The second year Lillian girls take a trip out of the country to explore Italy. There, they see the sights and explore as tourists while chasing down a rumor that the former Rosa Gigantea, Satou Sei, was traveling amonst them somwhere.
Each and Every Farewell Gift
After some playful banter at the M station about what Sachiko told Yumi (“There would be nothing better as a souvenir than you returning safely”), Yumi asks once more because she thought she misheard Sachiko request manju from Rome or senbei from Florence. Weighing the option if it was a joke or note, Yumi let out a stiff laugh, but Sachiko offhandedly mentions that she didn’t have an opportunity to buy them last year. Yumi concludes that she wasn’t joking.
The Hasekura and Shimazu family are out celebrating Yoshino’s school trip at a restaurant. Since Yoshino’s surgery, she’s been well enough to travel farther from their house. Since then, the families have been going out any chance they get to celebrate. Yoshino steps out to look at the stars, thinking about why they’re out celebrating when it’s just a simple school trip. She giggles at the thought of the set up, similar to how a businessman would hold a celebration before he’s sent off to the provinces (travel far from his family to gain worldly experiences for about a year). She chuckles as Rei comes out of the door to stand beside her. Yoshino asks about the adults inside whereas Rei mentions that her mother and her Aunt (Yoshino’s mom) were paying at the register while her Uncle (Yoshino’s dad) was looking after her inebriated father. They’ll be calling a taxi since he won’t be able to go on the train on account of collapsing “with happiness, because Yoshino is going on a field trip like a grown woman.”
Yoshino reminisces about elementary school and middle school, her mother would follow her like a shadow so her classmates wouldn’t see her. But this time it was different.
Yoshino grabs a hold of Rei’s shirt and suggests that young ones should take the train home. Rei agrees, which was why she stepped out in the first place. They make a plan to get home in time for the 10 o’clock drama. Rei takes off first with Yoshino following to catch up and grabs a hold of her hand. Yoshino starts to speak, but quickly shuts her mouth. She wanted to say she wanted to spend some time alone with Rei, but she wasn’t going to admit that as she had an image of Rei being defenselessly delighted. For now, she thinks, she wants the last image in Rei’s mind to be the “kind Yoshino” for a week. Rei however, thought that “sulky Yoshino” was a cute image.
Noriko calls Shimako sometime after 10pm. As Noriko apologizes to Shimako for such a late call, she dismisses it by saying they’ve had many people coming to visit, so it was alright. Noriko uses “Shimako-san” outside of school, but during school it’s “Onee-sama.” There was some issue between the switch when they became soeurs, but after hearing Yoshino switch between “Rei-chan” and “Onee-sama,” depending on the environment, this issue between Noriko and Shimako was put to rest. As Shimako has been putting together her luggage little by little throughout the previous week, her packing was practically completed. She was just double checking her items and her guide books to make sure she didn’t leave anything out. Noriko responds that she’s similar in that she’s the type to worry if she’s forgotten anything. Noriko switches topic quickly, as if they got sidetracked talking about forgetting things. She tells Shimako to go and come back safely. But because they’re sisters, Shimako should go without reserve and to not worry. Shimako seems taken aback by her comment, so she concludes that until Shimako returns, Noriko will be waiting for her. Shimako is touched by her words and thinks that as she flies away, she’s not a bird being held down, but instead she’s returning back to an important nest. She would like to return to Lillian voluntarily, someday. As she thinks over Noriko’s words, she utters a thanks.
Going Out at the BeginningEdit
Just past ten in the morning at the New Tokyo International Airport, there were a mass of girls wearing their dark-colored school uniforms. They were holding their red passports and travel bags, congregated in groups. Yoshino grumbles that it’s pointless to meet more than 2 hours early for their flight while Yumi responds that it’s because they’re traveling overseas. Yoshino, however, says, “That’s not what I meant.” First time traveler Yoshino clarifies that there should be a better system considering the technology they have today. Yumi concludes that Yoshino is finding simple issues to complain about because they had to get up earlier than usual, and Yoshino was still sleepy.
Passing by Wisteria class, they meet up with Shimako who asks if they came together. Yoshino explains that Rei suggested the way from K station to the airport was the simplest although long route, but it removes the problem of transferring their luggage from bus to bus. With such a long ride, it would be possible to sleep the entire way. Shimako remarks that it looks like Yoshino couldn’t sleep, and as a rebuttal, Yoshino says that Yumi was sleeping so pleasantly that her breathing was annoying. In truth, Yoshino was too nervous to sleep and Yumi slightly regretted not accepting Sachiko’s parting gift of travel sickness medicine. But considering that Yumi could fall asleep anywhere and Yoshino made no mention of getting any travel sickness, she simply refused Sachiko’s offer.
“Excuse me. You three, please look over this way.”
Tsutako greeted the three with a gokigenyo and several flashes, thanking the Virgin Mary for the opportunity to capture a picture of Rosa Gigantea, Rosa Chinesis en bouton, and Rosa Foetida en bouton together in one shot. After exchanging glances as if to say, “well, if it can’t be helped,” the three posed for another picture. Since Shimako was in a different class, they weren’t certain when they’d be able to get another picture together, so they took advantage of Tsutako’s camera. As they asked Tsutako if she was helping out Mami from the newspaper club, Mami replied “That is correct,” from behind the three girls. She was holding her writing materials as if chasing a lead. Yumi thinks that if Tsutako and Mami ever got together as a tag team, they would be the greatest.
Shimako chuckles and remarks that Mami has been running around even outside of school. She was, in fact, following what she thought was a lead but was actually some misinformation. She apparently heard the name “Satou Sei” being paged from the intercoms, and as Yumi, Yoshino, and Tsutako gasped in shock, Mami corrected them that she said that’s what she thought she had heard, but in fact they were paging someone else. Shimako smiles and clarified that the name was not Satou, but actually Katou. Yumi goes into her head and imagines if the intercoms had called “Odazawa Sacchiko-san,” she would also be running to the desk that had paged that name, mistaking it for “Ogasawara Sachiko-san.” Wondering if Satou Sei was a common name, the girls go off talking about similar names: Yoshino has met an 80 or so older woman named Fukuzawa Yumi at the hospital once. Tsutako has met an elementary first-year named Yamaguchi Mami. When asked if she was a relative, Tsutako says no, but she was a cute kid. Yumi thinks that while she wouldn’t be suspicious looking because she looked like a high school girl, under that façade was a perverted old man. Mami, hearing that her shared name twin was called cute, was put in a good mood.
The topic changed to how excited they were that Wisteria and Pine class were in the same group. If they weren’t, they’d be doing different things at different times. All of the second years were to arrive in Milan, however, one group (three classes) would leave for Rome while the other group (the other three classes) would leave for Venice. Afterwards, they would all meet back together in Florence.
Mami and Tsutako clapped their hands together in prayer to give thanks to the teacher who drew the lottery to decide which classes fell in each group and also to the Virgin Mary.
