Will and Chitose lived on the southern side of the city near the Saga University Honjo Campus. Their house faced the large baseball practice field that was large enough to hold two baseball diamonds. Their house was closest to the nicer and well kept diamond. The diamond in the opposite corner of the field battled tall grass and rusty metal. They day they moved in, whistles screeched catching Will’s attention. There weren’t any baseball players on the field but on the far side were people wearing football equipment. He was surprised to see Japanese people playing American football. He didn’t think it had gained any recognition over here. When he got the chance, he’d have to go and watch them practice. He hoped they wouldn’t mind the intruder watching them.
The couple walked into the 7/11 on the corner of an intersection across the street from the university. There were a few cars in the parking spaces with drivers relaxing in them. An obnoxious amount of bicycles lined up alongside the store and spreading out of the bicycle spot and into the rest of the parking lot.
They were greeted by the cashiers who were in various parts of the stocking products. Walking in triggered a noise that had alerted the cashiers to the couple’s entrance prompting their greeting without having to stop what they were doing.
What started as a little stroll around their immediate neighborhood ended up being a tour of the city. They strolled through campus, Will paying more attention to the building where his office was located. They emerged from campus and took a left walking through different neighborhoods. They found the closest supermarket, Morinaga, and a few restaurants they felt they had to try one day. They headed north and then randomly decided to head east after awhile. That’s when they came across Saga Station. They ventured back down toward their home taking side streets just to look at houses. One house caught their attention as they were walking down the alleyway that would spit them out across from the university and next to the 7/11. The house was partially collapsed and dealing with invasive vines that did a better job of sticking to the walls than the paint. The doors were broken giving any one passing by a look inside. It looked like the type of house that would curse anyone who entered.
Dawn was beginning to break by the time they left their house and now now the sun was up making the grass shine from the dew. The two of them sat on the curb in front of the convenience store with their drinks small breakfast.
“I think your mother would like Saga. It doesn’t seem to be too much different than Namie,” Will said.
“It’s a lot bigger than Namie.”
“Yes, but both are surrounded by farm land. We could have bought a big enough house for them to live with us and get out of those glorified tool sheds the government calls houses.”
“You know them,” Chitose said. “They wouldn’t want to cause trouble for us. Besides, my mother was very adamant about not coming to Saga. She didn’t even want to discuss it. There was something about her that made it seem there was something more. She’s stood firm on many things before but the feeling I got from her was different.”
“What do you mean? What kind of feeling?”
Chitose shook her head. “I’m not sure but if I could describe it then it seemed like she was afraid.”
“Afraid of what? I’m told nothing happens here. Earthquakes are light, there’s no power plants nearby, and we’re out of a tsunami’s reach. Historically, this place was bombed during the war and was battleground for the Saga Rebellion. Aside from that, it’s a pretty irrelevant prefecture. I’m not sure what she’s afraid of.”
“I don’t either. She said she’d never go to Saga.”
“Sounds like there’s some bad blood or something. Has she been here before and something happened?”
She shook her head again. “Not that I know of.”
Will stood up and tossed his trash into the appropriate containers. Burnable trash went in one container and plastic bottles into another. Japan was strict on separating trash. It took some getting used to for an American who just threw everything into the same place.
“Going back to the rebellion,” he said. “We could make our way to the castle because it’s almost time for it to open.” His tone was closer to sounding like he was asking for permission rather than a simple suggestion.
Chitose smirked. Her husband had been itching to go there since the first time they came here. It was going to be like letting a kid loose in a toy store. She stood up with a playful sigh. “Okay, I suppose we can go there.”
They began their trek eastward holding hands. There only other people out were old people doing some sort of exercise, salary men on their way to work and random people on bicycles. They stopped for a few moments in the middle of a bridge to look at the koi fish in the castle’s moat. The moat was down the street and far enough away from the actual castle that it appeared as though they had nothing to do with each other.
As they looked at the fish, Chitose noticed a black cat sitting on the head of the statue of Shima Yoshitake. The statue wasn’t just a bust. It was a full body statue that was on top of a chest high stone block. The cat would’ve had to really try to get to the top. That wasn’t the chilling part. It looked as though it was staring right at Chitose. She stared back at the cat until she and Will started walking again. She occasionally turned back to see the cat still there still staring.
They continued down the street past Saga Nishi High School where the twins will be going once the school year starts. The castle was on the corner two lights past the school opposite of the art museum. The castle wasn’t the stereotypical giant multi-tiered Japanese castle that is usually shown in the media. This was just a single level castle. Just like the prefecture that housed it, it didn’t stand out. Large wooden doors led the way to the grounds under an overhang that probably once held guards back in the day. Small gravel bits covered the grounds minus for a sidewalk leading from the gates to the main castle doors.
Chitose took one look and stopped suddenly. Will almost knocked her over as he wasn’t watching where he was going. He was too busy admiring the gate.
“What is it?”
“I recognize this place. It’s the place that was in my dream.”