Okina, joined by Fuzzy, finally soaks in the waters of Tōgen Hot Springs. Okina reminisces his memories of the hot spring a hundred years ago and how the water's remained as good as before, although back then, the hot spring was crowded with yōkai and was not inactive. Tōgen, on the other hand, plays with Yahiko, bringing him up in the air using her hair, which Yahiko gleefully enjoys.
Hanae calls out for Okina, startling Tōgen. Hanae, who has now changed out of his previously soaked clothes, announces he has brought towels from his home and tells Okina to use them after soaking. Okina expresses his gratitude. Meanwhile, Tōgen blushes upon Hanae's arrival. Fuzzy gets out of the hot spring and, wet from the water, jumps onto the shoulder of Hanae, to his chagrin as he has just changed his clothes. He tells Fuzzy that he'll dry him off but Fuzzy jumps into the water again. Tōgen, still playing with Yahiko, continues to stare at Hanae while blushing all the while. Haruitsuki, now back with the group, notices it and addresses her, which gets the attention of Hanae. Haruitsuki states that Tōgen seems to recognize Ashiya and asks if they have met before. Tōgen, still blushing, starts to speak but does not continue.The fish-like creature at the tip of Tōgen's hair suddenly speaks and asks Ashiya if he does not remember Tōgen, surprising Hanae and Haruitsuki. Haruitsuki remarks that the creature seem to be a separate yōkai from Tōgen. Hanae is surprised that the fish isn't one with Tōgen. The fish affirms Haruitsuki's remark while setting down Yahiko. The fish introduces as Kowaku and states that it has been allowed to haunt Tōgen. Kowaku adds that despite being a separate yōkai from Tōgen, they are practically one body and soul. It states that they wouldn't be able hear Tōgen's voice and so it shall speak for her. Hanae then proceeds to tell Kowaku that no matter how much he tries to remember, he is quite sure that it is his first time meeting Tōgen and coming to her hot spring. Tōgen speaks in her mind and tells Hanae he is wrong and that she is certain he is the Ashiya she met before. Kowaku echoes her thoughts. Tōgen, through Kowaku, adds that his presence and smell prove this, and that not many humans can see yōkai. Tōgen glances at Hanae and says that Hanae's face and voice do seem a little different. Hanae and Haruitsuki look at each other and appear to have a wordless communication, with Hanae nodding at Haruitsuki.
Hanae addresses Tōgen and tells her that it seems the Ashiya she met was not him, which confuses Tōgen. He further adds that his name is Hanae Ashiya and that the Ashiya she claims to have met was probably his father. Yahiko interrupts him and finishes his sentence for him. Yahiko tells Tōgen that it was probably Sakae Ashiya, a person with the same name as Hanae. Yahiko also suddenly transforms into him, surprising Tōgen, Kowaku, Haruitsuki and Hanae. Yahiko teases Hanae, asking if his sudden transformation scared him again. But Hanae only answers that he's gotten used to it already despite showing a little discomfort. Yahiko gets a bit disappointed. Tōgen stares at Sakae-Yahiko, scowls and looks at his face in different angles until she blushingly releases him. Kowaku voices that it is precisely the face of the Ashiya Tōgen has met. Hanae processes this new information. Yahiko reverts to his fox form and declares he's soaking in the hot springs, too.
Tōgen tells Hanae that she sensed they were similar but he is not the Ashiya she met. She adds that Sakae saved her before when she nearly disappeared. Haruitsuki asks Tōgen to elaborate her story. Hanae looks surprised hearing Sakae has saved a yōkai and also requests Tōgen to tell him more about Sakae saving Tōgen. She proceeds to tell the story. Back then, Kowaku was not yet haunting her and she was watching over the hot springs alone. She adds that she met Sakae over a winter when heavy snows buried her waters.The water of the springs was tepid and that it would not warm yōkai who seek to get out of the freezing cold. Tōgen decided to heat the waters before it got any colder. While she was using her powers to heat the hot spring, an avalanche came from the mountains and buried the hot spring and Tōgen, with only her hand above the snow. Cold and too frozen to move, Tōgen was desperate for help. Tōgen tried to call out for help but her voice was too faint for anyone to hear. Before her hand was also buried in the snow, someone grabbed it and digged through the snow to pull her out. Frozen and almost disappearing, Tōgen's savior told her to not disappear.
Back in the present time, Kowaku narrates the rest: how Sakae brought Tōgen up out of the snow and gave her his clothes for protection. With Sakae's help, Tōgen regained her health by sunrise the next day. Kowaku adds that since then, Tōgen never forgot Sakae. Kowaku comments on her innocence. The story dumbfounds Hanae. Tōgen and Kowaku notice. Kowaku asks Hanae why he seems surprised. Hanae answers that it's because the Sakae in their story was different from the Sakae he had been imagining. Tōgen glances at Hanae, seemingly curious but Hanae just smiles at her. Hanae thinks to himself that he cannot believe that the Sakae who used his Influence to banish yōkai had also been worried about another enough to save her from danger and that they're like two different people.
