Yononaka no Okugi (Part 5)

Hitoshi supported me as we headed back towards the school building and into the student council room. This was supposed to be as simple as when we came from there, but the struggle with this newly acquired feeling in me that is difficult to concentrate with had me quite confused.

“Don’t worry, Fujibayashi. This is normal for anyone who has seen images of males. Try to get used to it like it’s nothing or it would be difficult to concentrate on studies, though that can be an uphill struggle if you never had it before, or, in my case, intensity being stronger than I have ever felt before. Try not to see or think about them and it won’t get worse… though that is kind of unavoidable with your quest in finding out the past.”

We both struggled to make it back to the main building as we both were unable to think well with this persistent new feeling. Eventually, we find ourselves in the student council room. We were thinking too much of our new feelings that we did not care about who saw us along the way, but it was not until we heard a voice in there that there was someone else inside.

“Inosaki-kun! It seems that we have a guest here.”

I struggled to see who that voice belonged to. It was the student council president,  Sakae Kotani (小谷サカエ), third year, who is known for her top grades. She is in a big office chair with the back her back is facing us, so we could only see her head.

“Ah, Sakae-san. I was showing Maeda-san was showing an interest in… well…”

Hitoshi seem troubled in deciding if she should tell a lie or the truth. In that moment, there was a long awkward silence where no one said or did anything. She was holding a dual-screened portable gaming device, with only the top screen visible, and unclear what she is doing with the other hand. She seem to have quietly resumed playing her game before she said something.

“Oh, hold on! Maeda-san. Were you the one who had asked me about what happened to the school yearbooks and history books? I was on library duty if you recall, though I didn’t had the usual hairstyle that day. I’m afraid the books that have been removed due to it containing something… our bodies have developed somewhat like an allergy from just the sight and thought of it that people of the past did not have. Sounds absurd, but that is how our bodies work today. We would rather you be curious on what that something is, than ever knowing anything about it. We humans developed this allergy only less than a decade ago versus the tens of thousands of years we have existed on earth, so it’s fairly recent. If you are wondering if the current CEO and director of Hatsuya Research studied here before, yes, she was a student here, with her photo in one of the yearbooks that was removed from the library. She does look different today though.”

I’m surprised that she said all that with just that short phrase from the vice president. I wasn’t looking up about that CEO, but being told that she studied here does give that special feeling towards the school.

“President? Can you please turn around?”, said Hitoshi gently, but her turning the president’s chair with as much strength as she could does not match her gentle tone. Then again, I’ve never seen anyone who isn’t gentle.

Hitoshi turned the chair around, exposing what the president was doing while her back was facing us. There was nothing special about the game console apart from being old, but she was playing some game that had shooting and violence with a lot of men on it. She probably knew who I was without turning around because the screen is quite reflective to see me through it without turning around, and recognizing my voice after my encounter with her at the library. The odd thing I observed is that she does not have the same state as us despite the amount of men on the game she is playing, and the amount of times she mentioned them earlier.

“Oh, sorry about that. I was… playing a game I want to play. It wouldn’t look good on me as the president of the student council or the top student if they see me playing this violent game. Helps me to express feelings that no one can physically express correctly, like that anger you tried earlier. No wonder you pre-evolution people have a split personality: you know what anger is like as you grew up being able to express it, but we post-evolution people can’t express it and therefore not know what anger is. Games today are just not that great if made by post-evolution developers. Because practically everyone today is, from a pre-evolution point of view, a Japanese girl. That is the area where the Ryukyu, Honshu, and Hokkaido islands are back in the days where the concept of “countries” separated us from those of elsewhere with “immigration laws”. You don’t see much variation of the people in games today, and it kind of odd for squeals of games first released pre-evolution that had a lot of men where they are forced to either abandon the series, or replace all the males with females. The latter appearing odd if not done correctly. They can choose to not bother, but game ratings of today have been revamped: any game containing males, including those “for kids”, faces the same treatment as adult games in the past were sale and display are more restricted. Nobody does it anyway because of the resulting effect of permanently being harder to be able to think.”

She seemed nervous. I believe she wants to avoid talking about the obvious things we could see on each other that, despite being visually distracting, would be considered rude to talk about it as it is something we have no control of, even though it is somewhat common. Why do we humans have this condition at all?

“In case you were wondering, I’m wearing a special Mizuho uniform that looks a lot like our Kaisei uniform. They look alike… but I feel more comfortable in it. Anyway, what are you guys doing here? There’s no meeting today, and classes have ended long ago.”

