My Girlfriend Cheated on Me With a Senior, so I’m Cheating on Her With His Girlfriend Chapter 9

THIS IS A FAN TRANSLATION, THOUGH THE WEBSITE NAME…HAS MTL IN IT…

A fake date with Touko-senpai

TL: Furby

ED: Siriciryel

The long-awaited Sunday. From the two cars that we have at my home, I took the 1000cc engine one that my mother uses the most and left the house. The other, the minivan, is the one my father takes when he goes to play golf.

I arrived at the Kemigawahama Station of the JR Keiyou Line.

There were still more than 15 minutes before the appointed time of 8am, but Touko-senpai was already waiting there.

“Good morning. I see you’re here early. There is still a while before the time we’re supposed to meet.”

“It’s because you always arrive ahead of time. I thought I’d like to be the one to arrive first and wait for you for once.”

She got inside the car and put on her seatbelt as she spoke.

“So, where will you be taking me today?”

“I gave it a lot of thought, and considering that I wanted to take many photos, though it may be somewhat clichéd, I was thinking of going to Minamibousou.”

“Eh? We’re taking photos?”

Touko-senpai was completely taken aback.

“Yes. I will give all of those photos to you at the end, Touko-senpai. I want you to see them and take them as references for what I believe ‘cute’ to be.”

Touko-senpai had a dissatisfied look on her face, but she still gave me the OK.

I started the car and headed for the highway.

We first went in the direction of Kisarazu. The highway continued all the way until Futtsu.

“What part of Minamibousou are we going to?”

Touko-senpai asked me that.

“I had a hard time choosing this, too. Seeing how crowded it is in the Tokyo area, I didn’t find it surprising that the number of places where we could relax and take photos were few. Truthfully speaking, the Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture would have been fine, but during this season, there’s not a single flower in bloom.”

The Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture is a famous place to take photos because of how it has a hill that’s completely covered in flowers. During spring, the hill is covered in a blue bed of Nemophila, while in fall, it is colored in pink with summer cypresses. However, unfortunately, at this date when November had already reached its end, the season of summer cypresses had already passed.

“Isn’t it fine? I too would rather go somewhere where I could get some peace and quiet than going out of my way and spending my free day in Tokyo where it’s overcrowded.  There’s also that, at this time of year, Minamibousou should be warm. Furthermore, today’s weather is nice too.”

“Yes, we’re lucky to have clear weather today. By the way, we’ll be walking a lot today. Will you be okay?”

“I’ll be fine. You did tell me beforehand to wear shoes that were easy to walk in because we would be walking outdoors.”

 

We changed to the Tateyama Expressway at the Futtsu Kanaya interchange.

After that, we followed Japan National Route 127 to the south and drove across Mount Nokogiri’s mountain road.
(TL Note: These long names are hell, 鋸山登山自動車道)

We went up the sinuous road and arrived at the Nihon-ji which was located halfway up the mountain.

“Mount Nokogiri… It may be my first time coming here.”

Touko-senpai spoke as she looked with great interest at the Hyaku-shaku Kannon and various other Buddha statues, including the giant Buddha, that had been excavated from the quarry’s remains. To my surprise, she was showing a child-like expression.

“I’m glad to hear that. I was worried that temples and Buddha statues weren’t interesting for girls.”

“That’s not true at all, you know? As of late, there have been many girls who like things related to shrines and temples as well as girls with a strong interest in Japanese history.”

I took a photo of Touko-senpai the instant she turned my way.

The scenery was a refreshing view of the mountain trail that led to the Hyaku-shaku Kannon and two walls of steep rock to her sides.

The shades of the trees added to the atmosphere, even making the scene reminiscent of those in famous Ghibli films.

“Wait, did you just take a photo out of nowhere without warning?”

Touko-senpai pouted her lips in discontent.

“Yes. If possible, I wanted to take the picture in its most natural state. This is because, at the end of the day, what I want is to portray you, Touko-senpai, as I see you.”

“Nnngh…”

Touko-senpai was still looking dissatisfied, but she didn’t say anything more than that.

We then continued up the mountain and arrived at the ‘View of Hell’.
(TL Note: 地獄のぞき: View of Hell. A tourist spot in Mount Nokogiri.)

This was a cliff with a portion that projected like an eave before falling steeply into a vertical line for about 100m.

“Apparently the ‘view of hell’ part came from what you can see by looking down from the peak over there.”

After I mentioned that, Touko-senpai showed a fearful expression on her face.

“I, I’m not really good with high places…”

“Well, we already came all the way out here. Wouldn’t you say that we did this all for nothing if we don’t go and look at it?”

Touko-senpai looked at me with reproachful eyes.

“Let’s go together. I’ll even hold your hand.”

