Japanese novel translations

[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 17

(Of Tenderness – Part 8)
Continued from Part 16.

They barely talked until eleven o’clock, when it was almost time for them to check out. Hirosue scrambled to get his stuff together and left the hotel. ―Matsuoka was also with him, looking thoroughly exhausted.

Hirosue invited Matsuoka to an outdoor cafe nearby. He had actually wanted to go somewhere with a more relaxing atmosphere. But he was afraid that if he went all the way to the station, Matsuoka would leave him to go straight home. They chose seats in the shade. Hirosue ordered orange juice and Matsuoka ordered iced tea.

The cicadas buzzed. Matsuoka lazily put his lips to the straw in his iced tea. Hirosue wondered how to broach the topic of their future. He had stopped the man from leaving with no plan in mind at all. A question was tossed out at him.

“ ―So what is it that you want to do from here, Hirosue?”

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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 16

(Of Tenderness – Part 7)
Continued from Part 15.

On the day of the wedding, Hirosue left his house in the morning and arrived at Tokyo Station before twelve o’clock. It had been raining in his hometown, but the weather here was clear and sunny. Perhaps it had rained a little in the morning, for there were some puddles left behind.

He took the train to the business hotel he was planning to stay at. He was told he could not check in yet, so he left his things with the front desk. The wedding was at five, and the venue was about fifteen minutes by train from the hotel. If he came back to the hotel by half past three, it would give him more than enough time to get ready.

It would have been easier for him to book a hotel close to the wedding venue, but he had chosen one a little far away because it was a five-minute walk from Matsuoka’s apartment.

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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 15

(Of Tenderness – Part 6)
Continued from Part 14.

“My, if it isn’t Motofumi!”

He was on the way home from dropping off a shipment at the commodity centre. He had just bought some cans of chuhai from his local supermarket and was mounting his moped when he heard his name being called. Hirosue turned to see Shimizu’s mother. Shimizu was his former classmate, and his wedding ceremony was set to take place next next week. Hirosue had been asked to make a speech as the best man.

“It’s been a long time, Mrs. Shimizu. And congratulations on your son’s marriage.”

“Thank you,” the woman said with a wide grin. Her amiable face, full of familiarity, was the very picture of a country matron, and filled Hirosue’s heart with warm relief.

“So you’re back here for good, are you? I’m sure your mother and father feel very lucky to have both of their sons with them. So, Motofumi, aren’t you going to get yourself a wife?”

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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 14

(Of Tenderness – Part 5)
Continued from Part 13.

It was widely said that spring was coming late this year, and just a week ago they had seen snow on the hot springs trip. For a while, Hirosue remained under the impression that it was still winter. But the temperature soared once they passed the twentieth of March; winter coats soon became a bulky and unfashionable sight.

About two days before the official announcement of his layoff, Hirosue got a call from Matsuoka during overtime.

“Can I see you today?” he said. They had both been busy with work and overtime after returning from their hot springs trip. Although they still e-mailed each other, they had not had a chance to eat together yet.

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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 13

(Of Tenderness – Part 4)
Continued from Part 12.

Hirosue was so busy at work, he thought he might have to come into the office during the weekend―it was thanks to Hayama that he managed to get Saturday and Sunday off. On the Friday before the trip, however, Hirosue worked extra overtime so he wouldn’t leave any work unfinished. By the time he got home to his apartment, it was two in the morning.

On the day of their one-night trip to the hot springs, Matsuoka came to pick him up by car. Matsuoka arrived right on time, true to his punctual nature. Hirosue rubbed his sleepy eyes and left his apartment with his bag in hand.

Matsuoka was wearing a simple outfit of a fitted long-sleeve shirt with khaki-coloured pants. They were the kind of clothes you’d see anywhere, but it was strange how fashionable they looked just because Matsuoka was wearing them. Hirosue looked at his own outfit of corduroy pants and a thick wool shirt. He had taken care to choose the nicer articles among his casual clothes, but now he felt embarrassed at how incredibly unfashionable they looked. Matsuoka doesn’t say anything, but I bet he doesn’t think I have very good fashion sense, he thought, beating himself up over the most trivial of matters.

