Episode 3 The first step in the Shin-Ninoma Shopping Mall

After breakfast, I got ready to go out and went outside with Yoshino-san.

The weather today is refreshing and it really feels like spring. At this hour when such a pleasant day was just about to begin…there were almost no people in the shopping mall, anyway.

“Yoshino-san, let’s walk around the whole shopping mall first.”

Saying that, I slowly started to walk…so it must have looked.

But, the unfamiliar kimono… The fabric fluttering at the hem feels like it’s wrapping around my legs every time I step. Furthermore, the footwear is leather-soled sandals… My big toe and second toe get strangely tense, and it’s really hard to walk in them, because they almost come off every time I take a step forward. Since I haven’t worn a kimono since my coming-of-age ceremony, it’s been over 20 years. The samurai I’ve seen in historical dramas seemed to be walking gallantly through the wind…  I wonder if I’ll be able to acquire a certain level of elegant behavior after a while. Should I ask Yoshino-san to prepare a hakama skirt from tomorrow…?

 As I was walking, thinking about such things, a man suddenly ran out of the alley and I almost bumped into him.


When I tried to avoid him, my legs got tangled, but Yoshino-san, who was standing behind me, supported me when I fell and saved me from falling.

“Hey, don’t walk around so absent-mindedly!”

Leaving those words behind, the person ran off.

“Taro-san, are you okay?”

“I’m fine… But where was he going in such a hurry? It’s dangerous…”

“Ah, the one you just saw was a courier and he was carrying our baggage. I know that, since the wrapping cloth from our shopping mall was tied to his carrying box. There is little traffic in the shopping mall, but we somehow manage to keep it running by delivering goods sold online to distant places. Time is important for their work, so please forgive them.”

“Online shopping… Oh, I see. No, I was also careless, so it was my fault, too. Thank you for holding me up.”

After making a gesture of somehow wiping off the dust, I started walking again.

“I think that was probably ‘super urgent’.”

“Super… urgent?”

“At Ninoma Shopping Mall, there are stores that use quick delivery as a selling point in order to differentiate themselves from other stores.”


“If the delivery is within the town and it’s not urgent, an ordinary courier will deliver it. However, if it’s within the town and urgent, for example, a sprinter will deliver it, and if it’s long-distance, a marathon runner will deliver it…We have special couriers for each case. Of course, we have sea mail to Hokkaido and Okinawa.”


Yoshino-san was talking proudly.

I’m having trouble reacting…

It’s a good thing that there are customers of online shopping service in various local places. But what is Ed? They can use the internet, but do they rely on people’s legs for delivery?

As there were too many contradictions, I kept on walking silently without asking anything after all.

While walking, listening to Yoshino-san’s explanation about their online shopping, I saw a familiar face in front of a store.

“Uma Musume…”

It was Uma Musume’s stuffed toy. My vision suddenly became brighter. I’m sure my eyes will be shining, if someone looks at me now.

When I looked closely, I could see that the store was overflowing with various soft vinyl dolls and stuffed toys.

As I was drawn into the store, I was greeted by even more nostalgic items.

Don’t get excited, Taro!! Calm down and keep calm!! Yoshino-san would find it strange. I want to absolutely avoid giving the image of “an old man excited with dolls” so soon. As I was suppressing the feeling of wanting to jump up at any moment, I began to tremble. Just when I thought I was screwed, a man with a large body came out from the back of the store, which had an atmosphere of having even more products available. When the man spotted Yoshino-san, his face suddenly brightened.

“Good morning, Yoshino-chan. What are you doing today? Who is this gentleman?”

“Good morning, Nakamura-san. This is Mr. Taro Kira. Since he has decided to help me with my work, we are now looking around the shopping mall. Taro-san, this is Nakamura-san, the owner of this “Hobby House”.”

“Nakamura-san, nice to meet you. When I was lying down in the shopping mall yesterday, Yoshino-san helped me… that’s why I decided to help reform Ninoma Shopping Mall.”

“You were lying down in the shopping mall!? You don’t look like a sick person…”

He looked at me with suspicious eyes, as he rearranged the dolls on the shelf.

“Thanks to her, I’ve already recovered a lot… Anyway, it’s a great number of dolls. It’s wonderful.”

After I changed the subject, Nakamura suddenly looked proud.

“Nakamura-san has always liked collecting dolls like these…that’s why he turned it into a business.”

“Oh, really? It’s nice to be able to do what you like as a job.”

