Hyouka:Volume 1 Chapter 6
6 - The Old Days of the Glorious Classics Club
It was the end of July and Summer Vacation had begun. Today I was riding my bike along the road towards Kami High as usual. It would take 20 minutes to get there from my place by foot, though I have no idea how long it'll take by bike. I stopped to buy a can of black coffee from a vending machine while resting. I then followed the riverside and turned at the hospital before arriving in front of Kami High. And there I stood with an amazed look.
Summer Vacation was supposed to have started already.
Yet the sports ground was filled with prop equipment and students in their summer uniforms. I could hear music played by various wind instruments, electric guitars and bamboo flutes. Even though the Special Block was some distance from here, I could tell there were many students there as well. They were of course all here to prepare for the Kanya Festival. The energetic side of Kami High has only gotten more active now that Summer Vacation has started. Crowds of people were crawling around like a group of ants as though saying "Alright guys, the festival is coming up soon! Now that annoying classes are out of the way, let's give it our best!"
I gazed at these people overflowing with energy while noticing a person trotting towards me. It was Fukube Satoshi, dressed casually in short sleeved shirt and shorts, while carrying a sporty-looking mini-rucksack over his back.
"Sorry, man. Kept you waiting?"
I was happily listening to the A Capella Club practicing their singing in the central courtyard, and Satoshi had to make me turn around with such a creepy voice. I contemplated turning my bike around and going home, but then I changed my mind and proceeded to walk towards him and acted as if I was about to kick him.
"Whoa, Houtarou! What's with the sudden ferocity?"
"You sure are one to talk! Have you no shame in not knowing when not to disturb the peace?"
Satoshi shrugged his shoulders.
It doesn't seem like he has any.
"Sorry man, the Handicraft Club meeting went into overtime."
"Just what on earth were you discussing anyway?"
"We're going to knit a Buddhist-like Mandala carpet for the Kanya Festival. But we've run into a few problems, so we had a contingency meeting just now."
Well, tough work you had there. Not just you, but Toogaito, or even the whole school for that matter.
"So, you got your notes ready?"
As I ask dryly, Satoshi merely bounced back the question to me.
"What about you? It's not something you're used to doing. You thought of something yet?"
I felt a bit embarrassed at having to answer that, so I said, "Well, sort of."
"Oh? Now that's rare. Normally you would try to find an excuse and deny such questions... Anyway, I'll go get my bike, so hang on a bit longer."
And so Satoshi insolently left me waiting while he trotted towards the bicycle parking lot.
As to why I was waiting for Satoshi out here when I ought to be sleeping like there's no tomorrow during such a precious Summer Vacation, we'll need to go back to a week ago, the day when we were so close to finding out the truth about Sekitani Jun, which should be written in the first volume of the club anthology "Hyouka", only to find out that that specific volume was missing. As we couldn't get anywhere without that first volume, I thought to myself that I was not going to go all out to pursue the answer. But it was already too late, for I had crossed the Rubicon without even realizing.
I knew it was pointless to dissuade Chitanda from this, so I proposed a compromise solution. If we're going to investigate the past, just the two of us was not going to be enough. After all, "Three's a crowd" as the saying goes. It may be a bit hard for her, but I told her that we had a better chance of solving this with Satoshi and Ibara's help.
Thereupon Chitanda nodded in agreement.
"I guess we have no choice then."
Even though she requested to keep it between ourselves during our discussion in the Cafe Pineapple Sandwich, I ended up letting her down. I could not tell if it was because Chitanda realized deeply that she would need all the support she could get, or because she no longer regarded the clue that appeared before as important anymore, or it could be possible that our lady here was simply whimsical; at any rate, she had called for an emergency meeting with the Classics Club the following day.
There, Chitanda repeated what she told me before and concluded, "I'm very curious as to what happened to my uncle 33 years ago."
Ibara accepted the challenge right away.
"The cover illustration interests me. If we can solve this and find out the story behind that, I could even use it as publishing material for the Manga Studies Club."
Satoshi followed, "The Fictional Heroic Tale to be solved by their juniors 33 years later, huh? I just happened to be researching into stuff from that period."
And approved with both hands raised. While I had no intention of speaking since I had no power of veto, I decided to say something anyway since we were at it.
"Since we're still deciding on what to write for our essay anthology, why don't we use Chitanda's story to help fill up the pages... um, I mean, killing two birds with one stone... sorry, I mean, write something meaningful for it?"
My energy-saving proposal, though quite forward-looking, was accepted unanimously. And so investigating the incident of the Kamiyama High School Classics Club 33 years ago became the Classics Club's priority.
Satoshi rode a mountain bike. As he was wearing shorts, sturdy muscles could be seen on his legs that didn't match his short stature. For a polyglot like him, the only sport that I knew he was interested in was cycling.
By the way, my bike was what you'd call a family wagon, so there's not much to elaborate upon.
We rode along the river and away from the main street. Slowly the distance between houses was replaced by huge rice paddies. Stopping under the shade of some tobacco store to hide from the sun, I took a towel out of my bag to wipe off the sweat that's been constantly dripping out.
Ahh, such a good sweat.
Was not something I would ever say. Rather, I wonder why people have to move in order to get to their destination. "The information revolution has not yet succeeded. Comrades, you must carry on!" 
"Satoshi, are we there yet?"
Satoshi placed his handkerchief back in his pocket and replied, "Yup. We're pretty much there. According to your speed, of course."
He then smiled.
"You'll be surprised when you see their mansion. The Chitandas are one of the biggest farm owners in Kamiyama City."
Guess I'll be looking forward to it. I'd sure like to hear how they do their spring cleaning in such a big place. After wiping more sweat with my towel, I put my foot on the saddle and rode on.
Once we restarted, Satoshi took the lead and guided us. After crossing numerous traffic signals, we then came to a long straight road, where we rode parallel to each other. For some distance now there was nothing but farmland on both sides of the road.
As Satoshi spun his pedal, he began to hum joyfully. Smiling was his default expression, though he seemed particularly delighted today. I decided to ask him, "Satoshi,"
"Are you happy?"
