“I don’t have a number, but I’ll always be around when you want to see me,” Yuu said with a grin.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kenta smiled sheepishly as he recalled Yuu’s face, that had been engraved in the depths of his innermost being. He turned to his side then hugged his only pillow tightly.
Shō, who was lying on his own bed opposite Kenta’s, frowned when he saw Kenta forcing himself not to smile, “You know—”
Not realizing Shō was still awake, Kenta looked at him and suddenly changed his expression: “Why are you still up?”
“I can hear you snickering like a girl. Don’t force it. Our room’s too cramped, you might wake the others up,” Shō flatly said then turned to the other side.
“Pssh, sour face, does your wound still hurt?” Kenta asked.
“I’m just fine, let me sleep, okay.” As Shō gradually closed his eyes, he immediately opened them again when he suddenly remembered something: “You piece of shit, Kenta, get up or you’ll be late for your morning job!”
“Guys, shhh…can you tone down your flirting a bit? We’re trying to sleep here,” one of their roommates mumbled in his sleep.
“Sorry!” The two exclaimed in unison.
“I said ‘shhh!’”
Shō got up and pulled Kenta by his wrist, out of their room.
“What’s up?” Kenta nonchalantly asked.
“Sigh, just go to work or you’ll be late.” After saying that, he went back inside their room and left Kenta outside. Kenta stood still for a few seconds, then checked his watch. When he finally realized the situation, he dashed back inside the room and grabbed his uniform.
It was a fine summer day. One boy was running late for work. The boy flashed like lighting as he changed into his uniform on his way to the bookstore.
“Good morning, Mr. Amamiya!” The owner of the bookstore greeted Kenta, as he flipped the welcome sign that was hanging on the door.
“Good…morning, Mr. Oguri. Sorry I’m late.” Kenta huffed and heaved a sigh of relief, then he wiped off the sweat off his forehead. “Oh, Mr. Oguri, please…just call me Kenta.”
“Hoho, don’t worry, you’re right on time. Oh, I forgot. Fix your uniform then help me carry the new books that just arrived. Please arrange them neatly on the shelves, Kenta.” The short and stout old man smiled then entered the bookstore.
Kenta smiled back then hurriedly fixed his uniform that got wrinkled and untidy when he was running. Just when Kenta was about to enter the bookstore, a blue butterfly fluttered and gently landed on his right shoulder. He noticed this and so he reached out for it and gently let it stick to his forefinger, “Morning, Chōchō-kun . I see you’re back. Here.” After saying this with a smile, he reached out and let the butterfly stick to one of the blooming sunflowers in front of the bookstore.
(「蝶々」in English, butterfly.)
However, as soon as the butterfly landed on the sunflower, it flew back to Kenta’s shoulder. Kenta gave it another try but his efforts were all in vain. Seeing that it was pointless, Kenta just let it be and went inside the bookstore with the butterfly. “I see you like being with me huh,” he said with a smile. The butterfly fluttered its wings, as if it was also responding.
In the midst of the flowers, a charming head suddenly popped out, “What the heck, you’re really an idiot, Yuu! Hurry up before we get caught. It might just be a jiffy since I’ve brought you back here to Ashihara no Nakatsukuni , but they will eventually catch on to us,” Musubi, the god of love and marriage, panicked.
( Ashihara no Nakatsukuni, lit. “The middle country of reed beds.” It is the world between Takamagahara [Heaven] and Yomi [Hell]. To put it simply, it’s the mortal realm.)
Twelve years ago, on the seventeenth year of the Heisei Period , Musubi temporarily served as the Greek god of love to cover for his friend, Eros. During that time, Eros happened to be on a mission that was ordained by Zeus. Due to the stress brought about by Musubi’s hectic schedule, he committed a grave mistake, that would soon affect the fate of three mortals…
( The year 2005 based on the official dating system known as nengō or gengō. Years are numbered within eras, which are named by the reigning Emperor. The Heisei Period is the current era in Japan.)
As Musubi slumbered in his bedchamber, he was abruptly awakened by the crowing of the golden roosters that Amaterasu Ōmikami adored, and the constant beeping sound of his alarm — it was finally the break of dawn. With his eyes still closed, Musubi sluggishly reached out and groped for his alarm to switch it off; however, while he was groping for it, he accidentally knocked it off, causing it to fall to the floor.
The alarm immediately switched off so he continued sleeping again. A few hours after, he finally woke up. He raised his arms to stretch, then covered his mouth with one hand as he yawned. With a small slit in his eyes, he checked on his alarm for the current date and time. Realizing that his alarm went missing on his bedside drawer, he opened his eyes wide, then hurriedly looked all over to find it. When he could not find it within his eyes’ reach, he bent down in an attempt to look for it under his bed. Since it was a sudden action, he accidentally lost his balance and tumbled down with his back first on the floor, hitting his back on something hard. “Ouch!!” He yelped.
Musubi stood up and immediately rubbed his back. After a few rubs, he looked down and realized that the hard object he just hit was his missing alarm clock. He picked it up off from the floor, and quickly checked if it was still working.
