Chapter 6 - Part 2: The Take Action Now Club Never Sleeps
The next day. In other words, Wednesday. For once it was sunny all morning.
Morning classes went as usual, lunch went as usual, and afternoon classes went as usual.
And a single second later:
"Club activity time! I'm giving you forty seconds to get ready!"
Once again, the bubbly Chako-sensei burst into Kino's class. Was she even capable of getting tired?
"I shall give you three minutes!"
And Inid stood from their seats.
Kino and the four members of their club again piled into the Odyssey, still in their uniforms. Today's destination: Kitakamakura. In other words, the station right after Kamakura Station. Of course, it's further north.
First, they visited Kencho-ji, which ranks first among Kamakura's Five Great Zen Temples. After a stroll around its vast grounds, they looked at the gates and the alters.
Kino was apathetic, but Inid was thrilled. They listened to Shizu's expert explanations about the history of the temple. In the end Inid bought a black T-Shirt with the character "喝" printed over the chest.
Next, they visited the second of the Great Temples, Engaku-ji. This temple was erected to appease the souls of those who had fallen during the Mongolian invasion, ally and enemy alike.
Part of the Yokosuka subway line crossed through the temple grounds. It made for an outlandish sight, where there was a railway crossing right across the bridge into the temple.
It was almost evening now, but since they were already here, they couldn't just pass up the opportunity to visit the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu.
As it is the biggest and most famous shrine in Kamakura, known to all, on New Year's day there are more people here than there is garbage at a landfill. (Editorial note: Please refrain using from problematic metaphors)
Doves are considered sacred in this place. The character "八" of "鶴岡八幡宮" (Hachiman-gu) is even drawn with a pair of doves representing the character.
It's a perfect place for Shizu. Several doves flew across him as he stood quietly in front of the Maiden(1), and flew off into the sunset skies.
The pigeon motif was used to create one of Kamakura's finest products, the Hato-Sable. It's a perfect dessert for Kino, but she'd already bought a whole lot of them with the club's budget before I could even start writing that.
"Wai aut? Ao-enei aed I can."
(Translation: "Why not? Chako-sensei said I can.")
Please either eat or speak. Don't do both at the same time.
The next day. It was Thursday.
It was the day the author presented the results of a survey asking people about the difficulty of memorizing the names of the week in English. Three of the author's acquaintances who were surveyed unanimously agreed that Thursday was it. You can never deny the power of 100%.
It's pronounced Thursday, not Saasudei. It's spelt with a "u", not an "e". This English lesson was brought to you by Gakuen Kino Volume 3.
It was pouring rain today all morning. The school was battered by gale-force winds. The sound of raindrops hitting the windows almost drowned out the teachers' voices.
Second period today was English. As usual, Chako-sensei was teaching the students with her chin on Inuyama's head.
"In other words, the phrase 'remind ____ of ____' means, 'evoke the image of something to someone'. In this case, after the 'of'--"
Chako-sensei suddenly stopped and looked out the window.
"Hey, about Take Action Now Club's activities… I don't think we can do anything today." She suddenly started talking about her own club. This is what they normally call neglecting one's duties. With this weather, even Inid said that her ride would come to pick her up straight after school, as her butler had instructed.
[Then I guess we'll take a break for today after all. You must be tired from having fun day and night, too, Inid. Think of today as a holiday and get some rest.]
Inid never actually had fun at night. Whenever she went back to the hotel, her butler helped her with her studies.
Setting that aside, today's club activities were suspended. Once Kino, Inuyama, and Inid agreed, Chako-sensei asked her a question.
[Anyway, I'd like to ask you something important, Inid. I want you to tell me honestly.]
[Yes? What is it?]
There was a look of utmost seriousness in Chako-sensei's eyes.
[Is your butler's name is Sebastian? Or is he actually named 'Sebas' and you add a 'chan' as a friendly honorific? Or is he actually a Chinese guy named Sebas Chan?]
'Shut up and get back to teaching!' The students thought to themselves.
The next day was Friday. It was cloudy.
Classes ended normally, setting the students free on time.
"I LOVE THE SEA!" Chako-sensei cried. Today, the members of the Take Action Now Club were indulging her by going to the beach.
