Mt. Fuji

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.
I am too short for good luck…

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

apply for freebies

As a cheap person, I’ve vigorously applied for
online giveaways and free samples on the
Internet for three years now. I suspended it as
of today because I’m moving to my new place
and my address will soon be changed.
I take this opportunity to go over the result
of my three-year applications. The best freebie
I won for a giveaway was two dozen cans of
limited-edition beer with an antique label. It
was worth over $60. I got two dozen cans of
cheaper beer or soda for a couple of times and
a box of eye cosmetics, too. But mostly what I
got were small packets of shampoo or
cosmetics. Although it took time to fill out my
personal information and answer a survey for
the application, I was often disappointed at
what the company sent as a reward.
While they extravagantly announced that I
had won the giveaway on a letter, what they
enclosed was a teeny tiny packet. I sometimes
saw the similar packet handed out for free at a
store or on the street. I may have wasted so
much time to apply for freebies online after all.
But there’s still the even worse result. In these
three years, my eyesight has deteriorated
significantly. If it has to do with spending a
long time on the Internet to apply for freebies,
that certainly did more harm than good…

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

Montreal hr637

I wish I could live in Montreal. That’s the thought which frequently enters my mind. Yet I don’t know why it should be Montreal for myself. As a person who was born and grew up in Japan, I had had only a little vague knowledge of it as an Olympic venue of ancient before until I first visited it. I even didn’t choose it as my travel destination for the city itself. I’m an avid Formula One race fan and had been looking for an alternative race to go to see other than the one held in Japan that was too costly and poorly managed. The circuit with the most convenient access from a downtown hotel was located in Montreal, that was the simple reason I chose to go there and a start of my love for the city.
Twenty hours later after I left my apartment in Tokyo, I got off the airport bus in downtown Montreal past midnight. I was headed with my partner for the hotel I had booked that was a 10-minute walk away. My Japanese acquaintance has once told me that he got mugged in downtown Los Angeles and was robbed of his wallet, shoes, and even a tooth capped with gold. I recalled it and thought I was doing the stupidest thing to walk pulling my big suitcase in a strange city, in the witching hour of night. Then I saw someone while I was waiting for the traffic lights at a quiet crossing. A teen-age girl wearing a mini skirt appeared from nowhere and crossed the street humming merrily and dancing ballet. The sight of her gave me a sense that Montreal might be a safe, relaxing and enjoyable city. And it proved true.
I had lived in Southern California for four years before and I imagined that Montreal was quite alike since it was also in North America. But actually, it turned out to be a totally different place. Virtually everything – people’s appearances, values, the way of living and a cityscape – was far from alike. When I lived in California, I believed that life is a competition and that a happy life can’t be attained without success. I had been all worn up with that belief. My work as a singer-songwriter didn’t go well accordingly and I ended up moving back to Japan for a financial difficulty, broken-heartedly. But Montreal’s beautiful cityscape and its fashionable locals who enjoy life not with caring about money but with a laid-back attitude healed me. I fell in love in this city deeply enough to stay for a long period of time repeatedly.
Of course familiar flaws and problems existed since it’s not heaven. I too much often received a wrong change when shopping. One shop clerk surprised me when he gave me a handful of change without counting. He saw my dubious face and added one more handful of coins. I was also surprised that ordinary-looking people begged for small change. A young woman who seemed to be an ordinary house wife asked me to spare change while she was pushing a stroller with a baby in it. Or a bunch of young decent boys asked for change casually while they were having fun talking and laughing on the street. I glared at them for caution when I passed by, and they apologized to me. It seemed like it was their custom or routine to ask for money in passing. I wondered why they would do so in the city that didn’t look jobless nor degenerate. Come to think of it, I had spotted people idling and just sitting on the steps to an apartment in the daytime so many times. Commute traffic jammed at as early as 4 p.m. which looked so odd to a Japanese in whose country the train around midnight is running full with commuters. While I appreciated the city’s peacefulness with no tension of racism or success, its too-easy-going atmosphere sometimes irritated me. But it was probably too much of a luxury to ask for more. Before I was aware, I wished to settle in Montreal and work on my music there. My wish was to be crushed afterwards however, because reality was harsh.
I remember my happy days in Montreal every time I watch Canadian GP on TV. The city’s skyscrapers over the circuit ask me through the TV screen if I can come back someday. I desperately cheer myself up, telling myself that I can, I want to, I’m supposed to. On one Canada Day in the future, while I’m watching the mega-sized fireworks at the head of the Old Montreal pier with my partner, my eyes will be filled with light and shed tears of joy.

