Release date: July 25, 2016
When Kathleen Schmitt is promoted to project lead at Mashida INTL for the Personal Love Companion (PLC), a life-sized, hyper-realistic dating doll, she must relocate to Tokyo. Trying not to get lost in translation is quite the culture shock for this born-and-bred Midwesterner.
She’s surprised when her boss asks her to beta test the new dolls—an assignment that requires having her brain scanned so the company can fashion a personalized doll based on her innermost desires. But most surprising of all: her test PLC turns out to be a woman—one who looks and acts remarkably like her neighbor and coworker, Yuriko Vellucci.
American-born Yuriko is a former transplant herself and is sympathetic to the difficulties of adjustment—to a point. Kathleen is about the most pathetic foreigner this engineer’s ever met. She clearly needs Yuriko’s help and expertise if this transition—and the PLC project—is to be a success.
With Yuriko to show her the way, Kathleen will learn to socialize at an izakaya, find the best onsen in Nikko, party at a matsuri, buy doujinshii in Akihabara, and fall in love with a country so very different from her own.
But can she also learn how to confess her love for the person who showed it to her?
by Diana Jean
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Diana is a twenty-something-something who spends most of her day writing about people falling in love, reading about people falling in love, or making excessively frilly dresses. Find Diana Jean at http://dianajeanauthor.blogspot.com/.
An excerpt from Tokyo Love:
Kathleen looked around the station again. She needed to ask for help.
Three years ago, Japan Railway (JR) introduced a new type of station manager. Have a question in the train station? No longer will you have to track down a busy employee. Instead, walk to the nearest HELP kiosk and press the friendly green button (red button for emergencies only). Located every five feet, HELP displays a friendly hologram station manager, ready to answer any question in over seventy-five languages.
That was how they were advertised, but Kathleen often found herself to be the lost foreigner in the train station and had learned to dread using the HELP kiosk. She stomped over to the nearest HELP consul—her feet were too heavy for grace—and slapped the green button. “English!” she spat, before the computer would ask her in each one of the over seventy-five languages.
A flicker, and then, in the small ring on the floor, a glowing blond woman stood, smiling pleasantly. “Thank you for using JR HELP. How can I help you?”
In terms of holograms, she was shoddy. Kathleen could see right through her and just about every pixel on her flawless pale skin. The hologram also wasn’t looking directly at Kathleen—her gaze was fixed a little past her left shoulder. Really, it was quite simple to program an eye-tracking device to focus on an individual’s face.
“Where am I?” Kathleen asked.
“This is OMIYA-STATION.” The holo’s voice changed abruptly on the proper noun, like she had suddenly suffered a stroke.
“Okay … how do I get to Matsudo?”
The hologram stared at her with a blank, smiling expression. “Please repeat?”
Kathleen bit her lip. “How do I get to Matsudo?”
“Did you say SHIBUYA?” Before the woman a glowing train map appeared. “First, take the JR SHOUNEN-SHIJUKU line to—”
“No!” Kathleen waved her hand. “Matsudo!”
“Did you say SHIBUYA? First, take—”
“Did you say SHIBU—?”
“MATSUDO. YOU HACK PIECE OF—!”
“Excuse me?” A soft voice came from behind Kathleen.
Kathleen whirled around, afraid she had attracted the attention of some official. It was a woman, probably in her late twenties, like Kathleen. She was wearing a soft, ruffled blouse and a stiff pencil skirt. Not the JR station manager uniform. Her sleek black hair was carefully parted and pulled into a side ponytail.
At once, Kathleen was both grateful that she hadn’t upset the machine so much as to call over a real worker, and also deeply embarrassed that she had alarmed this poor commuter. “Ah, sorry! I mean—” Dammit, what was the word? “Shumisen!” She gave a hurried bow.
The woman only looked concerned. “Don’t worry about it.” She spoke with a flawless American accent and Kathleen could have cried. The only people she knew who spoke fluent English were people at the company. And half of them spent their days questioning her every decision. “You’re trying to get to Matsudo station, right?”
“Yes!” Kathleen exclaimed, grateful and still very near tears.
The woman smiled, but in that sort of strained, please-don’t-let-this-stranger-cry-on-me way. “I am heading there myself. I can show you the way.”
“Thank you! Thank you so much! I’m Kathleen Schmitt, by the way.” She reached into her bag, digging out a business card. One of these days she really needed to grab some of those cute cases that most businessmen and women carried in this country. She handed it over, bowing again. She might suck balls at the language, but she had learned the whole bowing thing within a week. Mostly because every person seemed to bow at her and it was getting awkward just standing there taking it.”
The woman smiled, handing over her own business card with a little more grace. Hers came in a lovely sakura case with an actual GIF of petals falling from the cover. “Yuriko Vellucci.” A foreign last name; maybe she was married to a foreigner? That was probably why she spoke English so well.
Kathleen looked down at the business card.
Mechanical Engineer – Quality Control
Yuriko worked for the same company as Kathleen.