Chapter 1. Autumn: Autumn in Hot Spring
Walking around the town 4
Tsubasa thought about the children-Yuri, and the second child who would be delivered soon.
In cities, most couples were childless, or had one or two children at most. Here he saw many children, with local residents and visitors alike. Tsubasa noticed that there were universal design features throughout the town, so that people could easily walk with baby strollers. There were attractive benches along the streets, suitable for pregnant women and senior citizens. He wondered if there would be universal design features in every system in the town.
He recalled having once seen the promotional slogan, "Grow up in this town, have an unbounded future." Probably Mrs. Kishigami felt that way in Takafu-cho, and was more confident about having a second child in a town with such supportive systems. Universal design was not only reflected in the town's physical structure, but in the minds of its citizens as well, which transformed the old-fashioned rural town into a better place to live.
"I still have some questions," said Tsubasa
"What are they?" Grandfather asked.
"Don't you think it is dangerous to disclose personal information such as being pregnant, or old and living alone? I might be tempted by the knowledge that a young lady is living alone."
"Oh, behave yourself, don't be tabloid fodder. I can see that it is surprising for city people to see a small girl like Yuri being taken care of by someone her mother just met for the first time. I will teach you how it works. The town citizens press that agreement button to approve whether the volunteers are suitable for the work. Apparently, Nobuko has gained the trust of the people of this town, including Ryoko. Thus, Mrs. Kishigami knew about Nobuko and placed her child under her care."
"But this site is open to short-stay visitors too, isn't it? Don't you think there could be a sheep in wolf's clothing, oops, I mean a wolf in sheep's clothing out there? Maybe work as a volunteer at first to gain people's trust, and then steal money or something like that."
"Of course I cannot deny that such bad cases may occur. Good people may be tempted by an evil spirit. Once when I was asked to look after a pub, I ate a lotus root simmered in soybean sauce because it looked so delicious."
"Oh, my goodness, Kohei-san!" Without their realizing it, Grandmother had come behind them and now stared at Kohei. "You should return the thanks-ticket to the owner." Tsubasa had never heard his grandmother speak so gaily.
Tsubasa suddenly realized how cheerfully and openly he and his grandfather had been talking together. He also noticed that his parents had started nodding to each other while listening to his grandparants' conversation. It looked as if they too were beginning to be able to converse without words.
They came to the station. An express train had arrived and many tourists came down from the train.