A few days later, I headed to Kyoto.
I took the Shinkansen from Shinagawa Station and reached Kyoto Station in about two and a half hours.
The station that I alighted at had a modern design with, large staircases, overhead paths, a rooftop garden and an observation platform, making it seem far from a train station of an old city.
Apparently, there’s still some controversy surrounding this station. My father, who was a writer, was fuming about its aesthetics.
“I hoped it would’ve had a retro modern design like the Kyoto National Museum.”
He would always mention that to his writer friends whenever the topic of the station was brought up.
It might have its fair share of criticisms, but if you set aside the notion that it’s supposed to be the train station of the old city of Kyoto, the magnificent designs of the buildings are impressive and amazing to look at. That’s what I think, anyway.
It’s certainly not bad for the entranceway to one of the world’s largest tourist destinations.
You can get subjective views on all sorts of things if you just take a step away from your hometown.
Outside the station, I hailed a cab to take me straight to Teramachi Sanjou.
I alighted at Oike-dori, near the city hall, and walked into the shopping arcade.
My heartbeats quickened as I walked on.
What am I getting so nervous for? I glanced at my watch. It was three thirty in the afternoon.
Come to think of it, it’s a weekday, so Holmes might not even be around.
Even so, he’ll probably come in if I just wait there.
Finally, the “Kura” sign and the antique storefront entered my view.
“Yo!” Trying to hide the fact that my heart was pounding, I pushed open the door and heard the familiar tinkle of the doorbell.
The first thing that entered my eyes was the view of Holmes and Owner sitting on opposite sides of the counter.
(It’s rare that Owner’s in the shop.)
But as I had that thought, I noticed that both of them seemed to be crestfallen and dejected, bewildering me to no end.
With their elbows on the table, they were cradling their heads. It was just like a funeral.
“D-Did something happen?”
I awkwardly asked, causing Holmes to look up quietly.
As usual, he was refreshingly handsome, with his annoyingly well-defined features, white skin, and glossy, silky hair.
“…Why, if it isn’t Akihito-san. I did hear that you returned to Kyoto.”
“Yeah, I’ve returned to Kyoto once again!”
“Did you run out of work over there?”
“N-Not at all, quite the opposite, actually,” I raised my voice defensively.
“I know. I can tell from your energetic expression that a new job has come in. And that job’s in Kansai, so that’s why you came back, right? Also, I can see from your luggage that you came directly here from the train station. And that means, you have something to discuss, correct?”
As always, he smoothly hit the mark on everything, as if he were a psychic.
At first, that gave me the creeps, but now that I’m used to it, I realize that it’s good, since it makes everything go quicker.
“W-Well, that’s about right. So what’s with the gloomy faces?”
I sat down on the sofa. With a hand on his forehead, Owner sighed.
“A while ago, I went around to the art museums in other prefectures with Kiyotaka.”
“There were phonies mixed in.”
“It’s exactly as it sounds. We found forgeries mixed in with the art pieces, and well-produced ones, too.”
Holmes answered faintly, his shoulders drooping.
“It’s deplorable for such forgeries to fool the eyes of the museum managers and be proudly displayed at those places. I’ll have to contact Yanagihara-han and other appraisers and tell ‘em to keep a more watchful eye out. But seriously, I never expected another master forger to show up and surpass Yoneyama.”
The two of them heaved a deep sigh again.
I asked curiously, and Holmes responded with a feeble smile.
“He’s a forger that my father exposed in the past. He’s turned over a new leaf and now works at an art gallery, but he possessed quite a lot of skill in his craft. We were even saying that there could be no forger better than Yoneyama-san. But such a person did appear, so we’re really feeling the weight of the situation.”
“Well, new talent always shows up. There were many exceptional here in Kyoto in the past, and they deceived my eyes in my younger days. I’ve said it many times already, but forgers have excellent judgment, and as appraisers, we must go above their level.”
“And it’s also a problem if we ain’t nurturing any talented appraisers. We have to get ya to be fully qualified for the job soon.”
“Yes, I’ll do my best.”
“Now, then, I have a meeting with Yanagihara-san. Kiyotaka, I’m countin’ on ya tomorrow.”
He slowly stood up. I noticed that his face didn’t have its usual energy.
It must have been a shock for him to find out that forgeries had found their way into art museums.
“Yes, I understand. Anyway, Owner, you don’t have to act so depressed. I know that you’re going to fool around in Ponto-chō.”
Holmes asserted without hesitation.
“Shut up, that’s the source of my energy!” Owner snapped, then left the shop.
On second thoughts, it seems that Owner’s acting as per normal.
“—So, Akihito-san, what did you want to talk about?”
Holmes slowly shifted his gaze to look at me.
“Ah, right, that’s it. I’m now the host of a new program.”
After coming to my senses, I explained my situation to Holmes.
I told him about how I came to be the leading figure for a show with five-minute episodes that focused on visual appeal and would be broadcasted on the national network, and that I would be introducing the streets and sights of Kyoto to the audience.
And that the first episode would be about Nanzen-ji.
“—I’ve had my friends show me around places like Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizu-dera, but I’m not really familiar with Nanzen-ji. So I had a thought. Wouldn’t it be great if I visit the temple once with Holmes?”
After I finished, Holmes openly frowned.
“Basically, you’re telling me to show you around Nanzen-ji?”
“Yep, you have a vast stock of knowledge about it, right?”
“Vast stock of knowledge, huh… but you can research about it by looking through books and the internet, can’t you?”
Holmes took a sip of coffee disinterestedly.
“No, I mean, it’s different.”
“Even if I do such research, it won’t stick in my head, or rather, it doesn’t resonate with my heart. But if you teach me about it, I don’t know why, but it goes right into my head, just like that!
“Like with my father’s parting words, or with the tapestry at the Gion Festival. They just leave a deep impression in me, you know? So, I’d like you to accompany me to Nanzen-ji and lecture me all about it! I think the first episode will be important, too.”
I leant forward in desperation, but Holmes looked back at me without changing his expression.
Ugh… what’s with that cold attitude? Was I too passionate, which caused him to be put off?
He might think that I’m too noisy.
Holmes quietly nodded, causing me to go “Heh?” in surprise.
“If you put it that way, then I cannot refuse. I will accompany you to Nanzen-ji. It might be sudden, but would tomorrow be fine for you?”
“Ah, yeah, I don’t mind. Is it convenient for you tomorrow?”
“…It’s really good timing, since I’m invited to Nanzen-ji tomorrow afternoon.”
I stopped moving upon hearing Holmes’ ready words.
“W-What? You have some business there?”
Come to think of it, Owner did say, “I’ll be countin’ on ya tomorrow,” so he must have been referring to Nanzen-ji.
“Yes, and it’s a different matter from guiding you around.”
“Well, since it’s a program that introduces Kyoto, I want to be as big of a help as I can. I’ll have you study properly and show off the wonder of Kyoto.”
He said all that with a strong tone of voice, so I immediately straightened my posture and blurted out, “Y-Yes!”
For some reason, that gave me a lot more confidence than my manager’s pep talks.
“Shall we look through the materials on Nanzen-ji before going there, then?” Holmes suggested as he reached for a thick book on the shelf.
This guy’s… younger than me, right?
As I watched Holmes open the book with a calm demeanor, I smiled wryly at the gap between us.
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