Yoshino asks if Tsutako was going to be the cameraman for the Newspaper Club, but she said no, that this was just a favor that coincided with her personal project. Yoshino pressed further, asking if it was for the Photography Club’s exhibition. Tsutako teased her, asking why can’t she be more coy with her reasoning.
While the three were going at it, Yumi couldn’t help be relieved that because she was sharing a room with Yoshino, Tsutako wouldn’t have the opportunity to take pictures of her changing clothes or taking a bath. Shimako asks Yumi if it’s okay to pray for good fortune from the god of war as if reading her thoughts. Yumi politely thanked her and they all went to meet up with their groups.
After getting their passport stamped, the teacher announces that they are no long in Japan, although Yumi doesn’t feel like they’ve traveled outside of Japan. In her head, Yumi equated it to still being able to somehow get home after an earth quake. Yoshino giggled at the teacher’s remark. She whispered to Yumi that there were an awful lot of Japanese people in this place that wasn’t Japan.
There was time before boarding, and after using the bathroom, Yumi spots Yoshino in one of the shops and heads over. She repeats what Yoshino said earlier about there being an awful lot of Japanese people, and Yoshino said that unlike France, if there were an earthquake, resides of France would be able to walk home if they were traveling to another place such as Italy. Japan, however, is an island. Yumi pondered this notion, and concluded with wondering about the currency of different countries. Yoshino, reader her thoughts, pointed out the Yen mark on a tube of lipbalm, however, there was no sales tax. Yumi concluded that they’re not in Japan, nor are they outside of Japan.
Lillian students were advised to keep their entire luggage as a carry-on. Because the dress code, students were to bring only their school uniform, sleeping clothes, and toiletries. Anything else probably wouldn’t fit in an carry-on bag that could fit overhead. Tsutako shared a seat next to Yumi, who offered to switch so Tsutako could have the window seat. She remarks that she’s more interested in what’s inside the plane than what’s outside. As the plane starts moving forward, the cabin became excited. Yumi’s attention was brought over to another student by Tsutako’s voice. She was visibly shaking and prayer and while Tsutako wanted to get a picture of her, Yumi muttered, “That’s awful,” to her. As if Yumi held her back, but in fact it was the seatbelt, Tsutako put her camera in her lap and said she would have made a nice picture, like a frozen bird. It was too bad, but she clarified that it was too bad for her not being able to take the shot, not for the girl who was shaking. After they’ve reached a comfortable altitude in the sky, Yumi looked down and tugged at Tsutako’s sleeve, asking her if she thinks this is what the Virgin Mary sees when she looks down. Tsutako retracts her previous comment and says that Yumi is, as always, interesting.
After the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign was turned off, students were trying to entertain themselves for the half day ride. Michiyo, the girl previously shaking and praying, figured she couldn’t be scared for about 13 hours and ended up entertaining herself with Itsue and others. They were told to set their watches backwards seven hours in order to adjust to the time change of Italy. Yumi, Yoshino, and Tsutako engage in trying to answer the question, “if we lose seven hours traveling to Italy, do we gain seven hours on our way back?” It was then that Tsutako brought up the Urashima effect: When traveling through space at light speed, more time would have passed for the astronauts than for those on earth. To understand such an effect, one would have to have a grasp of Einstein’s theory of relativity. As a result, Yumi asks if Tsutako had such knowledge, in which she replied that she has had it explained to her, it was in her head, but her comprehension of it isn’t perfect. This impresses Yumi. They relate this story to Urashima Tarou riding (instead of a turtle) a spaceship/UFO to the palace of the sea goddess, and Otohime was instead an alien.
As they got their in-flight meal (open sandwich of cheese and ham with mayo and salad), Yumi thinks that this is unsatisfactory for a growing child. But on second thought, a light meal would be preferable to an entire meal on account of everyone not moving much. Mami asks Tsutako to take a picture of the meal, in which she declines saying she would rather not waste her film on pictures of food instead of girls, and Mami pulls out a disposable camera for her to use instead. After posing the food and finding the right angle, Tsutako obliges and takes the picture for Mami.
After meal time, the lights were turned off so the passengers as well as the staff can sleep. While wondering about those who didn’t want to sleep right now, Yumi’s mind wandered to what Sachiko was doing. She tried to calculate the time in Japan, but found herself unable to as she was starting to get tired and drift off to sleep along with the rest of the cabin.
Arriving in Milan’s Malpensa Airport at 6pm, the students were tired and sore from the plane right, but their travels weren’t over just yet. This was a transfer point and they had two hours before they had to board next. The text around the airport was in Italian or English, and the occasional Japanese meant for tourists made their group happy. The duty-free shops and brand-name fashion stores caught their eye, but they couldn’t purchase anything big on account of the size of their carry-on bags and personal spending budget. Katori-sensei, in charge of the Pine class, called roll and offered to exchange coins for tips. The students got a quick breakdown of the tipping custom that was foreign to them outside of Japan. Yoshino said she didn’t need to exchange anything on account of Rei giving her the change she used when her class took a trip to Italy last year. She accidentally let slip that she had a little over 2,000 Yen, which Yumi assumed was going to be used to purchase sweets.
While Yumi wasn’t lucky to be handed down change, she didn’t want to exchange her money with Katori-sensei, thinking that it would be more fun to make a purchase and receive change instead. After discussing with Yoshino about what to buy (Gum? Chocolates?), she settled on a magic marker. Yoshino, however, was puzzled that her first out of country purchase was a marker she could find in Japan. Yumi states the practicality of the marker to an impatient Yoshino, and goes up to the counter to start her purchase. “Bon giorno,” she told the cashier, who replied with, “Buona sera.” With her challenge accomplished, Yumi rushed out towards Yoshino and passed by a group of students muttering about Rosa Gigantea. Yumi couldn’t help but wonder what Shimako did, but Yoshino motioning and pressuring Yumi to hurry up snapped her back to reality. Thinking back to trustworthy and respectable Shimako, compared to Yumi or Yoshino, she couldn’t think about anything she could have done to garner students talking about her. As if reading her mind, Shimako saw Yumi and Yoshino from the Wisteria class group and asked what Yumi was so excited about. Yumi showed her the magic marker, which made Shimako remember something. Showing no interest in the marker but instead slamming her first into her palm, she wanted to consult the two en boutons about collectively purchasing a souvenir for the Rosa Mansion. They agreed and would purchase it on their way home from the airport so they wouldn’t have to carry it around. Shimako and Yoshino were busy talking quickly about purchasing souvenir for Touko and Kanako since they’ve been helping during such a busy time, and how something to eat sounded like a good plan. Yumi interjected and asked what kind of souvenir they should get, and the two asked if she had anything in mind. Yumi mentions to manju from Rome or senbei from Florence while the two looked at her (the translated text said they “stiffened for a little while.”).
Arriving in Milan past 9:30pm, they needed to take a bus to their hotel. Falling asleep on the bus, one of Yumi’s classmates woke her up to the awe that was the city’s structure. An almost hour bus ride led finally led them to their hotel. After the keycards were distributed, they made their way to the elevator. As Yumi pressed the button “2” to reach the second floor, Mami noticed her keycard reading “231” and flipped through her notes. Apparently, in Japan, the first floor is counted as floor number 1. Here, the first floor is counted as floor number 0. After the elevator situation was settled, Yumi and Yoshino finally reached their hotel room.
