Friday early morning, July 15th - Haneda Airport, Tokyo
Kitamura Yusaku awoke to the feel of his fitness band buzzing on his wrist. It was a pretty recent innovation and he had started using it for many purposes. Linked to his phone, he could keep track of his exercise regimen, count his daily steps, monitor his sleep, and function as a silent alarm clock. It could do all of these things even though it was a fairly simple device that relied on the bluetooth connection to his phone for the heavy lifting. But, even with his phone turned off for the flight, the fitness band had enough smarts to remember to wake him up an hour before their expected arrival back in Japan.
Of course his fiance, Sumire Kano, wore a band too. He had spoken highly of its health benefits when he presented it to her… and downplayed the reminder and alarm features. She still didn't like to be reminded of her memory weakness after all. With this in mind, he had set his band to wake him up, but told hers to leave her be. If the little band around Sumire's wrist could have made a sigh of relief, it would have.
Kitamura punched the little band's acknowledge button and stretched… or tried to. The economy class seats were rather cramped, even for someone of average Japanese build like himself. He pitied the Americans and other westerners that were stuck in these cramped seats for the eleven hour flight. His good friend Ryuuji had told him about the long flight with Ami and her entourage to Australia, but he hadn't mentioned the discomfort. Then again… maybe they were flying in business class? Since they were travelling for work, they might have. But, knowing Ryuuji's aversion to spending more money than necessary, probably not. I'll have to ask him about it when I see him.
Moving quietly so as not to disturb Sumire or any of the other passengers, he made a quick dash to the tiny washroom to 'freshen up' after the long flight. When he got back to his seat, he couldn't help but smile at Sumire's awkward sleeping posture. Her arms were clutching a pillow to her chest and her legs were awkwardly bent in the tight space between the seats.
Sliding back into his seat, he reached past his sleeping fiance and lifted the blind on the window. The sky around the big passenger jet was beginning to lighten, but the world below them was still shrouded in darkness. Backing away from the window, Kitamura took a moment to look at Sumire's sleeping face before giving her a gentle shake.
"Mmm." she grumbled.
"You should wake up now." Kitamura said softly while rocking her in her seat.
"Let me sleep a little longer." Sumire pouted.
"That might not be a good idea. They haven't turned the cabin lights up or announced descent yet, but there will be a line for the toilets as soon as they do." he warned.
Sumire's eyes popped open and she could suddenly feel her bladder giving her all kinds of warnings. Hating any kind of physical weakness she grumbled, "Dammit, I hate having a weak bladder."
"I wouldn't say it's weak. You have been asleep for almost ten hours." Kitamura replied while getting up from his seat so she could make it past him to the aisle.
"Ten hours? Oh yeah." her question was answered internally when she remembered the melatonin and valerian root cocktail. To minimize their jet lag, they had slept through most of the flight from San Francisco. For a fleeting moment, she wanted to retort that her bladder wasn't weak after all and that it should be expected to need to go after ten hours. But said bladder was making sincere and rather threatening demands, and she needed to hurry if she wanted to keep her dignity intact.
Kitamura leaned into the aisle a little and watched his fiance's athletic butt bounce as she hurried down the long aisle. He couldn't help but smile while watching her feminine movements. Aisaka thought she was some kind of masculine drill sergeant, but she's really not. I know the klutzy, easily embarrassed girl that tries so hard to achieve her dreams. Keep trying, my sweet Sumire… and I will be right there with you. I'll pull you, push you, and hold you up when you need it. You're always so beautiful when you are determinedly struggling for your dreams. I hope you always have a dream you are trying to achieve.
His thoughts were interrupted when the overhead speakers crackled to life. A calm voice made the announcement that breakfast would soon be served and then they would begin the descent toward Tokyo's venerable Haneda airport. As expected, many people were stirred to life as the cabin lights came up and the predicted lines for the toilets were in place by the time Sumire emerged. This time, he got to watch her bouncing boobs as she came back to her seat.
"Hentai." Sumire grunted in mock disgust.
"Oh? Why are you calling me a pervert?" Kitamura asked candidly.
"You were leaning into the aisle just so you could look at my breasts just now." Sumire insisted.
"I watched your bouncing butt a few minutes ago too. But, shouldn't it be acceptable for a man to admire his lovely fiance? Especially one that is so kawaii!" Kitamura taunted.
"You…" Sumire blushed hard at the complement that her boyfriend delivered so easily. Then she pouted, "You also have a weird habit of stripping to the waist in public places."
"Guilty as charged." Kitamura turned his palms up in surrender, but was still smiling. "But I'm not just any pervert. I'm your pervert."
"What makes you think I want a pervert?" Sumire hissed.
"Please," Kitamura replied quietly next to her ear, "long sensuous legs, supple thighs, a nice firm ass, breasts that defy gravity, and a face that inspires a man's lustful dreams. How could I not be perverted when I'm around someone so deliciously sexy all the time?"
"Hrrrgh!" Sumire turned away to the window to hide the incandescent blush that was raging across her face. "How…"
"Pardon?" Kitamura leaned closer and wrapped his arms around Sumire's trembling body.
"How can you say things like that so easily? Have you no shame?" Sumire squeaked.
"Don't you remember that psychology class we attended? The one where we discussed the most important elements of keeping a strong relationship?" Kitamura asked.
"Uh… yes." Sumire suffered a moment of confusion at this strange turn in the conversation. She remembered taking the class with Kitamura, but she couldn't remember any specifics.
"Communication is key." Kitamura reminded her of the most important point in the lecture, "I just want you to know exactly how I feel. But… if it's bothering you, I can stop taking my shirt off so much."
"Shirt… So you'll stop running around half dressed, but you won't stop lewdly looking at my body?" Sumire pressed.
"Exactly." he replied and kissed her ear.
"What?" Sumire had expected him to humbly accept that he was behaving too lewdly and promise to become a more respectable person… or something like that.
"A man has to know his weaknesses." Kitamura shrugged, "You're just too sexy. There's no way I couldn't get excited when I look at you."
"Dammit!" Sumire grumbled and curled into a tighter ball against the aircraft window. She felt like her blush might soon set off the aircraft's fire alarms. "So… you're saying it's my fault?"
"Fault?" Kitamura sounded confused, "You say that as if there is something wrong with a man infatuated with his wife?"
"We're not married yet!" Sumire replied.
"Details." Kitamura pulled her back from the window and kissed her blushing cheek, then asked, "Do you want to fix that while we're in Japan?"
