Chapter 2. A Youth in the Postwar Ruins

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Niki and Yoko

 From a Shitamachi Okami to a Niki de Saint Phalle Collector

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Written by Yuki Kuroiwa

 

Translated by Nasuka Nakajima

 

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Chapter 2. A Youth in the Postwar Ruins

 

The Evil Town of Ueno

 

The train from Ueda came to a full stop, and Shizue stepped onto the platform of Ueno Station. Its vicinity, in a wide stretch of burnt ruins, was teeming with people of all kinds, including demobilized soldiers, wounded soldiers, homeless people, and war orphans. They were all hungry. In the morning, Shizue frequently saw some lying dead on the street.

A number of temporary shanty houses were built on fire-devastated land. The site called the Black Market of Nogami (the reverse of Ue-no in kanji characters) later turned into the famed Ameya-Yokocho alley, Ameyoko for short. It was initially a place of barter. Gradually, however, people began to sell illegal goods and dubious food items. In postwar chaos, every one was struggling to survive.

 

Father made no comment about the fact that Shizue had come home alone from Ueda without prior consulting to him. Perhaps it was because he knew all too well that his daughter would never have yielded once she decided to do something.

Hanaya remained unharmed. So was the staff. Miraculously, the fire did not reach the section from Hirokoji to the neighborhood of the pharmacy Houtan on the Ikenohata-Nakamachi Street. The broad Hirokoji street, where the Metropolitan Streetcar ran in the middle, functioned as a firebreak. The section was also close to Ueno Hill and Shinobazu Pond, and the houses were not densely built. The direction of the wind was a favorable factor as well.

Soon after Arae reopened Hanaya. Sugar was in short supply, and thus, people were hungry for sweets. Utilizing the sugar Hanaya had hoarded during the war, it began to sell oshiruko (sweet porridge) and sweet flavored box lunch. They turned out to be big hits. To compensate for food shortage, Arae made a soba-like dish from seaweed, which was also a hit. Eager customers formed a long line in front of Hanaya.

Using the earnings from the business, Father had three temporary houses built in the Ameyoko district. Shizue’s family moved into one of them. The other two turned into a bar and the dormitory for the barmaids. The male bar owner liked to dress in drag. When evening came, he began to sing in a red kimono. At midnight, drunk barmaids came home screaming with laughter: intoxicated men coming out of the bar gave them come-on signals, and stray dogs barked. One time a gunshot was heard. Every day, the nightly romp lasted till dawn.

Just as the neighborhood of Shizue’s home used to be, the Ueno Station vicinity was noisy and sometimes downright dangerous. The area was called the Evil Town. One night, Shizue heard someone shriek. She rushed outside to witness a blood-soaked man with a dagger in his hand. Onlookers crowded around him. When a woman walked alone there, someone would typically call out, “How much?”

Such a town naturally invited yakuza mobsters. “The Chisakuradan (Bloody Cherry Blossom Army)” was a large gang, which may correspond to a group of juvenile delinquents now, worked devotedly for the influential boss in the neighborhood. For some reason, this gang was Shizue’s favorite group. For a period, she earnestly emulated those gangsters and wished to grow up to be a female leader of Chisakuradan. Through her own experience in the chaotic postwar climate, Shizue strongly felt that only the powerful could survive.

 

 

Girls’ High School Reopens.

 

Shizue’s girls’ high school reopened. Students returned from evacuation sites little by little. Although the repair of damage to school buildings was not complete, that mattered very little to girls who had endured much hardship during the war. The gymnasium roof remained partially missing, and the splendor of the morning sun shone through the openings. Shizue and her friends basked in the sun. Days later, Shizue’s sisters returned from Ueda and entered her school. Shizue felt a strong sense of liberation and empowerment. “The war is over. From now on, I can do anything,” she felt.

 

One day, on her way home from school, Shizue said to her friend Nenko Nozaki, “From now on, we can do anything we like, can’t we?”

Anything?” Nenko asked.

“For instance …” Shizue looked around. A bus was coming toward them.

“How about stopping a bus?” She grinned.

“You can never stop a bus,” said the serious-minded Nenko, in mock disgust. Shizue dashed into the street and planted herself right in front of the bus with her arms spread.

The bus skidded to a halt right in front of Shizue.

“You idiot!”

The bus driver was red in the face with rage. The next moment, Shizue spun around and disappeared into thin air. Nenko was left behind, dumbstruck by what had just happened, while the driver gave Nenko an earful.

