"Notes on Reading 'The Convenience Store of Worries'"

Speaking of "The Convenience Store of Worries," I believe everyone should be familiar with it. A while ago, the movie adaptation of "The Convenience Store of Worries" was released, so you might have some understanding of it. I learned about this book before that.

In my sophomore year of high school, I first came into contact with the Japanese writer Keigo Higashino. He is a detective novelist. At first, I wasn't very sensitive to detective novels, but influenced by the atmosphere in my class, I started reading his novels. One day, I borrowed "The Convenience Store of Worries." It was my first time speed-reading it because I was short on time. The most obvious feeling it gave me was that this novel was different from his other novels. It is a novel about life, emotions, and complex relationships filled with human emotions.

On my second read, after watching the Japanese version of the movie adaptation of "The Convenience Store of Worries," I bought the book and read it carefully.

The novel is told in a reverse chronological and flashback manner, starting with the unsuccessful elopement of Yujin Namiki and the headmistress of Maruko Garden, Akiko Higashizuki, and then unfolding their respective lives. The characters in the story are all intricately connected to Maruko Garden Orphanage and the convenience store.

The story begins in the present timeline, where the male protagonist and his friends kidnap a woman and, while escaping, their car breaks down, forcing them to spend the night in an uninhabited store. The magical story unfolds from there. Here, they can connect with the past world through a mailbox, and people from the past can send letters to the future to seek advice. Later, they learn that this place used to be the Namiki Convenience Store, mainly focused on providing advice.

The story, told in reverse chronological order, shows us the relationship between the past and the future, with interconnected characters. Overall, it can be introduced using the relationship diagram below (from the internet):

After the three of them arrive at the convenience store, they write letters to people from the past and help them a lot. For example, they help a musician from a fish store realize his music dream. However, during another charity performance at the orphanage (Maruko Garden), a fire breaks out, and he sacrifices himself to save the younger brother of Seon Hara. Seon Hara repays him by writing lyrics for the melody he left behind, which became "Rebirth." Afterwards, the three of them introduce the lost dog to the economic bubble of the 1990s and teach her how to overcome difficulties. Towards the end of the story, we learn that the person they kidnapped is the same person they helped by writing a letter that night. And that person was also an orphan from Maruko Garden, who decided to rebuild the orphanage to repay it. However, the three of them mistakenly believe that he wants to turn Maruko Garden into a hotel, so they kidnapped her.

The story is long and tightly logical. The complex relationships are ultimately all connected to the orphanage. And the orphanage has a relationship with the convenience store's old man. The three of them spend the night in that room on the thirty-third anniversary of the old man's death (Yujin Namiki's son and father, Yujin, agreed to announce the revival of Namiki Convenience Store on the day of his father's thirty-third memorial ceremony, and his grandson, Shungo Namiki, fulfilled the promise of his grandfather and great-grandfather).

At the end of the story, the old Namiki grandfather from the past writes a letter back to the three of them in the present. "If the people who come to consult me are compared to lost lambs, they usually have a map in their hands but don't look at it or don't know their current location." "Your map is a blank piece of paper, so even if you want to decide on a destination, you don't know where the road is." "But from a different perspective, precisely because it's a blank piece of paper, you can freely draw a map and everything is up to you. For you, everything is freely and infinitely possible. That's a wonderful thing." That was his last letter. Seeing this, I think of myself, am I a blank piece of paper? Even if it's just a blank piece of paper, I will have unlimited possibilities to create the future.

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