Their destination was the city of Fujisawa, west of Kamakura. Of course, most people know it better as Enoshima or the Shonan Dunes. The weather was blah, but they couldn't do much about that.
Chako-sensei drove on Route 134. They passed by Yuigahama, Inamuragasaki (famous for Nitta Yoshisada's attack on Kamakura), drove along the Enoshima subway line as they looked towards Enoshima in front of Shichirigahama, passed Koyurugimisaki (where Osamu Dazai tried to commit a lover's suicide but only his lady friend died), crossed the bridge, and finally arrived on the island.
After parking and paying, the Take Action Now Club walked around the island. They visited the Enoshima Shrine, took the escalator up the mountain, visited the lighthouse (and its gorgeous 360-degree views), saw the boulders on the other side of the island, and all the cats roaming free around the streets.
[This place is beautiful. I'm so glad I got to come…] Inid breathed, hands clasped in front of her chest.
I am convinced that Inid's wonder at seeing this place is because she is thinking of the countless travellers who had set foot here in the Edo period. She's probably not like this because she's thinking of an anime about a giant robot or an anime about three girls who stop alien invasions, which were both set in this very location. At least, I hope to god this isn't the case.
After looking around Enoshima, they frolicked in the waves and enjoyed the Shonan Dunes. They then headed for Enoshima Station and went shopping.
On the ride back home--
[I've never seen a train-shaped pillow before.]
Inid was clutching a train-shaped cushion, purchased with the club's budget. Sitting beside her was Kino.
"Wai aut? Ao-enei aed I can."
(Translation: "Why not? Chako-sensei said I can.")
She was eating a train-shaped monaka(2) that, of course, she had bought with the club's budget.
They were on their way back to school, slowly making their way through traffic in the evening rush hour.
"What are we going to be doing tomorrow?" Shizu asked Chako-sensei.
"I dunno…" Chako-sensei replied. The car happened to be stopped at a red light. She turned around and asked Inid for her opinion.
[Do you think we can go to Tokyo tomorrow?]
[Actually, I received a text message just now. It looks like I have to meet with the American ambassador's family at the hotel tomorrow morning. But I'm okay with Sunday.]
[Then tomorrow, we'll start our club activities in the afternoon. Is there anywhere nearby you want to visit?]
[Yes!] Inid replied at once.
[I'd like to go to a hot spring!]
The next day was a Saturday. Once again, rain greeted them in the morning.
Although the school was closed today, Kino ate lunch in the cafeteria.
It was a little before 2:30.
"Well, it is a club activity…"
She took an umbrella (The words "Not secretly a SPAS-12" were written in the corner) and stepped outside. Today, Kino wore a plain pair of jeans and a hoodie. Written over her chest were the words "'64 Model bolts look similar front and back". Where does she get clothes like (Rest omitted). Maybe in Asaka?
She was carrying only a single beige bag. She wore her belt, just like she did when in uniform. Hermes hung from it as he usually did.
Kino left the dorms and headed for the school gates. Chako-sensei must be waiting there with the Odyssey.
After a short walk in the rain--
"This is the life. No demons, no real club activities, plenty of delicious food, and Inuyama is quiet because he's interpreting." Kino said to Hermes.
"Yeah, but I'm dying of boredom. If nothing happens today, I'm just going to go to sleep." He complained. This was his first line in a long time, but that's all for Hermes this time.
"You can't just sleep all the time. If you've got nothing to do, go study at your desk or something." Kino said. But Hermes was silent, either sleeping or ignoring her.
Soon Kino arrived at the gates. The Odyssey was already there, with Chako-sensei (wearing chino pants and a light sweater), Inuyama (wearing his uniform even though it was Saturday), and Shizu (again, wearing his uniform and carrying his katana) already inside. Kino opened the door, folded her umbrella, and fastened her seatbelt.
"Chako, taking off! I have control!"
Chako-sensei, energetic as usual, hit the gas and drove safely.
After driving through downtown Yokohama, they reached neither Landmark Tower nor a hot spring, but the parking lot of a recently-opened shopping mall.
At the furthest corner of the crowded parking lot was a familiar Lexus. Chako-sensei parked the Odyssey beside it.
As the bodyguard stepped out of the car, not caring that he was getting drenched, the doors on both cars opened. Inid, wearing a one-piece dress, slid out of the Lexus and into the Odyssey. It almost looked like they were exchanging suspicious goods.