“Can’t believe you did this to me, Kuro!”

“Kuro” was Shizue’s nickname.

 

Now that Shizue was finally freed from the terrifying mental state of feeling as if her life was hanging by a thin thread, she was genuinely happy every day. The new Shizue had an insatiable curiosity and free from fear. She acutely felt that she was living life.

 

 

Drama Club

 

Shizue and Nenko joined the Drama Club at school. Originally Japan Women’s Art School, Metropolitan Shinobugaoka Girls’ High School encouraged students to focus on artistic activities. Among the club members was “Bear-san” Michiko Saito who had evacuated to Maruko, Nagano Prefecture. Bear-san was by far a beautiful woman of the group. There was also Chisato Aoki who later joined the Bungakuza Company.

The club adviser was Mr. Sakakibara or “Osakaki.” Young as he was, his hair was all white, possibly due to the hardship at the war front. He was a graduate of the French Literature Department, the University of Tokyo, and always held a book in his hand. This teacher was very passionate about drama performance; he took his students to the kabuki theater quite often. Shizue’s favorite was a kabuki play Shiranami Gonin Otoko (The Five Thieves). He kept them busy one way or another by, for example, showing shadow plays to them. A noted theater teacher among girls’ schools, Osakaki penned critiques on drama theory and wrote and directed plays for the School Festival. He often selected Shizue for the festival, once giving her a leading role.

Increasingly, Shizue grew infatuated with drama and in particularly with Anton Chekhov [1860 – 1904]. She not only acted on stage but also wrote plays. She wrote a paper on Chekhov, which was nominated for an award at the School Festival and was praised by the teacher. By now, Osakaki was a life mentor to Shizue. A lifetime book lover, she would gradually be intrigued to write.

 

“I didn’t expect you’d be still awake,” Arae said one night when came home late from work to find his daughter sitting at her desk.

“Oh. Hi, Dad. I’m rushing to finish this for the Drama Club,” Shizue said.

Arae seemed to be proud of his daughter who was working into midnight.

 

Sometime later when Father came home, Shizue asked him, “Dad, I’ve already discussed this with Chieko and Miyoshi, but is it possible for us to cook?”

The girls wanted to contribute with the chores; they wanted to do them for themselves, even a little bit. But, Father, being an old-school cook, flatly rejected her request.

“Don’t be silly. Women don’t cook. Cooking is the man’s work.”

Those words came from a man who took a great pride in having maintained Hanaya as its chef-owner. “You girls just come eat at Hanaya as before,” he added gently. Later, this type of conversation was repeated several times, but Father’s heart remained unchanged.

“Rather … you know, not just boys but girls also need be ambitious in this day and age,” he turned to Shizue when she was eating at Hanaya.

“You like studying. You should become a Diet member or a lawyer.”

Since Shizue had been thinking about being a playwright or a writer of humorous novels, she felt slightly conflicted. At the same time, though, she appreciated him being seriously concerned about her future. She took his words sincerely.

With her club members. Shizue (center) is holding a paper tube.

 

 

The Popular One in Girls’ High School

 

“When you marry a woman, pick your future bride from Shinobugaoka,” people used to say. Many at this school were rather well-tended and brought up in good families. Among them, the independent-minded Shizue stood out. While most girls wore their hair in pigtails or medium length hair fastening with hairpins, Shizue kept her hair short like a boy, and strode with a swagger.

“Shizue is cute.”

“Shizue is cool.”

She began to draw attention from fellow students. The fact that she spoke in a straightforward manner didn’t hurt, either. Gradually, she was becoming a star-like popular figure at school.

One day, she walked to school in koma-geta clogs holding an oiled paper umbrella. This fashion quickly became the talk on campus, and some imitated it. When she played tennis with Bear-san and Nenko, a throng formed; it grew larger and larger. Some juniors gazed at her in awe.

 

In those days, every girl seemed to have a wish to be an S (for sister) of her beloved senior. To young female students of the early Showa period, the code S meant that one hangs out with her junior or senior on a steady basis. Typically, a girl would confide to her target girl by letter and formally ask for an S relationship.

Shizue found one, too. Her name was Shigeko Hamada, one year junior to her. At first, Shigeko was asked by a senior to relay a verbal message to Shizue. Upon receiving the message, Shizue became furious, “Don’t butt in my business!” Shigeko was badly shaken and decided to avoid Shizue. Yet, after a time, Shigeko received a formal S request from Shizue. Shizue felt that Shigeko had a nice, cute face and a somewhat easy personality. In fact, Shizue had sensed Shigeko’s good nature from the way she brought the message, and thus wanted to be her friend.