Yoshino immediately crashed on the first bed she encountered before asking Yumi if she had any preference. She said no and Yoshino started to fall asleep. After protesting for Yoshino to change out of her uniform, a sleepy Yumi tried once more to rouse Yoshino, who was starting to sound incoherent as she lay in bed. Yumi went to take a shower and remembered her sensei relaying a story of a previous student overflowing the tub, so she made a mental note to not do that. As she was looking at the beautiful marble and ceramic bathroom, her eyes landed on the bidet. Specifically, she looked at the bidet and had no idea how to use it. Calling out to Yoshino to take a bath, she received a garbled response telling Yumi to go first as she wanted to get a little bit more sleep. As she was getting in the tub, she saw a tag that said, “Do not use for bathing. There is not enough hot water.” Since she had already filled the tub, she took a bath anyway to not waste the water. The hot water felt good against her tired body and she was afraid that if she fell asleep in the tub, she’d be done for.
After blow-drying her hair, she came to wake up Yoshino to take a bath. Yoshino declined once more, and while helping her up to change her clothes, she noticed how warm her hands were. When asked if she had a fever, Yoshino replied that she probably didn’t considering that Yumi’s hand didn’t feel any colder. Unfortunately for her, Yumi just got out of the bath, so of course her hands would be warmer, meaning that Yoshino did indeed have a fever. As she was getting up to call the teacher, Yoshino grabbed her arm and pleaded that she not do that. She explained that she gets small fevers all the time and after pressing a cold towel on her forehead and sleeping, she should be fine. As she said this, tears were starting to fall from her eyes and Yumi understood that these weren’t tears of pain, but tears of mortification. Yumi understood that this happens all the time, and decided to comply with Yoshino’s instructions of not telling the teacher. The trade off was that if it got worse, then she would have no choice but to call the teacher for help. Yoshino nodded and instructed Yumi to fetch her little towel with the faded images of chicks from her bag. She helped Yoshino change into her sleeping clothes while she explained that the towel is her magic towel. Yumi rinsed the magic towel in some cold water and gently placed it on Yoshino’s forehead.
Before Yoshino’s surgery, her heart would spasm. Therefore, for many class outings and physical outings, she would remain by the teacher’s side and not participate, making it difficult for her to get along with her other classmates.
Yoshino tells Yumi that when their class were decided who would share which rooms, she was wishing to share the room with Yumi. Yumi is humbled by Yoshino’s words, thinking that was a part of Yoshino’s character. She was, however, very glad. For the first time ever, Yumi and Yoshino finally had a class together, even after both attending Lillian since kindergarten. As Yoshino asked Yumi to take care of her if things took a turn for the worse, Yumi remembers being told from the Mizuno Youko, the previous Rosa Chinesis, that that’s what friends do. Therefore, Yoshino has nothing to worry about. To clarify, Yumi says she doesn’t feel like she needs to take care of Yoshino because she’s sickly, but it’s something she would do without question for her friends.
As Yumi got in her own bed, she couldn’t sleep. Her body was tired, but her nerves were working overtime. She wanted to change the towel on Yoshino’s head a few times and wondered if she’ll be able to wake up in time tomorrow for breakfast. Since breakfast is between 7:15 and 7:45 tomorrow, she would set an alarm for 7, but realized that there was no alarm clock. She realized she had to give the front desk a call to set up a morning wake up call. As she worked her nerves even more, she vowed that the next time she taveled, she needed to bring an English-Japanese dictionary as well as an alarm clock. After calling the reception, she awkwardly tried speaking English to set up the morning call to wake them up at 7am. She rinsed the towel on Yoshino’s forehead once more before finally getting some sleep.
The sound of rain woke Yumi up before the wake up call. When trying to assess the time, she bolted upright when she remembered Yoshino’s condition. Looking over to Yoshino’s bed, it was cold and empty, which made her panic even more. What if Yoshino got up to use the bathroom and collapsed? She checked the bathroom but it was locked from the inside, instilling more panic in Yumi’s jus woken up mind. She shouted at Yoshino on the other side of the door and pounded on the door and pressed her eat against the door. It was humming. When the shower sounds switched off, Yoshino popped her head out to ask if Yumi needed to use the bathroom. Shaking her surprised face, Yoshino said she’ll be out in a second after drying her hair.
Her wristwatch told her it was 6:30 and getting an additional 30 minutes of sleep was an option, but she couldn’t bring herself to sleep after this morning’s shock. Yoshino came out of the bathroom as if her fever never happened and Yumi wanted to say something, but Yoshino cut her off, explaining that these fevers happen often but as long as she had her towel, she’ll be fine. She turned on the TV while explaining this again to Yumi.
“You’re the only classmate I’ll show weakness in front of.”
The room phone rang exactly at 7 o’ clock.
Most of their class is already in the dining room when Tsutako and Mami flagged down Yumi and Yoshino. A waiter came and asked what they would like, but they only caught the greeting, in which they replied back, “bon giorno.” Tsutako translated that he’s asking what the two would like to drink, which impressed Yumi who couldn’t understand one word from another. Tsutako mentioned that it wasn’t that she could hear what he was saying, it was that the teacher from Wisteria told them.
Yoshino ordered a Caffe au Lait, however, the waiter didn’t understand. After asking Tsutako what was in her cup, Yoshino and Yumi ordered the same thing. It was obvious to Yumi that both Mami and Tsutako heard from the Wisteria teacher about caffe latte as they grinned at one another. The students start talking about the differences between their bathrooms, inquiring how the bathroom even drains. Apparently Mami had to use the toilet, but she called Tsutako over for consultation as there was no Japan-style lever. Instead, there was a large square button on the wall. While discussing things they found different and difficult, it was revealed that the alarm clock was actually connected to the TV and it would turn on when it was time to wake up.
After their conversation had ended, the two left while Michiyo and Itsue replaced them in their seats. When the waiter came by once more to take their drink orders, Yumi and Yoshino translated that he’s asking what they would like to drink. They didn’t say where they learned that from.
Their guide for the day was a Japanese woman whose husband was an Italian man. She gave a rundown of the day’s activities and asked if everyone was in good health. Yoshino was the loudest in responding “yes!” Their teacher, although a bit late, gave a rundown of the hotel room customs that differed, such as the alarm being on the television or to call the reception to request a wake-up call. It delighted Yumi that some of her classmates looked confused, making her feel less alone about her mild panic last night. The teacher continued, explaining that the cord attached over the bathtub is for emergencies and to not pull it. Half of the class giggled while the other half went pale. And lastly, the toilet flushed with the press of a large button on the wall. Essentially, everything every student was confused about last night.
