Kazuto 和人

If you can stay here for years for my sake, I should also be able to leave this place for you.

Translated quote from Shirareta Sekai 1 – The Return of Layhar, p. 84
NameNagata Kazuto 永多和人
Age21 / 22
Year of BirthThe year of the Fire Dragon, 丙辰 hinoe-tatsu
Country of BirthGinkoku
ProfessionTea master
FamilyHana (sister)
Kurai (father) †
Sakura (mother) †
Nene (grandmother) †
ReligionBelief in nature deities,
especially the goddess of the Afterlife

Kazuto was Character of the Month July 2020 in the Zilverboekenclub on Facebook. Get to know him a little better in the interview:

My name is Kazuto.

I am 21 years old and belong to the highest class of society, that of the bushi, but within that class I have a low rank. In my village there are two bushi families, my own, and the bookseller's. In practice, our rank is hardly noticeable; they need the bookshop to make ends meet and we have the teahouse. In these peaceful times, only our rights distinguish us from the rest; although it remains to be seen how long peace will remain now that war has broken out in the South. My father fought in his younger years when our warlord wanted to expand his domain or suppress rebellious peasants, but thank goodness I myself never had to. I prefer to focus on the teahouse and the tea ceremony I learned from my grandmother. Meanwhile, my 19-year-old sister Hana handles the finances while our father drinks his days away.

The kind of being I am / what I look like

I'm a human; my skin is tinted and the color of my hair and eyes is dark brown. Instead of the more respectable bushi haircut, I usually tie my hair into a simple top knot. That saves me visits to the barber and money I could better spend elsewhere. My kimono and hakama are also simple. I don't really care about looking important. If necessary, everyone can recognize my class by the two swords I carry: a katana and wakizashi.

The world I live in looks like this

I live in a village called Rinzaimura at the border of Ginkoku, a human empire. It's built in a valley close to the mountain where the children of the three villages surrounding it receive primary education in the temple. In the woods you can find good plants for tea, so I often hike there with my sister. She can use the walks to practice her magic in secret; as a woman she's not allowed to learn more than the basics. Near the village lies the mountain pass that leads to our Northern neighbor Ōkoku, a kingdom where different races used to co-exist. Now they're a human land as well, after brutally removing their own magical population; to think that they once felt so morally superior because everyone was "welcome" in their land. If there's anything I can't stand, it's such hypocrisy.

What do you want most / what is your biggest desire?

My biggest desire is to live peacefully and happily in my own teahouse where I can pour tea for my customers and hopefully one day my children. More than anything, I want to live without the fears that haunt me and the memories that keep me awake. I don't want to be dependant on my sister for the food that fills my stomache; if the meals aren't prepared by her, my body rejects them. It's quite inconvenient, I know. I just wouldn't know how to change that. Ideally, I'd see my problems melt away like snow under the sun. O well, I suppose that's too much to ask for... For now I'd settle for that teahouse.

Name a quality you're proud of or one you're embarrassed about

Something I'm proud of ... To be honest, I can't think of anything. I'm a pretty good tea master, but I still have so much to learn, so I can't really be proud of it. On the other hand, there are plenty of things I'm embarrassed about. At the top of that list is my own dependency. My problems have forced my sister to stay in our village for seven years, despite her feelings of suffocation, and I'm still not one step closer to a solution. I am a burden to her; she has never said that out loud, but I'm sure she feels that way.

Against whom or what are you opposed in this story? Who or what is working against you?

My biggest enemy is my own head. Sometimes it feels as though I'm a walking ghost, as if my soul never left the cave where all this misery began. Nothing terrifies me more than the thought of ending up in there again. That fear ... it's paralyzing. As a warrior and my father's son, I should know no fear, but it fills my head until there's almost no room for anything else. Outside my head, however, it's not much better; out in the open, wide world, I feel so vulnerable. Anything can happen. Any step can be fatal.

What can a reader learn from your story?

It's good to accept what you can't influence or change, but don't let it paralyze you. I have been stifled by fear for years. The fear of dying and as a result even the fear of living. If I stay within the safety of my house, no one can harm me; or so I thought. But that safety and control are illusions. Everything is impermanent and subject to time and randomness. Life forces us to make choices; we will never be sure in advance how those choices will turn out, and we don't get a second chance. Nevertheless, we must choose. We must keep moving forward even as the world threatens to crumble down around us. Life does not wait for us; time will never take a break. So, stumble, get up and keep moving forward. Cherish your loved ones, your emotions and experiences. And live.

Kazuto appears in the following books:

  • Shirareta Sekai 1 – The Return of Layhar
  • Shirareta Sekai 2 – The Choice of Amar

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