Monthly Archives: November 2016

Japanese web novel translation: “Japan: A New Age” by Tasogarenin (黄昏人) [Chapter 2: Startup]

This is the second chapter of a Japanese Science Fiction web novel I have started translating about a genius boy who develops amazing technology that changes Japan’s society drastically, eventually resulting in the colonization of outer space.

You can see the table of contents for this here which includes other chapters.

You can find the original text for this chapter here.


Note: Feel free to link to this translation, but please do not copy any of the content. If I find that is being done I will either pursue the site(s) to remove it and/or stop posting this story’s translation to a public location. Thank you.




あらせられます (araseraremasu): A triple-polite Japanese word

One of the distinguishing things about the Japanese language is how there are many different ways to say the same thing while varying the level of politeness. For example, the below words all mean “to eat” in increasing levels of politeness.

  • 食う (kuu)
  • 食べる (taberu)
  • 召し上げる (meshiageru)

Besides the many different verbs, there is also endings which can be applied to any verb, like the frequently used polite desu/masu form (i.e. 食べます  (tabemasu) )

At first this stuff can be a little overwhelming, but after you study it for awhile you start to get the hang of things.

However, once in awhile something comes along and just blows you away with a new way to use or combine polite and/or respectful forms.

The other day, I was readying through the illustrated storybook for the Ghibli movie “The Cat Returns” (猫の恩返し) which is related to the film “Whisper of the Heart”. There I stumbled across the word “あらせられます” (araseraremasu) which I just skimmed over the first time, but then when I went through the book a second time, I realized I really had no idea what this word meant.

Actually, that is not entirely true; I felt that the word didn’t necessarily have a deep meaning, but it did express “politeness” somehow (this turned out to be for the most part true).

Looking at the Japanese dictionary for the word あらせられる reveals this:


My loose translation of this:

[Compound word]  (Created from the mizenkei form of the verb “aru” plus the respectful auxiliary verbs “seru” and “rareru”).

Here, the verb “aru” in question simply means “to have”, as in “お金がある” (okane ga aru, “I have money”).

Let’s build this word up step by step:

  • ある (aru)    [dictionary form]
  • あらせる (araseru)   [+ respectful auxiliary verb]
  • あらせられる (araserareru)   [+ another respectful auxiliary verb]
  • あらせられます (araseraremasu)   [ + desu/masu polite ending]

If you aren’t completely following this, don’t worry too much, as I’ve actually seen a post where (what was apparently) a Japanese person was asking what this means. In that post you can see the below description:


(my loose translation)

Is this not an expression that is used by a person of lower class when introducing someone of a higher class in order to express awe?


This totally fits with the context where I saw the word used, when the Character Natori (ナトリ) was talking about the Cat King’s son.

While it semantically means “aru” (to have), it contains three different forms of politeness/respect in a single word. It can also be used in the form:

  • であらせられます (de araseraremasu)   ~=   である (de aru) ~=  です (desu)

Not necessarily the most useful phrase to know, but I thought it was an interesting example of Japanese usage of polite forms.

And it’s also great practice if you are still learning to pronounce your “Rs” (らりるれろ) in Japanese  (笑)



Self Taught Japanese Podcast: 8 recordings in 8 days

A little over a week ago, I decided to start a companion Podcast for this blog, covering many of the same topics: studying Japanese on your own, anime reviews, etc.

I managed to record eight episodes in eight days, though it was a bit challenge since recording plus editing took roughly between 45 minutes and 2 hours. I think just in this span of time my skills in this area have improved a little, and I am looking forward to making even more podcasts on a variety of topics.

I found a WordPress plugin so I can host the podcast on this same blog, with a standalone RSS feed for it. Using this, I was able to get listed on iTunes and Google Play.

While I was able to configure the podcasts to show up along with the other blog posts on my main page, I don’t think they are showing up in the WordPress reader for those who have subscribed (if I am wrong, let me know).

I haven’t got too many hits yet on these, which is probably because of the above, and because it’s harder to find them via a search engine (the articles themselves are very short compared to my blog articles which typically are much longer). I think I still have a great deal to learn about how to get more listeners. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Though I plan to recode more episodes in the near future, I think I’ll be dialing down the pace a little (hard to maintain one a day forever…). Also I want to put in a little more time on one of my recent translation projects.

