Our Historical Journeys Chapter Ⅱ — Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, Shizuoka

fiction, Jul. 2019


The next day, Katsuaki and Mary went to Kunozan Toshogu Shrine in Shizuoka.

There are several shrines called “Toshogu” throughout Japan, and they all worship Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first military dictator (Shogun) who started the Edo period, which lasted for over 250 years. 

However, there are only two Toshogu shrines built by the wills of Ieyasu himself. One is Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, the more famous one, and the other one is Kunozan Toshogu Shrine. Just because you are twins doesn’t mean you can have equally good lives. It’s the same.

Kunozan Toshogu Shrine is smaller than Nikko Toshogu Shrine, but it’s colored with a brighter red and shines beautifully in the sunlight. 

The air around here was so fresh and delicious. The Shrine is located 200m above sea level and you can overlook beautiful Suruga Bay. But before seeing such a landscape, you have to climb up 1159 stone steps in total.

“Oh, she’s really a quite tough woman,” Katsuaki thought about Mary, who was climbing up the stairs energetically in front of him. She was a high jump athlete until college, and now is a member of a women’s rugby team in Canterbury. So, for Mary, climbing up 1000 stairs with a heavy camera might be a piece of cake.

On the other hand, Katsuaki already felt tired. After taking pictures of the shrine and Suruga Bay, he ended up sitting on the bench next to the souvenir shop.

“Umm, I got tired from last night?” Katsuaki was thinking this when he heard the voice, “Oh, now you are getting old?”

It sounded bossy, since “she” called him without “san.” In Japan, people usually call others’ surnames with “san” to be polite and show respect. More casually, sometimes they call others with “kun” for men and boys, and “chan” for girls’ first names.

When Katsuaki looked back, he saw a girl in a purple kimono with long hair tied up, white socks and setta, one of the traditional Japanese footwear. She looked very old-fashioned. 

She was small so Katsuaki thought she was a girl, but weird. She would have to go to school at this time. Wasn’t she?

He gazed at her face, and finally noticed who she was. He was stunned for a while, then said in a husky voice, “oh, my master…!”

“The girl” said, 

“It’s the first time in three months. You’ve lost the weight a bit? Is Ryuko doing well?”

And she got off the bench. Her height was a little over 130 cm. If she wore modern clothes and carried a school bag, she would definitely seem a normal elementary school girl.

However, there are only a few people who can literally see her. And Katsuaki is the one with a strong sixth sense.

She named herself as Nagi to human beings in this world, but he always called her “my master.”

That was because Katsuaki had been helped by Nagi a lot for his work; he writes about history and thus studies and reads a lot of historical books and documents, but it is still impossible to see what happened in the past with his eyes. 

On the other hand, as long as he knew, Nagi has “lived” as a ghost for more than 200 years, and surely has much more historical experiences than him.

“It’s not bad to be able to see a ghost,” Katsuaki always thinks this, after he met her.

“Well, now you write about Gongen this time? That’s why you came to Kunosan, right?”

Nagi asked Katsuaki, who was hanging a phone to his ear. When talking with her, he had to pretend that he was talking on the phone. 

“Yes, I’ll also write an article for “Historical Research as Hobbies” this time. But I never thought Mary was also investigating Ieyasu.”

“Oh, I also read Mary’s articles often. Her latest one is about Soseki Natsume (1). Did you read it?”

“Yes, I’ve read that. “Why can’t you write such an intelligent article, too?” That’s what Ryuko said.”

“Haha, you can never say back to your mom.”

“Oh, please, stop it.”

“Well, well…so, today is May 18 in the western calendar, right?”

“Yes, my master.”

“And you are planning to go home today?”

“Yes, I am going to buy a Shinkansen ticket for tonight.”

“Umm, OK. Just change that plan. Stay in Shizuoka tonight. Tomorrow, I will take you to an interesting place. I know you won’t miss such an opportunity”

“But wait…”

“No problem. Just listen to what I say. You know, it’s always going well if you listen to me, right?”

He didn’t verbally respond and just nodded several times.

1. Soseki Natsume is one of the most famous Japanese novelists around 1900, who greatly influenced subsequent writers. His novel, “Kokoro” is still in many of Japanese high school textbooks. His works are also translated in worldwide.

Kunozan Toshogu Shrine official website

Nikko Toshogu Shrine official website

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Twitter: @tech_sawada

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