Satoshi turned towards me and replied cheerfully, "Sure I am. Since I like cycling. Look at the blue skies! And the white clouds! No matter how dull they look, the joy of looking at them while riding at full speed is like..."
I quickly interrupted Satoshi's attempt at joking.
"I thought your high school life was average at best."
Suddenly looking sullen, Satoshi replied, "Oh... you mean the rose-coloured thing."
Great memory you have there, especially when we last spoke about it nearly three months ago. Satoshi slowed down somewhat and faced forward while saying, "You know, basically I think my high school life is pretty rose-coloured."
"No, it's more like shocking pink."
"Haha, that's good as well. If that's the case, then yours is grey."
"You already told me that."
As my voice was hardly raised, Satoshi didn't go whistling in glee.
"Did I? Don't take it the wrong way, I didn't mean it as an insult when I said the colour of your high school life is grey."
"For example, if my life is shocking pink, then no one can paint it rose. I won't let them."
I ridiculed his smiling face at once.
"Really? I thought it's already been painted."
"Of course it hasn't!"
Satoshi said with a surprisingly firm response and continued, "It hasn't, Houtarou. I'm already busy with the Student Council General Committee as well as the Handicraft Club, you think I'd say that? You gotta be kidding me. Whether it's helping to organize the timetable for the Kanya Festival, or knitting the Mandala carpet, I have enjoyed every moment of it. Otherwise, who would want to sacrifice a joyous bicycle ride during Sundays or Summer Vacation just to go to school anyway?"
"There exist occasions where one has to lend their skill and presence for the sake of the greater society. But even so, you're not the sort who would budge an inch, right? For a grey-coloured person like you, if a flag-bearer declares that 'everyone is rose-coloured', you would wave your hand and say 'count me out.'"
After saying all that in one breath, he calmed down a bit and went on, "If I really wanted to offend you, I would have called you colourless."
Satoshi went silent after saying that. I ruminated at his response while getting my skin burned by the sun.
And made a sullen face.
"I'm not going to say I wanna like you or something like that, you know."
"Nah, that's not what I meant."
Satoshi raised his voice and laughed. He then said, "Look, Houtarou, we've reached the Chitanda residence!"
As befitting of its description, the Chitanda "mansion" was built in the middle of a vast paddy field. It was built in a Japanese-styled bungalow surrounded by hedges. The sound of water flowing suggested the presence of a pond in the garden, which was surrounded by well-trimmed pine trees. And in front of the large opened gate, there were people sprinkling water ritually.
"How about that? Pretty impressive, isn't it?"
Satoshi said while puffing out his chest, even though I was no expert in Japanese architecture or Japanese gardening. While I had no idea how impressive this estate was, I did feel that it had an elegant and dignified feel to it.
As we were marveling at the estate, I had a look at my watch. We were just about on time... No, seems like we're a little bit late.
"Let's go, the girls are waiting for us."
"Ah, yes... By the way, Houtarou,"
"Aren't we supposed to wait for some servants to come out and greet us?"
I decided to ignore him. I stepped up to the front porch and rang the doorbell.
After waiting for a while, the door was opened by none other than Chitanda herself. Her summer cold seemed to have healed as she was now speaking in her usual voice once again. She let her long hair flow down her shoulders without tying it, and was dressed in a fitting bright green one-piece dress.
"Sorry to keep you waiting."
I could hear Satoshi click his tongue, as though disappointed that there was no servant out to greet us.
After taking off our shoes at the concrete entrance, Chitanda led us through a wooden corridor.
"Where did you park your bicycles?"
"Where can we park them?"
"Anywhere is fine."
Then why did you ask?
Before long, we were led to a pair of paper sliding doors, and a cool breeze escaped upon opening them. As the ceiling was high, the room felt refreshingly cool. The room size was about... 15 square metres. That's huge.
Ibara had already arrived. It seemed like she had some business at school beforehand, as she was dressed in her school uniform. There was a dark brown table which gave a dull light reflection, and on top of it were many pieces of paper. Must be Ibara's notes. She's quite fired up for this.
"Please sit anywhere you like."
I sat opposite Ibara upon being prompted. As Chitanda took the host seat, the remaining seat was taken by Satoshi. It was rare to have someone carrying a rucksack sitting in a traditional Japanese-styled reception alcove. Opening the rucksack, Satoshi took out numerous pieces of paper from it. I too opened my shoulder bag and took out my own notes. Ibara looked very ready as she toyed with her pen, while Chitanda stacked a pile of paper on the table.
"Let us begin our investigative meeting."
We all bowed and took our greetings.
Naturally, the meeting was chaired by Chitanda, as she was the club president, after all.
"Let us confirm the agenda for today's meeting. It all started with a reminiscence of mine. Then, when we discovered the essay anthology 'Hyouka', I realized whatever happened with the Classics Club 33 years ago had something to do with this reminiscence. The purpose of this meeting is to speculate as to what happened 33 years ago. Furthermore, any facts that have been confirmed will be used as essay materials for this year's Classics Club essay anthology."
Though Ibara was mainly interested in the design of the cover illustration, she did not seem too dissatisfied with Chitanda's proclamation. Perhaps she realized it had something to do with the incident itself, or Chitanda had briefed her about it?
"During this past week, we have gone about collecting all kinds of material for research, and subsequently we shall report on our findings and speculate on the incident 33 years ago. We will then assemble our findings and deduce the most likely conclusion possible."
Huh? Was that what this meeting was about? Last I heard, Chitanda only told us to bring any material we could find. I didn't remember anything about deducing a conclusion... But since Satoshi and Ibara did not look the least bit surprised, then this must mean I wasn't paying attention. Damn, guess I'll have to get it over with somehow, but my stomach still felt queasy.
Without carrying any sort of agenda sheet with her, Chitanda looked at every one of us and smoothly explained, "We shall take turns reporting our findings, followed by questions from other members, establishing a hypothesis, and reviewing said hypothesis. Asking questions during reporting is forbidden... This is to prevent our words from getting jumbled, you see. Now then, let's hear the first report."
Hey, she's actually quite a good chairperson. Who knows, she may have the talent for these kinds of things.
No, she did tell me that she's the sort that would seek to understand the entire system, so it's not surprising to see her so well-versed in the rules of chairing meetings.
