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“So…you’re a god? Truly?”
“Yeah? Do I not look it?”
Let me tell it to you straight. I never believed it for a second. There is no way I could. ——I mean seriously, right?
I do the interview, and write my piece. That’s my job. I choose a topic that looks immensely interesting, and find someone who knows a lot about it, create an appointment, run out of my run-down apartment in a corner of San Fransisco, and go to listen to someone’s story.
It doesn’t matter where the location is, as I’ll go anywhere. There are times I’ll visit the homes and workplaces of the people I’m interviewing, while other times I’ll meet them at some random cafe. All I need is my moleskin notebook and fountain pen.
You think it’s old-fashioned? ——Sure you do, and so do I. But this is one thing I’m never giving up. …Let me explain before you get the wrong idea. You see, I’m an up-to-date person. I know the difference between a smartphone and my TV’s remote, and my drafts for work are submitted online.
Even so, when I’m talking with someone face-to-face I can’t let go of paper and pen. It’s hard to explain why. It’s kind of vague, but I feel that this way I’m able to better capture the passion behind the words. More than just accurately writing down someone else’ story word for word, it seems like I can leave behind something far more important this way.
For me, as a professional journalist, it’s just something I’m particular about. But, if you wanted to know how much it’s done to support the quality of my articles… Well, I guess proof of my income will tell the true story.
Let’s get back on topic. It’s not like I want you to take pity on my financial situation. My introduction just now was just some random talk, just a prelude to the main event. There’s just one thing I wanted to say.
——I think old things are valuable, and I’m the kind of person that pays respect to them religiously.
Praise be to all things out-dated. Really amazing things are always amazing no matter the times, and things that were once amazing had a definite reason for being so, which is why they are valued.
Reasonably convenient things are great, but sometimes it’s the unnecessary and useless things that are loved. The development of science has led to the evolution of mankind, and as a result we live unprecedentedly rich lives.
But in the process there are things which have been left behind, and it is my wish to keep them from vanishing completely. This is so irrational it can’t be described in words or expressed through letters.
To put it frankly——it’s the heart.
But even that expression is surely insufficient. I believe that there exists passion in this world that can neither be recorded, or made clear.
…But I digress. The job I had taken this time was ridiculous, even for me. It is the twenty-first century, and this was the age where all those old SF stories were supposed to become reality, so seriously. Be astounded, all you readers! After all——I’m going to interview a god.
It all started with one statement from the editor-in-chief.
“I want an article about Japanese culture. As detailed and exact as possible, ‘kay?”
In other words, this is what happened.
The magazine I often submit articles to, Talking Point, was going to do some kind of culture exchange thing for the International Society column, and this was planned as a result. In other words, they wanted to showcase some foreign countries cultural cuisine or some traditional clothing as attractively as possible. Thus the editor-in-chief chose me, someone who was familiar with these things, to write the column.
——I never thought the day would come when I’d want to kiss that bald head of his so much!
A few days later, I disembarked from my eleven and a half hour flight to Tokio from San Fransisco. Stuck in Economy Class and treated like luggage, I entered Japan. Yep, Japan was selected as the first theme. This close yet far away, and to me, a mysterious country.
…Did I say mysterious? ——Let me rephrase.
I meant to say crazy jaw-dropping country.
“Welcome to Japan, Mister Wheeler.”
The one who was waiting for me at the airport was a young woman. She had smooth, blonde hair and fair skin. Her green irises twinkled from behind the frame-less glasses she wore. She was a beauty with an amazing smile, and the conservative black suit she wore suited her perfectly.
Her English was perfect, so I originally assumed she was Caucasian…but I realized that wasn’t the case almost immediately.
——To the left and right of her head, were attached long and pointy ears. The only race throughout the world known to have this trait, existed nowhere but Japan.
“I am the Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Shizuru Karasawa.”
I was shocked. I had only been informed that the publishing company was arranging for a guide and interpreter, so I had been expecting someone from the tourism industry; I never would have guessed a diplomat would come to greet me!