I don’t know why she mentioned that school out of nowhere or how that is related to the conversation. For those unfamiliar with the Mizuho Academy, I have observed that everyone who came from there seem to have a slight variation of the same body measurements for some reason, but they also do not have that condition at all despite being exposed to situations where they should have. It seem to have some special feature built into the uniform itself that no other uniform has, but I don’t know what it is or what it does as the technology behind it appears to be a closely guarded secret. So secret that people who seem to know about it appear to not be able to talk about it to people who don’t know about it, which extends to anyone within hearing range, or is being recorded or heard through any microphone in the area that could pick up the conversation.  It is not clear what the president meant by “that school’s version of our uniform” as I can’t tell the difference, but her body does look like it has about the same measurements of an average Mizuho girl.

“We went to the baseball clubroom and saw what was on the ceiling by accident. Our body reacted strangely when we saw it”, I said plainly before we get further distracted away.

“You mean you saw a group picture of that club’s last male-only team members? They don’t look attractive to me in my opinion… I mean there isn’t a cure that I know of. Sure there are top scoring students who that condition, but their condition isn’t “cured”: they just simply have stronger endurance and willpower to not let that feeling get to them. Hitoshi here is an example of one of them: she may not be able to hide her expression, but she’s not going to let it affect her thinking, though her “previous life” experience might have had her get used to it, but also more likely to have it when they think too much of it. Those born after won’t as they have no experience of it.  Those who could not handle this condition would find it a mental torture. This absurd condition is actually common due to how much old stuff lying around that we aren’t supposed to see, but how can we avoid looking at our past?”

She is indirectly admitting that she could see our aroused faces. I guess she really didn’t want to talk about it, though unclear why. She has the knowledge of any pre-evolution person, but her name being in katakana itself tells me that she was born post-evolution. Evolution happened less than a decade ago, so that eliminates the possibility of her being reborn from an old age, but how does she know all of this? I have to ask her.

“How do you know all of this? You’re only a couple of years older than me at most, and evolution was earlier than that,” I questioned her.

She seem to have been caught off guard on being asked this question.

“Well, not long after I was first aware of my existence, was approached by someone who own a research facility to be a part of a test. They were the ones who gave me this uniform, though that did not happen until during the test. Another girl they picked at random was from Yuribashi Middle School, from one of the towns neighbouring this city. Can’t reveal what exactly I went through, but being in a world where males made up a little more than half of the population has initially had my body to suffer from immense overload of the sight and thoughts of males triggered our archaic instincts that failed to trigger organs that our post-evolution bodies simply do not have. Males are easily identifiable for having a flat chest and are bigger than us in size on average.”

As interested as I am on the subject, it gets difficult to concentrate on what the president is saying with how much she talks about males. How does she maintain the look of having never seen males before even though she talks as if she has seen a lot of them? Was the mention of the Mizuho uniform related?

“Us humans used to have dual genders, but evolution turned us into a single-gender or genderless species where we are neither male nor female that no body has a clue on how to reproduce, leading some to think that our species is going extinct slowly, but I was told I was born after the evolution happened, so who knows how I exist. Nobody knew why the evolution happened and experts stop short of how it happened than as a unseen unknown force that, is at best, be described as like a pandemic virus outbreak that nobody died from, but neither could it be traced nor stopped. Referring to ourselves as the female gender isn’t technically wrong either as we look, sound, dress, and behave like them in every aspect. Isn’t it strange that we are not even allowed to see what we evolved from? Remembering how one looked too for those who had went through it. Either way, you don’t see me in the same state like you two, or anyone with the same condition, because this uniform is a-“

Her conversation was abruptly stopped this time, but it was clear it was something to do with clothes again. This time, she noticed that words aren’t coming out of her mouth as quickly as being unable to make a sound.

“Mizuho Academy”, she said randomly after an awkward pause.

“Let me say that again, this uniform is a-“

“Has a-“

Her face seem to have an internal struggle inside her with the look of being uncomfortable with herself, but quickly returned to her normal face like that never happened. I am confused as to what is going on.

“Um, sorry about my speech being cut off abruptly, but apparently either you or anyone who could hear us wasn’t supposed to know what I wanted to say.”

So, how do we continue from here?

