「 We just have two loaves, I don’t think we can sample it here 」
I say while looking at the bread inside the plastic bag while we head to the next bakery.
Each one costs 2700 yen after all.
Katsuko-nee ordered this.
「 We should bring this back home and give it to Katsuko-san 」
「 Still, the bakery here is quite harsh in their business 」
Mariko says while looking at her phone.
「 Only one person does everything. Not just manufacturing but even packing and shipping. That’s why she only makes it once a week 」
「 So that’s why the price is expensive and the subscription goes for two years already 」
「 That’s not good. If you have two years’ worth of reservation and you’re doing it alone, that means that you can’t take a rest, right? 」
Kudou-papa says while driving.
「 Yeah, that’s true. You have to guarantee that you bake it every week and ship it 」
Just the thought of it makes me shiver.
「 Then, if she puts on a schedule where she takes a rest at a specific time, then I think they’ll accept it, right? 」
Kana-senpai said, but…
「 You can plan that but what about if you get injured or something? Single trouble will kick you out right away 」
Doing a shop alone means that.
「 Besides, you can reserve for now but you might forget about it in two years 」
「 Then, you send a mail to confirm the order once the reserved date is approaching, right? 」
「 But still, it’s two years. Who knows, the mail address might change in that time 」
「 True, you can move residence, get married, or get divorced in that time 」
Kana-senpai and Mariko are having that conversation.
「 Anyway, I understand her enthusiasm in mastering her own pastry, doing everything by herself with great care, but… 」
I look at the pastry and sense it.
You can see that she poured her soul to make her best pastry.
「 But, I shouldn’t make that my goal 」
「 Why? Nobu 」
「 I mean, if I do it this way, I can’t support the family 」
「 Yes. Doing everything…alone means that there will be a production limit…despite pricing it expensively 」
「 If we can’t make a lot, that won’t make a profit 」
Maybe that old lady can provide for the livelihood of her family, but…
I have a bigger family to support.
「 True. You have to increase the numbers. There is a limit in burst size so she can sell it at a high price due to the rarity value 」
「 I don’t like it in that sense but that bakery in the upscale residential district earlier is also a business 」
「 That one can open up two or three more shops 」
「 Right. The owner picks the pastries to sell…and in that shop, as long as you know the general method on making pastries, then anyone can do it 」
The difference would be the ingredients and the equipment like ovens and such.
That’s what sets them apart from other restaurants in terms of taste.
「 However, only that lady can make this bread we just bought now 」
She made it from years of study and experience.
It’s not a specialized bakery, it’s made from a regular home. I’m sure that she’s selective in the materials she uses but I think that she only uses ordinary equipment and such.
「 I think…she finely tunes…depending on the air temperature…and level of humidity 」
「 Such changes can transform your product 」
「 What does the previous shop do with that? 」
「 The shop from earlier has their bakery air-conditioned and the temperature and humidity are constant all year round 」
Thus, they can bake bread in the same conditions throughout the year.
「 That also applies in our bakery 」
「 Oh. So that’s why there’s a door between the counter area in the cafeteria and the bakery. It’s always closed down come to think of it 」
「 Oh well. Anyway, now that we understand that there’s also a bakery of this extreme case. That’s good enough, right? 」
Mariko summarizes it.
「 Yeah, let’s go to the third bakery 」
The third one isn’t that far off from the second one it seems.
◇ ◇ ◇
「 This is… 」
We get off the car after parking.
「 Yeah. Well, no matter how you look at it that’s a street bakery 」
Kana-senpai’s right, this shop is a small bakery in the middle of the shopping district.
The sunlight goes through the glass and illuminates the shop’s interior.
The building seems to be a bit worn out but you can see that they clean it properly.
「 Oh, the elementary school is just around the corner so the shopping district here is quite lively 」
Mariko’s right, I can see an elementary school campus right ahead of us.
That’s why there’s a lot of children accompanied by housewives.
「 Anyway, let’s go in 」
We entered the shop.
「 Oh, this pastry is cute 」
Mariko immediately saw an animal face pastry and said.
「 Nobu, we’re going to pick three each in this shop too? 」
Kana-senpai is already holding tongs.
