Chapter 1. Autumn: Autumn in Hot Spring
Journey to hot spring 2
Tsubasa slept for a while. He dreamed about his parents. In the dream his mother said, "Our parents have refrained from requesting much from us since they moved in here. When they were in Kyushu, we used to receive numerous requests from them. After they sold their house and moved to Tokyo to live with us, they have become quiet. I am worried about them, though it makes my work easier." Tsubasa's father replied, "Their room is small and they have few friends here. Tokyo life is not easy for them, but they will soon get used to their new life and start making selfish demands again."
Tsubasa's grandparents had moved in with his parents because most of their friends have passed away and they found it difficult to live in their house. Grandfather slipped and broke his leg when he was walking down the stairs from the second floor to the bathroom on the first floor. They were very attached to their Japanese style house and garden but they could not maintain the property by themselves and gave up living there. Their land and house were sold to a young couple of their acquaintance and they moved with only a few belongings to one room in the their son's family's high-rise condominium two years ago. They disposed of most of the family memorabilia: pieces of old handmade cloths Tsubasa's father and his sister used when they were children, the pictures they drew at school, a charcoal brazier which they used as an aquarium to keep Japanese rice-fish, beautiful wrapping papers and cake boxes that were kept for future use.
From the time they disposed of their family memorabilia, they had lived quietly in a room with a small window where little sky could be seen, remembering and sharing the memory of what they had, communicating with their telepathy. Their hearts seemed to be seeking what they had lost. They planned to visit a hot spring bath in mid autumn-for at least one week. The hot spring in Honshu, Japan's main island, was new to them. Of course, it was the first visit for Tsubasa too. It was better that someone accompanied them. Thus, they were together on a train through the mountains.
Tsubasa glanced at his phone and noticed that he had received a text message. "It might be Ryoko," he thought. She was a therapist in Takafu-cho. She and Tsubasa had exchanged messages before. The message said: "To the Uemura family. Are you arriving soon? I am waiting for you at the station." Tsubasa replied, "Thank you. We will arrive in 20 minutes."
Ryoko was a hot spring therapist at the Takafu-cho hot spring. In the 2010s, when the majority of the senior citizens visited hot springs the profession of hot spring cure therapist was established, going beyond the roles of the traditional occupational therapist and physiotherapist. Hot spring therapists checked monitored the conditions of hot springs and visitors' health, created health cure programs including advice to help people with lifestyle-related diseases, and designed therapeutic programs.
The first question had Ryoko asked Tsubasa was the hardness of his grandparents' bed and pillows. Tsubasa was confused for a moment. "How do I know?" "Point your mobile phone at a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag attached to the edge of the bed and press the information acquisition button. You can extract the data. There is no problem to get this information because the data is open to the public. Please send it to me, " Ryoko advised. Tsubasa did what he was told. The information was displayed on his mobile phone screen, just like the data of price and expiration date of products displayed at convenience stores. Ryoko then told Tsubasa, "Please get your grandparents' permission to obtain the data about their physical habits when they are in bed. We will prepare bedclothes to suit them." Such personal data could not be disclosed without their approval.
Tsubasa forgot to get their permission to obtain the data, which made him worry. Ryoko assured him that the hot springs staff would prepare the bed suitably anyway. Tsukuba remembered Ryoko's quiet but competent voice.