I stay alive without giving up

These days, I’ve had nightmares about living in
a deserted, out-of-the-way place repeatedly. In
them, I was forced to join a dreary folk festival
in deep snow with a handful of local people, or
I was surrounded by uncivilized people whose
language I didn’t understand, or I lived in an
ancient, old-fashioned building. Those dreams
seem to represent my vague unease for
moving to my new place that is located in a
remote, mountainous, snowy region.
I’ve completed a song I’d been working on
for seven years, and I’m about to move out the
apartment I’ve lived for nine years. I’m moving
to a whole new town where I have no
acquaintances, and I’ll start promoting our
latest song and recording a new song. From
then onward, I don’t know how my life goes. I
believe it will be wonderful as long as I stay
alive without giving up. I will enjoy and cherish
every process to a new step, which hopefully
would be the better one…

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

threw away my past

As I’ve been packing my stuff to move out this
apartment, various things of sentimental value
to me have come out from the back of the
shelves. I’ve lived here for nine years and
forgotten about most of them since I stored
them away. Some are no longer useful, but
when I clear them out, I feel as if I threw away
my past. That makes me melancholy.
Occasionally, I find some money. It’s like I
get a bonus for packing, but it’s simply what I
stashed by myself in the first place and not
what I newly gained. Mostly, what I find are
numerous room slippers and old broken
appliances. I don’t understand why I kept so
many slippers without using. Packing and
moving requires a great deal of labor and time.
Worst of all, the broken appliances appear one
after another and discarding them is costly. I
have to pay for each one of them just to
dump…

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

His big secret

While I was packing my stuff to move to my
new place, I inadvertently dropped a scale
model of a Formula One car yesterday. It’s a
McLaren MP4/6 with Ayrton Senna in it, and
handmade by my American friend who made it
for me and gave me as a gift a long time ago.
A rear wing, a front flap, a mirror and a
steering wheel came off. The model is so
elaborate and the repair seems to require
delicate work. I’m not so confident of repairing
it as good as it was, and felt depressed.
I talked about it to my partner later, and he
hinted it had been already broken before I
dropped it. When I asked him what he meant,
he guiltily confessed that he had once dropped
it by himself a few years before. Because the
damage was on the opposite side of the
display, he hadn’t told me that to this date. His
big secret was out. I felt a little easier to find
out that I was not to blame. But it remains
broken all the same…

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

snowed very heavily

After a quarter of my furniture arrived at my
new apartment, I returned to my old place. It
snowed very heavily on the day of my
departure. When I was about to leave the
apartment, it stopped snowing once, and I
walked to the nearest train station instead of
calling a cab. The moment I got to the station,
it started snowing again, even more heavily. I
was waiting for the local train at the platform,
seeing a surreal view. Everything was entirely
covered with snow and it seemed as if there
was nothing but mountains. Only a vast white
ground spread out between the mountains and
me.

I felt like I was in the movie ‘ Fargo’.
The train didn’t come after the arrival time
had passed. The station was unmanned as it
was too remote, and no announcement was
available. I thought it was delayed by heavy
snow. Time went on. I began to feel uneasy
because I had a bullet train to catch at the
terminal station. There was a man who was
also waiting for the train, and he used the
station’s emergency phone to call the terminal.
He kindly came back to me and let me know
that the local train service was suspended due
to snow. I called a cab with my cell phone, got
to the terminal and barely caught the bullet
train for which I had the reserved ticket. I had
never been in such heavy snow in my life. Can
I really move in and live in the place where it
snows hard enough to stop the train…?

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

a different world

As the process of moving, I went to my new
place for the second time. The area was
covered with deep snow this time and it looked
like a different world. I got to my new
apartment on foot from the train station,
walking along the sidewalk sandwiched
between the plowed snow walls. The snow
walls were my shoulder high and I’d never
seen this much snow in my life.
As soon as I arrived, I got down to cleaning
the room. I spent first two days cleaning the
stained carpet. On the second day, I was to
receive several boxes I’d sent from my old
apartment. Looking at the heavy, ceaseless
snow, I was afraid that my boxes wouldn’t
reach here, but they came all right, to my
relief.
On the third day, I went shopping for food.
To get to the supermarket, I needed to take a
train, and I walked along the snow walls to the
station again. I concentrated on my steps not
to slip when an icicle dropped from a lamppost
right before me. I got almost skewered. All the
way to the supermarket, I was busy watching
up and down, for my steps and icicles. That
was awfully similar to an advanced stage of
Mario Brothers. It was an ordeal just to get to
a store. On top of that, my toes became icy as
slush had seeped inside my supposed-to-be
waterproof boots that I’d bought specially for
this trip. You can’t make light of snowy
country…

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

it’s just the beginning

My moving process began in earnest. I’ve
already sent several boxes to my new place,
and now I set about my furniture. I looked up
on the Internet for the lowest possible price
and decided to move furniture separately by a
small cargo container, since I don’t have a car.
Although it’s the cheapest way, the cost of
the shipment is about the same as the total
value of my furniture, because all my furniture
is the lowest price one. I might as well replace
them to new ones as spend money to move
them, but people don’t do a garage sale in
Japan. I can’t throw away what is still usable
and I’m attached to them. For the first
shipment, I emptied and cleaned the shelves
and drawers. They were seven pieces and it
took me more time and energy than I had
thought to do the work. I was exhausted, but
it’s just the beginning. Only about a quarter of
the moving was done. More pieces of cheap
furniture await 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