"What? What are you saying?" Sumire stuttered.
"I'm just thinking that your family will be there. My family will be there. You have an aunt with connections to a local shrine…"
"How… how did you know about that?" Sumire shuddered.
"I am an avid letter writer you know." Kitamura smiled, "Your aunt, your mother, and your grandfather are all rather eloquent as well. All three of them have mentioned the availability of the shrine..."
"Great… now I have to avoid three of my own family members while we're in Japan." Sumire grumped.
"That's going to be pretty difficult." Kitamura sighed.
"Oh, why?" Sumire asked with building concern.
"Did you forget that your mother and aunt are the ones picking us up from the airport, and we are staying at your grandfather's house?" Kitamura struggled to quietly remind her without laughing.
Friday afternoon, July 15th - Hisamitsu villa in Tokushima
Nanako retrieved the delivery package from the villa's small front porch, and brought it into the living room where the others were gathered. Shinako was in the kitchen preparing some light snacks while everyone else was quietly studying for their mid-term tests. Everyone else in the house was used to her getting packages on a fairly regular basis. They were usually fabrics or other garment materials, but could sometimes be something strange.
On one occasion she got a large package of power and hand tools used for working with iron bars and steel pipe. A small welding rig was even included. It had come from Hellivin, but the eccentric Australian designer hadn't sent her any instructions or hints until a week later. Nanako had taken it in stride. She understood that life could be a bit strange when working with a genius.
Maya had shaken her head at the outlandishness that her friend took in stride. She breathed a sigh of relief that her genius was not nearly as bizarre as Nanako's Helivin. Glancing across the table at the book Noto was reading, she realized that her husband may not be as eccentric as the famous avant-garde designer, but she was nowhere close to his level either. The title alone was frightening enough to send a shiver down her spine.
'Advanced Applications of Differential Calculus in non-Keynesian Economic Modelling.'
She thought about asking him if he was enjoying what he was reading, but his look of concentration gave her the answer. Well, as long as he's happy. And… as long as he doesn't ask me to help him with his homework! Maya laughed inside while she shifted her gaze over to her friend Nanako. She had just opened a delivery box and seemed somehow… disappointed. Maya thought the contents of the package might not have been what she was expecting when Nanako's disappointment saturated eyes looked up and met her gaze. Maya blinked and asked, "What? Did… did I do something?"
"You got pregnant." Nanako pouted, "Did you have to do that now?"
Noto looked up from his book. This was the first that he had heard of anyone unhappy about Maya's return to the motherhood marathon.
"What seems to be the problem, Nanako-chan?" Shinako asked as she entered the room with a tray of sweet snacks. Small bowls of coconut rice pudding with sudachi lime gelée. Shinako didn't express any dissatisfaction in her voice when she asked the question, but Noto observed how she handed one of the cute little bowles out to everyone… except Nanako. She had prepared one for the plum haired girl. She just wasn't handing it out to the person who sounded upset that the future Hisamitsu matriarch was pregnant again.
"I… uh…" Nanako also noticed the last little bowl still on the tray. Her hands had gone up to receive the sweet gift, but when it wasn't offered to her, she realized she might have said something displeasing. "I just got all the pieces to start work on Maya's new corset. I wanted to make it special and I wanted to use it as my semester project in my design class."
"I'm not showing yet!" Maya balked.
"It's the fall semester project, Maya. It will need to be modeled in December." Nanako explained.
"Oh." Maya understood then. By December she would be coming up on 30 weeks in her pregnancy and the memories of what that was like were still fresh in her mind. Aside from her belly looking like she had just swallowed a small watermelon, there would be the back pain, dizziness, breathlessness, and needing frequent naps and trips to the toilet. In short, not a good time for a corset.
Noto knew that there were some people who believed in something called the 'maternity corset' but Nanako did not. She had read extensively on the lifestyle of corsetry and was in agreement with Hellivin and organizations like 'Get Waisted' on the pros and cons of corsetry. His confidence in the two fashionistas was reinforced by the matching opinion of their family doctor. So, unlike Shinako's hurt feelings at Nanako's comment, he was glad that Maya's friend had learned enough and was responsible enough to not try to do something that could be harmful to Maya or the baby.
The room stayed quiet while Shinako stared at Nanako and seemed to be considering whether to accept the errant girl's excuse. Nanako cocked her head and seemed to be evaluating Shinako as well. Maya missed all of this while she was tucking into the delicious dessert. But her husband was aware.
Noto could also read Shinako's ire at Nanako expressing anything but praise for Maya's current condition. And yet, she was indirectly responsible for Nanako losing her semester project model. With a spoon full of the lime and coconut treat in his mouth, he thought of an amusing solution. "Shinako will be your model."
"What?" Shinako almost dropped the tray at the unexpected suggestion.
"Is it not your responsibility to do so?" Noto asked while he got another spoon full of dessert from the little bowl.
"My responsibility…" Shinako's face changed from surprise and confusion to understanding and panic as she figured out what her cousin was implying. "But… but… but I don't have the right figure for… that! I couldn't possibly…"
"Corsetry lifestyle is more than just putting on a garment. Isn't that right, Nanako-chan?" Noto said calmly.
"Oh yes." Nanako smiled as she slid out of her seat and moved around behind Shinako. She put her hands on Shinako's ribs and ran them down to her hips as she purred, "With the right diet, exercise, and waist training, you will soon have that desirable feminine look."
"I am quite happy with my traditional Japanese look, thank you very much." Shinako retorted.
"Satisfied or not, it was due to your schemes that Maya felt ready to run the maternity gauntlet again. You are the one who robbed Nanako-chan of her model." Noto replied.
"Schemes!" Shinako fumed.
"Wiles?" Noto offered, but he could see that she disliked that term just as much. "Maybe 'maneuvers' then? Accept that or I'll refer to it as a 'conspiracy'."
"CON…" Shinako rarely let herself get this riled up but the attack had been so unexpected. How can you dare to make me sound so underhanded? You… you brat! And indeed! Calling this all my fault when it was YOU that got her pregnant after all! Why aren't you taking responsibility for this, huh? How dare you put the blame on me! Let's see how you respond to that! "I'm not the one who got her pregnant, you know."
"Sure, I admit to playing my small part in the conspiracy. But you were the mastermind behind it all. And besides," Noto took another bite of the dessert before he finished his comment with a slight smile, "I would look ridiculous in a corset."
