Chapter Twenty: The Last Emperor:

July 21st, 1994.

The summer of 1994 brought a huge change to Daisuke and Anna. By this time, the young man grew bored with his current life and ached for a change. He didn’t expect to get his wish so soon that year. It all started with a new job offer. His boss called him in to talk to him about a little change in the staff.

“Tokyo?” the young man asked his employer in his office on that day.

“That is correct,” the older gentleman said at his desk. “Tokyo University is looking new teaching assistants and I suggested you.” The young man quickly bowed his head as he saw a new opportunity for his life.

“Of course,” Daisuke quickly replied. “When do I leave?”

“At the end of summer semester,” the employer told. Daisuke quickly bowed at him again. The older man chuckled at his behavior.

“You’re welcome,” he replied. “But just do me one more favor.”

“Yes, sir?” Daisuke asked.

“Please loosen up while you’re in Tokyo,” his employer told him. “You don’t have to be so formal all of the time, okay?” Daisuke gave him a nervous chuckle.

“It’s just an old habit of mine, sir,” he replied. “But I will try my best.”

His employer gave him a proper nod. “That is all, you may return to your classroom.”

“Thank you sir,” the younger man replied. “Excuse me.” He turned and walked out the door. Later that evening after dinner while Anna did her summer homework in the den, Daisuke broke the news to Kato. However, the old man didn’t take too kindly to the plan.

"You're making a terrible mistake!" Kato pleaded to a twenty-nine-year-old Daisuke as he packed up things in the room he shared with Anna.

"No," the younger man argued back. "I already took the job in Tokyo. This will benefit both of us. Besides, Anna-chan and I have to leave this place; it's too boring."

"Boring or not, you are safe in this village!" the older man yelled.

"That's just it," Daisuke pointed out. "It's too safe. Besides, Anna-chan needs to be around kids her age." He reached into the closet and packed away more of his daughter's clothes. Kato watched as his stomach turned.

“What are you going to do about school for Anna-chan?” he asked. “You don’t even have a place to live in Tokyo and you don’t really know anyone there.”

“I will manage,” Daisuke replied without looking up. “I have to try and make it on my own after all anyway.” He zipped up the suitcase and moved onto the next one.

"But what if your mother finds you and her?" he asked desperately. “I won’t be able to protect you and Anna-chan while you’re in Tokyo.” Daisuke shrugged and shook his head. He turned around from the suitcase that he was packing his family's possession into.

"I know," he said. "But I can't keep Anna-chan innocent in this village forever. That's just not right." They knew that Haruka and the family were closing in on them. The younger man hated to think what would happen if she got her hands on her grandchild. He sat down on the futon.

"But," Daisuke finished. "I will wait until August. Anna will be done with classes then. Once she is settled out of school, I'll give her the chance to say goodbye to this place."

Kato nodded despite still being against this whole idea. "Agreed."

The rest of summer semester sailed by for both father and daughter. During this time, Daisuke began plotting out their lives in Tokyo. He thought that he would get a small apartment for him and his daughter to live in, enroll her into a decent school, settle into his new job, and just wing it from there. For now, however he would enjoy the countdown to when he and his daughter would exit Kobe for good. Anna got to graduate on time with her class. After the graduation ceremony, Daisuke broke the news that she and him were moving to Tokyo during the break. His twelve-year-old daughter couldn’t understand this decision.

“But why?” she asked. “What’s wrong with our village?”

“I took a new job in Tokyo,” Daisuke tried to reason with her. “I figured that it would be a nice change in pace for us.”

“But why?” Anna asked, not satisfied with his answer. The man pressed his hands together in a pleading fashion.

“Please?” Daisuke asked. “Do this for me! I really want an escape from this place. Please?” His daughter rolled her eyes and dropped her shoulders.

“Fine,” she grumbled. “But only for you, I suppose.”

Her father smiled and bowed his head. “I thank you so much, you won’t regret this!” That evening, Kato, Daisuke, and Anna sat together for one last meal. The old man still didn’t agree with this whole move.

“I still think that it’s best that you stay in the village,” he whispered in Daisuke’s ear.

“We already went over this,” Daisuke whispered back.

“Is something wrong?” Anna asked over her fried rice.

“Nothing!” both men were quick to say. The girl looked as if she didn’t believe them, but said nothing and went back to eating her dinner.

“Say, sweetheart,” Daisuke spoke up. “Have you said goodbye to everyone yet?”

Anna glanced up at him from her bowl. “Yes, Papa.” Her tone told him, ‘Please let me finish eating.’ Daisuke luckily took the hint and closed his mouth. The next morning, Daisuke and Anna were all packed up to leave. To their surprise, almost everyone from the village came to see them off. They each gave gifts to the departing family for their journey to Tokyo.

“We will miss you!” Kyoko told them. Daisuke offered a nervous laugh in return. This wasn’t exactly how he planned to leave Kobe, but he didn’t complain out of politeness.

“Papa!” Anna shouted at him. “We have to go or we won’t make the bus in time if we’re late!” The man tightened up his resolve.

“Be there in a second!” he called. The man rushed over to his daughter and they headed off for the bus stop one last time. They didn’t speak for the whole time.

“You’ve been to Tokyo before,” Daisuke tried to converse with Anna once again. “It’ll be just like the last time, only a longer stay.”

“Uh-huh,” she said in a flat tone. For reasons that she couldn’t voice aloud, Anna suspected that this move really had absolutely nothing to do with his job. She had to guess that there was a deeper motive involved. But right now, she would have to settle for moving away from the village she called home for the first twelve years of her life and venture out into the busy capital of Japan.