Part 4 | Part 6

Yononaka no Okugi (Part 4)

Hitoshi seemed as if what she said to me was not enough to convey what she wants.
“Oh right. You are born after it happened, forgive me if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Hmm… It’s difficult to explain without you having already feeling it first hand, which you probably had not. Would it be okay for me to show you pictures of that time so you would know? I have to warn you that what you feel as a result from seeing it may not subside for years, and possibly affect how you would think”, she said.
Since I am clueless, but curious, I agreed. It’s a sacrifice and maybe a privilege that most post-evolution people would most likely not experience. She told me that they are in that small derelict building standing by itself at a corner that nobody ever goes near. I’ve seen this place from far, but have never gone up close because there was no reason to go there. Hitoshi talked to me as we head there.
“This open area are where are all the outdoor sports takes place. Sports used to be more popular, but the evolution has forced us to behave more feminine and only be able to wear the kind clothes we are wearing now. Take soccer or baseball for example…”
She pointed to the grassy field that has two identical white metal poles on opposite ends of it with a net at the back of it, and then points to a barren field that has some kind of base at the four corners of it and the middle.
“…how can we hit or kick the ball without being forced to act feminine? We can’t hit with all the energy we got that way. I think we would even get scared to the point of closing our eyes or running away if a ball approaches us at high speed where we are supposed to catch it or send it elsewhere, or maybe not play at all because of being scared of getting dirty from the ground it is normally played on. And then there’s the marshal arts, swimming, tennis and volleyball courts, along with the running tracks…”
She points to the edge of the sports hall located next to the field behind us, only part of the swimming pool is visible from where we are.
“…Those used to have their own dedicated and traditional uniforms, like white robes and a thick band around the waist that signifies rank for the former, and a swimsuit for the latter. Doing traditional arts or running while wearing our school uniform looks weird and not well suited for the intense physical activity. Had you noticed that physical education is missing in the curriculum?”
I don’t know what physical education is, but I’m guessing that these sports-related places around the school are related.
“For swimming, we could still wear the swimsuits, but we have to wear our skirts over them. We aren’t supposed to swim wearing that, but if we don’t do so within a minute, it is seen as not wearing “proper” clothing and our previously worn acceptable clothing would reappear, which is worse for swimming than just the skirt alone. You do not want to swim with the usual clothes on since clothes absorbs the water and sticks to our body.”

She made it sound as if clothes were something that wasn’t part of our body, but more of something to cover yourself in. I was born with my school uniform on, so I thought this was normal, but apparently the world and time I was born isn’t how it usually was.

“With these odd restrictions relating to what we are forced to wear or behave today, it’s impossible to play sports like what it was in the past, which, even back then, isn’t really popular among females. It’s a sad fate to see the world of sports to die out like this. Ah, here we are.”

This is the first time I have been up close to this building that I normally see only from a distance. It appears that this building was home to several clubs, with clubs that uses the nearby fields taking up some adjacent rooms. Hitoshi opened up one of the doors for the baseball club using a key. Where did she get the key from? Well, she’s with the student council after all.
“I have to warn you that you might see photos of males in here. After all, sports was common among them. Now, where is that switch for the lights?”
The room was dark and stuffy when we entered before she turned the lights on. There are windows, but partly obstructed by things around it. I have never seen a messy room like this before. Then I noticed something by the wall: looks like clothes, but not the kind you see people wearing, and mostly white. Several of them too, and they don’t look clean.
“Ah, these were the uniforms of the baseball team, and yes, the lower part is not the skirt that you are so familiar with. Try to wear this and you will see why I say we are forced to wear feminine clothes. People used to change clothes everyday, sometimes several times a day, though men have an easier time to change as… their chests are flat.”
Her facial expression looks like she is being forced to fell happier than before we came here. Also, I never took off my clothes before, and I was born with my uniform already on. She showed me that I could start by unfastening the buttons and zippers on my clothes, but just as I was done with everything, my clothes came back on all fastened by themselves as if I had not started. I did not get to see what my body underneath my clothes looked like.
“There is a time limit to be able to have your clothes unfastened and removed, which started when you removed the first fastener, which was that first button you unfastened on your blouse. You took your time changing, so the time ran out by the time you were done. You have to take it off quicker than that and put on your new clothes within that time if you want to change, provided what you are changing to is within what we are allowed to wear. Well, try wearing these uniforms over your clothes and see what happens when you try to wear what is not allowed to be worn these days. You don’t see people selling these any more because no one could wear them. The effect is the same whether you took your existing clothes off or just wore over it. Men’s sizes are larger than women’s, so you should be able to put them on, even if they may be too loose for your body.”
I didn’t know there were people who wore clothes that were a lot larger than my size as everyone is about the same size as me. Well, there are people larger than me, but not to the extreme of the size of these loose clothes I’m wearing. Also, the lower half of these clothes are pushing my skirt inward, and the buttons for the upper half are on the opposite side. I am so not used to wearing anything besides socks or stockings that covers my legs that isn’t tight, or wore anything that isn’t a skirt on the outside.
“You are lucky that our skirts being designed to flutter in the wind, which also means that, by design, you can put those pants on. You wouldn’t be able to if the skirt wraps tightly around our legs.”
This unfamiliar feeling didn’t last long as they are magically forced out of me not long afterwards. The upper part scattered all over the room through my arms, and I actually fell onto the floor as the lower half gets magically blasted out through my legs.
It was at this moment that I saw an image of something attached to the ceiling. It looked liked a large group of people, but these people are different from anyone I have ever seen. Somehow, the sight of them had me feeling some kind of happiness that I never felt before, and a weird feeling around my hips.
“Um, Maeda-san? Why is your face… OH NO! CLOSE YOUR EYES NOW! Ha… ha… ha…”
Huh? What is wrong with seeing that? Why did she made a strange sound after shouting at me? She seemed to be struggling inside her, while I continue to feel more pleased the more I look at that image, the kind that I never felt before.

