Podcast: summer camp when I was a freshman

 
Audiobook 1 : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Audiobook 2 : My Social Distancing and Naked Spa in Japan by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total. 
 
The high school I attended held a mandatory summer camp when I was a  freshman. The students chose activities such as swimming, hiking,  cycling and so on beforehand. To spend the time in the camp together, my  group of close friends at school decided to choose the same activities.  We considered carefully which ones were the easiest and mildest, and  chose archery and cycling. A couple of months later the cycling day in  the camp arrived. We set off on each rental bicycle. Right after that,  one of my friends, called Yone, fell. She quickly got back on her bike  and we started again. Immediately, she fell again. We stopped to wait  for her. She caught up with us by pushing her bike and said, ‘Sorry. Now  let’s go!” But the same thing was repeated for the third time, her  falling down, us waiting. We finally asked her what was going on and  heard her astonishing confession. She said, “I can’t ride a bike.” We  gaped. Being unable to ride a bike was nothing, but why did she choose  cycling among all activities then? And telling us now? We pressed her  for an explanation why she didn’t just say so when we decided on  cycling. She told us that she couldn’t because we were joyfully talking  about how easy cycling would be. In our group, she was the tenderest  one, but also a pushover. She always had no opinion of her own and  conformed to others. That was a given, but I never thought this much. We  were talking about pushing our bikes and going all the way on foot with  her when she said, “I’m ruining your plan for an easy activity. I can’t  make you walk all the way because of me. Please ride on. I think I can  manage along the way. I’m sorry. Sorry.” We mounted on the bike, not  pedaling but walking while Yone kept falling and saying sorry for a  million times. Her indecisive, weak-minded attitude has gradually gotten  on my nerves. A girl of other group whom I had barely talked before  pedaled back toward us. She had something to ask me. I answered and  chatted, and we hit it off instantly. When I realized, I pedaled with  her separating from my group. I stopped to wait at the foot of the  downward slope and heard a scream. It was Yone flying down the slope on  her bike and tumbling into a rice paddy.

Podcast: jackpot and Sunrise

 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods  On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total. 
 
jackpot 
A dream I wish to have in the night most isn’t about dating a Hollywood star, or making a great hit with my song. It’s not about my parents saying to me with tears “We were wrong. We’re sorry.” either.
It’s about numbers. I once saw a woman on TV who won 4 million dollars by the lottery with the numbers she had seen in her dream. Shortly after that, I myself saw numbers in my dream and began to buy a lottery ticket with those numbers. I won $10 for several times and $100 once, if not 4 million dollars.
Since then, I’ve always waited for numbers to appear in my dream, the numbers for the jackpot. And the other night, new numbers appeared in my dream for the first time in months. I was convinced that the time had come. I rushed to the only lottery stand in this small town and got a ticket for five consecutive drawings with those numbers.
I lost them all. I went out again in the snow with my partner for five more drawings. At the stand, he found that he had left an ATM card at home, which was necessary to get a lottery ticket. He acted as if he had lost 4 million dollars on the spot and looked up the sky with despair.
I’d never thought the numbers from my dream gave him so much hope. I ended up coming back again to get a ticket before the next drawing day. While I rely on my dream numbers and keep meeting the deadline for each drawing rigidly, a possibility of the jackpot is practically none…
 

Podcast: Tokyo and conveyor belt sushi restaurant

Episode from Hidemi’s Rambling  by Hidemi Woods 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.  Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
 
Moving to a new place reminds me about the time when I first left  home. I had always longed to live in Tokyo since childhood, watching  modern high-rises or cool apartments in TV dramas. I knew that would  never happen to me because I was a firstborn in a family succeeded from  generation to generation and was destined to finish my life in the  country family house. But music provoked me to throw away everything-my  family, friends, college life and, above all, secure life-and to move to  Tokyo. As almost all Japanese record companies were in Tokyo and there  were many musicians as well, I thought it would be easy to promote my  music and find good band members. In actual fact, I only found bad  musicians in an unsightly city with too many people, and the record  companies picked trashy songs by ignoring mine. Except that I was so  happy to have left the place where I was born, things in Tokyo weren’t  as good as I had expected…

Podcast: small rural town in Japan

Episode from Hidemi’s Rambling  by Hidemi Woods 
 
Audiobook 1 : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
 
Audiobook 2 : My Social Distancing and Naked Spa in Japan by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total. 
 
