Yajirobee (Balancing Toy) - Chapter 6
The chapter opens with Seiji recalling that when he was a little boy, until he was six years old, he didn't leave the yard. One time, his overprotective parents and strict grandmother were upset that he had disappeared, but the hand that pulled him was a wrinkled hand... Back to the present day, Seiji and Kawabata are standing on the station platform, waiting for the train. Kawabata leans over to a woman and tells her that she has a cherry blossom petal on her head. He plucks it out of her hair as she tells him, thanks. He asks Seiji if Seiji just saw that. With a determined look, Kawabata makes a fist and states that since there are nice woman all around, there will be one for him. Seiji replies back that it's just that the number of pretty women have increased and Kawabata agrees. Kawabata says that in the past, women devoted their time by working hard for the men, but now they devote time for themselves. He think girls after work are tempting. Seiji is amazed and asks Kawabata if it's okay to say something like that and wonders if he should tell Kawabata what the women in company would say about that. Kawabata chuckles and calls Seiji an ordinary guy. Seiji tells Kawabata, goodbye, but deliberately says his name wrong. Kawabata angrily accuses Seiji of liking older women. Seiji shouts back that Kawabata should thank Seiji for pointing out that he's a real airhead. Seiji thinks that he may want to end their friendship...
Seiji heads to his family home and thinks to himself that he was estranged from his family for a long time. As he enters the yard, his father sees him and calls to Seiji's mother and grandmother. Seiji asks his grandmother about her strained back and wonders if she got a hernia. The grandmother replies that she hasn't seen the doctor. Seiji asks if she suddenly twisted her back and tells her not to strain her body too much. The grandmother tells him that she doesn't want to be treated like an old lady. She thinks it's not a big deal, but her bones seem to hurt. When Seiji tells her that it must be tough and she shouldn't have to endure it, his grandmother glares at him. She wants to know how many people nowadays know the meaning of endurance. Seiji decides that it's time to go and tells her to rest quietly. She yells back, "Stop treating me like a patient." as Seiji and his mother flinch. His mother scolds the grandmother for acting like that when Seiji made the effort to come back home. The grandmother replies back that she didn't ask him to do that. Seiji's father doesn't want everyone to be so edgy since he feels ashamed that there's only one man in the house. Seiji looks thoughtful and then shows the picture of Haru to his parents, telling them that she graduated from junior high. His father says that it's nice to have a girl for a grandchild while his mother wonders when Haru will come back for a visit. The grandmother speaks up and says that Haru is now an adult since she's almost 16, the same age as when the grandmother got married. It's the first time Seiji has heard that and he's surprised. Seiji asks his grandmother if it's okay to visit his grandfather and she responds that even if she refused, that's the main reason he came back home. As he turns to leave, his grandmother calls him back and tells him that there's something she wanted to give him in the third drawer of the dresser. It's an envelope with his name on it. His grandmother is embarrassed and tells him to be careful when he bends down. Seiji thinks to himself that last summer, his grandfather gave him a reason to return to the family home. With his mother and father next to him, he pays his respects to his grandfather and mentions that he went cherry blossom viewing recently. He feels that life is determined by such encounters.
Flashback to the cherry blossom viewing. Kawabata asks Chie if she golfs and Chie replies back that she hasn't played any sports since college. Kawabata mentions that golf seems to be popular among the women in the office right now and wants to be introduced to a cute girl. Chie, who is trying to spread out the blanket, tells Kawabata not to act like he's drunk. He says that nice women must certainly exists with all the women around and even someone with tennis experience is fine. Chie is flustered and wants him to restrain himself from saying those kinds of things in front of her son. Towa hands his mom a bottle of water and says that he likes interesting people. While laughing, he mentions that many of his mother's friends have strong personalities and invites Kawabata over to his house. Kawabata agrees that it's talk that a guy would certainly understand and that a slightly mysterious woman is more passionate. Seiji tells Chie that although she seems put together, she's really a scatterbrain. Chie is embarrassed and thinks that she made a bad impression when they first met up again after so long. Seiji says that he was surprised to see her at the flea market and also that the child she was watching got lost. She replies that she's still reflecting on it and got a lecture from her friend. She also didn't think that she would see Seiji at the flea market. Seiji apologizes for surprising her and thinks that it also wasn't fair to Haru. Seiji says that Kawabata was too hasty, telling them to get rid of the things they didn't need. Chie mentions that is Kawabata's disposition, but he's a good guy. Seiji agrees. He mentions that he was afraid of strangers up until he graduated from elementary school, and Kawabata says people don't need to be shy when they meet him. Seiji goes on to say that the one who took him out to play was his grandfather. Kawabata slaps him on the head and tells him not to talk about bad things. Chie disagrees and thinks that it's good, pleasant story. She lets Towa meet a lot of her friends and tries not to confine him to the house. While Seiji glares at him, Kawabata looks chagrined and says that it sounds sensible and that he can't hold a candle to Chie and will leave it to her. Haru and Towa are sitting together, separate from the rest of the group. Back in the present, Seiji recalls that they saw a lot of petals falling.
