my fridge

A new supermarket opened one block away
from my apartment. It’s the closest
supermarket and I can see it from my window.
Since the construction started in spring,
I’d been looking forward to its opening while
seeing the progress of the construction site. I
jumped in it on the long-waited opening day
and the store exceeded my expectation.
Their prices were a lot lower than I’d
thought. They have carried the opening sale
and I’ve been there almost every day. Before
the opening, a flier of the store came in, which
said, ‘Please use us as your fridge.’ With this
proximity to my place, I thought it would be a
good idea, depending on the prices. Now that
the prices are low, using the store as my fridge
is becoming real. Because I found something
at the lowest price ever each time there and
couldn’t resist getting them, I’ve brought home
more food than I could eat. As a result, my
home fridge is packed, too.
Once I decided to move out my
apartment, this nice supermarket appeared.
Leaving the store behind makes me feel
hesitant to move…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

unagi

Photo by Pauline Raw on Pexels.com

It’s the middle of the rainy season in Japan. Even without sunshine, daytime highs are around 86 degrees every day. The worst thing is unbearable humidity. It easily exceeds 90%. We are virtually walking around inside a sauna.

Maybe because of the horrible conditions, I haven’t been well lately. I’ve felt tired and had a mild headache all the time. Of course I use air conditioning, but the huge difference between inside and outside somehow makes me sick. That has deprived me of a party although we’ve just published on Kindle our second book, ‘Hidemi’s Rambling Volume Two’.

I really had to do something for my poor condition and bought an ‘unagi’ bowl at a supermarket. An ‘unagi’ bowl is a Japanese dish that has a slice of a grilled eel over rice and is poured with sweet sauce made by soy sauce. It’s usually expensive, but I got one using a cheaper Chinese eel, also at half price. Eating an eel is supposed to be effective to get physical strength in Japan and people are having it in summer. I counted on an eel this time too. But while I’m explaining an ‘unagi’ bowl, it sounds more and more grotesque. I eat a strange thing…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook: The Family in Kyoto: One Japanese Girl Got Freedom by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple Books, Google Play, Audible 43 available distributors in total.

Audiobook:  Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Google Play, Audible,   43 available distributors in total.

Curry rice

Curry rice is the most popular dish in Japan. Probably people have it at least every ten days. It’s a thick curry stew put over rice. It’s regarded as a kid’s favorite, but I used to dislike it most when I was little.

My parents were busy for work as farmers and cooking was my grandmother’s task. She was as stingy as my grandfather was and she would thin curry powder with water as much as possible to save money. As a result, the curry of our family was like curry-flavored hot water that drowned rice.

When I got older, I realized that I’d had the wrong curry rice and the right one existed, and it became my favorite. Today, I cooked curry rice. For dieting, and saving money, I put it over barley instead of rice. Rice is ironically expensive in Japan because the government controls its price. Yuck. But barley didn’t fill my stomach so well and left me hungry. So I ate some snacks after finishing it. Am I really dieting?

Audiobook: The Family in Kyoto: One Japanese Girl Got Freedom by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple Books, Google Play, Audible 43 available distributors in total.

Audiobook:  Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Google Play, Audible,   43 available distributors in total.

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…

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

My new Kindle has been published! ‘Living in The Rural Town of Japan: The Country Life of Japanese-style / Hidemi Woods’