Anyway, if you are interested please take a listen, and let me know what you think.

You can see the list of episodes here.


Japanese online novel translation: “Japan: A New Age” by Tasogarenin (黄昏人) [Chapter 1]

My last translation project involved a classic story which was several decades old, but this time I decided to try and tackle something a little more modern from one of my favorite genres.

It’s a science fiction novel I found published on the site I haven’t read the entire thing yet, but from what I’ve seen it’s much more up my alley that many of the other stories there.

I contacted the author and got permission from him to translate the story and put it on my blog, and he even assisted with reviewing what I’ve done in this first chapter. The summary below is partially based off his original summary, with some modifications of my own (also reviewed by him).

Because of the unadorned, realistic style, translating this chapter was quite different than many of my other projects. In some ways it felt like I was doing a job on Gengo. Because of that, I focused a little less on getting the perfect wording, and more on making sure to get the overall point across. I think the hardboiled, no-nonsense style of this story is one of the reasons I like it so much.

As usual, whether I translate successive chapters will depend in part on feedback, so please like or comment on this post if you enjoyed the story so far, or think it has potential.

You can see the original in Japanese here, available free in its entirety. The original first chapter is here.

You can see the table of contents for this here which includes other chapters.

Note: You are welcome to link to this story, but please do not cut and paste the content. If I find any sites that have done this I will kindly request that you directly link to me or remove it from your database.


— Science is the ultimate game changer —

A super genius in the form of a young boy appears in modern day Japan.

With his help, cold fusion along with ultra-efficient batteries and motors become a reality, ending dependence on fossil fuels. As a result, Japan’s industries and its society itself goes through a monumental revolution. He goes on to help solve problems including the prediction and prevention of earthquakes and the cleanup of radiation from disasters like the Fukushima Nuclear Accident.

Furthermore, thanks to the invention of the gravity engine, Japan takes to space and begins exploring other planets.

How will Earth’s expansion into the galaxy unfold?

This novel tells a tale which harkens back to the Golden Age of Science Fiction (1940s-50s) from a uniquely realistic point of view by leveraging modern day science.

Chapter 1: Encounter

(Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved)

  As Makimura scrolled through the file he had received, what began as suspicion quickly turned to fascination. Once he finally understood what it was, he stared dumbfounded at the conclusion on its final page–a single equation.

The Word document on his laptop’s screen, a little under five pages, had been emailed to the address associated with his research lab’s website. It appeared to be a response to the research paper he had posted on the website two weeks ago, and despite its short length this new paper did a marvelous job of proving a groundbreaking result and even touched upon practical applications.

  He personally felt that the paper he had released would shed light on humanity’s understanding of matter and of the atom itself, even in his specialization of theoretical physics, and depending on how things developed it had the potential to kickstart a so-called energy revolution.
  However, at the present time his work was not well received by neither his mentor nor a handful of colleagues from the same field. Because of this, and his acknowledgement that his paper was not polished enough to be presented in academic conferences, on a whim he decided to post it on his website.
  If his theory was correct, it would help clarify the inner workings of atoms comprised of a variety of subatomic particles, and could lead to the discovery of a technique that allowed the extraction of energy via conversion of the constituent parts of an atom. However, it only indicated one possible line of research, and he had to admit that not only was it lacking in qualitative proof, but the ideas themselves were not fully formed.

  The email he received contained the below message with a file attached, and its sender was someone who had asked Makimura many questions over email on various technical topics during the last few years. Judging from the relatively high level of difficulty of these questions, Makimura thought this person was probably a graduate student.

“Dear Dr. Makimura,

I’m sorry to inconvenience you with yet another email.

  Regarding the paper you published on your research website, ‘On the Possibilities of Operation and Atomic Structure of Hydrogen Atoms,’ I feel that you have hit upon a wonderful idea which has the potential for tremendously large practical applications.
  However, despite that fact that you are heading in the right direction, I believe that at present your theory is incomplete and have tried my best to develop it further and derive an additional result. I would appreciate very much if you can review what I have done.

Best regards, Yoshikawa”

  At age 33, Makimura was an associate professor of a national university (albeit a former imperial university) and had obtained his PhD at 28, so he was very confident about his academic abilities.
  Over time Makimura had received many questions from the sender of this email, Yoshikawa, and had replied each time, but Makimura’s correspondence of this type was not limited to him (or was it ‘her’?); there were several others he had been in contact with.

