Merry Christmas, everyone! Takahashi-sensei here. And who else? Why, our new(er) Santa, St. Nick II!
That’s right! Every Christmastime, I will share the story of how Nick ended up being the next generation Santa Claus, being sent on an abroad mission in restoring the Christmas Spirit to full heath, by creating and uniting faith in everyone who lived in the island nation of Japan!
Before we get started, I was originally planning to release a digital e-book edition of my work for sale online near the end of this year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t complete ALL the illustrations in time, due to a little too much going on in my life, but I will incorporate whichever ones were completed as well as sketches and completed artwork from 2017. Thanks for understanding.
And again, I want to give a shout-out to the victims and survivors of the Kytoto Animation arson attack in the Fushimi ward of Japan’s old capital, Kyoto. Keep the faith strong! May the Christmas Spirit heal your soul!
Now, let’s begin!
It was the night of December 25th, 2 years ago. Polar City, the capital of the North Pole, was rejoicing over the success of another Christmas made possible by who else? The old magic man and governor of the Pole, Saint Nicholas Claus, or as he was well known in other countries, Santa Claus.
For the majority of his life, Nicholas Claus endured through the faith of many people whether they were young or old, rich or poor, naughty or nice. The levels of the sole source of power, responsible for heating, electricity, and such in the North Pole, a mist, known as the Christmas Spirit, had remained at an all-time high, thanks to his friendly and generous image which left an impact on all the world. As long as people believed in his existence, Claus himself would believe in their potential to make the world a wonderful place. The kind jolly old man celebrated with the citizens of Polar City, but with a surprise announcement he was just about to reveal…he was retiring.
Though it was certainly shocking for the people of Polar City to hear their own governor retiring from his lifelong duty of bringing smiles to children all over the world, and inspiring them to retain their faith in him, Nicholas Claus felt he was much too old and too weak to continue his service, so he decided to announce his successor to the people; his grandson Nicholas Claus II, who he had fathered since he was but a newborn baby after his single mother unfortunately died from childbirth.
Even though it happened, Claus Sr. himself had faith in what he could be capable of, and promised to make him take the reigns of responsibility by the time he had to let go. Nicholas Claus II, however, was highly inexperienced unlike his grandfather, although he was taught about the wonders of Earth by him. His only strength was the donations of his money to international charities which were also headquartered within the city. He often questioned how humanity all around compared to his home. But, boy, was all that about to change for the timid teenager!
By the time the New Year had begun, Nick was already put on a strict training routine by his grandfather. He had to learn how to dress up like Santa, talk like Santa, observe like Santa, he even had to learn how to pilot his grandfather’s former sleigh and tame the reindeer!
Unfortunately, the teenage Nick ultimately felt he had no faith in himself to be Claus Sr.’s successor despite his earlier expectations. The reality of the ordeal was that being a new Santa was not so easy for one so young!
Though the people of the world prepared to make way for the new Santa, he never came, which ultimately led people to believe that he didn’t exist, though only small children, as well as the people of Polar City remained faithful.
The following evening, a giant and brutal snowstorm blasted through Polar City. Normally, the Christmas Spirit’s power would be enough to make the folks’ humble abodes as warm as can be, but its power was starting to grow weaker and weaker every hour. Despite the intense faith of the people of Polar City, it was much too small to keep the Christmas Spirit alive. Claus Sr. furious about the damage being done to his city, criticized his own grandson for refusing to succeed him. He almost lost all faith and hope in him, as well as his society.
“Why are you so stubborn, my grandson?” Claus Sr. scolded Nick. “Now thanks to your reluctance you demonstrated this whole year, we’re going to die of the cold!” Nick was staring through the window. He had felt remorse as he saw the light dim out on one of the houses. “I didn’t know it would lead to this.” he mumbled. He figured that the life of the city he loved had its days numbered if he didn’t do anything about the situation. If only he had known sooner.
It was at that point where Nick Claus II found his second wind, and decided to try again what didn’t work the first time he trained, and he meant it. He practiced piloting the sleigh, and bathed the reindeer, and even looked up the list of the children in the world who had behaved or misbehaved. He was finding faith in himself for the first time in his life. Claus Sr. however, had a more exotic plan for the young, but challenged successor.
On the eve of the start of the New Year, Claus Sr. expected his grandson to have his special belongings packed up. Nick was oblivious of where he was about to travel with his grandfather. “Are we going to see what the world is like, Grandpa Nicholas?” asked Nick, as he was eager to even see it at all; he was only taught about it, but hadn’t even been in it. The inquisitive successor hopped in his grandfather’s sleigh as he hoped to learn more about how the outside world went around.
As the sleigh soared through the sky, all Nick could see on the ground were nothing but mountains and trees. “Nick, my boy,” Claus Sr. uttered to him. “I’m afraid that your method of training won’t be enough.” Nick then knew that his life for the New Year would never be the same.
The sleigh slowed down by the time it flew overhead an oriental island country situated in East Asia. The country had temples, rice fields, and even mountains lakes and rivers. But most of all, it had populous cities. “I think I know what country this is.” said Nick. Claus Sr. began chuckling. “Of course you know. It’s Japan!”
