Just be happy

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A Happy New Year! It is said in Japan, ‘New Year’s Day sums up the new year’. To make the new year happy, I need to spend today happily. Yet, I can’t feel pressured. Whatever I do today, it’s supposed to be repeated all year long. So, no pressure. Just be happy. I wish you a wonderful, happy New Year.

 The first three days of the year are a major holiday in Japan. People go shopping for a so-called Happy Bag. It’s an assortment bag of merchandise, which is worth several times as much as it’s price and only available this time of year. The catch is you don’t know what’s inside. Some of the bags show its contents but basically, it’s a surprise. To save money, I get a few Happy Bags of accessories every year. Thanks to them, I have got many accessories worth much more than I actually paid. The bags usually contain quite a lot of earrings besides rings or necklaces, but I don’t have my ears pierced. I have numerous earrings I can’t even wear…

 The holiday season is coming to an end. People are stowing away the New Year’s decorations, TV stations are airing the usual programming, everything is back to normal and I feel blue. For a change, I went to the mall today. I had a sub at Subway. For a discount, I looked up online coupons with my cell phone. The coupons were all expired. Instead of a discount, I paid the data communication fee…

 I got a broiled porgy 75% off at the supermarket. A porgy is a symbol of good luck in Japan, and they eat it to celebrate something. The reason is simple. ‘Porgy’ is said ‘Tai’ in Japanese, and ‘Medetai’ means auspicious. So, it really is a pun. New Year’s is an ideal occasion to eat a porgy. I felt extra lucky to get it only at $4, but soon came to myself. A porgy’s price dropped because the holiday season is over. Why am I feeling down eating an auspicious fish…?

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

free calender

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A clothing store in the mall is going to close for good and I went there today for the closing sale. I often get a surprisingly discounted item when a store is closing. It has helped me save much money.

Recently, more and more stores have gone out of business in the area where I live, and the mall I went today has also had less and less shops. As a new shop hasn’t opened, they put tables and chairs for customers to rest where the old store used to be. Now the mall has the break areas everywhere. While I enjoy a sale, I lose a store to shop one after another around me…

 

Many stores in Japan hand out a free calender for customers at the end of a year. When I was a child, my family never needed to buy a calender for a new year because we got amply for free. Some stores offer free-to-take calenders in front of the entrance at this time of year.

I went rambling down the street near the train station to get some. There are many shops and I got a lot of calenders for free last year. This year, the recession was obvious here and I couldn’t find one. A store put up a sign which said, ‘Buy one and get a free calender’. It’s not my option. The era of a free calender has passed…

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.
 

she misspelled ‘merry’ and wrote ‘Marry Xmas!’ instead

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My mother’s hobby is drawing. She drew a Christmas tree on her Christmas card that I received yesterday. Over the years, she has gotten influenced by me for a Christmas card which she didn’t have a custom of sending. This year, she wrote ‘Merry Xmas’ in English baldly and decoratively across the tree. It must have been a big challenge for her who is not used to writing English. Sadly, she misspelled ‘merry’ and wrote ‘Marry Xmas!’ instead. For years, she has kept urging me to marry, and it finally got her. A word ‘marry’ automatically pops up in her brain when she tries to communicate with me…

 

The Christmas card my mother sent me shows her character properly. My parents sent me a Christmas present of wine prior to the cards. They usually send in their joint names, but this time there was only my father’s name on the box. I thought he sent it by himself. It made sense considering how she had snubbed me last time we met. On her Christmas card which came later, she added with pretense of being casual, Cheers with wine!. She apparently had to imply that she had chipped in the present…

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

the rest of the year is just a sideshow

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Mt. Fuji is regarded as a symbol of good luck. Looking out the window of my apartment, I can barely see the top of Mt. Fuji far away after the leaves fall off from the trees nearby.

It’s a season I can see it, but I haven’t been able to find it this year where it’s supposed to be. My partner told me that he has seen it for some time. I looked and looked for the unique shape of Mt. Fuji which was hardly overlooked. Then I noticed that the branches of the trees near my apartment had stretched upward. They block Mt. Fuji at my eye level but not at my partner’s who is much taller than I am. No matter how hard I jump, I can’t see the top. Starting this year, I am too short for good luck…

 

Eve has come. Only one day to Christmas. To a person like me who anticipate Christmas too much, the rest of the year is just a sideshow. As an athlete prepares for the Olympics, I condition myself for Christmas. You should do everything in moderation though, otherwise you would end up like me who feel sad thinking Christmas is over tomorrow while feeling extremely happy to have it at last. My consolation is a concept of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. I cheer up myself saying that Christmas Day is the beginning of the twelve days of Christmas, not the end of it. Well, how can I soothe this infantile myself twelve days later? Let’s say just 11 months to go again…

 

Merry Christmas! How are you spending Christmas Day? I am having rotisserie chicken, pasta and pizza at my apartment with my partner.