Hitoshi noticed that I wasn’t closing my eyes or looking away. Despite the internal struggle within herself, she is somehow desperate to stop me from looking at what I’m seeing and… this is the first time anyone has hit me with force, and it’s painful. It feels weird to have both painful and pleasing feelings at the same time, neither of which are in my control.

“Sorry about that… What we just saw were images of men… Nobody usually decorates the ceiling, so I did not look at the ceiling when I inspected the room… I think you saw it for longer than me…”

It’s difficult to think with the non-stop new feeling in me, but I struggled to ask her how to undo it.

“I’m sorry, but only way I know is to be reborn, which, for our current biological age, is decades from now. There is an acupuncture-like therapy to undo this, but it is difficult to get to.”

She led me out of the room before we saw more men. There was a mirror hanging just next to the door at the corridor.

“Your face tells me that you are feeling more aroused than I though you are. Did you see pictures of men before today?”

Thinking back, I did saw people that looked like what I saw in the old magazines at home. Her reaction to me saying this was mixed. Sorry, I was born after mankind has evolved, so I don’t know what is normal, and what isn’t, as well as what I shouldn’t be seeing.

Chapter 2
Part 3 | Part 5

Yononaka no Okugi (Part 3)

It wasn’t easy to find anyone whose given name is not in katakana. Looking at my class registry, none of my classmates have it. I don’t have access to that of other classes and you can’t tell how it’s written by simply hearing hearing it. Most people assume it is in katakana since it is common with most people of an age group. I can’t think of any examples of names I have seen before that are in kanji or hiragana.
Well, when exam results came out, they did put out a list of names of the students here The problem with that the notice has already been removed before I came to be aware about the world before the transformations, so I didn’t pay attention to who they were. If my memory serves me correctly, none of the top few had non-katakana names.
…hold on.
I walked past a poster that had the name of the student council’s vice president on it. I only know her family name by sound, but when I saw 井ノ 一詞 for Hitoshi Inosaki being written down, it gave me a weird feeling. What caught my attention the most is that the given name is in kanji, and contains the 一 (hito) character that is very rarely seen in names. I also noticed the missing 崎 (saki) from her family name, which made it even more peculiar as the second character is ノ (no), which itself is not kanji.
That is unexpected. I have seen the vice president before, but her name is not usually mentioned, or by family name only if it did. People don’t really remember her since people would only remember the main president of the council, or if people wondered what the structure of it is. It’s like she is invisible, and only there for the sake of filling up the gaps.
Should I go to the student council room and talk to her about what I know so far? I don’t even know her on a personal level. What if the other members are present if I were to visit her? I don’t if that would affect the outcome.
I have just finished my research in the library and heading to my home. There shouldn’t be anyone in the in the classrooms apart from club activities as it’s well after the end of school, but I’m hearing something from one of the vacant classrooms. This school building is designed from a time when middle and high schools have about the same number of students, but now there are fewer students in middle schools everywhere, so there are quite a number of vacant classrooms. As I got closer, I hear strange sounds that are commonly heard in the toilet, but not usually heard elsewhere.
(Author’s note: the toilets in the post-evolution world are completely different owing to how different the human body works. Toilet bowls have been replaced by a device that automatically attaches to the body so that their bladder is removed without requiring any effort. Because of how the insides has been redesigned, it’s impossible to use this without triggering a check to see the girl using it needs to be made pregnant. She would be made pregnant at this stage if someone had died without a replacement on the way. The girl in question wouldn’t notice it until she notices that she can’t detach herself from the device when childbirth is going on. It is impossible to relieve bladder without using that device apart from an old-fashioned toilet seat, but they are quickly being replaced as the new toilet does not require any water or toilet paper, and the waste can be turned into something useful, like to generate electricity. Naomi does not know what a pre-evolution toilet are like, or how they work, so she does not know that the sounds she normally hears in toilets are different in pre-evolution days. Of course, nobody documents about toilets.)
