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Retrospective 53 minutes/Story

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< Changeability of Strange Dream   Retrospective 53 minutes   Magical Astronomy >


A journey of the mind along the Boyu Line.
-The Tokaido Subway is the most Japanesque subway in Japan.

ヒロシゲ36号 ~ Neo Super-Express

#01 ヒロシゲ36号 ~ Neo Super-Express Hiroshige No.36 ~ Neo Super-Express


Carrying a certain pair, the Hiroshige[1] runs eastward. Without a sound, without a jolt, it simply, mindlessly, runs towards the East.


There was plenty of room in the booth-style compartment that normally sat four people, as only the pair occupied it. Even though that was the case, though, they had no need to worry about any strangers asking after an empty spot. In the morning, trains in the opposite direction were extremely crowded with commuters, packed like sardines, but the crowd on the inbound trains for Tokyo was much thinner. Conveniently for them.


A pleasant spring sunshine came in from the windows. The new style of Shinkansen features as a main selling point a semi-panoramic view in all the cars. Each car is entirely semi-panoramic window except the ceiling and floor; in other words, the walls of the Shinkansen are its windows. It looked just as if it were a glass test tube running on the railway.
To the left of the blonde girl, who sat facing in the direction opposite that of the train's travel, spread an endless, beautiful blue coast; to her right was a breathtaking vista of plains and pine forests without a building in sight.


It seems like it has been approximately 25 minutes since the train has departed... Off in the distance, Mount Fuji can be seen beneath an umbrella of clouds.
Its form is so stately, it almost seems like a hermit might live on it.


Because of the efforts of the Mount Fuji Revival Association, the mountain has finally been recognized as a World Heritage Site[2], but the Fuji seen from the Hiroshige looks many times grander.
Because, when viewing it through the panoramic view from the Hiroshige, you never see a single skyscraper, power line, or elevated railway.


Even ignoring Mt. Fuji, the sea coast on the left side alone is so beautiful that even if it were acknowledged as a World Heritage Site a dozen times over, it would not be enough to describe it. Such is the beauty of the Tokaido[3].

だが、この卯酉 (ぼうゆう) 新幹線『ヒロシゲ』から見えている極めて日本的な美しい情景も、金髪の少女、メリーにとっては退屈な映像刺激でしかなかった。

Nevertheless, to Merry, the blonde girl, the extremely beautiful Japanesque scenes she saw while riding the Boyu Shinkansen Hiroshige were nothing but monotonous visual stimuli.


#02 53ミニッツの青い海 Blue Sea of 53 Minutes
"The Hiroshige's seating is spacious, and it gets us to our destination quickly, so it's convenient...
 But seeing nothing but the Kaleido-screen's fake scenery is so boring."
"Even if that's true, because of the video they play in the tunnels, it's much brighter than subways used to be.
 It feels just like we're above the ground, doesn't it?"
"The Mt. Fuji above ground might not be this lovely, but I wanted to see the genuine one.
 I wish we could have taken the old Tokaido Shinkansen[4]."
"Are you seriously going on about that kind of indulgence? Nowadays, the only people who ride that are people from Tōhoku, Indians, and celebrities.
 You might be as leisurely as someone from Tōhoku, though."
"I'm a celebrity."
...The Boyu Tokaido had been in operation since before they were born.


After the relocation of the capital in the Jinki era[5], many humans were faced with the need to come and go between Tokyo and Kyoto. Soon the old Tokaido Shinkansen alone wasn't enough to support the volume of traffic, so the government swiftly started developing a new Shinkansen as soon as they could.


The resulting accomplishment, connecting Kyoto and Tokyo in just 53 minutes, was the Boyu Shinkansen Hiroshige. This Shinkansen enabled commuting between Kyoto and Tokyo, and in a flash, it became the main traffic artery of Japan.


The astonishing thing is that the Shinkansen runs entirely underground in a straight line. From the point of departure to the terminal, you cannot see sky, sea, mountain, forest, Sun nor Moon.