Kino tilted her head in confusion. Why was everyone being so cautious? It was as if they were expecting to be attacked.
"We're off to the hot springs! After the baths, we'll take a relaxing rest at a cafe. What should we have for dessert? Ice cream? Juice? Or both, if you want!"
Chako-sensei's excited words helped her forget her confusion.
The Odyssey drove through the rain and arrived at a place called "Health Land". Of course, this was the hot spring.
It was a rainy Saturday, which naturally had to mean that parking would be a nightmare, but for some reason, it was empty. It was not long before Kino found out why. When the Odyssey drove up to the building, they saw a note posted on the automatic doors.
[Health Land is closed today for maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.]
Kino stepped out of the Odyssey and frowned. Inid stepped out after her.
[What does it say?]
But before Kino could answer--
[It says, 'Hot Springs rented out by the Take Action Now Club'. I pulled a few strings here and there.] Chako-sensei answered.
"Huh? Why?" Kino asked.
"Don't sweat the details, Kino!" Chako-sensei said, and stepped in front of the doors. They slid open. Soon, someone greeted them. He looked to be the owner of the hot springs.
"Miss Kuroshima Chako, correct? We've been waiting for you."
The man bowed and led them away. It didn't seem like he was going to ask them to pay. What was going on? Kino was confused.
"I'm glad to see that we have the hot springs to ourselves." Inuyama didn't seem to be bothered at all.
"It will be a relaxing bath, I'm sure." Shizu didn't seem to care, either.
[It's wonderful that we rented out the place all day!] Inid was, of course, as carefree as everyone else. Actually, no one seemed to think this was strange in the least. So Kino followed their example.
She stopped sweating the details and stepped into the building.
They were in the hot springs.
I'll do my best to describe them well, for men and women both.
"Wow, it's huge!"
Kino was the first to step out of the changing room and enter the hot springs area, where there were several baths lined up in a row. She had left Hermes back in the change room locker.
Witness now the warrior of justice's slender body, her ~unnatural steam~, and her ~unnatural steam~!
(Note: The ~unnatural steam~ that will appear frequently from this point on will be removed in the DVD versions!)
[Amazing! So this is a hot spring… What large baths! It reminds me of Rome!]
Inid followed after Kino, in awe of her surroundings.
Her long blond hair was neatly tied up. Exposed to the air were her long, slim legs, ~unnatural steam~, and ~unnatural steam~. Her ~unnatural steam~ were quite perky, as expected from a caucasian.
Seeing this, Kino especially stared at her ~unnatural steam~, tore her eyes away, looked down at her own ~unnatural steam~, and--
"Gah…! Caucasians…! So this is the natural limit! The difference of DNA!" She mumbled angrily.
"Yaay! Hot springs! Baths! Let's all count to a hundred, now! Un, deux, trois!"
Chako-sensei broke out into a strange song. And obviously, Inuyama and Shizu were in the men's baths. This isn't the Edo period, you know.
Chako-sensei was indeed a mature woman. The curves of her ~unnatural steam~ leading naturally to her ~unnatural steam~ were quite different from those of her students.
Her ~unnatural steam~ shook each time she took a step. Between her thin legs ~unnatural steam~, and ~unnatural steam~ were ~unnatural steam~.
Inid and Chako-sensei were smiling, with ~unnatural steam~ and ~unnatural steam~ with ~unnatural steam~ and ~unnatural steam~.
"Now then, let me show you how the Japanese bathe!"
Chako-sensei began to use Kino as an example of how to properly enter a bath.
First, one should lightly soak themselves in warm water before entering the hot springs, or shower if need be. One has to tie up their hair so it would not get wet. One was not to wear a towel inside the hot spring. One was to be cautious of overheating. And finally, once finished with the hot spring, one was to put one hand on their hip and drink a bottle of milk with the other hand.
[Oh! I see… Yes.]
Inid gave Chako-sensei her full attention. Although she didn't really see the difference between drinking coffee milk or fruit milk at the end.
First, they slipped into the biggest of the baths--the normal one. The towels on their heads were snazzy and truly of the Japanese style.
Not long afterwards,
[We're off to the hot springs next!]
