2 Because I am together with you in“Keibunsha”
My apartment is in an area called Ichijoji, Sakyo-ku.
The first thing that comes to mind, from Ichijoji, is ramen. The highly competitive district in the West, where “Gokukei” is famous for their very rich soup, “Yumewokatare” where their meals very filling, and many more shops where people makes lines to get in.
On the other hand, it is also a stylish place, even inside Kyoto, where fancy cafes and variety shops silently exist. It might be possible, that only people who live here, know about this.
Suddenly, Professor Masaki’s lecture was canceled. “Fundamentals of Reading Classic Japanese” on the 2nd period on Friday. I did not have any classes on the 1st period from the beginning, so that made me vacant for the whole morning. How should I fill this hole in my time? Just sleeping, would be a waste. Then, why not, take a stroll nearby? Deciding on what to do, I opened the cardboard box which was abandoned at the corner of my room.
It is a nice day, looking up, the ramune soda colored sky is stretching endlessly. The cherry blossoms have fallen, but spring is not over yet. This sky, like it is reborn. This is definitely, the color of spring. The wind, blowing on my black hair which has grown to my shoulders, is fresh as if it came from the Lake Biwa Canal. When you listen carefully, you can hear the clickety-clack, of an Eizan Train passing by, making sounds like a matsuri-bayashi (Japanese festival music). You would not be able to notice this if you do not have any room in your mind. That there is so much joy, overflowing in ordinary life!
Turing west at Manshuin Street, on the left-hand side, a retro building built of bricks came into sight. A signboard that is written “けいぶん社(Keibunsha)” in round writing. Small chairs lined neatly. Plants placed nicely, and quietly.
Here, Keibunsha Ichijoji Store, is famous, needless to point out, among Kyoto-lovers. It is not just the fancy appearance that draws attention, but also the books they handle, are unique and interesting.
A normal bookstore usually has books that are popular or books that sell well, but here they are lined up with books that are probably in storage in large bookstores, books that are niche. In the annexed gallery “Enfer”, not only do they have unique stationaries, but they also hold private exhibitions. There also is a floor called “Seikatsukan (life pavilion)”, where they have books about food, clothing and housing, and even handles household goods.
Since this place is just 5 minutes’ walk from my apartment, even in my busy days, I stopped by several times on the way for my grocery shopping. It is not like I am going to buy something, but it is pleasant how looking at the strange photograph collections and blackboard erasers as tiny as a grain of rice, tickles my childlike mind which I am starting to forget. It was the same for this day. I might as well stop by for a bit, I thought, and opened the door to Keibunsha.
A familiar bookstore, used to going to. Stopping by, was just a whim. But who have thought— it would turn out like, that.
A shadow fell, suddenly, into my sight, as I was leafing through a photobook like always. Someone came from behind, and from the same shelf, took out the same photobook. I caught a glimpse, intentionally next to me, and my heart, pounced like a ball.
From between his glasses, black eyes, somehow tinged with sorrow, can be seen. A little brownish hair, that looks soft. Standing there, was the professor, who I usually just see from far away. --- Its Professor, Masaki.
I wonder why, he is here, in such a place. Since his lecture was cancelled, I thought, surely, some business turned up. I was so surprised, I kept on staring at his profile, but there were no signs of the professor noticing. He is looking at the book he had just taken, leafing through the pages, like me.
What, should I do? Before I found the right words to say, my mouth just opened. Embarrassed by how my breathing sound can be heard, in a fluster, I compressed my lips tightly. After our encounter at Mo-an, I tried to talk to him, many times. But, as soon as the lecture is over, he would not even look at his students, and goes out the classroom like the wind, so I have not been able to tell him anything, yet.
This is the first time, to call his name, like this in person. That is why, my voice shook, a little bit. Like touching glasswork, you must not break. My little heart was ruled by nervousness, and somehow, made me terrified. No matter how old I get, it is always scary, to talk to someone in a superior position.
The professor, looked up from the photobook, and caught me in his black-pearl like eyes. Just as we had met in Mo-an, he did not change his expression, and did not say anything, not even an oh, or a yes. As if, he thinks that I am made of inorganic material, he looked at me like he was not interested, and soon after that, fixed his eyes back to his book.
“Are you ditching?”
“Aren’t you the one who is ditching?”
I returned in a fluster, and the professor chuckled softly in amusement. What is that, natural smile? Until just now, you were looking at me with curt eyes. The air with sharp corners, instantly, got fluffy, and round.
