Episode 6 Kanzaki and the Witch

When I left Hobby House, the sun was right above us.

On the first day of my shopping mall tour, I made a proposal for reforming the Hobby House, based on an unexpected encounter with its owner. However, it would surely be more efficient to look at the shopping mall as a whole and then come up with a reform plan. From the second day on, I decided to try to grasp the structure of the shopping mall as a whole without going into my personal feelings, and to roughly inspect the lineup and size of the stores.

Even though the mall is deserted, most of the shops are still open, and if this shopping mall were to come back to life, it would be a huge market.… I was thinking about this, as I ate my lunch of soba noodles.

“Today, we are walking west from Sazankatei, but when we go all the way to the end, we will have gone through the Ninoma Shopping Mall.”

Yoshino-san said so, sipping soba water.

“I see. It took us quite a long time to go around this mall. …… Ninoma Shopping Mall is much bigger than I imagined at first.”

“Actually, if you go into the alleys here and there, you’ll still find more shops, but…”

Yoshino-san said so a little apologetically.

“Well, I guess so. But we should focus on the shops on the main street first. For back-alley stores, we might market them as ‘cozy hideaways’ or something like that in the future, depending on the type of the shop. It’ll also be fun to find those kinds of shops.”

“You’re right. We should definitely go step by step. I know that, but when I look at the shopping mall, I can’t help but feel rushed.”

Saying that, Yoshino-san took another sip of soba water.

It’s natural for her to feel that way. She was suddenly given the task of managing such a big shopping mall……How much load is she carrying on her small shoulders? What a cruel task her grandfather gave to this young girl!  Well, I’ll do something about it!

Before I knew it, I found myself wanting to protect Yoshino-san like a daughter ….. no, a much younger sister. I am confident I can do that, because I know there are things I can do to help her, due to my work experience.

“Well then, shall we go now?”

Saying this, Yoshino-san got up first.

“Yes. I hope we can finish the work today…”

As I walked in front of Yoshino-san and passed through the curtain of the soba restaurant, I caught sight of Kanzaki, the mature woman I had met on the riverbed, walking in front of me.


Yoshino-san, who was behind me, spoke first. She was pointing to Kanzaki.

Does she have good eyesight, since she is young?

“That person! It’s Asano-san!!”

Asano…? When I turned my eyes from Yoshino-san to Kanzaki again, I saw a young woman dressed like a witch from a fantasy world, walking beside her.

“Um… you mean the person with the pointy hat?”

“That’s right, that’s right. She is a beauty icon for us young girls. She works at the shop HEALTH & BEAUTY, located at the western end of the mall we are heading for now. She is forever young and cute! She is sought after on TV and at events so much that you can hardly get to see her, even if you go to her store. I don’t know if it’s true, but my grandfather said that she had stayed young ever since the time when I was born or even become younger.”

Yoshino-san explained to me excitedly. 

Hmm, a beauty icon… Does that mean she’s really older than I thought? Anyway, it’s amazing to be admired by young girls.  I guess there are great people in every world.

“Hey, Yoshino-san, the person next to Asano-san is Kanzaki-san, who we met at the riverbed before, right?”

When I said that, Yoshino-san was dumbfounded, but when she stared at Kanzaki, she said:

“Oh, really, Kanzaki-san. She knows Asano-san…”

After confirming Kanzaki’s existence so lightly, Yoshino-san thought for a moment, and said:

“Taro-san, is it okay if we change our plans a bit? It’s not the direction we were heading in, but why don’t we follow those two? It’s some kind of fate that Asano-san knows Kanzaki-san, and also, maybe we’ll be able to talk to Asano-san.”

 I see… does she like following trends?  But it’s no wonder she is interested in beauty, since she is a young girl. And here’s a beauty icon in front of her.. It’s natural that she becomes like that. No, she wants to be like that. I don’t know what kind of fate this is, but I can’t refuse the request of Yoshino-san, who I owe so much to.

“Well, I don’t know where they are going, but let’s follow them for a while and talk to them, if we can. I haven’t even thanked Kanzaki-san for the Beyblade.”