 
 
Let me report how a small rural town I live in has been lately. Since  there are many skiing slopes in the town, the forlorn main street has  ski lodges, B and Bs, souvenir shops and rental ski shops. Quite a few  had been out of business as the skiing boom was gone. One out of every  three shops is closed now along the street. The other day I found that  my favorite shop there hung a sign saying ‘For Rent’. The shop was my  dream shop that carried imported foods and goods from U.S. Imported  merchandise is usually costly, but that shop sold selected Costco-brand  foods at almost the same prices at Costco or sometimes lower prices.  Considering the membership fee at Costco, they cost less here. The stamp  card of the shop was also magical. They gave the customers stamps  according to the sum of purchase and the accumulated stamps were  exchanged for the merchandise. Those stamps were ridiculously easy to be  collected and I couldn’t count how many bottles of salsa I got for  free. In addition, the shop often held a prize drawing event. The  drawing always came out with a prize and I got numerous freebies such as  pouches and stuffed animals. I had never left the shop without  something free in my bag. It was almost charity for me and I felt the  more I shopped, the more the shop was in the red. That maybe proved  true. The shop has been closed for good and sadly my strange rule that  my favorite place is almost certainly to be out of business worked again  just as I had been afraid of. The number of children in the town has  decreased and several schools were merged into one. That one school is  also small and the local bus started to be partly operated as a school  bus. Noisy kids rush in the bus in the afternoon and I can’t use it any  more. My favorite modern restaurant in town has had more and more closed  days. Now it closes on three days of weekdays and opens only for three  hours each on the remaining two weekdays. One of the B and Bs on the  main street newly got out of business and came into the market. The  price was unbelievably low. Even so, nobody bought it and the price got  even lower. It’s less than a tenth of a typical house price for three  times the space of a typical house. It was cheap enough for me to think  of running a B and B myself.

Podcast: When I killed her

 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.  Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
 
My long-awaited first appearance on the stage drew unwelcome laughter in the school play but I had been absorbed in my role as an evil stepmother too much to care about the audience’s wrong response. A hush fell over them quickly and tension of the play was conveyed to them as the play went on. They even screamed in the scene that I slapped hard the heroine on the cheek. When I killed her near the end, I heard them raise an outcry. The play was a big success.
It was part of entertainment in a welcome assembly for new students. Since the school had both the junior high and the high school, the drama club had two performances on that day for each school. While I was cast in both performances, the heroine was double-cast. My favorite senior member of the club played it in the first performance and every scene with her went so well probably because chemistry between us was right. Especially when I slapped her, it produced an ideal loud whack. Miss Fujiwara, who had snatched a role away from me months before, was the heroine for the second performance. She asked me to slap her just as I did to another heroine. She was envious of the dramatic scene we had created. Unfortunately, she overacted the scene and my slapping made a dull thud. I knew it would go that way considering our bad chemistry. Or maybe my hand hit her too hard by carrying my bad feelings toward her.
After the play, the teacher in charge of the drama club ran up to me and proudly proclaimed, “A star is born!” He introduced me to his colleagues as a new star in the drama club. I gained a weird celebrity status at school. Every time students spotted me, they would shout abuse at me for what I had done in the play, or they would try to avoid me because they were scared of me. It seemed I acted the role so well that they believed I was a naturally vicious person off the stage.