“So, I’m going to Japan?” Nick asked. “Exactly.” Claus Sr. firmly replied. Soon, he revealed his plan to the young successor. “I’m exiling you from the North Pole for the year.” “What?!” Nick was surprised…not in a good way, though. “You’re sending me to live here for the year? What purpose do I have in a country like this?” Japan seemed to be a country so foreign to Nick, he feared that none of the people would even speak English. But he didn’t know that his mother tongue was capable of speaking more than 60 languages. That skill was inherited from his own grandfather, though he had kept it a secret.
“Listen to me, Nick, my boy.” Claus Sr. instructed the young successor. “Your mission for all of us home at the North Pole, is to raise awareness of the Christmas Spirit amongst the people.” “But the people only view the Christmas Spirit as simple as a feeling.” Nick argued, believing that they wouldn’t understand. “That’s true. The Spirit is indeed considered a feeling to many.” Claus Sr. acknowledged his statement. “But what they don’t know is that it’s our sole source of power in the North Pole, powered by everyone’s faith!” He reached into his pocket. “And you’ll be the one who changes the meaning behind the Spirit.” Claus Sr. was full of faith in Nick, it seemed as if there was no turning back for him.
Claus Sr. then pulled out what appeared to be a well-made candy cane, made out of special sugar and edible red tape, which tasted much like peppermint. “This cane will help you.” “A candy cane?” Nick looked at the cane. “But this is just a piece of candy.” Nick felt it looked too generic. Claus Sr. then explained. “This is no ordinary candy cane. Rather, it’s the magic Miracle Mint Cane, which my federal candymakers created to give you the power to perform magical wonders that will make people regain their faith in the Christmas Spirit.” Nick was enthralled upon learning this from his grandfather. A candy cane capable of performing some magic; cool! He thought. According to Claus Sr., however, the Miracle Mint Cane had its limits. “I’d be careful not to use its power often if I were you.” Nick turned around. “Every time you lick the Miracle Mint Cane and perform a miracle, a centimeter of the red stripe will disappear. Once the red stripe disappears completely, it will no longer be capable of performing magic.” Nick heeded his warning, and made a promise to Claus Sr. not to utilize the magic of the Miracle Mint Cane as much as he wanted.
Finally, by the time fireworks shot up from the city of Tokyo below, Nick was instructed to perform his first miracle. Licking the Miracle Mint Cane, he shouted “Parachute!” and he was immediately equipped with a backpack parachute. Claus Sr. then kicked him off the sleigh, suspending the teen in mid-air. “I pray for your success, my boy!” he exclaimed.
Down, down, down, Nick fell from the sky as if a hawk was shot by a hunter from on top of a mountain. Meanwhile, fireworks kept speeding into the sky, posed as a threat to the young skydiver. Maneuvering his body around the fireworks, Nick found the perfect opportunity to open up the parachute safely. His safety didn’t last long however, as he landed in a frozen river, tangled up in the parachute, unable to swim.
It was there that a young middle-school aged girl and her younger brother who were surveying the bright New Year’s Eve fireworks found the struggling boy trapped in the river, submerged, and pulled him out of the ice. He was already unconscious by the time the girl recovered him, so she called for an ambulance to escort him to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, the emergency crews were too busy celebrating, and the 2 children resorted to carrying him home to their apartment, which was not even 2 blocks away from them.
The following morning, Nick came to his senses as he awoke in The apartment where the 2 children lived. The girl had prepared him a breakfast meal which consisted of rice, fish, and miso soup. “By the way, sir,” she then began to ask. “what’s your name?” Nick’s linguistic ability began to kick in. “My name…My name is St. Nicholas Claus II.” he answered, understanding the Japanese language. “Nicholas… so, you’re foreign?” The girl deduced his ethnic origin. Apparently, foreigners visiting or even living in Japan became the norm in her society. “Yes. I’m the grandson of St. Nicholas Claus!” Nick clarified his identity.
Nick then pulled out the Miracle Mint Cane from the bedside, and with its power, summoned forth an object wrapped in red paper. “As a token of my gratitude for saving me, ma’am,” he announced. “Please partake of this late Christmas gift.” The girl opened up the gift in her hand to find something that pleasantly surprised her: a pair of running shoes.
“How did you know I wanted this for Christmas last year?” she asked, mystified. Nick chuckled. “According to our records back at grandpa’s workshop, your name is Kita Shiroyuki, and you managed to make it all the way to your 2nd year of Middle School. I’ve also heard that you have excelled in sports and are willing to improve on that talent.” he explained. “He even knows my name!” The girl, known as Kita, couldn’t control her excitement, yet without realizing it, she became faithful of the Christmas Spirit. She even believed him to be a potential friend. “Why are you here, by the way?” she asked Nick. “Well, y’see, Kita, I’m on very important business for where I live, Polar City.” Nick informed her. “Polar City? Where’s that?” “It’s up in the North Pole, where grandpa works…but he retired last year.” “Retired?” Kita exclaimed. “Is that why Santa didn’t come last year?” a voice came from outside Kita’s room. It was Kurio, Kita’s younger brother who was in his 2nd year of Elementary School, standing just into the room of his older sister by the door. “Kurio! What are you doing in my room?” Though she normally forbade Kurio from entering her room, Kita decided to relax the “Do Not Disturb” rule for the occasion for this was his first time meeting Claus Sr.’s young successor.
