Welcome to Japan!

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Modern Tokyo, Japan

"Are we there yet?" a sulking sixteen-year-old asked. The girl, Katsumi Dubois, had been riding in the car with her mother and father, Tsukihime and Steven Dubois, through the city of Tokyo looking for their new house.

"Almost," her mother said cheerfully. "Isn't it exciting? I haven't been to Japan in ages!"

Normally, Katsumi would have been excited by the prospect of visiting a new place, but that was just the problem. This was not a visit. They were moving here permanently, despite her protests. She had felt a special connection with her home in New Orleans, Louisiana. That city had become a part of her very soul, and it hurt to be apart from it. She didn't want to be ripped away from all of her old friends and family either. While it was true Katsumi was half Japanese because her mother was pure Japanese (which was kind of weird, since her recessive hair and eye colors seemed to defy what she had learned in school about genetics), and this was her mother's homeland, it was also true that Katsumi had no relatives here. Her mother didn't have any remaining family members in Japan as far as she knew. Also, Katsumi was half Cajun-French on her father's side. She looked way more French than Japanese, and because of that, people had been staring at her and her father nonstop ever since they got off the plane. So she had blonde hair, pale skin, and hazel eyes—so what! That didn't mean people could stare at her like she was a freak show. Katsumi had to admit she was a little strange personality-wise, but those people hadn't even said one word to her before they started judging. She even heard some people speculating on whether she was a member of a female gang or not—just because her hair was blonde! Most of them probably thought she didn't understand since she was a foreigner, but her mother had been teaching her to read and write in Japanese ever since she was a toddler. So she understood every irritating word.

"Are you sure this is the right road?" her father asked. "This doesn't sound like the area the real estate agent described."

"I know. It's nicer," her mother said, laughing in a very lady-like manner. Despite her carefree attitude, Katsumi's mother had always been known for her grace. She had an air about her that just screamed nobility, even though they were living in the 20th century. "Perhaps we should stop and ask for directions? Oh look, there's a shrine. Pull over!"

Katsumi raised an eyebrow. It really was an honest to goodness Shinto shrine. Well, they were in Japan. She and her mother climbed the stone steps with ease, and took the opportunity to look around while they waited for her dad. Despite being the same age, her mother had always been more spry than her dad, who was currently huffing and puffing his way up the stairs. The Shrine was just what you would expect, nothing abnormal about it... Katsumi blinked in confusion. Why did she have the feeling it should have been otherwise? She realized she had been expecting something extraordinary to happen. Katsumi had always had an almost super sense of intuition. Her dad had teased her that she was like a wild animal with the way she could sense danger. She hadn't realized how deep in thought she was until something grabbed her shoulder.

"Eeep!" Katsumi yelped in surprise. Her mother chuckled softly at her behavior.

"Oh, forgive me! I didn't mean to startle you, young lady. Welcome to the Higurashi Shrine," Katsumi's assailant greeted her. It was an old man wearing a white kimono and red hakama, and although his smile was friendly, his appearance reminded her of a picture of an old youkai that her mother had shown to her before.

"Hello, sorry to bother you, but we think we might be lost. Would you mind giving us some directions?" her mother asked politely. The old man squinted at her mother, as if sizing her up. Then he took a second look at Katsumi and pulled out two warding talismans.

"Youkais be gone!" the old man shouted and slapped the pieces of paper on both of their foreheads. A vein popped on Katsumi's head while her mother sweat-dropped. As if it wasn't bad enough—now someone was calling her a demon? Plus, it was the 90's already. Did he seriously believe there would be some mythical creature from ancient folklore walking around in broad daylight?

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