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Thanks in part to a few hours of standing in line at the Shanghai World Expo last week, as well as a two hour flight delay at the airport, I finally finished the second novel of Sono Yubi after meandering over it for months (seriously, it's been at least half a year if I remember correctly!). Good thing is that I'm slooooooowly getting faster at reading Japanese...which half made up for how unfulfulling the first story, The Left Hand Dreams of Him (左手は彼の夢を見る), felt for me. Whilst I understand that it was mostly about introducing Asaka, and developing Wataru's character a bit more, it just wasn't as interesting as I wanted it to be. The 2nd half about their trip (手のひらの遠足) was better, not only because meeting Kazuki Shouhei is something I've been looking forward to, but also because I actually live in Okinawa and know some of the places and foods that they were talking about.

It was nice not to have to check up what on earth "karela" was (p.206 of June's release) - we know it as Goya (ゴーヤー), whilst it might be better known as "bitter melon" or "bitter gourd" in parts of the English speaking world. Karela/Karella is its Indian name. And for everyone wondering what a "yanbarukuina" is (p.231), it's the Okinawa Rail. This small bird is found only in the northern part of Okinawa (Yanbaru, hence the local name). WIth a small population estimated at less than 2000 birds, it's rarely seen even by residents. One ex-JET who lived in Yanbaru went almost three years before seeing any, and finally saw three in one encounter during her last one or two months here.

I also feel sorry for the English novel readers, what with June's tendency for strange image placement. Put the pictures near the relevant passages at least!

And this seems like the appropriate place to archive the summary of a certain side story (or fanfic? I can't find any more information on it!) that I made for a forum: Called "The colour of happiness" (幸せの音色), it's set after the Okinawa trip...

Having just returned from Okinawa, Wataru is greeted by his sister, who promptly demands her omiyage. Wataru notes that it's a present from Kazuki as well, to which an incredibly pleased Karin returns "I know. It's not something you'd be able to pick out," holding the palm-sized pair of glass Shisa up to the light. "Anyway, say thank you to Kazuki-san for me, k? After all, you're going to call him, right?"

Figuring that Kazuki would be busy unpacking, having dinner etc since he should have just reached home himself, Wataru wonders if he should just email ("message/sms") Kazuki later. "Why is it so...it hasn't even been an hour since we last saw each other..." The trip hadn't exactly been easy, but it still made him happier than he'd ever felt before, especially with those words..."from spring, shall we move out together...?"

Thinking back over what's happened so far, Wataru wonders if everything will work out. But the trip has left him feeling that they are closer than ever, and Wataru is determined to become more mature (to keep up with Kazuki's declarations for himself).

Suddently, his phone rings. Startled, Wataru composes himself as Kazuki's voice greets him over the line. A moment later, two voices sigh in unison "I want to see you..." Then, their laugher rings out together into the night...

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p.s. I was also on a glass Shisa hunt for a good half a year, before I finally chose this pair. Most of the other glass ones I found had their fangs painted in white, which I really didn't like.

Most Shisa are made of ceramic of some sort, such as these. My grail is a pair of completely clear Shisa, but I haven't found one yet... I'd expect it'd have to be made of crystal, but such a high level piece would hardly be the kind of thing Kazuki and Wataru could afford anyway, right?