In the quiet room, when the master had gone, Rihito laid down on the futon again.
Reflecting, he squinted his eyes reducing his field of vision of the ceiling, noting the dark stains here and there.
-That English Egeresit is the shape of…?
-No, no. A western parasol and western dressing..
-What did you say? Hey Chizaki, don’t say anything outrageous.
-Hey Ichiya, why are you reckless? Isn’t it rude of you to think so?
On nights when we drank together, we used to playfully compare stains to something else. Feeling nostalgic, she sat up and lifted her heavy hips.
Rihito first washed his face and shaved his beard in the shared washroom on the first floor before dressing up.
When I returned to my room, I took the white shirt and suit from the clothes hanging above the lintel. The plain but elegant Rikyu-gray jacket, waistcoat and trousers were made by a famous dressmaker in Ginza when he was a university student. Koshira saw it as a good product. There were no hesitations when it came to tying the necktie, and a beautiful green inverted triangle was completed.
He was taller than the average Japanese man and wore a suit that fitted his long limbs and lightly brushed his chestnut hair with hair balm.
With just that, he had become a handsome man who was popular among women. Most of them kept saying “He looks like someone from a noble family” and “He looks like he’s well-bred.” Well, they were not out of line.
If you looked into the cloudy mirror, you could see a greenish colour in his eyes framed by long eyelashes. A high nose bridge, sharp double eyes, pale skin and thin lips.
A young man with deeply chiselled chin and un-Japanese like features was staring at me.
“Are you aiming to become an actor?”
There was no answer to the silly question and the mirror only returned a wry smile. Averting her eyes from the shaded hazel colour in the mirror, Rihito picked up the fedora that was hanging on the wall.
Rihito Senzaki, as you can tell from his appearance, was not native Japanese.
“My father is Japanese and my mother was German.” Rihito had said.
“While my father was studying abroad in Germany, he met my mother at the mansion where he stayed at, and it seemed that the two of them fell in love.”
“Before long, my mother became pregnant and came to Japan with my father as if she had eloped against the opposition of her relatives. However, her long travels and unfamiliar foreign surroundings damaged her body and she died two years after giving birth to me.”
After that, although he was raised by his father, his second wife found it difficult to accept Rihito, whose appearance could be recognized as a stranger. Especially since his half-brother was born.
Even so Rihito, who had nowhere to go, spent his childhood in isolation unable to return to Germany where his mother was born.
When he entered high school, he finally left home and lived in a student dormitory.
Even now, at the age of twenty-five, He still lived with his friend in a boarding house.
After leaving his boarding house, Rihito boarded the streetcar from the nearby stop in Masago-cho.
Looking out the window, you could see the backs of students wearing black coats walking in one direction.
Just 10 days ago, the colourfully decorated flower train ran through the city for the Imperial Capital Reconstruction Festival, and it was bustling with a large number of customers. But now, the sight of everyday life has completely returned to normal.
While changing trains on the way, Rihito got on the streetcar and got off at the Zoshigaya stop. From there, he headed west to Ikebukuro Station on foot.
In the town of Nagasaki, west of Ikebukuro Station, rental houses with studios had recently been built for artists to live in.
Originally, it seemed that a local woman made it for her grandson, who wanted to be a painter, and her friend. Although the number was still small, young people aspiring to become artists were starting to gather here, and it was gradually becoming a place where a new and free spirit flowed.
The place Rihito was headed to was also a mansion where such aspiring artists gathered.
Rihito had stopped in front of a site surrounded by iron fences and hedges in a corner of the outskirts of Nagasaki-machi. If you looked through the Iron Gate, you could see a charming Western-style building in the back of the green lawn at the front yard.
In the daytime, when Rihito had pushed through the unlocked gate, the gardener tending the hedge turned towards him. He must have remembered the face of Rihito, who had visited him several times.
Rihito lifted his hat bowed at him with the man returning the bow lightly and then proceeding to lead him along the stone pavement between the grasses to the mansion.
The two-story wooden building that came into view was a new one built after the previous earthquake. It was sprayed with white mortar for fire prevention. Against the rough white walls, the entrance door and shutters were dark green, and the roof tiles were tan, creating a beautiful contrast of colours.
When he knocked on the front door, an old man in a black suit soon appeared.
“This is Chizaki-sama, it’s been a while.”
“Hello. Is Mrs. Otoki here?”
“Ma’am is absent at the moment. She will be here at noon, so please wait inside.”
The mansion’s caretaker, an old man, opened the door wide and invited them in.
Lifting his hat lightly and bowing, Rihito stepped into the 『Otoki Salon』.
T/N: Making changes… Sigh