praying and bowing

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I visited a local temple for what was called ‘hatsumode’. It means to visit a temple or a shrine to pray for good luck after the new year comes, and is a major event of New Year’s in Japan.

People do it during the first three days of New Year’s. Famous shrines and temples are packed with thousands of visitors. I hate a crowded place and being bound with a fixed schedule, so I go to a nearby temple at anytime in January. Before praying, you should put money in a wooden box set in front of a building. While they put a 10-yen coin, a 100-yen coin or a bill in some cases, I always put a one-yen coin and take some time to pray. Maybe I take a longer time than anyone else, praying and bowing repeatedly. Too many wishes for one yen…

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.

potatoes in the box

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At the end of the last year, I won a prize drawing of a snack company and got a boxful of potatoes. I was very pleased to receive it but I had forgotten that I wasn’t a frequent cook. I finally found time to cook potatoes yesterday. The potatoes have already begun to bud. I’ve heard that a potato’s bud is poisonous and I was afraid enough to decide to eat them as soon as possible. I cooked them into tempura. The whole dinner was potato tempura. It was delicious, but eating from a mountain of potato tempura, it looked more and more like a confrontation. The leftovers still sit in the fridge and there are a lot more potatoes in the box waiting for me. They should have been a prize, not a punishment…

  The New Year’s celebration was officially over. I took down the decorations today. Then I finished watching all episodes of ‘The O.C. Season 2’, thus, I reached the goal of my OC marathon today. And I heard the news that my favorite supermarket would be withdrawn from Japan. It’s called Carrefour and from France. I really loved shopping there with their French taste goods and foods in a spacious place. After writing this, I’m going to another store which is closing for good tomorrow for my last shopping there. This is one of those days that everything strangely clicks at the same time. As for New Year’s, people had already stopped celebrating long before and I was probably the last one still in a New Year’s mood…

 As I wrote yesterday, I went shopping for a closing sale of a store, which was going out of business after over 30 years. The store usually has sparse customers but its closing sale changed it completely.

The floor was filled with people who waited in a long line at the checkout with a basketful of clothing. I had never seen so many shoppers in that store. I bought knitted caps at $3 each marked down from $20 and scarfs at $2 from $20. And I noticed there were only few younger people in the store. They were all elderly people around me. A large number of aged people were shopping around so vigorously. I don’t see such lively old people so often. Was the store aimed at elderly people? If so, my taste for clothing is similar to them…

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.

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.