January 1, 2021, a few days after Winter Comiket.
I had an appointment to meet Rika in the morning.
At the entrance to a large shrine near the nearest station.
A beautiful girl in a white coat, scarf, brown tights, and boots…
Rika Matsumoto arrived.
“Sorry, did I keep you waiting?”
“No, I just got here.”
Rika looked at me.
“What is it?”
“Just now…ten minutes ago. How long have you been here?”
“What? I guess 30 minutes ago.”
Rika let out a sigh.
“You didn’t have to wait in the cold for half an hour.”
“But if I’m late, I’ll feel bad, you know?”
“Well… yes, that may be so.”
Fufu, Rika laughed and bowed to me.
“Happy New Year, Shin-chan.”
“Yes! Happy New Year to you too, Rika!”
We headed into the shrine side by side.
Of course, or how should I say it, we were holding hands naturally.
Look, it’s because of the crowd…
“Wow, there’s a lot of people here…”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
But Rika still looks cold.
She’s wearing thick clothes, but…I’m worried.
“Here’s a warmer. Use it.”
I handed Rika the pocket warmer I had in my pocket.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’ve got another one.”
“I see. Thank you. Fufu, Shin-chan is so kind~”
“Not as much as you.”
“Oh yeah? Fufu♡”
We are standing in a long line.
“I’m looking forward to the Digimas movie coming out this year.”
“Yeah! The Skyless Infinite Arena Arc! It’s the best episode ever!”
“I know! Rei is so cool!”
We had a lot of fun talking about anime.
So it was no bother at all to wait in the long line.
I found myself in front of the offering box. [TLN: Saisen-bako is what they mean.]
Rika took out her purse and suddenly asks me.
“Do you have a five-yen coin?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Then use mine.”
We put our money in the offering box and pray for a good year.
May this year be a good one…
And may I get along well with Rika…
We finished praying and left the offering box.
“What did you pray for?”
I asked, and Rika’s face turned red.
“D, Don’t laugh?”
“Yeah. Of course.”
“I was praying that Shin-chan and I could, um…get to know each other better.”
Rika stops and touches her hair in embarrassment.
“You know! We’re in a fake relationship. I have to show our classmates that I’m close to you in order to get revenge on them!”
“Oh, I see…”
I’m a little disappointed.
It would have been great if we could have gotten along regardless of revenge or not.
“Why do you look so disappointed? Mouuu.”
However, Rika’s mouth loosened up.
“I’m going to go get some amazake.” [TLN: Fermented rice drink. Amazake.]
I bought some amazake at a nearby stall and gave it to Rika.
We both sit on a bench at the shrine and drink the amazake.
It warmed me from the inside out.
“Why are you still holding hands with me when we are away from the crowd?”
Rika’s right hand is overlapping my left hand.
“Don’t get me wrong! This is just… my hands are cold! I’m just using you to keep my hands warm!”
Rika turns away with a pout.
I see…you’re warming them up.
“You take my words too literally, you know.”
After finishing our amazake, we walked around the shrine.
“How about we get something to eat at the food stall? I’m a little hungry.”
I was wondering what to do, and Rika tilted her head.
“Oh, um… there’s a New Year’s party at my relative’s house after this.”
“A New Year’s party? Oh, really?
“Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of food there, and I wanted to make sure I was hungry.”
“Okay, I understand.”
She was a very understanding girl.
Imoko was very selfish and would not listen to anything I had to say.
We walked outside the shrine…
“That Terminator-style outfit… Saburo-san?”
Rika narrowed her eyes.
Ahead of her gaze was Saburo-san, a large man in black clothes and sunglasses.
“Happy New Year. What’s up?”
“I’m here to pick you up! We’re having a New Year’s party at the main house today.
“The main house?”
Rika tilted her head.
‘Well… it’s just relatives. Thanks for picking me up.”
A limousine was parked nearby.
“That’s right! How about you join us, Rika-chan, for a New Year’s party? Hey Shinji-kun!
“What? Yes, it’s fine… for me.”
Saburo’s suggestion…sure would be good.
“Will you come with me? New Year’s party.”
“Eh!? Wha, why?”
“There are a lot of people at the New Year’s party at the main house, but they’re always too busy to talk. It would be great to have someone to talk to.”
Rika takes a small breath and bows her head after some hesitation.
“Well then…I’ll accompany you.”
“Alright! That’s it, let’s go!”
Saburo-san drove us to the main family’s mansion…
“Hey, hey… Shin-chan. Where is the main house? Around here… in the exclusive residential area…?”
Rika asked fearfully, looking out the window.
“We’ll be there soon. Look, there it is.”
“Eeeee? What’s this super mansion?”
The house is a large mansion.
A glamorous lady with sunglasses was standing in front of the gate.
A limousine passed by the lady and went inside.
There were several limousines lined up.
“Here we are!”
“This is…? This is Shin-chan’s… house…?”
Rika got out of the limousine and looked at the main family’s house with a stunned expression.
“Well, to be more precise, it’s my family’s house, or rather, a distant relative’s house.
“I thought it was the set of a historical drama…how huge is this house…”
Saburo-san led us into the house.
“Where’s the main family’s grandfather?”
I asked Saburo walking in front of us.
“I think he’s in the middle of greeting his daughter.”
“Then, I guess we will greet my grandfather and Ryu-chan later.”
We were shown into a large Japanese-style room.
Rika stood there dumbfounded.
“No… well… what is this… what? Is this a party venue?
“? It’s just a regular guest room.”
It’s a Japanese-style room about the size of a gymnasium.
There are many dishes lined up in a row.
Relatives and strangers were drinking alcohol, their faces bright red.
We went to the end of the room and sat down.
“As usual, Grandpa’s got a lot of customers.”
“Oh, um, Shin-chan…what’s that?”
Rika pointed at one of the customers.
“That’s… you know… I wonder if I’m looking at the wrong guy… the prime minister, isn’t it?”
He points to an old man sitting a little ways away.
“Yes? Did you just say yes?”
“Yes, I did. Because…hey, it’s a New Year’s party. It’s normal for them to come, right?”
“This is not normal! The prime minister is attending a New Year’s party here!”
Soon after, Saburo-san arrives with a lot of food.
“Come on, come on, eat up! I got some lobsters!”
“Wow! Thanks! Let’s eat then.”
I ate with Rika.
Meanwhile, Rika was watching the attendees closely.
“Um…you know. Isn’t it strange here? I feel like…there are so many famous people here, like professional baseball players, actresses, politicians, and so on…”
Rika looks at the attendees and mumbles in disbelief.
“No, no, no! What is this place? This is weird!”
“Eh, I don’t know. It’s always been like this at the main house New Year’s party.”
“Yeah anyway, What’s the main family?
“Well, my family is a little special…this is Kaida, and it is a big family. There are two branch families of Kaida, Seba and Ueda, and I am a child of one of the branch families.”
Rika looks shocked.
“Hmm? What’s wrong?”
“I must have misheard you… Kaida? Did you just say Kaida?”
“Isn’t that… the Kaida Group, one of the old zaibatsu? One of the biggest companies in Japan?”
“Eh, well…I don’t know about old zaibatsu or one of the biggest in Japan, but Kaida Group was the name of my grandfather’s company in the main family, as I recall.”
Rika looks surprised like she can’t keep her mouth shut.
“Shin-chan… you must be very rich… as I thought…”
As I thought?
“Well, you see, the great ones are the main Kaida family and the Seba family, while the Ueda family is one of the more humble of the branch families and is not as rich.”
My family is not that rich.
Rika, however, sighs heavily and says
“No, that’s not possible when you live in that tower apartment…”