Nokoko Inaka is the only student at Itan Private High School who resides in the countryside. Episode 17 reveals more of her life outside of school.
Nokoko Inaka is a unique student at Itan Private High School, but not for the same reasons as her classmates. While the majority of Itan’s students reside in the city, Inaka comes from the countryside, which she is very embarrassed about. For most of Komi can’t communicate Season 1, Inaka was obsessed with what other students thought of her. Specifically, she feared being harassed by others due to the stereotypes that city dwellers tend to have of the countryside.
While Inaka has had sporadic appearances since her intro episode, she makes her first full story appearance in Season 2, Episode 17 “New Year’s Day”. As the name suggests, Itan Private High School students are on winter vacation, which means many of them are at home or in other parts of Japan to celebrate the winter vacation. Inaka is no exception, except that her vacation activities are different from those of most of her classmates: she actually works part-time at the local Shinto shrine during the holidays.
As is customary in Japan, many people visit their local Shinto shrine on New Year’s Eve to not only celebrate the arrival of the new year, but also to thank the local kami (gods) for their achievements during the New Year. past year. In episode 17 of Komi can’t communicate, Komi and her family visit her paternal grandmother Yuiko and her extended family in the countryside. The women all put on their yukata and visit the local shrine to express their New Year’s greetings and, in Komi’s case, thank the kami for achieving his goal of making friends.
When Yuiko goes to visit the priest she is friends with, he reveals that there is a miko missing from the shrine store because the other girl who had to work the day called in sick. Yuiko has replaced Komi as miko at the shrine and is paired with the other girl working the day shift: Inaka, who immediately panics. While Komi also trembles in fear in the presence of her first client, Inaka replays all the worst-case scenarios in her head now that Komi knows she’s from the countryside. She imagines everything from being pushed aside by Komi to being treated badly by the other students.
Luckily for Inaka, her fears are quickly invalidated when she sees Komi struggling to serve her customers and decides to help. She begins by explaining to Komi her responsibilities at the store, including telling her how to calculate the price of all items requested by a customer and how to accept payments. Knowing that she has a communication disorder, Inaka provides Komi with a pen and paper to help her communicate more effectively with her clients. With Komi in the know, the two girls successfully work together in the workshop until their shift is over.
Although Inaka only does one job as a miko at a shrine, it’s safe to assume that’s not her only responsibility – especially if she doesn’t just work during vacations. Since modern miko in Japan tend to work year-round, it’s likely that Inaka works at the shrine in her spare time. If she does, her other responsibilities include assisting the priests with rituals and ceremonies, and during day shifts she would also be responsible for cleaning the sanctuary and sweeping the grounds outside.
Whether or not we see more of Inaka’s life outside of school – or the other responsibilities she has as a miko at her local shrine – will likely be explored in future episodes of Komi can’t communicate.
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