Touko-senpai hesitated for a while, but at last she extended her hand in silence.

“I’ll say this just in case, but the suspension bridge effect doesn’t work on me.”

At the same time she said that, Touko-senpai walked very fearfully towards the edge of the cliff, all the while tightly holding on to my hand. She never separated herself from the railing as she continued on out to the projected edge of the cliff.

“The ‘View of Hell’ is this right below us.”

I peeked over after I said that, but even I could feel my knees begin to tremble from the sensation of looking down into a space where there was nothing below my feet.

Touko-senpai unconsciously clenched my hand tightly, too. 

I took a snap of that fearful Touko-senpai, too.

Touko-senpai realized that she had been photographed because of the beep from the camera.

“Are you taking a photo from this place too?”

“I want to take many different expressions of yours, after all.”

Touko-senpai averted her gaze bashfully.

“Make sure you delete them all after this.”

I changed the topic as I smiled bitterly.

“This is where a Buddhist monk once trained in the past, right? A regimen to strengthen his willpower and sharpen his concentration.”

“I don’t think there’s much to gain from doing that.”

Despite having her face stiffened from fright, Touko-senpai still tried to bluff. That made me feel like teasing her.

“You know, if an earthquake happened right now, we might not make it out. If this projecting piece of the cliff crumbled from it, we’d be falling headfirst down to our deaths.”

“Hey, stop that!”

Touko-senpai turned to look at me. She had a very angry expression. This was bad.

“I’m very sorry. It was a joke.”

“I swear, really!”

“However, if that did end up happening, I have every intention to make sure that at least you alone are safe.”

Touko-senpai glanced over at me. She then spoke in a small voice.

“Didn’t I say that the suspension bridge effect didn’t work on me?”

 

We left Mount Nokogiri and continued south down Japan National Route 127.

“Where are we going next?”

“We’re heading to Tateyama’s Okinoshima.”

We drove south down the road with the sea to our side. The hill facing directly at the sea was scattered with houses here and there.

Once you came all this way, you felt like this place was a completely different country compared to the city of Chiba we lived in.

I even got the feeling we had come to a tropical island. You could hardly believe that we were still in the area around Tokyo.

Although, even Tokyo has the isolated region called Okutama, where they even say bears live.

Once we passed the Tateyama Station, we headed towards the JMSDF Tateyama Air Base.
(TL Note: JMSDF is Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)

On the west side of it, connected by land, was the uninhabited island of Okinoshima.
(TL Note: Look for 沖ノ島館山 on Google Maps to see why it’s ‘connected by land’)

The place just before the beach that leads to the island is the parking lot.

“Woww! If you look at it from here, you can see how beautifully the beach connects into the island!”

Having alighted from the car, Touko-senpai spoke as she held her hair down with her hand while the sea breeze blew. 

I took another photo of Touko-senpai looking like that. She didn’t notice it this time.

“You cross over to the island by walking across this beach.”

Side-by-side, the two of us walked across the beach.

“They say that Okinoshima was originally an independent island, but after the Great Kanto earthquake, it got connected by this segment of land.”

“Is that so? Then it’s the same as Enoshima, huh?”

“Though Enoshima is more famous by far.”

“That said, it is nice that there are fewer people here. It feels kind of like a beach from South-East Asia.”

“Isn’t that praising it a little too much?”

“You think so? Well, you know, if there was a castle atop the island, I feel like it would be reminiscent of France’s Mont-Saint-Michel.”

Aahh, I see. Okinoshima is a park covered with nothing but trees, but if it had a castle erected on it, I see how it could resemble that.

“This is the west side of the Bousou Peninsula, right? If we came during the evening, when the sun is setting, I’m certain it’d make for beautiful scenery.”

Surely that must be so. Furthermore, we had an unexpectedly clear view of Mount Fuji from here.

And in front of us, we had the sea.

The setting sun, Mount Fuji, and the sea. If you could see all of them together at the same time, it would be quite difficult to find a better place than this.

“I should’ve brought us during sunset.”

I whispered that to myself.

The inside of the island had apparently been turned into a natural park.

“He~h, there’s even a natural pool and a cave here.”

To my surprise, Touko-senpai was looking at the directory with her eyes shining like a child’s.

I once again took a photograph of Touko-senpai with my smartphone.

She seemed to have noticed this time, since she looked over in my direction.

“You took another one just now, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t take any.”

I said that while I smiled.

“Liar! You did! I’m sure!”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I swear…”

She pointed to the path which continued into the deep part of the island as she spoke.

“This is the path that leads to the inside of the island, right? Let’s go then.”

We went down the path which passed through the forest. After continuing for a while, the path finally cleared.