While looking at the flowers, Haru remembers telling Seiji that when it becomes summer, she's going to ask the grandfather for a favor, that if he happens to see her mom, please tell her thanks. Haru calls out to Seiji and says that she's going to get new flowers for the vase. He thanks her and she gives him a big smile as she rushes off. When she and Seiji pray in front of her mom's picture, Haru's face suddenly turns grim. Seiji is concerned and wonders why she is praying so hard. Haru then says, "I hope Seiji doesn't go bald!!" just as the cutting board falls and bangs his shin. Haru asks him if he's okay and to be more careful since the cardboard box has kitchen items in it. He still hasn't figured out where to put all the items, so she asks him what's the hold up. He replies that ease of use is important, but he needs to organize them quickly so that Haru won't get injured the next time. She takes the box from him and says that if he's not making progress, she will do it. Seiji spreads his arms out and tells her that the kitchen area is his domain. She laughs, asking him what is he saying since she also cooks and always helps him. He thanks her but replies that her cooking can't be called food. With a scary face, she stamps her foot and says that she won't help any more then. Seiji scolds her, telling her to stop acting selfish because that's different. She shouts back that she's not acting selfish. They look at each other. Seiji asks her if she's really not being selfish and she says that she isn't. He goes to her room and grabs the polaroid camera. She runs after him and tells him not to enter her room like that. Holding the camera, he asks her who was the one selfishly begging him for it. She grabs him and wants to know if he lied about giving it to her. He responds that it wasn't a lie and that he was happy that she selfishly asked for it. He then tells her that she looks nice in her school uniform and that it's a present for graduating. Telling her to take good care of it, he puts the camera on her desk. As he leaves the room, Haru calls out to him and says that she wants to give him the pictures that their former landlord gave to her. She thinks that the landlord wanted him to have them. Seiji looks down at the pictures and thinks that their landlord is a good person. Seiji wants to know if Haru has been lonely since leaving their former apartment six months ago. She tells him that she hasn't been lonely and wonders about him. He answers back that he's fine because he has Haru and her mom. She tells him that she's fine because she has him. Seiji is glad and tells her to do her best. He looks forward to new buds growing every year.
At school, Hikari and Haru greet each other. Haru asks Hikari if she's gotten used to her class and Hikari has but she's sad that Haru isn't in the same class. Haru grabs Hikari for a hug as a male classmate greets them. The male classmate, Yoshida, is thinking about checking out the basketball club and wonders if Haru is going to continue with basketball. She tells him that she's not sure but she thinks that she will at least check it out. Hikari tells Haru that she thinks Yoshida may like Haru, but Haru doesn't agree. Hikari says that it seems like he came to this school because he's chasing after her. Haru doesn't know how to respond to that.
