What You Are Looking For Is in the Library

Michiko Aoyama: What You Are Looking For Is in the Library ISBN:1335005625, reviewed and recommended by Robin Sloan


Chapter 1: Tomoka, 21, womenswear sales assistant

There is one reason and one reason only that I work at Eden: it was the only job offer I received

it ticked the most important box for me—it was in Tokyo. But it wasn’t that I wanted to live there so much as I didn’t want to go back to the country.

drove me to study hard at high school, so I could get into junior college in Tokyo

Hardly anyone in my hometown goes to college in Tokyo, so having people tell me how amazing I was used to make me feel good, but when it comes down to it I’m not amazing at all. I have no ambitions, nothing I enjoy

But you’re a permanent, Tomoka. In a few years you can transfer to head office, can’t you?” “I guess so, but...” After starting with the company, permanent staff have to put in three years at a branch store. Once you have the sales experience, you can apply for a transfer to head office.

But I’d also heard that in reality the chances of a transfer application being approved were low

If you want to work in an office, you have to know Excel.” “Computer courses are expensive, though.” “You don’t have to go on computer courses,” Kiriyama tells me. “Community centers often have that kind of thing

Hatori Community House. It seems to be connected to an elementary school less than ten minutes’ walk from my apartment

The teacher turns out to be a woman, not a man. Ms. Gonno is probably in her fifties

No way! Excel has been hiding in my computer all along?

There’s no set textbook, but I’ll give you a list of recommended titles

You might like to look in the library here in Community House.”

If you need any recommendations, the librarian is in the reference corner.”

yikes! My eyes nearly jump out of their sockets. The librarian is huge... I mean, like, really huge. But huge as in big, not fat. She takes up the entire space between the L-shaped counter and the partition. Her skin is super pale—you can’t even see where her chin ends and her neck begins

The name tag around her neck says “Sayuri Komachi.” Cute name

You managed to find employment, you go to work every day and you can feed yourself. That’s a fine achievement.” Nobody’s ever summed up my life in this way before. Her answer makes me want to cry.

Then I notice, right at the bottom, a title that stands out. Guri and Gura? I stare at the words. The kids’ picture book about two field mice, Guri and Gura?

Oh, and this too.” Ms. Komachi swivels on her chair slightly as she reaches below the counter

Here you are—this is for you.”

Automatically I hold out my palm and Ms. Komachi drops a lightweight object on to it. It is round and black, about the size of a large watch face and with a straight bit poking out. A frying pan? The object in my hand is a felted frying pan with a tiny round clasp on the handle.

Felting is mysterious,” she says. “All you do is keep poking the needle at a ball of wool and it turns into a three-dimensional shape

When I enter and find myself surrounded by lots of cute picture books, I feel peaceful all of a sudden.

What? They made castella?

I told her off the top of my head once that I was in “the fashion business.” It’s not exactly a lie, and my job does involve clothes. But I didn’t mention Eden because, if I had, she would have googled it and discovered the truth.

“So you cook,” I remark. “I do now,” Kiriyama says.

“I wrote an article for the magazine once, for a feature on glasses. I did a lot of in-depth research and found it really interesting, so that might be why I accepted the offer for an interview

Way to go, Mrs. Numauchi! I feel so dumb now for telling the librarian that my job in the womenswear section at Eden was “nothing great.” I haven’t been doing a great job, that’s all

Deep inside, I know I looked down on her out of a warped sense of superiority at being a permanent employee, and young. I’d been on a stupid ego trip thinking I was better than her, and the woman in the canteen, come to think of it.

I know what I’ll make—yellow castella, just like in Guri and Gura.

My skin is awful. Probably because all I ever eat is cup ramen and savory rolls from convenience stores

As I look around my tiny apartment, it’s clear that diet isn’t my only problem. Dust coats the floor

When they found the egg, they knew what it could be used for, because they already knew how to make castella. Yes! My heart sings as I realize I may have hit on some truth

I open the lid, and gasp. The edges of the batter are black where it has overcooked in the pan

While chewing on an overly sweet horrible lump, it suddenly strikes me as funny and I fall about laughing. I’m not devastated; if anything I feel good. What’s to cry about when I have a tidy apartment and a sink full of cooking utensils. I will not give up. I can learn how to do this thing.

