Chapter 12:

"God Speed You"

VISUAL SHOCK - sometimes you have to promise not to fall in love~

“What even are you? This is like, old man food!”

Kaori - it’s gonna take a while getting used to that - has taken me to some niche local restaurant serving really traditional food. We’re having a set menu that seems like it was designed 50 years ago for dealing with hangovers.

She doesn’t even look up from her ochazuke, a rice bowl covered in green tea, and pops a piece of umeboshi in her mouth.

Her reaction is much the same as with the coffee earlier, the puckering sourness really does blast you awake.

“It’s mild on my stomach, which is what I need right now. The shijimi miso has all the health benefits, and this…” wincing at another bite of pickled plum “…speaks for itself.”

Was she raised by an alcoholic grandpa or something?

As much as I joke and complain, the flavours are good. It’s as filling and balanced as basically every family restaurant’s set meals, and the morning after additions do have that home remedy quality to them.

“I guess you’re right.”

“So you accept my apology?”

My spoon hovers just above the miso, a clamshell looking expectantly up at me.

“Of course…” I sip my soup, “…why are you apologising again?”

Kaori’s expression devolves into one of mild disappointment.

“Are you making me explain myself?”

“No, I just don’t know what you’re sorry about? We both got drunk and acted childishly. We both did something to make up for it. There’s nothing that needs explaining, right?”

She sighs into her seaweed salad side dish.

“I was upset because you hid your name from me, but realised I’m a… what’s the word? Uhm… sounds like, hippo-crate?”

“Hypocrite? I don’t think s-”

“I am, a hypocrite, because I did not correct you about my own name. I had plenty of time to, but you were so excited, and I was still suspicious of you at first, that I did not make an effort to resolve things later.”

I steal one of her clams… they’re really growing on me.

“Now we’re equal.”

Her shock is palpable.

I know food theft is basically a death sentence the world over, but I think this is one of the rare situations I might be able to get away with it.

Kaori takes one right back.

“I’m paying. That balances the debt. You’re not getting my food as well.”

Worth a try.

We finish up - feeling full, contented, and actually less ill than before - and make plans to try to redeem Harajuku tomorrow.

“A Sunday?”

“You’ll see…”


The next day we set out pretty early.

Kaori told me to wear something special, so I took down one of the outfits from my wall that I'd been reserving on display.

She’s actually speechless while we walk to the station.

“I… I know I said to dress up, but…”


I don’t sense embarrassment, I’m used to that enough to smell it a mile off, so what’s up?

“I just didn’t expect it to look that much like it does in the 「MV」. It’s a perfect replica.”

“Except I don’t have bleached hair and am a foot taller than Yoma.”

Kaori gives me a stern look and I get the meaning.

“Thank you for the compliment.”

It is actually hard to take kind words for this stuff.

My family don’t really get it. They were just happy I had a hobby that was practical and didn’t cost as much as my brother’s collection. It kept me safe and indoors, so I wouldn’t get sick too, which was a bonus for them.

The few friends I had thought some of this stuff was cool, just because it was gothic, but never really got what I was going for. One even asked if it wasn’t cosplay, and that kinda stung, although I guess he was right in a way.

It always felt more like homage to me.

On the train, it finally dawns on me how femme Kaori is today.

She wore that long yankii skirt the other day? This time it’s a gothic lolita bustle skirt with a slight train, a very fine black silk shirt that has almost a dog collar to it, and the biggest Demonette boots I’ve seen in ages!

“They probably weigh as much as you do!”

Her smirk is right on cue.

“You should spend less time looking at my legs.”

I blush under my make-up.

“I was just admiring your outfit. It suits you. Let me guess, original… One’s Self And Alter Ego?”

“Close, but no. Atelier Clown.”

My brain jolts with recognition.

“The same brand that made the Roylands coat?”

“No, that was Atelier DOS. I’m not sure if they are related. I think the names are just coincidence.”

Due to the knee-high boots and the high corset she’s wearing up top, the whole thing accentuates how tall Kaori is. She kinda looks like a miserable ballet dancer.

It’s still the most girly I’ve seen her in, and have to go on my phone to force my eyes away.

We alight at Harajuku station and, again, I mourn its passing.

From once quaint bricks and mortar - iconic for what it was with both anoraks and fashionistas of all kinds - to the same bland steel and glass you see in every city the world over. It kinda looks like a Starbugs coffee place.

“So why are we out on a Sunday? Isn’t everywhere going to be closed?”

Kaori doesn’t even look surprised at my question, but I get the feeling she thought it was a stupid one.

“I’m aware that a lot of businesses abroad either do not open or have reduced hours on Sundays, but that is not such a thing here. Although…”


She smiles wryly.

“You could still think of it as a holy day.”

Muscling our way through the crowd, I realise just how busy it is.

“Is there an event or something?”

“You’ll see!”

Kaori is openly amused by my mounting confusion.

It really does feel like something big is happening.

There are a lot of people about. A lot of people dressed up, but only a few brands and items I recognise.

We make it to Yoyogi Park…

“You could have just said!”

“I could have.”

She’s enjoying this too much.

Turns out, I just never came on the right day.

I kept exploring during the week to avoid crowds and tourists, forgetting the people that live here have school and jobs.

“But I’ve been out on a Saturday, and it wasn’t like this?”

“A lot of businesses still follow the western ways, so large groups of people would interfere with them. The alternative scenes come out on a Sunday to let the general population have the greater availability of Saturday shopping. In turn, we get left alone. It’s a fair balance.”

Of course, it’s about being considerate.

God, I love it.

I smile approvingly, and Kaori turns her attention to guiding us through the crowd.

A sea of styles undulating with the flow of everyone’s love of street fashion. That and making way for the procession of swing dancing greasers, apparently a weekly ritual.

“Obscured! Awesome!”

An older guy, one of the younger rockabilly bikers - the back of his leather jacket embrazened with the slogan "Love has NO borders, nationalities, or genders!" - nods with a grin and gives me a thumbs up. His majestic pompadour bobbing with the motion.

The only person to get it... other than Kaori.

I throw up a salute to my aged kin!

After wandering around the park, taking in the many groups and fashions of display - actually being stopped a couple of times for photos - we head back into Harajuku proper.

Sadly, the styles have moved on and VK just isn’t as BIG any more, not in the same way.

There’s still a lot of lolitas out and about, plenty of the punks, but a lot of that is more oshare-kei. It’s cool and all, but just reminds me too much of scene-kid, mall-goth, or e-girl fashion.

We all have to start somewhere…

“Where are we going?”

We basically avoid Takeshima-dori and weave through the alleys around it.

“So, this is where everything is!”

I had been too dismayed by the Main Street and not confident enough to navigate around on my own, but with someone by my side, I find myself taking the lead to just wander.

Kaori seems to be having fun meandering about, so long as I don’t go too fast.

There’s a whole world of thrift stores, even if they’re mostly second hand brand goods or vintage designer pieces. A lot of Vivian Eastforest!

We still find a few prize items among the more regular retro fair. Kaori scores a pair of pristine rocking horse shoes and I come away with some NARUTO SE7EN yoryu pants.

They’re basically what I’m wearing, but baggier, strappier, and covered in a long skirt.

That's when we find ourselves back outside somewhere familiar…

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