As I was expressing my gratitude, Miss Karasawa gave me a soft smile before speaking.
“For a foreigner visiting our country, I am sure there is much you are wondering about… So, I will do my utmost to ensure you are able to understand everything clearly.”
With that, she reached into a pocket and took out an ID badge, which she showed to me. After glancing at it… I realized something odd. Normally, these kinds of things would have a picture or name, affiliation, gender and birthday written on them, a simple profile, but there was not a single entry I was familiar with.
——Species [Tengu / ELF]
What’s this? Furrowing my brow, I looked at the next oddity. I had passed over the birthday before, but the numbers written there were…
——The year 1836?
“Just so you know, but the year is written in the common style, Anno Domini.” She interjected, as though beating me to my own question. After thinking for a moment, I turned my gaze to stare hard at her face.
…Yet, I couldn’t see her as anything other than a young woman. No matter how hard I looked, she couldn’t be past her early twenties; she might even still be in her late teens. That she could possibly be——one-hundred and eighty years old? She had been alive since before the civil war? What kind of joke is this?
“Just to let you know something else too, but this ID badge was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a perfectly official form of personal ID. In other words, everything written here is the truth, and our government has attested to that.”
…It would appear Japan was a considerably candid country. A developed country that could toss around a joke like this on official documents, how else could this be explained?
Just then, Miss Karasawa tilted her head as though she were confused about something.
“All foreigners tend to say that. Is there no way you will believe me?”
Of course. She doesn’t look anywhere near one-hundred and eighty, and besides, humans don’t live that long anyway.
“I’m not human you know.”
I let out a heavy sigh. It was a saddening thing to hear.
Certainly, over the course of history humanity had done atrocious things. Among them, racial prejudice has been one of the worst. Just because of differing skin colors or the shape of one’s ears, we had killed one another. But was not that age far behind us now? …At the very least, things should be better now.
“Oh no, that’s not it.” Miss Karasawa said, letting out a deep sigh.
“You and I are different on a much more biological level. If I can’t get you to accept at least this much, then the upcoming interview is already a complete waste, you know?”
…Even if you say that. This isn’t a simple matter of believing or not. There’s no way something so ridiculous could be the truth. I hadn’t come to Middle-Earth for an interview regarding some “tale about rings”.
“Actually, think about it like that. That’s closer to the truth after all.” With those words, she proceeded to propel me into an all-black, official looking car.
…Just where am I being led? Some magical tower named Isengard? Or maybe the home of the elves, Imladris? Sure, I wouldn’t mind getting to see a hobbit-hole…
As I was engrossed in sarcastic thoughts, the car arrived in front of a hotel in downtown Tokio.
Entering the lobby, I was met by the aroma of flowers and sound of flowing water.
The exterior had been grandiose, but the expansive interior was quite modern, decorated with a Japanese flavor; it was all very high class.
Actually, it was a five-star hotel I couldn’t find a single flaw with. If the situation wasn’t what it was, what with my income, I would be afraid order so much as a coffee in the cafe.
Miss Karasawa went up to the reception desk, and spoke with an attendant about something. From the look of things, it seemed she was arranging for my stay.
At this, I began to feel extremely apologetic that I was being treated this well; and moved over to sit down on a sofa in the lobby. Just then,
The girl sitting on the opposite sofa spoke to me in fluent English. I returned the greeting instinctively, before feeling my heart thump in my chest.
If you want to know why——it was because the girl was drop-dead gorgeous. Oriental, exotic features and long, dark hair. She wore a pink camisole and denim booty shorts, with a lime green hoodie. If that was all to her appearance, she would be just like any other girl——but this was not the case.
Her golden irises were focused mischievously on me, and it felt as though my heart were being clutched. My gaze was drawn towards the way she rested a finger against her jaw, and the curve of her lips as she smiled.