竹取飛翔 ~ Lunatic Princess

#03 竹取飛翔 ~ Lunatic Princess Flight of the Bamboo Cutter ~ Lunatic Princess
 東海道も昔は53も宿場町があったというのに、今は53分で着いちゃうのよ? 昔よりも道のりも長いのに、
"It's pleasant to arrive in a flash, but aren't you bored with this imitation scenery, Renko?
 They even show a fake full moon during the nights when the real one is out.
 The Tokaido of the past had 53 staging towns[6], while now, it only takes 53 minutes in spite of the increase in the distance between the final stations since then.
 You can't call this sort of affair a journey anymore."
"No matter how short the distance, a journey is still a journey. Sightseeing in Tokyo will be plenty of fun, believe me.
 Unlike Kyoto, there are plenty of buildings in places like Shinjuku and Shibuya that let you just feel the history.
 Why don't you think of the short train trip as buying you more time to go sightseeing?"
 あーあ、偽物の満月には、太古の兎が薬を () いている姿が見えるのかなぁ」
"Sure, fine. I suppose you're right.
 Ugh, I wonder if we'd be able to see the ancient rabbit making medicine on the fake full moon..."
 実は、ヒロシゲは最高速を出せば53分も掛からないらしいんだけど、わざわざ 53分になる様に調整したらしいよ?」
"Oh, right! Have I told you?
 The fact of the matter is the Hiroshige could make the trip in less than 53 minutes if it went at its maximum speed, but they purposefully adjusted it to arrive at 53 minutes sharp."
「一分一泊ね。その調子なら三週間で老衰だわ。短い () ねぇ」
"One minute, one stop. At that pace, I'd go senile from age in three weeks[7]. What a short journey that would be..."


Renko Usami and Maribel Hearn (Merry) decided to use their university vacation to take a trip to Tokyo, where Renko's parents lived.
Although the point of the trip for her was to tag along with Renko on her trip for Higan[8], as she had never been to Tokyo, Merry nonetheless found herself excitedly looking forward to it.


She was also looking forward to the scenery on the way to Tokyo, but unfortunately for her, the Boyu Tokaido ran underground for the entire length of the journey.


In spite of that, sunlight shone in from the windows like that above ground during the day, and outside was displayed the beauty of Mt. Fuji and the Pacific Ocean.

それが、卯酉東海道最大の売り (・・) と予算を使った装置『カレイドスクリーン』だった。

That was the main selling point and budget sink of the Boyu Tokaido, the device called the Kaleido-screen.

彼岸帰航 ~ Riverside View

#04 彼岸帰航 ~ Riverside View Higan Retour ~ Riverside View
"Merry, did you know that Higan ceremonies in Tokyo have some strange manners and customs?"
「ええ? どういうの?」
"Huh? In what way?"
"Along with visiting our family grave, we look for tears in the boundary surrounding the graveyard and visit the Netherworld, too.
 You know how our ancestors come back from the Netherworld during the Bon Festival, right?
 That's why we go and return the favor at Higan."
"Is that true?
 Oh dear, I haven't prepared at all. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because it was a lie.
 But since we've come all this way, why don't we try it anyway?"


The Boyu Tokaido was made exclusively for the purpose of extremely efficient movement of humans between Tokyo and Kyoto.
That is why there are only two stations.


They are known as Bo-Tokyo Station and Yu-Kyoto Station[9].
In other words, there are no other stops besides the first and the last one.
36 minutes have already passed since the pair left Yu-Kyoto Station.


The scenery outside was likely the same as what Utagawa Hiroshige enjoyed.
The beauty was beyond words. The sky, the sea, Mt. Fuji and the 53 stations.