I feared Yoshino-san might look at me with a scornful glance, but she didn’t seem to care about Kanzaki. For her, Kanzaki was now a stepping stone to get acquainted with Asano.

“Yes. We have to say thank you to her.”

Saying that, Yoshino-san pulled the sleeve of my clothes.

Yoshino-san said “Let’s follow them.”, but it was our common understanding that we were going to “tail” them. Hiding behind the rainwater buckets and food stalls on the street, we followed them, avoiding being discovered… until the very last moment.

Before long, the two stopped in front of a shop on the back street and went inside.

It was hard to see from the outside, but it seemed that Kanzaki had gone into the back of the store and Asano was sitting on the step in the entryway, waiting.

“It looks like Kanzaki-san’s shop.”

Yoshino-san in a small voice.

“How do you know?”

“The store curtain says ‘Wholesale Kanzaki’.”

Yoshino-san pointed to the dark blue store curtain hanging in front of the store.

To me, it looked plain, but when I looked closer, I could see the store curtain displayed “Wholesale Kanzaki” in small white letters on the bottom right. After all, Yoshino-san has good eyesight.

“Huh? Taro-san, I thought you knew this place. Kanzaki-san gave you a piece of paper, didn’t she?”

Oh, Yoshino-san, you say that now…

I didn’t know what was written on the business card, but I smelled something dangerous about it. So, I didn’t read the front side of the card and dedicated it to Uma Musume on my smartphone face-down. I had no idea that it was a wholesaler’s business card. Say it first, Kanzaki.

“Oh, I left the paper in the sleeve of my clothes I was wearing at the time and completely forgot about it.”

I said this, convinced that it was the best thing to say to Yoshino-san, who would never understand how a grown man feels.

“Ah, is that so? Taro-san, since she invited us to her store, why don’t we go inside? It’s a rare chance.”

I felt my words were brushed off surprisingly easily, and before I could even feel relieved, I was a bit angry. And in Yoshino-san’s mind, Kanzaki seemed to be becoming more and more of a stepping stone to getting to know Asano.

“That’s a good idea. It would be nice to know about wholesale stores, since we are going to bolster the shopping mall from now on.”

Just as I was saying this, Yoshino-san bounced towards the store in an unusual state of excitement.

Now, Yoshino-san is nothing more than a girl who worships an icon called Asano. I’ll let her unload the burden of being the general manager of the shopping mall, just for now. I decided so and followed her through the store curtain.

“Yes. I was invited to this shop by Kanzaki-san, but I’m thrilled to meet you, Asano-san…!!”

When I entered, Yoshino-san was already talking to Asano. Hah… it’s too fast. When I entered the store, Asano gave me a glance.

“Ah, this is Kira Taro-san. I’m going to ask him to help rebuild the Ninoma Shopping Mall, so if your shop is in trouble, you can talk to him about it. Ah, but, HEALTH & BEAUTY must be okay, because you are here.”

Yoshino-san quickly introduced me to Asano, so I had nothing left to say.

“Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Kira Taro. Ah, I just wanted to know about wholesale stores… Where is Kanzaki-san?”

“Kan-chan is in the back of the store right now. She’s putting together the items I ordered.”

“Oh, you order from this store. I heard that you are a beauty icon … I wonder what kind of items you’ve ordered. I’m curious. Aren’t you, Yoshino-san?”

Unexpectedly, the conversation continued and I was relieved.

“Yes! I’m really curious to know what kind of cosmetics and supplements you use.”

“Well, I can’t tell you everything, but… it’s not that special. Yoshino-chan, you are still young, and your skin condition looks good. As long as you apply sunscreen cream, wash your face, and moisturize it 365 days a year, you should be fine. It’s quite common that people fail to do the basics.”

As for me, I thought it was a fairly normal thing to say, but Yoshino-san was so moved by the advice from her idol, Asano, that she froze with a smile on her face.

“Oh my, I thought I could hear your voice… Taro-chan, you came.”

When I looked in the direction of the voice, Kanzaki was standing there holding a cardboard box.

(To be continued)

written by SASAKI HANAKO

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