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Bright and clear morning sunlight shone onto the tatami mats of the dojo. We were in a training hall for aikido on the Komyo grounds.
Shikigami invokers of the Komyo clan exorcise evil spirits, but are often stigmatized as nuisances who disturb the peace of society. They are sometimes even considered worse than the evil spirits themselves. Therefore, members of the Komyo family need to protect themselves against the occasional attack from humans by learning self-defense techniques. Every Komyo family member has to learn the Japanese martial art of aikido.
Kuzuha was wearing a gi with a black belt. I, the opponent, was wearing a white belt which showed that I was a beginner.
However, I was secretly confident. We have Kuzuha, a petite Japanese girl, and then me, a much larger foreign guy. If I just acted like I were Goryu from Dragon Boy, I thought I could be in for a good chance.
Before I could even grab her arm, my body spun in the air.
I fell on my back onto the tatami.
Kuzuha looked down at me and said, “Shower yourself. It’s time for breakfast.”
The Japanese put their hands together and say “Itadakimasu” before their meals to appreciate the many gods of nature who have brought food to the table.
There were bowls of cooked rice and miso soup, grilled fish and some vitamin-packed pickled vegetables on a low table called a chabudai. I took the chopsticks to my hands to eat, sitting on my heels in a sitting position called the seiza. If you have every practised martial arts then you may know what position I’m talking about.
Kuzuha sat eating hers in silence, whereas Fude, who was serving food to us, was looking at Kuzuha with a smile on her face.
“I’ve never seen Kuzuha-sama look so content” she said.
I replied with surprise. “Really?”.
“It’s true. Last night, she even asked me if we should serve the cuisine of your home country, as you mightn’t like the Japanese food, Kiriya-sama.”
Kiriya Coleman was my temporary name until I could regain my real identity from the evil spirit. I simply took the name from an anime character.
Kuzuha interrupted Fude by calling her name sharply.
“Bring another cup of tea to Kiriya.”
“All right, all right.” Fude stood up with a meaningful smile.
After breakfast would be my entry into Japanese school life! I was clad in a school uniform just like the ones I would often see in anime. I entered a school building- also just like the ones in anime. I wrote my name in chalk on the blackboard and introduced myself in Japanese to my new classmates.
“I’m Kiriya Coleman, an international student.”
The class members seemed to be surprised and a buzz of excitement filled the classroom.
Fude set up my enrollment at this school. She didn’t explain much, but it sounded like Kuzuha’s parents work for the Japanese government as Shikigami invokers. Therefore, it didn’t take much for them to get me some identification with my new pseudonym.
“You still don’t want to come with me?”
I asked Kuzuha when I left the house this morning. Kuzuha just shook her head and gave me Tsuzura and Yoh, both in their origami states.
“Take them with you. The evil spirit may appear unexpectedly, as it hasn’t completed the stealing of your identity.”
I took her hand. She instantly blushed and broke away.
She hid her body behind a pillar, showing only her red face.
“You f-foreigners have no m-manners!”
It’s the second time she’s called me ‘a foreigner’, so I replied nonchalantly.
“Take care,” she replied from behind the pillar.
Most of the classes in Japanese schools consist of just listening to the teacher. There are almost no debates or experiments, and students have little to do during class except sit and listen. It didn’t seem to only be me, but the other students also had bored looks on their faces. They were writing notes on pieces of paper, folding them and passing them around the classroom behind the teacher’s back.
A note in English saying “Let’s have lunch together” was passed to me. I looked at the student who wrote it and gave a thumbs up to say yes. He smiled at me.
In the canteen I ordered udon, i.e. a bowl of thick wheat noodles in a fish broth. Tempura made from bitter crown daisy leaves was sitting on top. Have you ever heard of edible daisy leaves?
I found myself surrounded by a wall of students who were curious about me, asking questions one after another. They all seemed eager to persuade me to join their school clubs, which is a big activity in Japanese schools.
“Wanna join our football club?”
“You have to play basketball with us. Foreign people are good at playing basketball, right?”
“How about our brass band club? It doesn’t matter if you can’t play anything, I’ll teach you.”
I had to refuse all of their offers, because…
“I decided which club I’d be joining before even coming to Japan!”
The school club I wanted to join was…
On the night after my first day at school in Japan, I told Kuzuha which club I had joined. It seemed she didn’t understand, tilting her head in confusion.
“It’s short for ‘Comic Market’ and it’s the biggest and best manga and anime festival in the world! It’s truly Japanese culture. It’s my dream to participate in Comiket, so I decided I’d join a manga club before I even came to Japan.”
Kuzuha seemed to still not get it, so I took a magazine called a ‘doujinshi’ from my school bag to help her understand. A doujinshi is a self-published manga magazine produced by amateur artists. I borrowed these particular doujinshi from the head of the manga club.
“Manga is enjoyable, not only for reading but for drawing ourselves. Taking part in Comiket and showing off our work via doujinshi means making hundreds of thousands of friends who have the same interest. What do you say? Are you interested?”
Kuzuha turned the pages of the magazine but suddenly stopped. I thought she must have been fascinated by the pictures. I was wrong. She wasn’t fascinated at all, but infuriated. She shook with anger and looked daggers at me with watery eyes.
“Shame on you…!”
Oh no, I was dead. The book I had handed to her wasn’t a family-friendly doujinshi, but an adult one for over-18s. I saw Nicole from Live Love! in an unladylike pose. I suppose the club head had secretly put it in the bundle to surprise me.
“It’s not what you think, Kuzuha! I can’t say there are no erotic doujinshi in the world and I admit, yes, there are a lot of them. But not all of them are like this. Let me show you…”
I grabbed a couple more doujinshi from my school bag, took them out and opened them. Kuzuha gasped in surprise.
When I heard her calling my new name, shadows were already leaking out from between the pages and quickly winding around my body, like countless numbers of black arms.
Everything was happening at once and I didn’t even have the chance to brace myself to fight against it. The evil spirit had caught me again and was dragging me into the open manga.
Continued in Shikigami Girl Chapter 4: Battle in Manga →
← Go to Chapter 2: The Komyo Clan
Don’t forget to check out the Shikigami Girl introductory page for more information on the series, character introductions and more! ↓