At Seiji's work place, a female co-worker exclaims in surprise at Seiji's cute bento. She thinks it's because he has a daughter, but he says that he's planning to make his own bento from now. She's surprised that he made it all himself and then tells him that she just started learning to cook for herself but she's not really good at it. Seiji suggests that he can help her out and tells her to talk to him later. She tells him okay and walks off. After work, Seiji greets her and she imagines him as a sparkling, handsome man. He tells her that he checked online during lunch time and found a bunch of web sites and blogs that have easy-to-make recipes. He hands her the list and suggests that she check them out. Then he looks at the time and says that he has to go since the supermarket has special deals. As he leaves, she again imagines him as a sparkling, handsome guy. Seiji returns home from shopping and is greeted by Haru and Hikari. He tells Haru to give the pictures to Hikari. As they look at the pictures, Haru says that Hikari takes good pictures but she's shocked at how her own face looks. Hikari replies that it's because Haru jokes around a lot. Hikari thinks that Seiji wanted to take a cute picture of Haru. She then notices a strange stuffed animal and the 4-leaf clover. Haru says that the clover is getting wilted, so Hikari tells her to put it the book for now and then she can use it later as a bookmark. Hikari sees Seiji's camera and wants to know if Haru will become a photographer. So, Haru asks Hikari if she will be her model. Hikari looks stunned. Haru remembers that she has makeup from Chie, so she asks Hikari if it's okay to fix her up and if it looks good, they can show Seiji. Hikari blushes when she thinks about showing Seiji. Seiji is making dinner when Haru yells at him to come quickly. She grabs his arms and points to Hikari, saying "before and after". Hikari, who is all made up, is embarrassed as she looks at them. Haru tells Seiji that she made Hikari even cuter and Seiji agrees. They ask Hikari if she's staying for dinner, but she says that she's going home. After she leaves, Seiji wants to know why Haru put make up on Hikari and why does she have make-up. He looks a bit angry and asks if Haru got it from Chie. Haru runs off, saying that she will walk Hikari home.
Back at school, a ball rolls over to Haru so she bends down to pick it up. A snobby girl asks Haru who gave her permission to touch the ball, so Haru apologizes. Haru looks a little stunned and starts to leave. From behind her, Bonta says that it's bad form to drive away first year students. He goes on to say that no one is going to want to join like this and that if it were him, he would hold back. Haru is surprised to see him. Bonta wants to know if she's going to join the club, but Haru isn't sure. He tells her that it's okay not to join because she could get bullied. He says to forget about it, but he won't stop her if she wants to continue. He starts to walk away and she follows him. He turns back and asks her why she's tagging along. She stutters a bit and then says that she wanted to go home together. He puts his arm around her and they start walking. They notice Hikari and Bonta tells her to join them. Haru asks Hikari if she's okay and Hikari says that if Haru is around, she's fine. Hikari notices that Haru has been chasing after Bonta. Bonta's classmate tells Hikari that she's cute. Haru stares at him as Bonta laughs.
At the house, Haru is watching Seiji in the yard and wants to know what he is doing. He replies that he wants to make a vegetable garden. She asks him if he's being a house-husband. He looks over at her and tells her to look at the newspaper ads to see if there's anything on sale at the supermarket. She says that the cabbage is cheap but only until 11 AM. The supermarket is a kind of far away, so they should leave soon if they want to make it in time. They rush off with Seiji telling Haru not to worry about him and go. She tells him to leave it to her, but unfortunately doesn't make it before the sale ends. Upset, Haru pounds the ground with her hands, while Seiji begs the shopkeeper if there are any more left in stock. A woman stands in the store with a couple of heads of cabbage in her basket. Seiji greets her with a "fancy seeing you here, Chie-chan. It seems like Haru received something from you." Chie, with her her pulled back in a headband, glasses, and no makeup, looks stunned. She drops the basket and Seiji wonders what's wrong. She tells him that her name is Saitou. Seiji is confused. Chie tells Yousuke (Towa) that they are leaving. As she frantically grabs the cabbage rolling around on the floor, Seiji wonders if her eyes are bad. Towa stands back and watches. He chuckles as he walks by Haru. As Chie and Towa walk off, Seiji is still confused and wonders what just happened. Brushing his teeth that night, Seiji is still puzzled about it, so Haru tells him that he doesn't understand a woman's feelings. They say goodnight.
Seiji peeks in on the sleeping Haru before going to bed. He remembers that when he was a little boy, his grandfather asked him to race with him, play tag, climb trees, make paper airplanes, etc. His grandfather said that he will teach Seiji how to make planes that fly a long distance. Seiji also remembers being dressed up in girl's clothing because of the hand-me-downs from the neighbor kids. He wonders about being raised quietly and being trained to behave since he gradually became timid. He thinks that maybe he was given very little stimulus during the time when he was most susceptible. In elementary school, he sat alone while watching the boys and girls socialize with each other. He went to an all-boys junior high and high school. He did make friends, but never fell in love. His life meandered until he met her, Haru's mom. Coming back to the present, Seiji notices the envelope that his grandmother gave him. Looking thoughtful, he takes it and turns it over.