"Can we have the first report... huh?"
"Chi-chan, who's doing the first report anyway?"
"Umm, who should it be?"
... And then she says something strange like that. I do wonder whether she's easy to read or whether her organization is limited to her actions only. I spoke out to a flustered Chitanda.
"Anyone's fine. Why don't you start?"
Since it's usually the chairperson that starts doing the talking, no? It's not like Chitanda wasn't going to report anything. And since she did lay out the format for this reporting style, she may as well start first and get things rolling smoothly. She nodded and said, "Oh, you're right. Alright then, now... we shall report one by one in clockwise direction starting with me."
She began distributing her notes in the tray upon saying that.
A simple glance told me that this was the source of this investigation, the foreword of "Hyouka Volume 2". I see, so she's starting from the beginning, huh? Though I won't say this was her usual style. I once again read the paragraph that I saw before.
And so we have a Cultural Festival again this year.
It has been one year since Sekitani-sempai left us.
During this year, Sempai has fallen into legend and become a hero. As a result, the five day Cultural Festival will commence as usual.
However, as the legend spread, I went into deep thought. Would people ten years from now still remember the silent warrior and the kind hero? All Sempai has left behind is this anthology "Hyouka", for which he has provided the title.
As a sacrifice of the conflict, even Sempai's smile would end up along the flow of time into eternity.
No, perhaps it is better that we do not remember it. As it was not intended to be a heroic tale.
Once the subjectivity is taken away, this story will become a classic as it transcends all historical perspectives.
Will the day come when our stories become a classic for someone in the future?
October 13th, 1968 Kooriyama Youko
After clearing her throat, Chitanda began explaining, "This is taken from the essay anthology 'Hyouka'. In order to determine what sort of articles 'Hyouka' publishes yearly, one would have to read its foreword and find out what sort of topics it covered. Unfortunately, having said that, this paragraph was the only text that makes any mention of the incident 33 years ago. It may be that it's written in other places, but we do not have the first volume... Anyway, I have summarized the main points of this foreword in these notes here,"
She then distributed copies for the second page.
- "Sempai" had departed. (From where?)
- "Sempai" became a hero 33 years ago, and had become a legend by the following year
- "Sempai" was a "silent warrior" and "kind hero"
- "Sempai" named this anthology "Hyouka"
- A conflict happened and sacrifices were made ("Sempai" = sacrifice?)
Now that sure was brief and straight to the point. I couldn't help but sigh in wonder, but thinking about it, while Chitanda was the manifestation of Curiosity itself, she was also an honours student. If she did not know how to summarize things, she would not be able to get such high grades.
After making sure everyone had read through the note, Chitanda continued with her explanation.
"First of all, this 'Sempai', in other words my uncle, had dropped out of Kamiyama High School. His final academic level was Junior High. I hope you're all following me."
While this was the first time I heard Chitanda mention Sekitani Jun had dropped out of Kamiyama High School, I wasn't particularly surprised. After all, it was not hard to guess from the opening sentence of the foreword: "since Sekitani-sempai left us".
But then, Chitanda probably doesn't know the reason why her uncle dropped out... No, she definitely doesn't know. If she did, she would have mentioned it already. Come to think of it, back at the Cafe Pineapple Sandwich, she did mention that the Sekitanis and Chitandas have become estranged.
"Second, the foreword makes a big issue out of how time has passed. The third point is interesting; besides mentioning 'Sempai' as kind and silent, he's also described as a 'warrior' and 'hero'. What was he fighting for? The fifth point merely affirms that 'Sempai' fought in some conflict and became a hero, and was sacrificed as a result. As for the fourth point... while I'm curious about it, it's irrelevant to the current problem for now. This concludes my report, are there any questions?"
As it wasn't particularly offbeat, I didn't have much to ask.
While it would have been usual for our eccentric (i.e. Satoshi) to raise his hand during classes, in gatherings like these where there are few people and everyone knows each other, he saw no reason to do so. So instead, it was Ibara who started asking right away, "Umm, why was this line 'As it was not intended to be a heroic tale' not considered at all?"
Satoshi knew the answer of course. Though he wanted to speak, he held back his words and looked at me. He can be quite polite when the situation calls for it, not wanting to interrupt Chitanda as she answers.
On the other hand, as Chitanda was the one being asked, she replied right away, "That phrase was just a mental image, as different people may have different views as to what a heroic tale means."
Upon waiting for Chitanda finished her explanation, Satoshi added right away, "It probably means that it was nothing as romantic as a heroic tale, but more of a dirty battle. So I think it's not just a mental image."
Somehow Ibara was convinced.
There were no other questions asked.
"Now, I will begin my hypothesis."
Chitanda sounded neither confident nor uncertain, but was just being her usual self. She did not hold any memos of the sort as she began, "My uncle seemed to have been involved in some conflict, and after that, he dropped out of school. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the conflict was what led to him dropping out. There is one more point to consider besides the five points I mentioned: the opening sentence 'It has been one year since'.
"In other words, my uncle dropped out one year before the Kanya Festival, meaning during the previous Kanya Festival. By the way, I heard from a friend of mine who goes to Kamiyama Commercial High School that there was an incident in their Cultural Festival last year."
Satoshi said cheerfully, "The Rampage of the Cultural Festival, I think it was called. Stalls were threatened while sale proceedings disappeared."
"There's a saying that as long as there's a system, there would exist entities that would go against it. Whether it's the Cultural Festival, Sports Festival or the Graduation Ceremony, there would occasionally be people opposed to these so-called annual events. One more thing, please have a look at page 24 of the Kami High Student Handbook."
Despite her saying that, no one could take out their Student Handbook. This was a matter of fact, as who would actually bring such a thing with them all the time?
"... Is something wrong?"
"Unfortunately we left our handbooks at home. So what was written in there?"
"... Could it be that you don't carry the handbook with you at all times? Oh, never mind. Umm, here's what it says, 'Violent behaviour is strictly forbidden'. So here is my theory,"
Without changing the tone of her voice, Chitanda went on, "There was an unfortunate disturbance during the Kanya Festival that year, and it could be that my uncle responded to it with physical force. While he may have become a hero, he had to carry the responsibility of resorting to violence. The subsequent tragic outcome resulted in his underclassmen writing a eulogy for his departure."