Podcast: just clearing your eyes

Episode from The Family in Kyoto: One Japanese Girl Got Freedom by Hidemi Woods 

HidemiWoods.com 

Audiobook 1 : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 

Audiobook 2 : My Social Distancing and Naked Spa in Japan by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 

Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total. 

just clearing your eyes

My father was an attentive father. He treated me so nicely throughout my childhood. My mother didn’t like how he treated me because she believed he was just spoiling me. Every time he did a nice thing to me, she got angry. To avoid her anger, he had learned to give me a treat without her presence.

Near my home was a temple famous for the five-storied pagoda, and a fair was held along the approach to it once a month. A relative of ours had a booth at the fair and my father helped carry merchandise every month. He never forgot to get some toys for me there when his work was done. There was no greater pleasure for me than seeing him entering the house, waving some play house items to me. Of course he was scolded by my mother when she caught it.

I usually slept beside my grandparents and I had suffered from chronic insomnia in my childhood. Once in a while, I had a happy occasion to sleep with my parents when my grandparents were on their trip. On one of those occasions, my mother was taking a bath when my father came to futon next to me. Since my parents didn’t know about my insomnia, he was surprised I was still awake. He thought I couldn’t sleep because I was too hungry. Not to be caught by my mother, he stealthily got out of the room, sneaked into the kitchen, made a rice ball and brought it to me. He told me to finish it before my mother came out of the bathroom. Seeing me devouring it, he said that he had never made a rice ball by himself before and didn’t know how. It was surely the ugliest rice ball, but the most delicious one I had ever had.

My mother also didn’t like to see me cry. She had told me not to cry because crying made me look like an idiot. While my little sister cried all the time, I tried not to as hard as I could. But as a small child, I sometimes couldn’t help it and my mother would get angry with me for crying. In those cases, my father always said to me, “You’re not crying, are you? You’re just clearing your eyes, right?” I hadn’t noticed until recently that there are the exact words in my song ‘Sunrise’. I’ve put his words unconsciously…

Podcast: my first ever appearance

Audiobook 1 : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Audiobook 2 : My Social Distancing and Naked Spa in Japan by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total. 
 
 
As the school play of the drama club approached, I had prepared for my first role vigorously. Once I remembered all the lines, acting itself actually felt much easier than the backstage work I had done for three years.
The difficult part was timing for some action. In one scene, I threw a bowl at the heroine but she had to show her back to me when it happened. I sat with my back to her and couldn’t see her positions. We made the sound of her knees tapping the stage floor a signal that she had turned her back to me. Because the sound was so subtle, I was afraid of missing it.
Near the end of the play, an evil stepmother, who was played by me, killed a heroine with a poker. It was a custom of the club that the club members would visit a shrine together to pray for safety before the play if it had a murder scene. We did that after school, with me standing right in front of the altar because I was the murderer. Now, I had everything ready for my first play, and the day had come.
Since it was a Japanese period play, I had borrowed kimono from my grandmother as my costume. My role was an old woman and I drew lines on my face and sprinkled talcum powder over my hair. While I was waiting for the play to start in the wings, I got tensed up and my hands began to tremble. There’s an old trick in Japanese show business, that tracing a Chinese character that means ‘human’ on a palm with a finger three times and pretending to swallow it removes tension when you’re nervous. I threw myself on the trick but it didn’t work at all. Suddenly I lost self-confidence and told one of the juniors that I was so nervous. Although she would also appear in the play as a bit part, she was surprisingly calm. She suggested the trick placidly and said that she couldn’t help me because she had never been nervous in her entire life. As I doubted if she was a human being, the play started.
Following a heroine’s monologue, the curtain was raised and I was standing in the center of the stage. The unexpected happened: before I uttered a word, the hall got engulfed in an explosion of laughter. The audience burst out laughing at the scene in which a stumpy girl was standing with old makeup. Although the play was a serious drama, my first ever appearance was laughed away…
 

Podcast: I nearly screamed

 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods  On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total. 
 