From then on, every day for a week after coming home from work, I make castella cake

Something else changes. I spend so much time in the kitchen, I begin to cook dinner as well. Just simple stuff

For such a short book, it’s interesting how everybody remembers it differently

Chapter 2: Ryo, 35, accounts department of a furniture manufacturer

It all began with a spoon

I was a high-school student at the time

I bought it for 1,500 yen

“This is pure silver,” the man in the cap told me. “It’s a teaspoon, made in England.” “When was it made?” I asked. He put on reading glasses to scrutinize the back of the spoon: “In 1905.”

My imagination ran wild. I never grew bored of looking at my spoon. After that I often dropped by Enmokuya on my way home after school

Enmokuya was a place where I could forget everything

Today, Enmokuya no longer exists. One day, not long before I finished high school

That was eighteen years ago. Maybe that’s why I’ve always yearned to have my own shop, just like Enmokuya. One day. Even now at the age of thirty-five, I still dream of it.

That about sums up my workplace: I have an incompetent boss and an assistant with attitude

The next day, Wednesday, I go to pick up Hina. Hina is my girlfriend, and she lives at home with her parents in a quiet residential area.

There’s a ten-year age gap between Hina and me. She’s only twenty-five. We met three years ago when I was walking on Yuigahama beach

she replied that she was collecting sea glass. She told me that she used it to make accessories

Today we’re going to hear a lecture entitled “Fun with Minerals” at a community center that Hina discovered in her neighborhood

No longer content with simply making sea-glass accessories, Hina is now thinking of how to sell them too

What are you looking for? she had asked me. I think about it. A place for these dreams that I don’t know what to do with?

that is one way to live, in my opinion. The days go by more happily when you have something to dream about. It’s not always a bad thing to have a dream, with no plan for ever carrying it out

But if you need to know what lies beyond the dream, you need to know

The last one on the list, however, is one I have to read twice: Royal Horticultural Society: How Do Worms Work? A Gardener’s Collection of Curious Questions and Astonishing Answers. Surely, this is a mistake

feel something soft and light on my palm. It is a woolen ball that looks like...a cat? A cat with a brown body and black stripes, sleeping on its side. A brown mackerel tabby. “Um, what’s this for?” “It’s a free gift.”

On impulse I pick up a copy of Vol. 31 of the Hatori CH Newsletter. Over half of this edition appears to be devoted to a feature on staff recommendations for businesses and shops in the city; it has information on cake shops, flower shops, cafés, pork cutlet restaurants and karaoke clubs

The caption for the photo of the man with the cat reads, “Librarian Sayuri Komachi’s top-pick bookshop,” and the name of the store is Cats Now Books

For the life of me, I cannot think why the librarian would recommend it to me, but evidently she is right because I feel drawn to it

I do an online search for Cats Now Books and discover it is located in the Sangenjaya district of Tokyo. Interestingly, there are also hits for several interviews with Yasuhara

Apparently Yasuhara works for an IT company as well as running this shop. Can you do that?

A parallel career means having two careers that are complementary, with neither being secondary to the other.

If I had my own shop, what kind of daily sales average would I need in order to remain profitable?

Mr. Nasuda?” “The very same! Wow, you’ve got a good memory, Ryo!” Mr. Nasuda had been a regular at Enmokuya

You haven’t changed a bit, Ryo. Still as jumpy as ever.”

He hands me a business card case from the bag slung over his shoulder. It lists three job titles: “Design and renovation consultant,” “Real-estate planner” and “Space consultant.” I don’t really understand it but I do get the gist that he is involved with various real-estate-related affairs.

Apparently Mr. Ebigawa got into hot water and did a runner, owing big money

This confirms all my fears that opening a shop is risky business—let alone an antique shop

Her face goes stony. “The numbers didn’t match up, but only by just a bit,” she says sullenly. “It wasn’t worth the trouble asking Hosaka to redo it. What’s the problem, anyway? It’s only ten yen. The company won’t collapse.”

You do know the girl is the company president’s niece, don’t you? Taguchi is aware, but it might’ve been a good thing if he’d told you, too

“I reached my monthly sales target for the online shop today. There were some fantastic reviews as well, and...”

