Hello, everyone! Thanks for waiting!
As a graduating student, I need to take a comprehensive exam and pass it . . . otherwise, I can’t graduate. Usually, I translate while waiting or after I get bored from studying. Anyway, even though the pace is slow, I still managed to finish translating half of this chapter.
Kano Goes to the House of the Hazekura’s
And so the promised day arrived.
Wearing a one piece dress about 10 cm below the knees with a jacket, I was set to go with Hazekura-san, who came driving his car to pick me up, to his family’s house.
Going to his family’s house for the first time, I examined my clothes and manners last night and committed them to my head. But I do not know exactly what to watch out for in the temple, and my anxious feelings still haven’t vanished.
Since it was his day off, instead of his usual monk’s clothes, he casually dressed into a polo shirt and chino pants. I felt excited by his appearance, and my tension increased more and more.
I wonder if my nervousness is obvious. When the car stopped at the red signal, Hazekura-san gently placed his hands on my shoulder.
“Today, both of my parents went out for business. There is only the caretaker in the temple, so you do not have to be so tensed.”
“I know that. But in the end, I still felt nervous……”
“I thought you wanted to see it once you had the opportunity. Because I was born and raised there.”
As the signal changed to green, Hazekura-san said that as he drove the car straight ahead.
That’s right. His family’s temple is also the place where Hazekura-san grew up. When I thought of that, I relaxed a little.
I came to the familiar town where we ate anmitsu on our first date. Passing in front of the well-established Japanese confectionery shop, Ikemoto-ya, I saw Hazekura-san looked ahead after a while.
Following Hazekura-san’s line of sight, I saw a big and respectable temple surrounded by walls. It may be as big as or much bigger than the temple that my family belongs to.
“The place is pretty big……”
“Originally, this neighborhood was our land. It diminished little by little and finally, it was down to this current size.”
As he told me that, Hazekura-san parked the car at the parking lot of the temple. After we alighted the car, Hazekura-san continued to explain to me about the temple as we walked.
“The one that is visible in front is the main hall. And you can see the bell tower on your left. There is a charnel house behind it at the back, and the area beyond the charnel house is the graveyard.”
As we walked together, I can see well that the area is wide. When we passed in front of the bell tower, I couldn’t suppress my surprise.
“What a wonderful bell—”
Perhaps if I were alone, I might really ring it.
While walking side by side along the grounds covered beautifully by gravel, I saw a Japanese house behind the hedge. Rather, it’s a new two-storey house. Before that, Hazekura-san stopped.
“This is my family’s house. No one is here today.”
Ohhh, did Hazekura-san grow up here……? As I scrutinized his family’s house while imagining Hazekura-san as a child, he took my hand.
“Let’s go to the temple’s office.”
Tagging along Hazekura-san, we entered the temple’s office and a young man working on a desk stood up. He’s without a doubt a monk judging from his monk’s working clothes and shaved head. He is around the same age as me or Hazekura-san.
The man gently smiled, further narrowing his narrow eyes.
“Kano-san, this is Shouji-kun who works here at the temple.”
“I’m pleased to meet you. Welcome and thank you for coming here. I heard a lot about you from the assistant chief priest.”
The man who was introduced to me, Shouji-kun, smiled and bowed his head.
Hmm…… Assistant chief priest?
Slightly confused, I also bowed my head.
“I’m pleased to meet you, too. I’m Kuzuhara Kano.”
Perhaps noticing my puzzlement, Hazekura-san explained.
“Kano-san, as a matter of fact, I will return to this temple as an assistant chief priest starting next month. I will feel sad to leave the current temple I am working, which is Kano-san’s family’s temple.”
“Huh, really? But won’t it make Katou-san feel vexed?”
Then it seems that Hazekura-san remembered something and flashed me a smile.
“Yes, regarding that……”
Just as he paused, the telephone rang.
Shouji-san immediately took the receiver, then pressed the Hold button and spoke to Hazekura-san.
“I’m sorry for interrupting your conversation. Assistant chief priest, this call is for you. It’s from Yoshinaga-san, a parishioner.”
“Ah, yes. Kano-san, I’m sorry but can I ask for a little time to finish the job? Meanwhile, you can freely roam around the premises……”
“Yes. I understand. Please do not mind me.”
Hazekura-san lowered his head in apology before taking the receiver.
While looking at the situation, I said to Shouji-san in a loud voice, “It looks like you are busy.”
“It depends from day to day. But for some reason, if there are less staff, it becomes busy.”
Shouji-san smiled while saying that, then he turned his eyes towards the small window on the other side of the temple’s office. Following his gaze, we saw four middle-aged women holding goshuin-chou in their hands, walking towards here.
“Those who have finished visiting the main hall proceed here. Recently, there are a lot of people who collect goshuin.”