  When Makimura had created a website for the research lab, he posted a simplified description of his research work in order to find more people who would be interested in what he was doing.
  Nonetheless, he couldn’t help getting excited over the conclusions of the research report written by this “Yoshikawa” fellow.
  It was, without a doubt, a direct extension of Makimura’s paper. However, it went beyond the result he had roughly described as the final goal of his original paper, and also provided qualitative proof and a clearly defined equation for the operational factor which Makimura had only assumed. It even set the stage for a quantitative approach.

  In Yoshikawa’s words: “By applying certain conditions to matter that has a relatively small atomic weight, such as hydrogen atoms, a nuclear fusion reaction can be created. In addition, those conditions do not require the creation of the well known plasma state, but instead involve what is commonly called cold fusion. Furthermore, there is even an indication of the possibility of creating a special state that can be likened to a ‘can’ of condensed electrons.”

  Of course, any practical applications would take a great deal of time to realize, but the act itself of providing theoretical backing, as well as concretely specifying the course of future research for the operational factor were tremendously meaningful.

  Makimura himself, being a PhD scholar, had his own dreams of fame as a result of his academic research, and his recent paper was written in part to further that goal. He was quite certain that the research paper he had received–with its immense potential for future practical applications–was fully deserving of a Nobel Prize.
  And yet, the author of this paper that would shock the world was not Makimura himself, but rather “Yoshikawa”.

  Suddenly, the cellphone in his white research coat began to play a cute little melody.

   When his wife Sanae asked, “When are you coming home tonight?” he glanced out the small window of his research lab, only to find it was already very dark outside. His clock confirmed it was after 7pm.

  “Well…I’ll start finishing things up now and leave soon, so maybe around 30 more minutes,” he said and hung up.

  He stood in a daze for a few moments before remembering he wanted to contact this “Yoshikawa” person first, and with  trembling fingers he typed up a short email: “I would like to meet with you in person as soon as possible to discuss the research paper you sent me, so please give me a call when you have time. My number is 090-xxxxxx.”

  When he opened the door to his private office, of his five researchers only Saito, a second year masters student, had stayed behind in the graduate research lab and was staring at a computer screen.
  “Hey, Saito. Still working hard, huh?”
  “Yes sir. There is still a great deal of work needed for the paper I am planning to present at the upcoming conference.”
  “I’m going to go home now, but don’t work too hard.”
  “I appreciate you saying that. Good night.”

  During the 15 minute walk home to his teaching accommodations near the college he was lost in thought, partially because he was so accustomed to the route.
  He opened the door to his two-bedroom apartment and said, “I’m home.”
  His 3 year old only daughter Mai, sitting on a couch in the living room visible from the entrance, immediately ran up him and gave him a hug, “Welcome home, Daddy!”
  “Darling, you must be hungry. While you take a bath, I’ll get your soup warmed up,” his wife Sanae said as she began making preparations for dinner.

  He took a bath, and by the time he was finishing up his dinner with a beer, Mai was already getting tired, her eyelids heavy. “Mai, you sure look sleepy. Time for bed.”

  “Yeah, I played with my friends a lot today and I am really sleepy. Goodnight Daddy,” his daughter said as she entered the bedroom with Sanae. Makimura mulled it over for some time, but finally decided to tell what happened today to Sanae. She had worked as an editor for a publishing company until they got married 5 years ago, and as a result she knew more about the world than he did.
  Makimura broached the topic of the research paper he had received today to his wife once she had returned 15 minutes later after having put Mai to bed.

As Sanae spoke about the paper she became increasingly excited.
“If the research paper is really that great, sooner or later it will have to be published. But, the big question is in what form.
Of course, that will require Yoshikawa’s permission, and since his research results are already presented in a well-organized format, I think you should show the paper to Mr. Yamato and get his opinion. But, before that I think you should get Yoshikawa’s permission first.
In any case, this is a great opportunity for you!
However you look at it, his work is a direct extension of your research results, so any paper that is published should have you as a joint author, making you joint winner of the Nobel Prize! I’m so happy for you!”