“I’m not like you, Hina. I can’t take it easy having fun with my hobby. You don’t have to worry if your online shop fails, or you don’t sell anything!” “It’s not a hobby,” Hina snaps

With Hina gone, the weekend stretches out emptily

the strange thing is that surrendering myself to the wonders of a world apart from humans makes me begin to feel calmer. Similar to how I felt when I used to go to Enmokuya

from a plant’s perspective, aboveground and belowground are both equally important and in perfect balance. Humans only see what suits them most, and make that their main focus, but for plants... Both are main. My mind jumps to the article about parallel careers where each job is complementary, neither is secondary

store. Is that what Yasuhara is doing? What if I could do it too? But how do I combine them? That is the question

The next afternoon I set out for Cats Now Books

Don’t you ever find that either gets too much?” Yasuhara laughs lightly. “No, I don’t. If anything, it’s doing both that makes me feel like neither is ever too much of a burden.

Before I had this place, all I ever used to think about was quitting my office job, but now that job is what gives me the means to enjoy running this bookshop. If the bookshop was all I did, however, then I’d have to spend a lot more time thinking about sales strategies and so on. Which would be far more demanding. And I don’t really want that

I get more from the shop in terms of mental and emotional satisfaction than I do in monetary profit

if both jobs are main, wouldn’t that mean working constantly, seven days a week?

I might be in here all the time and never go out, but I get as much enjoyment out of it as I would from, say, a pastime like fishing

“I don’t have anything. Not enough time, money or courage. I always think that one day I’ll do it, but I never do. I don’t have what it takes to get started.”

The moment you say ‘don’t,’ you’re done for.” “Excuse me?” “You have to turn that ‘don’t’ into a goal.

“I don’t like being around people, you know,” he says

But there came a time when I thought I ought to make an effort, and listen to what other people might have to say. Once I started to show my face here and there, I had encounters that led to all sorts of opportunities and connections

Everybody is connected. And any one of their connections could be the start of a network that branches in many directions. If you wait for the right time to make connections, it might never happen, but if you show your face around, talk to people and see enough to give you the confidence that things could work out, then ‘one day’ might turn into ‘tomorrow.’

I ask. “You’ve achieved your dream?” Yasuhara tips his head to one side. “I don’t think of this as the dream.” “But...” “If all I wanted was to be surrounded by cats and books and beer, I wouldn’t need a bookshop to achieve that.

“Ryo, let me ask, why do you want to open an antique shop? Not just to be surrounded by antiques, surely—why open a shop?”

“Ryo, do you plan to open a shop by yourself?” In my mind I see Hina’s face.

“It’s hard work on your own,” says Yasuhara. “You need someone else there—a partner, family member or friend—someone to discuss things with and let off steam.

What did she say when you told her you wanted to open a shop?” Yasuhara looks away. “She didn’t...say anything.” Then he turns toward me with a gentle smile, and with an expression I have not seen on his face before. “She said nothing, and went along with it. I’m forever grateful to her.”

You know, some people believe that the future owner of a handmade object is already decided before it’s made

Enmokuya brought me together with my spoon. I want to do the same. I want to bring people together with the objects they are meant to meet

This is the biggest reason I want my own shop.

“I’m going to prepare to open a shop. But I won’t quit the company. I plan to keep my job and run a shop at the same time.

So... So...will you help me? I bite back the words I’d planned to say as a marriage proposal

Hina breaks through these thoughts. “Ryo, let’s get married. The sooner the better.

Did she say Do this together...? Yes, that’s what she said.

There is no main job and secondary job. Both are equally important. That could be true for a couple

But we should get started on crowdfunding before anything.”

She rolls her eyes. “Ryo, crowdfunding is what amateurs do.” Then, leaning in close, she asks, “Ryo, dear, have you ever thought about what makes the world go round?”

I believe it is trust,” she adds

“If money is your only object, then crowdfunding can be a lot of trouble for nothing, because you don’t know if you’ll raise enough to start a business. But it’s a brilliant method of PR. That’s what makes it really worth doing.

then I saw Taguchi at golf on Saturday.” “Mr. Taguchi...” “When I told him, he was furious. You’d never do anything like that in a million years, according to him. He told me that there is nobody more sincere and trustworthy than you; even all the other departments think so.

It is just as Hina said. The president trusts Taguchi, Taguchi trusts me. Trust makes the world go round.

There are so many things to do, but I won’t make the excuse that I have no time anymore. Instead, I will think about what I can do with the time I have

Chapter 3: Natsumi, 40, former magazine editor

I sometimes I carry this book about with me like a talisman—a colorful array of sticky notes poking out from its pages, contrasting starkly with the whiteness within

I became pregnant, which was a surprise but not unexpected. By then I was thirty-seven and conscious of time passing, so it was welcome news

informed of my transfer to Information Resources. “Why?” I eventually managed to croak out shakily. “Because it’s too hard to work as an editor with a baby,” he replied, as if it was a matter of no great import.