What I saw in the vacant classroom shocks me: I saw Hitoshi behaving in a completely different way form when she is out in the public eye. For some reason, she is trying to rip out her blouse at the buttons while sounding angry. She also seem to have destroyed her signature hair by having quite a length of her hair cut without a care of the results, and she had her feet into something lying on the ground that doesn’t look like a skirt.
Hitoshi did manage to rip apart all the buttons and secured that thing that was at her feet earlier at her waist. That thing she’s wearing seem to cover her entire legs, but those seem too loose to be stockings. At the same time, she kept trying to pull out her breasts out of the restraints underneath her blouse (I didn’t realize I was wearing the same kind of restraints too) with one hand, and punched herself at the area where the bladder comes out from with the other.
I have no idea what she is doing to herself, but she kept yelling “this can’t be happening”, “I want my old life back”, and “it has been about a decade now” in a desperate voice. Well, the fact the number of years she mentioned (a decade=10 years) being more than the number of yearbooks I saw in the library, along with the strange things she’s doing to herself, strongly supports that she must know what happened 5 years ago.
About a minute later, the unknown thing she’s wearing over her skirt suddenly was brought down to her feet, the blouse she ripped apart fixed itself and, out of nowhere, the sweater, blazer, and ribbon she is normally seen wearing appeared too. I guess she took them off before I came. Her hair regrew to what it was before as if her terrible cutting earlier never happened. Wait, what? I never thought of touching my clothes before, but is that what happens when you do something to it? To be honest, I have never seen myself without these clothes I’m wearing before. I can’t explain what happened, but I saw it happening with my own eyes.
Hitoshi then started screaming again (the way she screamed sounded odd, as if she wanted to scream in a different way) while shaking her head madly and shouted something about why she has to live like “this”, whatever the word “this” refers to. It was when she was shaking her head around that she saw me staring at her. She paused for a while as if trying to determine how to react based on what I am identified as. A short pause later, she was blushing excessively in embarrassment.

“D-Did you see what I was doing?”

I nodded. Kind of regretted doing this because of how she reacted next.

“Please don’t tell anyone else about what you just saw. I was figuring out how our bodies work, and you caught me in an embarrassing situation. I am figuring out how our expressions work, and it seems that I am currently not expressing what I’m really feeling inside. I feel awkward being polite when I am not trying to.”
That didn’t sound right: her tone does not match the words she said. Hitoshi seems self aware that she isn’t expressing what she is really feeling, but did not clarify on it.
I talked to her about what I have discovered so far. She was amazed that, for someone who is born after the evolution like me, was able to understand the world today from the viewpoint of pre-evolution people.
Hitoshi explained that she was like those older people who worked at offices until about early last year when she suddenly found herself being young again. For people like her, attending school is optional as they have attended before, but she did anyway as she forgot what it was like. She became the vice president partly because she has the life experience, whereas almost everyone else never existed more than 3 years ago.
I asked about what she was doing to herself. She seemed reluctant to reply.
“Well, I did say I became young again. Not too many years earlier, I me, like everyone else, was transformed against our will to what we are now. I was a middle aged man. Please don’t make me ask how I looked: our present female-like bodies are not supposed to see males as we have evolved to not need them and don’t exist anymore. However, our female instincts has not changed, so we still dress and behave as if we are attracting men despite having no men to attract. We are not allowed to see images of men, not even an old image of myself, as it would trigger an archaic feeling that, with our redesigned bodies, would be impossible to subside until becoming young again or reach an insanely high level. Trust me: I am still feeling it right now after accidentally seeing it online last year. It’s not life threatening, but it does affect your concentration.”
That explains a lot of why I am seeing so much incomplete or missing old things everywhere: images of men are very common pre-evolution, so they are removed to keep us sane. I wouldn’t want to be the girl who removes the images.
“How can we be sure that we are removing the right ones if we can’t even look at it? Apparently most of the censoring takes place where people would make the sacrifice of going crazy. For places like Mizuho Academy, however, people have apparently been trained to totally ignore the feelings, which is a difficult thing to achieve but yet are able to with a high percentage of success. No wonder they are the best in the world.”
Without knowing what is this feeling she is talking about, I can’t really understand her or the significance of it.