Nick used the Miracle Mint Cane’s power to create another gift; this time for Kurio. As Kurio opened it up, it was a masked man in a motorcyclist’s outfit. “Wow! The Kamen Racer Action Figure I wanted! Now he’s powerful enough to take on the Zapper terrorist crew with his allies!” Overjoyed, he went to play with it in the living room, alongside his other figures. “He’s been a fan of that Kamen Racer since he was in Kindergarten. He watches a new episode every Saturday.” Kita explained. “I’ve even had to take him to the cinema to see a new movie edition every year.”
As Nick kept telling his story to Kita on why he was sent to Japan, Kurio told his salaryman father, joyously “Dad! There’s a man that gave us presents in sister’s room!” Oblivious about what happened last night as he was out drinking and playing Mahjong with his colleagues on New Year’s Eve, as his wife was out preparing rice cakes for a party at a nearby parlor, the father, whose name was Koichi, thought that his eldest daughter Kita had kept a promise not to invite anyone over while she was watching Kurio, even her schoolmates as it was considered disrespectful in Japanese society. Privacy within homes was highly valued. He then stormed into Kita’s room, discovering her with Nick in her bed. “Kita, why don’t you ever keep your promises??” Koichi sternly asked the shaken Kita. “I can explain!” Kita exclaimed. After hearing the story behind Nick’s presence in their house, believing that he would be helpful around the family, the Shiroyukis agreed to let him live with them for the remainder of his stay in Japan. This led Nick to believe in the kindness of people, no matter where they lived in, making his faith in humanity grow.
For the remainder of the New Year’s holidays, Nick was taught how to prepare festive food for the family by Misato, the children’s mother. Sushi and sashimi for lunch, Beef bowls for dinner, and bean buns and rice cakes for dessert, Nick’s cooking skills were inherited from Claus Sr. who made dishes of the world for his family of workers as he was an international man. Remembering his promise to his grandfather, Nick monitored the Miracle Mint Cane’s stripes.
Nick engaged in housework by the time the Shiroyuki children went back to school and their parents went back to work. Making bento boxes with food shaped like the characters of Christmas, getting the mail, washing clothes, and preparing meals for the family, Nick was the ideal servant who enjoyed helping others when they needed another hand, yet he was grateful to even have a place to stay at all.
Eventually, January 9th, a day where the future workers of Japan were approaching the age of adulthood within the New Year, had arrived, and Nick invited the Shiroyuki parents out to a local bar in Shibuya, which was celebrating the occasion, to perform his first public miracle. Nick explained to the family that the Miracle Mint Cane’s power had its limits, so he should only use it when necessary, for he used his own strength to do the chores around their apartment. “I can’t rely on magic to make people believe all the time, you know. But when I’m serious, they’ll have to believe that I am the successor of Grandpa Nicholas, just as much I believe in their futures!”
By the time they had arrived at the bar, patrons were already expecting a wine made from rice grains known as sake to be available for consumption. Unfortunately, because the delivery of the wine was delayed due to heavy traffic, people reluctantly opted for non euphoric beer. Noticing a giant fish tank at the center of the facility, Nick had an idea. He licked the Miracle Mint Cane, touched it with his left hand and dipped the same hand in the water of the tank, stirring it around. The fish in the tank then appeared intoxicated. Gently sipping the fluid, it became apparent that the trick was successful.
Grabbing wine glasses and serving them to Koichi and Misato, Nick offered them a taste of the wine he made from water. “It is sake!” Koichi exclaimed upon tasting the wine. Nick then announced to all the patrons in the bar, who were watching the miracle unfold, “I am St. Nicholas Claus II, the new successor of St. Nicholas Claus Sr.! If you have faith in the Christmas Spirit, feel free to help yourselves to the sake I have prepared just for you!”
Without hesitation, the people gathered around with glasses, on tenterhooks, for the taste of sake they desired. Drinking and dancing the night away, everyone in Shibuya had the best Monday of their lives, even though it was early in Nick’s stay in the country. Meanwhile, back in Polar City, the Christmas Spirit’s power levels rose slightly but began to go all over the place…perhaps not everyone was faithful in Santa Claus after all, eh?
By the time February came along, Nick assisted Kita in preparing for her final exams in her 3rd trimester, and taught Kurio how to enjoy eating certain foods he didn’t like during mealtime at his school, particularly celery. The siblings repaid him with a chocolate cake shaped like a heart on Valentine’s Day, as well as some kisses, expressing their adoration of him.
White Day came in March. While walking to the grocery store that day, Nick noticed that not many people were in romantic relationships with each other. He stopped by a drinking fountain that had malfunctioned. Using the Miracle Mint Cane, he transformed the water fountain into a chocolate fountain. Eventually, all the water in the Discharge Channel, which acted as the reservoir for Tokyo’s drinking water turned into molten chocolate. This miracle brought hopes to the Japanese people that romance would return anew. The chocolate reverted back into water the following day.