Marriage in Japan
I went out for lunch with my partner at a cafe the other day that stood across the train station in a Japanese desolate rural town where I live. To call it a cafe is a bit too fancy. It’s not the likes of Starbucks but rather a small old mom-and-pop diner that was built well over 30 years ago and remained as it was, which perfectly matched this old town itself.
We sat at the table and overheard a conversation from the table next to us. Three old women in their eighties sat around the table by the window. “She has passed away, too.” “This could be the last time we get together.” Although they were exchanging a downright sad conversation, they were talking in a matter-of-fact way and their chats were lively.
While we were eating a salad with watermelon that came with our main dishes of curry and rice with a fried pork cutlet, a family of three came in. A boy about ten years old and his parents in their thirties sat at the table near ours. As soon as their orders were taken, the boy started reading one of comic books that the diner placed for customers, and his father went outside to smoke. His mother was staring into space.The father came back in when their dishes arrived on the table but they didn’t talk while they were eating. Except that the parents occasionally said something to the boy separately, there was no conversation between the parents. After they finished eating, the father went out again to make a phone call, the boy played with diner’s puzzle toys, and the mother stared into space again. I saw through the window the father talk with someone over his phone pleasantly while smoking and laughing. He came back in and also began to play with a puzzle toy. I thought it was much more fun for him to have lunch with a person on his phone.
Quite too often, I see a married couple having almost no conversation at a restaurant. I wonder if people stop talking each other when they get married. While they must have clicked each other enough to get married in the first place, what makes them fall silent? Since I have never been married, I have no idea whether it’s because they have changed or they have lost interest in each other after marriage.
The closest married couple I know is my parents, which means my knowledge about marriage is a generation old. My parents are from farming villages in Kyoto that is the oldest city in Japan. According to the old custom, their marriage was arranged by their families’ intention not their own. Inevitably, they were strangers with no affection whatsoever. In my childhood, my mother used to say, “I wouldn’t have married such an ugly guy like your father unless he had money.” Times have changed, and people get married by their own will in Japan. Nevertheless, if a couple who liked each other finds it difficult to talk once they marry, I don’t understand what marriage is for. The mystery deepens still more.
The family of three left hastily after they were done with the toys and staring. The party of three old women ordered refills of their soft drinks repeatedly and lingered at the table with their conversations, as if they were reluctant to leave the diner.

 

Living in The Rural Town of Japan: The Country Life of Japanese-style / Hidemi Woods

cooked curry rice

Curry rice is the most popular dish in Japan. Probably people have it at least every ten days. It’s a thick curry stew put over rice. It’s regarded as a kid’s favorite, but I used to dislike it most when I was little.

My parents were busy for work as farmers and cooking was my grandmother’s task. She was as stingy as my grandfather was and she would thin curry powder with water as much as possible to save money. As a result, the curry of our family was like curry-flavored hot water that drowned rice.

When I got older, I realized that I’d had the wrong curry rice and the right one existed, and it became my favorite. Today, I cooked curry rice. For dieting, and saving money, I put it over barley instead of rice. Rice is ironically expensive in Japan because the government controls its price. Yuck. But barley didn’t fill my stomach so well and left me hungry. So I ate some snacks after finishing it. Am I really dieting…?

mountain of potato tempura

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…

became her new superstition

New Year is the biggest holiday in Japan. There is a traditional meal for it, which is called ‘osechi’. It’s assorted foods of beans, boiled vegetables, boiled fish, and steamed fish paste, boxed in layered containers. The kinds of an assortment are slightly different at each family according to the family tradition. My family’s traditional ‘osechi’ was absolutely terrible. The assortment consisted of only three kinds of food. Boiled carrots, boiled burdocks and black soybeans. That’s it. We even didn’t have to buy them except for black soybeans because they were grown in our family’s field. It was accompanied by miso soup that had sticky rice cake and big taro in it. Big taro was grown in our front yard and my family held a superstition that you would become a head of something by eating it in the New Year. Unfortunately, it’s huge and painfully tasteless. As a child, I always wondered how they could call them a New Year’s special feast since our daily meals were better. To conclude the ‘feast’, we drank special tea. A cup of Japanese tea with a pickled plum sunk in the bottom. As another superstition, my family believed that it would bring happiness, but it tasted horrible and made me unhappy right away. And then, what I thought couldn’t be any worse hit the new bottom. On one New Year’s Day, there was a new addition to our traditional meal. It was called ‘kuwai’ and looked like a chestnut with a sprout. My mother heard that eating it in New Year made you ‘sprout’ to the world. It became her new superstition and my father began to grow it in the front yard. It tasted utterly awful. If primitive people found it in the woods and tried it, they would certainly dismiss it as inedible. Although I had endured the terrible feast until I left home, I’m not a head of anything, nor don’t sprout to the world…