Satoshi and I both spoke simultaneously.
Ibara then turned, not to Chitanda but to us, wondering just what on earth we were thinking.
"Is the theory wrong? Can you please tell me your reason why?"
Chitanda spoke quietly and looked at me with a serious expression. I merely shrugged my shoulders and replied, "You said there exist people who go against the system and cause a rampage in the Cultural Festival. But this would have required the stalls to have quite high sales proceeds in order to attract anyone to even steal from them. Besides, do you remember what I said when you suggested we publish an essay anthology?"
Chitanda spun her eyes around slowly.
"You said it's too labour intensive."
"No, not that. Something else."
"Something else? Umm... You also said three authors is a bit too much, but we now have four."
... Should I be complimenting her on her amazing memory? As if I would. I recognize her ability to remember this stuff, but Chitanda, technically speaking, when I said that there were still only three members.
"... You mentioned alternatives to publishing things, like,"
At last she's getting to the point. She placed her palms together before her chest and recalled, "Setting up an exhibition booth, and then I said,"
"You said exhibition booths are traditionally forbidden. I remember that as well. If that's the case, then there'd be no place for any money to be made in the Kanya Festival. You think people could find something valuable to steal at such an event?"
As though not convinced with such an argument, Chitanda tilted her head intimately and said, "But there is a possibility."
"What is it?"
"While it may have no monetary value, I believe such there is value in other areas."
... Well, she does have a point. If she puts it that way, there's nothing I can say.
"You're so hopeless, Houtarou. You can't convince Chitanda-san like that."
"Really? Then what have you come up with?"
"Something I know won't get rebutted at least."
Satoshi then pretended to clear his throat and began, "'For every system there exists a group of people who opposes it'; that's an interesting way of putting it, Chitanda-san. It is most probably true. Yet the form of resistance is dependent on the fashion of the times as well.
"While it's true that there are occasions where incidents have occurred during Cultural Festivals, most of the time the perpetrators were acting for the purpose of materialistic gain. But that is not to say that there are no disturbances in which the motive is not materialistic. You have to remember this was 33 years ago, so to suggest material gain as a motive for the disturbance was well-nigh impossible."
Fashion of the times? As in style of resistance?
What's he trying to say? I could sense something up his sleeve. So too did Ibara and Chitanda, who looked at Satoshi in puzzlement.
"... Why's that?"
Ibara prompted Satoshi to continue as he was assuming an air of importance while saying nothing. He nodded satisfyingly and said, "You probably won't get it if I say 33 years ago, but what if I use the term '1960s'?"
Satoshi looked pretty triumphant. Normally I wouldn't go about wasting so much energy just to compete with him in acquiring such knowledge, but it just feels depressing to see him in such a good mood as he boasts about it. Unfortunately, I was not familiar with history.
"How about it, Mayaka? You have any idea now?"
Ibara probably doesn't have a clue either. She made a pose of giving up while gripping her fists together.
"Sorry Fuku-chan, I can't think of anything."
"Really? How about the National Diet Building in Tokyo? ... Still want more hints? Does placards and demonstration strike any keys? ... I'm talking about the student movement here."
We looked on in bewilderment.
While I was thinking what kind of joke was he pulling, Satoshi didn't seem the least bit depressed. So I quipped in, "Satoshi, why are we suddenly having a lecture on Modern Japanese History? If you want to have a quiz show with us we can do it after we deal with this problem."
Yet Satoshi maintained a serious expression and said, "Well, I am dealing with the problem. Listen up, according to Chitanda-san's theory, the sort of campus violence she mentioned was quite commonplace during the 1960s. It was a time where conflicts were in abundance for pro-establishment or anti-establishment movements, so someone may have used that as an outlet and mimicked their actions. This was not a mere boom."
"... Don't say it as though you've seen it yourself."
"Like I said, I've been researching this period for some time now."
Satoshi gave me his usual invincible-looking smile.
Hmm, even without Satoshi's brief Modern History lesson, I more or less figured it out. It was not out of place for some sort of incident to occur during the Cultural Festival 33 years ago. Though I have no way of finding out whether it's true without some sort of investigative ability (not that I care), but leaving Satoshi's jokes aside, such a theory was not impossible.
"Hmm, I see... It's true that I haven't taken into consideration contemporary events..."
Chitanda seemed to have been shaken by Satoshi's attacks on her weak points. Her theory now stood like a candle in the wind as a result.
That said, Ibara spoke up enthusiastically in support of Chitanda, "Excuse me, Chi-chan,"
"... What seems to be the matter?"
"I'm afraid Chi-chan's theory won't stand once I report what I find. I'm next, so if possible I'll continue where you left off..."
To be honest, I was a bit pissed. Why you Ibara, why'd you have to speak up unnecessarily? Yet Chitanda smiled sweetly and said, "No, my theory was found to be unsuitable after review, after all."
A respectable attitude.
"Anyway, I shall withdraw my hypothesis for now. Let us now hear from Ibara-san, is that fine with everyone here?"
No one spoke against that. It was wise to have Chitanda as our top batter. As Chitanda discarded her own theory, it was now Ibara's turn to insist that such a theory was correct. Being a prudent person, Ibara would probably speak in an easy to understand manner.
"Well then, please start, Ibara-san."
The copies that Ibara handed out to us, how should I say this, they were written in a completely different style that was easy to comprehend. The fonts and typography looked smug, while the words were hard to read with their lack of curves. On the B5 paper were written the following lines:
In other words, we, the Masses, are able to carry on with our independent and Anti-Bureaucratic activities without obstruction. Though this was by no means a succumb to violence.
Despite the Great Strife that occurred last June, thanks to the Classics Club president Sekitani Jun's heroic support of our bold pragmatism, the sight of Powers That Be making a fool out of themselves as their calculations backfired remained fresh in our memories.