After a ten minute bus ride, they arrived at their first stop. They had to get off so the bus can go back to pick up the Cherry Blossom class. The art museum at the Vatican City had a line that stretched as far as where the bus stopped, so they had time to look at their surroundings. Mami remarked that this country was so loose in terms of their rules, morals, or environmental problems. She motioned to the cigarette butts and garbage that had littered the street and jay walkers.
They concluded that because they were tourists, it would be rude to judge or interfere too much with this country and to take it for what it is. After all, they were here to learn about the world outside of Japan. During the course of this conversation, a horn sounded off somewhere in the distance. Everyone watched with a dreamy expression as an open car drove by and riding inside was a bride and groom. Afterwards, a dog walker went past their vision pulling a Dalmatian that had soiled itself, its excrement running down its leg. Mami proved her statement earlier that this country was, indeed, loose.
When they finally made their way inside of the museum, Yumi was overwhelmed by the amount of art housed inside. She estimated that if she were to remember every piece, she would have to start erasing art pieces she already knew the make space. As she passed art piece by art piece, she apologized to them as well as to the Virgin Mary. The guide, Maki-sensei, announced that although she will be talking about the majority of the pieces, it’s fine if the students tune out in order to focus on one piece they find fascinating. Yumi was able to relax at her words and found a piece where she did tune in.
Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” drew Yumi in, partially cause its sheer size. As she was admiring the details, she didn’t noticed Shimako walking up and standing next to her. Even though the Wisteria class had already left, Yumi understood that Shimako decided to stay behind just a little while longer. As Yumi greeted her, she was taken aback by the sight of Shimako with tears flowing down her face.
“Why is it, I wonder, that the tears won’t stop.”
Shimako didn’t understand why she was crying, but Yumi guessed that it was because of faith. The image of her standing there in awe was as lovely as the Virgin Mary herself.
Not too long after, Shimako retreated back to the Wisteria class and Yoshino saddled up to her on the opposite side, gazing at what Yumi and Shimako were looking at.
“Jesus looks like he’s gotten a little fat, somehow.”
Of everyone there, these two were Yumi’s most important friends.
Yumi caught up to Yoshino at one of the many shops that rotated inside of the museum. She was fixated on the selection of rosaries and Yumi guessed that she was thinking about her future soeur. When asked if Yoshino was planning on buying a new one, she shook her head, mentioning that the White Roses’ rosary has been passed down for an unknown amount of generation, Rei bought a rosary especially for Yoshino. She asked if Sachiko had passed down the rosary from Youko, but Yumi hadn’t bothered to ask, given that Sachiko’s and Yumi’s soeur relationship was a bit unexpected. Yoshino agreed, remembering that Sachiko first offered her rosary to Shimako, who refused, and contemplated this similar situation with her future soeur.
Yoshino asked if Yumi was planning on buying one for her future soeur, but Yumi told Yoshino not to drag her into this. She said it could be sort of like a rosary divination, where she’s inspired to buy one and therefore will find the best soeur to fit once she returns to school.
Rosary divination aside, Yumi rejected the idea of purchasing from the row of rosaries, thinking she’d prefer someone simpler than the extravagant ones the shop had to offer. She thinks to herself that she’ll opt to stick to the status quo instead.
As they waited at the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica, they were watching visitors being denied entry for not adhering to the proper dress code. It is assumed by Yumi that Yoshino, Tsutako, and Mami had read the guidebook page by page as they were discussing those who were denied entry, and Mami questioned if you needed a passport to enter considering that Vatican City is its own country. Fortunately, much like the art museum, they did not need a passport and went through seamlessly. Chairs were being set up to resemble an outdoor stage in preparation for Sunday mass tomorrow. The ceiling was incredibly high and gorgeous, leaving the girls awestruck as they took in their surroundings. The guide led the group to see Michelangelo’s “Pieta” and “St. Peter,” causing Yumi to be struck with a case of culture shock.
Once the surprise of St. Peter’s was starting to wear off, quiet whispers of “I’m hungry” can be heard among the group. Since it was almost 2 in the afternoon and they have been climbing stairs all day, it was no wonder they were hungry. The guide, not completing her tour just yet, told the group of baby birds crying for food to hold on for just a little while longer as she led them to a café with reservations to accommodate the group.
The group had a Panini sandwich and mineral water, and some asked for water “without gas.” The novelty of “with gas” wore off while some students considered taking it home as a souvenier, although that would be a heavy souvenier. Yumi’s challenge for the day was to use the restroom at the café. She took change as she entered the “donna” (women’s) bathroom in case she needed to tip whoever was cleaning inside.
After using the bathroom, she was interrogated by Yoshino for a concise report on the bathroom situation. Was the bathroom in the basement? Did you need money? Was there paper? After thanking Yumi for the report, she hurried off in the direction Yumi came from. As Yumi called out, Yoshino’s figure was already small and far, so she had no other choice but to wait until she came back.
An irritated Yoshino came back, demanding Yumi why she didn’t mention there was no toilet seat. Yumi was already anticipating Yoshino’s complaint and thought how a western toilet was the perfect type of training for the leg muscles, but opted to say it was more of a sense of equilibrium than muscle. Yoshino, however, had sat on the toilet without hovering, which was a different type of problem altogether.
The next stop is San Angelo castle. Students were brought back to the hotel and had free time to roam around in groups outside of their class. After consulting with their homeroom, the girls decided that the theme of their sights was “Roman Holiday.” They wanted to walk down the Piazza di Spagna, the Trevi fountain, while tomorrow the plan was to visit Via delle Carrozze and stop by the Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth).
They arrived at the overcrowded Spanish Steps to pretend they were Princess Anne eating gelato. Tsutako found an opportunity take a picture of the girls on the steps, and as they grumbled about not finding a seat, they also grumbled at the older man seated too close to them. Yumi, all the while, was sighing not about the overcrowdedness of the steps. Tsutako asked if she was feeling blue from not seeing Sachoko, to which Yumi waved her arms and said no. In fact, it was when they were in San Angelo, she remembered the opera, “Tosaca.” She was thinking of Rosa Canina, also known as Kanina Shizuka. Although in the past Shimako and her were competing for the position of Rosa Gigantea, she moved to Italy shortly after to study music. It was distressing Yumi that they were both in Italy, yet she didn’t know her address or the name of the town in which she is currently residing. It was highly unlikely they would casually bump into one another during this school trip. Tsutako hit the nail on the head when she asked Yumi that the root cause of her sadness is that she doesn’t know if Rosa Canina is doing well or not.
Behind Tsutako, Mami popped into the scene, apparently having stepped away briefly. She reported that one of the students from Sakura class sent a postcard addressed not to her family, but to her onee-sama and petite-soeur. Yumi instantly became jealous, not because she was homesick or couldn’t stand to be without her own Onee-sama, but because she wouldn’t know when was the next opportunity to send a postcard from Italy would be. Unfortunately, she didn’t know the post office hours in Italy, nor did she know where she could find a stamp.
