”

Masataka-san used his hands to give the impression that a wall was in the way, although there wasn’t anything there.

“Come on, I can do that too.”

Akihito-san immediately tried imitating Masataka-san’s action, but failed to give off a convincing image of a wall.

However, Kaori praised him, saying, “Akihito-san, yer great at this too!”

Her “handsome guy filter” had probably activated, causing her to go soft on her evaluation.

“Next, how about making a light object seem heavy?”

This time, Muneyoshi-san whipped out a balloon from his pocket and quickly inflated it.

He then passed it over to Masataka-san, who acted as if he’d just received a bowling ball, and let his shoulder fall.

Between his trembling arms and pained face, it did seem that he was carrying a really heavy object.

Perhaps that was to be expected, but those universally-known professionals were amazing.

“Ah, Akihito-san, please receive this.”

Masataka-san turned to Akihito-san and passed the balloon with what seemed like all his might.

“A-Ahh!” Akihito-san fall on his bottom upon receiving the balloon.

His acting was actually quite real, as if he’d had a bowling ball thrown at him. In a sense, it was an expected reaction, but we all laughed anyway. At that moment—

Crash! The sound of something breaking sounded in the distance.

“…Hey, did you hear something breaking from outside this room?”

“Yup, it sounded like it was from the Exhibition Hall.”

The sound of breaking from the Exhibition Hall…

Did that mean that a work of art there had shattered?

The atmosphere turned chilly in an instant.

However, that sound was apparently only heard by us, for the rest of the guest were still chatting unperturbed.

“Ah, Aoi-chan, you’re still holding the key, right? Shall we go check it out?”

I nodded to Akihito-san’s subdued suggestion, and we quietly headed out of the party room.

The five of us, or me, Akihito-san, Kaori and the two men of Masamune headed to the exhibition hall.

“I-I’ll open the door.”

“Y-Yeah.”

I hope it was just our imagination, I prayed. Even so, I felt a sense of foreboding as I nervously turned the key and gingerly opened the door.

I scanned the room, but didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. I heaved a sigh of relief, but—

“Ah, Aoi, over there!”

I turned to look at wherever Kaori was pointing at, and was flabbergasted.

It was Owner’s treasure, of which only a few dozen like it existed in the world.

The seiji from China was on the table— shattered into countless fragments.

“!!”

Shocked beyond belief, I was unable to speak a word.

The windows had been properly closed. The door had been locked. There had been no one in the room.

But even so, Owner’s treasure… no, this world-class artwork had suddenly disintegrated.

…I can’t believe it.

“A-Aoi-chan, did you really lock the door when you left the room?”

As Akihito-san asked with a pale look on his face, I was hit with a sensation of panic.

“Y-Yes, I, I did p-properly lock the door.”

Since it was such a huge responsibility, I confirmed that it was properly locked. I was sure of that.

“T-Then, how did it break all on its own?”

Kaori mumbled as she looked on, unable to peel her eyes away from the impossibility.

“That was the most expensive seiji, right?”

“Yup, and it was as if someone used a gun to shoot just that one piece…”

“Yeah…” the two-man entertainment group agreed.

“I wonder, was this intentional?”

The producer, Kiyomizu-san, who had been standing behind without any of us noticing, suddenly piped up, causing us to whirl around in surprise.

“Intentional… you mean someone did this on purpose?”

“That can’t be…”

While we were noisily discussing, Yoshie-san showed up.

“—Aoi-chan, what happened?”

“Y-Yoshie-san… that…” I pointed at the shattered seiji.

“!!” Yoshie-san’s eyes opened in surprise as she put a hand on her mouth.

“W-Who broke it! This is terrible!”

She shrieked as she looked around, her face deadly pale.

“N-No one did it. All of us were in the party room, when we heard a breaking sound. The door was securely locked.”

“W-What about the windows, then? Everyone, check if they’re locked!”

Trembling, Yoshie-san hysterically shouted.

“R-Right away!”

We split up to check on the windows.

“All the windows are securely locked, and none of them are broken.”

“In any case, this room is on the first floor, but it’s quite high up compared to ground level, so it’s impossible to sneak in without a ladder,” someone from Masamune said.

Upon hearing those words, Yoshie-san exclaimed, “W-What should we do?” and placed a hand on her forehead.

“F-For now, let’s call Owner.”

I turned my back to exit the room, but Yoshie-san hurriedly grabbed my hand.

“Y-You can’t do that, Aoi-chan! This is too horrible!”

At that moment, Kiyomizu-san chuckled.

“Isn’t that their aim?”

