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Shirō Tsubaki (津場木 史郎, Tsubaki Shirou) is Aoi Tsubaki's grandfather from whom she inherited her ability to see Ayakashi and who first taught her how to cook. Much of his life was spent traipsing back and forth between the Apparent and Hidden Realm, earning him quite the mixed reputation with ayakashi. He passed away days before the main story takes place.
Shiro has white hair and dark purple eyes. When he was younger, he is seen wearing something similar to a school uniform when he is older he wears traditional clothing.
It goes without saying that Shirō's personality is dictated by those who knew him, for better or worse. According to Matsuba, Shirō was a wild human who was liked by many ayakashi at the same time a far greater number of ayakashi were trying to kill him. Many ayakashi referred to him as, "a lowlife, worse than ayakashi." He was free-spirited, irresponsible, and unreliable--living solely for the moment. Everything he left up to chance, to which Aoi Tsubaki agreed. Akatsuki referred to Shirō as cocky and having them (his sister Suzuran and himself specifically) wrapped around his finger.
Still others, such as Suzuran, thought Shirō exceedingly kind and felt spoiled by him. When Shirō took Aoi in and lied about his favorite food when he taught her how to cook, he demonstrated both a sense of prudence and responsibility toward her safety. Whether there was more to Shirō than anyone knew or if he developed good sense in his old age (or both) has yet to be revealed.
Shirō's upbringing and family life are unknown. He had strong spiritual powers and could cross the boundaries between the Apparent and Hidden Realms unhindered. During his trips to the Hidden Realm, he spent most of his time in the capital, Youto, but he was also well known at Tenjin-ya.
Sixty years ago, when Shirō was a boy, he was fishing illegally in the Daikanro River, which crosses between the Hidden and Apparent Realm. The tengu Matsuba, drunk at the time, fell into the river and was likely to drown if not for Shirō jumping in and rescuing him. This was no act of heroism, however, for Shirō proceeded to pester Matsuba for a reward in return. As Matsuba did not have anything on him at the time, he promised Shirō one of the treasured Tengu fans later. Whether Shirō forgot about this promise or not is unknown, but he never received the fan.
Forty years ago, Shirō ventured to where a young earth spider was attacking humans in the Apparent Realm. He defeated the youkai quickly, and took a pair of young earth spider siblings home with him. These were Akatsuki and Suzuran respectively. Shirō had the siblings sign a contract where they promised to do house chores and protect him. He even called it "domestication" and referred to them as "slaves." And yet, in return, Shirō allowed them to stay by his side, cared for them, spoiled them, and fed them. According to Akatsuki and Suzuran, these were happy, peaceful days. In the end, however, Shirō tore up the contract and told the siblings to go to the Hidden Realm. His explanation for this was because the Apparent Realm is hard for ayakashi. Shirō specifically asked Ōdanna, the master of Tenjin-ya, to take the siblings to the Hidden Realm.
Shortly after ending his contract with Akatsuki and Suzuran, Shirō began working up a debt at Tenjin-ya. He ran amuck, eating and drinking as he pleased. At one point he even broke a precious pot that was considered a “national treasure.” In exchange for the debt, he signed a contract which promised his granddaughter’s marriage to Ōdanna as collateral.
There seems to have been no contact between Shirō and Aoi in the years before he got her from the orphanage. When Shirō took Aoi in, his main attention was teaching her how to cook. Interestingly, he liked salty and strong flavors and yet he lied to Aoi, telling her that he loved sweet and plain flavors, which are loved by ayakashi. Shirō taught Aoi how to cook with this particular focus on flavor. In this way, he gave Aoi a form of protection: she would have food to appease the ayakashi who might otherwise try to harm her. It was suggested by Akatsuki that the reason Shirō did not teach her any exorcisms instead was because Shirō had already promised her to Ōdanna as a bride.
Sadly, not too long before Aoi first meets Ōdanna, Shirō fell down the stairs and was taken to the hospital. For his last meal, he wanted to eat Aoi’s cooking, but it ended up being hospital food as he passed away shortly thereafter. He left Aoi enough money to get by on after his death.
Powers & Abilities
Shirō had strong spiritual powers and could cross the boundaries between the Apparent and Hidden Realms unhindered, which is exceedingly rare for a human. Even Aoi Tsubaki (Shirō's granddaughter), who is said to share a similar level of spiritual power to him, has not shown this ability.
Aoi was Shirō's granddaughter, who he raised after her mother abandoned her. Shirō taught Aoi how to make food the ayakashi would enjoy, so that they wouldn't eat her. After Shirō dies, Aoi comes to learn that she didn't know as much as she thought about him.
Ōdanna considered Shirō a friend. However, Ōdanna hates to be told he is like Shiro.
Shirō saved Matsuba's life when he was young.
- The name Shirō means "history" (史) (shi) and "son" (郎) (rou).
- The name Shirō is an alternate transcription of Shirou.
- Shirō's surname Tsubaki means "port" (津) (tsu), "place" (場) (ba), and "tree" (木) (ki).
- The relationship between Shirō and Aoi's Mother has not been revealed.