Chapter 1 / 2
Part 2 | Part 4

Yononaka no Okugi (Part 2)

To avoid alerting people on what I am up to, I would only head to the library when no one wants me to join them to walk home or somehow only get released from school late enough for the library to be closing. I do not know why I do not want other people to know about it, but something tells me that I shouldn’t tell anyone.

The school library is smaller than the local community library. It shouldn’t take that long to find any kind of book relating to my school, but…

There are only four school yearbooks on the shelf, and all of them are of those who graduated earlier this year and the three years immediately prior to that. For a school that is established about half a century ago, this is shocking. My guess from this is that it either happened four years ago, or after the graduation of five years ago. So that should also mean that people who were in this school at the time the transformation happened should be in the books between two to four years ago.

I wonder if I can pick up hints from their testimonials and compare them with more recent ones, but without yearbooks from more than four years ago, I cannot tell how the testimonials of students that graduated four years ago (the batch that experienced their transformed selves the least as students here) are the same as earlier graduates…

Oh? I noticed that the names of the batch of students who were studying in the school at the time this evolution happened had all of their given names in kanji and hiragana. That is also when people with their given names only in katakana, like mine, started appearing. I’m guessing that this could be a hint.

The ratio of those students with katakana names then started increasing dramatically as time passed. Names of people who had their names in kanji or hiragana became a handful minority in the fourth yearbook here, which means the first year students who experienced the transformations were in the three school year books before that, which obviously means they have already graduated…

…Wait a minute. How are there still students with non-katakana names in this school if the people who experienced evolution as first year middle school students should be in third year of high school now? Anyone born since then have katakana names only

I don’t know why myself, but everyone born after the evolution should only have Japanese given names in katakana. Come to think of it, what happened to the people who were too young to be a middle school student when the evolution happened? Seeing that there are no “old” people mentioned in these old magazines, what happens to us when we actually do reach the age that is considered “old”? Could it be related to me suddenly being thirteen years old when I was born? How did I exist in the first place?

It looks like I really can’t continue on further without help from someone. I wonder if the students in this school with non-katakana names could help me? Their name would surely stand out in the list of students since many students of this school presently were born after the evolution.

Chapter 1
Part 1 | Part 3

Yononaka no Okugi (Part 1)

It has been days since I saw the magazines that opened up my perspective about what the world was like in the recent past that I previously never knew about. I hadn’t told anyone else about it because I don’t know how they would react to it. It is also hard to convince them too as the current world looked as if it has always been that way for years. Neither have I yet to find any convincing evidence which, in an age where pictures and video could be edited easily or, if looked at without context, be misinterpreted.

The magazines aren’t a reliable source for what life was like and what the publisher wants you to do or buy, but they do tell you the fashion, trends, or whatever makes you feel good or desire for in those days. There’s hardly anything else that would tell me what life was like, no matter how difficult it might had been. I need more sources to confirm if my suspicions, but where? There are too many places to look at, but I know for sure that my local and school library is not likely to have them. Online… where do I even start?

Well, a hint appeared in the newspapers: job postings as language translators. I had heard of rumours that, excluding translating to and from English and Japanese, none of those job posts have been filled up for many years: nobody alive today could understand any of the many hundreds of languages that were spoken in the past. Anyone who tried learning them found themselves unable to learn it as they would have completely forgotten it in a few hours, as if the brain is actively rejecting the learning of all but the only two specific languages that everyone knows. Computer-based translation that has existed for many decades is the only thing that can help us what the extinct languages are saying, but the accuracy is questionable that gets worse if you can’t input it as text. I’m guessing the job postings are meant to find someone who could understand enough to fix this problem, except that nobody could understand them even if people did tried to learn it.

Another hint: mass immigration from rural areas to urban areas, design of old buildings, and the amount of books and signs in extinct languages that varies by location. Many people moved with the common reason being that the house they were living in we’re awful. Why did they suddenly say it was awful and wanted to move if they have been living there for generations?

As mentioned earlier, everyone looks like a young “woman”, so naturally the buildings built everywhere today are mostly contemporary style from here, even at areas far away from Honshu where older buildings of a different, but extinct, culture are present. Just what happened here? How did their “race”, culture, and language all disappear completely without a trace in just less than a quarter of a century?

Well, the places they used to lived could have been vacant if it were not for the people from here who settled there, but in every single village, town, and city in large numbers that looked like a coincidence?