Two years went by. I often thought about looking for a new position with another magazine. From a practical point of view, however, things at home had not fallen into place as I had hoped. Coordinating responsibilities with my husband, Shuji, was not going smoothly

It pains me to admit this, but the editor in chief might have been right

Shuji works for an events company, and these days he seems to have to go on a lot more business trips and work overtime

I don’t know why she always has to wake up early at weekends

Where else could we go that would allow us to pass the time pleasantly without raising my stress levels?

I remembered the daycare director once saying that the library in Hatori Community House, a small community center next to the local elementary school, has an area where little kids can play.

I had ambitions to work in publishing and create books

Five years ago, Mila ran a serialized novel by famous author Mizue Kanata that became a popular hit, and I was the one who had made it happen

It quickly became a centerpiece in Mila and sales rose

At its conclusion, management decided to publish it in book format as well. Banyusha, however, has no fiction department, therefore it became my job to oversee its production as a novel and secure distribution with bookstores. I did all that on top of my usual editing duties

The managing director even stopped me in the corridor to hint at a promotion to deputy editor in chief. Not long after that, I discovered I was pregnant

For me, the job of editor was all about reaping the fruits of a long, careful accumulation of effort.

What am I looking for? I could give many answers: my future path in life, a way of releasing my frustrations, the patience to raise a child, etcetera.

Being born is probably the most difficult thing we ever have to do

The next, however, was unexpected: Door to the Moon by Yukari Ishii.

Please, this is for you.” It was a round, felted woolen object. A blue globe with a mottled green and yellow pattern. The Earth? “How sweet. Did you make this? My daughter will love it.” “That’s a bonus gift for you

The good thing about felting is that you can start again halfway through. Even after your project begins to take shape, you can easily change direction along the way if you feel that you want to make something different after all

the moon signifies mothers, wives, incidents from childhood, emotions, the flesh, changes, and so on. The moon signifies mothers and wives? That wasn’t what I had been led to believe. What about the old adage that a mother is the sun in a family, and the reason why a mother is always supposed to be cheerful and smiling?

But I knew it cut both ways. I had made my own choices too. I chose to have a child. But am I not supposed to want both?

Apparently The Pink Plane Tree was going to be made into a film

Did you realize, Ms. Sakitani, that it was a teeny bit stressful for me writing the instalments for the novel?

Madam Mizue put down her spoon. “Ah, Ms. Sakitani, so you’re on the merry-go-round, too,” she said gently. “The merry-go-round?” With a chuckle she smiled at me. “It’s a very common condition,” she said with apparent relish. “Singles are envious of those who are married, and married couples envy those with children, but people with children are envious of singles. It’s an endless merry-go-round

Life is one revelation after another. Things don’t always go to plan

From big things to little, there are some things we simply cannot force to go to plan, no matter how hard we try. It was a surprise to see the words “go to plan.” The same words Madam Mizue had said to me earlier in the day

I was struck by an idea: Ptolemaic theory and Copernican theory; geocentrism and heliocentrism

If I put myself at the center of everything, does that mean I always see myself as a victim? And why I always end up wondering why can’t people do things that work for me.

Suddenly, I knew what I wanted: I wanted to be a literary-fiction editor and work with authors, to draw out the best in them and bring readers the best possible stories

You may say that it was the book, but it’s how you read a book that is most valuable, rather than any power it might have itself.

“It’s just how things worked out. I went with the flow and did what was easiest at the time to achieve what I wanted. Moment by moment—circumstances always change, quite independently from what we want to do

one of my university acquaintances works in the editorial department at Maple Publications

Kiriyama, why are you doing this for me?”

He answered without hesitation. “There is no ‘why.’ It’s just the way things turned out. Isn’t it a good thing to want more great books in the world? I want to read them too

“Does this kind of thing really happen? It’s too good to be true. I can’t believe an opportunity like this would just fall into my lap.” Shuji looked at me. “You’re wrong,” he said earnestly. “This didn’t just come to you. It happened because you did something for yourself. You took action and that caused things to change around you

When I started working at Maple, I had a revelation. I realized that when one reads or writes a novel, it is the Moon Eye that is in play. But when one works on a manuscript to help get it into shape before sending it into the world, the Sun Eye comes to the fore

Chapter 4: Hiroya, 30, NEET (not in employment, education or training)

I think I like the Mermaid Saga series most.” “Me too! Me too!” We start jawing about our favorite manga

My uncle had a manga café. I used to hang out there when I was at elementary school

After high school I went to design school to study it, but couldn’t find a job.

only the chosen few can make a living from illustrating

in the case of one person doing the thing they want to do, there is only yourself, which means one person out of one, which is one hundred percent.”

