“Does there seem to be anything here?”
“There were no signs of that.”
Nishihara came to a stop at the stair landing where the corpse had been found and he asked Hiroto the question. But when he heard Hiroto’s negative answer, he made a slightly disappointed face. Hiroto started to worry that Nishihara had also started to get an interest in ghosts and yōkai, but the latter simply shrugged his shoulders without saying anything in particular and briskly started climbing the stairs again.
“There’s nobody here right now. Even if you ask me if you can look around as you wish, I’ll be coming with you. So don’t thoughtlessly touch things.”
As they reached the shrine grounds Nishihara only said this and seemed to entrust everything else to Hiroto. The latter didn’t ask much about the incident and he continued what he had been doing since the day before. Simple clairvoyance could be done by just looking. Hiroto didn’t try to look particularly pretentious as he shoved his freezing hands into the pockets of his parka and wandered around.
On the relatively cramped shrine grounds, a pair of komainu lion-dog statues were enshrined. However, they didn’t look to be well taken care of and were covered in moss. The trees around had shed their foliage and the shrine gave off a worn-out impression.
“Does this place not have any priests?”
“Well, there is an old priest… but it seems like he doesn’t come out often. I also heard that a part-time-working miko (shrine maiden) comes to sell omamori amulets around the time when people go for their first shrine visit of the New Year.”
Had the priest simply been holding his title without leaving the shrine office or doing practically nothing at all? Even the pavement was cracked with weeds forcefully growing from the crevices. The shrine looked completely abandoned.