Based off of their teacher’s suggestion, the group aimed to see the Trevi Fountain at night. Of the classes, only the Pine class chose to visit the fountain at night while the other classes opted to see it during the day. Yumi took a coin from her purse and threw it behind her into the fountain, a tradition that grants the thrower luck to someday return back to the fountain. Maki-sensei offered to take a photo of the girls using Tsutako’s camera, however, she politely declined. Tsutako would rather not have her photo taken. She countered Maki-sensei, asking if she was going to throw a coin in. She said there was no need that as long as she kept teaching at Lillian, she would continue to come to Italy once a year. However, when she was a Lillian student, their class would only travel to the southernmost islands of Kyushu. Sharp as a tack, Tsutako asked if she liked working at Lillian, because a toss of the coin to the fountain would indicate that, yes, she will be able to continue coming back, therefore she would continue to teach at Lillian. While Maki-sensei muttered under her breath that she could choose to take a personal tour instead, she tossed a coin that landed in the middle of the fountain.
During dinner, Mami was talking about the news that had happened during their trip. While Yumi, Yoshino, and Tsutako had already heard about the girl who got lost, what they hadn’t heard was that Mami went to her room for an exclusive interview. Yoshino, impatiently, was urging her to continue as it seemed like there was more to the story than what they already heard. Mami continued, referring to this student who chose to keep herself anonymous as “A-san.”
A-san and her friends from the Cherry Blossom class had free time at Borghese Park. However something caught A-san’s attention that led her away from the group. While the group forgot to do a roll call, no one noticed that she was missing. Mami dragged on and Yoshino’s impatience was starting to run over, causing Mami to hurry up with her story. Lowering her voice, the others had to lean in to listen before she dropped the huge scoop.
“She said that she saw Satou Sei-Sama.”
The Mouth of Truth’s ComplaintEdit
Each class was free to travel where they’d like, so today’s agenda for the girls were to visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Coliseum, and the Mouth of Truth.
On the crowded train, Pine class had to split into three groups in order to fit properly and exit at the designated station. The teachers were taking roll call left and right after what had happen to Cherry Blossom class’ A-san.
They entered the church in the middle of Sunday mass and offered a prayer before riding the subway to the Coliseum. Because there were conflicting enthusiasm for visiting the Coliseum (some students wanted to continue with their ‘Roman Holiday’ theme while others didn’t want to visit an enclosure designed to view killing as a sport), they decided to only visit the outside.
Outside of the Mouth of Truth, there was a huge line and the girls promptly stood at the end. The Mouth of Truth was a large disk of marble with the face of the sea god Triton and if a liar were to put their hand in his mouth, it would be eaten- or so the legend says.
Despite the long line, it moved steadily and soon it was their turn. Tsutako got a picture of Yumi and Yoshino with their hands in Triton’s mouth.
Mami was busy running and trying to verify the existence of Sei in Italy. Not just from A-san, other students have claimed to have seen her during their outings. As Mami used Tsutako as a soundboard, she was busy calculating how much film she had left and cleaning her camera.
A hungry Yoshino was stuffing her face with boiled root vegetables since this was the first Japanese food they’ve had since leaving Japan. She urged Mami to continue while being grateful that for the first time, their meal did not come slathered in olive oil.
There were reports from students overhearing Sei’s name at the Milan airport and over at Narita. While the girls pressed that it was actually the name “Katou” that was called, she couldn’t shake the fact that students saw Sei’s face. This was too much of a coincidence.
Of all places, the girls couldn’t understand why Sei was in Rome. Doing the calculations in their heads, the University should be in the middle of their exam break, giving Sei time to travel. Yoshino spoke up, asking if Sei’s 2nd year trip was also to Italy, why would she choose to return here instead of traveling to any other place.
Yoshino’s persuasive argument was very sound, however, all of the girls crossed their arms and savored their tea as they considered all the facts and speculations. They wanted to verify the existence of this person for themselves.
While Yumi was taking a bath, Yoshino was chatting away with Rei on the room phone. They were able to phone collect calls, discouraging student from calling their Onee-sama and imouto but still provided a way for students to contact their parents. Luckily for Yoshino, Rei was her cousin and onee-sama, so her parents would most likely accept the charge.
When Yumi got out of the bath, she felt a pang of jealousy at Yoshino being able to contact her onee-sama. She wanted nothing more than to hear Sachiko’s voice, to be able to say something foolish and be scolded by her. In the time they were out traveling, it was difficult to feel lonely, but once they were able to relax in their rooms, the thoughts of Sachiko flooded her mind (text says: Onee-sama became especially beloved.).
Yumi tried distracting herself by watching TV, but since it was in Italian, that didn’t keep her focus for too long. She pushed the thought of Sachiko graduating away from her mind because it was slowly starting to depress her, but she couldn’t control the thoughts of wanting to be with her right now. She wanted to see the one she missed and to have her miss her back. Since it seemed like Yoshino wasn’t going to end her phone call soon, Yumi went back to the bathroom to wash her tears with cold water until they stopped flowing down her face.
The Capital of Flower is What Kind of City?Edit
The group made their way to the bullet train in order to make it to their next destination, Florence. The group arrived a bit before check-in and decided to explore the city within the immediate vicinity. Yumi describes the city structure to look like an overdone wedding cake and a round chocolate powder covered cake. Her classmates giggled at her remarks and she became a source of comedic relief. When asked if she was hungry, she said no, since she saw a wild boar earlier and didn’t think to eat it.
“Then when Yumi-san is really hungry, and you see a live cow or pig or chicken, it looks delicious?”
On second thought, when Yumi did see a crab at the museum, she had imagined that it did look tasty.
Yoshino pointed out that Yumi was just in the mood for sweets, which she didn’t refute, considering that that the walls of the Basilica of San Lorenzo looked like the comb of cream on a chiffon tea cake. Yoshino whispered to not worry, that she had the same thoughts. Yumi concluded that Florence looks like a delicious city made by a cake shop.
Yoshino’s excited voice called out from the hotel room’s bathroom that this bathroom shower had a hose. While Yoshino rambled on about the hotel not providing toothbrushes, Yumi wasn’t in the mood. What caused Yumi’s attention was when she asked if she had used the bidet in the previous hotel. Yumi shook her head, confirming with Yoshino that none of them could figure out how the thing worked. They concluded that they prefer the bathrooms in Japan, with the shower and bath that washes separately. This seemed to have brightened up Yumi’s mood.
Their dinner meal consisted of too much to eat: Vegetable soup, a large mass of roast beef, pasta, and bread. Since it was predetermined what the group’s meal would be, the entire class had a hard time finishing their dishes. Yumi couldn’t help wondering if Yuuki were here, even he wouldn’t be able to finish his meal. Yoshino said, as if reading her mind that the boys of Hanadera would have to be here to help as well. Yoshino brought up that since Yuuki will be helping with the school festival this year if he were going to play some sort of princely role, much like Kashiwagi Suguru did last year. Yumi couldn’t picture him looking princely, not unless he was the prince of Raccoon Country (the running joke is that Yumi and Yuuki have raccoon-like faces). Yumi quickly shut down the conversation because the play is kept a secret until they get back to school. No sooner, Mami spoke up, urging Yoshino to continue to discuss the play, provoking Yumi and asking her if there’s going to be a brother-sister love scene. This disgusted Yumi, especially more so that her stomach is full to the brim.
