Summer Festival 1
On the weekend of the third week in July, a summer festival is held every year in the neighboring town. Hiiragi-chan was super excited to go, and with the mysterious logic of, it’s the neighboring town so it’s safe, she urged me in going.
“I want to go…”
“If it’s fireworks, we can see it from here though… If you think about the possibility of us being recognized——”
Hiiragi-chan was instantly depressed.
If it was guaranteed we wouldn’t see anyone we knew, then even I would want to go. Although it was just the neighboring town, the scale of the summer festival was quite large. There would be many visitors from both inside and outside the prefecture. Naturally, the chances of meeting an acquaintance from high school or middle school is pretty high. It goes without saying, the chances of us being seen is also high.
“I was going to wear a yukata…”
… I want to see it.
“However, if Seiji-kun refuses so strongly… it can’t be helped…”
“No, it’s not that I refuse… I understand Haruka-san’s excitement in wanting to go…”
“Then, let’s go?”
As such, we ended up going to the summer festival in the neighboring town next Saturday.
We drove close to the venue, before walking the rest of the way. Karan, koron, the sound from Hiiragi-chan’s geta rang out.  The hair that was usually done in a ponytail, was gathered in the back, and the white nape of her neck could be seen. The flower ornament in her hair also suited her very well.
“How is it? My yukata.”
“Yeah. It’s cute.”
Her expression loosened in happiness as she gave of the aura of wanting even more compliments.
“I think that the light blue color gives off a bright feeling and really suits you, Haruka-san.”
“Eheheh. Thank you ♪”
The yukata was part of it, but the overall level of perfection is quite high. At first glance, her current atmosphere was quite removed from the “Hiiragi-sensei” image, so maybe it wasn’t necessary to have a disguise. However, just in case, I was wearing a cap with a visor. There’s a lot of people after all, and if we’ve gone this far, we shouldn’t be noticed that easily.
As we got closer to the venue, people going to the festival could be seen everywhere. There were a lot of couples, and all of them could be seen holding hands. Seeing that, Hiiragi-chan casually touched the back of my hand. Seems like she wants to hold hands. Being so beautiful in her yukata, Hiiragi-chan also got a lot of attention from other men. If a capped male ends up holding her hand in that situation, it will definitely stand out.
Since I didn’t respond, Hiiragi-chan acted displeased.
“Ah. Wait a bit.”
Now that I think about it, every year, there was a stall that sold masks.
It was still early in the evening, so the area where the stalls were lined up still didn’t have that many people. It should be somewhere around there… There it is.
When I went to the stall that I found, there were masks of the Super Sentai members, heroines of different kids-oriented anime, and many other faces. After buying a mask, I returned to where Hiiragi-chan was.
“Wear this. Like this, there shouldn’t be anyone that would find out about us.”
“Seiji-kun, are you perhaps a genius…?”
“Now we can hold hands.”
Hiiragi-chan wore the mask.
A clown appeared in front of me. 
W-what can I do… I thought to pick a pretty plain mask… but it became quite funny…
“We can walk while holding hands now, right?”
The clown said happily.
“What is so funny?”
S-stop… a clown is talking with Hiiragi-chan’s voice…
Bufu, since I was laughing, the clown noticed that something was wrong with me, and took off the mask in order to confirm what it was. Then, she put it back on.
“What is this!? Couldn’t you have picked something cuter!?”
“I-i-it was… fuhaha… the most plain out of all them…”
“Aren’t you laughing really hard!? The clown is meant to be funny! What were you thinking, Seiji-kun!?”
The clown, it’s super angry! Bufufu.
“Wa, really, stop. I-I can’t, brea, fuhahaha.”
“Stop, didn’t you buy this mask yourself!?”
I stepped on a landmine, and the clown became even angrier.
“I’ll buy another one then. Until then, you have to put up with this.”
Such a kind clown.
“Let’s… hold hands?”
The clown was kind of embarrassed. T-this is bad, if I laugh even more, the clown’s mood will worsen…
But, it’s so funny. What can I do? Half forcing myself, we held hands as the clown and I went to the main venue. The main events were supposed to be held at the shrine, but most people thought of the fireworks as the main event, so until then, there wasn’t going to be that many people.
