Time to Let Go of the Attached hr653

Living in Japan, I have been recently selling what I have in my apartment through a Japanese online service that is similar to eBay.

Japanese people had basically prioritized anything new and hadn’t been accustomed to buying and using what was used. They had believed what they got should be new and unused whether it was a house or a car. Needless to say, there had been no way that they put on or used what a stranger wore or possessed. It could have had something to do with their social customs of not shaking hands nor hugging. Or, they were just simply too hygienic.

However, as the Japanese economy has steadily worsened, the used market has finally grown larger. I myself struggle to make both ends meet, and I started selling my stock of clothes and cosmetics in order to make up for living expenses. I had had a tendency to get extreme bargain items even if they weren’t strictly necessary because I loved bargain hunting. That contributed too much unused stuff all over my small apartment. Selling it is a good idea that helps give my apartment space and also give me some money.

At the same time though, I feel a little sad as I remember how much fun I had when I shopped for the item or how excited I was when I wondered where to go with those clothes on. The higher my stuff’s selling price can be expected, the harder I say good-by to that one as I like it better and have a happier memory of my purchase.

My sister used to live alone abroad in an apartment provided by her company that included a housekeeping service. She had gradually been unable to throw away empty cans or wrappers after she consumed the contents because each one carried some kind of memory to her. She had kept them until her apartment was filled with her mementos that were commonly called piles of garbage. That made the housekeeper’s work incredibly difficult and they complained to my sister’s company repeatedly. My sister got fired for that although she had held a management job and her own secretary. While I don’t think I am as extremely attached to my stuff as she is, I can understand to some extent how she feels. Does DNA work here, I wonder.

During my daily parting with my attached things and memories, my mother called me the other day. She was going to rent an apartment and asked me to be a surety which was required for the contract. I gaped at her audacity to ask me a favor after she has deceived and tormented me mentally and financially so many times. I refused her request outright. As always, she couldn’t think of anything but using me in any possible way. My adamant refusal seemed to put an end to our relationship at long last. As for this matter, I felt relieved and free rather than sad. 

This kind of thing happens to me all the time

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Stores have removed winter clothes from their floors, but I know one particular store that has out-of-season clothes left unsold at great discount prices.

I went there and bingo! I found a nice down jacket at half price. I paid with my credit card and to get more discounts, with a $5 gift certificate, a 5% off coupon, and a 2-cent discount for bringing my bag instead of using their plastic bag. As you can see, it’s confusing, and the salesperson made a mistake on the total charge. I pointed it out but he didn’t know how to fix it.

He called another salesperson for help. He explained all the discounts showing the incorrect receipt to her. They read aloud the receipts together for whatever the reason was, and just gazed somewhere vacantly. It seemed that they thought doing just that would make the problem disappear. After a few more readings and gazing, they called one more person for help. She repeated exactly what had already happened and in dismay, they started looking for something all around the counter. Finally, they came to their senses and began to enter digits on the cash register. They cancelled the former total and charged the correct one. It took a long time and three people to do that. This kind of thing happens to me all the time because I always try to get a maximum discount by every conceivable means…

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.

Overflowing Endless Whys hr651

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I had constantly troubled my parents by asking reasons for about everything in the world when I was little.
“Why did that person say that?”
“Why does this go this way?”
Too many things in the world didn’t seem reasonable to me. Among them, the reason for people’s behavior was chiefly mysterious. My parents had been fed up with my unstoppable assault of questions and their answers had become stuck to “You’ll understand when you grow up.”
Now I’m grown-up, and yet I still don’t understand anything.

Why do many shoppers choose a list-price package on the shelf right next to ones with half-price stickers?
Why do they come to the supermarket without bringing their shopping bags but pay additionally for harmful plastic bags instead?
Why is driving a luxury car by paying outrageously a status symbol while accidents and natural disasters caused by environmental destruction kill people?
Why do people throw away clothes that are still wearable?
Why do people replace appliances that are perfectly working to new ones?
Why do people leave and discard food or drink that they pay for or order by themselves?

Why do I bring travel amenities like toothbrushes or combs from the hotel to my home where they have been stored in cardboard boxes to the amount of what I would never use them all up before I die?
Why don’t I feel like throwing away old receipts and tattered socks?
Why can’t I get up in the morning like most people do?
Why do I have every night dreams that are too vivid to distinguish from reality?
Why do I do everything slower than others although I do it in a great hurry each time with trembling hands?
Why do I always button my shirt one hole down?
Why don’t I have friends?
Why have I felt an urge to wash my hands each and every time when I touch something since long before the pandemic?
Why has the government kept giving so much money since the pandemic?

Why do people keep getting married while marriage doesn’t make them happy?
Why do people have children who consume their money and aspirations?

Why did my mother lie to the doctor that she hurt her arm when she tried to get something heavy from the top shelf and it fell on her although in truth her injury was inflicted by a chair that my sister had thrown at her?
Why did my father suddenly send me a letter in which he lashed out at me severely and at the same time, enclose some money for me?
Why did my parents do so many terrible things to me who was their own child?

Why don’t I stop wondering why? It would be easy and at peace if I could swallow everything and accept it simply as the way it is.

How come they don’t like it?

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I went to my favorite supermarket, Carrefour. As I mentioned here, it came from France and is going to withdraw from Japan next month.

What I like about it most is its atmosphere. It has such a huge, spacious floor that I feel like shopping at a supermarket in US. Their selection of merchandise is also my liking. They carry items which are popular not in Japan but abroad, such as rotisserie chicken, couscous, paella, pretzel and pesto. Imported food is usually very expensive but their prices are low. On the same floor, they also have kitchen goods, stationery, electronics, books and daily goods so that shopping is fun and convenient. Although it’s an ideal place to shop to me, it’s going out of business which means Japanese people didn’t like it.

When I got out of the store, it was already dark outside. Looking at its elegantly glowing neon sign, I thought this would have been my last visit, and I would certainly miss this store. How come they don’t like it? I am not getting along well with other Japanese people…

 

Lately I’ve been depressed which is so unlike me. I wonder why. Is it because I fell for a scam of an auction website? Or because the holiday season is past and there is a long way to have the next one? Or because Carrefour is closing for good? I thought I might be simply tired and took the day off two days in a row.

I was going to be relaxed, do nothing and refresh my mind. Instead, the free time brought back bad memories and regrets from my past and I felt more negative…

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.
 

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.