"PHHT!" Shinako's mind immediately conjured an image of Noto in a black leather corset and the image let the air out of her previous mood as she descended into uncontrolled laughter.
Maya laughed too. She was glad she had finished her dessert and didn't have anything in her mouth when Noto delivered that gem of a punchline.
Nanako took the tray as Shinako went to her knees in a fit of giggles. With a victorious smile, she took her seat with the bowl of dessert in hand. She gave Noto a smile of gratitude, but had a few thoughts on Noto's suggestion as well. I'll have to order more material for Shinako-san's waist training. If she does what I ask, I may be able to drop her waist by ten centimeters by December… maybe even more. And Noto-san… you unexpectedly gave me an idea. With a little work, I could make you look like a Japanese Doctor Frank N Furter. Oh yes, this could be lots of fun!
Noto felt a shiver run up his spine, as if he were being threatened. Looking around, nothing seemed amiss. Shinako and Maya are still laughing at my joke. Nanako is smiling… a little strangely. Her smile looks almost… sinister? No, that can't be right. Maybe it's nothing. Hopefully it's nothing.
Friday late afternoon, July 15th - Locke residence in Tokyo
"I'm back!" The Major called out as he came through the front door. He was a little surprised that he didn't hear an instant reply. He had returned from teaching his wife's afternoon classes and standing in for her in an after-school staff meeting, since she had been off at a medical appointment. He knew what that visit to the doctor was all about and he had expected to be bombarded with her excitement as soon as he announced himself.
"Hello?" he called out again after placing his shoes in the genkan. A quick look at the other shoes in the entranceway told him that his wife was home and that she had guests. From the looks of the uniform shoes, he expected to find Aiko-chan, Suzume, and Umeki in his house as well. There had been a moment of panic that something might be wrong, but with all of those shoes there, another reason came to mind. Aha… the baby is asleep.
"Shhhhh!" Aiko-chan came down the hallway quickly as she warned him, "The baby and Yuri-sensei are both asleep."
"Up you go." The Major easily swooped the small girl up into his arms as he continued up the hall.
"Weeee, Aiko-chan is a princess again!" Aiko cheered quietly and kicked her feet in the thrill of being carried like a fairy-tale princess.
"The crown princess of giggles!" The Major grinned while his fingers found a few of the choicest tickle-spots.
"Eeek! Noooooo!" the young girl squealed in protest, but her face betrayed her delight at the fiendish attack.
"All right, all right," The Major stopped the assault quickly, "we can't be waking up Ryan or Yuri with a bunch of squealing, right?"
"Oh right!" Aiko-chan suddenly worried that she might have already awoken them.
"But… I can't stop myself from tickling the Princess of Giggles, so you'll just have to squeal quietly." The Major said in complete sincerity.
"What?" Aiko-chan couldn't even grasp the absurd thing The Major had just said.
"You'll just have to laugh and squeal quietly while I'm tickling you." The Major repeated as if it was the most reasonable thing in the world.
"I… I can't do that!" Aiko-chan shook her head.
"You can't?" The Major sounded shocked.
"No!" Aiko-chan insisted.
"Have you ever tried?" The Major asked doubtfully.
"Um… well… no." Aiko-chan admitted.
"Then, maybe you can. Or perhaps… you just need to practice it." The Major proposed, "I'll help you out. From now on, I'll tickle you for ten minutes every day after school."
"Um… I don't… really want to… um... " Aiko-chan started to panic at the thought of being tickled after school every day.
"He's just teasing." Yuri said as she came around the corner, "Haven't you been able to figure out when The Major is teasing you yet?"
"Hey, I thought you and Ryan were asleep?" The Major called out to his wife before Aiko-chan could ask him if he really was teasing her.
"Ryan is still asleep, but my pregnancy isn't so far along that I need to take afternoon naps." Yuri replied as she made her way into the kitchen to refill her water glass.
"So then… you are?" The Major's eyes opened wide in hopeful anticipation.
"Yup. Three weeks along. Just like I thought." Yuri said proudly before taking a sip of her glass of water.
"I… I'm so proud of you!" The Major took his wife in his arms and she wrapped her arms around him. Both of them were conscious of Aiko-chan, still trapped between them as they kissed.
"Uh oh, looks like Aiko-chan is trapped between two kissing yokai." Umeki announced in mock concern.
"Do you think we should rescue her?" Suzume joined in her friend's impromptu drama.
"No, there's no hope for her now. She's already too contaminated to save." Umeki shook her head in pity.
"Hey! You guys kiss too. I've seen you!" Aiko-chan rebutted.
"Yeah, but they're old. Old people kisses are a hundred times more toxic than ours." Suzume countered.
"Is that true?" Aiko-chan blinked.
"It's true that their kisses are a hundred times weaker than ours, but it has little to do with age," The Major replied into the conversation that Aiko-chan was having with the two high school girls, "you see… their kisses are just pathetic by comparison because they are young, inexperienced, and… unimaginative."
The two girls had been about to add emotion to the banter until The Major finished his sentence. Instead, they both became pale at the implication of what it meant… that he would choose that word.
"Speaking of unimaginative, I reviewed the last several essays you two have turned in for your English class and found them… lacking." The Major's voice suddenly became stern.
"Um…" Suzume wanted to tell The Major that she and Umeki had just been teasing their seisei. They didn't really think she was unimaginative, or that her marriage was in danger. But The Major pronounced his verdict and sentence before she could put her appeal together.
"I have prepared a special assignment for the two of you. I want the two of you to show me how imaginative you can be in one thousand words or more."
"What!?" both teen girls gasped.
"Due Monday." The Major added.
"Monday!" both of the girls saw all of their precious weekend floating away with this surprise assignment.
Friday evening, July 15th - Kawashima residence in Tokyo
Ami was soaking in a warm bath. Warm, not hot. Which was one of the reasons her face didn't look as relaxed as it might have been. Forty or even forty-one celsius was where she could really feel the stress slide away, but no matter how much she wished it, the water wouldn't get any warmer than a mere thirty-nine degrees.
Clearly, not hot enough.
There was no malfunction with the plumbing or the tub though. Ryuuji had been the one to lock down the temperature. He had done this before and she understood why… at an intellectual level. Also, at a purely logical level, she knew it wasn't even his fault.
Because of the pregnancy.
For the good of the baby.
"But I want my hot bath!" Ami wailed into the echo of the big bathroom's acoustics.