This alarm clock was an important tool that he used for his job as the god of love, since it helped him determine when he should or should not descend to the mortal realm. The LCD screen of the alarm looked a bit glitchy, but with a few taps on the top, he was finally able to make it work properly. He looked at the buttons on the alarm clock and he could see that the ‘Solar Calendar’ and ‘Lunar Calendar’ buttons were both lit. He was confused if which one was really shown on the screen, but then he came up with a decision, based on the button that was lit much brighter. “Okay, so it’s the fifteenth of the eighth month in the solar calendar.” He pressed on the button that allowed the calendar to switch to the old lunar calendar, but the display on the screen did not change and eventually, it shut down completely. “Eh, useless mortal junk! I knew we shouldn’t have relied on this modern crap those mortals are promoting! The old ways are still the best,” he mumbled.
As the continuous change in seasons took place, modernization took over in the mortal realm, leaving behind those immortals and supreme beings, who were residing at the heavenly realm and netherworld. To cope with these changes, Amaterasu Ōmikami mandated that all immortals and supreme beings should follow the trends in the mortal realms, and this rule was followed as well by other pantheons all over the world for their own respective regions.
For eons, never had Musubi ever made a mistake with his calculations. With just a snap of his fingers, he swiftly converted the date in his mind: “All right, so it’s the eleventh of the seventh in the rokuyō . Great, it’s Taian  today, which means… it’s an auspicious day! Time for me to descend,” he mumbled. He reached out for his staff and in a twinkling of the eye, he disappeared into thin air.
( The rokuyō are a series of six days calculated from the date of Chinese calendar that supposedly predict whether there will be good or bad fortune during that day.)
( Taian is the luckiest day in the rokuyō. It’s a good day for weddings and events like shop openings.)
On this early autumn afternoon in the mortal realm, the leaves of trees started to wilt, giving birth to the wondrous colors of autumn’s foliage—the searing heat of summer had finally come to an end. Three kids were frolicking near the river where they used to meet. Right after class, they would gather here to play, before going home to their respective homes.
“Yuu-yuu, Nazuna wants to play hide-and-sick.”
“No! Yuu, I want to play tag!”
“All right, kids, calm down. Let’s play games one at a time,” Yuu mediated between the two, who were bickering at the moment. Although Yuu was timid, he was still the eldest, so the two relied much on him.
While Yuu was carefully considering what to do, he noticed something was unusual with the river. The river, that was serene in the morning, was now raging with waves after waves, gradually emerging, and billowing clouds unexpectedly rolled in as the strong winds huffed, leaving a hint of melancholy in the atmosphere—something big was inevitably coming.
“What if we play rock, paper, scissors to decide? The winner gets to choose what game to play,” Yuu suggested.
Kenta was puzzled as he looked at Yuu, “Wait, so you want to play a game, too?”
“Yes, I want to play let’s-go-home-and-call-it-a-day,” Yuu nodded.
“You’re no fun,” Kenta said then pursed his lips.
“The weather’s not good. My father might be looking for me as well. I’m dead if he catches me playing,” Yuu reasoned then he looked up. “See, it looks like it’s about to rain.”
“Let’s just play one game and go home,” Nazuna pointed out.
“Okay! Let’s begin,” Kenta said.
After the deciding game had ended, the one who snatched the victor’s crown was Nazuna. The two boys had no choice but to play hide-and-seek with Nazuna. In Yuu’s mind, he really wanted to call it a day since his gut was telling him the weather would not be good, but since they were already here, there was nothing wrong in having fun for just a bit before going home.
“Kenta, Nazuna, you go hide and I’ll be it,” Yuu instructed.
“Okay!” The two said in unison.
Let’s make it as quick as possible. I think a storm is coming, Yuu thought to himself.
“I’ll count to thirty, you should be hiding by then,” Yuu faced a tree, covered his eyes, and begun counting. Kenta and Nazuna dashed and looked for a place to hide. Kenta hid behind a pillar under the bridge. Since they were in an open space with few trees, Nazuna had difficulties in finding a nice spot where she could hide. She looked around to look for a suitable place, then when she heard Yuu was already in number twenty, she ended up hiding amongst the lotuses by the river bank.
“…twenty, and here I come!” Yuu shouted.
Nazuna giggled but she covered her mouth with her hand. “Yuu-yuu won’t find Nazuna here.”
“Hey, I found you,” a voice came over.
Nazuna looked back and saw a handsome man. She tilted her head then asked him, “Old Uncle, what are you doing here?”
A nerve twitched in Musubi’s mind. “Old Uncle? Hey! I’m only 60,000 years old, what made you think I’m old?!” He exclaimed.
Nazuna blinked and her face was expressionless. Then, her little face crumpled and her brows knitted, “Shh! We’ll be caught if Old Uncle will be noisy.”
Again, the same nerve twitched until it finally got cut off. Musubi composed himself and took a deep breath, “Why are you here of all places?! You got my robe all wet and muddy…eww…all right, young child. I have to visit many others for my schedule today, so here’s your bough of cherry blossoms. Please—”
When he was about to hand over the bough of cherry blossoms to her, they were interrupted by someone: “I found you, Nazuna!” Yuu exclaimed.