Yup, it’s is certainly popular now……. That’s right, writing goshuin is also a monk’s job. It seems that they’re really busy. Can I afford to dawdle at this situation……?
I spoke to Shouji-san in a low voice so that it does not get in the way of Hazekura-san who is in the middle of a call.
“Uhm, is there anything I can help you with? Everyone seems to be busy, and it feels so awkward that I am merely idle……”
Shouji-san then sank into silence as he contemplated.
“Maybe the neighbors will come here soon. In the event that my hands will be full, I will be saved if someone will play host to them.”
“Will it be all right if I do that?”
“Yes. Since they knew the assistant chief priest since he was a child, they will be surely pleased if they knew that you are his fiancee.”
Shouji-san smiled as he said that. But my heart was quite shaken.
—Wait a second! Why did he mention fiancee…..? No way, is that how I am regarded here?!
I unconsciously threw a glance at Hazekura-san who is in the middle of a call.
“Is there something wrong?”
Shouji-san regarded me curiously, so I hurried gave him an artificial smile.
It is indeed impossible to deny that in this situation, so I delivered ambiguous words. Then, I immediately bowed to Shouji-san who went to write goshuin, and quietly left the temple’s office.
While watching the beautifully maintained garden, I was distracted with my thoughts. In the future, Hazekura-san will be the one who will inherit this temple which has a lot of parishioners. The person who will marry him will help him support and protect this temple together.
Will I, who knew nothing, be able to do those things for this temple?
Perhaps, I truly love this amazing person……
“Oh, what a beautiful lady.”
As I stood in the garden, I heard someone behind me. Surprised, I looked behind me and saw an old lady holding something wrapped in a cloth wrapper, watching me.
“Ah…… I’m sorry for not being able to notice.”
“No, no, I’m sorry for suddenly calling you out. I haven’t seen you before. Are you a pilgrim?”
After eyeing me from top to bottom, she waited for my answer, smiling.
“No, uhh…… The truth is, I am affiliated with someone here……”
Well, how should I explain this…… As I faltered, the old lady’s expression brightened.
“Perhaps, you’re Shun-chan’s girlfriend?!”
The old lady asked me with a beaming smile.
—Could it be that the neighbor Shouji-san mentioned a while ago was this old lady?
“You see, the previous priest……Ah, I’m referring to Shun-chan’s father, when he brought up the subject about omiai, Shun-chan said it is not necessary anymore so maybe he already has a girlfriend that’s why he refused the omiai! That’s what I thought. It’s because you’re beautiful, Miss.”
The old lady kept talking to me, who immediately became flustered, joyfully.
“Since he’s already in his mature years, I thought that it would be better for him to settle down. But even though I have introduced him to good women many times, he never gave his approval…… But that’s good, that’s good. It is best for Shun-chan to be with someone he loves! With this, the temple will be secure now .”
Lastly, moved to tears, the old lady took my hand very gladly.
“Oh, I’m so happy. Please take care of Shun-chan…… Oh, that’s right. I’m sorry for sending you to an errand, but can you hand this over to Shun-chan and the others for me?”
As she said that, she handed to me the cloth bundle she was holding.
Not good! Somehow I feel like going home.
I hurriedly told the old lady in the hopes of detaining her.
“Th-Thank you. Uhm, I know you’re asking me a favor, but you can go inside if you want……”
However, the old woman waved her hand while smiling and turned on her heels.
“Ah, nooo! If you hand it over to Shouji-san, he will understand! Well then, young lady. Say hello to Shun-chan for me, okay?”
With that, the old lady retraced her steps with light footsteps.
Holding the cloth bundle, I stood on the spot, stunned.
My attempt to detain her was in vain……
I guess that knowing Hazekura-san’s childhood well will be deeply related to this temple.
I am very nervous about Hazekura-san’s family. Hazekura-san who is treated like that by his neighbors is really an amazing person.
Sighing, I started to return to the temple’s office, bringing the cloth bundle.
At that moment, I saw a woman walking from the direction where the old lady had left.
—Huh? This time……
A good-looking woman is holding a large bouquet of flowers in her hands and wore an elegant one-piece dress with flower patterns. From her dignified bearing, I can easily tell that she is of good breeding.
The woman noticed me, who stopped on my tracks without thinking, and started to approach me. When I bowed in greeting to her, the woman smiled gently and did the same.
“Good day…… Do you have a business in the temple?”
Maybe she thought that I am a customer. The woman spoke to me in a gentle tone.
“Ah, no. I’m a little bit affiliated with someone in this temple, and today, I’ve been invited to for a visit.”
At my reply, the woman in front of me reacted sensitively.
“Affiliated with someone in the temple……? Is that Soushun-san?”
My affirmation made the expression of the woman slightly grim. I have a bad feeling about this situation.