Deciding that the bath wasn't going to give her the relief that she needed, Ami reluctantly climbed out of the tub and dried off. She paused for a moment and frowned at the reflection in the full length mirror.
The new baby bump was just starting to show, but her body was still incredibly attractive. Even after having been through one pregnancy and sixteen weeks into her second, she still looked good. But it wasn't her body she was frowning at. Wrapping the towel around her, she stormed into the bedroom.
"Thirty-nine degrees is not hot enough! There isn't even any steam on the mirror." Ami pouted to Ryuuji.
"Hmm, this is serious." Ryuuji closed the laptop he had been using and put it on the small table beside the bed. Moving from his reclined position, he patted the mattress in front of him and offered, "Come lie down. I'll see if I can help you relax with a massage."
"Yes!" Ami flung the towel onto a nearby chair and jumped onto the middle of the bed in front of her waiting husband. Ryuuji had always been good at this. It was as if his hands knew where the knots were at an instinctual level. But over the last year, he had been getting better and better. Hisako had recently called it 'a godly experience' when he had worked over her back after a particularly strenuous practice session. "Be just as firm with me as you were with Hisako."
"Ha… I don't think I can do that. I might break you." Ryuuji said while he pulled out the squeeze bottle of massage oil.
"Is she that much stronger than me?" Ami pouted.
"Yes. But don't take it as an insult. That's just her body type. Even Nanako sees it. That's why she always designs Hisako's costumes to show off things like her abs and shoulders." Ryuuji replied while he began spreading the oil across Ami's smooth skin.
"So… what is my body type?" Ami moaned as she luxuriated in the pressure of Ryuuji's fingers spreading the oil up and down the length of her back.
"Soft and smooth. Bon kyu bon. A classic western beauty type." Ryuuji said softly while starting to apply more pressure and focus on the muscles next to the upper spine.
"Classic western beauty huh. Why can't I be a classic Japanese beauty?" Ami meant to ask that in a pout, but the pleasure escaped in her voice made it sound like anything but a pout.
"Your boobs are too big… your butt too." Ryuuji replied with a smile. He knew that Ami liked to hear compliments about her statuesque body. Strangely, she reacted as if saddened this time.
"I… I'm starting to show, you know." Ami admitted.
"Is it that time already?" Ryuuji asked but he knew the answer. Someone as meticulous as him wouldn't fail to memorize every bit of data about the developing health of both mother and child.
"It's just a bump now but… by the time we're in San Francisco…" Ami's worries became physical. Her knuckles turned white as her fists clenched at the bedsheets.
"Hey!" Ami shouted after Ryuuji's hand had come down hard on her bottom.
"You're tensing up too much, and for nothing." Ryuuji said calmly, "The designers and organizers in San Francisco already know about the pregnancy, and so does Brisbane."
"And… they still want me?" Ami asked.
"San Francisco wished you were even farther along." Ryuuji replied.
"What!" Ami started to roll over at this surprising response, but Ryuuji's strong hands kept her pressed down against the mattress.
"Just because Japan is having low birth rates and a declining population, doesn't mean the rest of the world is. Both the United States and Australia have designers that have special lines of maternity wear."
"And… I'll be wearing that? That maternity wear stuff? I won't be wearing what the others are wearing?" Ami's self confidence started to plummet again.
"Oh?" Ryuuji let one hand slide down the oiled back to the recently swatted butt and grasped it firmly while he lowered his face to her ear, "Do I need to swat this thing again?"
"Ngh!" Ami wasn't able to give a coherent response. She really didn't want to be swatted again but the feeling of Ryuuji's strong hand on that place was sending very powerful signals all over her body.
"You never wore the same thing the others wore anyway. There were always multiple designers and all of you would show off distinctly different styles. So what's with this silly pity party you're throwing here? This isn't like you. Sure you can be pouty, but you don't usually let things like this get you down." Ryuuji knew that he would come off sounding like he was lecturing, and he realized too late what might be driving this un-Ami like behavior.
"Ha-oooh!" Ami could barely understand what Ryuuji was saying. The hand on her butt was grasping and squeezing while the one had her neck - his fingers gently around her throat while his thumb worked little circles of pressure against the tight muscles at the base of her skull. Her body felt hot and light and she started to breathe in gasps.
Hormones. Ryuuji reasoned while his hands continued on auto-pilot. She's about a week early for the anxiety but not every pregnancy is the same. If I'm right and she's already in that state, then other signs could be…
Ryuuji didn't get to finish his thought. Ami was finally able to slip free of his grip and her attack was ferocious. The accumulated stimulation from his strong hands had driven her mood change to something that would be best described as frantic, urgent, or desperate need.
Ryuuji recognized his wife's exigent urges, and did his best to make her feel like the queen that she was to him. There were no words, but there was no need for any. After all this time, he could anticipate her body's questions and replied with the answers she wanted the most.
When Ami woke up, she could feel Ryuuji underneath her and her body felt like it was glowing from some kind of divine possession. She moaned when she felt his hand stroke down her back, but made no move to get up. Indeed, she snuggled even more against his broad chest.
"Are you awake now?" Ryuuji asked when he felt her stir a bit.
"Yup… but I'm not getting up." Ami insisted.
"You don't have to get up." Ryuuji smiled. "I just wanted to ask you… do you want to go to Kitamura's wedding?"
"You know Yusaku and I have been friends since we were kids, right?" Ami replied drily. "Of course I want to go to his wedding. So he's finally marrying that space cadet, huh?"
"You shouldn't call her a space cadet just because…" Ryuuji suddenly remembered that Sumire was actually in an astronaut training program, "Oh. I guess she really is a space cadet."
"When is the blessed date?" Ami giggled at Ryuuji's rare blunder.
"They were shooting for Tuesday, the 19th. But… Nanako said that travel will be difficult then. So now they are looking at Thursday the 28th." Ryuuji told her.
"What's happening on the 19th?" Ami wondered what Nanako could be thinking of. Sea Day will be on the 18th. That will be the official start of summer vacation for most of Japan's college students and school children. But the 18th is a Monday and with a weekend before it, most of the people heading out for vacations will have already hit the trains and planes.
"I dunno, but Noto and Maya are taking her seriously." Ryuuji had also wondered about Nanako's odd prediction, but had brushed it off since Kitamura and Sumire had already decided to shoot for another date anyway.
"So it will be the 28th, huh? Hmm… When do we leave for San Francisco?" Ami asked after pondering the dates for a minute.