It opened up into the sea. A small beach that had a rocky area to both sides.

“How pretty! Who’d have thought there’d be a beach this charming here?”

Almost as if she were a completely different person from her usual aloof self, Touko-senpai looked to be hopping slightly as she went down to the shoreline. I immediately followed after her.

“Woww! The seawater is incredibly clean, too! You can see through it all the way down!”

“I read that this place consistently obtains the highest rank, AA, in the seaside resort water quality examination that the Ministry of the Environment carries out.”
(TL Note: For reference, this test has 4 ranks, C, B, A, AA, with AA being the best quality)

Touko-senpai turned to look at me.

“Isshiki-kun, have you come here before?”

“No, this is my first time coming here too.”

“Same for me. There are very nice places even near to us, aren’t there? I didn’t know that.”

“Indeed. This place is apparently at the northern limit of where corals grow, so it seems like you can see them by snorkeling. There are also many fish here and other stuff, making it into a diving spot, too.”

“There are small fish even here. Look!”

Touko-senpai said that and pointed with her finger.

I stepped over the rocks and got closer to where Touko-senpai was.

Sure enough, there were many small fish swimming in a small tide pool.

“There’s a shoal of small fish here. And over here we have what looks like a little larger tropical fish.”

“Where is it?”

“Over here, look!”

It happened the moment that Touko-senpai tried to climb the rocks that looked like stairs.

“Aah!”

Her foot slipped, and she gave a small shriek.

I promptly supported Touko-senpai from the front, as if holding her in an embrace.

However, the same as her, one of my legs ended up falling into the sea with a splash.

At the same time, my smartphone gave a small beep. 

“Th-thanks.” 

Touko-senpai responded in a surprised manner.

“No, I’m just glad you didn’t tumble over. If you had, you might have gotten injured by the rocks here.”

“But because of it, you even ended up getting your leg wet.”

“It’s fine. This is nothing.”

It was when I said this that I noticed that Touko-senpai’s face was extremely close to me.

She was no further than 30cm away.

What was more, I was holding the upper part of her arms with both of my hands, almost as if hugging her.

It seemed that Touko-senpai too had become aware of our current positions. She averted her eyes and spoke.

“You took a photograph right now too, right?”

“Eh? Oh, yes, now that you mention it…”

My phone’s camera shutter had indeed made a noise.

“I keep telling you there’s no need to take a photo of these moments.”

A part of her looked embarrassed.

“Th-this time it wasn’t on purpose.”

Touko-senpai looked at me. I saw myself reflected on those dark green eyes of hers.

I could bet that Touko-senpai too was being reflected on my eyes.

Touko-senpai laughed bashfully.

“Let’s hurry and get out. If we don’t, we’ll get even wetter from the waves.”

I nodded silently, pulled her hand and we both returned to the beach.

 

After that, we went to see the cave and the shrine, which were on the opposite side of the island, and then returned to the car.

By that time, our shoes that had been soaked in the sea had already dried up enough that we were no longer leaving any footprints behind.

“We’ll be going to Nojimazaki Lighthouse next.”

I started the car after saying that. Nojimazaki Lighthouse stood at the southernmost part of Bousou Peninsula.

We followed Japan National Route 410 and headed for Nojimazaki.

The moment we left the mountain, we had the ocean suddenly and grandly displayed before us. It was the Pacific Ocean.

Thanks to the clear weather we had, despite it being almost December, the blue ocean sparkled brightly before us.

We continued driving down the road while seeing the ocean to our right and the mountains to our left. The buildings were few and scattered in between.

Before long, a building which shone white came into view. It was Nojimazaki Lighthouse.

This lighthouse had been constructed in a small peninsula-shaped area that projected into the ocean, and its surroundings had been made into a sort of park that went completely around it.

“We’ve already come this far, so do you want to try going to the very edge? After all, it would be the southernmost point of the Bousou Peninsula.”

“That sounds good. Let’s go there, then!”

I happily agreed.

The vicinity of Nojimazaki Lighthouse had its green areas and plants like grass cleanly mowed.

Beyond the promenade was, as you’d expect, a rocky coastline.

“This kind of place, where there’s nothing around and from where you can see the ocean horizon is good in its own way, too.”

Touko-senpai spoke and took a deep breath. I aimed at that instant and snapped another photo.

“Aah, you took another one!”

Touko-senpai glared at me from the corner of her eyes.

“I’ll have to ask that you forgive me just today. This will become the answer to my homework, after all.”

I gave a bitter smile as I answered.

“But you know, if you’re going to take it anyways, I’d like for you to take it after I’ve properly prepared myself for it.”

Touko-senpai was still dissatisfied about it. 

The two of us stood next to each other and stared at the sea. Before us lay the great blue ocean. The Pacific Ocean.