After they finished what they could of their meals, their plates were replaced by a fresh slice of cake from the waiter. Fortunately for girls, there was always extra room in their stomachs for dessert.
Not only will Florence be remembered as the city of cakes, whenever she would see large quantities of mean, she would remember Florence.
Resounding! Leaning! Melting?!
The class is taking a trip to the San Marco Museum and the Pisa. In order to beat the lines, they decided to leave the hotel at 8 in the morning and arrived as just as a few groups of tourists were starting to gather. Yumi was captivated by Angelico’s “Annunciation,” and required Yoshino to drag her to break her trance.
After grabbing some fast food, the Pine class rode the bus to visit the leaning tower of Pisa. Noticing that the tower was surrounded by a church, baptismal hall, and an art museum, Yumi brought out her guide to verify the other structures around the area. They were given free time and Tsutako led the way for their group. She wanted to take some silly pictures since this was such a rare opportunity and recruited Yumi as her subject. Yumi and Yoshino took turns holding up the leaning tower of Pisa while Mami jealously remarked at how stupid they looked. In the end, Mami ended up another one of Tsutako’s subjects to help hold up the tower.
As Tsutako was wishing that Shimako was here to complete a set of roses that held up the tower, Yumi pointed off to the distance where the Wisteria class were also spending their free time. Shimako was sitting on the grass next to someone who was looking in the opposite direction, but when she turned her head forward, Yumi, Yoshino, Mami, and Tsutako recognized that face to be none other than Rosa Canina.
Yumi crouched down and patted Shizuka to make sure she wasn’t a hallucination. Her hair has grown longer since they last saw her roughly six months ago. Apparently Shizuka’s pen pal, Shimako, informed her when they would be in Italy and she took a trip out to meet up with them.
“Is it so strange?”
Considering that Shizuka ran during the student council election in order to get Sei’s attention and she had found Shimako’s hidden white card during Valentine’s day, their relationship couldn’t be summed up in a single sentence, but apparently “Is it so strange?” does just fine.
Mami interjected, introducing herself and quickly jumping to the point. She of course asked if the rumors of Sei being in Italy were true, and Shizuka mentioned that Sei has her phone number and address, but alas, she hasn’t heard anything. Mami was disappointed, having no solid leads on this great mystery.
Since Pine class arrived soon after Wisteria class, Shizuka asked if the girls were going to climb the tower. Yumi, eagerly raised her hand as one of those who plan on climbing the tower, suddenly wasn’t so sure now that she was confronted with its sheer height. They had time before they were going up to the tower, so Shizuka asked if they’d accompany her to the baptistery, after all, she and Shimako were waiting for their group to arrive on the grass.
Yumi said that the baptistery looked like a big bathroom, prompting a poke from Mami. Shortly after they all entered, the doors closed, darkening the large bathroom. The police woman who granted them entry started singing short “ah’s”, allowing her voice to echo in harmony with itself. Before the doors opened, Shizuka said something in Italian to the woman, granting her to stand in the position the woman once were. Soon, she started singing short “ah’s” in harmony, giving the girls goose bumps. Shizuka admitted that she was improvising since she couldn’t think of a musical piece that would make a nice echo. She cheekily said that she wanted to try that once, but the girls had a feeling she wanted to give her younger classmates a gift for their visit.
By the time they exited the baptistery, they had enough time to deposit their belongings in a nearby locking since the tower required two hands to climb. Tsutako stashed her usual camera and slipped a small camera into her pocket for the trek. Shizuka bid her farewell until next time to allow the girls to have their time at the tower while Shimako cited a fear of heights to skip out. Yumi couldn’t imagine Sachiko saying the same thing even if she was afraid of heights, instead, she probably would have said she didn’t care for places that leaned.
The climb up the spiral tower became more and more narrow as they went up. As Yumi wondered if Rei gave Yoshino permission, she realized that even if she did give her permission, Yoshino would probably lose interest in the climb. The girls, especially Mami, started to shake the higher they climbed since the walls became less and less and there were no ropes.
Tsutako led Mami and encouraged her to keep climbing since they were starting to block up those who were coming from behind. Once they reached a point where they could stand and look off into the distance, they realized that there was much more to climb. Tsutako asked what they should do now, and as the wind was whipping their hairs and skirts, Yumi, Yoshino and Mami decided that they wanted to go back down. Tsutako was relieved, not knowing what she would have done if everyone said they wanted to keep climbing.
Shizuka, contrary to what she said earlier, was chatting with their teacher when they exited the tower. She explained that she wanted to have a private chat with Yumi. She was delighted since the idea of her leaving made Yumi feel lonely. Yoshino, Mami, and Tsutako excused themselves to the bathroom, leaving Yumi and Shizuka sitting on the grass to talk. Yumi found out that Shizuka didn’t live near here, living with her aunt and her Italian husband next to Florence. She also revealed that her parents call constantly while she sent them postcards since her family isn’t proficient in using the computer. This piqued Yumi’s interest, asking where she can buy a postcard and stamps.
Before she had time to run off, Shizuka stopped her and asked if she was planning on sending Sachiko a postcard. She pulled out an unused postcard with a stamp affixed and offered it to Yumi. When prompted with the card, Yumi offered to pay for it and in response, Shizuka told her it wasn’t proper and instead, Yumi offered her something in exchange that wasn’t money.
Yumi was having a hard time starting her postcard, but Shizuka recommended she start with “Chao, sorella,” to replace her original idea of, “Gokigenyou, onee-sama.” As she was writing on her postcard, Shizuka asked Yumi if she had a younger sister yet. When she replied no, Shizuka asked if Sachiko has been nagging her yet, and once again, the answer is no. When she said that sooner or later Sachiko would start asking, it made Yumi feel uneasy, but Shizuka followed up with that since she didn’t have a petite soeur just yet, it’s okay for her to be a little more dependent right now. With that said, at the bottom of the postcard that Yumi was writing, she scrawled “I miss you, Onee-sama.” She quickly placed the postcard in her bag since Yoshino, Mami, and Tsutako weer bound to come back soon.
No sooner, Yoshino happily came back, announcing that the bathroom was clean and that there was a lady collecting the fare for the pay-toilet. She seemed to be excited since nothing quite like this exists in Japan. Since they were climbing the leaning tower of Pisa, another group were eating gelato, and they collectively decided that that would be their next course of action. After a brief hesitation, Shizuka recommended a gelato shop they passed by on their way in down the road. Shizuka, however, had to return back to her studies since she took time off to visit with the Lillian girls.
Before her departure, she offered to mail Yumi’s postcard. She quickly slipped it to Shizuka faced down so the other girls won’t be able to see her embarrassing message. As Shizuka departed, she told Yumi to write her a letter as soon as she gets a petite soeur.
Once they reached the gelato shop, Yoshino mentioned that Shizuka was being reserved with the group and Yumi went off into a daze thinking about it. She was brought back into reality when the others pointed that her gelato was melting and running down her hand. She understood Shizuka’s hesitation earlier and couldn’t help think that some people are prone to playing harmless pranks.