The population of people living in Honshu a quarter of a century ago seemed unchanged compared to today, and certainly nowhere near to fill in the population elsewhere, so, where do these people living outside Honshu come from? I find that suspicious. Unless these people were the original inhabitants of their hometowns before they were changed, there is no explanation for it. The fact I saw people with different colored skin, eyes, and hair that don’t exist today could support what happened to them as they were probably turned into young “women” that look like the kind around me here at happening at the same time the “man” disappeared.

Anyway, let’s talk about my school. It was founded about half a century ago. This school isn’t particularly special, but did get some reputation for having the current president of one of the largest medical company to have graduated from this school. Not that I care about well known people, but hearing them coming from a normal school instead of prestigious ones like Mihara or Mizuho is surprising once in a while.

Like other middle schools elsewhere, the only people who attended the entrance ceremony as year one students are a handful of people, made up of mostly people whose given names are in kanji or hiragana that would soon become the minority. Everyone else seems to have transferred during the year. I am one of the transfer students last year, but I don’t remember what I was doing before I transferred in within a week after my 13th birthday… Wait. If my current real age is only 1, doesn’t that mean I had only just been born when I transferred in?

Everything around me looked looked controlled and perfect, but yet on closer look, people are not being controlled and are actually following rules. The world around me has evidence that it was completely different decades earlier, but I was born after it happened and I had nearly non-existent information about the past, so I don’t know. All of my classmates seem to be living with one or two other people who share the same “upper name” (surname / family name), which is too coincidental.

I would like to think that people today are shaped differently than in the past, but the old magazines proved that we looked the same as them. At least, from what I could see on the outside. I’m guessing that everyone has been changed to make up for the fact that the “man” thing that is no longer around today but, again, I don’t know enough history or biology to know what the changes are. I could be seeing it everyday and not realize it.

What are my options should I want to continue finding out more? I could look up at old newspapers at the local academy’s library, but without knowing what headline or year to look out for, this is not easy: there’s too many to look through! Well, maybe I could search for when it happened by looking through my school’s yearbooks and see when the final batch of students who had the majority of their names in kanji was and subtract their age from there, or look at past population statistics and see where the spike of the female population happened. I don’t think it will be easy searching for these.

Prologue | Part 2

Yononaka no Okugi – Prologue

My name is Naomi Maeda (前田ナオミ), and I am a year 2 student of Kaisei Middle School (海星中学校). I think I am 13 years old, but I oddly seem to have no memories any further than me being in my first year here… Why can’t I remember? Seems that I’m not the only one as my classmates are asking that same question.

I know a group of older girls which, as my memory tells me, I get along well. Everyone has their own rooms in an apartment or house that is shared with other people. I don’t know what’s the difference between those and a dormitory or how I ended living there, other than having more relaxed rules and limited rooms per house.

It’s strange how they have the same family name as me, but don’t look alike. Then again, Maeda is a rather common one. The house is an area in Katsura City (桂市) where there is actually a direct train from my school to the station within walking distance from the house.

The house is littered with pictures and reading materials from many years ago. They are filled with books on concepts that are alien to me, like family. Closest thing I could think of are best friends hanging out together, and not breaking apart no matter what conflict they may have. I don’t know what parents or siblings are either. You can’t blame me for not knowing: I was not thought what it is, and neither was I thought biology or history. I know nothing about the features of my own body, and things that happened more than 5 years ago seems to have been forgotten or not talked about. I’m serious.

Quite a number of these magazines feature what appears to be a human that looks different: very tall, flat chested, has hair growing on their legs and around their mouth that is commonly refereed to as a man. One of them wore nothing but some kind of panties that looks very plain in design and not silky smooth. They all have some kind of bulge at the front there sticking out from there. All of the strange feelings I never felt before grew inside me the more I look at this “man”, and causing my body to react in ways that has never happened before. I don’t know how or why this is happening, but I better stop looking before I get insane.

Why am I reacting strangely to that image of a “man”? It’s just an image. I guess this is why I don’t see images of them at all, because they know people would react like this and, temporarily, suffer from this strange feeling that can’t be stopped by ourselves. I’m guessing we aren’t taught history at all because these kinds of people appear a lot. For biology, we wouldn’t know why our bodies are reacting this way or, if they had not seen old images, wouldn’t even have known about this “man” thing because you don’t see them today. Unless you are taking a medical-related course in college, you won’t get to learn biology at all. History? Unless you are talking about the history of companies, schools, and sporting events, there are none at all.

Another different kind of human I never seen before is that the colour of their hair is different: gold, light brown, grey, white, or even hairless. Some have different coloured skin or eyes too. The skin of the people with white hair looks… looks winkled and not smooth… Their teeth looks scary too. The stick they are holding suggests that they have difficulty moving about. What kind of people are these? I don’t see anyone like these people anywhere.

