Name: 高橋文樹（Fumiki Takahashi）
A Japanese writer born in Chiba, a web developer, and a father of four children. Born in Chiba city at August 16th, 1979. Studied French literature at the University of Tokyo to trace his literary idle Kenzaburo Oe. In 2001 at his age of 21, started his career with a fiction about incest “Stop Over”. In 2007, got the Shincho Fresh Award with “Aureliano is coming”. In same year, he founded literary web magazine Hametuha and started efforts for e-publishing. He started writing Sci-Fi in 2016.
Somewhere in the deep mountains of the Boso Peninsula, there is a rugged trail with a trace of blacktop paved long ago. Climb the path, and you will see a castle tower through the trees. They say that the Masakado clan built it more than a thousand years ago, but the current castle was restored during Japan’s Showa period in the twentieth century. Kururi Castle, once known as the Castle of Rain, is now called Taiho Hall. It is a shrine of Kodo, and anyone who has trained for it must have heard of the place.
Once you pass through the castle gate, you will find a row of simple wooden lodgings inside. Every window railing has a white Kodo uniform spread out to dry. It is as if the refreshing early summer sun is soothing their rigorous training. On the gate tower of the main building, a wooden signboard is hung, with the name Taiho Hall written in large letters. Under it stands a man of large build wrapped in the Kodo uniform, whose nationality or ethnicity is unidentifiable. He is wearing a pair of navy hakama, traditional Japanese trousers signifying a high rank in the Kodo system. In Kodo, you are allowed to wear hakama trousers only when you get to the fifth rank—in other words, when you have acquired at least forty-nine antibodies. However, it is just one standard. This man, Terasawa Ω (Ohm), holds the tenth rank in Kodo, and he has conquered as many as 108 antibodies, hence known as the Man of 108 Antibodies.
“Please disinfect yourself with alcohol over there and wear the gas mask before you come in. And the plastic socks, too… yes, please wear them over your shoes.”
Hurried by Terasawa, I entered the main castle and went up the stairs. The latex-condom-like socks grazed the waxed wooden stairs and made shrill sounds. Ahead of me, Terasawa was walking softly, and his footsteps were silent. He was not wearing the plastic socks.
“You don’t often have a chance to see the inside because only people of high ranks are allowed to enter the castle tower.” Thus encouraged, I shot the place with an omnidirectional camera. “But I thought it would take longer than that,” said Terasawa, staring at me with wide eyes. He doesn’t seem to know that news articles now combine and blend images taken by the omnidirectional camera and create the best picture for readers. His everyday life has nothing to do with technology. Terasawa’ doesn’t eat meat at all, and for animal protein, he only eats insects—locusts and crickets. Picking mountain greens like wild yams and wild chives is a routine everyone performs at the training hall.
“Since Taiho Hall has become known as the shrine of Kodo, all kinds of people come here,” said Terasawa, sitting on a chair. “Those who have spiritual values, people from new religious groups, activists, and the like. But Kodo is not a means to relieve the insecurities of those people. It is a discipline to build up our body’s resistance to the maximum level.”
Terasawa speaks eloquently as the two-time winner of the Genelympics, a festival for human physical improvement. He must be conscious of his role as the ‘evangelist’ in this sport. Kodo is often misunderstood as something mystic, but those who practice it consider it the pure improvement of the human body. The dietary restriction is to prepare for an imminent food crisis. Kodo means having skills to get through the twenty-second century dominated by diseases and starvation—the way (Tao) or the system of antibody combat.
“We say, ‘Resistance and disease are one’ in Kodo. It means that having resistance against disease and contracting disease have the same cause in the first place. In the beginning, Kodo was brought into the world one hundred years ago by the young people who made a living by volunteering for clinical trials. When you catch a disease, you embrace it. That’s the spirit of Kodo. In addition, you are considered arrogant if you boast the number of the antibodies that you have. Gaining antibodies is not about personal victory—it is about victory for humanity. Please look at that.”