「 Yeah. You can pick three or even four 」
The price costs the same as other ordinary bakeries.
Starting from 100 yen and the expensive ones cost 300 yen
「 I want to try this out 」
Ai took one.
「 Yomi-oneesama, what do you think? I think this is good 」
Haiji and Yomi are picking their pastries too.
They were having a hard time picking in the expensive bakery earlier.
It’s because each of them is expensive.
This one has ordinary prices so they pick at ease.
「 Kou, I want this and this 」
「 Nobu, I like this three 」
「 I…like this 」
「 Yomi-oneesama and I want this 」
They had their picks in no time.
I also pick some and then buy them all.
Oh, this shop has a good atmosphere that everyone’s smiling.
「 Onii-san, you’re paying for them all? 」
The shop employee, a lady in ’40s seem surprised.
「 Yes, I’ll pay for them all 」
「 What’s this, a punishment game? 」
「 No, that’s not it 」
Does it seem weird that the only male is buying the pastries the women picked?
Oh well. Even buying all of this, it’s still cheaper compared to the previous purchases.
「 Nobu, get some drinks too. I want to drink some milk with this pastry 」
Kana-senpai points at the drinks in the refrigerator on the cashier.
Oh, they have milk and juice in cartons.
「 Sure. Just pick whatever you like. I want coffee milk 」
「 Okay. Nobu, this one 」
「 I hardly drink beverage encased like this but… 」
Mariko, the young lady, doesn’t drink milk from a carton.
Oh right, Misuzu did mention that they don’t have vending machines in their school.
They only have a milk bar in their cafeteria, it has cups in saucers and black tea.
「 If you haven’t tried it yet then why don’t you test it now? 」
「 Then, I’ll pick the same as Kou’s 」
「 Me too 」
「 Uhm, there’s no drinks like this in other countries 」
「 Oh, they have cafe au lait but not coffee milk? 」
「 What’s the difference? 」
「 Cafe au Lait… puts milk in coffee… but coffee milk… is milk with coffee flavor? 」
「 Not just coffee flavored but they also add a lot of sugar 」
「 Well, try it out. It’s much more delicious than ordinary carton milk. I think that when it comes to milk, you only drank the fresh and delicious kind 」
「 Oh well. Let’s buy coffee milk for Kudou-san too 」
My money was somehow enough for all of it.
I don’t think that this shop accepts cards at all.
I’m glad I brought a lot of cash.
「 Here you go. Thanks for the purchase, Onii-san 」
The shop lady told us and we left.
Hmmm. This is just an ordinary shop from top to toe.
「 Oh, it seems that this bakery is in one of the “Tokyo delicious bakeries” articles. It’s in the 14th spot 」
Kana-senpai looked at her phone and told us.
「 They don’t use anything special but the deliciousness never change, or so the article says 」
「 Still, picking the 14th ranked, Katsuko-san must’ve wanted to show this to Kou by all means 」
Mariko looked at me.
「 Oh, welcome back. Nice, that smells good 」
Kudou-papa says as we enter the minivan.
「 Compared to the first bakery, this freshly baked pastry smells great 」
「 That’s because the first and second one put each piece into a single plastic bag 」
「 In this shop, they put everything into small paper bags unless it sticks to it 」
「 They make you eat it before it becomes stiff 」
「 Well, let’s try it out 」
Kana-senpai opens the pack inside the car.
「 Here, coffee milk for you, Kudou-san 」
I hand over the carton.
「 Oh, if only I have a red bean paste bread then I would be that lookout in detective dramas 」
「 We do have that 」
I open the paper bag that has the red bean paste bread. I picked this one so it doesn’t matter if I give Kudou-papa this.
「 Oh, then I’ll take one 」
「 Look at this Kou, this turtle-shaped bread is so cute. Its eyes are raisins 」
Mariko shows me the pastry she picked with a smile.
「 This is also cute 」
Haiji also displays the bear-shaped pastry. It has a face drawn in chocolate.
「 Here, you stretch the straw and stab it here 」
Kana-senpai teaches Mariko how to drink from the carton.
「 Oh, that’s interesting 」
「 Okay, now let’s eat 」
I take a bite.
Hmm, this is springy and delicious.