“Yeah, I guess the content itself is deserving of that, but whether things actually go that far is up in the air. Either way, it will take quite a while.
But I think this will probably be one of the most important scientific discoveries of the last 100 years.
Even in my wildest dreams I never imagined I would be directly participating in this level of research.
If his theory is true, eventually all of humanity’s energy problems will be solved.
I can envision the road to putting it into practical application, but it will take quite some time to gather the needed funds and other resources to make it a reality.”

“But, you are a theoretical physicist, right? Do you actually understand how to turn the theory into an actual system?”

“Yeah, I do. When writing my research paper, my original intention was to describe the structure of atoms in terms of subatomic particles and to demonstrate that nuclear fusion is possible under certain conditions without requiring a plasma state.
But the paper I received not only clarified those conditions from a theoretical point of view, it went as far as specifying the operating conditions for the process.
By the way, I get the feeling that the theories and techniques used in his paper are a synthesis of a wide variety of preexisting things.”

“But just by reading that paper, understanding the process to create an actual system is no simple matter.
Even I can understand how big of an impact the practical applications of these ideas will have on society. In the wrong hands, this type of technology can be used for destructive purposes, even for war, so maybe you should think about all this a little more before releasing it to the public.”

“Yeah… From the perspective of national safety, I guess it’s not a good idea to release this information so easily. I would hate to see countries like China and the US taking advantage of this before we do. Oh, I just got an email! It’s from Yoshikawa! He said he’ll meet me tomorrow at noon, in front of the statue on the west side of the college library.”

“For now, I’ll just meet with Yoshikawa tomorrow and get permission to involve Dr. Yamato.”

  Professor Susumu Yamato was the head of the department of physics and an internationally known scholar. A person of liberal tendencies, he had written proficiently outside of his primary field of expertise and had deep connections within the community.
  Makimura was Professor Dr. Yamato’s beloved student, and had also acted as a matchmaker to get Makimura together with Sanae.
   Later that night, still excited from the day’s events, Makimura and Sanae laid together in bed as man and wife until they were exhausted, and then fell into a deep sleep.

  The next day, five minutes before noon Makimura tried to stay calm as he walked towards the statue on the side of the college library.
  Around the statue was a small, empty area without many people around, and it was there that he caught sight of a person standing in wait who appeared to be of short stature. As he approached, it became very clear the person was in fact very short, with short pants that made him look like an elementary school boy.

  Uncertain of what to do, he continued forward until the boy suddenly spoke, “Sir, would you happen to be Dr. Makimura? I am Junpei, Junpei Yoshikawa. I’m 10 years old, attending 4th grade in the Namishima elementary school near here.”

  After the boy finished speaking, he thrust out his hand which Makimura shook and replied, “H…Hello, I’m Masaki Makimura, the assistant professor of the physics research laboratory of Konan College. Let’s go sit on the bench over there.”

  Makimura motioned towards a bench in the shade of some trees which gave ample privacy from being seen. They sat down together on it, and Junpei said with a smile,
“Sir, I really wanted to thank you for everything you have taught me in the last two years. Thanks to you, I’ve attained a certain level of understanding regarding physics.”

“A certain level? I think it takes much more than that to write such an advanced research paper. To be honest, writing a paper of that level at your age is just unbelievable. Did you really write it yourself?”

“Yes, I wrote it. I read your paper and realized there was some missing parts, so I just tried to take things a step further using everything I had learned up to now. I think that the fundamental idea itself is probably correct, but there is still more work to be done.”

 For some time neither of them said anything. Makimura looked down and was about to break the silence, but the boy started speaking once more, pausing frequently as he stopped to think.

“I… guess you could say I am an abnormal person, or abnormal boy? What you would call a genius.
By the time I was three… I could read and write proficiently, and I’ve also become fluent in English reading, writing, and even listening comprehension. I didn’t think there was much purpose to learn other languages besides English so I haven’t tried to.
My parents both work, so I’m what you call a latch-key kid,” the young Junpei said, eyes downcast.

“Until this spring, my grandmother had taken care of me. But she fell ill, and two months ago died of cancer…medical science isn’t in my field of expertise and I couldn’t save her.
Of course, my grandmother knew about my talents, and always used to say I should hide them to avoid standing out too much. But before she died, she said someday I would be able to help so many people throughout the world, so I should study hard, learn many things, and cultivate my talents. And then when I get old enough, I should show the world what I can do, and try to help however I can.”