“Beyond this ocean lie North America, South America, Australia, and Antarctica.”

The words flowed from Touko-senpai and came to me as if carried by the wind.

“One day, I want to go around the many countries in the world aboard my own yacht.”

Go around the world in a yacht? I was slightly taken aback because I had this image of Touko-senpai being the indoor type.

“Back when I was a young girl, I was once hospitalized for over a month. In a book I read during that time, there was a story about a couple, husband and wife, who got on a yacht and traveled around the world. When I read that, I thought to myself, ‘How wonderful! I want to try traveling around the world that freely, too’. It must have been after that that I found myself fond of books. Though at the beginning, it was only books which narrated the travels of someone or those that spoke about the many countries of the world.”

“That’s a wonderful dream.”

“It is. A wonderful dream indeed. In reality, however, finding someone with whom you can stay together, 24/7, inside a cramped yacht is not something so easily done.”

I looked at Touko-senpai for an instant.

I believe that if I were together with her, even if it was for every single moment for the rest of my life, she would never stop shining in my eyes.

Nay, I sensed that the more I stayed by her side, the more fascinating it would become.

“It seems like my father yearned for a yacht, too.”

She said that and looked in the opposite direction, to where the lighthouse was.

“Lighthouses are the single beacons in the middle of the ocean during the pitch-dark nights. Nowadays we have the GPS, but in the olden days, they were the one and only guide for sailors, they were a sign of hope for them. They would then follow the places where the lighthouses were and move on towards their desired destinations.”

Her eyes were bathed by the sunlight as she looked up at the lighthouse which shone chalk-white.

“That’s how he came up with my name and named me ‘Touko’. He wished for me to become a hope for everyone and to be one who lights their way.”
(TL Note: This is a pain to explain, honestly. Feel free to skip this long note if you want. Now, where to start? Like some of you probably know, Japanese name are written in ‘Kanji’ [Chinese characters]. Each of these characters has different pronunciations in Japanese and individual meanings. Usually, parents hide a certain ‘wish’ in their children’s names. In this case, Touko is written as 燈子, where 燈 basically means light or lamp, and 子 is child or kid [and a very common ending for a girl’s name in Japanese]. So that’s how the idea of ‘being a light for others’ connects to her name.)

A certain thought crossed my mind while I looked at her.

… Touko-senpai. At the very least, for me right now, you are my hope, guidepost, and my light… The one single person who, when I was lost in the dark storm that was ‘Karen’s cheating’, lit my way, gave me something to aim for, and has now even become my hope…

“Say, do you hear a voice coming from somewhere?”

Touko-senpai asked that out of the blue.

“A voice, you say?”

“Yes, like someone crying…”

Having heard that, I pricked up my ears, too.

And when I did, sure enough, I could hear something like the cries of a kid in between the sounds of the waves.

“I can hear something resembling the voice of a child.”

“It couldn’t be… That they fell into the ocean or something… Right?”

I could see the blood drain from Touko-senpai’s face.

“If that really is the case, this is very bad! Isshiki-kun, help me search for them!”

“Understood! I will search the ocean area, so you go on and search around the lighthouse, Touko-senpai!”

As soon as I said that I began to walk, following the rocky coastline of the beach.

Touko-senpai ran from the esplanade over to the inner part of the park.

Not long after we began our search, I found a young boy crying near the beach in an area where the piled rocks created a gentle slope. He wasn’t on the shore where the waves crashed. It looked as if he had simply tripped on the rocks.

I was relieved to know that he hadn’t fallen into the sea or anything of the sort.

“Touko-senpai! He’s over here!”

I yelled in a loud voice in the direction of the lighthouse.

“Are you okay?”

I asked the boy, as soon as I got near him.

Once I got a closer look at him, he looked to be around 6 years old. He must be something close to a first year in elementary school, right?

However, the boy did nothing but cry.

“It’s dangerous here. Let’s go over to that place thats more level.”

Nonetheless, the boy shook his head sideways in a way which indicated his denial of the idea. Looking him over again, I saw that his knee, which was exposed from below his shorts, had a notable amount of blood flowing from it. I surmised that he had scraped it when he tripped on the rocks.

Having no other choice, I carried the boy in my arms and brought him back to the promenade.

It was precisely then that Touko-senpai came running over towards us.

“Where did you find him? Is he okay?”

“I found him over in that rocky area. He was still somewhat distanced from the sea, so I believe that he shouldn’t be in any kind of danger.”

Touko-senpai’s gaze shifted to the child’s knee.

“This boy, he’s injured!”

She swiftly wiped the blood with a tissue and took a band-aid from her own bag which she then placed on the boy’s knee.

