Chapter 3: The Lost Dragon – Kajiwara Akihito’s Report (Part 4)

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Chapter 3 Part 3 | Contents | Chapter 3 Part 5

After that, we took lunch at a boiled tofu shop near Nanzen-ji.

I studied Holmes as he ate his food elegantly.

I see, so you can look good eating like this. I’ll have to eat in front of the camera later on, so this will be helpful.

As I was engrossed in my observation, Holmes chuckled.

“…You sure are passionate.”

Having been figured out, I smiled wryly in embarrassment.

“Oh yeah, you were called to Nanzen-ji, right? Is it for an appraisal?”

As I evaded the subject, Holmes let out another small laugh and quietly placed his chopsticks down.

“I don’t think so.”

“Oh? Not an appraisal?”

“I have not yet asked about the details, but all I was told was that they have ‘something to discuss’, so it doesn’t seem to be an appraisal.”

“Something to discuss, huh…”

A temple is usually a place where people come in to talk about their problems, but now this temple is discussing their issues with Holmes. That’s amazing.

I wonder what they want to talk about?

I somehow felt excited thinking about that.

***

 After we finished our meal, we returned to the Nanzen-ji grounds, this time at a more relaxed pace.

We walked past the sanmon we’d climbed earlier and headed straight for the hatto1. Naturally, it had an “exceptional”2 atmosphere.

The surrounding trees had quite some color on their leaves, but you couldn’t call them red yet.

“If the leaves are colored all the way, this place would be seriously beautiful, right?”

“You’ll probably be able to capture it when that time comes. I’ll look forward to the broadcast.”

We quietly talked as we walked on.

He only mentioned that he would be looking forward to the broadcast, but I became nervous upon hearing Holmes’ words.

If he puts it that way, I’ll have to work hard to not let him down.

“It’s almost time, so shall we head to the honbo?”

Honbo?”

“It’s the main residence of the priests. That’s where I’m being called to.”

As we walked towards the honbo, an enormous mansion with white walls and a black tiled roof came into view.

While it was a residence, it appeared that anyone could enter as long as they’ve paid the entrance fee.

I also caught a few glimpses of tourists wandering around.

There was also a young monk standing outside the building, as if he’d been waiting there the whole time. As soon as he saw us, he lowered his head deeply.

“You are Yagashira-san, I presume?” He asked with a gently smiling face.

“Yes.”

“Nice to meet you. I am Enshou, a monk of Nanzen-ji. Welcome, and thank you for making the long trip here. Please, this way.”

With a polite bow, the monk named Enshou showed us into the building.

We followed behind him to a Japanese room with a large tsuitate3 for calligraphy on display.

There were two kanji characters written on the screen. However, they were so well-written that I couldn’t tell what they were supposed to be.

“Wh-What’s written there?”

I hesitatingly asked, causing Holmes to stop moving quietly.

“The words瑞龍 (Zuiryuu) are written there. That’s the mountain name4 of Nanzen-ji.”

Holmes answered in his usual smooth manner, and Enshou nodded with an expression of surprise on his face.

“This is calligraphy written by the 8th abbot of Nanzen-ji, Shimada Kikusen. And yes, Zuiryuu is the mountain name of Nanzen-ji. Good that you know about it. As expected of ‘Holmes of Teramachi Sanjou’.”

He spoke admiringly.

“No, I’m called Holmes, but my family name is Yagashira.”

Holmes replied with a gentle smile.

Why do they always react this way?

“What are you talking about? Starting with Ninna-ji, you’ve been going around to various temples and providing your services.”

“Ah, the case at Ninna-ji, huh…”

Holmes nodded in agreement, while I leant forward in curiosity.

“Hey, what did you do at Ninna-ji?”

“All I did was appraise a tea bowl.”

Holmes casually answered. I frowned, slightly annoyed.

Damn, he thinks it’s troublesome to talk about it. It’s definitely more than just an appraisal.

“If it’s alright with you treasured guests, would you like to see the article we are proud of before I show you in?”

Enshou turned around and stopped, as if having just remembered that.

“Yes, we would like to take a look.”

Holmes’ eyes narrowed, apparently feeling ecstatic from the bottom of his heart.

“Then, please come this way.”

Enshou gave another brief polite nod and walked on.

It’s the same for Holmes, but this Enshou has elegance in his actions and mannerisms. I wouldn’t expect less from a monk of the highest-ranking temple.

“Hey, Holmes, what do you think of the calligraphy we saw earlier?”

I couldn’t read it, but I could tell that it was impressive.

I wonder how much it’s worth?

I asked that question in a small voice.

“…Yes, I think it’s quite something.”

Holmes quietly responded while we walked on.

“Now, please take a look at the hōjō5, which has been named as a National Treasure.”