“Um…… Thank you, for the other day”
I thanked him for the iced tea he payed for me at Mo-an, but the professor said, “I wonder what that is about” in an innocent tone. Is that, pretending to forget, how to show matureness as an adult? His fingers, thin and long for a man, turns the pages gently, as if trying to make it look that it is the wind’s doing. Making me hesitate to say more, I decided to look at the photobook again myself.
Oh, why? I just stopped by on a whim, and why did I come across him? The first time, was face to face. And now, side by side.
I never would have thought, that we would share the same time, outside his lectures. If we are this close, the sound of my breathing, or the beating of my heart, or everything, might be clearly heard. Such things, not worth thinking about took over me, and the pictures I was supposed to be looking at, now all seems to be the same scenery. It does not mean that we have any special relationships, nor have special feelings. But if a “student A” like me, is standing side by side with him in this peculiar space, anyone would get nervous. After all, we know each other’s face, but this is the first time talking to each other.
Putting the photobook which I can no longer understand back to the shelf, I realized, though I wonder from when, that the professor had been looking at me fixedly. –No, not me. He is looking curiously, at my camera, hang down from my neck.
“This is, um, a camera”
“I can see that. Do you take pictures?”
“Yes. From when I was in elementary school, influenced by my father……”
I stuttered and answered in confusion. I was not expecting to be asked these things. This is kind of embarrassing, I cannot stand looking at his eyes. Even so, the professor would not stop asking questions.
“I see. ……What kind of pictures?”
“Mostly sceneries. I don’t take people much. Since I moved here to Kyoto, I’m thinking of taking shrines and temples from now on”
“That is brilliant”
Inside the store filled with silence, we talked with our voices lowered, like having a secret conversation. When we met at Mo-an, we did not even make eye contact, let alone exchange words. It has always been like that. The professor gives lectures from the platform, and I, listen from a distance. Yes, that is it. It has always been, just, that.
“As I was a student, I used to go to Shisendo often. Today, I am thinking of going to Konpukuji for the first time in a while. I thought I’d drop by here on the way.”
I looked up unintentionally, with the unfamiliar words. I tilted my head to the side, wondering where those places are, and the professor’s gentle expression changed all at once. He opened his eyes wide as if he was saying that it was unbelievable and stared at my absent-minded face.
“……Miss Misaka, do you live around here?”
“Yes, in an apartment right there”
“How long have you been in Kyoto?”
“It’ll be almost 2 months”
“I was thinking you were listening to my lectures quite eagerly, but I guess that was because you had nothing else to do”
The voice was stinging, nothing like his gentle way of speaking in his lectures. I could not understand what he meant, but I somehow sensed, that he was looking down on me. The professor turned his head back to the photobook in his hand, as if he lost all interests in our conversation.
“Since you’re in Kyoto, visit many places. I feel pity for your camera if you don’t”
“……Professor, do you like cameras?”
“Because you are looking at a photobook”
“I am no good, at cameras. It’s too much trouble for me to think of the settings, and compositions. I tried when I was a university student, but I quit in an instant”
“You can’t take pictures because you are overthinking, probably”
The professor glared at me, like he was offended, when I talked back.
--Oh, I wonder, what is this?
Is this person, really Professor Masaki? Was he someone, who would make such an expression, like a child being hit his weak point? I thought it was strange, but soon realized. I only knew the superficial parts, of this person. What he shows during his lectures, like his serious eyes, or his elegant smiles, were the only parts, I had known.
“Then, you must take such wonderful pictures”
“That, is an easy task”
“When you don’t even know Konpukuji?”
“Then why don’t you take me there?”
Giving him tit for tat, talking back half way stubbornly, the professor nodded and said “all right” with a sour look on his face.
“In return, you must show me the most wonderous picture”
This is how, we ended up going to Konpukuji Temple.
The professor surely called me that way, just now. My name, who is “Student A”.
(So, he remembered, my name)
|Shop Name||Keibunsha Ichijoji Store|
|Address||10 Haraitono-cho, Ichijoji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto|
|Access||The nearest public transportation stops are Eizan Dentetsu: Ichijoji Station, Kyoto City Bus: Takano Bus Stop/ Ichijoji Sagarimatsucho Bus Stop.
|Closed||None (except for New Year’s Day)|
|Notice||Please check the newest information on the homepage.|