"This was one of the Manga Studies Club's old anthologies. It's titled 'Unity and Salutations Volume 1', though they've only published 2 volumes in total. Like Chi-chan's book, this was also published 32 years ago. I was thinking that if 'Hyouka' made a mention of this incident, then I could find something by doing a search in the library. As expected, there aren't many clubs that lasted for more than 30-40 years. At first I thought the Manga Studies Club couldn't possibly have existed back then, yet I just happened to stumble upon this... Amazing, isn't it?"
I had no idea whether she meant the discovery of this anthology was amazing or that the anthology itself was amazing. Unity and Salutations... was that the kind of titles they used back then? It somehow sounded suspicious. And the style of prose that they used back then! This sounded more like what the Classics Club would be using instead.
On the other hand, it was clear why Chitanda's theory was overturned. Simply put, the Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival is held every October, yet this passage mentions the incident happening in June. I see, so that's why the theory's rejected.
Ibara took out a college-style memo notebook from her uniform pocket and continued, "Sorry, I haven't written any summaries the way Chi-chan did, so I'll just say them out loud. Firstly, 'we, the Masses' has been accused of being anti-establishment. There was a 'streef' that happened in June the previous year. They were assisted by Sekitani Jun, and resorted to some sort of pragmatism thanks to that. This caused troubles for the Powers That Be. The rest of the passage may be interesting, but they don't seem to have anything else relevant about the incident."
I had no objection to her speech, but what on earth is a 'streef' anyway? I browsed through my own vocabulary in my head and could find nothing. Not that my vocabulary was particularly huge to begin with.
As I was busy wondering what 'streef' meant, Chitanda continued with the meeting, "Is that all for your report?"
"Now then, any questions?"
I instantly asked right away, "What does 'streef' mean?"
Satoshi then asked me soon after that, "What's a 'streef' anyway?"
Why you, I thought you were supposed to know. He then took the copy of my "Unity and Salutations" and pointed the word out to me.
"She meant this, 'strife'."
So he does know what it means. Without looking at the copy I held, he continued without delay, "That should be read as 'sTRYfe', as in armed strife, a bitter conflict."
Yet Satoshi didn't seem to have taught me anything. While he was looking at me, he sounded more like he was harshly criticizing me for mispronouncing that word, yet I realized he was using me as a foil to correct Ibara as well. Whether he was skillful or not in doing it, Satoshi can be quite considerate. Though I had no intention to help out, I still persisted, "Well, though I only have 15 years worth of vocabulary, I haven't seen such a word used before."
"Of course. Normally the words 'conflict' and 'argument' would have been used, yet 'strife' seemed to be a popular word back then. We still see such words being used nowadays, but mostly by Yakuzas."
I see, now that he mentions it... words like "going" to represent "getting someone whacked". Its use sounds old and elegant, yet not quite. 
Satoshi then cleared his throat loudly and added, "... But this anthology, it feels more like an imitation."
Ibara reacted at once with riled voice, "What do you mean, 'imitation'?"
Upon being questioned like that, Satoshi moaned quietly. He was normally confident with his bluffs, yet it was rare to see him look so troubled like that as he replied meekly, "No, I'm not saying your material is fake,"
"Of course it isn't! Umm, how should I put this? Basically speaking, the author of this passage didn't take part in any action whatsoever. He's the sort that would see some spectacular college sports game and would write about how impressed he was about it, and that was how this was written. But it's not a fake, it's..."
I asked, "So, what was that about?"
"Ah, nothing, just my imagination. Sorry about that Chitanda-san, may we continue?"
The chairperson nodded and everyone agreed.
"Now then, are there any other questions?"
It seemed no one had anything else to ask. As she was about to announce her theory, Ibara looked slightly nervous as she frantically searched through her notes.
"Umm, right, here's my hypothesis. Though this would reject Chi-chan's theory, you will all understand when you first hear this."
We all remained silent in agreement. Since June and October were just way too far apart.
"Anyway, the author mentioned how the Pragmatists caused the plans of the Powers That Be to backfire. The result was the Classics Club President dropping out as mentioned in 'Hyouka'.
"Now, what was this pragmatic action that was done that warranted his dropping out? ... My view is the same as Chi-chan here, in other words, violence. If this was recent, then it might have involved something like the breaking of glass, but Fuku-chan would probably have something to say about that. The victims would be... the Powers That Be. As for the anti-establishment, well that's something that I hear often that's opposed to the government, so something like that. The rest is simple, the Classics Club president led them and confronted the teachers, and then..."
She held her fists tightly and mimicked a punch.
"Pow Whacked them hard. Though we don't know whether they were assaulted or not, they probably did something similar. Of course, it's not like they wanted to do this. The first paragraph which I highlighted is important, basically what it wants to emphasize is their independence. For some reason 33 years ago, that independence was threatened, and in order to defend it, the Classics Club president had no choice but to counter with resistance."
Ibara finished by closing her notebook and looked at everyone present.
"Hmm... This sounds frustrating."
The chairperson, who was supposed to digest what she just heard, spoke her thoughts out loud. I nodded and agreed.
"Frustrating? What is?"
Chitanda answered, "Ibara-san, your main point revolves around how the teachers had threatened the students' way of life, and led them to resort to violence to resist such a threat, right?"
Ibara thought for a while before replying, "Yeah, that's right."
"However, how should I put it, while I understand some parts, overall I don't quite understand."
While I understand some of what you say, overall I don't quite understand what you've just said either. Still, it was not entirely incomprehensible. She basically meant Ibara's theory wasn't very persuasive. I added to Chitanda's response, "Your theory is way too abstract. Besides, any further and you would simply be scanning the passage."
"You're right. It is indeed like that, but..."
Though she admitted as much, Ibara didn't completely retreat.
"Wait, you mean there's a contradiction?"
It seemed she wanted to defend her theory more than Chitanda did.
Unfortunately, I did notice a contradiction.
I said with an upright sitting posture. It had nothing to do with the tense atmosphere of rebutting other people, it's just that my feet were getting numb, that's all.
"To put it simply, you yourself have rejected Chitanda's theory that instead of the Cultural Festival in October, the incident happened in June. However, if we're to believe both 'Hyouka' and the 'Unity and Salutations', then the incident would have happened in June, while the dropping out would have occurred during the Cultural Festival in October. But Chitanda's theory makes no mention of that. And don't you find it strange that one would wait four months after getting involved in violent behaviour to drop out?"