"August 6th." Ryuuji replied.
"Plenty of time, I guess. Do we have anything else scheduled?" Ami wondered. She was abstractly aware that there was a planned reunion, but the date had moved because of their last-minute invitation to the San Francisco Fashion Show.
"Taiga and Sumire have their duel on the 30th. They were able to get the arena at Waseda University." Ryuuji told her.
"So Taiga-chan gets the home-turf advantage, eh?" Ami started to laugh and suspected that Minori had something to do with that. But her laughter froze when she realized the dates, "Waitaminit… Sumire is having a martial arts duel just two days after she's getting married to Yusaku? Are you serious? Haven't they ever heard of a honeymoon?"
"We didn't have a honeymoon until after we'd been married for three months." Ryuuji reminded his wife.
"That's… a good point." Ami conceded. "Still, I feel sorry for the tiger."
"Why?" Ryuuji raised an eyebrow.
"She had a crush on two guys in her second year in high school. After the 28th, both of them will be married to other people." Ami replied without having to specify that Ryuuji was one of those two and that it was her that he had ended up with.
"I think she's over it." Ryuuji grinned.
"What makes you think that?" Ami looked up at him from his chest but could only see his jaw line.
"Kitamura asked her to be his 'Best Man' for the wedding." Ryuuji replied with a little chuckle.
"What!" Ami popped up on her arms. Straddling Ryuuji's chest, she stared into his eyes and demanded, "Why didn't he ask … Haruta?"
The room was uncomfortably quiet for a moment. To Ami, it was a very long and miserable moment. She realized, almost too late, that she had been about to remind Ryuuji of that period of time when he was in a very dark depression and… Kitamura had given up on him.
Ryuuji could see the pain in her eyes and knew that feeling of instant regret. Ryuuji knew that right now Ami was hoping that he wouldn't bring up the time of his darkness. Ryuuji explained, "I'm pretty sure Kitamura's reason was from when she went after Sumire with a katana."
"Huh?" Ami was thrilled that he hadn't answered the way she thought he would, but she didn't understand this logic either.
"When Sumire shot him down, it was Taiga that went after her with a vengeance. She wouldn't let it go. She insisted that Sumire give a reason for doing what she did. And, in the end, she made Sumire confess her real feelings. Think about it. If it hadn't been for Taiga, he might not have gone after Sumire the way he did."
"Huh…" Ami thought about her childhood friend's personality and what had likely gone through his mind after the big fight between Taiga and Sumire. After the yelling… the accusations… and the confession. And… "You're probably right."
Just then, the baby monitor relayed the sounds of an infant waking up and starting to cry. Like a trigger, the sound made the load of nutritious milk in Ami's breast drop and head for the outside world at amazing speed… and pressure. Fine streams sprayed out and hit Ryuuji in the face.
"Sorry!" Ami gasped in embarrassment as she swiped one of the pillows from the bed and blocked her breasts from covering the rest of the bedroom in a sheen of milk.
"It's okay. Go take care of Tatsuya. I'll clean up here." Ryuuji ushered his wife up from the bed and kissed her on the forehead before she left their bedroom with nothing but a pillow to cover her breasts. As soon as she was gone, he turned to deal with the accidental overspray on the sheets, the blanket, the pillows, the wall… Feeling energized, Ryuuji grinned at the cleaning chore that awaited him and growled, "Oh yeah, this is a mess. But I'll have it all cleaned up before she gets back!"
But he was wrong. Seconds after Ami left the room and before Ryuuji even had a chance to strip the bed, he heard a harmonic shriek from outside the bedroom door.
Immediately following the loud sound of panic, Ami came running back into the room. Still clutching the small pillow to her chest and with a bright red face, she gasped for air and told Ryuuji, "I forgot we have a maid now!"
Saturday mid-morning, July 16th - Sumire residence in Yamanakako
Kitamura Yusaku came back into the room that he was sharing with his fiance. Kano Sumire was wearing a light yukata and sitting at the window while reading one of her college textbooks on her Kindle Keyboard. She had been thrilled to get her hands on one of these things ever since a classmate showed her that he had all of his textbooks downloaded on the device. Yes! I'll never end up in a class without my textbook again! And that ability to take all of her textbooks along in a single easy to carry device, meant that she could get some studying in, during the slow parts of her vacation… if she could stay awake.
It wasn't the jet-lag that was trying to close her eyes. It was the rain. Sumire had forgotten that late July and August were right in the middle of the rainy season in this part of Japan. It wasn't a hard driving downpour, but the sound of the constant rain on the roof of the old house did have its effect on her. Just as it had when she was a little girl in her grandfather's house, the steady staccato was putting her to sleep. Her hands lowered the Kindle into her lap, her eyes closed yet again, and her head was starting to bob when she was startled by an interruption in the rhythm of the rain.
"Sumire, you have a visitor." Yusaku said as he escorted Nanako into the room.
"Oh?" Sumire was startled and almost tossed the Kindle across the room. She recovered quickly and acted as if she had been seriously studying when they came in, but she was at a loss for a reason other than nearly being caught napping. She didn't recognize the plum haired girl with the enigmatic smile, but she felt that she should have.
"Ohayou, Kano-san. I was a classmate of Yusaku-kun back in high school, but I am here for you today. I need to get your measurements." Nanako explained with a polite smile.
"My measurements?" Sumire's brow furrowed in curiosity and she asked, "And why would one of Kitamura's former classmates want my measurements?"
"I will be taking the measurements for the yukata you'll be wearing at your wedding." Nanako replied.
"You mean 'kimono' right?" Sumire raised an eyebrow. She might be forgetful, but she did remember that the traditional wedding garb was the more ceremonial kimono rather than the more leisurely yukata.
"If you wish, but the wedding will be in late July and you will be climbing over four hundred steps before you get to the Ishiwari Shrine. If you're sure you feel up to it…" Nanako gently warned the girl that looked like a more athletic, but less femenine version of Ami.
"No no no… you're quite right." Sumire backpedaled. It wasn't that she didn't think that she could tackle all those steps, but she didn't want to go through a wedding ceremony after getting exhausted and sweaty under a heavy kimono.
"If you will remove your clothes then?" Nanako gestured as she pulled out her measuring tape.
"As you wish." Sumire smirked and let her yukata fall to the floor around her ankles, revealing that she hadn't been wearing anything underneath.