Fuzzy suddenly gets out of the water, steaming. Okina tells Hanae that Fuzzy stayed in the hot spring too long, alarming Hanae. Haruitsuki only wonders if Fuzzy is melting. Hanae frantically fans Fuzzy with a towel. Okina, now also out of the water, rejoices at how his hips feel better. Yahiko tells him that he can now play with him again.Kowaku tells Haruitsuki that neither Kowaku nor Tōgen wishes to go to the Underworld. Tōgen stares at Hanae. She ponders on Hanae's being an Ashiya but an Ashiya different from Sakae. She notes that she understands it. Tōgen mutters the name Ashiya, with Sakae on her mind. Hanae hears and addresses the voice who called him, surprising Tōgen. Hanae looks confused after finding no one apparently called him. He asks Okina if someone just called him, adding that he thought it was Haruitsuki but he is in the middle of a conversation with Kowaku and Tōgen, who he tells that if they change their mind about going to the Underworld, they should notify him. Kowaku teasingly asks Haruitsuki if he would like to try being haunted by Kowaku. Okina answers Hanae that no one said his name. Hanae then wonders if he just imagined it. Tōgen realizes that Hanae really did hear her voice, and blushes, for it is a whisper too quiet for anyone to notice. Tōgen notes that he's so much like Sakae in that way, too. The hot spring boils, forcing Yahiko to finally get out of the waters due to the heat.
Yahiko massages Okina's back and asks him if he's good at it. Okina tells him that he is very good. Okina states that since he came all the way to the hot spring, he wishes to stay for two or three days and invites Yahiko to join him. Yahiko agrees. Haruitsuki hears them and declares that they will be going already. He and Hanae bows before Tōgen and Kowaku. Kowaku tells them to come back soon. Kowaku addresses Hanae. Tōgen bows before him and Kowaku, echoing Tōgen, tells him to tell Sakae that Tōgen says she will continue to take good care of the body he saved, surprising Hanae. Hanae appears disturbed but he smilingly tells Tōgen that he'll deliver her message. Tōgen smiles back in gratitude. Hanae, Haruitsuki, and Fuzzy finally leave the hot springs.Back in the Mononokean, Hanae tells Haruitsuki that he never thought Sakae would do something like save a yōkai, baffling Haruitsuki. Hanae clarifies that he only had a negative impression of Sakae before and thought of him as a cold-hearted person. This makes Tōgen's story surprising. Hanae wonders if the Sakae who Tōgen meet was actually Aoi in disguise and asks Haruitsuki if he thinks the same. Haruitsuki notes to himself that Hanae looks like he has lost his mind.. Haruitsuki tells him that it is possible but reiterates that Tōgen mistook Hanae for Sakae for his presence and smell, making it not possible that it was Aoi who Tōgen met. Hanae considers it and finally accepts that it was indeed the real Sakae. Haruitsuki adds that the story isn't particularly hard to believe as it aligns to Sakae being an employee of the Mononokean. This sends Hanae into a frenzy, remembering that Sakae was an employee of the Mononokean, and, clearly looking relieved, adds that helping yōkai was a part of his duties. Haruitsuki notes to himself that Hanae has returned to his senses..
Hanae wonders whether Sakae was not as bad as he thought but he is still bothered about why Sakae attacked yōkai using his Influence.
Characters in Order of Appearance
Characters in bold denote the characters' first proper appearance.
- Hanae Ashiya
- Haruitsuki Abeno
- Sakae Ashiya (mentioned, transformed into by Yahiko, flashback)
- Hanae finds out that Sakae has saved a yōkai before, contrary to his belief that Sakae hates yōkai.
- The kanji "䨮" is the character for "snow" while "解" is the character for "solution, understanding, unravel."
|Volume 1||Volume 2||Volume 3||Volume 4|
|1 • 2 • 3 • 4||5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9||10 • 11 • 12 • 13||14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18|
|Volume 5||Volume 6||Volume 7||Volume 8|
|19 • 20 • 21 • 22 • 23||24 • 25 • 26 • 27 • 28||29 • 30 • 31 • 32 • 33||34 • 35 • 36 • 37 • 38 • 39|
|Volume 9||Volume 10||Volume 11||Volume 12|
|40 • 41 • 42 • 43 • 44 • 45||46 • 47 • 48 • 49 • 50 • 50.5||51 • 52 • 53 • 54 • 55||56 • 57 • 58 • 59 • 60|
|Volume 13||Volume 14||Volume 15||Not yet in tankōbon|
|61 • 62 • 63 • 64 • 65||66 • 67 • 68 • 69 • 70||71 • 72 • 73 • 74 • 75 • 76||77|