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A ryoutei (料亭) is a type of luxurious traditional Japanese restaurant. Often used in important dinners or high-class banquets for important business meetings, or in low-key meetings between VIPs, celebrities or statesmen, traditionally ryoutei only accept new customers by referral.
Also a reminder that “Japanese food” in America is not necessarily actual Japanese cuisine. In the same way, “Chinese food” in America isn’t necessarily actual Chinese cuisine either, nor is “Chinese food” in Japan.
Ever since that first day, Gaudy Piercings continued to sit near me. Apparently his real name was Umewaka. “Gaudy Piercings” is enough for the likes of him.
“Hey, hey, Kisshouin-san! Say, you guys at Zui’ran are all like, ‘Gokigen’yoh’ right? Say it to me too! ‘Gokigen’yoh’~”
Starting the next day I made sure to bring questions and textbooks to read during the breaks. Hopefully if I looked busy enough he wouldn’t talk to me.
Sure, my secondary goal in coming here was to make some friends but it definitely wasn’t going to be those guys.
I continued to concentrate on my questions.
“Woooow. You’re so serious about studying, Kisshouin-san. Oh, you got that one wrong.”
Soon enough it was lunch. The cram school had one after each morning lecture. Almost all of the students went out to buy something to eat. Apparently Gaudy Piercings and his buddies were going outside as well.
I had my own lunch though, prepared by a chef hired by my family.
“Whooooaaa! Kisshouin-san, did your bentou come from a ryoutei or something!?”
…I should have waited for them to leave before opening this. Today’s lunch was a well-balanced square bentou.
“Looks yuuum! Lemme have one?”
Hey cretin, do you really think I would? Let me tell you now that I’m stingy when it comes to food. Especially today. I actually wanted a little bit more than this but because of the diet thing I tried to cut down. You really think there’s enough for you as well?
“Umewaka~ It’s time for us to gooo!” pressed the girl with the short hair.
You hear that? It’s time for you to go.
“Ohh! Bye then, Kisshouin-san!”
Yes, yes, go, go. And don’t come back, either.
I immediately got started on enjoying my tiny, but delicious lunch. The boiled fish was delicious.
It went perfectly with my chilled gyokuro tea.
Anyhow, once the break was over, it was back to concentrating on my studies.
My days at cram school were pretty much a repeat of that.
Until one day, disaster struck.
That Gaudy Piercings stole one of my chakinzushi!
“Whoooooooooooooa! This is suuuuper good! Kisshouin-san, don’t tell me your family actually owns a ryoutei!?”
Chakinzushi… Fresh ingredients mixed with vinegared rice, wrapped in a delicate layer of egg… and something that I only had two of… My chakinzushi…
“Mm? How come you’ve gone all still, Kisshouin-san? Did that maybe give you a shock? Don’t worry, I’ll treat you to lunch as an apology so come eat with us?”
I silently packed my things away, left my chair, and then left the classroom to make a call. My favourite man was busy right now, so I dialled my doormat backup.
“Take me to some good food right now!”
I jumped into a taxi and sped to my destination. Waiting excitedly for me at the company headquarters was my doormat tanuki.
“It makes me really happy that you’ve come to visit me. Come in, sit down!”
“Otousama, I only have an hour and a half. Let us hurry up and go somewhere!” I replied before dragging him by the arm.
“Ooh! Got it!”
After getting some quick directions from the secretary, we were exiting into the hallway when I bumped into my real man instead.
“Oh, Reika. Why are you here?” asked Oniisama.
“It seems Reika here wanted to have lunch with me. She came all the way here,” my father replied smugly.
I notice that he particularly emphasised “with me”.
Unfortunately for you, Otousama, you’re just a man of convenience. A foody call, if you will.
Regardless, Oniisama saw us out with a smile. But the whole time that doormat tanuki kept emphasising to all the employees we passed that I was a massive fathercon and saying, “My daughter just wouldn’t stop asking me to go out with her somewhere so I’ll be back after lunch.”
It felt a bit like a public execution. Damn tanuki.
Anyhow, Otousama took me to a high-class Chinese restaurant close by. It was multi-storied, had a nice view, and had private rooms as well, so you could eat in peace. Thanks to that it was popular.
I’m impressed that we even managed to get a reservation on such short notice. Impressed by Otousama’s secretary, that is.
“Don’t wait up, Reika. Eat as much as you want.”
So first I started with my favourites.
and scorched-rice with seafood.