As Spring Break came in Japan after the final trimester of the Japanese school year, Koichi and Misato expected Nick to be ready for the new school year within the two weeks. Nick accepted the offer. Although he had been homeschooled by his grandfather, he desired to become a good student who could compete against or often collaborate with others. Reluctant to let everyone know he was the successor of Claus Sr., he came up with a Japanese pseudonym: Nikku Shirosaki. Two weeks later, in April, the cherry blossoms began falling from the trees, signaling the commencement of a brand new school year. Nick and Kita had begun their 3rd and final year(only year for him) of Junior High School. The school they attended was Kisekihana Junior High.
During the early attendance hours, a time where students socialized with their peers, whether it was concerning the recent episode of a popular TV drama or animation, or just about their futures, and adjusted themselves for the first day, Nick noticed a cherry blossom tree within the courtyard, in the middle of the building. Noticing that not many blossoms fell from the tree, Nick, with his Miracle Mint Cane in hand, licked it, rubbed his hands, and began lifting the roots of the tree from where it stood. As it grew, grew, and grew, it managed to reach the rooftops of the school, which were also popular social spots. Everyone in the faculty, even delinquents, were impressed by yet another feat of Nick. “Kisekihana sure lives up to its name, doesn’t it?” One student thought. Nick subsequently joined the Agricultural Club, one of the extracurricular after-school clubs Kisekihana offered to its students, while Kita took up Kendo. Nick believed that enough education could help humanity grow like trees in wisdom.
Along came May. It was Friday, May 5th. The Shiroyuki Family decided to meet up with the Hitora Family at the Okutama River, not far from where they lived, rather a 25-minute drive. It was Children’s Day, and considering the 2 families had young children of their own, Okutama River was deemed a rather fitting relaxing spot for a day out. Nick also tagged along. As Kurio and Tsuneda Hitora went bug hunting in the woods, Nick summoned forth horned beetles and ladybugs for the children to catch.
Later, as they went for a swim within the current of the River, Nick touched Kurio’s arms and muscles during a competition between the two to see who could swim towards the giant rocks that the river flowed against. Kurio, given strength because of another wonder of the Mint Cane, effortlessly swam towards the rock, ultimately winning the race between friends. The Shiroyukis believed that their youngest child would grow up healthy and strong, much like a koi, a fish that could also swim up against a river. Ironically, as the fathers went fishing, they managed to catch some koi, and the families ate it alongside rice and vegetables they cooked at a fireplace.
June and July were busy months for Nick and Kita, as they went onward with their studies and club participation at Kisekihana Junior High. Exams were in the forecast for the end of their first trimester, and 10 students who had the highest test scores would be eligible to spend an all-expenses-paid 3-day 2-night trip to the island of Okinawa in time for Marine Day, another national holiday celebrating Japan’s oceanic conservation. Okinawa was an especially popular vacation destination for most people in Japan, even with Kita, as she had almost always imagined herself in a tropical paradise flowing with the soul of the sea, and enough fresh fish to use for sushi and fish salad. Nick was curious about Okinawa, as he had never been to any tropical locales in his life. Upon carefully completing their exam, the 2 eagerly awaited the results’ revelation. Fortunately, they came in 8th and 6th place respectively, effectively granting the couple a space in the 10-student trip.
Granted permission by Koichi and Misato, Nick and Kita and 8 others flew to Okinawa’s capital, Naha, where they could engage in visiting its best beaches, the aquarium, dance clubs, and festive market. So this is what a tropical paradise is like! thought Nick upon disembarking the plane that flew them there. The temperature was dangerously warm, yet he didn’t get sunburned because of how long he lived in the North Pole, while the others slapped on sunblock.
As soon as they were finished setting up their resort cabins they were assigned to stay in for the weekend, Nick, Kita, and their schoolmates sporting bathing suits, played volleyball, built sand temples; why, they even tried new activities in the sea such as wind surfing! By nightfall, they managed to get loose with some fun at the night festival.
The following day, Kita decided to take up a particular activity which she desired to cherish forever: scuba diving. Why? “Because there are more interesting mysteries of life to solve down in the sea than on land.” according to her. “Want to come with me?” she persuaded Nick, who was watching a dive instructor gathering tourists into a dive boat. “Well, I do want to see if any creatures will be aware of my existence…” Kita waited no longer, and happily yanked him by the arm as they ran for the dock which the boat was situated beside. “Then let’s go!” Though 3-day dive classes cost 60,000 yen in Okinawa, it was free for the students, because of the trip was all-expenses-paid by the school.
Note: 1 Japanese yen is usually the equivalent of an American/Canadian penny, wheras 100 yen is equivalent to 1 dollar, 1,000 to 10 dollars, and so on.
