Yononaka no Okugi - Prologue

My name is Naomi Maeda (前田ナオミ), and I am a year 2 student of Kaisei Middle School (海星中学校). I think I am 13 years old, but I oddly seem to have no memories any further than me being in my first year here... Why can't I remember? Seems that I'm not the only one as my classmates are asking that same question.

I know a group of older girls which, as my memory tells me, I get along well. Everyone has their own rooms in an apartment or house that is shared with other people. I don't know what's the difference between those and a dormitory or how I ended living there, other than having more relaxed rules and limited rooms per house.

It's strange how they have the same family name as me, but don't look alike. Then again, Maeda is a rather common one. The house is an area in Katsura City (桂市) where there is actually a direct train from my school to the station within walking distance from the house.

The house is littered with pictures and reading materials from many years ago. They are filled with books on concepts that are alien to me, like family. Closest thing I could think of are best friends hanging out together, and not breaking apart no matter what conflict they may have. I don't know what parents or siblings are either. You can't blame me for not knowing: I was not thought what it is, and neither was I thought biology or history. I know nothing about the features of my own body, and things that happened more than 5 years ago seems to have been forgotten or not talked about. I'm serious.

Quite a number of these magazines feature what appears to be a human that looks different: very tall, flat chested, has hair growing on their legs and around their mouth that is commonly refereed to as a man. One of them wore nothing but some kind of panties that looks very plain in design and not silky smooth. They all have some kind of bulge at the front there sticking out from there. All of the strange feelings I never felt before grew inside me the more I look at this "man", and causing my body to react in ways that has never happened before. I don't know how or why this is happening, but I better stop looking before I get insane.

Why am I reacting strangely to that image of a "man"? It's just an image. I guess this is why I don't see images of them at all, because they know people would react like this and, temporarily, suffer from this strange feeling that can't be stopped by ourselves. I'm guessing we aren't taught history at all because these kinds of people appear a lot. For biology, we wouldn't know why our bodies are reacting this way or, if they had not seen old images, wouldn't even have known about this "man" thing because you don't see them today. Unless you are taking a medical-related course in college, you won't get to learn biology at all. History? Unless you are talking about the history of companies, schools, and sporting events, there are none at all.

Another different kind of human I never seen before is that the colour of their hair is different: gold, light brown, grey, white, or even hairless. Some have different coloured skin or eyes too. The skin of the people with white hair looks... looks winkled and not smooth... Their teeth looks scary too. The stick they are holding suggests that they have difficulty moving about. What kind of people are these? I don't see anyone like these people anywhere.

Oh, and how are they wearing something other than skirts? And a long or awful one if they did. Nobody today could wear anything else because those get ejected by themselves before you could even try to put it on. Depending on the type of skirt being worn, it may be a hindrance to a person's leg movements, especially while running. The good thing is that you can change. Taking a bath or shower is kind of annoying as I can't take off my skirt for longer than a minute, which means I'm forced to do so while wearing it, making it wet in the process. Wet skirts are annoying to walk with, but what can you do if you can't take it off before bathing? Even stranger is that nobody sells waterproof skirts. It's a problem so common that everyone, except perhaps the ones above the age of a college student, thinks that this is normal. Well, I did though so myself, until I saw these old pictures of people not wearing skirts.

I would like to think that these are illustrations of a sci-fi world, but would someone go through the effort to create so many lifestyle magazines of that world? On top of that, the pictures look as if it was taken with an actual camera and, considering how old the magazine is, too real to be a computer-rendered image. Did these kinds of people actually existed? What happened to them, and when? If I had not seen these magazines, I would have thought that teenage girls and young adults are the only kinds of humans, which is what you would see everywhere today, and the other kinds of humans seemingly non-existent. Just what on earth happened here?

What I had also observed is that kindergarden and primary schools mentioned in some of the magazines seem non-existent now, and neither could I remember which ones I attended. Another thing I observed is that a lot of people up until high school year 3 have their given names in katakana only, including mine. Only a handful has their given names in kanji or hiragana. Old books tells me that only "foreigners" have their names in katakana with weird-sounding names, but I'm not a foreigner, and my name clearly sounds like Japanese. Nobody knows why the younger people had names in katakana other than it being their official name at birth in the records.

There is a governmental database that keeps track of things people's ages.. I knew about it, but I didn't think I needed it. It's designed in a way that people other than who they are about couldn't access it, so nobody was running up to me asking what they found out there as they wouldn't have access even if they tried, and obviously I can't look at other people's ages. There's nothing else on the database they have there that I don't...

Huh? What is this? That can't be right...

While my biological age is listed as what I had always been thinking my age is, which is thirteen, what is more shocking is the number I see for my actual age: 1.

That can't be right. It says that I am only one year old. While it does explain why my memory can't seem to go further than a year ago, how am I having a body of a teenager and think like one, instead of that as a baby? No further explanation on my age is stated. In fact, how do I even exist as I am at all?

What is going on here? Something is odd about this world I'm living in: quite a lot of of old things I came across, pictures and video with people in it especially, tells me that the world is a fundamentally different place about two or more decades earlier. I didn't know the concept of "countries" existed, though their names are retained for geographical reference.

Those people who looked different form what I'm used to seeing are part of what are called "race", and I see that there are quite a number of deaths from health and violence related issues that don't exist today.

Was the world that vastly different in the past? It's so different that it looks as if it's a fictional world, but there's too much evidence all over to prove that it is real, though obscure if you never paid attention. If you look at buildings built many years ago, you would notice that there are two toilets right next to each other that aren't linked at all except the corridor leading to them. I was not taught what gender is, but recalling from the old magazine I saw before, it's the classification between people like me, a "woman" (女), and the "man" (男) creature that made my body go crazy when I look at it. I can see why this gender thing is not mentioned because there are only "woman" around today. I think now I know why some schools have "womanchild" (女子; girl) in the name as they were founded as schools for "women" in the days when "men" still exists and somewhat redundant today, leaving people who are born after that happened not knowing what "womanchild" is other than being meaningless extensions of names. There appears to be "manchild" (男子; boy) schools too, but they appear to have the "manchild" part of the name removed and started accepting "women" when the "man" population was rapidly declining. I know that I have added quotes to the names of genders and might have been saying it wrongly, but this gender thing was not taught or mentioned in schools, and the signs just simply have the word "toilet", or a symbol that looked like an oversimplification of someone wearing a dress. I'm surprised the symbol was unchanged from the days when the "men" things are still around.

Access to information that might tell me what happened in the past isn't restricted, but since nobody is taught history these days, and information about the past being obscure, it is unlikely that they would stumble upon or get interested about the past. Would have been the same for me if I had not stumbled upon these magazines.

A question still lies in my mind: just what on earth happened in the past? Why does it seem as if they want to hide what happened, but at the same time not preventing it from being discovered. I'm starting to become more interested in the past.


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