Shaking off the moisture from their ~unnatural steam~, they headed for one of the hot springs proper.
[Um… This is… a hot spring?]
Inid was looking down at a black hot spring, a common sight in the Yokohama area. The water was dark, like coffee or ink or crude oil.
Inid was hesitant to enter the creepy-coloured water.
"Show her how it's done, Kino!" Chako-sensei pressured Kino.
Kino stepped into the hot spring without a moment's hesitation.
Stuff like her body melting, being dyed black, or being dragged into the depths by a suspicious creature did not happen.
"Ah… This feels nice."
Spurred by Kino's relaxed example, Inid tentatively stepped into the water. Once she realized that the water in this hot spring felt completely different from that in the bath, a smile came over her face.
As a sexy teacher, a beautiful blonde, and another person were enjoying the hot springs at the exclusive hot spring facility--
"Do you need some help washing your back, senpai?"
"I'd appreciate that."
Inuyama and Shizu were in the men's bath. Naked. They were sitting in a row by the water taps.
Shizu had agreed quite easily. As they were in a hot spring, Shizu was not carrying the katana he always had at his side. Terrible things can happen if you bring one into a hot spring, you know.
In other words, Shizu was completely unarmed. Inuyama's eyes glinted suspiciously as he stepped behind Shizu's back.
He lathered body wash onto the towel and began washing Shizu's muscled back, not at all questionably.
Shizu sat there, relaxed. But--
Inuyama was overcome by doubt. The moment Shizu showed even a hint of weakness, he would have thrown the towel around his neck and strangled him on the spot.
There was no opening.
Even in his naked state, Shizu was far from defenceless. In his head, Inuyama began to go over possible simulations for defeating Shizu.
Throw the towel around Shizu's neck -> Shizu hears the rustling and notices my plot, putting his right hand between the towel and his neck -> Shizu looks back and elbows me in the face with his left arm -> Defeat
Looks like that won't work. Next.
Hit him over the head with a bucket -> Shizu notices it and blocks with his hands -> Shizu spins and kicks me in the side with a spinning left kick. -> Defeat
This one's no good, either. Another?
Pull out Shizu's chair from under him -> Shizu uses the momentum and lands a spinning kick on my face -> Can't defend, holding a chair -> Defeat.
Another bad one. What about this?
Embrace him from behind without warning and yell "I love you!" to take him by surprise -> Shizu is not so easily surprised. He notices the bloodlust in my confession and hits my head with the back of his head -> Since our heads are practically touching, I can't defend myself. Nosebleed and blood loss ensues -> Defeat.
In the end, Inuyama could not find a way to win. He thoroughly washed Shizu's back and poured out the water from the bucket. He really couldn't do anything but wash his back and return to his own seat.
"Thank you. Would you like some help as well?" Shizu said condescendingly (Note: Inuyama-vision).
"No thank you!"
"If you'll excuse me!"
Inuyama stood up, walked through ~unnatural steam~, splashed into the furthest--and hottest--bath, and lowered himself into the water all the way up to his mouth.
"Blubblubblubblubblub! Blub! Blubblub! Blubblubblubblubblubblubblubblub!"
It sounded like he was saying something under the water, but it just sounded like bubbles. It was impossible to tell what he was saying.
'Damn it! Damn it! Am I never going to be able to defeat him?!'
As he desperately swallowed his resentment, droplets of water ran down Inuyama's face. It must be sweat.
Sitting in a 100-yen-per-round massage chair and receiving a rhythmical shoulder rub was Chako-sensei.
[We're going to Akihabara tomorrow, right? Just trust me. Ohhhh, right there. A little more. We'll all leave in the morning. Right there. Yeah.]
She turned to Inid, who was also getting a massage from a chair beside hers.
[Of course! But… Will it be all right?] A shadow was cast over her face. For your reference, Kino was drinking cream soda in the cafeteria. In other words, she was not here.
[There's no need to worry. We'll be right there with you.] Chako-sensei smiled.
She then added:
[Have faith in the Take Action Now Club.]
Continued in Part 3.
Continued in Part 3.
(1) According to Wikipedia, Maiden is a type of pavilion.
(2) A Japanese sweet. It's two pieces of mochi wafers sandwiching a jam filling.