#05 青木ヶ原の伝説 Legend of Aokigahara
"Forbidden Forest"
"Ah! Just now, I..."
「どうしたの? メリー、急に怖い顔をして……」
"What's the matter, Merry? You got a scary expression all of a sudden."
 蓮子は感じない? ここら辺の空間は少し他と感じが違うわよ。
"I suddenly felt a bit sick.
 Don't you feel it, Renko? The space we're in now feels a bit different from normal.
 Also, I can see a rift in the boundary... Perhaps it's a bug in the screen-controlling program?"
"Oh, it's probably because we're under the sacred mountain.
 The atmosphere is a little different... No, wait, it might even be space-time that's different.
 You're so sensitive that it's stressing you out, Merry."
 でも、富士山って火山でしょう? そんな地下にトンネルなんて掘って大丈夫なのかなぁ」
"Oh, I see, so we're under Mt. Fuji.
 Now I understand what I was feeling. Since ancient times, it's been said that there was an entrance to the Netherworld underneath the mountain.
 But it's a volcano, isn't it? Was it really fine to build a tunnel here?"
"Stop being a worrywart. At times like these, you should have a drink and stop thinking so hard.
 When Mt. Fuji was recognized as a World Heritage Site, they designated it as extinct rather than just dormant, right?"[10]


The Boyu Tokaido was designed for the sole purpose of connecting Tokyo and Kyoto, but the government had to do quite a bit to assuage public relations concerns brought about by tunneling under the sacred Mt. Fuji.


It makes a detour underneath the Sea of Trees[11] instead.


However, since long ago, unpleasant legends about the Sea of Trees have circulated, so building the tunnel underneath it might have affected the Shinkansen's service and the amount of passengers that would ride it.


With that in mind, the detour was never announced to the public.


#06 お宇佐さまの素い幡 White Flag of Usa Shrine
"Most Famous Hero"
"Ha ha, sake feels great in the morning.
 Come to think of it, this Shinkansen was originally designed to stop at Kamakura[12], too, wasn't it?"
"You seem to know everything, Renko."
"Because I do, you know.
 From what I know, they wanted to connect the three capitals and name it the Keito Shinkansen."
"That seems like it would have been warm[13]. But wait, Kamakura was never a capital, was it?
 And Kamakura is too close to Tokyo to be a stop between Kyoto and Tokyo, anyhow."
"That's why it was shelved."
 蓮子は誰かに嘘情報吹き込まれたんじゃないの? 八幡様が好きな誰かに」
"Shouldn't they have known that from the beginning?
 Have you been lied to by some fan of Lord Hachiman [14]?"
"By the way, do you know what kind of shelf is meant in the phrase shelved?"


Speaking of Fuji, the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji Katsushika Hokusai[15] created are well-known, yet he was not satisfied with any of the pictures of Mt. Fuji he drew. You can tell this because he actually drew forty-six pictures[16].


After that, a young Utagawa Hiroshige, who was only half his age, published The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido which became more popular. Undaunted, Hokusai also published his Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, despite the thirty-six edition he released earlier.
That is how bewitched he was by Mt. Fuji.


However, Hiroshige was also rather obsessed with it.


#07 月まで届け、不死の煙 Reach for the Moon, Immortal Smoke
"Elixir of Life"


Even so, the Japan of the modern era has chosen Utagawa Hiroshige.
The Boyu Shinkansen Hiroshige continues to run underground towards the east. It is likely around Kamakura by now.

"Hey, Renko, the Mt. Fuji displayed on the tunnel screen is a bit too dynamic, isn't it?"
"Hmmm... I can't tell you since I've never looked that hard at the real one, but they feel about the same.
 If the real one didn't have any man-made objects around it, I think it would look something like this."
"To me, this Fuji looks more like the one Hokusai drew than that of Hiroshige.
 Its scale has also been treated with automatic video re-targeting.
 I get the feeling it's trying for impact more than it is realism."
"Merry, do you know that Hiroshige also antagonized Hokusai by creating his own thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji?"
「あら、パクリ? インスパイア?」
"Oh, was it an imitation or an inspiration?"
"Down to the very name, Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji[17]. Furthermore, it was even published after Hokusai died."
"Oh, dear."


