A Simple Survey:Volume1 File20

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File 20: All Sorts of Offerings

When I returned from the school social studies field trip to Kyoto, I found a strange girl in my room.

She looked very Japanese.

However, she looked somehow more extravagant than a simple shrine maiden.

“Ah!! I can’t believe you! She was telling the truth. You have me, so how can you come home smelling of some other women as if nothing happened!?”

“…Um, who are you?”

“Sakuya! Konohana Sakuya-hime!! I won’t let you say you didn’t know I am worshiped at the neighborhood shrine!! You pray to me during your New Year’s shrine visit each year, and it was due to my divine protection that you passed your middle school entrance exams!! And yet…And yet…Wahh!! I can’t believe one of my precious worshippers was seduced by some woman he met on a trip!! I’ve been NTRed!!”

She seemed to be saying some horrible things about me, but it also seemed she was a goddess. A Japanese goddess. But what was this about me cheating on her?

“Don’t you dare say you don’t know what I’m talking about!! You have the stink of the divine protection of another goddess all over you!!”

“Divine protection?”

“Yes, divine protection!! You went around to various Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples while sightseeing in Kyoto, didn’t you!?And you threw tons of coins into all their offering boxes!! I-I’ve been betrayed… You already had a goddess like me, and yet you still went around collecting divine protection from all sorts of other goddesses!! I can’t believe you!!”

As Konohana Sakuya-hime (a goddess) wailed, she kept violently brushing at my shoulders and chest. It looked something like she was trying to brush off the pollen from early spring. Perhaps she was trying to get the “smell” off of me.

But if offerings were not allowed, did that mean…?

“Um.”

“What!?”

“By any chance, was I not supposed to buy charms either?”

“Gyaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!! Stinking of another goddess’s divine protection was bad enough, but you have an a-a-accessory…!?”

“I thought it would make a good Kyoto souvenir.”

“They have safer things like yatsuhashi!! By the way, I prefer it raw!!”

“Here.”

I held out a pale box toward the strange goddess. That seemed to put Konohana Sakuya-hime into a bit of a better mood. She seemed to view it as an offering.

As the goddess munched on the Japanese confectionary, she said, “Honestly, thinking you ‘might as well’ buy a charm while at a shrine is just ridiculous. Those things distort the path of your life using the divine protection of the shrine’s god. If you buy one without a clear objective in mind, you will end up derailing from the path you are on.”

“Isn’t it best to have as much good fortune as possible?”

“You fool. You can stray from the proper path by having things go too well. The tragic fate of a man who wins the lottery is a common story. The Japanese have an unfortunate habit of only relying on gods when they are in trouble, but that is the proper way of thinking when it comes to these types of goods. During entrance exam season, you buy an academic charm. When job hunting, you buy a business charm. And if you accidentally get your girlfriend pregnant, you buy a charm for an easy birth. The proper role for charms is to give a boost of good fortune during those occasional times of need. They are not something you can just buy willy-nilly and use as a cell phone strap.”

“Oh, I see.”

“And so I will be confiscating that charm!! This really pisses me off. I just can’t forgive you for covering yourself with the stink of another goddess’s divine protection!!”

The goddess grabbed the charm from my hand, let out a cry of anger, and threw it into a corner of the room.

But then the charm started to glow.

“The jealousy of a goddess is a horrible sight to see. You are going to cause unnecessary disasters, so stop it,” said a new voice.

With a sticky noise, a woman’s arm suddenly came out of the charm that was too small to even hold a cell phone. In no time at all, a shoulder, a face, and an entire upper body followed. After a few seconds, an entire goddess had come out.

Konohana Sakuya-hime clicked her tongue.

“So there you are, you thief!!”

“I would prefer you call me Kushinada-hime. And you are being too intolerant. Don’t get so upset just because he threw a bit of change into some offering boxes while on a trip.”

“This worshipper has always been the type to just go along with the flow, so I need to stop him while I can! He just throws his change into the collection box next to the convenience store register!!”

I raised my hand and asked a question.

“I have a question. Aren’t offering boxes and collection boxes completely different things?”

“The child aid institution the collection money goes to is a branch of a Buddhist organization. So if you take a wider view of things, it is a type of offering.”

“I also think it gets some kind of a tax break for being a religious organization. But regardless, I get the feeling that Konohana Sakuya-hime’s reaction is something like an allergic reaction…”

“What!? Then what if I told you this worshipper always throws some change into a fountain whenever he sees one!?”

“That would make him guilty.”

That makes me guilty? …But why was it that people felt an urge to throw coins into water?

“So why are you here Kushinada-hime-san?”

“The ‘hime’ means princess, so it is enough to show respect. You do not need to add the ‘-san’. That is like referring to your teacher as ‘sensei-san’.”

“Okay, Kushinada-hime.”

“Kyaahh!! He said my name without an honorific☆”

“Damn yoooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!” shouted an enraged Konohana Sakuya-hime.

Had I been tricked?

