Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 7 Afterword
That winter, after celebrating my 33rd birthday, I had a chat with many homeless folk.
I live in Ikebukuro, and honestly, this place is not as modernized as everyone would imagine. At the office streets to the East entrance of the train station in particular, there were no people to be seen once it was midnight. Whenever I reach a bottleneck when writing in the middle of the night, I would leave home to wander around the streets, and at this moment, all I would see were the road workers, the patrol guards, some youths practicing breakdancing and skateboarding, and old men hiding in cardboard boxes, sleeping.
“Anyway, it’s very cold.”
One of the old men said as he held onto the coffee I served him.
“The ground’s the coldest place on earth. It’s useless no matter how I paved the ground. Whenever I sleep, I feel my body warmth being sapped away, little by little.”
I tried lying on the ground after the old man left, and spaced out for a while. That night was a cold night, so frigid was stuck to the ground. I looked back, and found that there was nary a star to be seen in the Ikebukuro night. It was the 3rd Winter I spent in Ikebukuro after moving there, and never once did I look up at the sky until then.
This was how the story of the 7th volume began, and it ended at the same place. The same thing repeats itself again. Even the part about returning home was about the novel.
It has been 5 years since I started writing the ‘Kamisama no Memochou’ Series.
Lots of things were erased through these 5 years, and the park that is the setting for the 7th volume is one of them. I had an actual park as the setting, but it is no longer around, and there is none of the tent village to be seen.
When I saw the news to reconstruct the place, I had a thought that I would write a story about this part. The construction of the plot was harder to come up with, and I only managed to sort it out at the beginning of this year. I suppose some readers will understand that this is an unprecedented field from what I have written before.
While I was dragging my feet, reality overtook the pace of the novel, and it was almost exactly the moment I submitted the first manuscript that the reconstruction of the park ended. All the tent villages were torn down, concrete was paved on the floor, and there were a futsal court, a skating pit, and a rock climbing wall. The landscape was completely toppled, and the past scenery nowhere to be seen.
Only the name of the park remains till this day.
It just so happened that it was the same as the theme I repeatedly emphasized in this series, and it really was a peculiar feeling. Perhaps I was attracted to the park because it was the kind of ending I hoped for. However, the real world is not as romantic as how it is in novels.
The 7th volume depicts a story of people who lost their ‘homes’, and the home I was born in vanished during those 5 years.
I was born and raised in a in a town south of Tama, and my house was by the cliff. My parents moved away from there a few years back, and sold the house along with the land.
The transportation at that quiet town was really inconvenient. I suppose only those nothing better to do would want to develop for place, and wondered if the hills at the back, farming fields and houses remained the same as before. A while back, I had such thoughts as I returned back to my hometown, and found the scenery had changed. The road I had to pass through when I was in elementary school was once a dim, long, narrow slope, and it’s currently built as concrete stairs. The bamboo field I once used as a secret base was completely levelled, and the pumpkin field became houses. The house I once lived at was divided into two plots of land, two brand new terrace houses side by side. The Lily Tree where with snakes and stray cats played at vanished without a trace.
Taken aback I was, on a second thought, it was to be expected. For those who never went back, buildings themselves could never last forever. Only when humans and buildings coexist together can there be a complete family.
However, I did not feel lonely. The house vanished, but my hometown never did. My heart shall always treasure the vibrant summer scenery of those years.
The place I should return to would obviously be the path leading home, however, that road was a little longer than it was during my childhood, reaching all the way back to Ikebukuro. That was simply it however.
Recently, I have been changing my memories and insisting that I grew up in the city! I never went out from the Yamanote Line! So I insist, and I don’t have any feelings for my hometown, I guess. I shall reflect on that a little.
As this volume is released, the TV animation should be airing now. Please enjoy these works together. It is thanks to the editor-in-charge Yuasa-sama and the illustrator Kishida Mel-sama and everyone’s assistance that the world of this work is able to expand till this point. I am really grateful. Really, thank you everyone.
May 2011, Sugii Hikaru
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