Once we got to the stand that I just bought the mask, the clown bought a different mask. She bought a mask of Ranger Red. Entrusting me with the clown mask, Hiiragi-chan put on Red’s mask, and faced me.
“… How is it?”
“Yeah, it’s normal.”
“I see… rather, the purpose of this isn’t to make you laugh, okay!?”
I ended up putting on the clown mask, and until the fireworks started, we decided to walk around the stalls. We bought some yakisoba, and at the corner of one of the steps, the two of us shared it and ate it together.
“Wait a second.”
I moved my mask sideways a bit as she brought it to my mouth. Since I couldn’t see with my mask off to the side like this, I found out earlier that doing this was for the best.
“This time, it’s my turn. I’m ready.”
This time, I fed her.
The masks were bothersome, but we needed to keep it on, since you never know when someone might see us.
“Let’s go see the next stall!”
“You’re quite energetic, Haruka-san.”
“Once you become an adult, there aren’t a lot of chances to let loose like this. That’s why I’m like this.”
She said that with Red’s mask on. Even though it was such a serious statement, it really didn’t enter my head at all.
While holding hands, I walked through the gradually growing crowd while being pulled along by Hiiragi-chan.
“Seiji-kun, that! Goldfish scooping! Let’s do that?” 
Goldfish scooping, even if you end up keeping it, it’ll only live for about a week before dying… And even if you don’t end up scooping up any of them, they usually end up giving you a few as service…
She urged me on to the front of the stall.
“Fuwaah… there’s so many small fish…”
“Small fish… well, it’s Goldfish scooping after all.”
“The red ones, and the black ones, are those also goldfish?”
Red was completely blanked out.
“You know, Red-san. It’s not called goldfish because they’re gold colored fish, you know?”
“…… I-I knew that.”
Hmm? More importantly… has she not seen goldfish before? You would think that as a child, you would’ve at least seen them once before.
“One try please.”
Hiiragi-chan paid the money and received three scoops.
“It’ll be decided with this!”
It was all failures.
“Ugugugu… I wasn’t even able to get one… The paper broke. Oji-san, I think there’s a defect!”
“That’s how it’s supposed to be!”
She hasn’t done it before…?
Next to her, I started with my own attempt. Jiii, I could feel Red focusing on my hand with an intense gaze.
Suu, I pulled the scoop sideways, trying to use the part closest to the edge to hook something.
One, two, goldfish entered the container one after the other.
“Amazing! Seiji-kun, you’re amazing!!”
Clapping her hands, she was already quite moved.
“I’m not great at it, but I can at least do this much.”
“Mou, if it’s come to this, it’s time to use my power as an adult—”
“What are you thinking of doing while wearing Red’s mask?”
Red took out 5000 yen from her wallet.
“With this, all those easily broken nets, give them all to me!”
“Quit it! The little children are going to be playing after us.”
“If I have enough money to match today’s predicted sales, even the Oji-san will end up nodding—”
“Don’t talk about money in front of the stall!”
Hiiragi-chan pitifully received her three goldfish, and we left the stall. By the way, the goldfish I scooped up were all released back into the pool.
“It was harder than I thought it would be…”
“There’s a little bit of a trick to it after all.”
We walked in a direction where there weren’t any people and found a nice step to sit down on.
“I never really came to places like this. So, I ended up getting a little bit excited.”
“I had a feeling that was the case.”
At some point, it had already passed sunset, and the area became completely dark with no lights. It was dark enough, where it might be fine to not have masks on. After taking off the mask, she put her hand on top of mine.
“Next year, let’s come again.”
“Yeah. Of course.”
While hearing the faraway sounds of the festival, the two of us kissed under the dim light.
- Geta are traditional sandals made of wood. They look something like this:
- It isn’t a western clown. It was called Hyottoko (ひょっとこ), but I didn’t like it leaving the Japanese in, so I changed it to clown to sound better. It refers to masks with large puckered lips or mouths off to the side. Something like this:
- Some of you may know, but just in case. It’s a traditional festival activity done by stalls where players are given paper scoops to scoop out goldfish from a pool of some sort. The paper scoops tend to be easy to break and so it takes a bit of skill to actually get goldfish