After suiting up in bulky equipment, wetsuit, mask, tank, and fins, as well as the essentials, the 2 teens and 8 others plunged into the depths below, awaiting further instructions from the dive master, as they had a brief lecture aboard the boat. Becoming acquainted with the marine life, the divers began swimming swiftly and in a calm state as they followed the dive master. Nick encountered a playful dolphin and followed it. It led him away from the dive team, near a sunken fishing boat situated among bushes of coral. Examining the dolphin’s biology, Nick came up with a clever method of spreading the word of the Christmas Spirit.
Nick removed the regulator from his mouth, licked the Miracle Mint Cane, which he brought alongside him, and touched the dolphin’s body, and then his legs. Eventually, he no longer needed the diving gear he was wearing as he transformed into a merman!
Nick, performing his new Miracle torpedoed back to the dive crew, and performed a synchronized swimming spectacular with all the creatures that roamed the Okinawa sea. He didn’t limit the program to the seafloor. He even took it to its surface where tourists were dazzled. As soon as he finished dancing, he returned to the dive master, yanked her dive slate, and wrote a message in Japanese, once again, proclaiming his existence as Claus Sr.’s successor. Upon returning to shore, as the magic wore off, he was naked.
Later in the day, after donning some new clothes Kita bought him, Nick and she hooked up together for a meal of fish salad and sushi at one of the food vendors near the docks. “So you found a way to impress us in the sea?” Kita laughed. “Looks like it’s a mystery to everyone.” “Yeah, well, except for the dolphins. They knew what it was because I followed one!” The 2 reminisced about Nick’s deep-sea performance he had performed earlier. “I believe that the sea will remain a majestic habitat for life for years to come, since they help humanity with many things.” Nick professed. As they ate, Nick eventually heard voices from a nearby confectionary shoppe, but they didn’t sound friendly. Nick decided to inspect the premises, leaving Kita to finish his meal. Quietly entering the vicinity, Nick was attacked from behind by who appeared to be a duo of burglars. Nick, reacting accordingly, licked the Miracle Mint Cane and used its magic to make it a tranquilizer gun, effectively sedating them, before being apprehended by Naha’s police force. Nick was heralded a hero by the onlookers of the scene, and pleaded him to stay in Okinawa. Unfortunately however, this was his last night of his trip to Okinawa, and had to fly back to Tokyo by tomorrow afternoon. As a reward, he was given all the candy in the shoppe, and shared it amongst the students attending the trip in their cabins, thus demonstrating one of the true meanings of Christmas…giving. Though he believed humanity was cool, Nick also began to believe that in some ways it could be cruel, as well.
Upon returning to Tokyo, Nick and Kita were warmly greeted by the Shiroyuki family as the August summer holiday kicked in. They eventually went to the Asakusa Night Festival, which had brightly lit vendors selling masks, traditional snacks, as well as the family’s favorite: a full-blown carnival! As Koichi and Misato tried their luck at winning a shooting gallery game, and while Kurio bonked the heads of plaster moles with a hammer, the 2 teenagers went to a fishing game where you used a paddle with a circular sheet of paper known as a poi, used to scoop out goldfish. The poi’s paper was very delicate, however, so players had to be careful when scooping out goldfish from the tank. Kita was a little too careless. Nick, sensing the game was slightly rigged, used his Miracle Mint Cane, to turn the poi paper into a sturdy material used for trampolines, effectively allowing Kita and all the children that came to the stall to bring home their very own pet goldfish.
The fireworks lit up the night sky, but they almost never did. Because some of them were faulty, Nick fixed them with the magic of the Miracle Mint Cane as he volunteered. Thus, another memorable night was possible.
After a fun-filled month of summer, school was back in session at the beginning of September. As Sports Day, a national day slated for October was on the horizon, every student in every school, including Kisekihana, began training vigorously for the day their sporting potential was unveiled to the public eye. Sports Day meant especially a lot to Kita, as she had an ultimate purpose in life to make it onto the Japanese Olympic Team, a position often fought for. Purposes of life were rooted thoroughly in Japanese culture. Some wanted to be manga artists, some wanted to be engineers, some wanted to be corporate leaders, they all basically had to live for it no matter how difficult it would be to maintain!
As Sports Day came, Nick and Kita were among the top participants for events such as Tug of War, Gymnastics, Discus, and the ultimate event, the 100m Dash. The couple also won a medal! And even better, it was all thanks to the shoes Nick provided her with the moment they met. The celebration unfortunately didn’t last long. Rather it was cut short suddenly by a violent typhoon that loomed over the city of Tokyo. Reacting swiftly, Nick licked the Miracle Mint Cane, and stretched a paddle used for cooling athletes like a fan, into one capable of destroying the typhoon in an instant. He again proclaimed, “I am St. Nicholas Claus II!”
It was only soon after that act when Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, officially recognized the young foreigner as a hero. Nick was sent away from the apartment of the Shiroyuki family to live in a luxurious mansion paid for by the government. Nick’s new affiliation with the government came at the cost of some of his freedom however. At Mr. Abe’s order, he was obligated to perform miracles at specific events throughout the country. Nick checked the number of stripes on the Miracle Mint Cane he had for the past 3 quarters of the year. 3 quarters of the stripes were already gone! “What am I going to do?” Nick wondered, as he remembered Claus Sr.’s warning. Once that final quarter of the stripes faded away, he would forever be unable to use magic. And it was hard to convince everyone that he was Claus Sr.’s successor, too!