It would be a different story if his case was pending appeal during this time, I added in my mind.
"But, that is," Ibara rebutted, even though she seemed to have understood.
"It could be that 'Hyouka' got it wrong. The 'Unity and Salutations' clearly mentions the month of June, whereas 'Hyouka' merely says 'It has been one year since'. The incident happened in June, followed by the dropping out in the same month, while the Cultural Festival is in October. It doesn't sound too unreasonable, does it?"
A four month gap, huh? This does sound like one of Ibara's far-fetched arguments...
As I was hesitating, Chitanda and Satoshi gave their judgment on the theory respectively.
"I believe we cannot ignore such a long time interval."
"Me too. 'Cultural Festival' was mentioned just before the 'one year since' sentence, after all, so I think the dropping out happened in October."
Upon my silent nodding, the other two expressed their agreement.
Three against one. Ibara gave a displeased look.
"Ugh-, you guys are so picky with your details."
Though that cute reaction didn't exactly fit her style, it did help relieve the tense atmosphere a bit. Satoshi tried to smooth things over by saying in a casual manner, "But at least the way you approached it was good, I think."
Chitanda also broke her extremely serious look and smiled in agreement.
"Indeed. Reviews need not be too radical."
I think so as well. How do I say this, it felt like looking at a map in the middle of a foggy maze, or being frustrated because something did not go as planned. If only 'Hyouka' and 'Unity and Salutations' were considered, then Ibara's theory probably wouldn't feel so limited. All that was left now was Satoshi's data and me wrapping things up. And if any fatal contradictions occurred, all I had to do was think of a solution before my turn was up.
Come to think of it, what were my notes about anyway? All I knew was that we were supposed to pool the notes together, but I haven't gone around to actually reading mine in earnest.
"Well, this ends my turn, right?"
Chitanda nodded at Ibara's question.
Following the clockwise order, next would be Satoshi. At Chitanda's prompting, Satoshi began distributing his notes. He then stopped suddenly and said cheerfully, "Ah yes, I forgot to mention. Some of my notes disprove Mayaka's hypothesis."
The copies we received were a copy of the "Kami High Monthly". That reminds me, Toogaito said that they're approaching their 400th issue already. If they publish ten issues per year on average, then that means they've been around for nearly 40 years. I should have realized they would of course have a back issue from 33 years ago... One of the articles was highlighted with a circle around it.
Only a small section of the copy was relevant to what we were discussing, but that was clearly enough to disprove Ibara's theory. Such was the basis of Satoshi's confidence when he said that. Perhaps he was trying to maintain consistency with the other speakers... Taking a quick glance at Ibara, she revealed a rather complicated expression that was neither happy nor unhappy. That was to be expected, as Satoshi started his speech by commenting on her theory and not on Chitanda's. Though Satoshi was probably just imitating Ibara when he said his notes disproved the previous speaker's hypothesis. Naturally, it was one of his usual jokes.
▼ Following the disturbances in the Special Purposes Block last week, which left a stain on the honour and pride of the arts-related clubs of Kamiyama High School, two of the perpetrators have been suspended, with five others given serious warnings. ▼ Of course, there is honour even amongst thieves. For the Film Studies Club said they were not going to just sit around and accept this harsh punishment, while the Photography Club insisted that they were 100% right all along. Though this paper would not go so far as to proclaim that. ▼ For the problem remains that this conflict was resolved with fists. Ignoring the efforts taken to resolve this through dialogue, certain people of extremist thought have decided to take the easy yet pathetic option of violence. ▼ We urge the third-year members of the Film Studies Club to repent for their senseless beating of Sachimura Yukiko-san (New Theatre Club, Class 1-D), who was acting as mediator during the negotiations. Currently Sachimura-san is being hospitalized as we publish this. ▼ The legendary movements of two years ago would not have resorted to such violence. Even though we are all infuriated by what has happened lately, we must not allow this to shatter our solidarity, and we must persevere with our civil disobedience. ▼ Only then can we live on knowing that we have lived up to our tradition and honour.
Satoshi began to explain with a calm face,
"My findings come from this back issue of the 'Kami High Monthly'. I stumbled upon this hibernating in the library archives, so I decided to read it in order to kill some time after school. However, it makes no direct mention of the incident 33 years ago, and this is all that it said concerning that event. To be honest, I think we're going in circles with this piece here. Though this is called a back issue, only half is readable as it's poorly preserved. It's got all sorts of notes written all over it in felt tip marker, guess it can't be helped. Anyway, here are the main points:"
◯ The incident was not resolved by violence
◯ The incident affected the entire school
◯ In the midst of the incident, "we" became united
◯ Civil disobedience was observed throughout the incident
"The first and last points may be contradictory, but they're related to the same thing. Since the incident wasn't resolved by violence, this is where Mayaka's theory needs amending. The middle two points are nearly identical. While it's not entirely certain whether the 'we' here represents the entire school, it's safe to assume that this doesn't really matter too much."
I wasn't fully satisfied with that explanation. As though sensing that, Satoshi added, "Put it this way. If 'we' means the entire school, then naturally the entire student body is involved. If it doesn't, it still means 'we' decided to back up whoever is concerned. Am I right?"
"That wraps up my report. Any questions?"
Silence followed. Chitanda asked again just to be safe, "... Are there any questions?"
Oh yeah. As though just thinking of something, I raised my hand.
"Satoshi, this 'legendary movement' mentioned here, is it entirely different to the incident we're investigating? It feels suspicious just reading this copy alone."
I was merely asking in order to confirm something. As I had anticipated, Satoshi shook his head.
"Dunno. There's no evidence that says whether that's the incident we're looking for."
"Dunno, you say..."
Though he sounded calm, his response was reckless. Though his knowledge was deep and plentiful, he can be rather indifferent as to how he used it...
"Then your information is pretty much useless."
"Really, thought so."
"What do you mean thought so!?"
Ibara interrupted, "There's evidence to support that, after all."
"The incident that we're looking into caused quite an uproar, right? We knew that from the anthologies of two clubs. This incident and the 'legendary movement' are different events, since even if they are similar, one of them is clearly labelled 'legendary' here, right?"