“So… when I turned ten the other day, I thought it was about time…
Oh, and I don’t think my parents have really realized I’m special. But when I asked them for a computer they bought me one, and even connected the internet. To a certain extent my grandmother had helped me out with my studies, but for the most part I just learned from books in the library and online. However, there isn’t too many technical books in the library, and there is a limit to what can be found on the net, so eventually I came up against a brick wall.
Recently, I’ve been focusing a little on physics, and your research website has been a tremendous help. So when I read your recent paper, I felt there was a lot of potential for expansion, so I decided to make some adjustments myself. What did you think of what I wrote?”

“It’s truly amazing. Groundbreaking! It’s easily Nobel Prize material!
I think my own paper is still incomplete and far from a state where I can present it at any conferences. But yours is already sufficiently complete and can be presented at a conference without any further changes.
However, because what you’ve discovered will be such a shock to society, I think we need to be careful about how we release it. A bunch of adjustments will be required first. To that end, I was thinking of showing your paper to my teacher and head of the science department at this college and getting his opinion. Is that OK with you?”

“Of course. Please do as you see fit.”

“By the way, I think school is in session now. Aren’t you attending school?”
Junpei answered Makimura’s question with his eyes downcast.
“Honestly, my classes are totally unbearable. I always finish reading the textbooks in the first three days of the school year, and I already know everything that’s in them.
There are no topics I can converse with my classmates about either. Because of all this, I skip classes pretty often.
My parents got contacted by the school, but since my test scores have been good they are satisfied and just say ‘Don’t skip too many classes.’ ”

“Oh… I guess that’s no surprise. I understand. Soon I’m going to talk to Dr. Yamato that I mentioned before. I think later he’ll want you to stop by, so is it all right to use your email address to contact you?”

“Yes, please do so.”

After that, Makimura got a lot of information from Junpei including some more details about his personal life, and about an hour later they parted ways.


Japanese literature translation: 風の又三郎 (Matasaburo of the Wind) by 宮沢賢治 (Kenji Miyazawa) [part 1/5]

It is the first day of elementary school after summer break, and the children are surprised to find a strange redheaded boy has joined their class. Soon after, some of the children begin to suspect there is something special about the newcomer. Could he be the legendary “Matasaburo of the wind”, or just another boy? 

Recently I reviewed the classic story “Matasaburo of the Wind” by Kenji Miyazawa, an author known for his famous novel “Night on the Galactic Railroad”, which was also made into an anime movie.

I felt this would be a good translation project so I decided to try translating it from Japanese into English. However, as it is quite long, I did just the first 1/5th of the story for now.

This was quite a challenging translation, due to many factors including an uncommon regional dialect, old Japanese terms (the story was written in 1924), as well as what appear to be errors in the text. The meaning and interpretation of certain parts of this story appear to be disputed even among Japanese people, but this was actually a blessing since I was able to find some sites online that discussed various aspects of it. Nevertheless, my translation does not try to steer the reader towards any specific interpretation any more so that the original work does.

Though I have read other classic stories before, this was one of the first times I translated Japanese that was nearly a century old, and I made it a point to try and use some language that is a little aged. However, rather than trying to make the English accurate to the 1920s, I tried to focus on expressing the difference between modern and more classic language. The Japanese used was actually more similar to modern Japanese than I would have expected, given it was from so many decades ago.

Whether I continue to translate the rest of the story will depend on several things, including how much interest there is in the community. So if you want to read more of this story in English, please let me know via comment, like, or email.

You can read the original story in Japanese for free on Aozora Bunko here. (Note: there are other versions as well with slightly different parts)


=== 風の又三郎 (author: 宮沢賢治) translated by Locksleyu (part 1/5) ===

Doht doh doh    doh do–doh   doh do–doh    doh do-oh
Blow away the green walnuts
And the sour quinces too
Doht doh doh    doh do–doh   doh do–doh    doh do-oh

On the bank of a mountain stream was a small school.

There was but a single classroom, with students from grade one to six except for the third grade, for which there were none. The schoolyard had little more than a tennis court, although directly behind the school was a picturesque grassy mountain dotted with chestnut trees, and on one corner of the schoolyard was a cave where chilly water bubbled up from the earth.