The two girls started to commute to and from school together, and occasionally stayed over at each other’s home. Though intimidated at first, Shigeko soon found Shizue gentle and caring, and realized that Shizue was taking her under her wing. On the eve of an exam, Shizue helped Shigeko cram for it overnight. Shizue was to take an exam the next day, too, but had already finished her prep. Her kid sisters often griped, “You take such good care of Shigeko. Way better than your own sisters.”

 

 

The Sound of Lotus Flowers Opening

 

“Did you know? Lotus flowers bloom with a pop sound. Let’s go to Shinobazu Pond to listen for it tomorrow,” Shizue said to Shigeko.

“Okay,” answered Shigeko.

The next early morning, they went to Shinobazu Pond. Because rice paddies had been plowed in the pond during the war, the lotus flowers were not abundant this year. Still, one of the buds was about to open. The two gazed at the bud.

It suddenly and powerfully opened up without noise, shaking the stalk. They looked at each other.

“Made no sound,” Shigeko said.

“True. But, maybe, it was our tough luck today. Why don’t we come back earlier tomorrow?” Shizue was desperate. She hated to admit defeat.

The next morning, they got up earlier and revisited the Pond. Under their intense watch, no flower bloomed with a pop.

“Not again,” Shigeko said.

“The only photo of me and Mom was burnt in the air raid. So, the only good memory I have about Mom is the outing we made to see those flowers. At the time, Mom told me lotus flowers bloom with a pop,” Shizue said sadly.

“That’s too bad. I mean, your Mom, the photo, and no pop.”

“Yeah. But I feel much better now. I just wanted to try it for myself. That’s all,” said Shizue. “Thank you, Shige-chan, for coming with me.”

Shizue looked up at the sky in high spirits.

 

 

“Children’s House”

 

There was a large empty space on the first floor of Kuroiwa family’s two-story house in the Ameyoko alley. Arae often bought snacks for his children from a Yokosuka native who was selling chocolate and candies released from the Occupation Army. Upon learning that he was an accountant, Arae decided to lease him the vacant space as an accounting firm office during the daytime. The man’s name was Mr. M.

At the back of the first floor was Grandmother Chiyo’s room. She had been frequently commuting back and forth between Ueno and Ueda.

 

The second floor housed three rooms; Shizue’s room, Chieko and Miyoshi’s, and the third room for three young freeloaders: Hiroshi, Aunt Kitagami’s son and a Toyo University student, the son of tempura shop owner Mr. Ohno in Nagoya, and Ken, a Waseda University student and the son of an udon noodle shop owner in Un-no-Machi, Ueda City.

Arae didn’t come home until very late. There was no adult supervision whatsoever. Thus, more and more students were visiting those freeloaders, and then stayed on. Before they knew it, the house was called “Children’s House.”

Next came a horde of Shizue’s friends — Shigeko, Nenko, Bear-san and Chisato; Shizue’s sisters’ friends; students of Toyo, Waseda, and Tokyo Universities. Friends invited another and another, and it snowballed. Once, Shigeko, who had been commuting to school from Children’s House, was cautioned by her school that she “return to your own house.” At Children House, some played the guitar, while others enjoyed desultory chats or discussed a wide variety of topics including films, theatrical art and literature. They cherished the free and easy atmosphere there.

 

The lavatory of Children’s House was located outside the building. The space was also leased to the neighboring credit union bank.

“Aaaah!” One day, a sudden cry came from Ohno in the outhouse.

“What’s the matter?” Shizue and Hiroshi rushed down the stairs.

“Catch him!” Ohno called out.

A boy covered with grime and dirt dashed out of the lavatory. Hiroshi quickly caught him. The boy struggled to get loose, but he was no match for Hiroshi, a former amateur sumo contender in middle school.

“What happened? Anything’s the matter?” The rest of the residents had gathered.

“This punk was hiding in the lavatory,” explained Ohno. The boy held an apple firmly in his hand; it must have been offered at the butsudan (Buddhist altar) in Shizue’s house. All looked at each other.

At the time, hordes of homeless people and war orphans were living in the Ueno Station Underpass. Many of young orphans died one after another from hunger and sickness. Stealing was just one way of survival.

“Are you hungry?” Shizue asked the boy.