Konohana Sakuya-hime pointed at Kushinada-hime.

“You came here to say he’s yours, didn’t you!? While I was gone for Kannazuki, you shamelessly swooped in to steal him! I hurried back after hearing some strange bragging in the Izumo Kingdom, and this is what I find!?”

“Just so. And brushing off my worshipper’s shoulders is not going to get rid of my divine protection. Heh heh heh.”

“He is not your worshipper!! He is mine!!”

The clamor must have grown too loud because I heard the sound of a window on the house next door opening. My childhood friend Tanaka-san, a girl who went to a different school than me, stuck her head out.

“Hey, keep it down. And where’s that raw yatsuhashi you promised me?”

“A goddess is eating it.”

I pointed over and Tanaka-san’s eyes widened in surprise.

“You brought two strange goddesses back with you!? Don’t you dare say those are souvenirs of your trip!!”

Meanwhile, the goddesses bristled.

“Someone who belongs to an Inugami!? Don’t tell me you plan to oppose a true god with someone like that, dog!!”

“I believe an Inugami is more like a Youkai than a god.”

“Inugami? What are you talking about?”

I had a vague recollection of Tanaka-san owning a clever golden retriever of unknown age named Jason-kun. Were they referring to that?

“…At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if a Tsukumogami showed up, too.”

“Those anthropomorphized types are troublesome. They make quite an impact with their characterizations.”

The two goddesses began to grow cautious, but something quite different from their fears occurred.

Suddenly, a girl with brown skin and dressed like a risqué dancer burst through the door without knocking.

“Hello. I am Lakshmi-chan from India.”

“Don’t just cross the ocean out of the blue!! We were trying pretty hard to set up a Japanese world here!!”

“Eh!? When do I get a turn!?” shouted Tanaka-san, but with everything else going on, no one was paying any attention to her.

“Heh. The syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism has led to the two being jumbled together and Buddhism and Hinduism have become quite jumbled together in India, so there is a connection. And I fit perfectly into the Japanese category due to Kisshouten of the Seven Gods of Fortune.”

“Tch!! So you’re a goddess of fortune and you show off a lot of skin! This is bad timing for such a formidable goddess to show up!!”

“This new character sounds like she is straight out of a light novel that is pandering for sales after having tried and failed to tell a serious story.”

But why had Lakshmi-san (a goddess) crossed the ocean to come to my house?

When I asked, Lakshmi-san (a goddess of fortune) smiled and said, “Well, worshipper…”

“He’s my worshipper!! Don’t you call him that!!”

“I have come to bring you misfortune.”

“Oh, I thought you were a goddess of fortune.”

“My little sister Kokuanten is a goddess that takes away fortune, but she was of no use because she just fidgeted around and was too embarrassed to appear before you. I think she might have fallen for you. And so I have been put in charge of giving and taking away fortune when it comes to you, worshipper. To be blunt, you’re taking too many goddesses for yourself☆ If something isn’t done, you could end up standing at the peak of humanity and turning the earth’s population of 7 billion into a single unified people. That is why I am here to stop you.”

“You say that, but you’re simply planning to have you and your sister surround my worshipper in the name of constant surveillance, aren’t you?”

“Of course. Goddesses get horny, too☆”

“Damn you!! Don’t say that with such a big grin on your face!!”

“Hee hee. Oh, worshipper. Have you ever wanted to sleep with two sisters at the same time?”

“Don’t let her trick you!! Kokuanten may be a little sister character, but she is famous for being peerlessly ugly!!”

No.

Um.

I had a question about something else.

“Kushinada-hime, you came to my house because I gave an offering at your shrine, right?”

“There was the charm as well.”

“And Konohana Sakuya-hime, for you it was the offerings I gave every year during my New Year’s shrine visit, right?”

“Don’t forget that this land is under my jurisdiction!!”

“Tanaka-san, what is your reason?”

“Eh!? M-my reason!?”

Through the window, I could see Tanaka-san hesitantly trying to figure out what to do in the neighboring house, but her golden retriever, Jason-kun, held up a placard saying, “An Inugami works to acquire that which his master desires, and that is you in this case.”

“Lastly, Lakshmi-san, you came to deal with my fortune, right?”

“Yes.”

“So…um…”

“What? Is something bothering you?”

Well…

I would be lying if I said no.

“Y’see, I went to a lot of different Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples while sightseeing in Kyoto.”

“What about it?”

“If I gave offerings at all those shrines and not just at Kushinada-hime’s, is every single one of those goddesses going to come to my house?”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“Umm…” said Lakshmi-san as if it had nothing to do with her. “Kannazuki is about to end and then all the gods of Japan are scheduled to return to their respective lands from the Izumo Kingdom. So are all of the gods of this country really going to be coming back then?”

I started hearing a great noise as if from a large crowd shouting outside.

The noise seemed to be gradually drawing nearer.

Konohana Sakuya-him and Kushinada-hime exchanged a glance and spoke.

“…This is war.”

“Yes. A war has begun.”