It was a refreshing September morning, the first day of the month. Wind blew under the blue sky in strong gusts making deep doh sounds, and sunlight filled the schoolyard. Two first graders wearing heavy black pleated trousers entered the schoolyard from the river embankment, and after seeing no one was there they passed through the gate, taking turns cheerfully yelling “Yippee! I’m first! I’m first!” But when they glanced inside the classroom, they froze in shock and stared at each other’s faces, shivering terribly, until at last one of them began to cry. As for the reason why, within that silent morning classroom was a boy with strange red hair and a face they had never seen before, sitting studiously in the first row of desks. Where he sat was the very desk of the weeping child.

When the other child, also on the verge of tears, forced himself to stare at this newcomer, from upriver came a loud voice that said, “too-day yip-pi-yay too-day yip-pi-yay“, and Kasuke, in the likeness of a large crow, ran smiling into the schoolyard carrying his bag. A moment later, Satarou, Kousuke, and the others followed after, making a great ruckus.

“Why are you crying? Did you stick your little nose where it doesn’t belong?” Kasuke said to the child who as about to cry as he grabbed his shoulder. Then this boy started to wail loudly too. As the others looked around quizzically, they caught sight of the strange boy with red hair sitting formally in the classroom. Everyone fell quiet. The girls also gradually trickled in, but no one dared speak even a single word.

The red-haired boy showed no indication of being afraid and sat studiously as before, staring blankly at the blackboard. At that very moment Ichiro, a sixth grader, entered the schoolyard. Waltzing in with slow, large steps like those of an adult, he looked around at the others and asked, “What’s wrong?”

The other children in the yard began raising their voices in a clamor while they pointed towards the strange boy inside the classroom. Ichiro himself stared at the boy for some time, then suddenly lifted up his bag and hurried up to below one of the classroom’s windows.

The rest of the children, their spirits lifted, followed behind Ichiro.

“Who is the one that entered the classroom before it’s time?” Ichiro asked as he crawled up the wall and stuck his head inside the classroom.

“If the teacher finds you in the classroom on such a nice day you’ll be badly scolded,” Kousuke warned from below the window.

“Don’t blame me if you get yelled at,” Kasuke said.

“Come outside quickly! Come out!” Ichiro said. But the boy only looked around nervously at the inside of the classroom and the children standing outside, sitting on the stool with his hands placed neatly on his knees.

The boy’s appearance was truly a thing to behold. He wore a baggy shirt in an unusual shade of gray, white shorts, and low-cut red leather shoes.

Moreover, his face was just like a ripened apple, especially his coal-black, perfectly round eyes. Ichiro wasn’t sure what to do since the boy didn’t seem to understand what they was saying.

“That boy is a foreigner.”

“He must be joining our school.” The children’s uproar continued. But then the fifth grader Kasuke suddenly yelled out, “Yeah, he’ll be in the 3rd grade!” which satisfied the younger children, but Ichiro remained quiet, cocking his head to one side.

As before, the strange boy sat completely still, staring silently at the other children.

At that moment a strong gust of wind came, rattling the glass doors of the classroom, while the grasses and chestnut trees on the mountain behind the school swayed, their colors eerily fading, and the boy in the classroom appeared to shift his body and grin ever so slightly.

At that, Kasuke yelled again, “Oh, I get it now! That boy is Matasaburo of the Wind!”

Just as the others were agreeing with Kasuke, from the back of the group Goro abruptly shouted, “Ouch! That hurts!”

When the others turned around, they saw Kousuke had stepped on Goro’s foot, who had gotten terribly upset and was punching Kosuke. Then Kousuke himself became angered and said, “Hey, don’t start punching when it’s your own fault!” after which he began to punch back.

His face wet with tears, Goro tried to grapple with Kousuke. At that point, Ichiro pulled the two boys apart and Kasuke restrained Kousuke.

“Hey you two, no fighting! The teacher in the staff room now,” Ichiro said as he turned to look at the classroom when his face suddenly went blank.

There was no trace of the strange child who had been in the classroom until just a moment ago. The children felt as if a pony they had befriended had been sent far, far away, or a long sought-after mountain chickadee had escaped from their grasp.