Meanwhile, in a community center in another ward of Tokyo, a gathering turned up nearly empty. And a man observing the attendance, clothed in a white cloak, was not too happy. This man was known as Shinji Tennoko, leader of Shinseina Shinjitsu, a religious cult promoting ultimate spirituality, and despising modern culture and capitalism. “Why is no one taking my vision seriously?!” he wondered. He went to listen to news on the radio while the small crowd awaited his order. Upon hearing the news of Nick’s recognition by the government, he appeared furious. He declared to them, “If he is the Son of God, we shall put him to the test!” Shinji then gave out his commandment. “Plant bombs in the Shinjuku Gardens where the Christmas Concert is set to be held 2 months from now, and see if he can find a way to stop the detonation. For if he doesn’t, we, Shinseina Shinjitsu are the ultimate authority in spirituality!” Without realizing it, Nick was endangered by another threat to the city of Japan.
As Nick awaited his first order from the Japanese government, Nick pondered about what he should say to his grandfather in regards to the Miracle Mint Cane’s power being almost used up. “I suppose I could write a letter.” he thought, and went to retrieve a piece of paper. He then wrote,
Dear Grandpa Nicholas,
Even though I followed your advice, I was a little too careless with the power of the Miracle Mint Cane you gave me. Even if its power runs out, I will do anything to get the Japanese people to truly believe that I truly am truly taking your place. I know it won’t be easy…can you at least forgive me?
Signed, Nicholas Claus II
Then, a knock came from the door.
“I just wanted to remind you,” a government official announced. “…That you are obligated to perform a Miracle for the children at the Shichigosan celebration at the Meiji Shrine.” Shichigosan was on November 15th.
P.S. The National Diet is using me.
Eventually, the wind’s trajectory shifted towards the north, and Nick released the letter he wrote to his old man from his grasp, that way it could reach Polar City…in hopes that it could.
As November 15th came, Nick was escorted to the Meiji Shrine for the Shichigosan celebration. Shichigosan celebrated the healthy growth of Japan’s children. For boys, reaching the ages of three and five were major milestones. The same applied to girls reaching the ages of three and seven. Using the power of the Miracle Mint Cane to bring forth a shower of a Thousand Millennial Candies for the children being honored that day, Nick performed his first Miracle at the order of the government. In the attendance sat the Shiroyuki family, worried that the power of the Miracle Mint Cane would deplete quicker than Nick himself had intended.
December had come at last, and the Christmas Concert was already being prepared for Christmas Eve. And, no, not only were major record labels or broadcasting networks involved. Mr. Tennoko’s followers, dressed up as homeless people, came to the site in Shinjuku Park bearing small shrines modeled after Nick to be used to decorate the park. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the organizers, the shrines hid several bombs that were anticipating detonation since Mr. Tennoko was already testing Nick to see if he was the son of a deity, capable of saving people’s lives.
Meanwhile, at his mansion, Nick pleaded the Prime minister to allow him to spend more time with the Shiroyuki family during the Christmas season. “Please, Prime minister! It would be nice if you’d let me join the Shiroyukis for Christmas. They even allowed me to live with them.” Reluctantly, the Prime minister agreed to adhere to Nick’s wishes. “Just remember that you have to perform a very special Miracle in the Shinjuku Gardens.” he reminded him. Nick, glanced at his Miracle Mint Cane one last time. “Can I invite the family over?” he asked.
Much to his dismay, Nick was obligated yet again to perform another Miracle under the Japanese government in the Shinjuku Gardens, where the Christmas Concert was under development. Though Kita and Kurio remained worried about the outcome of the concert, Nick told them to put their worries aside for the night and to join the celebration. They agreed, and on December 24th, Nick and the Shiroyuki children went, while Koichi and Misato went Christmas shopping for the family.
Upon arriving at the Shinjuku Gardens, it was packed! This led Nick to believe that people were showing up for his next miracle…which he would ultimately regret the time he performed it. As the show was prepared to start, The Prime minister and his bodyguards spotted him and shoved him onto the stage. Taking swift action, the Japanese government presented the young successor as the opening act to the Christmas Concert…on a night which would live on in infamy hours later. Nick brought forth a heavenly snow from the sky, with hopes that it shroud the city of Tokyo in crystal white snow. Citizens delighted yet again, the show officially began with popular music.
Granted permission by the bodyguards, Nick went to escape the music with Kita and Kurio, and happily engaged in a playful snowball fight. We certainly don’t know who was winning…but what We do know…Unfortunately is that Kurio had found one of the shrines hiding the bombs that were set to go off in 1 hour, all while simply looking for a hiding spot to defend him from his opponents! Nick could tell they were bombs by simply hearing the sound of ticks…that went like a clock…a clock of eventual terror if time ever ran out!
