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IMDR Vol. 1, Chapter 3

Meeting.

Mrs. Otoki, the owner of this mansion, ‘Fumiko Otoki fairy fumikois,’ a woman who has made a name for herself in the business world. Her surname before marriage was Onomura of Ono Village.

 

Currently, Europe established the trading company ‘Onomura Shokai,’ which has been growing its business mainly with its trade with South America, headed by Onomura Kimihiro, who was the eldest daughter of Mr. Onomura.

 

Founded in the Meiji era, Onomura Shokai was a company engaged in overseas trade and is now known as Japan’s leading importer.

 

Of the current generation, the president Kousuke Onomura, who was five years younger than Mrs. Otoki, had amassed a huge amount of wealth and was listed among the wealthiest people in Japan.

 

Several decades ago, at a certain garden party, Fumiko had fallen in love with Baron Otoki and they had gotten married, changing her family name to ‘Otoki.’

 

However, three years after their marriage, the baron died unexpectedly and she became a widow. Since there was no child to succeed him, Fumiko Otoki had to give up her baron status and, therefore, she was criticized by those around her.

 

After losing her husband, Mrs. Otoki opened a cafe and a milkhall store in Ginza using the inherited property and the dowry from the Onomura family.

 

At first, she was ridiculed as a rich woman who grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she had a plan.

 

She planned on importing western liquors and liquors from overseas through Onomura Shokai. The ingredients for Western confectioneries were purchased at a lower price than the market price, and offered at a slightly more affordable price than other cafes. Cafés where you can taste authentic western liquors and coffee, and milkhalls, where you can enjoy western sweets such as pudding and choux cream, gradually became popular.

 

In addition, Fumiko was particular about products other than those displayed in the store.

 

The store was a western-styled building furnished with antique furniture. Fashionable waitresses were employed, not only good-looking women, but also those who were educated to be able to converse with intellectuals.

 

Customers increased daily as they came to enjoy coffee, western liquor and the atmosphere of foreign countries.

 

As the store’s operations were going well, the support from Onomura Shokai also increased, and the number of branches increased proportionally leading to the establishment of five more stores in the Imperial Capital.

 

Having a spirit of action that puts men to shame, her quick wit and pompous demeanour made her name known in all business worlds.

 

She also became a symbol of admiration as an independent professional woman, and since she was once a baroness, she came to be called ‘Mitsuwa no Baron.’

 

Mrs. Otoki and Rihito first met when he visited one of her cafes. When he was talking to an acquaintance, a waitress at the cafe, she happened to visit to see how the cafe was going and seeing him, she immediately began to talk to him.

 

“Oh, you have a beautiful face.”

 

After unabashedly praising Rihito’s appearance, who clearly had foreign blood, she whispered “It would be nice to have a good-looking man.” and invited him to work at one of her cafés.

 

“English, German, can you speak any of the languages?”

 

As a trial, he recited a poem by the German poet, Goethe, which greatly pleased Fumiko. She was so excited that she improvised a poem of German-sounding words.

 

Mrs. Otoki was well versed in the arts in addition to running a cafe.

 

Not only did she love art, but she also had a great sense of taste and an eye for young talent. She was active in supporting poor artists, and she always opened her villa in Nagasaki-machi as a salon for them.

 

The works created by the artists who lived in the villa, commonly known as “Otoki Salon,” were exhibited at an exhibition held once every three months by inviting dilettantes. Not only that, but by exhibiting works on a monthly basis at the café and milk hall that she manages, it was able to attract the attention of many of her customers.

 

Being allowed to go in and out of her salon and exhibiting their works was, so to speak, a gateway to success for young people. In the art world, it has become a field for discovering new buds.

 

Since part of the profit generated by the sale of the works goes to the operation of the salon, Fumiko’s burden was in reality nothing more than providing a place for a villa or a cafe in Nagasaki-machi.

 

It was a really efficient way to connect the up-and-coming artists with the upper class people who loved art.

 

By coincidence or luck, Mrs. Otoki had noticed Rihito’s talent (or rather, his beauty) and allowed him to enter the salon.

 

If you visited the salon out of curiosity, you could find various young artists hanging out and working hard to create works.

 

However, Rihito himself was nothing more than an impromptu poet and there was no way he could be as enthusiastic as them, however, Otoki Salon became a very helpful place when he was short of money.

 

‘If I stay here, I won’t have to worry about sleeping and eating, and even if I’m absorbed in reading the abundant foreign books in the study, I won’t have any friends who insist on working.’ He decided to visit the salon once every month so that he wouldn’t spend too much time in it because it was such a comfortable place.

 

Rihito stopped by the study, took out a foreign book, and headed to the solarium at the back of the building.

 

The interior of the oblong sunroom, which opens to the full width of the first floor, was extremely simple. The dark brown wooden floor, white plaster walls, and light green crosspieces and grids created a refreshing design.

 

The room, filled with bright light, was equipped with woven rattan chairs and a small round table, creating a relaxing space.

 

A cool breeze came in through the slightly opened window, along with the scent of the greenery of the trees planted in the large garden. Mixing in the scent of youthful leaves was a faint sweet scent. ‘Was it a rose bud that had begun to unravel?’ He thought to himself.

 

The cozy solarium was popular with artists staying in the salon. Poetry writers and sketchers gathered here and people were always seen, but luckily there was no one here today.

 

At the end of the solarium, Rihito stopped when he approached the best seat, the wicker bench.

 

“Oh…”

 

He thought it was unmanned, but apparently there was someone there already.

 

Lying on his back on a bench in the soft sunlight was a lone boy.


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