Since Nazuna and Musubi were both startled, Nazuna lost her footing and ended up making a wrong step. She slipped and fell on the rapids of the river. “Help!!!” She yelled, but before she could even continue calling out for help, she got carried away by the raging river.
Yuu panicked when he witnessed this. He quickly held on to Musubi’s arm and begged: “Mister, please help my friend!” He cried.
Musubi patted his staff on his shoulder then mulled over it: “But…I’m not supposed to…”
“Please, Mister! You’ve got to help my friend!” Yuu was already kneeling on mud, crying and begging for help from Musubi.
Musubi hesitated, yet he still said, “Okay, okay, give me a sec.”
When Musubi was about to float toward the river to help Nazuna, everything came to a stop. The winds that were violently blowing disappeared, the river that was raging froze, the swirling clouds became motionless, and even Yuu, who was begging earlier remained still. It was as if time itself had stopped — only Musubi was left in motion in this desolate world.
The clouds were drawn away, as if they were some curtains, and the mighty sun finally began to shine brightly with its radiant crown, giving light and warmth to this world.
Musubi covered his eyes at the sight of this.
“Lord Musubi,” a gentle voice of a woman echoed.
“The Great August Deity?!” Musubi’s voice trembled as he hurriedly knelt on the ground. “Humble me is at your disposal. Please speak.”
“You are fully aware that we are not to interfere with the mundane world,” Amaterasu Ōmikami calmly said.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Musubi trembled and bowed, almost facing the muddy ground.
“Any deeds, may it be good or bad, will bring about calamity to this world if we were to interfere with them. Quickly, finish your given task and return to Heaven.”
“Ye..yes, Your Majesty!”
After that, the strong winds began to blow again, the dark clouds rolled in, the raging river flowed again, and Yuu, who was motionless a moment ago, began to move again.
“Mister, please hurry and save her!” Yuu cried once more.
“I… I’m sorry, but I can’t interfere. I wish you all the best in your endeavor, good bye,” after he hurriedly say this, Musubi vanished.
Yuu’s pupils constricted then dilated again. His face was expressionless. He did not speak for a few seconds, then he wondered: “Why am I here again? Oh, Nazuna, Kenta?! Where are you?”
It was already drizzling. A storm was stirring the atmosphere.
Kenta, who was still hiding behind the pillar under the bridge, grew impatient: “What’s taking them so long?” He sulked.
“Huh?” Kenta looked back.
“Hey, kid! Take this…” A man, wearing a black robe and tenne ribbons floating around his body, threw him a bough of cherry blossoms.
“Uncle, what’s this for?” Kenta caught the bough and asked.
“The original destiny has been voided and a new destiny has been sealed. On this fateful day, accept this fate that was bestowed by the heavens and written in the stars. You will soon find your destined match.” As he recited this, his eyes emitted an enigmatic white light. The tenne ribbons glowed and revolved around his body. In the end, the bough of cherry blossoms in Kenta’s hands slowly melted and integrated into his body.
“Wha—what happened to the branch?!”
Musubi did not answer him, but he added: “I know this was sudden but I was left with no choice. Follow the path of righteousness and uphold the truth at all cost, only then will you be able to find your true match. Go to sleep for now, my child.” After saying that, Kenta fell to the ground and was rendered unconscious.
Moments passed by, and by the time Kenta opened his eyes, he looked around and saw that it was raining. After looking around, he noticed he was carried by someone with blue hair on his back.
“Did you come to?” Yuu asked.
“Hmm,” Kenta nodded. “Where’s Nazuna?”
“I don’t know. I couldn’t find her. She might have gone home. Let’s go to your house since it’s the closest and inform the grownups. I think there’s a storm. We better hurry up.” Yuu was already drenched with rain water and his legs and feet were muddy as well.
“You can put me down. I can walk by myself,” Kenta said.
“Why did you sleep under the bridge in the middle of the game?”
“Who knows, I guess I was just tired from school.”
When Kenta and Yuu went home to Kenta’s place, they immediately informed Kenta’s parents about what had happened. Mrs. Amamiya immediately gave Nazuna’s parents a call and found out that Nazuna was not yet home. The adults went back to the riverside to look for Nazuna to no avail. After some time, they informed the authorities about the missing child. A search and rescue team was dispatched to no avail. Not even Nazuna’s body was found by the search and rescue team.
Meanwhile, in the Heavenly Realm, Musubi sent his alarm clock for repairing. After some time, he received a call from the repairman. “Mr. Musubi, I finished fixing your alarm clock. I also noticed the solar calendar was not working so—”
“What?!” Musubi exclaimed.
“I said the solar calendar was—” The repairman had not finished talking but Musubi interrupted again.
“Yes, yes, I know what you mean. So that means…all along, what I’ve read was the old lunar calendar?”
“Waaah!! If that’s the case, today is the eighteenth of the ninth, it’s Butsumetsu !!” Musubi wailed.
“…” The repairman was speechless.
( Butsumetsu, supposedly the day on which the Buddha died, is considered to be an inauspicious day for celebrations and events such as weddings.)