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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 12

(Of Tenderness – Part 3)
Continued from Part 11.

A loud ringing sound made him squeeze his eyes shut. Hirosue pulled his blanket over his head, but the bothersome noise did not stop. Finally, he reluctantly got up and searched for the source of the sound. He grabbed the alarm clock sitting on the table. He fiddled with it, not knowing how to turn it off, until the sound stopped by itself.

The room was unfamiliar to him. With the clock in hand, he took in his surroundings. Matsuoka was curled up in a blanket at the foot of the sofa he had been sleeping on just earlier. He wondered what the man was doing there, and remembered that he had visited Matsuoka last night and they had eaten cake and drunk wine. His memories of them eating cake together grew hazy partway through, and near the end, they were a complete blur.

He peered at the clock and saw it was six in the morning. The first trains were already running.
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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 11

(Of Tenderness – Part 2)
Continued from Part 10.


Twice, Hirosue turned down invitations from Matsuoka by lying and saying he’d caught a cold. They’d been talking about watching a movie over the weekend, but he pushed that back to the following week as well, using the cold as an excuse.

It wasn’t as if he had anything special to do instead; after turning down Matsuoka’s invitations, he merely sat absently at home or watched TV.

On the day he received the news of his layoff, Hirosue had been too devastated to eat anything. The following day at work, he couldn’t concentrate and kept making careless mistakes, but the head clerk did not reprimand him.

“Well, be careful next time,” the head clerk only said, even though Hirosue’s mistake would usually have warranted a summons to his desk and a public yelling. Hirosue wondered if the head clerk was only pitying him because he was getting laid off, and it made him feel even more wretched.

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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 10

(Of Tenderness – Part 1)
Continued from Part 9 or Watch -chapter 1-.


Of Tenderness

He opened his eyes a crack. Motofumi Hirosue didn’t realize he had been asleep until he was woken up by someone calling his name. He felt like he had been in the middle of a good dream, though he couldn’t remember what it was.

He was gently stroked on the head. The sensation of those indulgent fingertips was more comforting than he could describe. He could see Yosuke Matsuoka leaning in to peer at him with a very gentle look on his face.

Matsuoka’s head was small, and he had shapely eyes and a high nose. Hirosue couldn’t help but notice the perfect shape of the man’s face every time he saw him. So different from his own nondescript and unfashionable self. Hirosue usually did not care much about men’s looks, but when someone was as finely-chiseled as Matsuoka was, it was hard not to stare. It took him a while to realize that the man was also staring back at him with such intensity it almost hurt. The gaze did not move away, and Hirosue gradually began to feel suffocated.

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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty / Watch -chapter 1-

This is a short story that comes in the booklet for the drama CD version of “Of Beauty”.


He was definitely not good at waking up in the mornings, yet, Matsuoka found himself opening his eyes before his alarm clock went off. He washed his face, brushed his teeth, and groomed his facial hair. He ran the blade across his skin with even more caution than usual so he wouldn’t nick himself.

After a simple breakfast of bought bread and coffee, he opened his closet. As a man in the sales occupation, his suit was his battle gear, and was an absolute necessity. As such, he had more in number than the average worker who worked solely within the company.

He already had a liking for clothes, anyway, so he also had more suits than he needed. Matsuoka folded his arms in front of the wide array of clothes before him.

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[Narise Konohara] Of Beauty – Part 9

Continued from Part 8.

Matsuoka returned to the cottage at daybreak, past six. As soon as he got back, he showered and changed his clothes. Hirosue woke up sometime in the middle of his routine. Even when their eyes met, the man did not even wish him good morning. They whiled the time away in unnatural silence which continued until half past seven, when Hayama came knocking on their door to say that breakfast was ready.

Their conversation carried on normally once the four of them were in a group. Matsuoka didn’t ignore Hirosue, and Hirosue answered properly if he was asked a question. After their breakfast of sandwiches and coffee, they began to prepare to go home. They got their things together, left the cottages, and were just about to check out when Matsuoka realized he had forgotten his car keys in the room.

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