I nearly screamed
The decisive reason I chose music as my career is Tulip. It’s a Japanese pop and rock band. They literally changed my life and have still had influence on my songs.
They broke up years ago but over the past decade, they were sporadically reunited and on tour for a limited time. Those occasions are extremely precious to me since I constantly crave their concert. In late January, I happened to see a poster of them at a convenience store. It told about their reunion and the limited time tour. I was so excited that I nearly screamed there.
It was then that my long torment of an allergy has begun. Besides a pollen allergy, I had never had an allergy in my life. But I found a reddish rash at the lower part of my both cheeks one morning, which seemed some allergic reaction. During the days when I arranged the tickets for Tulip’s concerts, the rash had gotten worse. It was red and itchy and covered the lower half of my face that was swollen.
I looked terrible. I walked drooping my head to hide my face with my hair every day. I selected three concerts of Tulip’s tour since I couldn’t afford all venues much as I wanted, and they were held monthly between April and June. Each venue I got the ticket for was far from my home and I needed to book the hotel and the train.
I doubt if words can convey how embarrassing it was to make three trips wearing the red rash on my face. I had dreamed of Tulip’s another reunion for five and a half years and when it finally became a reality, I went to their three concerts looking awful with a red, swollen face…
 

Podcast: Doll’s Festival

 
Audiobook 1 : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Audiobook 2 : My Social Distancing and Naked Spa in Japan by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.  
 
Doll’s Festival 
The Doll’s Festival in Japan is for celebrating girls and they decorate old style dolls on stepped shelves. The festival I had when I was 12 years old coincided with the day to know whether I passed or failed the entrance examination for the best private junior high school in the city. In Japan, each candidate is given an applicant number and a school releases the numbers of the passed ones on big boards put up in a school.
After excruciating two years that I attended the supplementary private school for the exam additionally after finishing a whole day at the elementary school, I was reasonably confident. I went to see the announcement boards with my parents and my younger sister. It was a big day for my family, as the result would more or less decide my future.
In front of the boards, I was astounded. My number wasn’t there. I failed. On our way home, we stopped at a bakery for cake for the Doll’s Festival. While my mother and my sister went in the bakery, I was waiting in the car with my father. It started to snow. I still can vividly picture those snowflakes falling and melting on the windshield. I had never felt so devastated before.
In the evening, my mother took a bath with me and she wailed saying “I’m so disappointed!” again and again. Because I wasn’t used to seeing her crying, my despair turned fear. The fear that I made a fatal, catastrophic error. Since then, every year on the Doll’s Festival, I remember that year’s festival…
 

Podcast: only evil people in this world

 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.  Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
 
When I was little, my mother constantly said bad things about others. She believed that, even when someone was kind to her, there must have been some plot behind the nice gesture. To sum up what she talked about every day, there are only evil people in this world.
In kindergarten, mothers would fix a lunchbox for their kids and the kids would eat lunch with their classmates and their teacher. At one lunchtime, when I was opening a lid of my lunchbox, I inadvertently dropped it to the floor without having a single bite and it overturned there. I lost my lunch. While other kids laughed at me, my teacher, who had been trying so hard to make me play with other kids because I had ignored them and had hardly talked to anyone, cleaned up the mess for me and took me to a small candy store outside the kindergarten.
She told me to pick any bread I liked. I picked one timidly, feeling afraid what kind of trap this would be, as I didn’t have any money. She suggested one more. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and shook my head. She picked one more piece of bread by herself, took out money from her own wallet, and gave all the bread to me.
I was stunned. She bought me lunch. It was the first time that someone unrelated to me was so kind to me. Since then, I had started talking to her. Even after I finished kindergarten, I had kept exchanging letters with her and I still send her a Christmas card every year.
She was the first person who destroyed my mother’s theory of the evil world and taught me that there were some good people in this world…