「 Oh, this is delicious. It has a nostalgic taste 」
「 Oh, this is great with their coffee milk. Delicious 」
「 Really? I don’t think that it’s bad but it’s not that delicious 」
「 I don’t think that they’re using good wheat flour, do they? 」
「 It’s just ordinary…ordinary flour. They don’t use…anything special…for their ingredients 」
「 Oh, is that so? 」
「 It’s more than ordinary. It’s much more delicious compared to the supermarket or convenience store bread around this area 」
Kana-senpai says sullenly.
「 I don’t eat that “ordinary bread” so I don’t know. What do you think, Haiji? 」
Mariko asks Haiji.
「 It’s a very Japanese taste 」
「 This springy texture of this pastry is what I like about Japan. The taste is also different from the European bakery from earlier 」
「 No, I’m not saying that they’re bad. But, we’re in Japan. Ever since coming to this country, I’ve seen many things from the West arranged to a Japanese style. I thought that the Japanese people just like those kinds of pastry 」
「 Is it that different? 」
「 Yes, it is 」
「 The Japanese people have been eating bread for more than a century now but it seems that the bread eating culture has never really caught on Japan 」
「 The start was during the Meiji era, the military eats it. When it’s rice, you need to cook it first before eating, right? You’ll need fuel too, and once it’s turned into a meal, you have to make it a rice ball and carry it with you. It takes a long time. It freezes over the northern district. But, if it’s bread, then it’s perfect for the troops to carry, see? You can eat it without cooking, and it’s light, and it lasts long 」
「 But, that didn’t work out. Japanese people from the past can’t gain energy unless they eat rice, or should I say that It seems like they had an experiment where they created a unit that ate a complete Western diet, eating only bread, but the soldiers went one step closer to a revolt, asking to “let us eat rice.” At that time, the unit commander’s office bought rice with his own money and cooked rice for the soldiers and that’s when they calmed down
「 They love rice that much? 」
「 Hmm. Back in those days, they talk about how soldiers get to eat a lot of white rice if you join them. Making them eat bread means that it’s different from what was promised to them. During the Russo-Japanese War, many soldiers died of vitamin-deficient beriberi because they ate white rice all the time. …… That’s because Mori Ogai, the military physician general, thought beriberi was an epidemic, and there is an opinion that if they had been fed brown rice, then they wouldn’t have had such a bad experience. …… In fact, if they had fed brown rice to the troops at that time, there would have been a mutiny that would have demanded they be fed white rice 」
「 Well, it’s a baseless story but still, the actual problem is that it wasn’t until after world war one that they established the tech to distribute the insufficient vitamin B1 in large quantity as a drug. They couldn’t do anything with the problem until then
「 Let’s put the rice stories aside. What about the bread? 」
「 Well, that’s it, the Japanese people treat bread only as a snack before the war, and not as a staple food. It’s served in a cafe and other places but it’s not something an average person would eat every day. It wasn’t until after the war that bread was served in elementary school lunches due to the influence of America. Before the war, nobody eats bread at lunch. So, when you start a bread-eating lifestyle as a kid, you’ll start taking bread as meals more often 」
「 But, bread is still not a staple food even now, is it? You can settle down with bread on mornings or evenings but it doesn’t seem like something that will fill you up during lunch 」
「 That’s true. Even the bakery just now serve mostly sweet bread, those you eat for snacks 」
「 Oh, I see. I get it now 」
「 It was hard to choose at the first bakery because everyone’s was a bit tight. They look like a staple food. That’s why when we sampled them earlier; it was hard to finish just one piece 」
But, for the third one…
Everyone ate the whole piece without problems.
「 This has enough size. This is indeed pastry suited for the Japanese people 」
I muttered while looking at the bread in my hand.
「 I..uhm…if Yoshida-kun and I…were to open a bakery with just the two of us… 」
Ai looks at the tiny bakery in the shopping district from earlier.
「 I want to do it like that 」
Inside the store has housewives with their children buying pastries.
It’s an ordinary bakery, loved by the people in this town.
「 But, Ai and Yoshida-kun….can’t make a store like that 」
「 That shop…it’s a family business…there might be some helpers, but…the people making and baking the pastry…is just two to three people 」
Looking at the scale of the shop, that’s likely to be true.