"Perfect." Nanako seemed unabashed as she stepped forward and began taking many measurements. This process involved much much more than the typical 'three sizes'.
Sumire glanced over Nanako's head and raised her eyebrow at her fiance. She wanted to know what was up with this person who could take a stranger's sudden nudity in stride so easily.
Kitamura Yusaku shook his head quietly. All of Nanako's trials and amazing life events had happened after he had left for America to follow Sumire Kano, so he was unfamiliar with this new and somewhat different Nanako.
"That should do it." Nanako said as she stood up and put away the measuring tape. Still holding her small notebook, she asked the nude woman, "Do you have any particular pattern or theme in mind for the dress?"
"I thought the bride just wore a basic white?" Sumire asked.
"Red-and-white is also fairly common, and purple-and-white has recently been in vogue. Patterns will typically have flowers with either butterflies or birds." Nanako rattled off the facts but could tell that Kano-san was stunned at taking all of this in. Instead of letting her flounder, she offered, "Or… you could leave it up to the designer."
"Oh? Who is the designer?" Sumire asked out of reflex. She knew almost nothing about fashion so she was sure the answer would be meaningless. However…
"Me." Nanako replied simply.
"Excuse me?" Sumire thought she must have misheard.
"I will be the principal designer. However… my designs will be reviewed by Hellivin, if you are concerned about my experience."
"Hellivin, huh. I'll leave it up to the designer then." Sumire tried to sound competent. She didn't know what kind of style Hellivin had, but she had at least heard the name before. Seeing a bit of concern on Yusaku's face, she made a last effort at a sanity check, "Um… could you tell me what kind of design you have in mind for me?"
"I was thinking of a basic white with thin silver tracings of stars and ringed planets." Nanako replied.
"That… sounds nice, but it doesn't sound very feminine." Sumire actually liked the idea but worried that she might look strange.
"What an odd thing to say." Nanako stepped forward and stroked her fingers across the well defined muscles of the taller girl's abdomen. In several ways, this tall, socially awkward, athletic girl reminded Nanako of her beloved Hisako. "You must work very hard to keep your body at this level. Why?"
"I want to be… no. I will be an astronaut." Sumire said firmly.
"That is your dream?" Nanako stepped back again and looked up into Kano-san's dark blue eyes.
"Yes." Sumire said with conviction.
"Is Yusaku-kun part of this dream?" Nanako tilted her head as she asked.
"He is. Every step of the way." Sumire shivered after she replied. It had never occurred to her, just how much it meant to have his support until she said it out loud.
"Then, your dream is something you already share and will be part of your marriage too. As such, your wedding dress should be a reflection of who you are and who you aspire to be. Don't you think?" Nanako smiled.
"Y… yes!" Sumire realized how right this girl had been all along and bowed in acknowledgement. "Nanako-san, please make it exactly as you described."
"Very well." Nanako turned to leave but found Yusaku behind her.
"Do you really design all the costumes for Ryuuji's girls?" Yusaku asked.
"Ryuuji's girls?" Nanako giggled, "You make it sound like a harem."
"For all I know it might be." Yusaku teased.
"His mother is one of those girls." Nanako reminded him.
"Please forget that I ever said that." Kitamura Yusaku was suddenly devoid of jest and bowing low in apology.
"It's okay." Nanako brushed it off, "There is no harem but we truly are Ryuuji-sama's girls. We are all part of this amazing performance group because of the trust and belief we have in him. If it hadn't been for you, we might never have met him. We all have you to thank for that."
"I think Taiga played a bigger role than me." Yusaku replied.
"Possibly, but you were first. Everyone saw how you could get close to him and talk to him, long before Taiga punched him in the hallway." Nanako spoke wistfully as she recalled those fond high school memories.
"Thank you, Nanako-san." Yusaku replied with a polite bow.
After Nanako left, Sumire noticed Yusaku was deep in thought and sounded like he was talking quietly to himself.
"So they call him Ryuuji-sama? My friend, I am very happy for you." Kitamura smiled at the memory of his friend who used to scare everyone around him.
Sumire saw the smile and worried that her fiance might be thinking too much about the plum haired girl that had just left. "Kita… Yusaku," Sumire tried not to sound too jealous when she demanded, "Why does she call you 'Yusaku-kun' with such familiarity?"
"I honestly don't know why she is calling me by my given name. We were in the same class for over a year, but I don't recall her doing that before." Yusaku stared off to sharpen his memories of those high school years but couldn't definitively recall. However, some of the letters from Ryuuji had said something about Nanako being a little different from how she used to be.
"So… you don't know then?" Sumire wanted to hear an apology but her fiance looked like he had something else on his mind and was only half listening to her. "What? What are you thinking about now?"
"Hellivin." Yusaku turned to face Sumire as he reminded her, "She will be working with Hellivin on our wedding apparel."
"Yes?" Sumire agreed but didn't see why that was important.
"Are you really comfortable with wearing a Hellivin creation to your wedding?" Yusaku asked.
"I just remembered the name. I'm not really familiar with her work." Sumire admitted.
"Hellivin is a guy. He designed the outfit that Ryuuji wore when they walked across the red carpet in Australia." Yusaku reminded her.
"Oh. OH! Oh no." Kano sat down with a thud when she remembered that ultra-gothic avant-gard monster that lurched up out of the limo to stand beside the pretty girl in the liquid green evening dress. "Kit… Yusaku, please tell me we're not going to look like that!"
Yusaku gave his fearful fiance the best answer he could, "No, nothing like that… probably."
Saturday late morning, July 16th - Yamada Onsen in Yamanakako
Taiga was laying across a futon in a loosely tied nemaki. The windows were open but it wasn't oppressively hot yet and there was a nice, if humid breeze wafting through the room. Part of her wanted to go get a drink. Part of her wanted to go play ping-pong. Part of her wanted to soak in the hot spring. But most of her wanted to just lay on this soft futon and wait for someone else to come up with something.
Minori sat in the large windowsill of the big picture window and gazed out at the gray light of the everpresent rain. She knew there was very little chance of it, but she had hoped for a break in the rain since there was supposed to be a magnificent view of Mount Fuji from these windows.
On a clear day.
That wouldn't come for two months.
Even for Minori, it was hard to keep the optimism going in the face of such a dismal forecast. Fortunately, her melancholic mood was broken by the return of their fellow roommate.
"That was quick." Minori chirped when Nanako returned to the room from her errand.