The wind once again gusted powerfully and shook the windows, while dark waves slowly rippled through the long grasses on the mountain upstream.

“Hey! Matasaburo disappeared because you two were fighting!” Kasuke said angrily.

The other children concurred with this. Goro felt terribly guilty, forgetting about his painful foot as he dejectedly shrugged and stood up.

“That boy really was Matasaburo of the Wind.”

“He came on the first of September.”

“And was wearing those shoes.”

“He had western clothes on too.”

“What a strange boy with red hair.”

“Look, Matasaburo left some pebbles on my desk,” a second grader said. Sure enough, on the boy’s desk were a bunch of small, dirty rocks.

“That’s true. Hey, he broke the glass over there too.”

“I don’t think so. That was from when Kasuke threw a rock at it before school break.”

Just as Kasuke was saying, “No, that’s not true!” yet another surprising thing happened. Their teacher stepped out of the classroom’s front door. A shiny whistle in her right hand, she was already preparing to gather the students for class, and directly behind her was the redheaded boy with a unforgivingly serious expression, like a servant attending the incarnation of Buddha, donning a white hat as he boldly followed the teacher.

The children all fell silent. Ichiro finally said, “Good morning teacher,” and the rest of the children followed his lead and repeated, “Good morning teacher.”

“Good morning, students. You all look to be in good health today. All right, everyone line up.” The teacher’s whistle made a piercing twe-weeet. The sound reverberated off the mountains on the far side of the valley and echoed back as a muted twe-weeeeeet.

The children did just as they had before the school break, organizing into vertical rows by class: one 6th grader, seven 5th graders, six 4th graders, and twelve 1st and 2nd graders.

Eight 2nd graders and four 1st graders were lined up together in a group.

During this time, the strange boy stared at the others from behind the teacher, biting his tongue on the side of his mouth as if something was funny or interesting. Then the teacher said, “Takada, line up here,” and led him to the fifth grade line, compared his height to Kasuke’s, and placed him between Kasuke and Kiyo, who stood behind Kasuke.

All of the children had turned around and were quietly watching this take place.

The teacher then returned to the front of the group and gave the command, “forward dress.”

All of the students raised their arms in unison to form a proper line, but of course everyone was curious about how the strange boy was doing, so they took turns looking back or staring at him from the corner of their eyes. But the boy seemed to know everything, even how to line up, and casually stretched both arms forward just far enough to barely touch Kasuke’s back, making Kasuke look uncomfortable as if his back was itchy or tickled.

Eyes front,” the teacher ordered.

“Now proceed in class order, beginning with the first graders.” At this point the first graders began walking with the second graders following closely after, passing in front of the group and heading towards the entrance on the right where the shoe cabinet was located. When the time came for the fourth graders to move, the strange boy followed behind Kasuke, strutting proudly before the class. The children who had gone ahead occasionally looked back to see him, and the ones behind stared intently ahead at the boy.

Soon all the students had put their shoes in the shoe cabinet, entered the classroom, and were sitting in their desks in rows organized by class, just as they had done outside. The strange boy, his demeanor serious as ever, sat directly behind Kasuke. But by this time, the class was already making a great commotion.

“Hey, there are pebbles on my desk!”

“My desk was moved!”

“Kikko, Kikko, did you bring your report card? I forgot mine.”

“Hey, will you let me borrow that pencil? Will you?”

“Sorry, you can’t just take other people’s pencils.”

Just then the teacher entered the classroom, so everyone stood amidst the noise, and from the last row of seats Ichiro called out, “Bow.”

The chattering subsided momentarily as the children bowed, only to return soon after.

“Quiet everyone. Please be quiet!” the teacher said.

“Shhh! Etsuji, you’re too loud. Kasuke, Kikko, you too. Hey!” Ichiro scolded the noisiest children one by one from the back of the room.

At last, the talking stopped.

The teacher spoke again.

“Everyone, I am sure you had a great time during the long summer break, swimming from early morning, screaming louder than an eagle in the forest, and accompanying the older boys to the upper fields to cut grass. But the break is now over. It is autumn and the start of the second semester. Since ages past, autumn has been regarded as the best time to focus your mind and body on your studies. That is why starting today, let’s all do our best to study hard. In addition, during the break you have gained a new classmate, Takada, who sits there. His father will be working at the entrance to the upper fields, on assignment from his company. Until now, Takada was attending a school in Hokkaido, but starting today he is your classmate, so be sure to invite him when you study, pick chestnuts, or go fishing. Is this understood? Those who understand please raise your hands.”