Satoshi clapped his palms together.
"Ah, that's right. So that's why it says that. You're amazing, Mayaka."
Nope, I don't think you even gave thought to that before. I see, what Ibara said does make sense. If we cannot ascertain whether two objects are the same, then we'll just assume that they're different to begin with, provided the assumption is logical as Ibara has done. Besides, I wouldn't waste my energy going through so much trouble just to look for evidence. I waved my hand to gesture that I accepted the explanation.
There were no other questions asked.
"Now then, let's hear your hypothesis,"
However, Satoshi smiled bitterly upon being asked.
"Umm, hypothesis, huh?"
"Is something wrong?"
"Chitanda-san, I don't mean to disrupt the order of the meeting, but I can't seem to make any theory whatsoever. Though I did say we'll do our own research, all I've found is this anthology... The best I could do is to amend Ibara's theory. After all,"
I knew Satoshi was now going to bring out one of his mottos: Conclusions cannot...
"Conclusions cannot be made from databases alone."
In the end, Satoshi didn't come up with any theories. Guess it can't be helped, not that I had much expectations from him anyway.
Though the problem now lied with me. Darn, I now regret not having read my research materials. I did have a theory in mind already, so I ignored the wavering in my heart and proceeded with the meeting.
"Now then, Oreki-san, you may start anytime."
I nodded and handed out the copies, while taking a quick glance at my own copy as I did so. Like Satoshi's material, my copy itself did not contain much that was of much relevance to the incident. It was nothing but a listing of dry facts; that was the information that I researched.
Events in Japan and the World
- Japan's Gross National Product exceeds 45 trillion yen to become the 3rd largest economy in the capitalist world. By 1968, it is expected to leapfrog West Germany to 2nd place.
- Lightning strikes on a group of Fukashi High School students from Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, while they were hiking at Mt Nishiho, leaving 11 dead.
- Student activism in Waseda University escalates with students participating in massive strikes
Events in Kamiyama High School
◯ April: In a speech by Principal Eida Tasuku: "We must not allow ourselves to be complacent and become a mere backwater school. The nurture of talent should be what education is all about. Secondary education should be about nurturing talents to prepare for tertiary education." A change in how the school is governed is alluded.
◯ June 13th: "Cultural Festival Consideration Committee" held after lessons.
◯ July: Observation tour in America. (Led by Manninbashi-sensei)
◻ October 13th-17th: Cultural Festival.
◻ October 31st: Sports Festival.
◻ November 15th-18th: 2nd Year Field Trip - Takamatsu, Miyajima and Akiyoshidai.
◯ December 2nd: In light of recent consecutive traffic accidents, students are assembled in order to raise awareness of traffic safety.
◯ January 12th: Sports Equipment Storage Room partially damaged due to heavy snow.
◻ January 23rd-24th: 1st Year Skiing Course.
"Houtarou, could this be..."
I replied with a sour expression, "Yup, recorded from 'Kamiyama High School: Walking Together for 50 Years'. It is as you have seen..."
Having seen how the other three have presented their materials, if I were to imitate them, I would have to summarize my findings.
... But there's hardly anything for me to summarize.
It's not like I brought this material with much thought anyway. Looking at it another way, this material simply didn't have much meaning to it.
The next few moments were spent with me at a loss for what to do next. Since this was only a request from a female student, as well as a club assignment, I wasn't going to get stiff because of it. It's more my style to say "Sorry guys, I can't think of anything," and let Chitanda and Ibara take care of the rest.
But even this option was a bit too grey-coloured for me.
"Excuse me. Before I go on, I need to go to the bathroom first."
Chitanda couldn't help but giggle.
"Yes, of course."
"You nervous?" Satoshi said as though trying to calm me, but I had no intention of letting him do so. Chitanda stood up and showed me the way. As I followed her, I casually placed my copy into my pocket.
I began to think as I was led to the wide bathroom.
Four copies of paper. Four pieces of material.
And then, the debating that would follow.
What is the answer that links them all? What happened 33 years ago?
I went into thinking...
And finally came to a conclusion.
"Sorry guys, as I was thinking in a different direction, I didn't bother coming up with a hypothesis. So can I just jump straight to the conclusion since I'm the last one to speak?"
Upon hearing my suggestion, Satoshi smiled mischievously.
"Houtarou, you have something in mind?"
"Stop reading my mind... Anyway, I'll explain briefly."
Chitanda took a breath before continuing, "I think that won't be enough. If there's anyone that can come up with a hypothesis without any contradictions, it is you, Oreki-san,"
W, well, I dunno about that.
"Let us hear your theory, Oreki-san."
"Yeah, c'mon. Tell us already."
"I'm quite looking forward to it, after all we've discussed."
They're already deciding on their own... While I'm not exactly under pressure, it's quite difficult to speak with so many people staring at me. Now then, where do I start? I thought for a while and said, "Alright, I'll go with the good old 5W1H method. When, where, who, why, how and what... I've got them all listed, right?"
"Good. Anyway, first, 'when'. We know it happened 33 years ago, but we don't know whether it's June or October. If the 'Unity and Salutations' is right, then it's June, while based on the description on 'Hyouka', it feels more like October. However, as both sources are quite reliable, I would say the incident occurred in June while 'Sempai's' dropping out happened in October."
Looking disgruntled, Ibara raised her brows, as it was just a while ago that I pointed out the contradictions in her theory. I ignored her and continued, "Next, 'where'. There's no problem answering that: At Kamiyama High School. 'Who', according to the 'Unity and Salutations', we know the main character is Sekitani Jun, the Classics Club president. Allow me to extend this a bit here, the main character is actually the entire student body, Sekitani is just one of the many protagonists."
While I was quite sure there were no mistakes so far, my eyes would occasionally glance down at my notes as I spoke. So far so good, now for the main course.
"'Why'. If the entire student body were up in arms, then their adversary would naturally be the teaching staff. To quote from Ibara, their 'independence was threatened'.
"And the cause for the incident was the Cultural Festival itself."
As I laid down my conclusion, I could feel everyone looking at me with questioning eyes. I felt like I might have a heart attack at any moment.