Terasawa pointed at a vaccine calendar. It shows a timeline for vaccination required for humanity’s fight against infectious diseases. It is impossible for any human being on this planet to get all those vaccines from birth to adulthood. The story is the same for even a master of Kodo like Terasawa.
“As you may well know, we humans are destined to die by some kind of disease. A hundred years ago, there used to be a way of dying called death by old age—that is, people could just die. However, such death has become much more difficult now. Our destiny is to die after suffering from two or three diseases combined.”
When I asked him, “But in your case, it’s different. You may die of old age,” Terasawa disagreed with a faint smile. “Well, I don’t think so.”
“During the past one hundred years, we discovered ninety-six new dangerous infectious diseases. In fact, 108 antibodies won’t be enough in a few years at this speed. And there can be a different view from a medical perspective. For example, the insufficiency may already be the reality today, but the vulnerability of 108 antibodies does not show simply because the risk of having all those diseases at the same time is pretty low.”
Terasawa speaks without reserve. He has been cautioned by the Japan Kodo Committee (JKC) several times, but he continues to play the part of the inner critic for the advancement of the sport.
“I intend to achieve my third consecutive victory at the Tokyo Genelympic next year. There are strong players like China’s Lin Jundui and Venezuela’s Jorge Rapado, but I’ll beat them no matter what. I’m the only one in Japan that has any chance of becoming the three-time winner at the Genelympics.”
Leaving these words, Terasawa headed toward the aseptic room. They only allow the use of inactivated vaccines at Taiho Hall. Nothing but the ‘real thing’ is used here. Fungi, bacteria, viruses, and everything else has to be genuine. An antibody is a real deal only when you have won it after fighting against the real thing—that is the beautiful Kodo of Japan. Terasawa’s arms are bared as both sleeves are cut off from his uniform. The upper arms have discolored to darkish red by repeated injections. Countless side effects have caused pigmentation. Nevertheless, Terasawa keeps on getting vaccinated. The menu of the day is six shots of vaccine, followed by intensive muscular and cardiovascular exercises. Here, one aspect of Terasawa’s training goes beyond the bounds of common sense. During the cardiovascular exercise, he gulps down strong alcohol, shochu. The intoxication burdens his immune system and continuously produces a tougher antibody.
“Rumor has it that COVID-50 will be adopted for the next Genelympics,” says Terasawa after the training. “They say that it is vital to develop nineteen lungs and forty-eight airways, especially for that purpose. I promise to present the next gold medal to everyone on the stage of Tokyo.”
Blood vessels stand out on Terasawa’s temples as he lies down, and the drops of sweat cover his shaved head. We have one year left until the next Genelympics in 2204. Will Japan’s hero show us a dream come true?
Terasawa Ω is reading an article he fondly remembers in the machine conservation room of Kisarazu Prefectural Hospital in Chiba. Eighteen years have passed since then. Hardly anyone remembers Terasawa now. It is doubtful if anyone remembers that a global event called Genelympics used to be held—if anyone does, they may say at best, “Ah yes, there was such an absurd event.”
Terasawa thinks that it was indeed ridiculous. There are no Kodo pupils left now. Three years after the Tokyo Genelympics, a nanomachine to synthesize spike protein was created. Since then, it has become a matter of course to generate an antibody when it is necessary. There is no use for 108 antibodies, and if there is a sign of pandemic, they can simply make the one required. Today, people don’t even have to take vaccines—identify the pathogen, and the case is closed.
Terasawa Ω pinches to turn off the floating display over his bed and looks outside the hospital window. At present, Kisarazu Central Hospital is the only place where they offer inactivated vaccines. Forty-two-year-old Terasawa is now about to get his 382nd antibody. A new virus caused the Elysion pneumonia at the Asian base of Mars, and it is still unclear whether the antibody for the virus will be of any use. ‘But even so,’ thinks Terasawa. To prepare for something you don’t know—that is the profound art of Kodo.