My new Kindle has been published! “The Lost in College of Kyoto / Hidemi Woods”

February is the time that most universities and colleges hold an entrance examination in Japan. When I was a senior at high school, I applied for five universities and one college. I failed all five universities.They send the result by mail and put it up on the campus too. An applicant is allotted a number and the numbers of passed applicants are put up on a big bulletin board there. For one of the universities I applied, I was fairly confident about passing after the examination, and I went to see the result at the campus alone before receiving it by mail.There were lots of numbers on the big board and I was quite sure mine was among them. But it wasn’t. I failed the exam. And there, I discovered that a human reaction to totally huge despair was laugh. To my surprise, completely unaware, I laughed. Besides the applicants, around the board were students who were recruiting those who passed to their clubs, and people at local businesses who were looking for part-timers. Because I laughed, they thought I passed and they flooded around me at once. They handed numerous fliers to me, saying “Congratulations!”I came home by subway. At the station, I dropped to a trash bin a big bundle of fliers that were meant for only those who passed. Tears also fell. During the subway ride, I felt like my life was going in a long endless tunnel instead of a train. I remember how dark my future seemed that day…

The Lost in College of Kyoto / Hidemi Woods

sweater and gloves

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It was a bit chilly in the early morning and I pulled on my sweater and gloves. I headed to a cafe. On my way there, I found a one-yen coin – a Japanese version of a penny on the ground. I made an enough effort to take off my gloves, squat, and when my fingers were just about touching the coin, I realized it was a discarded battery. On my way back home, I found a coin on the ground again. I made the same effort again, and when my fingers were just about touching the coin, I realized it was the very same discarded battery I had tried on my way to the cafe. I still can’t believe I fell for the same trap twice…

 

At the cafe I wrote about yesterday, I ordered two American coffees and a German Dog. The clerk repeated my order Two Blend coffees and a Lettuce Dog. I am a Japanese native and so is he. What’s wrong with my Japanese!?

 

After work, I dined out. I haven’t done that as often as I used to, because restaurants are filled with noisy kids and housewives. Kids are my regular enemies. Today, the place was empty as it had just opened for the day. But as the time went on, more and more kids came in, and soon I got besieged by them. Only move I could take was to retreat, as usual. I sincerely wish kids-free environment would prevail someday…

 

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. 

 

“You don’t have to sleep if you don’t want to.”

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From kindergarten to the lower grades, I had suffered from insomnia. I hated going to kindergarten and then to school too strongly to sleep on school nights. As the morning to go there approached, I felt more and more nervous and tense. I would be wide awake in futon no matter how eager I was to fall asleep, watching glittering patterns on the back of my eyelids for hours. Tears ran through my cheeks into my ears during those long nights. When it dawned and the room was filled with the gray of the morning, I could finally doze awhile.

 I slept beside my grandparents as my parents were occupied with my little sister in a different room. Before going to sleep, I would try to be near my mother as long as I could because she used to be the last one that retreated to her bedroom at night. But soon I was to be prodded into going to my grandparents’ room to sleep. I once found the courage to confide to my mother that I was having insomnia. She scoffed at it and said anyone could sleep by just closing his or her eyes. Her advice was to close my eyes. I wondered how dumb she thought I was, since I did so to sleep every night. She didn’t take it seriously and so I kept staying awake on weeknights secretly.

 Sunday nights were the worst. The thought that a long week at school would start next morning made it undoubtedly impossible for me to sleep. My grandparents used to watch TV in futon before going to sleep. Their favorite drama was on Sunday nights and the end of the drama meant my grandmother fell asleep. I can still hear in my ears the sad tune of the drama’s ending. My grandfather would read a little after that. When the light by his pillow was turned off was a signal that he would also go to sleep and I would be left alone awake in futon.

 One night, he noticed I wasn’t asleep in the middle of the night. “You’re still awake,” he was surprised. I confessed that I couldn’t sleep, and he simply said, “Don’t sleep, then.” While I couldn’t believe what I had just heard, he explained, “You don’t have to sleep if you don’t want to.” I had never thought that way. I didn’t have to sleep! Like magic, his words cured my insomnia and I have fallen asleep easily ever since…

Episode From An Old Tree in Kyoto /Hodemi 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. 

Audiobooks by Hidemi Woods

Audiobooks by Hidemi Woods
 

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

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

the pizza

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Once a month, the pizza delivery store has half off prices for takeouts. Today was the half off day. As a pizza lover, I have counted down to this day since last month. A typhoon hit the area I live in, on the very day of the half off, and swept away a pizza. Sigh…

 

Quite often, low pressure gives me a headache. The typhoon, which hit here this morning, brought me an excruciating headache. My partner suggests that I got punished for lingering on the half-off priced pizza I missed yesterday. Could it be? To avoid such accusation, I need to make my head low pressure-resistant…

 

The typhoon did more harm to me than a headache. TV is out. It robbed me of three comedy shows, one episode of ‘Prison Break’, one ‘Columbo’, and a financial news show. I wonder when it comes back on…

 

I complained to the super and TV is back on after 36 hours. It seems that I am the only one who watches TV in this building. One of my hobbies is to collect TV dramas and comedy shows on DVDs or HDD. I have recorded religiously every single episode of ‘Prison Break’ for years now. Its final season is now on air once a week in my area, and I missed an episode because of the typhoon. Although the goal was right there, my collection is incomplete lacking one episode. Can you imagine how annoying it is for a collector? Gahhhhh!

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. 

“You can go.”