“The wound isn’t deep. You should be fine with this now. Does it still hurt?”

“It still hurts a little.”

The little boy answered.

“Where did your mom and dad go?”

The boy pointed in the direction of the lighthouse with his finger at the same time that he answered Touko-senpai’s question with a simple ‘That way’.

“Where is ‘that way’?”

We tried asking him another question, but the boy didn’t answer anything else aside from ‘That way’.

“Nothing else to be done. For the time being, we should try going towards the lighthouse or the Museum. If he’s a lost child, then his parents should be going to those places to look for him.”

Touko-senpai nodded to my words and asked the boy:

“Are you okay? Can you walk?”

However, the answer the boy gave us wasn’t favorable.

“I can’t.”

Just as I thought.

“Come, I’ll give you a piggyback ride.”

I lowered myself and showed my back to the boy after I spoke, and he immediately jumped on.

Was he really unable to walk? That thought crossed my mind, but I knew better than to say that out loud at the moment.

I rose to my feet with the boy on my back.

“Well then, let’s get going.”

I spoke and lined myself up next to Touko-senpai as we walked.

Touko-senpai then asked the boy.

“You, can you tell me your name?”

“Shouta.”

“Why were you in that area?”

“There was a crab there.”

“A crab?”

“But I couldn’t catch it.”

Then, in short, what happened was: This boy was alone on that promenade for some reason I wouldn’t possibly know. He saw a crab while he stood there and followed after it trying to catch it. But in doing so, he ended up going over to that rocky area near the beach, where he happened to trip and started crying.

Suddenly, the boy on my back started to talk.

“Onee-chan and onii-chan, are you on a ‘date’?”

Touko-senpai and I exchanged glances for a moment.

“Are you on a ‘date’?”

The boy asked us once again the same question.

“Hmmm, well… I guess you could say that?”

Touko-senpai answered and the boy pressed even deeper with his next question.

“Then, then. Onee-chan and onii-chan, are you two lovers?”

“Eh!?”

Touko-senpai and I both raised our voices at the same time.

He had been so insecure about speaking until just now, so how come it was on this occasion that he spoke so smoothly?

While I remained flummoxed, Touko-senpai answered the boy’s inquiry.

“Hmm, what do you think?”

“I don’t know. But they told me that two people going together on a date are lovers.”

“Who told you that?”

“Mii-chan did.”

Even if he told us by giving us a name, there was no way for us to know who that was.

Nonetheless, Touko-senpai smiled cheerfully and answered.

“I see. If ‘Mii-chan’ said that, then it may be that perhaps we are lovers.”

Following that, she giggled softly.

Touko-senpai continued to humor the child after that too. For my part, I spent most of that time silent.

Not to mention that it was a surprise for me. That the normally cool and intellectual Touko-senpai was this fond of children.

I surreptitiously manipulated my smartphone with one hand and took a sneak shot of Touko-senpai while she played with the kid.

Whether she noticed I did that or not was hard to tell.

“Ah, Mama!”

From my back, the boy pointed with his finger, and looking further down that direction, I saw a mother standing as she held the hand of an even younger girl and carried an infant in her arms. We continued walking until we were in front of that mother, and I lowered the boy from my back.

Once Touko-senpai explained what had transpired, the mother bowed her head to us many times.

It would seem that the mother had taken the younger child to the restroom and left the boy alone for a moment.

Touko-senpai crouched before the boy and gave him some last words.

“Goodbye, Shouta-kun. Make sure you don’t leave your mother’s side by yourself anymore, okay?”

She placed her hand gently on his head as she spoke.

I quickly took a picture of that side of Touko-senpai with my phone’s camera.

“Touko-senpai, you’re very good with kids, aren’t you?”

“What’s with that tone of utter surprise?”

“Eh, oh, no. That’s not what I meant to say.”

I tried to correct myself in a fluster but saw that Touko-senpai was smiling at the same time she glared at me.

“I indeed like kids, you know. Also, sometimes I think I would’ve liked to have a younger brother, too.”

“Touko-senpai, do you have any siblings?”

“I have a sister, three years younger than me.”

If she’s the younger sister of Touko-senpai, then I imagine that she must be a beauty too.

“Though what I really wanted the most was to have an older brother.”

As we continued to talk, we arrived at the place where we had parked the car.

“It’s already well past noon, isn’t it? I’d say it’s about time we go somewhere and eat, no?”

We went up north via Japan National Route 410. This time, we took the route which went to the east side of Minamibousou Peninsula.

Before long, we arrived at a ‘Michi-no-Eki’s Wadaura WA・O!’. There was a huge life-size skeletal model of a blue whale exhibited in the close vicinity of the Wadaura Station. We entered the restaurant that was next to it.
(TL Note: You can google the Michi-no-Eki (Roadside Stations in English) and Wadaura WAO to see it and learn more about them)

I spoke as I read the menu.

