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.
 

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.

Liberation from Money hr649

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As I recall it, a ticket vending machine first appeared in the early 80’s at the nearest train station from my home in Japan where I grew up. There had been two ticket windows one of which was replaced with the machine. It was an exciting new gizmo especially for children that spewed out a train ticket by just pushing a button corresponded to the destination. The ticket gate was still operated by a clerk. The ticket examiner stood in an open booth with special clippers in his hand. Passengers would show the commuter pass to him, or have the ticket clipped by his clippers to get a hole or a nick on it. The examiner handled clippers skillfully, clipped tickets one after another so fast and rhythmically. When passengers broke off, he would turn clippers many times in his hand artfully as if he had been a juggler. Later on, the ticket booth was also replaced by the automatic ticket gate.
In those days, more and more vending machines had emerged here and there in Japan. They started with coffee and soft drinks, then cigarettes and beer. Soon pornographic magazines and condoms, hamburgers and noodle soup were all purchasable from the machine.
Nowadays, ordering at restaurants has been by a touch screen on the table, and check-out counters at the supermarket have been self-service registers. Either at a restaurant or a supermarket, I pay an incorrect total once in two or three visits when human servers and cashiers take care the payment and make a mistake. I know the odds because I look into the receipt very carefully right after the payment each and every time. Almost in every case I don’t gain but overpay, which is a mystery, so that I claim at once. I understand I myself induce their mistakes by using every possible coupon and discount promotion in one payment that makes my total so complicated. When a machine handles service in place of a human, it’s fast, convenient, clean and no mistakes. But on the other hand, no small talk or smiles are a little tasteless. Even so, machines may fit better for me since I often get annoyed with people too easily.
The day that machines take up most jobs of humans’ might arrive sooner than expected. If it happened, the government would pay the people a basic income by taxing companies. Is it possible that people don’t have to work? For the first time after the ancient times, humans would get liberated from money at long last. Everybody could live by doing what they want. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing that day come. I’m strongly hoping. And I believe in a miracle as such.

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.

They don’t pick a time and place.

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I have just come back from a grocery store now. They had a great one-day sale today. Since I couldn’t go out for it last week, this one was kind of revenge. I arrived at the store and guess what. The sale items were all sold out already. Revenge never works. I got completely upset and was involuntarily scribbling a complaint on a comment sheet at the store. It was a totally compulsive move and when I came to myself, I submitted it to the box.

As I cooled down, I realized something. I got up at 12:30 p.m. this afternoon, had lunch, and by the time I was at the store, it was past 4 p.m. Maybe my lifestyle is a problem, not the store…

 

After shopping, I had dinner at Starbucks. Their subs are my favorite, but the main reason to dine there is that restaurants in Japan are full of housewives who take noisy, ill-behaved kids along. They don’t pick a time and place. From an expensive restaurant to even a bar, kids are there. Some Japanese bars have a play room for kids. There is even a baby at a bar at night. Crazy. The safest place for me was a cafe. But, they came. When I enjoyed a sub and a holiday cake with a quiet, relaxing atmosphere listening to holiday music in the background, this kid invaded the place. His loud babbling and shrieking filled Starbucks and ruined everything. Starbucks was my last resort and finally, I have no place to dine in Japan…

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 download of Kindle ebook! July2nd~6th “Diary of The Hottest Summer in Tokyo by Hidemi Woods”

Diary of The Hottest Summer in Tokyo / Hidemi Woods

There is no formal casino in Japan. Instead, there are innumerable pachinko parlors all over Japan. A pachinko is a very popular Japanese gambling game that is partly like pinball and partly like slot. They buy small silver balls to play with, and the machine brings out the balls if they win. They exchange the balls for money or items like cigarettes and chocolates. For some reason, it’s not allowed to exchange directly for money. They get a certain strange item with their balls once, and exchange it for money at a small dark hut behind the building. A pachinko parlor is sort of a mix of a casino and a game arcade. It has a large number of pachinko machines side by side in aisles and exists around almost everywhere people live.Sadly, it doesn’t make people a millionaire. By playing all day, they win a few hundred dollars at most. As for me, I’ve never played a pachinko in my life. My life itself is awfully like gambling and I’m bogged down with it completely…

Diary of The Hottest Summer in Tokyo: My Apartment Hunting, New Song and Costco / Hidemi Woods

An eel is an expensive treat in Japan

One summer in my childhood, my grandfather on my mother’s side invited my mother and me to lunch. The restaurant’s specialty was eels. An eel is an expensive treat in Japan. We arrived at an awfully old-fashioned Japanese restaurant where we took off our shoes and sat on the floor at the low table. Except for us, only one table was occupied by a woman with a small child, who was busily stuffing the leftovers into a tin box she had brought. Every time my grandfather needed a server to come to our table, he clapped his hands twice and called out, “Hey, sister!” It was an obsolete manner no longer practiced, which embarrassed my mother and me.

 When our house was rebuilt, I had my own room for the first time. That time, my grandfather took my mother and me to a furniture store to buy me a bed and a wardrobe. After we chose the items, a young salesperson calculated the total. My grandfather naturally asked for a discount but the salesperson’s offer didn’t satisfy him at all. He was an old patron of the store and had bought every piece of furniture there for my mother when she got married. He was used to special treatment and assumed he would get one there. But the salesperson declined the further discount, as he was new and didn’t know my grandfather. Even so, my grandfather persisted and decided the total amount of his own. He handed bills to the salesperson, and told him how much the change to be brought back should be. My grandfather’s way apparently perplexed the salesperson. Standing next to my grandfather, I was so embarrassed again.

 Eventually, a long tug-of-war was over and the salesperson brought back what my grandfather had told him. My bed and wardrobe were successfully discounted, but I learned my grandfather’s style was outdated in the modern world…

Episode From An Old Tree in Kyoto /Hodemi 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

closing sale

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…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / 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