The printout has one line of writing on it. A book called Evolution: A Visual Record with the author’s name and the shelf number

It feels soft. Hope rises in my chest. Is it a Monger? But no, my hopes are dashed. It’s a plane. A plane with a tiny gray body, white wings and a cool green tail

There are photos of birds, reptiles, plants and insects. Every single one is a work of art. They blow my mind. They are so intense...and colorful. And all perfectly composed. They have a kind of spooky aura as well

The next day is Saturday and I have a train to catch. I haven’t done that for a very long time, but today is my high-school reunion. Normally I would not attend but I cannot miss this one. A time capsule that was buried in the school grounds

My mission for today is to retrieve my piece of paper without anyone else seeing it. I will not attend the party afterward. Not a hope

I will become an illustrator whose name will be remembered in history. I’m pretty sure that’s what I wrote

Everybody is looking confident and animated. All having a great time.

“I haven’t been published yet. But I still write.” Seitaro smiles timidly

My drawings weren’t what people wanted. Even at design school I was always being told they were too bizarre, or niche.

I’m the opposite. People always say my novels are too ordinary. Too bland, no spice

I focus on my writing in the evening and at weekends. Weekdays I have to work.

Not one single job I could name is absolutely secure. Everybody just does their best to hang in there, trying to balance it all.

Then I reach a part where Wallace says about Darwin, “We were good friends.” I shake my head. You sure about that, Wallace? Wallace published first, but Darwin is the name everybody remembers

All of a sudden I get the urge to draw. I haven’t felt this in ages

Monger!” Mrs. Muroi suddenly yells, making me jump, and laughs again. “I love Monger. The ultimate creature!

He might be tough enough to survive any conditions and have special powers, but he sulks if he doesn’t get enough attention and cries at the drop of a hat. It makes you wonder what strength really is, doesn’t it?”

reminds me of when I was at elementary school. I used to go to the nurse’s room instead of the classroom

Ms. Komachi used to be the special-needs teacher at the school next door, where I went to school

I was afraid of loud voices

Suddenly she turns to me and cries, “Sweet-and-sour pork!” “What?” “What do you think about pineapple in sweet-and-sour pork?”

A lot of people don’t like it, do they? They can’t stand pineapple in sweet-and-sour pork. But it never disappears, does it? Why is that?” “Er, I don’t know—why doesn’t it?” “Because the people who like pineapple in sweet-and-sour pork may be in a minority, but they don’t just like it, they’re crazy about it.

Big Bro the achiever

He was in middle school and I was in elementary when Mom and Dad split up. The two of us stayed with Mom, and he started studying harder than ever. He always looked angry

Eventually he won a scholarship to university and, after graduating, joined a trading company and Mom was able to quit full-time work

Four years ago, Big Bro was posted to Germany, and I have to say I was glad

In this family he’s the one who evolved. I’m the unfavorable variation.

What are you looking for? When Ms. Komachi asked me this question, my first thought was: I’m still searching. Searching for somewhere I can be accepted as I am. Just one place is all I need. Somewhere to be at peace.

“I had a student once who used to do this in the nurse’s room,” Ms. Komachi says

When I tried it for myself, I found that any feelings of agitation or disquiet would gradually calm down and settle. And I realized that this was a means to find a sense of balance

I feel an overwhelming sense of suffocation. The pain felt by anyone, anywhere, who has ever been kicked aside

Besides, Wallace is respectably famous in his own right. The Wallace Line, for instance, that you see on world maps marking the distribution of fauna. I do think his achievements have been recognized. There must be so many other people who helped Wallace get where he did in life, who are also worthy of recognition but whose names have been lost.”

“I’m going to be published.” “What?” “It’s true. The end of last year I had an email from an editor at Maple Publications. Ms. Sakitani.

My job with the Waterworks Bureau is the reason I could keep writing. I’m not quitting.

But only one hundred and sixty years ago, people in Europe were in no doubt that it was God who had made all creatures on earth

A hundred and sixty years ago, nobody would have believed this plane could ever exist. Metal is not supposed to fly.