“Wadaura is one of the few rare places where even nowadays whaling still occurs, if I remember correctly. Speaking of whaling, Wakayama prefecture’s Taiji is famous for it, no?”

This too was something that I read and was simply repeating from the Internet.

“Aah, now that you mention it, I had heard somewhere that there was a place in Minamibousou where they produced whale bacon. They said that aside from producing it, they also did things like selling it.”

“I have always wondered what kind of meat whale was like, so I wanted to eat it at least once.”

I decided on my order while I was speaking. The Kujira-don Deluxe.
(TL Note: Kujira-don is kujira (whale) + don 丼 (donburi, a dish with the main ingredients served on a bowl filled with rice))

This dish consisted of whale sashimi, whale tatsutaage, and whale katsu placed atop donburi.
(TL Note: Tatsutaage is a dish of fish or meat flavored with soy sauce, mirin, etc., coated with starch and then deep-fried​. Katsu is a (breaded) cutlet.)

“I’m thinking that I should be fine with this ‘set meal of local fish of the season’. I wouldn’t be able to eat the whale meat if it had a gamey taste to it, after all.”

“But we already came all the way out here. Don’t you feel even the slightest interest in at least trying it? If the anti-whaling campaigns and movements continue to advance in the future, we may no longer be able to eat things like whale meat.”

Even so, Touko-senpai still looked indecisive.

“Then, how about we share one of these ‘Whale sashimi’? There shouldn’t be any problems if the two of us share it, no?”

“Ok, let’s do that then.”

The dishes we ordered were brought over to us. The whale meat looked a considerably darker shade of red than beef. It looked like horse meat.

When I tried it, it tasted surprisingly close to typical meats. I guess you could say that it was something like the intensely red-looking imported meat?

It seemed that Touko-senpai had the same opinion about it as me.

“It does have a bit of a unique flavor to it, but for the most part, it’s normal meat.”

“I agree. Its color is like that of horse meat, but it tastes similar to imported round steak.”

“You know that whales evolved from the same Artiodactyla that cows and pigs come from, too, right? Perhaps it’s only natural that their flavor is similar. I heard that nowadays there’s even a classification called ‘Cetartiodactyla’ that includes whales and land mammals like cows, pigs, and deer.”
(TL Note: Long live Internet and Wikipedia!)

“Huh.”

“By the way, they say that the hippopotamus is the closest land animal related to whales.”

“Just as you’d expect from the ‘Goddess of the Library’. You’re an erudite scholar.”

Touko-senpai then glared at me as she glanced upwards.

“That nickname, I never liked it.”

“Why is that? I believe that everyone who uses it does so with good intentions.”

“Just like how I’m not a figurehead, I am sure not a goddess either. I was your run-of-the-mill high school girl back then and am now a normal university student girl.”

“Well, you’re right about that.”

“At the very least, I don’t want you, Isshiki-kun, someone who should understand me to a certain degree, to call me that.”

Touko-senpai spoke with a tinge of loneliness in her voice.

“Understood. I apologize.”

I offered her my sincere apologies, and Touko-senpai once again had an impish smile on her face.

“Then, as an apology, treat me to a soft serve after this. I saw, before we entered, that they were selling it outside.”
(TL Note: Soft serve, also called soft ice, is a kind of frozen dessert very similar to ice cream. Ed. Note: In the US it is usually synonymous with frozen yogurt.)

For her to have a desire for soft serve… I knew she had a cute girlish side to her.

“Copy that. Feel free to ask for 2 or even 3 of them!”

“Oh? You said it now. In that case, I’ll ask for two of them; one soft serve of honey and milk, and another of peanut!”

By the time we finished our meals, it was already past 3 o’clock.

In the end, I bought us each one soft serve, each of a different flavor, and we exchanged our soft serves after eating them halfway.

It was my first indirect kiss with Touko-senpai.

I also saved that scene of Touko-senpai eating her soft serve in the form of a photograph.

“You’re even taking a photo of me eatinnng?”

She seemed a bit displeased, but the way in which she ate was unexpectedly childish, so I thought to myself that this was fine too.

We continued further up north as we headed for ‘Suzume Iwa’, which is located near Taitou Station.
(TL Note: ‘Suzume’ means the ‘Eurasion tree sparrow’ specifically, but is part of the common names of many sparrow species. ‘Iwa’ means ‘boulder’.)

It’s located a bit southward from the southern edge of Kujuukuri Beach and is also known as ‘Fuufu Iwa’.
(TL Note: ‘Fuufu’ means ‘married couple’)

The boulder was cut like a cake and protruded into the sea from the small beach it was on.