On the left side of the honbo was a big entranceway with a karahafu6 that led to the hōjō. We passed through it and went in.

“It is said that this was brought from the imperial palace’s Suiryo-den7 and reconstructed here. The painting on the fusuma8 is also one of our proud treasures.”

As Enshou’s eyes sparkled with pride, Holmes also looked joyfully at the interior of the building.

“This is my first time entering, but the fusuma painting is wonderful and resplendent.”

Hearing Holmes speak of it with such passion, I stared at the painting as well.

“Yeah, it sure is gorgeous.”

I took my smartphone out to snap a picture.

“Sorry, we do not allow photography here.”

Enshou put his hands together apologetically.

What? I stopped moving, but Enshou gave a little chuckle.

“However, it is fine to take photographs here. This is the ‘Statue of Han Shan and Ji De’, another of our temple’s treasures.”

“Han Shan and Ji De are the names of two monks in the Tang Dynasty. Known for their eccentricities, the two of them are often depicted in carvings and paintings, based on folklore.”

“Oh, really…”

Even though it was specially recommended to me, I didn’t feel like taking a picture of two old geezers.

In contrast, Holmes happily studied the statue next to me.

We then also looked at porcelain jars and hanging scrolls with dragons drawn on them.

“Speaking of the temple’s treasures, I hear that the Unryuuzu is also one of them. We passed the hatto earlier, but it’s a shame that it wasn’t open to the public, so we couldn’t see it.”

Holmes placed a hand on his chest, apparently feeling regretful from the bottom of his heart.

“Unryuuzu?”

“There’s a panlong9 drawn on the ceiling of the hatto by master painter Imao Keinen10.”

“Ah, those that you often see in temples.” So unryuuzu means a dragon painted on the ceiling.

“Would you like to take a look at it now?”

Enshou asked, causing me to be taken aback.

No, come now, we’ve walked all the way here already, we don’t have to return to the hatto, do we? It’s such a pain!

I screamed in my heart, but Holmes nodded and replied, “Gladly.”

It seems that he doesn’t spare any effort to look at art.

While I was feeling fed up, Holmes and Enshou headed back to the hatto with a light gait.

Even their quick footsteps were somehow refined.

“I don’t know why, but you and that Enshou-san give off the same vibe.”

I earnestly revealed my thoughts as we walked, causing Holmes to turn around and say, “Huh?”

“Is that so?”

“You don’t notice it yourself? You two are just really similar. You might even be the type to be a monk.”

I chuckled.

“I might look like this, but I’m filled with earthly desires,” Holmes said as a smile appeared on his face.

“Oh yes, Akihito-san. The roof cover tiles in Nanzen-ji are also shaped like dragons,” he continued as he looked at the roof.

“Roof cover tile?” I looked blankly at the roof to see a dragon head pointing out of the corner, and sighed in admiration.

“Wow, I never noticed that.”

Enshou also put his hands together near his chest, apparently impressed.

“Yes, most people do not notice that. As expected of someone like Holmes-san.”

“That’s not exactly a very amazing feat.”

Holmes shrugged and put on a wry smile.

Thus, we proceeded to the hatto and headed for the center of the unryuuzu.

Drawn on the ceiling was a dragon in a circle, keeping a watchful eye, and with one claw clutching a jewel.

As a whole, it was a very bluish picture.

“—As I thought, it’s wonderful.”

Holmes spoke earnestly as he studied the unryuuzu on the ceiling.

“Actually, it is this unryuuzu that we wanted you to see.”

Enshou revealed in a soft voice.

“Is there something wrong with the unryuuzu?”

“…I will tell you the details in another room.”

The monk bowed with a pained expression on his features, causing Holmes and I to instinctively exchange glances.


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  1. Meaning Dharma Hall, this is a large lecture hall that cannot be entered by the public.
  2. The status of Nanzen-ji as a Buddhist temple of Kyoto Gozan Temples is “exceptional”, which is the highest rank.
  3. A movable screen originally used to hide certain things from view. It’s like a byōbu (Japanese folding screen) that cannot be folded.
  4. Temples used to be built in mountainous areas, so they are metaphorically called mountains and are given honorific mountain names.
  5. The abbot’s quarters.
  6. A type of gable with an undulating curve at the top, a style peculiar to Japan.
  7. Pavilion used as the Emperor’s habitual residence at Heian Palace.
  8. Sliding paper door.
  9. A panlong, or coiled dragon, is an aquatic dragon usually depicted in Chinese art. Small, unrelated note: There was a typo here. The text writes 幡龍, but it’s supposed to be 蟠龍.
  10. A Japanese painter and print designer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who was part of the shin-hanga movement, which revitalized traditional ukiyo-e art that was from the Edo and Meiji periods.

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