Sensing danger, Nick retreated to the concert to warn the concertgoers. “Everyone! Please! Evacuate the garden!” he yelled. “The shrines here are hiding bombs!” Though he explained in great detail, everyone laughed and ignored the challenged successor’s warning. Others made jokes. “Why don’t you use your cane to stop them, huh?”
Nick, treating the mockery as advice, resorted to using the Miracle Mint Cane, only to discover that the Cane’s stripe was completely gone. Gone. Gone. Now how could he convince anyone he was the new Santa Claus?
Hiding underneath a decorated tree, Nick was already in tears, regretting all the Miracles he performed throughout the year…even if it made the people of Japan happier and more faithful in the Christmas Spirit. “Grandpa Nicholas…” he moaned. “I have broken my oath.”
The Shiroyuki siblings found him and asked him, “What’s wrong?” Nick didn’t answer. However, upon noticing the lack of red stripes on the Miracle Mint Cane; except it wasn’t even one anymore, it became known that Nick no longer had the power to make people believe in the Christmas Spirit and save Polar City from another blizzard. Kita and Kurio hugged the downtrodden nobody and cried alongside him.
“Nick,” Kita then said to him. “I believe in the Christmas Spirit. And I owe my thanks to you. We saw you fall from the sky and into the river nearby. We thought that you might have been an angel.” She recounted the day that Nick and she first met. “For years, before and even after Christmas and I had wondered if someone else from above might have been watching over me while I was living my life. After years of wondering, I came to realize that that someone was you.” “Without you, I wonder if I would find the energy somewhere inside myself to do my best?” “Without you, who would’ve given me something I wanted or a friend who could help me, or strength to do my part for the country I love?” Kurio added, falling into his favor. “You gave me the urge to love life, to excel in it, and to treasure every moment of it…you even inspired me to become the best person in Japan I can be. Just as much as a good friend would. You believed in us.” Kita continued, still remembering the year that had gone by. “The Prime minister made a puppet out of you.” She then condemned Prime minister Abe’s scheme. “Why would he do that to someone, who especially genuinely loved people to the extent of stopping that typhoon from taking over the sports festival? You deserve more respect. They need to believe you.” She then looked up to the sky from where the heavenly snow still fell onto land. “Even though there’s no magic left in that cane of yours, there’s still magic in the sky. It doesn’t snow that much at all here in Tokyo, so let’s enjoy this miracle of snow, even if only once in our lifetime.” Nick then felt the heavenly snow dry his tears, and hugged Kita tightly. “Thank you…very much…for believing in me…as much as I had believed in you.” he expressed his gratitude to the siblings, and enough of it to stand up again, and get the Japanese people to retain their faith in the ultimate celebration of love, friendship, forgiveness, and generosity…for it was Christmas Eve after all, and it would continue to snow throughout the night. “I won’t let the advantage Prime minister took of me weigh me down. No matter what the cost, let’s show everyone what it means to be truly faithful.” Nick commanded Kita and Kurio. Then, suddenly, without any further warning. BOOM. The worst had begun.
As the bombs detonated, The trees started catching alight. as for the bushes, it was the same. Though Kita and Kurio panicked, Nick gave them instructions. “Kita! Kurio! Get the police and the fire department to come right away! I’ll help the attendees!” Without arguing, the Shiroyuki siblings escaped the Shinjuku Gardens to look for any police boxes, since there weren’t any huge police departments in the city. Nick, did, however, eventually hear complaints from the audience.
People were fearing for their lives as the fire bellowed over the venue. They were quick to regret not heeding the young successor’s warning that the bombs were in the park. As Nick darted to their aid, the requests for help became impolite and demanding. “Where’s that cane-thingy you used to bring us that snow? You need to use it!” cried one man. “Help! I’ve been cheated!” another cry came. What they wanted Nick to do was use his Miracle Mint Cane to put out the fire. Except, the magic ran out earlier. As the crowd began to budge him, Nick violently slapped them in the face and explained, “I don’t have the power to save your lives! Please stop begging!” but sensing an idea involving the Heavenly snow that fell from the sky and remembering Kira’s comment… “…but please believe in me!”
Nick stretched his hand out, and upon swiftly twisting it after touching a single flake of the heavenly snow, the flake combined with several other flakes, creating a snowball. Upon throwing the ball at a burning shrub, the flames were killed…which led to a solution: “We need to make snowballs with the snow I summoned forth to extinguish the blaze!” Nick commanded the ungrateful audience. “If you have faith in the Christmas Spirit, show it by helping each other out of this danger!” Quick to realize that Nick could be their savior If they learned to cooperate, they tried making snowballs the same way as Nick did, and were miraculously successful! Nick and the civilians proceeded to heave out as many snowballs as they could to extinguish the fire. And by the time the firemen came,it seemed like a false alarm…but in reality, the damage brought onto the trees by the fire was irreversible.
