And then the next Saturday arrived. Akihito-san had made arrangements to head to his relative’s house after checking out Tōfuku-ji, which was the subject of his next episode.
“You definitely shouldn’t go to Tōfuku-ji by car in autumn.”
Holmes-san said in a strong tone of voice as he drove the shop’s jaguar.
“……” As I sat in the front passenger seat, I looked back at Akihito-san in the rear seat, and we silently exchanged looks.
We’d met up at Kura and were now on the way to Tōfuku-ji, starting from an underground car park in Oike.
“…Hey, Holmes, aren’t you contradicting your actions?”
Akihito-san leant forward and asked. I nodded as well.
“Yes, of course, I don’t plan to go to Tōfuku-ji all the way like this. Your aunt came to Kura the other day and lent me the house keys.
“We’ll first stop the car at the house, then walk to Tōfuku-ji from there.”
“Ah, I see, so that’s how we’ll go.” Akihito-san nodded.
Holmes-san dropped us off in the vicinity of Tōfuku-ji.
“I’ll catch up with you after I park the car, so you two go ahead first,” he said, then drove off to the house of Akihito-san’s aunt.
“…Holmes is really smart, as I thought. If it were me, I would have parked the car at my aunt’s place, and we’d walk all the way from there.”
“You’re right. It’s probably because Holmes-san always has to attend on Owner.”
“I also thought of that. It must be rough to be Owner’s chaperone.”
“He’s certainly a very wilful person.”
We talked as we headed to the gate of Tōfuku-ji.
“By the way, is this your first time at Tōfuku-ji, Aoi-chan?”
Akihito-san looked at me as he asked that question. When he stands tall like this, he certainly looks handsome.
(But I wonder why my heart isn’t fluttering at all. That’s surprising.)
“Ah, yes. What about you, Akihito-san?”
“I only came here in elementary school, so I’ve forgotten all the details about it. Shall we take a look at the sanmon, which is considered to be a national treasure?”
Akihito-san lightly asked as he led the way.
“They say it’s a national treasure, but it’s definitely no match for the one at Nanzen-ji.”
He said to himself as he put his hands behind his head.
Speaking of Nanzen-ji, that’s the temple that Akihito-san will be introducing on the program tonight.
I heard that he checked it out with Holmes before recording.
“Was the sanmon at Nanzen-ji that amazing?”
“Yeah, it was totally overwhelming. Oh? Have you not been to Nanzen-ji, Aoi-chan?”
“No, not yet.”
“You definitely have to go there. The Waterway Pavilion was amazing, too.”
“I’d love to go there.”
“Sorry, Aoi-chan. I’ve already gone to Nanzen-ji alone with Holmes before you.”
Akihito-san said as he peeked at me with a teasing smile, causing my face to heat up in an instant.
“W-What are you saying!”
As I glared at the chuckling Akihito-san, we passed through the entrance gate called Rokuhara-mon and entered the grounds of the temple.
“So that’s the sanmon…”
I looked up at the sanmon before me, and let out a sigh of admiration.
It was a gigantic, beautiful door, with its white walls providing contrast to its dark brown roof. It was wide in breadth and so tall that you had to look up at it, and gave off the impression that it was an entrance to another world.
—I was overwhelmed. It was probably the most impressive door I had ever seen.
“It has such an amazing amount of intensity! Is the sanmon at Nanzen-ji really more amazing than this?”
“Well, I would say they’re amazing in their own ways. But if I had to pick a favorite, I’d say Nanzen-ji.”
“I see! Nanzen-ji must be amazing, huh.”
Akihito-san replied, “Yup, it’s amazing, all right,” and continued taking photos with his smartphone in hand. After that, he stood a short distance from me and gazed at the sanmon. At that moment…
“—Sorry to keep you waiting. I wasn’t expecting you to be still here, though.”
Holmes-san’s voice came from behind, causing us to turn around.
“Hey, Holmes. The one at Nanzen-ji is majestic, but this sanmon’s amazing as well.”