As Yumi was lapping up the ice cream melting down her hand, Tsutako quickly snapped a photo.
The Parakeet's Hint
Because Florence was such a small town, students were able to go on their own tours throughout the town. Yumi, Yoshino, Mami, and Tsutako decided to visit the Uffizi Museum to look at famous paintings such as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and “Spring.”
Yumi categorized the confusing piece of “Spring” alongside “Maria-sama no kokoro,” and the sapphire, a problem she felt like she’d hold onto her entire life. When she gazed on Da Vinci’s “The Annunciation,” she decided that she loved paintings of the Virgin Mary.
While Yumi was making her great discovery, Yoshino spoke up with a discovery of her own: The reason why there were so many statues of naked men lined up in a row is so you’d stop blushing at each one separately.
It was nearly lunch time when they all were starting to get hungry. Instead of going back to the hotel to pick up their Panini sandwiches, they decided to forego the sandwich for something more adventurous. Although they all had reservations in going out to eat since they didn’t know the language or etiquette (Such as tax and tips), they decided to take a walk around and hope to find a food store. After crossing the Ponte Vecchio, Mami pointed out a store that looked to be for takeout, similar to a fast food hamburger place.
After some awkward yet effective communication, they walked out of the store with a Panini sandwich and something to drink. Even if they had gotten the same meal they would have if they went back to the hotel, they left with a sense of accomplishment. This excitement was what traveling was all about.
They left the hotel after lunch (since eating standing up was bad manners), they stopped by a store to buy some souvenir gifts. Yumi wanted marble paper stationary for Sachiko and was wondering out loud whether to purchase any souvenirs for Touko and Kanako. Yoshino was trying to decide what gift to bring back to Rei while Mami was hesitating over buying a souvenir for Minako. Tsutako, with no onee-sama or imouto, was busy taking pictures of strangers.
Yoshino purchase two small boxes of gifts and answered Yumi’s questions from earlier about purchasing something for Touko and Kanako. While she thinks that would be a good idea, the harder question is which one Yumi was planning on making her petite soeur. Yumi remembered last year when rumors started circulating that she was a soeur candidate for Sachiko and what a burden that was at the time. She didn’t want the same burden to befall on the girls, so that left her with a harder choice of what to buy and for whom. Changing the subject, Yoshino admitted she couldn’t find a rosary pretty enough for her future soeur and would give the one Rei gave her. It was clear to Yumi that Yoshino had given this idea considerable thought.
The girls were shopping in another store when Yumi suddenly head a voice. She looked all around to see who had said, “gokogenyou,” but she couldn’t spot either the Lillian student or teacher. The second time the voice ran out, Mami pointed to a large parakeet sitting on top of a perch of a leather shop. Mami greeted the bird and it greeted her back. In awe, all four girls said “gokigenyou” to the bird and their greeting was returned. Among its many phrases such as “Welcome to Florence,” and “Florence was a nice place, once,” it said “Florence sembei,” leading Tsutako and Mami to laugh uncontrollably and cause some confusion in Yumi and Yoshino’s eyes. Then it uttered something that absolutely floored them all.
“Come on already. Stop it, Satou-san.”
Whether Sei was in Italy was the topic of discussion all throughout the day. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a mystery novel where the answer could be solved unless Sei appeared right in front of them. Instead, Yumi put her worries into trying to straightening up the stationary she had purchased which she had accidentally bent. Yoshino casually waved it off while she was taking some medicine for indigestion (which Yumi gratefully shared) in preparation for their last stop in Venice tomorrow.
From the Water Capital to the Island NationEdit
Their first stop in Venice was the San Marco Cathedral followed by a ride on the famous Venice gondolas. They’ve already gotten a game plan ready in order to negotiate for a lower price. The Market price for a ride (regardless of how many people were riding) was about 10,000 yen, meaning they would split it four ways for a total of 2,500 yen per person. Tsutako managed to bargain one gondola down to the market price by going to a different gondolier, but when they tried to push it to 2,000 yen a person, the gondolier expressed in a mixture of Italian and English that that was unreasonable.
Satisfied with paying the market price, they embarked down the canal, passing under several small archways and bridges. He started explaining to them, in very slow English, about the history of the city. Yoshino cheekily said that she didn’t understand about a third of what he was saying and the girls agreed, picking up enough words to piece together a story. Mami had stopped writing in her notebooks, wanting to immerse herself in the experience of Italy before writing an article for the Lillian Kawarban.
Passing under the Rialto bridge, the girls spotted some of their classmates walking about and quickly waved as their gondolier began to sing beautifully. Mami explained the legend of the “Bridge of Sighs” as they were about to pass under it, explaining that a kiss under the bridge will guarantee eternal love. Their gondolier was probably telling them the same story as they heard the word “kiss” and “tradition.” She went on to reveal the truth about the bridge, being the last sigh of Venice that prisoners could see before their executions. Thus, the name, “Bridge of Sighs.”
The four girls wondered, now that they know both stories, what they would do if they had partners to kiss.
With their departure time closing in, they had time to peek into some souvenir shops. Although Venetian glass was expensive, Yumi purchased a small glass pendant for her mother, a glass tie pin for her father, and a glass bookmark for Yuuki.
For dinner that night, the girls had a wide array for seafood, which was a relief since they were feeling pretty fatigued of Florence’s meat. The difference between this seafood and Japanese seafood was that this was drenched in olive oil.
Yoshino turned on the TV and the familiar sound of Japanese came from the TV. An old drama, probably more than twenty years old as Yoshino recognized that actress as someone her mother enjoyed watching. They energetically chatted, excited by the familiarity of the language until Yoshino got up to use the phone. She called Rei , bypassed the usual greeting starters and jumped straight to the point. After she hung up, she explained to Yumi that she and Rei watch a drama on Thursday, which, since Yoshino was in Italy, totally forgot about. Rei couldn’t watch it without Yoshino, so fortunately, none of them had seen it. In the same light, unfortunately none of them saw it either. Yoshino assumed that Yumi had recorded it and pleaded to borrow the recording with her sweetest voice and most adorable face.
Yumi also had forgotten to set the recorder.
During a layover in Milan, the girls went into the duty free shops to pick up their souvenirs for the Rosa Mansion. They looked for Shimako as all of the classes were to meet in Milan and after they found her, they browsed the items available for purchase. Yumi was feeling a bit dejected, unable to find any Florence senbei contrary to what the parakeet had said. Yoshino said it was because no one was selling any, contrary to her surprise when she heard the parakeet earlier that week.
Shimako and Yoshino offered a suggestion of chocolate instead, knowing well the chocolates their onee-sama had brought back from their Italy trip. Yumi felt a pang of jealousy when she heard this, but quickly brushed it off.
The three settled on a box of chocolate, and with her left over pocket change, Yumi purchased some sundried tomatoes and porcini mushrooms for her family.
