Like a reliable older sister

At long last, the journalism club + one is now complete.

Natsumi posing outside the Katsurazaka Gate, Kenrokuen

Natsumi Nakazawa fronts the cover for Lily Clairet, Vol. 5. In doing so, she completes the line up for regular occupants of the Saisei High School journalism club room. Or in Natsumi’s case, just the doorway. I wonder if the day will ever come when those hinges will finally be squeak-free.

Volume 5’s reference photo, taken in spring 2018

For the background landmark, I’d planned on going for Kanazawa Station and its famous tsuzumi drums covering the east exit. Sadly, it’ll have to tap its feet for its long overdue appearance. Another iconic location has taken its place.

I briefly wrote about Kenrokuen in one of my earliest posts. And it also features in volume 3. Here, Natsumi is posing outside of the Katsurazaka Gate, leading directly to a tidy spree of souvenir shops before turning into the garden proper.

Although this is the main gate, it’s not the only one. Smaller, quieter entrances with their own little charms can be found dotted around its sizable perimeter, ensuring the garden remains one of the most accessible locations in Kanazawa.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the gardeners at work, tending to the place one blade at a time.

Literally!

In Volume 5, Lily and company heads back home to Saisei High School to continue where they left off. Two weeks have passed since the trip to Hokkaido, and for some reason, the fit on Lily’s shoes don’t feel quite as comfortable as they did before. The world turns slowly for high schoolers, but as Satake says, nothing stays unchanging. For Lily and a few others, that turn happens more abruptly than they could have imagined.

And sometimes, I think that’s for the best.

Lily Clairet, Vol. 5 will be available January 21st, 2020.

Kanazawa, the town where time stops only for itself

Kanazawa ( 金沢 ) is a fashionable castle town located on the coast of central Honshu. Facing towards the Sea of Japan, it’s a diverse, cultural city blending modern functionality with traditional sentiments. The beautifully preserved tea districts, the rebuilt castle and the famous Kenrokuen Garden sits side-by-side with the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, the Downtown Korinbo shopping boulevard, as well as the night lights of Katamachi. Kanazawa is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. And it’s also the home of the Lily Clairet series.

Below is a few photos I’ve taken of Kanazawa, including the specific reference photos I provided to Rumi-kuu for the creation of the various front covers.

Kenrokuen Garden, Visited In Volume 3

Lily herself doesn’t actually live in Kanazawa city, although almost all of the others do. She lives 40 minutes away after waking up late, requiring 20 of those minutes to leave the house. This means she automatically becomes the one person who has to meet up with everyone else. It’s a reasonable tax to pay to be able to walk to school every morning, though.

Kanazawa Station, Central Concourse

Many of Kanazawa’s landmark locations are visited throughout the light novels. Many of the less known ones more so. Kanazawa Station is definitely the former. Being central to the city, it’s a frequent meeting point for Lily’s weekend adventures.

In 2015, Kanazawa Station received the Shinkansen treatment to Tokyo. Before then, travel between Kanazawa and Tokyo was significantly more convulated, requiring transferring between local trains, limited express trains, and sometimes even overnight trains. Now, the quiet charms of the Kazue-machi district or the permanent clouds obscuring the views atop Tokyo Tower can both be easily visited via the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line.

Kazue-machi Chaya, Reference Photo, Volume 1 Cover

Among Kanazawa’s most well-known locations are its three beautifully preserved tea districts, Higashi-Chaya, Nishi-Chaya and Kazue-machi Chaya. During the Edo Period, these tea districts served as entertainment hubs. Today, they are cultural and tourism sites where guests can enjoy meeting modern day geishas, participate in local arts and crafts and purchase an ¥891 gold-leafed ice cream. The above photo features the Kazue-machi Chaya district, and is the reference I provided to Rumi-kuu for the illustration of volume one’s cover. This is also the location of Sanae Kaneko’s home and gift shop.

Higashi-Chaya, Reference Photo, Volume 2 Cover

Even amongst the three districts, Higashi-Chaya often takes the limelight as far as promotions go. It features a maze of winding backstreets splitting off from its central avenue like streams breaking off from a river. Many of the buildings are active as shops or heritage sites, one of which is graced by Sonata Sonoda on volume two’s cover. Because of the density of shops, a significant amount of traffic passes through the district everyday. None of that has worn away the quaint atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if you see a bride and groom on their wedding walk together!

Tokyu Square Korinbo, Reference Photo, Volume 3 Cover

Formerly the Kohrinbo 109 until its rebrand, this department store functions as one of many shopping malls congregating around Kanazawa’s central commercial shopping district. Despite the tough competition from the nearby upscale Daiwa & Altrio, it’s the department store of choice with the students of Saisei High School. Kaneko buys her hats here, and Kizuna chooses the entrance outside as her meeting spot with her fans. The department store also provides ready access to the nearby Taito Arcade Station and trendy Tatemachi Street, filled with everything a fashion-conscious high school girl needs to survive.

And, well, there’s also a McDonalds nearby.

Osaki Shrine, Reference Photo, Volume 4 Cover

Slightly away from the hustle and bustle of downtown is the Osaki Shrine, a small Shinto shrine guarded by a pair of lovable Komainu. These lion-dogs are fiercesome guardians who will proudly defend the shrine against evil-doers and littering miscreants alike. They’re also quite shy, and so excused themselves from volume four’s cover. A little bit of the base can still be seen, however, so they’re still doing their part in protecting this particular volume from those page eating spirits. The other books are left to the elements.

The Osaki shrine isn’t as visited as its larger neighbour, the Oyama Jinja shrine dedicated to the former ruling lord and lady of the Kaga domain. Regardless, it’s the shrine of choice for Kaede Satake when she feels the need to ensure the Komainu aren’t suffering any chips or bouts of loneliness.

That’s all for this edition of splurging about Kanazawa. It’s more pictures than text, but that’s okay, right? Next time, I’ll write about some of the locations visited in the series. I hope you enjoyed a look at the references used by Rumi-kuu. As you can tell, she did an exemplary job making the locations true to life. In fact, the only problem is the lack of detail in my photos!