Akihito-san said as he placed his hand around Holmes-san’s shoulder in a familiar manner.
“This is said to be the oldest sanmon in Japan, and that’s why it’s designated as a national treasure.”
As usual, Holmes-san explained.
“I don’t need this arm here.” He lightly shook off the arm on his shoulder.
“Ah, how awful.” I laughed reflexively upon witnessing that scene.
“Seriously, you’re way too cold.”
Akihito-san muttered in an unsatisfied tone.
“Well, then it might be more amazing than the sanmon at Nanzen-ji.”
He pulled himself together and asked while looking up at the giant gate.
“…To say which one is more amazing depends on the person, but ‘Kyoto’s Three Great Gates’ are the gates at Nanzen-ji, Chion-ji and Higashi Hongan-ji. Unfortunately, this sanmon isn’t included in that collection.”
Holmes-san said, causing Akihito-san to ask, “Really?” in surprise. I also let out a sound, “Hehh?”
“However, I believe that you can decide for yourselves with your hearts. All of them are wonderful, and no gate in particular is superior or inferior.”
Holmes-san placed a hand on his chest and smiled gently.
I was moved by his words.
Sure, there are all sorts of things like rankings and power spots, but it should all be about what you like personally.
I’ve been to a lot of temples and seen their gates, but just as Holmes-san said, there aren’t any that are better or worse, and they are all beautiful.
“…I see, it’s the same as with girls, right? Everyone has their own preferences, so you might like a different kind of girl,” Akihito-san nodded, convinced, while I was at a loss for words.
Seriously, this person…
“Let us go, then.” Holmes-san ignored Akihito-san’s comment and moved off. I giggled and replied, “Sure!” and quickly followed behind.
“Hey, wait up!”
With Akihito-san running after us, we headed for the main hall.
“The founder of Tōfuku-ji is Kujō Michiie1. He wanted the temple to be as large as Tōdai-ji in Nara, and as grand as Kofuku-ji, so he took a letter from each temple and gave it the name Tōfuku-ji. It has been hit by fires numerous times, but has been restored as such. You could say that it’s a temple loved by the people.”
While we listened to Holmes-san’s exposition, we clasped our hands at the main hall’s beautiful golden statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha, gazed at the unryuuzu on the ceiling, then headed to what was described as the biggest highlight of Tōfuku-ji, the Tsutenkyo Bridge.
“Man, I can’t wait to see the Tsutenbashi Bridge!”
Akihito-san said excitedly as he held a pamphlet in his hand.
“It’s called the Tsutenkyo Bridge2. Make sure you get that right when you introduce it on television.”
Holmes-san pointed out sharply.
Since it was right in the middle of the red maple leaves season, there was quite a large crowd.
To be honest, I didn’t have much expectations as I stepped onto the bridge.
The Tsutenkyo Bridge, which was built on top of a gorge, was higher than I thought it would be. It was a wooden bridge with a nice aesthetic, and was like an aerial observation path in the middle of the red leaves.
The walkway was surrounded with bright red maple leaves.
It was a brilliant, vivid red. I was unable to say a word as I witnessed such a beautiful sight.
There were also red maple leaves flowing down the river a short distance below, and that scene looked just like a miracle.
Red maple leaves flowing down a river.
Oh right, I just remembered.
This temple was a special place for Izumi-san and Holmes-san.
Here, Izumi-san was moved by the beauty of the red maple leaves flowing down the river.
“Unheard of even in the legendary age of the awesome gods: Tatsuta River…” she recited the first half of the poem by Ariwara no Narihara, but forgot the rest of the words.
“…in scarlet and the water flowing under it.” At that moment, Holmes-san smoothly finished the poem.
Yeah, anyone would fall in love after that.
The act of someone like Holmes-san reciting that poem in such a wonderful place would pierce through my heart as well.
“Unheard of even in the legendary age of the awesome gods: Tatsuta River in scarlet and the water flowing under it…”
I mumbled as I looked down on the river that had been dyed red by the leaves.
“Ariwara no Narihara, right?” Holmes-san’s voice came from behind me.