「 Those people are skilled, so their pastries are delicious 」
「 Yeah, I think so too 」
「 But, they have a limit 」
「 Yoshida-kuun…we’re learning a lot from Katsuko-san, don’t we? 」
「 That shop…. only uses normal ingredients… because of budget constraints…they make it the ordinary way…and sell it at a normal price 」
「 Yeah, I think so too 」
「 We…try out a lot of ingredients with Katsuko-san…including expensive…flours, and rare yeast… 」
「 Oh, you’re right 」
Katsuko-nee teaches us about various materials.
Then, she teaches us the methods of using it finely.
「 Thus…our bakery sells regular pastry and some special ones mixed in…and we know how people react when they eat it 」
Our bakery is still just our training in the end.
We don’t need to make a profit strictly.
Therefore, we can sell pastries made from expensive ingredients with prices that aren’t much different from the others.
Well, it’s students who buy it so we can’t do anything about that.
「 If we…if we’re to open a store like that…we won’t be… able to use such ingredients
If we’re opening a bakery that blends with the ordinary people in the street…
「 But, Ai and Yoshida-kun…we don’t want to use ordinary wheat flour in our pastry…right? 」
We know how delicious pastries with expensive ingredients are.
「 So…if we were to be employed in the first bakery, the high-end one…we can learn how they make pastries in that bakery…but I don’t think that we’ll learn anything else…the manager decides everything in that place…and the staff only do what they’re told to do 」
They won’t let us do research and suggest a new product.
I mean, I would be busy filling up my quota of bread to place on the shelves.
「 This is why…I think it’s a good lesson…for us 」
「 I know…what kind of wheat this bread is made of..how long it takes to make it…how much it costs…all of it 」
「 Yeah, me too. Katsuko-nee did train us every day 」
The price of each ingredient we use and the efficient process we use…
She teaches us every day.
「 Yoshida-kuun…the bakery we’re making…isn’t like that one 」
Ai points at the small bakery in the shopping district.
「 It’s not like the high-class bakery we were in first, and it’s not a shop where one does everything alone like the second… 」
「 Yeah, that’s true 」
「 Then, Nobu and Ai, what kind of bakery do you want to create? 」
「 That’s…we don’t know yet 」
「 What’s with that? You’ve gone and said that far but you don’t know yet? 」
Mariko blames Ai.
「 We don’t know for now..but, Katsuko-san told us…to not hold a concrete image of what kind…of the shop, we will create 」
「 Yeah, Katsuko-nee sent us to have a tour over the bakeries to study from them 」
「 It’s not like we’re going to make the three bakeries our objective. We looked at the various formats of bakeries and use it as food for thought for what kind of store we want to build. That’s why she showed us three extreme examples 」
It’s to teach Ai and my skills and knowledge.
It makes us think of the specifics of the bakery.
「 Right. If you look at it from a business standpoint, then the three of them are interesting 」
「 But, it’s not enough 」
It’s not enough.
「 On the first shop, you call it a high-class bakery but for me, it’s just a mass-market bakery pretending to be high-class. The second one has an amazing baker but it won’t suffice as a business. And as for the third one, they’re cute for the common people but it lacks the taste for me
That’s because Mariko’s a young lady.
「 As for me, I thought that the first bakery was lovely but you’re right, after hearing your opinion, I can only see it as a shop that put on airs. The second one is an amazing baker but it’s too expensive for me that I will never buy it. As for the third one, I like how cute it is and I think that it’s delicious. But, I don’t want Nobu and I to make that kind of shop 」
You don’t want us to do it?
「 After all, I want you to be a bit more ambitious. A bakery in the neighborhood is loved by the locals but isn’t that a bit lacking? 」
Lacking. The two used the same line.
「 Should we visit another one? 」
Mariko, what another one?
「 I want Kou to try out some pastries 」
Mariko said, then faced Kudou-papa on the driver’s seat.
「 Let’s go to “Hotel Astral Tokyo” 」
「 Oh, the foreign company high-class hotel? 」
「 Yes. They do have pastries over there too 」
Mariko smiled at me.