Shiro no Kanata e Volume 1 Chapter 1 part1
Title: Shiro no Kanata e [白の彼方へ]
Chapter: 1-1, To The Whiteness Far Beyond
Page: 009 – 015
Author: Masaki Hikaru
Illustrator: Takamine Akira
Publisher: Charade Bunko
Year of Release: 2007
Masaki Hikaru is the original author of this work, and this is a fan translation. Feel free to re-post this elsewhere if you like but please credit this site. I did buy the original copy of this book, along with the rest of the series, so it'll be great if you can support her by buying her books.
By the way, this work contains BL, or homo-eroticism.
As I have no formal training in translation theory nor am I an expert in Japanese (nor English, for the matter), I cannot guarantee the quality of this translation work, but I promise I did my best.
Frankly, I found this novel difficult to translate as the tango and technical jargon is fairly hard and I believe the author wanted to create a specific atmosphere which I struggled to replicate in English. Nevertheless! I intend to pick it up again when I feel more confident of being able to do justice to the original (and if there is affirmation from readers, of course). This novel, I believe, is a little known work of Masaki Hikaru, but do give the BLCD a listen (Nakamura Yuuchi x Midorikawa Hikaru, Inoue Kazuhiko) if you can. I thought it was beautiful.
Chapter 1 Part 1: The Whiteness Far Beyond
The scent of winter hung heavy in the air in the Northern Alps as it approached the end of October.
The autumn snow that had been falling from the skies for two days straight finally abated, and the sun peeked itself out from the clouds after a long time away, its light reflecting off the dazzling white snow.
Asahi pushed open the creaky door to stand at the doorway, squinting his eyes against the brightness of the sun. Something behind him pushed against the insides of his thighs.
When he turned to see what it was, a Saint Bernard which was almost as high as his waist and weighed more than eighty kilograms was pushing his head against him.
Two years ago, a mountain rescue trooper whom he didn't yet know had said to him, it must be lonely being shut away in this mountain lodge all alone… and brought along with him a puppy that was born in an acquaintance's house.
Asahi didn't particularly like animals so he was hesitant at first, but the more he spent time with this puppy the more he started to grow rather fond of it. Now, Tsurugi was an important member of his family, and also a dear friend.
On an unrelated note, the name 'Tsurugi' was taken from the name of a mountain rescue helicopter said to have the capability to fly over the highest peak in the Alps; it was the pride and joy of the prefecture's police force.
"Sorry. You want to go outside, don't you?" Asahi moved out of the way, and Tsurugi leapt out into the new snow with great vigour.
He wagged a bushy tail, getting his long fur coat covered with snow as he ran about in circles in the snow. The weather in the past few days had been stormy and he was only let out when Asahi went out on errands, so he was probably overjoyed at being able to finally get out of the house.
"I'll have to replenish the food supplies soon… how bothersome." Asahi tried to recall whatever that was left in his food stockpile. He seemed to remember that rice was running low… and sighed.
He thought the shipment he received before summer would suffice to get him through to winter, but his mountain lodge saw more visitors than he had expected before and after the Bon festival, and he was now facing a shortage of food.
There was still some milk that was vacuum-sealed in a pouch that he could keep for a long time, and he had in stock meat and fish that was kept frozen. However, rice was a staple, and he felt uneasy knowing that his stock of rice was diminishing.
Other than rice, I should also get… As he stood there thinking while looking out at the pure-white snow, Tsurugi, now with snow clumps in his long fur, came running towards him. He barked gruffly, once.
"… Oh, your food. I haven't forgotten you, you know."
It was unclear if Tsurugi could understand what he said, and Asahi wouldn't call this having a conversation. Yet, he would occasionally catch himself talking to his dog.
Mountain climbing season was over for the year, and the number of people going into the mountains had plummeted. That, and the fact that his villa was slightly off major climbing routes means that if that year was a year that saw fewer mountain climbers coming by the Alps in autumn, there would be times when Asahi would not have anyone to speak to for close to half a month. Asahi has never felt lonely because of this, but people who knew him would sometimes say: "Won't you forget how to speak Japanese one day?" to him, in half-jest.
According to the weekly weather forecast, there would not be any break in the weather for at least a while, so Asahi could expect some visitors to come by the lodge. Around the end of every October, snow pile-up and the closure of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route would render the peak inaccessible for inexperienced climbers, and every year, a good number of people would rush to climb the mountain before the route closes.
Asahi hasn't received any reservations to stay the night in the lodge, but there was always a chance that there will be climbers who drop by without notice after a sudden switch in plans. In other words, he should really replenish his stockpile of food, just in case that happened.
"Tsurugi, come here. I'm going to close the door," called Asahi, and Tsurugi trotted through snow about ten centimetres deep to return to the doorway. He stopped once, below the eaves, to shake his coat vigorously, pelting his surroundings with bits of snow. Some of it caught Asahi in the face, and he narrowed his eyes against the onslaught. Asahi then took a brush and removed the clods of snow clinging to Tsurugi's fur before letting him inside.