“Ehh?”

“Whenever sensei invites guests over, he will always boast about his seiji. I think there could be someone here who detests him, and formulated a scheme to destroy the seiji that he treasures the most. This isn’t a locked room murder, so to speak, but this is a case of ‘locked room antique destruction’.”

Kiyomizu-san spoke in a joking manner as a twisted grin appeared on his face.

A case of locked room antique destruction— as the well-broken seiji lay in front of our eyes, we stood stock still, as if frozen to the spot.

9

—Someone who hated Owner had destroyed his favorite treasure, a seiji from China.

I still couldn’t believe it.

But that unbelievable incident did happen in reality.

The seiji suddenly shattered into pieces in a locked room.

Who could have done this? And how did they do it?

Thinking about the two questions at the same time was confusing.

…Let’s start with who.

Who seems to hate Owner?

The producer, Kiyomizu-san, who had been harshly spoken to by Owner earlier.

Or perhaps his fellow appraiser Yanagihara-san actually detests him.

As for Hanamura-sensei, who teaches flower arrangement, and Masamune… they don’t seem to hate Owner.

And Akihito-san… I took a glance at the person in question, but he was shivering and his face was pale.

“Akihito-san, what’s the matter?”

“Ah, Aoi-chan, what should I do? I might have been the one who broke it!”

Akihito-san revealed in a small voice.

“E-Ehhh?? How?”

“That shattering sound was right after I fell on my bottom, right? What if the vibration…”

“……”

I found no words to say as he showed his frightened, tearful face.

Kaori and I exchanged looks.

I suppose a healing thread that goes too far could become a little annoying.

“…That kind of fall wouldn’t break a pot.”

I finally spoke in exasperation, causing Akihito-san to reply, “I, I see,” and brighten up with relief.

Yup, he definitely couldn’t have done it.

Anyway, even if Akihito-san envies Owner, he doesn’t hate him.

On the topic of people who might hate Owner, the fellow apprentices who used to be his rivals are also possible suspects.

As I frowned and groaned while thinking, I noticed Yoshie-san holding a pained expression out of the corner of my eye.

At that moment, her previous words drifted past my mind.

“Seiji-san’s abnormally passionate about antiques. He’s so engrossed in them that I once wanted to destroy his collection.”

Could it be… Yoshie-san didn’t hate Owner himself, but hated the antiques that he cared for more than anything else in the world, so she could also be the culprit.

No, if she’s a suspect, the same can be said of Manager.

Manager, who was filled with all sorts of negative feelings, probably hated Owner’s treasures (And come to think of it, he seemed weird today).

But then again, it’s impossible for Yoshie-san or Manager to have done it.

Regardless of how little appreciation they hold for antiques, I can’t imagine either of them destroying a world-class treasure.

But if one of them really did it, it wouldn’t be absurd to think that they had a duplicate key… Ahh, that’s enough! I’ll only keep thinking in circles, and I really don’t like how I’m suspecting the people close to me!

“Is something the matter?”

At that moment, Holmes-san’s voice resounded in the exhibition hall.

“Holmes-san!”

I felt relieved as his figure came into view.

Behind Holmes-san was Owner, who was already in his kimono. Everyone in the room stiffened.

“What’s wrong? Ya’ll look like we’re havin’ a funeral.”

As the two of them stepped into the exhibition hall, Yoshie-san burst into tears and clung onto Owner’s body.

“I’m so sorry, Seiji-san! Your seiji got broken! It’s all my fault!”

As she cried sorrowfully, everyone else exclaimed, “What?” and opened their eyes wide in surprise.

W-Was it really Yoshie-san’s handiwork?

“I always hated the seiji that you cared for so much! I thought that it would be great if I could just break it into pieces! That’s why it turned out like this. I’m so sorry!” Yoshie-san explained while bawling.

“…What are ya talking about?”

Owner frowned dubiously and shifted his gaze to the interior of the room. He gasped and widened his eyes upon seeing the broken pieces of the seiji.

“I’m really sorry.”

“N-No, Yoshie-san wasn’t at fault. Actually, at the party room…”

“No, it’s all because I fell hard on my bottom…”

We drew closer and recounted the chain of events leading up to the incident, but after we were done, Owner snorted.

“—That ain’t a seiji.”

In response to Owner’s distinct assertion, everyone stopped moving.

“Ehh?”

“The shape, color and luster of the broken pieces are all wrong. That’s a fake.”

“H-Huh?”

 We were all dumbfounded.

“But I don’t know what’s going on! Ask Kiyotaka!”