These words of mine are sincere. If you can live like that, I sincerely think there is nothing more envious than that. How many people in the world are able to live doing what they love?

Somehow, I felt a little empty.

It’s not that I’m not good at my job… no, I can say with confidence that I’m good at it, and I didn’t hate my job, either. But I can’t say I’m doing what I love as a job.

Nakamura…I’m jealous.

“Well… I don’t know how long I can keep going.”

Nakamura said, suddenly with a sad look.

“Are you not getting more customers?”

“Yoshino-san… that’s right. I’m trying many things, but it’s not working out.”

“I wonder if it’s because of the declining birthrate.”

Yoshino-san’s expression also clouded over.

I was astonished.

Why isn’t this store that grabs my heart going so well!?

I looked around the store again and decided.

“Yoshino-san, let’s start with this store!”

“Huh? Is it okay to decide on the first store so soon?”

“It’s some kind of fate that I met Nakamura-san, who is working so hard. Even if I look at many stores, I can’t decide, when I can’t decide. Besides, I know a little about this field. I think it can be a good case for you to see my ability.”

“Oh, are you familiar with this sort of thing?”

Nakamura looked at me with suspicious eyes.

“Nakamura-san, let’s listen to Taro-san for a moment.”

Yoshino-san said calmly. Then Nakamura shrugged as if to say it can’t be helped.

“First of all, Nakamura-san, who is the main target of this store?”

I asked the same question as I would ask a corporate turnaround client.

“Huh? It’s obvious. It’s the children!”

Yoshino-san is nodding from the side.

“Yeah… I thought so, but that’s where the mistake starts.”


Yoshino-san soothes Nakamura, who’s yelling.

“Calm down. The product lineup here is amazing. But children can’t buy so much. So, we should sell products for adults who love dolls, like you and me. For men with households, their wives often handle their budget, so let’s target single men who are relatively financially well-off.”

Strictly speaking, I’m not a fan of dolls in general. I’m limited to Uma Musume, but… well, that’s okay.

“Single men…”

Nakamura muttered.

My opinion is based on modern values. In this different world, it is nothing more than a hypothesis. However, if this is successful, it will be easier for me to rebuild other stores. This test is worth doing!

Yoshino-san asked me, while looking at Nakamura who was deep in thought with his arms crossed.

“Targeting single men… what exactly does that mean?”

“For example, these Ultraman and Kinnikuman’s soft vinyl dolls… these are fine. In addition to that, we may try placing high-end figures for adults, which are finely modeled and whose form is beautiful… As an item to display, rather than for playing ……”

Hearing that, Nakamura snapped at me.

“Are you saying soft vinyl dolls don’t suit adults!?”

“No, I’m not… But, as you said earlier, soft vinyl dolls have the image of being ‘for children.’ It may be difficult for adults to buy them, even if they want to buy them. In order to do business, it is necessary not only to place what you like, but also to know the needs of the market and adapt to it.”

Hearing those words, Yoshino-san stepped forward and said,

“Ah… I’ve read it in the news before. Takashi Murakami’s figure was sold for 1.6 billion yen… At that time, I didn’t pay attention to it, because it was so different from our business…”

“Yeah, Yoshino-san, that’s what I meant. Figures are… art!”


Nakamura muttered again with his arms crossed. 

You’re so stubborn, Nakamura…

I looked around the display.

“Well, Nakamura-san, the soft vinyl dolls here are all about the same size, but here, I’m going to use a “kokeshi” doll for now, I’ll put some figures of this size on display. Don’t you think the display is going to be livelier?”

“Oh, really!”

Yoshino-san spoke before Nakamura said anything. Hearing that, Nakamura raised his head.

“I never thought about how to arrange the displays…”

“If there is a demand, it might be a good idea to put a life-size Ultraman figure at the storefront.”

“A life-size figure!!”

Nakamura’s eyes lit up.

Seeing that, Yoshino-san backed me up.

“Nakamura-san, you’ve done a lot by yourself until now. Why don’t you try Taro-san’s advice to liven up the shop even more?”

Nakamura unfolded his arms.

“If Yoshino-san says that … I’ll try as much as I can. Hey, since you said that, take responsibility until the end!”

“Of course! If you have questions, you can ask me any time.”

I feel like I’ve finally taken my first step in this world.

I was happy. I can work in this different world, being watched over by Uma Musume…It’s a good start. It may be a fate that I somehow arrived at this store.

When I turned around, I met eyes with Uma Musume. It’s springtime.

(To be continued)

written by SASAKI HANAKO

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