Oh, and how are they wearing something other than skirts? And a long or awful one if they did. Nobody today could wear anything else because those get ejected by themselves before you could even try to put it on. Depending on the type of skirt being worn, it may be a hindrance to a person’s leg movements, especially while running. The good thing is that you can change. Taking a bath or shower is kind of annoying as I can’t take off my skirt for longer than a minute, which means I’m forced to do so while wearing it, making it wet in the process. Wet skirts are annoying to walk with, but what can you do if you can’t take it off before bathing? Even stranger is that nobody sells waterproof skirts. It’s a problem so common that everyone, except perhaps the ones above the age of a college student, thinks that this is normal. Well, I did though so myself, until I saw these old pictures of people not wearing skirts.

I would like to think that these are illustrations of a sci-fi world, but would someone go through the effort to create so many lifestyle magazines of that world? On top of that, the pictures look as if it was taken with an actual camera and, considering how old the magazine is, too real to be a computer-rendered image. Did these kinds of people actually existed? What happened to them, and when? If I had not seen these magazines, I would have thought that teenage girls and young adults are the only kinds of humans, which is what you would see everywhere today, and the other kinds of humans seemingly non-existent. Just what on earth happened here?

What I had also observed is that kindergarden and primary schools mentioned in some of the magazines seem non-existent now, and neither could I remember which ones I attended. Another thing I observed is that a lot of people up until high school year 3 have their given names in katakana only, including mine. Only a handful has their given names in kanji or hiragana. Old books tells me that only “foreigners” have their names in katakana with weird-sounding names, but I’m not a foreigner, and my name clearly sounds like Japanese. Nobody knows why the younger people had names in katakana other than it being their official name at birth in the records.

There is a governmental database that keeps track of things people’s ages.. I knew about it, but I didn’t think I needed it. It’s designed in a way that people other than who they are about couldn’t access it, so nobody was running up to me asking what they found out there as they wouldn’t have access even if they tried, and obviously I can’t look at other people’s ages. There’s nothing else on the database they have there that I don’t…

Huh? What is this? That can’t be right…

While my biological age is listed as what I had always been thinking my age is, which is thirteen, what is more shocking is the number I see for my actual age: 1.

That can’t be right. It says that I am only one year old. While it does explain why my memory can’t seem to go further than a year ago, how am I having a body of a teenager and think like one, instead of that as a baby? No further explanation on my age is stated. In fact, how do I even exist as I am at all?

What is going on here? Something is odd about this world I’m living in: quite a lot of of old things I came across, pictures and video with people in it especially, tells me that the world is a fundamentally different place about two or more decades earlier. I didn’t know the concept of “countries” existed, though their names are retained for geographical reference.

Those people who looked different form what I’m used to seeing are part of what are called “race”, and I see that there are quite a number of deaths from health and violence related issues that don’t exist today.

Was the world that vastly different in the past? It’s so different that it looks as if it’s a fictional world, but there’s too much evidence all over to prove that it is real, though obscure if you never paid attention. If you look at buildings built many years ago, you would notice that there are two toilets right next to each other that aren’t linked at all except the corridor leading to them. I was not taught what gender is, but recalling from the old magazine I saw before, it’s the classification between people like me, a “woman” (女), and the “man” (男) creature that made my body go crazy when I look at it. I can see why this gender thing is not mentioned because there are only “woman” around today. I think now I know why some schools have “womanchild” (女子; girl) in the name as they were founded as schools for “women” in the days when “men” still exists and somewhat redundant today, leaving people who are born after that happened not knowing what “womanchild” is other than being meaningless extensions of names. There appears to be “manchild” (男子; boy) schools too, but they appear to have the “manchild” part of the name removed and started accepting “women” when the “man” population was rapidly declining. I know that I have added quotes to the names of genders and might have been saying it wrongly, but this gender thing was not taught or mentioned in schools, and the signs just simply have the word “toilet”, or a symbol that looked like an oversimplification of someone wearing a dress. I’m surprised the symbol was unchanged from the days when the “men” things are still around.

Access to information that might tell me what happened in the past isn’t restricted, but since nobody is taught history these days, and information about the past being obscure, it is unlikely that they would stumble upon or get interested about the past. Would have been the same for me if I had not stumbled upon these magazines.

A question still lies in my mind: just what on earth happened in the past? Why does it seem as if they want to hide what happened, but at the same time not preventing it from being discovered. I’m starting to become more interested in the past.