Owner announced proudly and looked at Holmes-san.

“…Feels good that my long list of duties even extends to this.”

Holmes-san shrugged ironically and approached the table.

His footsteps reverberated as a blank silence hung over the exhibition hall.

Everyone held their breath, caught in the tension running around the room.

“—Based on all your recounts of what happened earlier, I deduce that this incident is not a case of someone sneaking into the locked room. I believe that when the door was opened, the broken fake had already been swapped in for the genuine one.”.

Upon hearing those words, we raised our eyebrows and looked at each other.

“T-That can’t be. Not when all of us were in there.”

“R-Right?”

“I believe they used some trick to divert everyone’s attention from the seiji, then swapped it out during that time. That would mean that the real seiji is somewhere in this room.”

As he spoke, he swiftly flipped over the white tablecloth, revealing the seiji placed pristinely under the table.

“T-The seiji! It’s not broken!”

“Just a theory, but they probably drew everyone’s attention to the chandelier on the ceiling, or the painting on the opposite wall, then used that opening to swap it out.

“After that, they immediately exited the room and imitated my father’s voice to lead everyone to the party hall. They must have then returned to the exhibition hall and walked at the back of the crowd to prevent anyone else from seeing the shattered seiji. As for the sound you heard, I think it was made by someone’s voice. They waited for the right timing and executed their operation.”

After Holmes-san’s explanation, puzzled expressions appeared on our faces.

That was certainly possible, but who could do something like that…

“This is the work of people who can use their skills to guide the vision and action of others. The only people I can think of are the world-class performers, ‘Masamune’.”

As Holmes-san grinned, everyone exclaimed, “What?” in unison and turned to look at Masamune.

The two of them stared back at Holmes-san expressionlessly.

—Come to think of it…

At that time, Masataka-san said, “That’s an amazing chandelier!” and caused all of us to look at the ceiling.

During that time, Muneyoshi-san could have done the swap, left the room and imitated Manager’s voice to move everyone to the party room.

And then he could have quickly returned to Masataka-san’s side and acted as if he’d been there the whole time.

While we were leaving the exhibition hall, they then lagged behind the crowd to prevent others from seeing the broken seiji.

…I don’t remember clearly, but I think they were indeed the last ones out of the room.

The two men in question didn’t try to argue or defend themselves against Holmes-san’s claims. Kiyomizu-san stared at that in dumbfounded amazement.

“What? It’s really you two? Why would you play such a nasty prank?”

Kiyomizu-san leaned forward to interrogate them, but their only reaction to that was a slight curving upward of their mouths.

“I wonder if they’re related to the magician Don Kageyama…”

Holmes-san suggested, but Kiyomizu-san shook his head.

“No, they’re from different entertainment companies, and they shouldn’t have a master-student relationship.”

After hearing that, the two members of Masamune laughed ironically.

“We… were saved by Kageyama-san.”

Saved by Kageyama-san?

“Yes. We had no relatives in the world and were brought up in an orphanage, but Kageyama-san regularly came to our orphanage to hold magic shows as volunteer work.”

“He then even taught us magic tricks… we really looked up to him and wanted to become like him some day. He’s our benefactor who gave us hope and dreams.”

Everyone in the room displayed surprised expressions upon hearing that revelation, but only Holmes-san maintained a calm countenance. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking about.

“So, you wanted to retaliate against Yagashira-sensei for declaring that your benefactor’s treasure was a fake?”

Holmes-san nodded as Kiyomizu-san stepped forward even more to question them.

“That’s a very likely motive. The episode was not broadcasted, but that doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Kageyama lost face from that incident, and I hear that he received quite a shock.”

Bitter smiles appeared on the faces of Masamune.

“We were in the audience during that recording. We could never forget his face of disappointment, and we wanted to check if Yagashira Seiji can really tell what is genuine.”

“Yes, we always wondered how good his judgment was. If Yagashira Seiji sees his treasured seiji broken and becomes upset, we would mock him and say, ‘It’s just a fake!’ But of course, that failed.”

The two of them explained, then clicked their tongues, seemingly frustrated.

“Sorry, but you looked down on us too much. To our eyes, it was as if you swapped a white object for a black one. It was just that obvious.”

Holmes-san replied disgustedly and stared at them with cold eyes.

“…What’d you say, huh?”

Masataka-san snapped at Holmes-san and stepped forward aggressively.

Everyone stiffened, as if frozen from the tense, unstable atmosphere.

It was rare for Holmes-an to say something like that.

While he looked unruffled, he was undoubtedly pissed that an incident like this happened on a day of celebration for Owner.

