A young boy of fifteen stands at the end of an airplane tunnel. A red cap from his backpack is taken out and sloppily put on his head. The boy sighs and starts to roll his carry on through the airport gate into the airport. As he walked deeper into the Tokyo airport he realized just how much truth people had when they said Tokyo was like an ant colony. Even though a large crowd of people were bustling from place to place everything seemed to be done in a consistent and strangely timed manor. It was like being the only one going through a crowd heading in the opposite direction. He pulled his luggage up to one of the stands counters.
“Can I have a coffee to go please.”
The young male cashier looked up at him.
After the bow the cashier tilted his head in shock. Here it came.
“Nihongo ga hanasemasu ka?”
Yes. He did. However, he had zero desire to actually use it. Japan was associated with many bad memories for him. The boy had already committed to playing the role of the dumb American born returnee.
The cashier looked at him disappointed. After he wrung up the order and handed the exact amount of change to the cashier, the young travel waited for his coffee at the end. In order to not be bothered he took a pair of headphones out from his bag and slipped them on. The sound of rock music made the background blur together. The girl behind the counter had to tap him on the shoulder. The boy smiled at her and took his coffee. It would be rude to be standoffish to a young attractive girl.
The traveler turned away from the counter and started to head to baggage claim. By the time he got there the passengers bags had started to come down the conveyer belt. If there was one thing he could give Japanese airports it would be an award for efficiency. He drank his coffee quickly as he waited for his bag. In a few minutes he had seen the black hard case covered in stickers coming towards him. The boy threw out his coffee and ran to grab it. As he struggled to pull it off of the belt he found another pair of hands had appeared next to his, pulling the whole trunk off with ease. The boy turned around to see an old man in a sweater vest smiling at him.
“These things are always heavier then you think they are when you pack them.”
The old man laughed. Right…. The boy politely bowed his head.
The old man chuckled and tapped him on the shoulder to sit up straight.
“No need. What is your name?”
The traveler looked up and said.
The older man pulled out his business card and handed it to him. It was a simple white card with pretty black font. Something about it seemed worthy of admiration to Hiro.
“Iwasa Saburou, but you can call me Oji-san.”
Hiro felt unnerved by the old man’s large smile and willingness to drop formalities. He was definitely the more Japanese of the two. It didn’t make sense to him.
Saburou clapped him on the back. Hiro’s balance completely disturbed. He ended up having to catch himself from falling over.
“Now, Hiro-san, Where are your parents?”
Hiro smiled awkwardly at the older man. Was this the reason he came up to him in the first place?
“I am waiting for someone to pick me up.”
The old man took his arm and started to pull him towards an older woman and two teenage girls. They must be his family.
“You should wait with us.”
He pointed to his wife.
“This is my wife Sayaka. My granddaughters Haruna and Yuuma are sixteen and thirteen. Close to your age?”
Hiro followed him towards them. It was a very peaceful looking family. None of them were too ugly or too pretty. It was as if they fit the image of a content average family. He wondered if one of them would become a civil servant or an office worker. His father always told them that it was the course of an average middle class Tokyo resident.
The old man nodded his head in approval and turned to whisper in his ear.
“Isn’t that perfect then. You could be a match for either of them.”
His face turned white. Was this man really trying to marry off his daughters to a random stranger. Then it hit Hiro. A young fifteen year old traveling by himself, with understated well known clothes, an unwavering sense of solidarity and an over expensive silver pendant necklace seemed to hint at wealth. The old man must of thought he struck gold. Hiro summoned the best fake smile he could.
“I’m afraid as I am right now I am not a match for anyone. There is so must improvement I must undertake.”
Saburou stopped walking. He turned to the boy and stroked the grey stubble on his face.
“Humble. Not so bad. You may match up. Tell me about why you think you need improvement.”
Where was this heading too. Hiro had never met someone so determined to be connected to a stranger.
“My grades, looks, resources and talents are only slightly above average. It is not enough to match someone of your daughters standards.”
The old man started to laugh. He seemed intrigued by Hiro. An outlook he could not understand.
“You are being too humble. I can sense something very mature about you. Now come meet my family.”
Hiro just sighed and followed him towards his family. It was something to do until he found the person that was supposed to pick him up.
“This is Yamato Hiro. He has just arrived in Japan.”
His wife bowed her head slightly.
“Nice to meet you Hiro.”
The older granddaughter leaned forward. Her name was…Haruna.
“What made you come to Japan, Hiro-san?”
This was the question he was hoping to avoid. The answer would make the old man even more determined. It’s not like he could lie to him after he had been so earnest with him. It would just be wrong. There was no life threatening need to. He could omit some of it though. That was a fair solution.
“A chess tournament.”
The younger granddaughter’s eyes grew big. A large O shape formed on her lips. Ugh. Hiro hated that look people gave him.
“Sugoi. So you are super smart.”
Her older sister hit her on the head laughing.
“Not everyone is as dumb as you.”
His fake smile appeared on his face again as he tilted his head to the right.
“Do you play chess?”
The girl’s face turned red.
“Oh no. A little Go. Nothing to brag about.”
Hiro nodded his head. He put on his best I am intrigued by you face. A little fake flirting may get him out of more future trouble with this family.
“That in itself is an accomplishment. You should be proud, Haruna-san.”
The old man and woman next to her were smiling. This was progressing nicely. Suddenly, a female voice called out his name.
He turned around to see a very attractive office lady in a tan suit running towards him. She must be the honey pot.
“You must be, Hayashi-san.”
The woman nodded and showed him the Id that hung around her neck. Hiro stuck out his hand.
“It is a pleasure to meet you.”
The woman turned to the family and bowed. When she was done she handed them a business card.
“Thank you for watching Hiro. If you call this number we will gladly compensate you.”
She turned back to Hiro.
“I am afraid we must be off. We are already running late.”
Hiro nodded and turned to the old man.
“It was a pleasure to meet you Iwasa family. May we meet again in the future.”
He turned to wink at Haruna before turning around to follow Hayashi-san out of the airport. The family turned to each other has he walked away and started whispering. Haruna turning to her grandfather.
“So this is what they mean by unplanned good fortune.”
The old man turned his granddaughter. He wore a very serious expression.
“Next time you see him, Haruna, capture his heart no matter what. He seems to be the type to be able to provide a very nice life for you.”
The older woman by his side chuckled lightly at the sight of her granddaughter nodding her head seriously. The office lady led him to a large black car. After a few failed attempts at conversation she let the ride become a less awkward silent adventure. When they arrived at a small hotel right outside of Tokyo she immediately went to grab his luggage. When Hiro got out of the car his eyes settled on the hotel.
He turned around to look at the forest behind the car.
“I will find out what happened.”
When Hayashi-san came back around with his luggage he took it from her and smiled. Afterwards the two walked into the small rebuilt hotel.