4 July, Kenzō Kitakata

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A Hotel Without a Name


The exterior appearance was that of a small hotel. It was an old B&B by the sea.
  My friend said he was going to spend the final period of his life running this inn. It was a hefty expenditure, but it couldn’t have been all that difficult, considering his wealth.
  The three hotel staff consisted of his wife, his daughter, and the son his daughter had brought along when she returned home. His daughter was a licensed cook.
  She prepared tonight’s dinner. The dining room and the staff living area were located on the ground floor, and the second level consisted of four rooms, among which I was staying in the corner room.
  The hotel had yet to be named.
  And that was the main topic of discussion with my friend. He wanted to give it a fancy name, but first, we had to consider the definition of fancy.
  There was a hotel in a certain country in Africa that was called the Second of February. In French.
  That’s unusual. What does it mean?
  It was named after an anniversary, the day marking the country’s independence or revolution or something. Or was it their national foundation day?
  Today is the fourth of July, which has nothing to do with independence or revolutions in Japan.
  Dinner was served on the terrace looking out at the sea. My friend appeared intent on promoting this as a highlight of his establishment.
  I ate dinner and drank alcohol. The food was neither good nor bad.
  I’m sure I’ll be coming here on numerous occasions. The visits will gradually become less frequent, I’ll eventually forget about this place, and then our interaction will be limited to annual exchanges of New Year greeting cards. That’s what it means to get old. You stop caring about anything other than yourself.
  I had an after-dinner drink with my friend as we looked out at the dark sea. The array of digestifs he offered showed his enthusiasm for this endeavor. Other than that gusto, all he’d done was buy this old building.
  Hotel by the Sea. No? Tranquility Inn? Typical, huh?
  My friend wasn’t drinking as much as he had when we were young. He yawned repeatedly, said good night, and went back inside.
  I picked up the bottle of Grappa that remained on the table and filled my glass to the brim. I downed about half of it, picked it up, and began walking toward the water.
  There was a beach in front of me and a quay that protruded above the water. It was dark, but I decided to take a little walk along the quay. Small, gentle waves hit the quay and shone a silver-blue color.
  Hotel Noctiluca, I said in a drunken voice as I faced the sea.
  I shook my head and finished the grappa that was left in my glass.
  I turned around and saw the hotel stand out in the darkness.


Translated by Eriko Sugita/Arranged by TranNet KK


Kenzō Kitakata
Born in Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture, 1947. Graduated from Chuo University’s Faculty of Law. Made his literary debut in 1970 with

Akarui

machi

e

(Towards a brighter city). Broke new ground in the world of hard-boiled detective fiction with

Chōshō

harukanari

(Far-off condolences). Won the 1st Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize and 4th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers in 1982 for

Nemurinaki

yoru

(Night without sleep), and the 38th Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel in 1984 for

Kawaki

no

machi

(City of thirst). In recent years he has shifted focus to historical novels, winning the 4th Shibata Renzaburō Award in 1990 for

Hagun

no

hoshi

(Star of military misfortune ), the 38th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature in 2004 for

Yōkashō

(The generals of the Yang family), and the 9th Shiba Ryōtarō Prize in 2006 for all 19 volumes of the Suikoden (Water margin) series. Also received the Japan Mystery Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Kikuchi Kan Prize for his contributions to Japanese literature. After completing the Suikoden, Yōreiden (Legend of Yang Ling), and Gakuhiden (Legend of Yue Fei) series, he moved onto the Chingisu-ki (Era of Ghengis) series which focuses on the Mongol Empire. His most recent work is

Chingisu-ki

8:

Yōmei

(Era of Ghengis volume 8: Darkness).

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