Muneyoshi-san immediately put out a hand to block his partner and said, “Stop it, Masataka,” but that didn’t have any effect.

“…You’re called Yagashira Kiyotaka, right? If your judgment is as good as you say, then how about having a contest with me?”

Muneyoshi-san asked, then retrieved a pack of playing cards from his inner pocket and placed it on the table with a slam.

“…With playing cards?”

“Yeah. You fine with poker?”

“…Fine.” Holmes-san sat down in a chair in front of the table.

“Kiyotaka-san, if you lose, we’ll have you go down on your knees and apologize for bringing shame to our savior.”

Why does Owner have to apologize for calling a fake a fake in his appraisal?

I was taken aback by their lack of reason.

Even so, Holmes-san nodded and said, “Sure, we’ll have it your way,” causing a murmur to spread through the crowd.

“Hmph, acting all cocky, eh? Muneyoshi’s card skills are world-class.”

Masataka-san boasted as he placed a hand on Muneyoshi-san’s shoulder.

Muneyoshi-san nodded, spread the cards out in a fan shape so that the back picture could be clearly seen, then immediately brought the deck together again and shuffled it.

As expected of a world-class performer, his actions were brilliant to watch.

Finally, he distributed five cards each to himself and his opponent.

Once again, a wave of nervousness overcame me as Muneyoshi-san looked at his cards with a strong gaze.

Without even touching his cards, Holmes-san shrugged.

“Ah, this is impossible. It’s my loss.”

Everyone’s mouths went wide agape as Holmes-san threw up his hands, while his cards were still face down.

“Holmes-san, you should say that only after looking at your cards. You can change your cards in poker, too.”

“Exactly, Holmes-san! You don’t need to kneel to these people!”

As Akihito-san and I stepped forward, Holmes-san smiled weakly.

“Muneyoshi-san has two aces and three kings in his hand, and that makes a full house. Unfortunately, I only have a high card. Even if I try, I’ll only be able to get a pair, or a two pair at most, so it’s impossible to win.”

Holmes-san said regrettably, but kept smiling. In contrast, Muneyoshi-san’s eyes widened.

“H-How did you know?”

“It was when you first opened up the cards in a fan. Those were cards that had been arranged beforehand, in the order of a new pack. Due to your amazing shuffling, it seemed as if you’d split the cards well, but I could tell that the cards were back to the same arrangement. Since you placed the ace of spades on the top and you started dealing from the second card, I could tell that you had three aces and two kings. On top of that, when Masataka-san placed a hand on your shoulder at the start, he actually slipped cards into your collar, which slid into your sleeve, probably as a precaution. That was done really well, as if it were a show. I can’t win like this, but… you can’t call this a fair contest.”

As Holmes-san made that declaration with a smiling countenance, everyone in the room was lost for words.

A silence descended on the exhibition hall.

Holmes-san stood up without making a sound.

“W-What are you?”Masataka-san asked, his voice cracking.

“I’m just an appraiser-in-training. However, can I have you learn something from today?”

“W-What is it?”

I noticed that everyone was holding their breaths, just like the two members of Masamune.

Holmes-san gave a brief grin, then immediately switched to a sharp gaze.

“—It ain’t good to look down on our judgment.”

“!!” Overwhelmed by his intensity, Masamune stood stock still, as if they’d been frozen in place.

Once again, silence returned to the room.

“…That’s enough, Kiyotaka.”

Owner placed a hand on Holmes-san’s shoulder, then looked at the two entertainers.

“I’m sorry for shaming Kageyama-san in public.”

Owner gave a deep bow, causing the two performers to widen their eyes in surprise.

“I do feel apologetic from the bottom of my heart for hurting Kageyama-san with my words. What he brought in was an elaborate counterfeit. It was a brilliant article that could make people feel that it’s worth a huge sum. But a fake’s still a fake. I can’t call that genuine, no matter what. Once appraisers start saying that, it becomes recognized as a genuine article, and everything would become twisted.

“The mistake of an appraiser can lead to the bending of even history itself. It’s a huge responsibility that we must bear. That’s why, no matter how much money you spend or how much you plead, no matter how apologetic I feel, I can’t call a fake article genuine under any circumstances. That’s what I call the philosophy of judgment.”

Those words, spoken in a strong tone by Owner, left a great feeling in my heart.

Everyone else must have felt the same way, too.

—The philosophy of judgment.

“We’re… sorry.”

After a brief moment, the two Masamune performers quietly said, then bowed.