On the whole, even the smallest of gestures was far too attractive. I started to feel dizzy. It had only taken a single moment, but I had been completely taken in by this girl. I was no longer any different than a newborn puppy, rolling about on the palm of her hand. I couldn’t do anything of my own volition. I would do as she commanded, living for the moments when she would pat my head——
“——Princess, please stop fooling around.”
I gasped as I returned to myself. Miss Karasawa, who had appeared without my noticing, came to stand in front of me, blocking the girl’s line-of-sight.
“I’m sorry. I was bored, and he just looked so~ cute.”
“Princess, have you forgotten it was you who decided that such actions are considered bad manners?”
“Yeah, but…I was wrong. You know I wasn’t being serious, right?”
“Yes, of course.”
“…Have I, made you mad?”
“I am not mad, but please show some self-restraint. This is an important guest from a foreign country.”
“I know that. And I am sorry, really.”
…The two of them were having a conversation I was having trouble following.
Speaking of myself, my face was burning from the embarrassment of my actions just now. Ah, geez… What in the world am I doing with a girl who can’t be past her early teens?
“Mister Wheeler, are you alright?” Miss Karasawa asked, with a worried expression on her face.
Of course nothing was wrong; it would be unforgivable if there was. ——Mainly for my social life.
“I do apologize, but her ladyship tends to be a little rude…” She said, bowing her head. But, there’s really no reason for her to be apologizing…
“Ah, excuse me. Let me introduce you.”
Maybe because of my dubious expression, but Miss Karasawa gestured towards the girl.
“This is her ladyship, Amaterasu Kunimamori Ōhimiko——the most powerful god in our country, and the founding goddess as well.”
We return now to start of all this; we had moved to a private room in the hotel’s five-star restaurant. After enjoying a light meal, I proposed to the girl (who had been introduced as a bona fide god), that we begin the interview——though the setting had really been decided upon by Miss Karasawa——which returns us to that comment I made at the beginning.
“Well, you know. I get it.” The girl said, pursing her lips.
“Basically, you don’t believe it?”
It would seem my question about her authenticity had put her in a rather bad mood. …But, it appears there has been a misunderstanding. It’s true I don’t believe in the existence of gods. Mankind had explored every corner of this planet, going so far as to leave our footprints on that distant moon. Nothing mysterious happened anymore, and even if something did it would only be a matter of time before it was explained.
Myths and legends, fairy tales, magic, espers, monsters, spirits and UFOs. All of it was nothing more than stories born from the imagination of people; nothing more than meaningless prattle people enjoyed listening to.
The existence of gods was just one of the many. Even so, I had no intention of going around calling her a lier. Actually, I felt she was someone who should be paid a great deal of respect. If you want to know why, it’s because religion is the origin of culture.
Doctrines and dogmas are the rules for society, formed when the need arises; a kind of shared ideology. In that case, the real problem isn’t about whether gods actually exist. It’s simply that morals and symbols are necessary. This girl is a goddess——it was a little surprising, but that’s just the name she has as a religious leader. If this was part of the Japanese culture, then I would respect it.
Also——I see… If I think about it, a goddess-like cute girl is a much better object of worship than some old codger. If the Pope were some beauty like the Mother Mary, then maybe I would have attended Church a little more enthusiastically.
“You blockhead.” She was glaring at me, her face screwed up.
“No, it’s not like that, you know? I’m not mad or anything you know?”
…Why is it that all angry women say that?
“Sure, you’re all thick-headed and full of doubts. But there’s no reason to force you into believing, and if you think it’s a lie then so be it. It’s not like the ones who’ll be inconvenienced or troubled are going to be my people. But…” She paused for a moment.
“Did you know? In ancient Japanese, God meant Above. That’s why from the viewpoint of mankind, anything with powers beyond that of man was viewed with great respect; a higher existence——a god.”
Oh-hoh, I see. Certainly that is very interesting. That kind of cultural story is what I was here for.
“Thank you. ——That’s why I feel this is something you all should know. It goes without saying that in this world, there are things that don’t go according to the will of man.”