In the midst of the scenery dotted with few buildings that was displayed through the Kaleido-screen appeared the miraculous and dynamic Mt. Fuji.


The genuine Mt. Fuji had become more beautiful through the efforts of the Mount Fuji Revival Association. However, whether it was due to the intensity of the real thing after it had been restored or due to the strict guidelines the association put in place, many people were turned off from climbing it, so the tourist association took heavy losses. How ironic.


The reason the Japanese have chosen Hiroshige is because they couldn't understand Hokusai's genius. Japan has always utterly despised madness.


But, if this Shinkansen wasn't called the Hiroshige but was instead the Hokusai, what kind of spectacle would the Kaleido-screen show?


You would surely enjoy thirty-six minutes of mad phantasms that would take you to your destination more quickly than today.


#08 レトロスペクティブ京都 Retrospective Kyoto
"Are we near Tokyo yet?
 All of this has been so unsatisfying..."
"You're right. But it's better not to wear ourselves out before we get there."
"Well, if I think of it as giving us more time for sightseeing, I can accept it.
 Where are you going to take us today?"
"Don't act so impatient.
 First, we'll stop by my parents' place, finish the visit of my family grave for Higan, then once we find a place to store our luggage, we'll go sightseeing, alright?"
「あれ? 冥界参りに行くんだっけ?」
"Oh? But weren't we going to visit the Netherworld?"
"Tokyo is just as spiritual of a city as Kyoto, so we'll definitely have a good time. Because you're here, Merry."


As the sins of the spirits trapped in the asphalt are reaching the end of their statute of limitations, cracks are beginning to form in the roads of Tokyo.


Starting in a portion of the expressway's Inner Circular Route[18], a strange field is starting to form. Not a single blade of grass, but instead, curious flowers made of nothing but stalk and red petals have begun to cover the road. The quantity of the old-fashioned vehicle called the automobile has decreased along with the decreasing population. No matter what happened to the roads, it would not be an inconvenience.


Distinctively, Tokyo is a city where flashy young people make their own rules.
Like the city where machi-yakko, hatamoto-yakko and hikeshi[19] ran wild...


Tokyo is returning to its roots.

ラクトガール ~ 少女密室

#09 ラクトガール ~ 少女密室 Locked Girl ~ Girl's Sealed Room
"Unlike Kyoto, Tokyo is my hometown so there are plenty of nostalgic things."
"For instance?"
"Tiny amusement parks in tall buildings that have a feeling of confinement, extra large shopping malls, and things like that."
"How nice. Such unrefined and plebeian entertainment still exists here."
"In that respect, Kyoto is just too uptight.
Their idea of entertainment is stuff like new-style tea ceremonies."
"Oh my, but I like tea.
 And those mysterious tearooms feel so much like locked rooms...[20]"


A long time ago, there was a period when food theme parks like those in Tokyo were very popular.
With each store selling delicious flavors from all over the country all in one place, they were not particularly charming or refined theme parks. Even so, they were quite well-liked among the humans of Tokyo.


In the Edo era, Tokyo had eating competitions where gluttons would eat as if they were unafraid of death. With that in mind, it's natural for modern Tokyo to have developed these food theme parks.


The blood of Edo runs thick in the veins of the city of Tokyo.


As Merry had only seen it in books, the closer she came to the timeless city of Tokyo, the more excited she grew.

千年幻想郷 ~ History of the Moon

#10 千年幻想郷 ~ History of the Moon Gensokyo Millennium ~ History of the Moon
"Mt. Fuji is getting smaller. That means that Tokyo's right around the corner."
"Hearing you talk about it, Renko, I've actually started to look forward to it. Tokyo."
"Well that's what happens when I'm the one talking.
 Still, I can't deny that Tokyo is a spiritually immature city compared to Kyoto."
"Isn't it fine to act the fool once in a while?"
"They've neglected the rifts in their boundaries.
 In comparison, spiritual research has been carried out for more than a thousand years in Kyoto."
"Oh, it's the credits.
They're even trying to claim copyright on the scenery displayed here."


