Saotome-san is the Milky Way
「Listen carefully Murasaki, this is a culture that was born in the great Tokyo, so be it Kanto or wherever you go you must make sure to say these words. Did you get it?」1
「Tsuchiya-senpai, should I take that statement as a challenge against the entire Kanto region? To underestimate my hometown Ibaraki, is the same as picking a fight with a Showa era Yankee2」
「Well, I guess you can’t say it except in such a time and place. I am going, Mio-san.」
「Eh? Ah, aba, yes?!」
「「「「It’s the sea~~!!!」」」」
Under the bright sun of July, the shout of joy from the men and women who are entering their mid twenties pierced through the clear skies of Kujukuri Beach.
Tracing back to the beginning of the story, we go back to early July.
「Ah! Orihime-sama3 is visible.」
「Over there, Hikiboshi is also visible. When you switch off the lights, stars become visible on their own, don’t they.」
It’s been four day since that incident involving Tsuchiya and the rest. It’s Friday today.
Mio-san and I are holding a small Tanabata festival by ourselves.
The thin strip of origami paper that we hung by the window on the broadleaf bamboo which we brought from the park is fluttering in the wind. We are eating cold soumen while listening to the paper that has『World Peace』written on it scrape against the bamboo.4
This is a Japanese summer.
「It’s really strange isn’t it, every year you get tired of it but somehow end up wanting to eat it again later.」
「Once summer comes, one way or another you end up feeling a sense of obligation, something like『Aah, if I don’t eat soumen….』」
「It must surely be an expansion pack that was installed in DNA of Japanese people.」
Luckily today is this year’s first day for Soumen. We can enjoy eating it with all our heart when the weariness meter is at zero.
In order to enjoy the taste of the noodle in itself, the condiments have been kept at a minimum only adding onion, ginger, seaweed and natto.
It is a little upsetting that Mio-san is making a face that says “Is Matsutomo-san exhausted to the point of doing this…..” while staring at the natto that was spread over the soumen.
「Hey, does it really taste good after adding natto?」
「Yes, I am telling the truth」
「How delicious is it?」
「Delicious enough to see the Milky Way」
「Yes, right up there in the polluted sky of Tokyo I am able to see a Milky Way made of natto and wheat flour」
Unable to bring herself to completely believe me, Mio-san dubiously follows after me and puts some natto in the soumen soup. Slightly stirring the soup and dipping the soumen in it, a few beads of natto gets stuck to soumen when it is lifted up.
「With brown beads stuck on it’s sides it somewhat looks like an abacus」
「Ah, yes, it certainly does」
Unlike when a person affected by fever or alcohol wanted to save the company using the calculation ability of natto, this is different. I think for Mio-san natto and abacus are two things that are very close to each other.
Unaffected by my inner thoughts that are troubled with the memories from back then, memories which refuse to fade away, Mio-san takes the soumen with natto to her mouth and starts eating.
She suddenly stopped in the middle.
「…… There is a swan flying」
「I have recommend this way of eating soumen to lots of people before, but this is the first time someone could see The Swan5 flying out in the Milky Way」
「It’s delicious, it’s really delicious Matsutomo-san!」
「I have never thought of trying it out, such a thing…..!」
「If you think about it logically, the soup base and the natto are made up from almost the same things in the first place. It would be weird if the taste didn’t suit」
In order to do this, I specifically bought and used dried bonito flakes and smoked mackerel for the soup base.
Natto’s flavour comes from the glutamic acid present in it. When the inosinic acid present in the dried bonito and smoked mackerel combines with it, the flavour becomes many times better because of the synergy.
「Aside from this you can add sesame oil, miso soup, and such to the soup base and enjoy soumen in various different ways」
「Furthermore, there is also Soumen Chanpuru with garnish that can be made Okinawa style, Sichuan style or Guandong style. There is a different food item called rice noodle which goes really well with rice」
The fact that I underestimated the number of midyear gifts and therefore, the amount of soumen that a talented marketer receives is something that I only got to know later on, well anyways, that’s a story for some other time.
While eating I realised that I had unread messages in my SNS. It’s about 35 minutes back, looks like a text that was sent when the call wasn’t getting through.
「It’s Tsuchiya, a message saying that the programme for summer holidays has been determined」
Tsuchiya’s company has entered a sudden busy season since June because of the deal, a problem caused by excessive bragging.
And hence, not all employees can take leave at once. They are supposed to alternate their holidays between July and August.
「When is it?」
「The last week of July, Murasaki also seems to be under the same bracket」
「Ah, I see」
「And then Mio-san」
Mio-san slightly tilted her head.
The holidays being decided is just the beginning. The real problem starts from here.
「Tsuchiya wanted to go the sea, the four of us」
Fundamentally, Mio-san is from the indoor faction. If there is something that she has to buy, like before, she wouldn’t mind going out but otherwise she doesn’t like to go out into crowded areas on her days off.
Now, if you need to go out, you wouldn’t just move from the chair thinking it will be a lot of fun. This is the destiny of the indoor faction.
「It would be fun to go. Yes, yes it will definitely be fun」
「Don’t you dislike the sea?」
「It’s not exactly like that…..」
「If you prefer a mountain or some other place I can tell them so. Tsuchiya and Murasaki also would definitely want you to have fun」
Looking back, I have been asking for many favours from Tsuchiya.
Asking him to go shopping when she was having a fever, calling him up late at night and making him play UNO until morning and with Aa-chan he managed to get the original voice restored, a commendable achievement.
And so, favours that can’t be half heartedly repaid has piled up quite a bit without being resolved.
Moreover Murasaki, another benefactor who helped out with Aa-chan, is also looking forward to it. With this, it’s checkmate.
Though I would like to hear her wish and help her out, if I cater to one side then I come up short on the other side……
Is what I was thinking, but it seems like Mio-san’s worries were not regarding that part.
「Uh, I like the sea. I would love to go to the sea with Tsuchiya-san and Murasaki-san as well you know. It’s just that…..」
「You have something that troubles you?」
「You know, I just had tofu and salad for my dinner right?」
I have a feeling that she had mentioned this when we met for the first time as well.
「So, you see, it’s fine if the thing called carbohydrates is not there. But, isn’t it also wired in Japanese’s DNA that if carbohydrates are present then you have to eat as much as want?」
「In other words?」
「Matsutomo-san’s dinner is delicious and I…..」
「I have made you talk about something painful for you, sorry」6
「Let’s not have soumen after today」
「There is good news. Tomorrow is the day when tofu is on sale」
「Don’t leave a single one standing. That’s an order」
And so, around two weeks ago, the swimming trip at the end of July was decided.