He nodded his head. He looked very thin and wore only tattered rags.

“Don’t you think we should contact Mr. M?” Ken said.

“If adults find out about this, they will take him to the police,” Shigeko said.

At that time, the voice of Mr. M came, “Anything wrong?” Shizue swiftly ran upstairs to her room and brought some sweets. She handed them to the boy, “Take these and run. Quick!” The boy quickly grabbed them, and disappeared into Ameyoko crowds.

“Anything wrong?” Mr. M showed up.

“Nothing serious. The door to the lavatory didn’t open easily,” said Shizue.

 

In 1947, the authorities closed the underpass at Ueno Station. Under the policy of “Great Relief Work,” the homeless and war orphans were sent to detention facilities.

 

 

The Key is to be Resourceful.

 

Ueno was quite a raucous town. Hawkers hollered at potential customers; second-hand booksellers growled in a gravelly voice; and banana vendors shouting, “Step right up!” In a staged fight, the shills screamed and threatened in a deep, menacing tone, while advertising songs were blasting through the vicinity of Hirokoji. Many were “Matroos Enka (popular songs centering on sailors)” sung by then the up-and-coming Hibari Misora, and Haruo Oka. Oka was Shizue’s favorite singer. At any rate, the whole town was one noisy melting pot of hustle and bustle.

 

Shizue found it hard to concentrate on study. She preferred studying late at night when it was quieter. But the lack of sleep could lead to poor health. How could she score excellent grades without harming her health? While great at English, she was not as good at math and science-related subjects. How could she at least improve her conduct points on the report card? She had to think about that in earnest.

 

The solution she came up was going to school late. After working all night, she would have a good, long sleep and go to school after lunch. Still, she couldn’t afford to hurt her attendance. Here’s how she managed it:

Right after the war, there were temporarily repaired sections around the school building, which only Shizue had noticed. She slid open wooden boards of the fence, and snuck through it. She hid her school bag in the thickets, crossed the schoolyard, and approached the front door of the classroom.

The door clattered open. With the full attention of the teacher and fellow students, Shizue proudly announced, “I am late because I was running an errand for the Drama Club advisor.” By then, she had been the president of Drama Club. The teacher said, “Good work. Take a seat.” Shizue sat at her desk, and joined the class, gazing at the notebook of the student next to her. During the recess, she retrieved her school bag, slid into the teachers’ room, and doctored the attendance book by changing hers from “absent” to “present” for the missed morning classes.

 

As for the math-science subjects, she tackled them like this:

At the beginning of independent study, she stood on the podium, “I’m going to observe in a math-science class for the juniors. Anybody wanna come with me?” The Japanese class, perhaps, but there was no way anybody would accompany her to a math-science class. Thus, just as calculated, Shizue visited the junior class alone, declaring, “I’m here to observe your class, sir.” The teacher could not help feeling impressed. Soon, her reputation was on the rise. “Kuroiwa is a devoted student.”

 

Around the school, there was rubble and debris everywhere. The sight looked desolate. It pained her see such dilapidated scenes. One day Shizue called for volunteers, “Anybody want to clean up around school?” Several came to join her. By this time, Shizue’s leadership role had grown. Her reputation among teachers, including the principal, soared, “Kuroiwa is a remarkable student.”

From around this time in life, Shizue developed her motto: Do good things together with others; do bad things alone. Therefore, those bad things such as sneaking into school by sliding fence boards in order to falsify her attendance record — she kept them totally secret even from her closest friends, Nenko and Shigeko.

 

Stand out anyway I can. Another method Shizue came up with to better her impression was to attract attention from teachers one way or another. Shizue asked teachers as many questions as possible in the class immediately before they were about to grade students in the report card. For example, she could easily think up a number of questions in the Health Ed class without preparation. The key was that she asked rather complex questions so that it would take the teacher a long time to answer. For instance, she questioned, “Sunlight is said to have a sterilizing effect on water. Could you expand on that, please?” The teacher took a long time to explain while the class was put on hold. It wasn’t good for the class, but Shizue didn’t care. If she could improve her grades, especially her conduct points, without studying too hard, that was about perfect for her.

 

I cannot relax at home to study. I’m not particularly bright in the first place. Shizue overcame those weaknesses through shrewd and innovative tactics. At this point in her life, the bottom line was “to be shrewd and resourceful.”

Shizue in her girls’ high school days

 

 

I Want to Continue Studying English.