As I tilted my head to the side, she smiled brightly.
“Watch me closely, okay?”
…I did exactly that. I swear, I never took my eyes off her, not for a moment. But, in less than a second——
Before I realized it, someone entirely different was seated in her place.
I had no idea what had just happened. All I could tell was that her body seemed to shimmer——and in an instant the girl who was in her early-teens had grown up. If my eyes weren’t deceiving me, in front of me was now seated a beautiful young woman.
Dark hair, a fair complexion, golden irises…had the young girl from before suddenly aged, this was surely the kind of bewitching beauty she’d become.
Even the attractive girl’s outfit had changed to that of a high-class ladies dress. Her lips were painted in a seductive scarlet hue, and smiling elegantly she spoke.
“——What do you think? If I look like this, would you worship me?”
I leaned so far back I nearly fell out of my chair. It was too unbelievable. Even if I were wrong, there was no way this was the same person as the girl from a moment ago. This is far beyond just what makeup and a different set of clothes could achieve.
It was as if a completely different person had simply exchanged placed in an instant. But, that was impossible. Even so, no, I mean——
“If this doesn’t convince you, then I could float in the air, or bend a spoon? I could perform all kinds of miracles for you. How should I say this——I am after all, a god.”
I swallowed hard.
Beside the smiling girl——no, beautiful woman, Miss Karasawa was acting completely normal. It would seem that the only one in this private room of the restaurant who considered any of this oddness as strange, was me.
I thought for a moment, before asking her why she would reveal a secret like this to someone such as myself?
Looking startled, the woman raised her voice slightly.
“This isn’t something that’s particularly a secret you know? I mean, we’ve been straight with you from the beginning, though it seems people from other countries are very close-minded.”
…People from other countries? In that case, are you trying to tell me that the regular citizens of Japan view this as normal?
“Yeah? The fact that I’m a god——it’s something that this countries population, living in the same society as dwarves and elves like Shizuru, all know; it’s just common knowledge, so there’s no reason to be particularly conscious about it.”
I was moaning inside. That’s impossible!
It was really upsetting to be shown something so completely different from what I considered common knowledge. I no longer thought of Japan as a country of intrigue. Instead, I felt as though I had wandered into some kind of wonderland.
Why did such fantasy-like things only exist in Japan…?
“I’m sure you could still find the same things in other countries if you searched? But I guess, it’s like that. This might be the only place that recognizes our existence on a national level.”
…Why is that? Other countries, and the country of Japan. What could be so different that things ended up like this?
“My, are you interested?”
Of course I am.
“Alright then. In that case, I’ll need to talk of him. …We’ll have to rely on some nostalgic memories from a long, long time ago.”
She repeated the word, and replied while smiling proudly.
“Yes, him, who founded the beginnings of this country——the tale of the first 《Samurai》.”
With that——this for-real goddess whose beauty knew no equal, speaking in a wistful tone, slowly began the tale of this countries 《History》.
(Japan, Land of the Gods, Central Tokio, Tōshou Hotel, 2016)
《God》 means oath
《Samurai》 means loyalty
Hey everyone, welcome to Amaterasu wa Kaku Katariki (Thus Spoke Amaterasu); I hope you enjoyed the opening chapter. (^_-) This series was requested by a reader, and said reader has been kind enough to sponsor this chapter. I am excited to hear your feedback, though a little nervous of the critics. 😉
I am really enjoying this series so far, especially as it is really well-written, and I hope this is reflected in the quality of my translation. ^_^
However, I am also working on Beauty, Sage and the Devil’s Sword as well, which will slow down releases some. Though, I am willing to consider “sponsored chapters” for quicker releases, as it gives me an excuse to spend the exorbitant amount of time needed for translating.
If you are interested in this, there is a “crowd sponsorship option” via Patreon you can check out via the Support Me page.
But in the end, it is your comments that keep me motivated and chuggin’ along in my translatobile. Thank you all so very, very much for all your support!