Eventually, the police came alongside Kita and Kurio, who were relieved no one was hurt. The police suspected that the bombs were part of a terror plot, similar to an incident that happened on the Tokyo Subways in the spring of 1995. “Really?” Nick wondered if it was true. “Yes.” an officer replied, recalling the event. “A religious cult known as Aum Shinrikyo claimed responsibility for the heinous attack. Since then, all the members have been arrested and placed on death row.” Nick soon felt that since the crowd was too ignorant to understand the situation the successor was involved in, he should tell the truth of the Miracle Mint Cane’s power. He explained that the magic inside its stripes was only temporary, and was only to be used when necessary. Assuring everyone he was the successor to Claus Sr., Nick allowed the Shiroyuki siblings to deliver their testimony of their experience of him living with them. “It’s true!” Kurio exclaimed. “He made our lives much lighter and hopeful!” “He was our friend unlike anyone who we ever met!” another voice rang out. “He believed that we could do great things for our nation one day!” Nick soon took time to acknowledge the incident that happened at the concert that night, and believed that a religious cult might have been aware of his power. “Perhaps they believe I’m a descendent of God…” He predicted.”…should I ever forgive them?” Upon hearing the teen’s story, the crowd grew compassionate and allowed their faith in the Christmas Spirit to grow, feeling ashamed for acting rude to him earlier that night. Thus, Nick successfully convinced everyone that he was the next generation Santa Claus, just as much as he was convinced that the Japanese were doing their best to live life for the greater good.
Sleigh bells then rang in the air. As everyone turned to the sky, there they saw St. Nicholas Claus Sr., piloting his sleigh making Shinjuku Park his landing runway. “Where’s Nick?” he wondered as he scanned through the crowd of people. “Here I am, Grandpa Nicholas!” Nick cried, waving his hands to signal him. Upon noticing him, Claus Sr. ran toward him and hugged him tightly. “I read your letter.” he recalled reading the letter Nick sent to him. “I’m sorry the government used you against your will.” Prime minister Abe then walked toward him. “So you are our hero’s grandfather?” he questioned Claus Sr.. Everyone began to glare at Abe. “This man,” announced Nick. “used me for my power against my will. Therefore, I condemn him!” Abe, frightened, then bowed apologetically in sorrow, accounting for his active abuse of Nick’s power. Claus Sr. still appeared very pleased with the results of Nick’s mission. “I must say…you were successful in having the Japanese pour their faith in the Christmas Spirit.” “Really?” “You have saved Polar City from freezing up in the cold!” Claus Sr. congratulated his grandson, making it clear that Nick would be suitable for the role of his successor, a role Nick remained confident in. Suddenly, a voice was heard from the remains of the shrines that hid the bombs.
It was a detective, having discovered evidence of whoever planted the shrine bombs. “I found a note from someone named Shinji Tennoko. Apparently he was testing someone named Nick here…?” Nick and his grandfather then quickly came up with a practical plan together…preparing a special surprise for the naughty one.
With assistance from the police, Nick and Claus Sr. took to the skies of Tokyo in search of Shinji Tennoko, the ultra-religious mastermind behind the shrine bombs in Shinjuku Park. Tennoko was eventually found outside his apartment, by officers hiding in a bag of coal. As of then, he began awaiting the verdict in his trial for his crime against the Japanese…hanging, perhaps. Nick had officially saved Christmas in Japan! As Nick did feel that the law operated too strictly in Japan, despite Tennoko’s hostile views, he forgave him.
Nick and Claus Sr. then treated everyone in the park to servings of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a traditional Christmas meal eaten in the country since 1974. And boy, did they savour it!
As the midnight bell sounded, it had become apparent that it was time for the new successor to begin his duty. “My work here is almost finished.” he proclaimed. Claus Sr. then gave him a new suit to don…for his role as his official successor! Kissing Kita and Kurio, he bid them farewell, then took the reindeer and sleigh to the skies, delivering gifts to everyone across the country, and beyond! Hey, he might have even come to your very house right now!
When Nick finally returned to Polar City after his first international trip, and year-long stay in Japan, he was warmly greeted by everyone who lived there. Even the creator of the Miracle Mint Cane gave him another one to use whenever necessary, never to be abused again!
Nick had successfully learned to accept responsibility, to convince others, and inspire them, and the importance of continuing a tradition, to the delight of the retired old man. And it was all thanks to his friendly image, passion, generosity, and perseverance he expressed whilst living in Japan, and most importantly, his faith in the best of humanity that made him whom he is today. All inherited from his grandfather, no lie!
The following Christmas, he had even thought of the Shiroyuki family, and returned to Tokyo for the night after his long night of delivering that year’s presents to visit them. By that time, Kita had begun High School, while Kurio was in fourth grade, with some of the highest grades in their subjects. But more importantly, they had stronger faith in the Christmas Spirit than even last year. They both received an inedible ornament shaped like a candy cane, or more specifically, the Miracle Mint Cane he had, for their tree, as a symbol of remembrance of the year Claus Sr.’s grandson had lived with them. When nightfall came that night, he flew back to Polar City, knowing that Christmas had once again, underwent a revival…all thanks to him.
Thanks for enjoying that memorable legend! Have a happy holiday, now, everyone, no matter what faith you’re of! What matters is your faith in what the 2020’s will bring!
-Akira Takahashi, November 19th, 2019