“This place is the last touristy spot we’ll be visiting.”

I got out of the car as I spoke. The hour was already four in the evening.
(TL Note: Though normally 4pm is ‘afternoon’ in many places, the Japanese Meteorological Agency stipulates that ‘evening’ is from 3pm to 6pm. Thus, we leave it as ‘evening’.)

“We have visited many different places by now, though. We’ve even gone almost halfway around Minamibousou Peninsula.”

Touko-senpai also spoke as she alighted from the car.

Search our surroundings as you might, there weren’t any signs of other people besides us.

A beach in the form of a small bay lay before us.

On its left side stood the cake-shaped Suzume Iwa. Because we were at ebb tide, it should be simple for us to climb the rock.

“Want to try climbing it for a bit?”

“Eh? Isn’t it dangerous?”

“It should be fine, given that the slope isn’t so steep.”

I went to the base of the rock and extended my hand at Touko-senpai.

She took my hand fearfully and I pulled her up to the top of the rock.

Suzume Iwa’s land was made up of sedimentary rock where now grass, too, had sprouted, making it so that one wouldn’t have much difficulty climbing it.

The two of us arrived at the top of the rock. The part of Suzume Iwa which faces the ocean falls at a steeply vertical angle.

I peeked down from the edge and saw seawater a deep blue color, perhaps because the water was deeper than in other areas, washing the rock as it seemed to whirl around it.

“It’s dangerous if you get too close to the edge.”

Because Touko-senpai called out to me like that, I took a few steps back from the edge.

The sky to the east was already beginning to get dark.

I could see a number of stars near the horizon on the sea. The brightest of them should be Venus.

When I looked at the opposite side, I saw the sun starting to set behind the many mountain peaks of Bousou.

Touko-senpai and I sat down next to each other on the summit of Suzume Iwa while we watched the setting sun.

“I am very thankful that you accepted spending the whole of today together with me.”

After I said that, Touko-senpai lightly lowered her head as she smiled.

“You’re welcome. I would like to say thank you, too.”

She then raised her face with a bright smile on it.

“Today was sooo fun! I feel like I might have even enjoyed it more than my dates with Tetsuya. It felt like I was able to be myself!”

I made a wry smile.

“Say, if we were real lovers, wouldn’t you have lost some points the moment you mentioned your ex-boyfriend’s name?”

“You may be right.”

Touko-senpai grabbed her knees with both hands after she spoke.

“But you know? If I’m being honest here, today, I felt a bit jealous of Karen-san. I couldn’t help thinking how she can have this kind of date with you all the time.”

For a moment, I was unsure about how I should reply to that.

However, I didn’t want Touko-senpai to think like that.

“I don’t come to these types of places with Karen. She only likes places where she can go shopping or those that are the talk of the moment.”

“Is that so? Well, that may be the normal thing, though.”

Hearing her speak like that, I found myself curious as to what kind of dates Touko-senpai went on with Kamokura.

Nonetheless, that was not something I could ask. Hence, I decided to ask something else.

“Before, you told me that in the third month of going out, couples have a time when they think about breaking up, didn’t you? Did that time never come for you, Touko-senpai?”

Touko-senpai put her chin on her knees and thought about it for a bit.

“Hmmm, I did have a few instances where I thought about it from even before the 3 months, but I always thought that it was my being selfish. Tetsuya even told me once that I was being unreasonable for finding any kind of faults with him.”

Wow… That’s a chipper, handsome man for you. They say some things others never could.

“Add to it that it was also the exam period, which meant there was a certain distance between us because of it. After that, it would be the summer vacations and our group’s events would take place. I thought that breaking up with him at that moment would make it awkward for us afterwards. Hence I decided to wait for a little longer and see.”

“So, you waited, and then what happened?”

Touko-senpai remained silent for a while.

“I got to see the lonely side of him, the side of him that, despite constantly feeling so alone, always puts on a brave front. When I saw that part of him, I thought, ‘I want to be there for him’…”

I regretted having asked that.

“Isshiki-kun, you have Ishida-kun, who is someone to whom you can speak to about anything whenever you’re troubled, and who will help you with it, right? However, Tetsuya doesn’t have someone like that in his life. He can become the central figure at any reunion, but he doesn’t have a single person to whom he can earnestly open up his heart…”

Touko-senpai’s voice sounded like it would vanish any second.

“That’s why, maybe he tries to gather and surround himself in many different sorts of things. Just like how he tries to find friends with whom to make merry by acting like a cheery guy, or how he acts all confident in himself to find a girl who’ll keep him company…”

I kept silent as I watched her profile. It was then that she whispered in a self-deprecating manner.

