Chapter 60 – Seven-Five-Three
Time passes in the blink of an eye.
We’ve already passed the halfway point of our carefree kindergarten days, and another six months have flown by.
There’s not much time left to spend as a preschooler.
…Nevertheless, I decided to take a day off from kindergarten today.
“Alright then, let’s take the picture. Say cheese~ One, two, three!”
Right now, I’m in a photo studio.
The photographer snapped the shutter as he gave a comical cue, and I showed my best smile toward my future parents on the other side of the lens.
As a child who’s being taken care of, I should at least offer them this much service.
“Great, you gave us a wonderful smile. For the next shot, how about holding this sword and striking a cool pose?”
Following the instructions of the photographer, who was used to dealing with children, I took several more photos.
Now, you might be wondering why I skipped kindergarten and went through the trouble of taking these photos. Well, it’s because I turned five years old.
In other words, it’s for the Shichi-Go-San ceremony.
During summer vacation one day,
I was taken to a kimono store, and my mother began happily selecting my outfit.
I already had an Onmyoji outfit. I wondered what she was looking for, but the kimonos she picked up were all of a different type and looked more formal.
“Hijiri has grown up so much. In the old days, they say that children wore a haori and hakama when they turned five. Let’s wear this and visit the shrine next time.”
As I had my clothes hemmed, I asked what the purpose of preparing a haori-hakama was for, and it was only then that I remembered the event called Shichi-Go-San existed.
As a male, this was an event that one only experiences once in a lifetime, and it had completely slipped my mind.
My mother had made a reservation with the shrine on the same day, and that was why we were able to celebrate this day today.
“Thank you for your patronage. The selected photos are saved on this SD card. We have also sent the data to your registered LINE account just now, so please check it. Finally, here is the album. Thank you very much for using our store today.”
I didn’t know you could get all kinds of data in different ways now, not just through albums. I never thought they would even send the data to the message app ……. The data will surely be sent to my grandmother who paid for the haori and hakama.
As I wore my own clothes instead of a rental costume, I left the studio in a hakama.
My parents were also dressed in more refined attire, and it is refreshing to see my father in a suit.
Our destination is a shrine located not far from our home.
Today was a comfortable autumn day, perfect for a family outing.
“What are we going to do?”
Yuya, who had changed outfits for my photo shoot and was getting his picture taken with a flutter, asks our mother.
“We are going to visit the shrine now. It’s because God has been watching over us that your brother has been able to grow up safely. We will thank God for that.”
“Yuya wants to wear the same thing as big brother.”
“When Yuya turns five, we will go visit the shrine again with the whole family.”
My little brother, who had taken off his rental costume and changed into his usual children’s clothes, seemed envious of me during his makeover after we left the store. He is such a cute little brother. I am sure he will wear the same haori-hakama next year as a hand-me-down.
He wants mine now, but I wonder if he’ll ever say, “I want new clothes!” At that time, it seems like it would be no problem to buy him some.
As I sneaked a peek at my mother’s household budget app, I was shocked to see how much my father was earning.
He was making over five times as much as I did in my past life. My pride took a hit.
To be precise, his income had skyrocketed after he returned to work following the Coming-of-Age ceremony, and when I probed him about it indirectly…
“The Oni works well as a meat wall.”
I heard that when you summon a Shikigami, they can appear as if nothing happened, even if they were an Oni that turned into dust during the Coming-of-Age Ceremony.
That powerful Oni now works as an immortal flesh wall. Moreover, my father continues to use it for reconnaissance as usual. If it can contribute to the mission to this extent, it’s natural that the rewards will increase.
I understood why my father was willing to invest such a large sum of money to obtain the Oni.
Hmm, so that Oni is being exploited…
I have mixed feelings about this.
On one hand, I feel sorry for it, but on the other hand, it requires more spiritual power than any other Shikigami and we are paying an appropriate price for it.
Besides, generally speaking, Shikigami cannot communicate with humans, and there is no confirmation that the place where I wandered into was actually another world.