My shoulders jerked upwards.
It wasn’t about Ariwara no Narihara, but that was the poem that began Holmes-san’s and Izumi-san’s romance.
I accidentally recited it while I was thinking about that moment, and it was heard by Holmes-san.
Since Holmes-san is so sharp, he must have realized that I was thinking of Izumi-san, right?
What should I do? That might have made him uncomfortable.
“U-Umm, sorry. I just happened to think of that.”
I shrugged and replied honestly, but Holmes-san just laughed.
“It’s alright. Thank you for being considerate to me.”
…I see, to Holmes-san, it was something that happened quite a long time ago.
Perhaps I didn’t need to be so sensitive.
“On the topic of Ariwara no Narihara, he wrote another poem that I like better.”
I made a silly noise, surprised by the normal response that didn’t seem to have much thought behind it.
“‘I have learnt of this from you. Is this what people of the world call love?’3”
Even I could comprehend a simple poem like this. Umm, it means…
—I’ve learnt about this feeling because of you. Is this what people call love?
That is a heart-throbbing poem about love.
“You like this poem, Holmes-san?”
Perplexed by that unexpected choice, I looked at Holmes-san. He nodded lightly.
“Yes, I aspire for what is described in the poem. I hope to have that feeling some day… but perhaps that is impossible.”
With his right hand on the handrail, Holmes-san stared off into the distance and muttered, as if talking to himself.
His eyes were sorrowful. Pain stabbed through my heart as I saw that lonely figure.
Somehow, I understood.
Holmes-san’s feelings towards Izumi-san were probably all clear.
However, the shock of being betrayed remained as a kind of trauma within him.
For someone adept at reading people like Holmes-san, it must have been a huge shock for him to have his girlfriend stolen away by another man.
With that shock, jealousy and frustration, he mentioned that he was even thinking of going to a mountain in Kurama to be a monk.
His self-esteem must have really been shattered from that.
And now— Holmes-san at present might reject the very idea of being in love.
“…I think I understand.”
“I… I was also broken by that problem with Katsumi, and I think I’m still wounded by that incident. I feel like I’ve become a coward, afraid to move on to the next love.”
With Holmes-san’s words, I finally managed to understand myself.
Even if my heart beats wildly, I hesitate to go on to the next step, all due to the work of this stopper.
Because I’m scared of being hurt again.
“…It’d be good for both of us to properly recover from our wounds.”
We quietly looked at each other, with Holmes-san opening his eyes wide in surprise.
“…Yer right,” he softly replied.
The sorrowful undertones in his voice caused pain to run through my heart.
Like this, we wordlessly gazed at the bright red maple leaves flowing down the river.
—I was moved to tears, probably because the maple leaves were just too beautiful.
“Oh, Aoi-chan, were you moved by the maple leaves? There are tears in your eyes.
Akihito-san commented blithely as he walked over, so I hurriedly wiped my eyes with the back of my hand.
“Y-Yes, I was moved by this scenery… If my friends come to Kyoto in autumn, I’ll tell them that they definitely need to go to Tōfuku-ji.”
I spoke from my heart. Akihito-san folded his arms and said, “Wow” in admiration.
“…‘If your friends come to Kyoto in autumn, tell them that they definitely need to go to Tōfuku-ji.’ That sounds good, can I use that?”
“Eh? Yes, go ahead.”
I nodded, and Akihito-san immediately whipped out his smartphone from his pocket and began taking a memo.
It seems that he’ll be using those words in his next shoot.
After all is said and done, he’s certainly a zealous person.
I can tell that he’s betting on this job.
After enjoying the view from Tsutenkyo Bridge for some time, we looked at the stone garden at the hojo, then left Tōfuku-ji.
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- A Japanese regent in the 13th century, who ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1238.
- Tsutenkyo is written as 通天橋, which can also be read as Tsutenbashi. On that topic, 通天橋 means “Bridge to the heavens” when translated literally.
- I couldn’t find an English translation, so I tried my best to translate the classical Japanese poem.