"What happened? They weren't at the grandpa's house?" Taiga asked as she pulled herself up into a sitting position on the futon.
"They were there. I just didn't want to stay for chitchat. I was never all that close to Kitamura-san anyway, and I barely knew Sumire-san." Nanako said as she took off the yukata she had been wearing around the town and reached for the more sedately patterned and simpler nemaki provided by the onsen.
"Whoa." Minori's eyes blinked when she saw that Nanako wasn't wearing any underwear beneath the yukata she had just stepped out of.
"Waitaminit, you went around town in that… and you weren't wearing any panties or a bra?" Taiga asked in disbelief.
"I didn't feel the need for any." Nanako replied as if it was an ordinary thing.
"Um… you know that being naked under a yukata is just an urban legend, right?" Taiga asked with a little concern.
"I'm not the only one." Nanako smiled while she recalled how Sumire also hadn't been wearing anything underneath her yukata. Although, it was true that she hadn't left her grandfather's house and gone out in public either.
"With all the rain, you might have gotten wet, you know?" Minori suggested.
"Then I would be wet. It's actually quite warm outside." Nanako brushed it off.
"No, I mean… people would be able to see your wet clothes sticking to your naked body." Minori explained.
"I can't let little worries like that wear me down. You should learn to relax and enjoy the life that you have to the fullest." Nanako replied with an understanding smile.
"I… don't think I could ever do that." Minori admitted.
"You don't have to. It's just a choice. It's not a big deal." Nanako assured Minori. "It's just something that makes me happy."
"Speaking of happy, I wonder how the happy couple next door is doing?" Taiga pointed at the other room that had been reserved for their party.
"Hey, don't say that." Minori chastised her diminutive friend, "They're having a tough time."
"I don't know. I think they are doing a lot better now. It seems to me… the tough parts are behind them." Nanako sounded hopeful.
"All right Nanako-chan! Way to keep that positivity!" Minori cheered.
"Yeah! Now that we're all pumped, let's go get wet!" Taiga tied off her namaki's sash and grabbed her towel.
The other two quickly grabbed their towels and followed her out the door. Volcanic mineral water awaited them. It was supposed to rejuvenate the muscles, beautify the skin, and restore the spirit.
Nanako hoped that last part was true, especially for the last two members of their party.
In the room next door, Haruta was having a very rough time. But it wasn't marriage related on this occasion. Before leaving the Hisamitsu residence, Noto had given him some documents to go over and told him that it was important that he agreed to them before he made his decision. Unfortunately, the writing looked like something that a bunch of crazy lawyers had put together and he wasn't making a lot of headway.
"Aw dude!" he groaned at the absent Noto, "Why did you have to give me difficult homework on an onsen trip? An onsen trip is supposed to be relaxing, you know. This is so… lame!"
"What's the problem?" Muyuki asked as she put down her book.
"It's this stuff Noto-kun told me to look at. I just don't see how it makes any sense." Haruta moved the papers around on the low table but the arrangement didn't add anything to his comprehension. "Maybe if I arrange them in color order?"
"Do you want me to take a look?" Muyuki offered.
"I don't wanna ruin your trip too." Haruta really wanted some help but he also didn't want to put any stress on his wife when she was finally coming around from her depression and anger. "You can go soak in the hot springs. I'll be down soon."
"I'm not going to have a good time by myself, and you're not going to be able to join me if you're stuck in here with your… homework." Muyuki replied with a sarcastically raised eyebrow while she looked at the arrangement of forms and documents on the low table.
"Well… I would appreciate the help. I mean… what do words like intestate, dissolution, and apportionment even mean?" Haruta asked while his wife slid over to him and started looking through the papers.
Muyuki saw some people's names she recognized. Some of them were her own family members and others were members of Haruta's family. They were all people that were gone now. But that wasn't the only thing on the table. She saw the name of a business that her family owned. More names of people she would never see again. Another business name. Something from Hisamitsu Industries. Her eyes opened wide when she realized what lay on the table before her.
"Haruta-kun… this is about the ceramics business that your family owned. And my family… they were invested in it as well." Muyuki showed him one of the papers.
"I get that, but I don't know what it's all about." Haruta admitted.
"The owners and the principal investors are all… dead. Some of them had legal wills and others didn't. But even the ones that did… they left everything to other people who are also dead now, or… to you."
"What does it matter though? The business was destroyed. The Major and I visited the old factory. Part of it is washed away and the rest is flooded with mud and all kinds of junk from the flood waters."
"The company still owned certain intellectual property and there are some government recovery programs to help the devastated companies get back on their feet… if they want to."
"Oh man… I was supposed to learn the business from my uncle for a couple of years, ya know? I can't bring that place back by myself." Haruta felt defeated by his lack of knowledge of his own family's business and… in general. If only I was a smart guy like Noto or Ryuuji, then I might know what to do but…
"Your friend, Hisamitsu Noto. He wants to help you." Muyuki tried to encourage him.
"He does? Where does it say that?" Haruta leaned forward and gave the papers another look.
"This one," Muyuki put her hand on a yellow colored paper on the table, "this one is from your friend Noto. Or, at least it is from his family's business. They are making you a couple of offers."
"Sweet! What does it say?" Haruta was starting to get excited.
"Well," Muyuki quickly read through the three pages and summed it up for her husband, "you can sell the business to him. You'll get a pretty good amount of money, and you can do whatever you want with it. Or… they will invest in the company for part ownership and they will send in experts to help you until you can run the company on your own."
"On my own…" Haruta paled a little as he echoed the words. The idea of running the family business by himself was more frightening than he had thought it would be. "Why… why didn't they leave the business to you?"
"Me? Why me?" Muyuki was surprised at this turn.
"You're the smart one!" Haruta sounded desperate, "I… I can write silly plays and stories all day, but I can't run a business! I… I just can't do that. Let's sell it. Let's just sell it all!"
"Wait!" Muyuki grasped Haruta's hands and held them tight to get him to focus his attention on her, "Were you serious… that you'd let me run the business?"
"Totally!" Haruta replied with excitement but it faded fast when he remembered the things that they had talked about before that disastrous day, "But… didn't you want to go to medical school or law school or something like that after college? I mean… if that's your dream, I don't want you to blow it all to hell for a business that might never come back."
"Hey, what's with all this negativity? Where is the Haruta Koji that I know?" Muyuki punched him in the arm and imitated his voice, "Radical dude! Go for it! You'll be awesome! Isn't that what you're supposed to say?"