Otousama had whole-boiled shark fin and Shanghai Mitten Crab fried rice.
Pretty extravagant for just a lunch, Otousama.
In the end we ordered some sides like dim sum as well, and it all became a little too much in terms of volume.
Today was special though. After all, tomorrow I was stuck fasting with Okaasama. It felt like I was having my last meal.
“How’s cram school, Reika?”
“I am giving my all.”
And I had better hurry up and finish this all before my lessons began again.
Speaking of which, I wonder if Otousama leaving so suddenly was a problem. It was worrying to think about. Then again, everybody we passed looked like super-elite professionals, so.
“Are you doing your job properly, Otousama?”
“What are you saying, Reika. Of course I am. Right, Sasajima?”
Incidentally, his secretary Sasajima-san was sitting at the table with us. At first they tried to decline because it was just lunch between father and daughter, but we ordered so much and I had to go soon too, so I asked them to help eat as a favour.
“Yes. The President is extremely busy each day.”
Well of course you’d say that, you’re his secretary. And also I note that “extremely busy” doesn’t necessarily mean “actually getting work done”.
“I hear that you have been training my brother since his days in school?”
“Yes. Takateru-san is truly outstanding. He is presently working with the sales department as well.”
I see. Oniisama did look busy. I wonder if he’s making sure to take lunch breaks.
We continued to talk about Oniisama for a while so Otousama began to sulk a bit. Wow, your immaturity is showing, Otousama.
Now stuffed with food, I thanked Sasajima-san for keeping the time for us and then left my seat. Otousama wanted me to stay a bit longer but I was going to run late for class at this rate.
Speaking of which, shouldn’t he be hurrying back to the company?
Farewell, Otousama! Even if you try to lure me with dessert it won’t work!
I just barely made it back in time for class so all the seats were pretty much taken. I ended up on one of the last chairs in the corner. Which happened to be far away from Gaudy Piercing & co. so I wasn’t unhappy about it. My stomach was unhappy though. I had to use my bag and scarf to hide my tummy from view.
The next day was fasting with Okaasama.
I imagined that we would be training on some dojo deep in the mountains or something but she brought me to a first-class hotel instead.
Apparently we were going to spend the next two days getting into jacuzzis, going to beauty salons, and taking walks in the hotel’s famed garden. “Fasting in style” in other words.
The other people were pretty much all Okaasama’s acquaintances; married women from the upper class. According to her she couldn’t turn down the invitation so she dragged me with her instead. Well yeah, I mean, Okaasama was completely skinny so I don’t suppose she would need to fast.
To think that maintaining a social life would even call on you to fast. Terrible.
After getting a private medical check, the hotel staff explained our itinerary to us. Apparently the hotel would provide water, tea, and rice congee, but we were free to eat out, and they had a pool and gym too.
The women all immediately chose to go to the beauty salon. I ended up going with them as Okaasama’s extra. One rotund older woman brought along a round ojousama. Her name was Narutomi Akimi, and she was 20. We were the only two young participants. Madam Narutomi said that she really hoped we would get along when she introduced us. Akimi-san kind of hid behind her mother with her head hanging.
Wow, kind of shy for somebody older than me. Come on, I won’t bite~
At that moment, Madam Kaburagi gallantly strode in. It was like the whole room started sparkling with her entrance.
That’s right. Apparently this hotel was owned by the Kaburagi group. Apparently she heard that we were participating so she came here to say hello.
Of all things, a Kaburagi hotel…
That was my first thought.
But then I realised that just by being here it was like broadcasting that I was in need of a diet…
Kaburagi couldn’t know. And I didn’t want that dandy Kaburagi Papa to know either.
I guess this is what you call a maiden’s heart.
After Mrs. Kaburagi finished her greetings she spotted me hiding away, so she walked over with a smile.
“Reika-san, I’m glad you’ve come! It’s going to be a difficult two days, but hang in there! I’m cheering for you.”
“Yes, thank you very much…”
Embarrassing. So embarrassing. It was like admitting that I was fat. I’m still in the skinny zone for BMI measurements, okay!
Also after she mentioned cheering for me all the other madams started paying more attention to me. I endured with a forced smile.
After that, Mrs. Kaburagi flashed everybody one last smile before leaving like the wind.
I suppose it’s time to check out our accommodations.
Even if you try to lure me with dessert it won’t work!
Incidentally it was a type of almond jelly called annin tofu.