"It sure is cold…" muttered Asahi to himself once he closed the door. He then took down a kettle from the stove that was right in the centre of the living room and made himself a simple cup of instant coffee.
The aroma and flavour of the instant coffee paled in comparison to that of drip-coffee, but he had to stick to the general principle of minimising the amount of trash he produced, especially since the lodge was so deep in the mountains. Instant coffee nowadays tastes a lot better than it did forty years ago… at least, that was what Sakano, the old man who owned the lodge and managed its operations with Asahi, once told him three years ago.
Almost as if he was waiting for Asahi to get used to work in the lodge; right after Asahi could manage on his own, Sakano fell ill and had to be admitted to a hospital in the Nagano Prefecture.
Asahi was more surprised to learn that Sakano, an old man in his seventies, had never even caught a cold up till then.
He then went up to his desk while sipping on his coffee, pen in hand.
Ten kilograms of rice… soy sauce and miso paste, curry roux and stew roux… and twenty kilograms of dog food. There is only a little kerosene left for the lamps, so… thirty litres of that should do. I should also get chocolate bars and those solid bars of diet supplements that climbers could carry around with them, along with some seasoning flakes and a bit of powdered instant soup mix. As for beer… I guess one case should do fine.
If he requested to lift too much of anything, he would have a difficult time packing and carrying down any remaining items with him once he closed the lodge and descended the mountain. He had to ensure that he wouldn't run into any shortages yet had to try his best to not have anything left over… and Asahi still found this estimation rather difficult.
If he were to write down only things that he needed, the shipment would be a very small one indeed. But if he took in account the fact that climbers may want to buy items from him, even small items will start to pile up.
Asahi racked his brains and managed to come up with a stripped-down list of items he needed. He set his pen back down on the desk, and breathed a long, loud sigh.
All that was left to do now was send the fax.
His lodge had a contact with a civil air transport company, and if the weather was not too bad the shipment would probably reach him via helicopter in one or two days. The calendar on the wall read 'October', but if he flipped a page to 'November' he would see, marked on the calendar, the date of the closure of this mountain lodge for the year, a date which coincided with the closure of the Alpine Route for the winter.
In other words, his half-year stay in the lodge would come to an end in a month.
Asahi briefly looked out of the window. The snowstorm that was raging till this morning had turned the landscape into a great expanse of white for as far as his eye could see. Stretching across the whiteness was the majestic mountain ranges of the Northern Alps of Japan.
Once he closes this lodge, he would help out at another lodge in Mount Tanigawa which was operated by Sakano's son. The lodge in Mount Tanigawa was open all year round, unlike this one which shuts for the winter. Many people flocked to Mount Tanigawa every year to ski and to climb the mountains in winter, thus that lodge will become extremely busy before and after the New Year.
Asahi wasn't particularly fond of mountains, but he seemed to have a certain affinity for them. A grandiose way to put it would be to say that his fate is tightly interlinked with these mountains, but Asahi thought that the truth was not too far off.
And leaving this place… would mean that he could be further away from him. With a sudden pang of restlessness, he thought of running away from that person as fast as he possibly could.
After all, he had already decided to never let anyone into his heart again. He knew that this was because he was not strong enough; Asahi simply didn't have the courage to step into another relationship which might end the same way the last one did.
Asahi had been staring at the calendar in a daze, but he was brought back to his senses by Tsurugi's deep, gruff barks. Tsurugi was looking expectantly at the front door of the lodge and furiously wagging his tail.
Someone… was at the door.
His face scrunched up in worry as he hurried to the door. He hasn't received any distress calls, but it would be awful if it was a climber that needed help at his door and he had delayed in giving it. Using both hands, he pushed the heavy wooden door open, but his eyes widened upon seeing a familiar silhouette of a man with a large build, clad in a mountaineering jacket. The man's eyes were also round and he looked slightly taken aback; he must not have expected the door to open.
Asahi didn't think he'll come here again… after all, not even a week had passed.
"Shiomi…" was all he could manage.
The man stared down at Asahi, who had gone speechless in his surprise, and re-arranged his features.
"… I have brought some souvenirs, from below. Would you let me in, please?" he said a little gruffly, but he sounded slightly embarrassed as well. His words were, however, polite, like how he always spoke to everyone else. The figure standing in front of him wasn't an illusion. That was, without a doubt, his voice.
Asahi's face went stiff, but he moved out of the way and motioned for him to enter.
Only Tsurugi openly welcomed the visitor, his tail wagging furiously. The man placed a large hand on his head and the Saint Bernard's eyes lit up, his entire being radiating joy. However, Asahi couldn't bring himself to smile at him. He was, after all, someone who often did the exact opposite of what he wished to do, and who found it hard to be frank about his feelings.
Asahi breathed a sigh once the man was out of earshot. He took up a mug and prepared another cup of coffee while struggling maintain a calm façade, but he could barely keep his hands from shaking every time his mind wandered.