Hey! This is you editor, iwCJ! I say editor because I’m mainly using a machine to translate most of this (I’ll learn Japanese eventually T-T). Anyways, this is my first time translating a web novel, so if I make any mistakes, feel free to give suggestions in the comments. With the intro out of the way, enjoy the chapter! ___________________________________________________________________________
The next thing I knew, I was in a strange forest.
I was lying down with my body in a 大 shape in a strange forest.
Raising half my body up, I look around with sleepy eyes.
It’s a forest.
I’m right in the middle of it, an unfamiliar forest.
No, I was born and raised in the middle of a downtown area, so there was no such “strange forest”. Forget that, this place looks like the Amazon rainforest, which isn’t even in Japan.
A large tree twisted into a bizarre shape.
Giant fern leaves.
Poisonous flowers with primary colours.
The chirping of an unfamiliar bird.
Overhead, there were so many leaves and branches that it was impossible to even see the colour of the sky.
Where the hell is this place?
Half buried in the green undergrowth, I looked back at myself.
White cooking clothes, a white apron, white shoes. I was dressed fully in white.
On my chest was the black logo of “Tsurumi-ya”.
There’s a white towel wrapped around my head, as usual.
Why am I lying here, dressed like this, in a place like this?
I cross my legs. Anyway, let’s try to remember what happened before I lost consciousness.
Then一一as I moved my body, something touched my hand.
Hard and smooth, the feel of processed woodwork.
It was half-buried in the ground under the undergrowth, so I pulled it out一一this is, in a white oak sheath, it was a single Santoku knife.
It’s well-worn, the black ebony handle.
The blade, is 21 centimeters long.
There’s no need to take it out of its white sheath to know. This, what my old man treasured more than his own life, was one of the excellent Santoku knives from the long-established Kyoto cutlery shop “Sakaki-ya”.
The moment I saw it.
I remembered everything.
My name is Tsurumi Asuta.
Tsu from the Tsugaru Strait. It’s “Tsurumi Asuta”, written as “I’ll get fat tomorrow”.
(津軽海峡の津に、留まって見る。 Note: Not sure how to TL this.)
I’m 17 years old, a second year at a public high school. I’m 170 centimeters tall, 58 kilograms heavy, and I’ve never been overweight okay?
I wasn’t born in Tsugaru, but rather in Chiba, Kanto.
My family ran a popular diner called “Tsurumi-ya”, and it’s was doing reasonably well. No, it was thriving, until a month ago. Until those guys showed up.
Apparently, the building next door was going to be renovated into an amusement park, and so someone came over asking us to “sell our shop’s property”.
The reason they gave us was “we wish to build a parking lot”.
The real reason was “we plan to have a food court inside the park, and having a popular diner next to it is going to affect our ability to attract customers”.
Of course, we had no intentions to accept such a one-sided deal, so I politely declined. But it was wrong to deal with that person.
The new owner of the building was apparently a member of the same group (Note: as the guy who asked them to sell their land).
That building too, it was said that it was obtained from the previous owner through nefarious means.
And so, as the renovations on the building began, so did the insidious harassment.
Graffiti on the shop’s shutters reading “contaminated”, or something like that. Silent phone calls ringing around, dead cats being thrown onto the shop’s eaves, for example….. It was classic harassment.
The only thing that was on the internet at the time was a rumor spreading on word-to-mouth sites that said “I heard that that store has had many cases of food poisoning”, or some other kind of baseless claim.
Of course, the regulars didn’t care about such rumors, and visited the diner as usual.
However, the number of first time customers and college students on their way home dropped off dramatically, as shown in the sales figures.
The penetration and influence of the internet horrified me.
Still, my old man was laughing.
“To not be able to eat my food because of the belief in such a hoax, that’s such a loss in their lives” he said.
It was funny, until just a few moments ago.
My experience is that from a few hours earlier.
My old man, who had gone out to restock up on food, leaving me to do the evening prep, was hit by a light truck and was rushed to the emergency room.
When I received the urgent news from the hospital, I rushed to the emergency room without even taking off my cooking clothes.
On the bed, my old man was still laughing heartily.
He was laughing, but both of his legs had complex fractures.
He had bandages wrapped all over his arms and head, red blood seeping through here and there.
He was hit head-on by a light truck going at about 80 kilometers per hour.
“It’s a miracle that he’s even alive” said the doctor with a dismayed face.
The light truck fled the scene immediately.
There were numerous witnesses, but the license plate was removed from the body of the car, and the driver had hidden their face with a knitted hat and sunglasses.
It was completely and utterly premeditated.
Still, my old man was laughing.
Well, you’d need at least a dump truck to make this old man stop breathing.
The following was the conversation between my old man and the doctor.
“So, around how long will it take before I’m discharged from here?”
“No, well, rather than talk about being discharged, we’re going to have to do an EEG test, and then we have to complete surgery for both of your legs…..”
“Yeah, so around how long will it take until I’m discharged from the hospital?”
“At this stage, there’s no way to tell…..After all, it’s a complex fracture in both legs, so even rehabilitation could take months…..”
“Haa, I’ll leave the complicated stuff up to you, doctor, but I have a shop too you know. It doesn’t matter if I have to use a wheelchair or whatever, just let me out of this hospital. If I leave it to that clumsy brat (唐変木), my shop will go out of business.”
Of course, that clumsy brat was me.
Well, if it’s my old man we’re talking about, whether he was in a wheelchair or using crutches, he’d continue to flail his knives around until the day he died. When I thought about that, I somehow laughed a bit as well.
Then一一I got a phone call from my childhood friend Reina.
“The shop, Tsurumi-ya is on fire!” she yelled.
When I told him that, for the first time, the smile on my old man’s face disappeared.
“Asuta! Get the knife! That can’t be burned no matter what!”.
I immediately darted out the room, running even more frantically back towards the shop than when I left it.
The thing that my old man treasures more than even his life, the Santoku knife from “Sakaki-ya”.
Anywhere, with any ingredient, with any tool, being able to satisfy their customers under any circumstances is what makes a person a real chef. “But even then, I can’t part with this one” said my old man, not the knife that was forged by the predecessor of “Sakaki-ya”.
Only that one一一Is not okay.
No matter how much harassment he must endure, even though he was hit by a truck, even though they broke both of his legs, even though they’re burning down the shop, he never wavered at all, but if my old man were to lose his soul一一the Santoku knife from “Sakaki-ya”, then he would probably shatter into a million pieces.
That’s why, I ran as if my life depended on it.
In front of the store, dozens of onlookers were hanging around, and the fire trucks had already begun putting out the flames.
However, Tsurumi-ya was still engulfed in flames, spewing black smoke into the June sky.
No matter how much water you pour onto it, the building was still never going to escape burning down.
It was just burning that badly.
It was a nightmarish blaze of fire.
Reina, who had been standing there, frozen in place, noticed me and came over with a tearful face.
I grabbed her slender shoulders, looked back while nodding once一一and into the flame, I jumped.