While waiting in line, Yumi tried asking Shimako about Sei, but Shimako surprised them by saying that Sei was indeed in Italy. Yumi and Yoshino asked if they actually saw her, but Shimako responded that she could sense her. And although it might sound self-centered, she probably didn’t show herself for Shimako’s sake. These words coming from Shimako’s mouth were more credible than all of their previous leads on Sei’s whereabouts, and if there were any proof of the bonds of connectedness between soeurs, Yumi believed that this was the best one.
They arrived back to Japan on Saturday and the trip coming home felt a lot shorter than the trip going.
They entrusted Yoshino with the souvenirs since she lived the closest to schools, citing that she’ll be able to keep the boxes from collapsing or melting the best. Before they all split back to their homes, Yoshino asked Yumi to give her brother her most enthusiastic regards. This confused Shimako, and Yumi clarified that Yuuki, the thoughtful being that he is, recorded the drama that they missed and will be lending the video to Yoshino. This explained the pep in Yoshino’s step as she accidentally jostled the bag containing the chocolates.
Mami and Tsutako accompanied Yumi and Shimako on the bus and although they were all tired, they were all excited at the prospect of finally going home.
After doing her laundry on the Saturday coming home, she slept all of Sunday. That didn’t leave her with any time to call Sachiko, but she reasoned that she’ll be able to see her the next day at school.
It had been a week since she was able to see her beloved onee-sama, and she was still embarrassed by the addition of “I miss you” to her postcard. She presented the marble-patterned paper stationary and photo album in the garden. When asked if she had taken many pictures, she said that Tsutako did. She also expressed that she had fun, to which Sachiko nodded and smiled. Yumi confessed that she wasn’t able to find any Roman manju or Florentine senbei, but apparently Sachoko was making a joke before her initial departure. Sachiko thought Yumi understood since she laughed, but apparently it would have been a better delivery had it came from Sei’s mouth instead of hers. Yumi reasoned that since Sachiko said it with such a serious face, at times it was hard to distinguish if she was teasing or being serious.
Yumi mentioned that Yoshino wanted to buy something nice, but instead got a lot of things. She brought back gifts for the Hanadera boys for helping with the school festival. She also got gifts for the three boys who will be helping with their play as well as gifts for Touko and Kanako- also for their help.
Although Yumi was conflicted who to purchase a souvenir for and what impression that might give them, she ended up getting the both of them presents simply because it made her feel good. Sachiko said she understood how Yumi feels, stretching as she said this. She made a note to ask Tsutako to make extra copies of their trip pictures, and when prompted which ones, Sachiko replied, “Who knows.”
Yumi tried suppressing her self-centered thoughts, but she was secretly glad. Sachiko gave off an air to her, as if she wanted to make a request of Yumi, but didn’t say anything directly. A confused Yumi asked what she was planning, but all she said was, “Eventually. Although, every once in a while, it’s pretty easy to understand.” As she left into her classroom, Yumi stood there wondering what her onee-sama had meant, and concluded that she didn’t understand anything.
Yumi’s next stop was to the first year’s classes. She held two boxes in each hand, one for Kanako and one for Touko. They both accepted their souvenirs of marble-patterned pens with stern faces as they really didn’t appreciate standing next to each other like this. They checked the content of their boxes by turning their backs to one another. Yumi couldn’t tell who was not smiling the most, however, they were both genuinely adorable at this moment.
One week after their return from Italy, Sachiko asked to see Yumi outside after they had finished their lunch. There was a stern look to her face and Yumi couldn’t help thinking of all the things she could have messed up on this past week.
With Sachiko leaning against the side of an outer wall of the Mansion, she asked why Yumi was so bad at making arrangements. Yumi listed the thing she had potentially messed up with that concerned the Yamayurikai, but that wasn’t it. In fact, she had been doing extremely well. Sachiko sighed and revealed the postcard that had finally arrived last night. Yumi was struck with embarrassment, like writing a love letter in the middle of the night but only to reread it during the daytime. Her face was red, thinking of who else in the Ogasawara household had seen it.
She apologized and reached out her hand to take back the card, but Sachiko hastily moved it out of her reach. She scolded Yumi for considering taking the card back and said she’s going to put this postcard in the photo album once it’s filled with pictures of her.
“I’ll never forget this for the rest of my life.”
Sachiko’s angry face was tinged with bits of blush. She turned to leave but spoke softly over her shoulder that she wasn’t the only one being missed. She quickly ascended the stairs and Yumi could see that her ears were just as red as Yumi’s at this point. She concluded that when her onee-sama was feeling shy, she would put on an angry façade.
Yumi looked up at the sky happily and saw that the day was very blue and completely clear.
The Absence of Rosa Chinesis en BoutonEdit
All of the school, but especially the Rose Mansion, was quiet due to the absence of second years. Sachiko was drinking tea alone since Rei was doing some club activities. She was looking over this year’s play, chuckling quietly as she remembered Yumi’s face when it was announced. Because the mansion was so quiet, she would have expected to hear the front door open, but instead, she heard footsteps leading into the second floor door.
Kanako opened the door and hesitated, expecting the room to be empty, but found herself alone with Rosa Chinesis. She apparently came by to retrieve a bag that was situated below the window, and promptly excused herself, indicating that since she thought no one was here, she’d come by quickly. Sachiko’s attention was directed back to the script but said she didn’t mind another person in the room. After all, she felt like Kanako was the strong-headed type of person that if someone ordered her to leave, she would have had to drag her out.
Sachiko, honestly, was indifferent about the first year being here. Kanako, however, shot back at her with confidence that Sachiko could not possibly be comfortable with her here. Sachiko’s face showed how annoyed she was, but that wasn’t what Kanako was alluding to.
She was referring to the incident at the greenhouse before the Hanadera Academy festival. Although it was clear that Kanako felt some sort of regret, Sachiko had practically forgotten about it until now. Kanako asked if Sachiko has forgiven her for hurting her previous Yumi, and Sachiko could sense a hint of bite to those words. She explained that whether she has forgiven her or not, she’s an imperfect human and has undoubtedly hurt others during her time. Kanako wondered what her admirers would say if they heard her claiming that she was imperfect, but this just caused Sachiko to raise her voice, challenging her to ask her admirers what they think.
It was never the intention for the Yamayurikai to be placed in a position in which they were seen as perfect, nor did they ever want that to happen.
Sachiko spoke, saying it’s easy to understand why Yumi is so popular with the first years. Kanako asked if she would have a problem if she was to become Yumi’s petite souer and Sachiko said that if that’s Yumi’s decision, then she wouldn’t object. Recalling Kanako’s earlier statement of not wanting to be Yumi’s soeur, Sachiko said then there wouldn’t be any problem, nor need, for this conversation to continue.
As Kanako stood up to get herself more tea, Sachiko asked if she was expecting any sort of response as Yumi’s onee-sama in the matter. Kanako shut down the conversation, saying she was simply stating that she wanted more tea. Sachiko held up her cup since Kanako was already up and their conversation was put to its final end.
They sat quietly in the room drinking tea until they both left to go home.