A box was delivered from my parents. It was a Christmas present of wine. My parents usually enclose an attacking message to deny what I do and I prepared myself for it. To my surprise, they didn’t do so for once. No attacking words from my parents. That can be considered as a miracle to me. I wish each one of you a peaceful, joyful Christmas. Happy Holidays.

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

time limit offers

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To avoid a crowded store, I did the grocery shopping online today for my holiday meals. In this way, I could enjoy shopping calmly and comfortably, sitting in front of a computer and sipping a cup of coffee.

I was in a good mood adding sale items to a shopping cart one by one. And I found something wrong with the total amount. As I was taking time to shop around, the prices of the sale items were returning to their list prices. I didn’t know that they were time limit offers because nothing mentioned. I guessed the quantity for a sale was limited, thus first come, first served. Now my relaxing shopping had changed into a battle. I shopped as fast as I could, sweating and hunching over a computer. and was done shopping exhausted. Even at home, the hustle and bustle catches you at this time of year…

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

do my holiday shopping anyway

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Today is my holiday shopping day. I have planned and looked forward it for some time. My plan is near perfect – what to get as a Christmas present for my partner, where to go, what to wear. First thing in the morning, I checked my horoscope on TV. Mine was the worst of all. It even elaborated carefully how bad it would be. According to it, everything I do today backfires, and I should spend the day quietly. I still don’t want to think of myself as a superstitious person, but how can I enjoy the holiday shopping bearing that negative information in mind? A trivial piece of a horoscope easily shattered my whole joyful plan…

 

In spite of my bad horoscope of the day that everything I do would backfire, I dared to do my holiday shopping anyway. Only I changed the place to shop. On my way to the mall, I had a snack at IKEA. They had an all-you-can-drink fountain for soft drinks only at 55 cents at the cafeteria. The selection was coffee, tea and soda. Because I’m cheap, I challenged to drink to my limits even for 55 cents. I was fully content and beginning to think that it wasn’t such a bad day as my horoscope had said. I arrived at the mall in a good mood. But then I started to feel queasy. It seemed I had too much drink. I ended up doing my holiday shopping this year with fending off the sick feeling all the way. I bought this difficulty for 55 cents. Backfire…

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

Too sweet, too salty, too stringy or too dry

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I went to a grocery store in a mall connected to the train station, aiming at half-price prepared foods. I have enough knowledge about the times they put on half-price stickers to what remain unsold according to stores. For this store, it is usually past 8:30 p.m. I arrived at the store at 8:45 p.m., the perfect timing.

The shelf was full of half-price items. At the same time, I saw a notice about a liquidation sale of a different store in the mall. The sale was up to 50% off for everything but the store was closing for the day at 9 p.m. Two stores of a half-price sale for only one of me. I often shop without finding any sale items but when I find them, they come all at once. A mystery. I need one more me for sale shopping…

 

People in Japan are everyday gourmets. They fuss over food all the time. Too sweet, too salty, too stringy or too dry. Even not so wealthy people are keen on taste. The TV shows on food are rampant all day long. People are willing to wait in line for hours in front of a small noodle restaurant. The shelf of prepared foods at grocery stores and supermarkets has a huge selection. Western, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Korean, you name it.

As for me, my tongue seems to appreciate pretty much anything. But ironically, I can’t get as much as I like because I watch my weight. Before a splendid view of a wide variety of prepared foods, I bear a grudge against myself who is so easy to gain weight…

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

Podcast: crazy

crazy
I was born at the small hospital in a rural area. Although not many expectant mothers checked in there, two baby girls were born on the same day, one of whom was I. We shared the newborn room, sleeping in a bed side by side. Before the birth, I’d had a possibility to have severe jaundice of the newborn.
My mother was told it would either leave a brain defect if I had it, or make me extremely intelligent if I didn’t have it. Instead of jaundice, I was born with a hip joint dislocation. My right leg had been regularly dislocated and hung loosely until I was one or two years old and my mother had to take me to the hospital each time.
About the time when my leg finally stopped getting dislocated, there was a piece of news in a local newspaper that a little girl was thrown into the river and killed by her parent. The victim was the baby who was born on the same day as I was and slept in the next bed to me at the hospital. Since both the town and the hospital were small, my mother and my grandmother remembered the name of the baby and the area she lived in. I was luckier and I outlived her without any more dislocation or jaundice. The latter should have resulted in me being extremely intelligent but my parents consider me simply crazy…
 
Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.