All this time, I believed that I had no talent for drawing. I believed I could never have a normal working life. Now I was starting to wonder. How much had my own thinking limited my opportunities?

I will draw art that people will remember... Did I really write that? It’s my handwriting, no mistake, so I must have

misremembered the words. I was sure I’d written that my name would go down in history

I owe my eighteen-year-old self an apology. And it’s not too late. There’s still something I can do that’s far more important than being remembered by history. And that is to draw.

Um, I, er... Maybe I could do it if you’d let me?

Ms. Komachi seemed to have spread the word that I could draw, and I began to get requests to do illustrations for the Community House newsletter and various posters

Time in here passes at a slow, gentle pace. This is different to all the other part-time jobs I’ve had

On the days when I have no shift, I go to the library and draw. It’s weird how ideas keep springing into my head now, as if a stopper has been removed. Yet when I had all the time in the world, I never had a single idea. I didn’t even feel like drawing

My ambition now is to master a niche corner for illustrations of grotesque but humorous and lovable creatures

Chapter 5: Masao, 65, retired

The last day of September, when I turned sixty-five, was also my last day working for the company. I did not have any outstanding achievements to show for my forty-two years there, but nor was my record blemished in any way. I had risen to the position of manager

I felt relief, mingled with wistfulness and a sense of accomplishment

In the six months since my retirement, I have learned three things

One is that sixty-five is not as old as I thought.

The second thing is that I have a worrying lack of hobbies

I don’t make anything and I don’t have any kind of all-absorbing interest that I can talk about with passion.

The third thing I have learned... Sigh. The third thing is that now that I no longer work for a company I am no longer acknowledged by society at large

Yoriko used to be a systems engineer at an IT company until she was forty. She works freelance now and is registered with an association through which she receives requests to teach computer classes and courses

is blocked now for security reasons.” “You don’t say.” “Yes, it’s a real shame because the original purpose of the Community House was to promote interaction between the children and local residents

Then, quite abruptly, he says, “Your wife is wonderful.” Startled, I look up to see him stroking his chin thoughtfully. “I envy you. Mrs. Gonno is very intelligent and quick-witted, also good at her work. I’m done with marriage myself.

What you have to understand about women is that they can reach a certain point when all of a sudden every little thing that’s ever irritated them becomes too much to bear anymore, just like that. Toward the end, even my taste in socks was too much for her. “What on earth are you wearing?” she’d say.”

My wife started changing her attitude toward me about six months after I retired,” he says, lowering his voice

What am I looking for? What am I looking for? A new way to live from now on, perhaps?

I don’t know what to do with it. The remainder of my life feels meaningless.” “What do you mean by “the remainder”?” Ms. Komachi replies, without batting an eyelid.

This kind of thing is also called work—handiwork

fish out an old ruled college notebook. The first two pages have some short sentences in English, and the alphabet, in my handwriting. I’d forgotten this. About twenty years ago, I attempted to study English through a course on the radio. Even I had had a modicum of ambition to learn

I get as far as copying “Ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki,” then stop. Understanding poetry is not as easy as it seems. Could it be even more challenging than learning the rules of Go? I close the notebook

Tomoka appears to think this over for a few moments. Then, with a bright smile, she says, “Why don’t you try making rice balls?”

Below the words “river crabs” written prominently in red is a line in smaller black lettering that says, “For deep-frying! For pets!” For pets...?

When I worked for the company, what kind of crab was I, I wonder

Children, adults and the elderly. I think of “Window.” Waves draw close. Waves pull back.

You were an osteopath as well as a bicycle-shop owner?

Oh, and I also had an antique shop.” “An antique shop?” Mr. Ebigawa’s face wrinkles into a smile. “I didn’t make any money but I enjoyed it. In the end I had to close the shop because I was in debt

I became superfluous to society.” Mr. Ebigawa smiles kindly. “Society? What is society? Is the company the whole of society for you, Mr. Gonno?”

This year, she will have been with the company for five years, but I have heard that it is difficult to transition from contract employee to permanent status

Books belong to everybody: the creators, the sellers and the readers. That’s what society is all about I believe.” Society. Hearing the word from Chie makes me sit up. Is she implying that people with jobs are not the only ones who make society function?

The company is not everything. Parents and children are a “society” too.

Yoriko was forty when she was fired. The company she worked for got into financial difficulties and she was among the first to be dismissed

*My plan is to appreciate every new day. And take a wide view of things *

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