“Actually, we thought that you couldn’t stand Kageyama-san for some reason, and arbitrarily called his treasure a fake.”

“And we also thought that even if it were fake, you should have read the atmosphere and told everyone it was genuine anyway…but that was really shallow of us.

“…It’s as he said. We were indeed looking down on your judgment.”

The two of them looked down in remorse, while Holmes-san displayed a gentle smile.

“It’s good that you understand.”

“Exactly, so enough of this talk. There’s still loads of food and wine. Let’s make another toast!” Owner shouted, causing everyone to laugh.

At that moment, Manager appeared.

“Some new guests have come to the party hall, and are looking for the host. Did something happen here?” He looked at us in confusion.

“What, the seiji is broken!”

“That’s a fake. It’s just a parlor trick by Masamune.”

“P-Parlor trick, you say?”

“Yup, just a parlor trick. So more guests came, huh. We’ll start up the party again. Everyone, let’s move over to the party hall!”

Owner walked off energetically, and everyone followed with smiles on their faces.

“As I thought, Holmes-san is really scary!”

Next to me, Kaori said as she hugged her body.

“Yeah, I also felt chills down my spine.”

Akihito-san nodded.

“…” I looked down without saying a word.

Holmes-san’s intensity during that exchange was indeed frightening, and I could understand why they felt that way.

—However, I…

“Aoi-san, do you have the key for this room?”

As Holmes-san approached, Kaori and Akihito-san twitched in fright.

“Ah, yes. Sorry, I was holding on to it this whole time.”

I hurriedly held out the key, but Holmes-san shook his head.

“No, you don’t have to apologize. And thank you for holding on to it.”

After checking that all the guests had left the room, he locked the door to the exhibition hall.

“…I’m sorry you had to witness such an unsightly scene. I became too angry there.”

Holmes-san quietly muttered as we walked towards the party hall.

“No, it’s fine,” I replied and raised my head. I was startled to see Holmes-san with a miserable expression on his face.

“Aoi-san, you’re also afraid of me, right?” He asked uneasily.

“Ehh?”

“I’ve been like this in front of others in the past, and their faces were twisted with fear.”

I felt my chest tighten as Holmes-san put on a self-mocking smile.

Since he’s much sharper than others, he must have hurt many people in that way.

“…No, I’m not afraid at all. Just now, I could tell that you’re really proud of Owner. You looked so cool when you were trying to protect someone important to you. It was wonderful to see that.”

My response caused Holmes-san’s eyes to widen.

“Thank you, Aoi-san.”

In the next moment, he produced an unreserved smile, like that of a child.

“…” I was unable to look at him directly, so I averted my eyes.

I wonder why, but Holmes-san just seems to be going against the rules so much today.

“Kiyotaka!! Hurry up and get on over here!”

Owner’s bellow rang out, breaking the silence.

“Good grief,” Holmes-san said with a shrug.

“Seriously, I’m no match for him.”

“Owner’s a really wonderful person, though. I was moved by his speech earlier.”

“Yes, my grandfather is certainly a respectable master. If I can succeed him and surpass him some time…” Holmes-san muttered, as if he was talking to himself.

“Shall we go, then?” He walked on, grinning.

“Yes!” I gave a strong nod and followed after him.

I could see Owner’s figure surrounded by a crowd of people in the middle of the hall.

The National Appraiser, Yagashira Seiji, is indeed an amazing person.

Holmes-san will probably be the successor of such a person. And then he’ll inherit the philosophy of judgment, and everything that comes with it—


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  1. Also known as Jishō-ji (translated literally as “Temple of Shining Mercy”), this is a Zen temple at the east side of Kyoto, built in the Muromachi period.
  2. I believe she is referring to Yasaka Shrine, which is the host shrine to the Gion Festival. It is located to the south of Ginkaku-ji.
  3. In this age system, people start at one year old when they are born, and that number is incremented on January 1 every year. This system was rendered obsolete in Japan by law in 1902.
  4. Tenranzan is also the name of a mountain in Saitama. It means “The Emperor Mountain”.
  5. 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”.
  6. A stone-paved pedestrian road and tourist attraction in Kyoto that is lined with traditional buildings and shops.
  7. A Buddhist temple in Eastern Kyoto, founded in the early Heian period.
  8. 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.
  9. Blue and white pottery.
  10. Aesthetic sense in Japanese art emphasizing quiet simplicity and subdued refinement.
  11. A Japanese custom where the bride withdraws to change costumes during a wedding.
  12. A kind of kimono that is characterized by flamboyant and colourful pattern running continuously over the seams

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