 

Shizue loved English and studied hard. As a result, her English grades were by far the best on her report card. She took part in the summer school hosted by Tsuda Juku Senmon Gakko (prestigious private women’s college; the present Tsuda University) and also studied English under a foreign teacher at Athénée Français language school in Ochanomizu.

She even had the nerve to lecture the English teacher at her high school, “Your pronunciation is horrible. Teach us a proper English class, please.” She always read up the textbook in advance and didn’t look at the textbook in the class. The teacher, somewhat suspicious, questioned her only to hear Shizue answer perfectly. Soon, the teacher, recognizing her ability, asked her to take over the English class of a lower grade before he went on a business trip.

 

“Hey, wanna go see a movie?”

One day, Shizue asked Shigeko. They went to a Shinjuku movie theater.

Shizue loved cinema from early childhood. She used to live next to the Ueno Nikkatsu-kan cinema hall. She frequented the Nikkatsu-kan where she enjoyed free admission for fellow neighbors. She also commuted to the movie theater at the top of the Ueno Matsuzakaya department store.

It was not unusual that some dialogue was not completely translated into Japanese subtitles. Shizue caught the missing parts immediately and pointed them out during the movie. Shigeko was deeply impressed by that. To Shizue, watching foreign films was the best method to learn English.

 

Shizue turned sixteen, approaching graduation from the girls’ school. She wanted to continue studying English. Those days, due to the parental bias that “women don’t need education,” girls after high school graduation had only a few options: advance to a school of home economics or dressmaking, learn housekeeping in preparation for marriage, or suddenly be forced to marry. Many of Shizue’s friends had to abandon further learning.

For those who wanted to continue their education, there were only limited college choices. One was Tsuda Juku Senmon Gakko (Vocational College), the female version of Todai (University of Tokyo). The school motto was, “Learn, think, and take action for yourself.” Shizue wished to enroll this school because it focused on English education. Arae had always encouraged her that “women should have an ambition for the future,” and sure enough, he readily gave his approval to her endeavor.

 

The entrance exam to Tsuda Juku consisted of English, Japanese and mathematics. Knowing too well that she was poor at math, Shizue, in a quite audacious move, turned in a blank answer sheet for math exam; she decided to bet on English and Japanese.

The day of announcing the results came.

“Do me a favor, Shige-chan. Could you go see the results?” Shizue asked, just before the Tsuda Juku school gate.

“What? Are you sure? Why don’t you do it yourself?” replied Shigeko.

“It’s all right. I’d rather that you did it.”

Shizue was uncharacteristically timid.

After a while, Shigeko ran back, flushed in excitement.

“You passed! You passed the exam!” A great sense of relief flooded over Shizue.

 

 

Tsuda Juku Vocational College

 

In April of 1947, Shizue enrolled in Tsuda Juku Senmon Gakko in Kodaira City, Tokyo.

Upon alighting the train at the nearest station, Shizue saw sparsely located residences against the background of the Musashino copse. Walking further through the wheat field and the wild chestnut forest, there stood a Western-style building, a rare sight those days. The windows were decorated with lace curtains and indescribably classy in atmosphere. That was the school building of Tsuda Juku.

Under the educational philosophy of school founder Umeko Tsuda, teachers devoted themselves to nurturing well-educated and independent-minded women. Many a students at the college shared the same aspiration. However, there were very few liberal-arts classes. They studied English day after day. Teachers focused on grammar and pronunciation in a draconian manner. Oftentimes, the entire class was conducted in nothing but English. Shizue studied very hard every day, sometimes ending up feeling sick.

 

Shizue joined the Drama Club at Tsuda Juku as well. There was Ryoko Akamatsu, who later became the Minister of Education, Shizue’s senior by one year; she played Shylock in the English play of The Merchant of Venice during the Tsuda Memorial Festival. Ryoko’s performance was just wonderful in a perfectly suited role. Junior students were mesmerized with her performance. At that time, Shizue was the costume staff. She was deeply moved by Ryoko’s performance and wishing to appear on the stage with her.

Shizue remained the bookworm as before and became an ardent admirer of Konstantin Stanislavsky [1863 – 1938], famed Russian theater director, actor and teacher. Stanislavsky had a profound impact on the 20th century theater after establishing various acting techniques of realism. Instead of trying to play the role well, he encouraged actor to ask oneself, “What would I do if I were in this situation?” and then determine the clear “motivation (task or objective)” behind a character’s actions. Once that is done, by necessity, it will accompany the internal aspects and a life will be breathed into the action itself. Shizue’s encounter with Stanislavsky and the stimulation from studying the whole field of drama would later have a major impact on her lifestyle and the way she would live her life.