Words were displayed on the scenery outside the windows.
The 53-minute Kaleido-screen experience was nearing its end.


By nature, scenery is the work of no one at all. Additionally, the imagery is based on the Tokaido that Hiroshige probably saw.


Even so, humans insist that scenery is theirs. Across the three-dimensional landscape that all the passengers likely believed was the real thing, the names of the developers of the film continued to fade in and out.

風景の真ん中に「Designed by Utagawa Hiroshige」と言う文章が浮かんだのを最後に、世界は闇に閉ざされた。

After the final sentence "Designed by Utagawa Hiroshige" appeared in the middle of the screen, darkness enveloped the world.


#11 最も澄みわたる空と海 The Purest Sky and Sea



Even high-dynamic-range images,

and the most Japanesque scenery,
are no match for the true color of the sky.



Nowadays, perhaps no human exists who believes such an old-fashioned thing.

Virtual sensations stimulate humans more than real ones.
Just as a distinction cannot be drawn between dreams and reality, or between humans and butterflies,
that a distinction cannot be drawn between the virtual and real is the common sense of today.


It goes without saying that the virtual is the essence of humanity.

Though the body has fallen with the flowers,
 The spirit soars with their fragrance.[21]


Continuing their careless 53-minute conversation as they came above ground, the pair left Bo-Tokyo Station behind them.


初めまして、みたいなZUNです。 Something like "Nice to meet you." I'm ZUN.
この卯酉東海道は、展開無しでオチも無しですね。秘封倶楽部の二人が普段どういう会話をしているのかを盗み聴いたという内容です。ある意味ハッピーエンド。 This Boyu Tokaido ~ Retrospective 53 minutes has neither development nor ending. It's the story of someone who managed to eavesdrop on a meandering conversation between the two girls of the Sealing Club. In a way, it's a happy ending.
There are a few little quips the person listening to their conversation inserted mentally.
These quips are the narration. Really?
The two girls seem to be just slightly smarter than most their age. Smart girls are cool.
The theme of this story is same as my previous work, Changeability of Strange Dream. It's about the virtual and reality.
Please let the virtuality now advance a little more within your mind. You can relax while listening to (reading) this CD more than CoSD, right?
良く、アニメやゲームは猟奇的な犯罪が起こる度にやり玉に挙げられます。その都度、リアルとヴァーチャルの区別を付けろ、なんてお偉いさんが言ったり、誰だって区別してるに決まってるだろ、なーんて言う訳ですが、そんなん無理です。と言うか付く筈が無い。 Anime and games are always singled out whenever some bizarre crime occurs. How it usually goes is "Separate the virtual from reality." "Just who do you big shots think you are?" "Isn't it obvious?" "What kind of excuse is that?" But it's all meaningless, since that shouldn't be the case to begin with.
天才は、夢で閃くという。心は体を捨て、現実の外に飛び出す事が出来ます。そこで得た知識や経験は決して無駄ではない。ヴァーチャルとリアルの違いは、ソフトとハードの違いみたいなもんです。分けて使う事は出来ません。 They say that genius comes to people in dreams. They said that the mind can abandon its body and go beyond reality. That knowledge and experience will never go to waste. The difference between the virtual and reality is like that of software and hardware. It is impossible to separate them.
だってそうでしょう? That is true, isn't it?
Otherwise, music would never affect anybody.
And it's possible to play back virtual music...
音楽活動する以上、リアルとヴァーチャルを区別するなんて言わないで、区別出来ない事を意識した上で行動したい。 As long as I create music, I want to continue the activity of recognizing the impossibility of separation between the virtual and reality.
上海アリス幻樂団 ZUN (旅に出たい) Team Shanghai Alice: ZUN (I want to go on a trip)