"... Was that mentioned somewhere?"
"Though it did mention about a dropping out during the Cultural Festival, it doesn't say how the festival itself has anything to do with it."
I shook my head.
"No, it has everything to do with it. My conclusion comes from a conversation the students had with the teaching staff, which resulted in the Cultural Festival being carried out in October as usual."
Satoshi stared at the 'Kamiyama High School: Walking Together for 50 Years' and commented, "You mean this 'Cultural Festival Consideration Committee' thing, right? But why do you think this was the cause of the incident? Even without that thing, wouldn't they still have gone on with the annual Cultural Festival?"
"No, you're mistaken. Since I took the trouble of copying from this 'Walking Together for 50 Years', have a closer look."
Besides Satoshi, Chitanda and Ibara too took a glance, and then, "Each event is marked by either a circle or square!"
"... I get it! The squares indicate regular events, while the circles mark specific events for that year!"
"You're not too far off. You'd probably find such events that don't grind well with the regular events for other years as well."
I then switched the copy of 'Kamiyama High School: Walking Together for 50 Years' to that of 'Hyouka' and went on, "Why was there a committee for the consideration of the Cultural Festival 33 years ago? This was in response to the students' strong demands concerning the event itself. Why would the students demand that such a committee be set up? The hint can be found in 'Hyouka',"
I took a ball pen and underlined a few lines.
"Here, 'During this year, Sempai has fallen into legend and become a hero. As a result, the five day Cultural Festival will commence as usual.' Don't you find something strange with this line?"
As nobody said anything, I continued, "We knew the Cultural Festival would commence as usual, yet why would the author add something so trivial? This means our attention should not be on 'commence as usual', but on the words 'five days'."
"... What are you talking about? I don't get it. I don't quite follow what you're trying to say, Oreki. What about those words anyway?"
"I'm saying the Hero's achievement is that the Cultural Festival gets to be held for five days. Let us return to the 'Walking Together for 50 Years' and observe the Principal's speech in April. If you just read it literally, its simply a message encouraging students to focus on their academic studies. However, I'd like you to read between the lines.
"Our school's cultural festival is held during weekdays. For five full days. This is particularly long compared to other schools. Hence the Cultural Festival became a symbol of our school's club activities. What if the Principal was hinting at the students to focus more on their studies over their club activities... This would mean that the Cultural Festival would be shortened. But the students were having none of it, hence they were 'infuriated' by it. That is the cause of the incident - the 'why'."
I sighed and noticed I was getting thirsty. I felt like getting a cup of barley tea... But before I finish my speech, I'll just have to make do with my saliva and continue.
"Now, 'how'. 'Thanks to the Classics Club president Sekitani Jun's heroic support', the students carried out some 'bold pragmatism'. Finally, 'what'. Being incensed by the school's decision, the students decided on a policy of 'civil disobedience' while refraining from violence. The result was that the Cultural Festival Consideration Committee was held and the Cultural Festival retains its five day duration. In a strict sense, there was no violence involved that led to such an outcome. The same cannot be said for the wider context though. I'm not entirely sure, but massive non-violent protests would involve something like... hunger strikes, demonstrations and skipping classes. I'm sure Satoshi's more familiar with this subject. In the end, due to mounting student pressure, the school was forced to relent on their decision to shorten the Cultural Festival. Yet the price was for the 'Hero' Sekitani Jun to leave school."
I added one more thing.
"As for why there's a time gap between the incident and the dropping out, I would guess that as Sekitani Jun was a central figure in the student movement in June, if he dropped out then, it would just have created a bigger uproar. So his dropping out was delayed until everyone's passion had cooled down after the Cultural Festival."
I took a small breath as I finished my explanation. Phew. I could sense the summer heat returning.
This pretty much ends my explanation.
Someone clapped his hands indifferently. It was Satoshi.
"Wow, that sure was amazing, Houtarou. Now I see."
Ibara began to silently collect her notes. While she looked rather displeased, that was just her usual self.
And as for Chitanda.
Like an excited kid that had just seen a circus performance, our lady opened her mouth and said, "That was wonderful, Oreki-san! You have managed to come up with such a conclusion with just the materials we have here... I was right to have requested your help!"
Even I would feel good being praised. I could sense myself getting embarrassed.
Looks like we've solved Chitanda's problem and created some materials to write for our own anthology now. Ever since meeting Chitanda at the end of April, all this bothersome stuff would finally come to an end.
As chairperson, Chitanda had to continue her role and asked, "Are there any further questions?"
As there were none, Chitanda gave a big nod and concluded, "Then we shall publish our essay anthology this year based on Oreki-san's conclusions. The details will be discussed on another day. For now this meeting is adjourned... Thanks for all the hard work."
We all said our farewells.
Chitanda led me to the entrance as I left. From her smile, I could tell how satisfied she was with how things went today.
"I am deeply grateful."
She said and bowed deeply.
"It's not me alone,"
I said and put on my shoes. Satoshi, who had gone outside before me, gestured to me to hurry up. As I'm not familiar with the way here, I had no choice but to let Satoshi lead me out.
"Well then, we shall meet again at school,"
"Yeah, I'm off..."
I waved my hand to bid farewell to the Chitanda residence.
As I'd already left, naturally I had no idea what Chitanda was doing after that.
After I departed, she stood by her entrance with an expression as though she had just realized something, and so I did not know what she had whispered to herself then.
She probably said something along the lines of,
"But... why did I end up crying that day?"
Translator's Notes and References
- Original term is "mamachari" (ママチャリ), a Japanese-term to refer to bikes mounted with a huge basket in front. The name comes from them generally being used by mothers (mama) to carry their babies around in the basket (chari - a slang for bike). Link
- Probably referring to a quote by Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen
- Japanese alcove
- TL Note: The pronunciation mistake is obviously all in Japanese and so terms are translated accordingly
- TL: Mt Nishiho is part of the Hida Mountains in Nagano Prefecture. Though only the Japanese Wikipedia entry is available for Mt Nishiho itself. As well as the said lightning disaster
- TL: All Wikipedia entries concerning Japanese student movement in the 1960s are in Japanese. Googling "Japan student movement" may yield more English results.
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