Chapter 1. Autumn: Autumn in Hot Spring
Back in Tokyo 2
Tsubasa's mother sighed deeply, and said to Grandfather, "I understand how you feel, but I like living in the condominium." Tsubasa looked at her face. She was calm and serious. "Obviously we give up some things. We cannot see a rainbow, we do not feel the fresh air outside, sometimes we fail to check the temperature and choose the wrong clothes for the weather." She took another deep breath.
"People who live in a city come to depend on all its conveniences. Subway trains arrive every three minutes and supermarkets are open 24 hours a day. In this accommodating environment, I was able to work while raising Tsubasa. I was able to leave my sick child at home and go to work, thanks to the automatic temperature regulator in my condominium that adjusted to changes in his body temperature."
Tsubasa's mother had needed to work very hard to be able to live in central Tokyo and also provide for her son's education. Tuition for cram schools and admission fees for private school were very expensive in Tokyo. Tsubasa remembered how hard his mother worked in order to send him to a very good school. His parents changed his elementary school twice.
"Megumi-san worked hard for Tsubasa," Grandfather murmured. Even though society was aging and there were fewer children, requirements for university admission had not changed much. "I often thought about raising Tsubasa in a more natural environment. However, I made his education my first priority, because in Japan today, education comes first." Grandfather listened to her quietly.
"In addition, I find the Roppongi life of today quite attractive. I have been to New York and Katmandu on business trips. Modern Tokyo is a beautiful city on the cutting edge of new cultural trends, yet it retains the charm of old days. It's so chic! Tokyo is clean and modern and has a thriving cultural life. It is not bad to live in a place like this."
Tsubasa agreed. "I think that's so. City life is really enjoyable."
Mother continued. "We Japanese are proud of our old fashioned towns. Hot spring facilities like Takafu-cho are symbols of Japanese culture and I like them. But I think our modern first class hotels, like Hoshino Resort, and high quality hot springs resorts like the traditional Shikisai Ichiriki Inn, with their wonderful facilities and hospitality, are also fine examples of Japan's cultural wealth." Tsubasa thought that what his mother said was right. Cities had their advantages. He could not decide which was better. Maybe it was due to his lack of experience in life.
"I understand your thoughts," Grandfather said. "However, people get tired when they are past fifty. When you get tired, you have to take a rest. I assume that Keigo is staying at the hot spring with Nobuko because he feels tired." Mother nodded "Yes, he is worried about..." Tsubasa realized that his parents must understand each other more than he had thought, even though they did not talk much about his father's problems. He guessed he really did not understand personal relationships.
The train arrived at the Tokyo station. The city with its neon-lit high-rise buildings should have seemed very familiar to Tsubasa.
But that night he felt that something had changed.