Takashi is a young and popular university student who has fallen in love with his stylish and sophisticated friend Haruka. She is sweet and kind and adores shopping for high-end Japanese and Western brands.
Every week, they meet up in the heart of Tokyo, enjoying each other’s company, and for Takashi, life is perfect. But the path to true love is never easy. When Takashi discovers that Haruka is seeing her wealthy ex-boyfriend from Kyoto, his life begins to turn upside down.
This coming of age story traces the lives of Takashi and Haruka and their friends as they deal with young love and the ups and downs of growing up in Tokyo – truly one of the most stylish, energetic and exhilarating cities in the world.
Read the first few pages of TOKYO HEARTS or go to www.renaelucashall.com to read the complete first chapter:
That which comes from the heart will go to the heart
It was the last tempestuous Thursday in July when Takashi discovered the difference between the type of girl that a boy could like and the type of woman that a man could love…
The whole of Tokyo was heaving from the combination of heavy rain and sweltering humidity. Takashi climbed the slippery stairs to the café where he would soon meet up with Haruka and hoped that the summer rainy season would end this week. His light, waterproof jacket had helped him brave the elements that day but his jeans were now soaked and clinging uncomfortably to his legs. His wet hair was dripping down the back of his neck.
Takashi was a good looking young man. He had big eyes, the colour of dark chocolate. His hair was dead straight, very short and as black as ink. The bridge of his nose was a bit flat and his nostrils were small. His skin was clear yet there was a slight puffiness around his eyes that spoke of long hours studying in a smoky and cramped apartment. Takashi was particularly proud of his mid-ear sideburns which added balance to his face. Not many Japanese men could boast of having sideburns as thick as his. He always made sure they were the right shape and length after every shave. He was also kind and honest and considered himself to be a proper gentleman. He’d learnt from watching the occasional American black-and-white movie, featuring Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire, how to open the door for a lady, pull out her chair at a table and even how to expertly use a knife and fork.
Takashi shook himself dry at the entrance inside the café. After sitting down on the closest lounge next to the door he flicked out a Mild Seven cigarette, cocking his head as he lit it. Inhaling and exhaling deeply on every puff, he thought about the phone call he’d had with Haruka’s father on Monday. He’d told Takashi that Haruka was out having lunch with her ex-boyfriend from Kyoto. She’d mentioned to him in past conversation that she had a friend in Kyoto but Takashi clearly remembered her saying that he was only a friend. Thinking about this ex-boyfriend made Takashi nervous as he waited for Haruka to arrive. It bothered him that she’d never referred to her friend in Kyoto as an ex-boyfriend in the past. He’d met Haruka at university and the combination of her good looks and sincerity had really impressed Takashi from the start. There’d never been any secrets between them.
She’d had plenty of opportunities to mention this ex-boyfriend to him years ago in their lectures where they’d often whispered behind cupped hands, not wanting to attract the lecturer’s attention, as they’d shared their likes and dislikes, their dreams and disappointments. He thought to himself that she’d had more than enough time to say something about him at the university cafeteria where they’d spent hour upon hour discussing their past, present and future. She’d also had the opportunity to talk about him during many of their phone calls over the years.
From the moment Takashi had first met Haruka she’d always been straight with him. She’d never come across as a person that would mislead others. At university, if someone was friendly towards her, only because they’d wanted to borrow her lecture notes, she’d never got too close to them. During team building exercises Haruka would always complete more than her share of work. She’d arrive early to meet up with the group, full of ideas, holding reams of paper typed up with the expected composition for their reports, ready to assist any others who couldn’t cope and even help complete her friends’ assignments if they couldn’t deal with the workload. Other team members would phone at the last minute with a variety of poor well-rehearsed excuses but this had never been Haruka’s style. Yes, she’d always been honest with Takashi and everyone that they’d known, so Takashi had to ask himself again, why had she never mentioned this ex-boyfriend?
Haruka would soon be by his side and Takashi was keen to have a conversation with her about past boyfriends. They’d arranged to meet every Thursday at 6:30pm in this same café in Omotesando for the last three weeks. A month ago, Takashi had spent an hour walking through Harajuku and Omotesando looking for the perfect place to meet up with her. He hadn’t wanted to meet her somewhere that was too busy or too quiet. He’d finally decided on a café close to Omotesando’s subway exit. It was easy to find above the clothing boutiques Sisley and Morgan de Toi. He thought that it was important to find a café in this area because Haruka adored shopping and clearly loved her brands like most young Japanese girls.
Takashi was quite pleased with himself for finding this chic meeting spot. Café hors et dans was its name. He’d learnt from Haruka the week before that this was French for “Inside and Out Coffee shop”. At the top of the stairs was an open-air area paved in stone with eleven tables and two benches set out to welcome customers on warm and sultry evenings. On those drier nights, his favourite place to sit was at one of the counters outside on the balcony overlooking the street below. From there he could look out and see Haruka approach from the train station or step out from one of the shops nearby. Most of the famous boutiques had transparent front windows and on clearer days Takashi could clearly see inside them. Fendi, Celine, Gucci, Hanae Mori, Shu Uemura and Emporio Armani were some of the international brands displayed along this famous shopping strip.
Four weeks ago, when he’d first entered this café, he’d instantly known that Haruka would like it. The interior was stylish, the customers were all well dressed and very sophisticated and the staff seemed attentive yet not intrusive. It interested him that this café was most often filled almost entirely with young fashionistas. There were usually two types of trends here, both blending in well with each other, each respecting the other for their individual style. Those that came from Omotesando, dressed in the subtle shades of Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons. The other set, those that wore individual pieces that they had picked up in the markets of Harajuku – their clothes were brash, their jewellery outlandish and no one could help but look at them. It was not only their appearance that screamed look at me; it was the confidence in their voices and their shrill shrieks that said that they believed they were the future.