Everyone immediately raised their hands. The boy who had been called Takada quickly raised his own hand causing the teacher to chuckle, but she soon said, “All right class. That is enough,” so the children lowered their hands in unison, as if a flame had been put out.

However, Kasuke promptly raised his hand again and said, “Teacher!”

“Yes?” the teacher motioned towards Kasuke.

“What is Takada’s first name?”

“His name is Saburo Takada.”

“Wow, I was right! I knew he was Matasaburo!” Kasuke clapped his hands rapidly as if dancing at his desk, a spectacle that made the older kids break out laughing, but the younger ones silently stared at Saburo as if something about him scared them.

The teacher continued.

“I am sure today all of you brought your report cards and homework to class. Please put them on your desk. I will come around to collect them now.”

Everyone busied themselves opening bags and untying wrapping cloths, placing their report cards and notebooks on their desks. Once that was done, the teacher began to collect them in class order, beginning with the first graders. At that moment, the children were all terribly startled by something. That something was an adult who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere and now stood at the back of the classroom. He wore white, baggy clothes made from hemp, a black shiny handkerchief around his neck in place of a necktie, and in his hand he carried a white fan that he slowly cooled himself off with as he looked down upon the students with a trace of a smile upon his face. Little by little the students became quiet and stiffened with fear.

But the teacher paid no attention to this person and continued gathering the students’ report cards one by one until she came to Saburo’s desk that had neither a report card nor a notebook, only two hands balled into fists. But she passed him by without a word and gathered the rest of the papers, then returned to teaching pedestal, papers in hand.

“I will be correcting and returning your notebooks on Saturday, so for those who forgot theirs today please be sure to bring them tomorrow. That would be Etsuji, Yuuji, and Ryousaku. This ends today’s class. Starting tomorrow, please come prepared for class as usual. Also, after class I would like the 4th and 6th graders to help clean the classroom today. Class dismissed.”

Ichiro said, “Attention,” and the children all stood up in unison. The man in the back of the room also lowered his fan and got up.

Bow.” The teacher bowed along with the rest of the class. The man lowered his head slightly. With that, the kids in the lowest grade darted out of the classroom while the fourth graders remained uncomfortably in their seats.

Saburo walked over to the man in the back of the classroom who wore baggy white clothes. The teacher stepped down from her teaching pedestal and joined them in the back of the room.

“This class is honored to have such a wise and able teacher,” the man said politely as he bowed to the teacher.

“I’m certain he will become good friends with everyone very soon,” the teacher responded, returning the bow.

“I pray you will take good care of him. Farewell,” the man said as he bowed even deeper and gave a signal to Saburo, then went out the front door and waited outside while Saburo, eyes wide open as everyone watched him, silently left through the side entrance and met the man outside, and then they walked together through the schoolyard down towards the lower part of the river.

Once the two left the schoolyard, the boy stopped and turned around to glare intently at the school and the other children briefly, then quickly ran to catch up with the white-clothed man.

“Teacher, is that man Takada’s father?” Ichiro asked, broom in hand.

“Yes he is.”

“Why did he come here?”

“It seems that somewhere by the entrance to the upper fields there is a type of iron ore called molybdenum, and he is here with his company to gradually dig it out of the ground.”

“I wonder where exactly the iron is…”

“I am not too sure, but I have heard that the place is slightly downstream from the road where the horses are ridden.”

“What are they going to do with the molybdenum?”

“Apparently they will mix it with steel and even make medicine from it.”

“So I guess Matasaburo will be digging too.”

“His name isn’t Matasaburo, it’s Saburo,” Sataro interjected.

“It’s Matasaburo! It’s Matasaburo!” Kasuke yelled, turning red-faced.

“Kasuke, since you are still here, help us clean,” Ichiro said.

“No way! Today is the 4th and 6th graders!”

Kasuke then escaped from the classroom in a great hurry.

The wind blew through once more and rattled the windows, making small black ripples on the surface of a bucket where someone had placed a dirty rag.