  1. Named after Utagawa Hiroshige; a 19th-century Japanese artist.
  2. Mt. Fuji was recognized as a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in 2013. It still has not been recognized as an Natural World Heritage Site, however.
  3. The Tokaido was a major intercity road in the Edo period, starting at the Nihonbashi (日本橋) bridge in Tokyo, passing through 53 station towns and ending at the Sanjo-ohashi (三条大橋) bridge in Kyoto. The Tokyo and Kyoto main rail stations are a bit further from each other as the crow flies than the two bridges.
  4. The Tokaido Shinkansen connects Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station, and currently sells more tickets than any other Japanese rail route.
  5. Jinki (神亀) is a previous Japanese era name (724-729). Repetition of Japanese era names is practically unheard of, so this is indicative of a cultural change. One reason ZUN may have chosen this name specifically to repeat is that the characters used for it are the name of a famous local sake in Saitama Prefecture (pronounced Shinkame), being as he is a sake aficionado.
  6. Post stations, often with inns for travelers and stables for the exchange of weary horses for fresh ones. The Tokaido's stage stations were particularly well-developed, practically towns in their own right.
  7. "One stop" as Merry uses it here is literally "one overnight stay". If an overnight stay (a night) passed in one minute, three weeks (30240 minutes) would equal 30240 days, or about 83 years.
  8. A Buddhist celebration for greeting one's ancestors, held during the spring and fall equinoctal weeks. Higan (彼岸) literally means opposite bank, in other words, the other side (after death).
  9. "Bo" being "Hare", as in the sign of the Chinese zodiac; an obsolete term for "east". "Yu" being "Rooster", as in the sign of the Chinese zodiac; an obsolete term for "west".
  10. Fuji is currently classified as an active volcano. Given the way the Hifuu Club's future treats all their other problems, it might, in fact, not even be truly dormant in their time.
  11. Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a forest near Mt. Fuji. It has beautiful scenery, but is a notable place for those who commit suicide. From Merry's point of view, this likely means that the barrier between the realm of the dead and the living is weak there.
  12. Kamakura was the most important city in the Kamakura era, but never a capital of Japan. The kura in Kamakura means warehouse; the later references to "shelving" things originally refer to putting them in a warehouse (same idiom).
  13. Keito (繋都) as in capital-connecting sounds the same as 毛糸 (yarn).
  14. Hachiman is a god of archery and warfare traditionally worshipped in Kamakura.
  15. Katsushika Hokusai was another artist in the Edo period who was 37 years older than Hiroshige.
  16. Hokusai drew another 10 pictures of Mt.Fuji later; they are called Urafuji (裏富士) , or Other Side of Mt.Fuji
  17. 不二, pronounced Fuji but spelled differently from the mountain 富士, means "something that is the same despite appearing different". It was the "Fuji" Hiroshige used in the title of this work.
  18. Tokyo Route C1. Both this and the Central Circular Route (C2) are referred to as 環状線 (Kanjousen), but as the inner route is older and the CD previously refers to sins reaching the end of a statute of limitations, it is likely that the field would form here first. The Osaka Rail Loop Line is also referred to as 環状線, but none of the train lines in Tokyo are.
  19. Machi-yakko (町奴) were gangs that formed in order to protect cities from bandits, advertised (by the yakuza) as a possible origin for the yakuza; hatamoto-yakko (旗本奴) were roving gangs of samurai bandits, another, more likely, possible origin for the yakuza; hikeshi (火消し) were firefighters, necessary to protect Edo from its streets full of both unrest and flames. All were commonplace in Edo era Tokyo, and are likely the reason for the phrase "fires and fights are the flowers of Edo".
  20. As in locked-room mysteries.
  21. A poem by the monk Kukai (空海), the founder of Japanese Buddhism; the characters in his name mean "sky and sea". He is also known as Mahavairocana (遍照金剛), a figure which is referenced elsewhere in Touhou.
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