 

During her school years, her discontent toward Japanese society and her anger at prewar militarism ballooned. Although Japanese women were granted the right to vote under the democratization policy of the GHQ, the deep-rooted prejudice and discrimination against women remained intact. How should we change society from now on? She studied Marxism and had headed discussions with her friends day and night.

Shizue (left) in her Drama Club costume

 

 

Tenkasu Incident

(Translator’s note: tenkasu means crunchy bits of batter that fall into the oil when frying tempura.)

 

Tsuda Juku had two student dormitories, the West Dorm and East Dorm. Since the transportation condition was much worse than today, 70% of the students lived in dormitory. Shizue commuted to school from home as a freshman, but found the long hours of commuting exhausting. The next year she started living in the East Dorm. She typically brought home a lot of laundry on Friday, stayed home on weekend, and resumed studying at school Monday morning.

Without fail, Shizue took one thing to school on Monday. It was tenkasu or tempura batter bits, food waste from Hanaya. Though the war was long over, students led a hand-to-mouth living; the dorms provided scarce, coarse meals. Many times they had only two sweet potatoes Norin No. 1 on their plates for lunch. That’s when Hanaya’s tenkasu played an important role. Sprinkle tenkasu over hot rice and drop some soy sauce. It was delicious indeed. Albeit bits and pieces, tempura was a meal of dreams to many Japanese families. The tenkasu bowl was a major hit among East Dorm boarders.

 

An incident occurred on a Monday morning. A paper bag containing tenkasu suddenly broke as its oil soaked into the paper. Tenkasu bits were scattered over the floor of classroom. Unfortunately, a young, strict teacher was teaching that day.

“What is it, Miss Kuroiwa?” asked the teacher in a harsh tone.

There was a heavy silence in classroom. Every one, worried, was looking at Shizue.

After taking a breath, Shizue quickly stood up and began to bluster as if she were a kabuki actor.

 

I’m gonna tell you if you don’t know yet.

The fine city of Edo is famous for

Lotus flowers on a pond and the seven shrines dedicated to Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune).

A chef is working in Kuromon-cho, the town sung by a poet.

His name’s Arae Kuroiwa, chef-owner of Hanaya.

He was bathed in the first bath with waters from the Chikuma River.

Ueno Hill is his turf.

He fries tempura with passion.

We put the waste on white rice and eat it.

While double-stack bento box lunch tastes good,

Triple-stack bento box lunch tastes scrumptious, but

The very best is Shochiku bento lunch, tasting like heaven,

Indeed, this is the tenkasu that energizes you all.

 

She also struck several swaggering poses like a kabuki actor while speaking. There was a huge applause; the students went wild with excitement. The teacher, dumbfounded at first, finally burst into laughter.

Shizue made up that speech based on Benten Kozo’s lines from her favorite kabuki The Five Thieves. After this incident, she was nicknamed the “Overactress.”

 

 

The Senior is Queen.

 

“Hey Kuro! Your Big Sister in the West Dorm is calling for you.”

Again, Shizue was summoned for her service.

“Yes, ma’am! I’m coming,” she said and dashed to the West Dorm from her East Dorm. How many times did I go back and forth between the two dorms today? Upon seeing her, Kimiko, a fellow freshman, promptly stood up.

“This way, Kuro.” Kimiko ran upstairs. Shizue followed her and knocked on the door to a room, panting.

“Kuroiwa here. Sorry for keeping you waiting!”

“Come on in. My shoulders are killing me. Go right ahead,” said the senior student.

Shizue began to massage her shoulders.

“Mmmm, it feels so good. You’re the best, Kuro.”

 

In 1947, the University of Tokyo started accepting female applicants. Many senior students of Tsuda Juku were cramming for the entrance exam. Needless to say, they had stiff neck and shoulders. Ever since one of Shizue’s seniors was massaged by Shizue, her reputation grew. Now, Shizue was summoned by her seniors on a daily basis.

It was only natural that Shizue’s extra work began to cut into her study time. In fact, she had no time at all for her own study. The senior was indeed Queen.

 

Later, even long after she graduated from Tsuda Juku, Shizue was only too glad to offer massage to her seniors when they paid her a visit.

Shizue’s note in her Tsuda Juku days