In the end, everything is still a mystery and I’m just sympathizing with the Oni on my own. Since I will eventually use Shikigami for my work, maybe I shouldn’t worry about unnecessary things.
As we walked through the residential area, our destination gradually came into view. We bounced up the stairs and looked around the precincts together, where there were many people. When we came here on a walk before, it was a quiet place, but today, there were many families with children because it was November 15th, Shichi-Go-San (a traditional Japanese festival for three and seven-year-old children). Everyone seemed to have come to worship for the same reason as us.
I see children dressed in formal attires like me as well as children running around the grounds in casual clothes. It’s probably tough for kids around five years old to wear a haori-hakama and behave properly. Well, as an adult on the inside, I can certainly pay my respects properly.
They bow before passing through the torii gate and walk on the side of the approach.
They purify themselves at the temizuya water basin, and promptly visit the haiden main hall to offer prayers.
They ring the bell and toss the offering into the offertory box, then perform two bows, two claps, and one final bow.*
This shrine is extremely ordinary, lacking any facilities such as a Jokoro* or special rules. I know the method of worship from my past life and have reaffirmed it through the guidance of Onmyoji Channel and my father, so there is no way for me to make a mistake.
The content of my prayer included expressing gratitude to the Deity who granted me a second life and reporting that I had been able to live safely until the age of five, as well as offering other customary prayers. After finishing my prayer, I slowly opened my eyes. It seemed that I had taken the longest time to pray, as my family had been waiting for me.
“Did you manage to convey your greetings to Tomiku Chioharu-sama*?”
“Yeah, I conveyed them clearly.”
The goddess enshrined in this shrine is “Chioharu no Fuai, the Goddess of love and prosperity”.
The Kyobe family also worships this popular Goddess, although she is mainly revered in this region and among the Onmyoji community.
This goddess, whose name is often mentioned in my family’s rituals, is said to have responded to a mother’s prayer long ago, who was worried about her child who was on the verge of losing to their awakening spiritual power and granted blessings to mothers all over the world. As a result of this blessing, mothers can now bestow spiritual power upon their children during birth rituals. Even Onmyoji mothers are typically unable to transfer their spiritual power to others, with a few exceptions.
At that time, for me who might have lost if it weren’t for Mother’s breast milk enhancement, Chioharu Tomiku was truly a Goddess of salvation. Perhaps due to similar experiences, families with strong familial bonds often enshrine Chioharu Tomiku as their Deity of worship.
I don’t know if it was Chioharu Tomiku who reincarnated me, but it would take a miracle for anyone but a God to make something like this happen. So I took the opportunity to express my gratitude to the Goddess, Chioharu Tomiku.(T/N – I dont know if I got something wrong but the MC in the one paragraph is calling the Goddess Chioharu no Fuai and saying the whole title of the Goddess but in the others he is calling her Chiharu Tomiku.)
“Both of you did well. Great job!”
My younger brother, Yuuya, who has been mimicking me all along, looks proud as our mother praises him. It’s a relief that he hasn’t acted rudely in this sacred place, and our mother must be pleased. As an excellent little brother, I’m sure he’ll quietly wait with our mother. With that, I can head to today’s main event without any worries — the prayer.
“I’m going. I’ll be back in half an hour or so.”
” We’ll be waiting for you.”
“Yuuya, wait for me here, I will be quick.”
“Where are the dad and brother going~”
Following the Oni extermination, my younger brother, who had been left behind once again, asked our mother in dissatisfaction. With his voice behind us and feeling sorry for him, we stepped into the Shinto shrine, the hall of offerings.
*Jokoro – A Jokoro is a traditional Japanese incense-burning apparatus used in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples for various religious and ceremonial purposes. It is typically made of metal or ceramic and shaped like a small, round table with a central brazier or cup for burning incense. The Jokoro is often placed on a stand or pedestal and used during important rituals and ceremonies to purify the air and create a sacred atmosphere.
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