"Heh… that does kinda sound like me." Haruta laughed it off but her impersonation of him didn't make him sound very bright.
"Yeah it does. You're always saying things like that. Things that make me feel like I can accomplish anything. Things that lift me up when I'm feeling down. Things…" Muyuki suddenly felt cold and hot at the same time. This was the truth that she knew all along but could only acknowledge just now. The shame and guilt of all the unjust hatred and the terrible things she had leveled at Haruta… it all came crashing down on her at once. It was more than she could bear.
Haruta watched Muyuki's face suddenly pale. Her eyes went dim as if she had just died inside. Her body crumpled onto the floor and she started sobbing uncontrollably. She had been fine just a moment before and now this! Not having any idea what had happened, he begged her to tell him what was wrong, "What! What happened? Are you okay? Are you hurt? Please, Mu-chan… tell me what's wrong!"
In the middle of his concern and confusion, a memory came back to him. The Hisamitsu matriarch had called him into her parlor along with The Major on the last night before they left the estate. Both of them told him that they would be there to help him in any way that they could, and they gave him a lot of good advice. One of those tips seemed to be appropriate now. If Muyuki suddenly breaks down and cries, but she doesn't seem to be angry at you, don't bother asking her any questions. Just go to her and hold her tight. Even if she struggles, hold onto her and let her know that you want to be there for her. She won't be able to say it, but that is when she will need you the most.
Haruta paused for only a moment before taking their advice. He wrapped her in his arms just as he had been told and prepared to weather the gale of her resistance and disdain… but there was no storm. His shock doubled when he started to hear words mixed in with the choking sobs.
"I'm sorry. Haruta. I'm so sorry. Please… please forgive me. I'm so sorry."
Tuesday morning, July 19th - Meiji Affiliated School
A few faculty and a number of the more advanced students were asked to attend a meeting on the day after their summer break started. Needless to say, most of them were not thrilled. One of the faculty and nearly half of the students balked at the request, but there were still a number there to see what the request was about.
When they walked into one of the rooms that was set up for Home-Ec and fashion design classes, they found several people already there. They were surrounded by the adjustable clothing mannequins and it seemed that the girl with the plum colored hair was making some adjustments on one of them.
Behind the plum haired girl was a tall girl with long black hair and purple eyes. Most of the students and faculty thought they recognized her immediately and there was a lot of whispering between them whether it was really Kurosawa Hisako. A man wearing a white leather vest over a black shirt noticed the whisperers and said something to the plum haired girl.
"Ah, good morning." Nanako said as she approached the assembled group, "My name is Kashii Nanako. I am told that you are all faculty and students with talent in fashion. Today, I have a unique opportunity for you."
"This sounds like a sales pitch." one of the students said drily.
"Kashii… Nanako?" another girl reacted differently when she made the connection, "Are you the costume designer for Red Black and Blue?"
"I am. But in all honesty, I am still a student too. I go to Tokushima University and am studying fashion and small business. I have many good senseis there, but today I have a chance to share someone very special with you." Nanako gestured to the man in the black shirt and white vest and told them, "This is the Australian designer Hellivin. You may have heard of his work in the world of avant-garde and gothic fashion. He is my mentor and today, he will be reviewing your ideas, making suggestions, and giving you constructive criticism on your designs."
"You… you're kidding. Are you serious?" one of the faculty was able to say what everyone was thinking.
"That's right." Nanako smiled at the excited faces while she laid out their objective. "There is a jar over there with the positions of people who will be in a wedding. Bride, groom, best man, mother of the bride, etcetera. Your goal will be to design the wedding garment for a person who will be going to a traditional Shinto Shrine for a wedding in mid-summer. But, instead of the traditional attire, I want you to take the classic kimonos and bring them up to the twenty-first century. So… who's in?"
"Are… are we here as chaperones, or can we participate too?" one of the faculty asked.
"Please participate if you wish. Don't worry about looking after the girls. Hisako will be keeping an eye on everyone." Nanako replied to the hopeful teacher.
"Oi, you're really gonna let these Sheilas design the wedding outfits for your friends? I thought you were gonna do it all." Helivin quietly asked Nanako after the positions had been drawn and the design work had begun.
"I did." Nanako handed the Aussie her sketch binder while she kept her eyes on the girls at work on the various tables and mannequins.
"These are pretty good," Helivin commented as he flipped through the pages in the binder, "so what's with the fashion class? Isn't it unnecessary?"
"It's just a little trade with the school. I get access to their facilities for this. And… I might be able to get some class credits too." Nanako turned the questioning around then, "So why did you decide to visit Tokyo now? I thought you were more interested in Osaka?"
"Coincidence really. There's a small conference of regional avant-garde designers." Hellivin told her.
"Regional? How did you get invited?" Nanako knew that the distance from Tokyo to Melbourne was about the same as the distance from Tokyo to the west coast of the United States. A bit far to be using the term 'regional' to describe it.
"I'm the bloody guest speaker, mate." Helevin chuckled.
"Nice. I wish I could go." Nanako wondered what it would be like to be a recognized designer some day and get invited to events like that.
"Ya can. I'll take you as my guest if ya like. But I don't think you'll like it." Helivin wrinkled his nose when he thought about the drab parts of these conferences, "They can be a bloody bore after the opening gala is over. It's all business talk at these things."
"Hmm…" Nanako raised an eyebrow in mild surprise. She wasn't aware that he felt that way about the business side of the industry. Considering how successful his design house was, she wondered if he might have an exceptional assistant that handled all the bureaucracy for him. Kind of like the way Ryuuji takes care of everything for Ami and the other models… and Aiko-chan. And his mom, and Yuri-sensei, and… Come to think of it, he takes care of a lot of things for me too. Is he really able to do all those things himself? Hmm… I wonder if Ryuuji-sama has an assistant?
Doctor Frank N Furter: a main character in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yes, there are fan clubs and live performances of RHPS in Japan. **WARNING** Do NOT watch RHPS on a streaming or download service. To get the full experience, you must see it in a theater with a live floorshow.
Genkan: the entrance or foyer of a house where one is expected to leave their shoes.
Get Waisted: a real organization for corsetry.
Kawaii: beautiful, pretty, but mostly cute
Nemaki: a cotton "lounging" kimono, used like a bathrobe.
Ohayou: (pronounced like the state Ohio) good morning, informal
Yokai: a Japanese term for strange creatures and supernatural monsters.