“It may well be that I was one of those accessories for him, too. An accessory that looks pretty and that he can boast about to others…”

 She then buried her face in her knees as if hiding it.

“The truth is, I also had felt, vaguely, that Tetsuya was cheating on me. But the usual Tetsuya I knew always treated me very kindly and always gave me preference. It may be that I unconsciously averted my eyes from it. Even the affair that started all this… Had you not been together with me, I’m sure that I would have pretended not to see it.”

What should I say to her at this moment?

“For Tetsuya, perhaps it’s only natural in his mind to have other accessories to wear. I’ll bet that I myself didn’t have any particular charm for him.”

“That’s not true!”

I denied it fervently.

“Touko-senpai, you are more than charming yourself!”

Even so, Touko-senpai looked at me with sad eyes.

“That’s only speaking about my outward appearance, right? If we left that aside and spoke of me only as a girl…”

“Even when seeing you as nothing but a woman, you’re charming. It was for the sake of conveying that to you that I asked you to go out with me today.”

Immediately after I finished saying that, I took out my smartphone and displayed in it all of the photos of Touko-senpai that I took throughout the day.

“I spent the whole of today taking pictures of all the parts of you, Touko-senpai, that I believe are charming. Please take a look at them.”

After I spoke, I drew myself closer to Touko-senpai and together we watched the screen of my phone.

The photo of Touko-senpai looking impressed as she stared at the stone Buddhas in Mount Nokogiri. The one where Touko-senpai walked fearfully towards the View of Hell. Another showed Touko-senpai at the beach with the sea breeze blowing against her. Touko-senpai watching the fish in the seashore. The scene where we both unexpectedly ended embracing each other after nearly falling in a tide pool. Her visage as she stared at the horizon. Touko-senpai smiling as she humored the boy. The portrait of her eating her soft serve in delight.

Each of those portrayed her own natural charms.

“Touko-senpai, your natural appearance, your natural smile, and more than that, the way in which you naturally interact with other people; they are all the cutest I know. That’s why, Touko-senpai, the way that you act like the natural you makes you the cutest girl. And the way you express your unadulterated emotions as they come to you is incredibly charming, Touko-senpai.”

“… Thanks…”

The profile of Touko-senpai’s face as she stared fixedly at the photographs shone an orange color in the midst of the setting evening sun.

She then spoke in a small but clear voice.

“Out of all the photographs I’ve had taken of me until now, these are the happiest of them all. They make me even happier than those taken by professional cameramen.”

After Touko-senpai and I left Suzume Iwa, we went from the Sotobou Toll Road to the Tougane Road and returned to our hometown of Chiba city. In the same way as when we came here, I drove Touko-senpai all the way to the Kemigawahama Station of the JR Keiyou Line.
(TL Note: JR is the Japan Railways Group)

“Well then, see you again at school.”

Touko-senpai got out of the car after saying that.

“Of course. Once again, thank you very much for today.”

“No, I should be the one saying that. It was very fun.”

“I’m happy to hear that.”

However, though Touko-senpai had gotten out of the car, she stood there in the same position without closing the door.

… Is there something left she wants to tell me?…

As the thought ran through my mind, I looked at Touko-senpai.

Touko-senpai, too, stared at me.

“Isshiki-kun, about today’s date…”

“Yes?”

She took a moment and then spoke with determination.

“Yeah, I’ll give it a ‘yuu’! The same ‘yuu’ as in Isshiki Yuu!”
(TL Note: This is a play on words born from Kanji in Japanese. Isshiki Yuu’s name is written as 一色・優. 優, which is his given name, Yuu, means, among other things, ‘excellence, superiority’. So this ‘yuu’ she gives him, is a play of using his own name and giving him a mark of Excellent)

She said that and gave me a bright smile.

“Ok, then, have a good night!”

Not bothering to wait for my reply, she slammed the door shut.

… ‘Today’s date’, huh…

Inside the car which still had Touko-senpai’s lingering scent, I let myself be lost in thought with that one line.

(TL Chapter Note: I don’t usually write these end notes for chapters but, I wanted to say: This chapter was a pain to translate. Too many things to investigate when translating and I had to decide whether to use a translation for names of places, food, etc., or instead explain them in notes. Also, I’m no expert in any of the fields nor am I the traveling type, so don’t blame me or my editor for things that ended up too weirdly stated. We are open to suggestions and opinions about them, though. Thanks for reading up to here. I hope to see you again next chapter, dear readers!)
(ED Chapter Note: I’m so sorry for taking so long with this! This has been my favorite chapter of the novel, but it is a huge effort to edit. Checking on place name spellings and some other fiddly details, I spent so much time with Google Maps open to Minamibousou as I worked on this…)