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A long time ago, when Japan had the feudal system, my family was a landlord of the area. It has come to a complete downfall over the years, but my family still clings to its past glory. For them, to succeed the family is critical. I’m firstborn and have no brother which meant that I was a successor and destined to spend the whole life in my hometown.

 But music changed everything. To pursue a career in music, my hometown was too rural and I had to move out. Back then I was a college student and moving to a city meant dropping out of school. My parents fiercely opposed but as usual, they left the matter to my grandfather who controlled the family. Considering his way to keep a tight rein, everybody including myself thought he might kill me.

 I could have run away, but I wanted to tell him for once what I want to do for my life. He answered right away “You can go.” He added, “You earned it by yourself. I’ve watched you all your life and I know you. That’s why I let you do what you want.” Although I had always looked for a way to get rid of him, it was him who made me free and what I am now…

Episode From An Old Tree in Kyoto /Hodemi 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. 

Podcast: became a yakuza

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 
 
When my great-great-grandfather passed away, the family sought any possible way to sustain a line of the family succession. He had four sons. His firstborn, who had been supposed to succeed the family, was perverted possibly because his father had drunk up the family fortune. He had tattoos all over his body and became a yakuza, a Japanese Mafia member. His father disowned him and kicked him out from the family. He drifted in from time to time though, and the family member asked him to leave with some money.
My great-great-grandfather’s second son died young and his third son had been adopted to a samurai family. As his fourth son was too young, the family called back his third son as a successor from a samurai family. That’s my great-grandfather.
By then, most of our ancestral land and all the servants were gone thanks to my great-great-grandfather’s lavish extravagance. My great-grandfather needed to work as a farmer by himself on a scarce piece of the remaining land instead of making tenant farmers work for him, which his ancestors had been doing for a long time. While he worked side by side with the ex-tenant farmers whom the family once employed, he got married and had a daughter and a son who is my grandfather. Since my great-grandfather wanted my grandfather to be a teacher, I suppose that he was poised to end the family’s farming business and its succession.
But in reality, things went to the contrary. Because of his unaccustomed work and way of life, he got ill and passed away in his middle age. His son, that is my grandfather, gave up what he wanted for his life and began to work as a farmer to support the family. He did it well, gained back some land and passed it on to my father. Both the family business and its need for a successor sustained.
Even my great-great-grandfather who dissipated his inheritance money, his first son who became a yakuza, or his third son who wanted to close down the family business couldn’t break succession. They continued to live and raise a family on the same ancestral land, and their children did the same. Unexpectedly, it is I who finally moved out of the house and am very much likely to end the family by my way of living…
 

a dictator of my family

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My grandfather used to say that he would live until 100 years old. When I was a child and lived with him, I hated him. He was a dictator of my family. My grandmother, my parents, my younger sister and I lived with him cowering and flattering him because we were afraid of him. He wielded absolute power over us and nobody could oppose him.

 We needed his permission for anything. For instance, when I wanted a puppy, my plea was rejected because he said, “This is my house.” As a child, I thought his existence immensely violated my freedom and was hoping that he would not live so long.

 He liked going out and sometimes took me to a department store. It had never been a pleasant outing. He was stingy. He would go to a department store just for browsing without buying anything, wearing a ragged jacket and worn-out shoes. For lunch, he would order the lowest priced dish and share it with me. And he would tell me to fill my stomach with tea because tea was free there. He couldn’t make it to 100 and passed away at the age of 96. My family agrees that I’m the one who have the character just like him…

Episode From An Old Tree in Kyoto /Hodemi 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. 

Podcast: the house

Episode from The Family in Kyoto: One Japanese Girl Got Freedom 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. 

the house

 The family of my grandfather on my mother’s side used to be a landlord of the area and has lived on the ancestral land generation after generation. My grandfather succeeded the family when he got married with my grandmother. In the end, four generations lived together in the big house: my grandparents, their daughter and their son-in-low, their grandson and his wife, and their great-grandchildren. They had constant disputes but nobody could leave the house to keep their old family style.

 My grandfather was unconscious for weeks in the hospital when his time was drawing near. A couple of days after his family decided to turn off his life-support system, their house was burned down to the ground. It was my grandmother who caused the fire. A candle she lit on the Buddhist altar made something catch fire and spread all over. No one was injured but the police questioned my grandmother persistently. She went to the hospital to see my grandfather and repeated loudly in his ear, “The house was burned down! It’s all gone!” She told my mother that she thought he heard her though he was unconscious, and he would die soon along with the house. As she said, he passed away the very next day.

 I attended his funeral, worrying about how devastated my grandmother would be, because my grandparents were such a nice couple. On the contrary, she was fine and somehow gleeful. I wondered if their relationship was my grandfather’s one-sided love. Considering her life, it’s possible that she had hated the house all those years since she married into the family.

 By the time the house was being rebuilt, she lived at a nursing institution with her daughter who had suffered from dementia and no longer recognized her mother. She herself gradually had health problems and spent the rest of her life in the institution. She died there and never lived in the new house…

Prologue

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To keep being a dreamer living in Japan is as hard as to catch a fly in the air with chopsticks, and yet it’s not all impossible.

The chain of events that you have never experienced in your life changes your routine days into chaos. While you can’t quite grasp the sudden change of circumstances, it throws you into confusion in which you continually need to make decisions and actions. You are sucked by mighty force against your will and can’t get out. It inevitably changes some point of your life, your way of life, and your inner self also. As a result, you become another person who is not the one you used to be.

That is exactly what happened to me from the fall of 2009 to the fall of 2011. At that time, I was too deep in a whirl to understand what was happening and why it was happening. But in hindsight, it was supposed to happen and someone or something pushed my back, yanked my arm, and rushed me who was reluctant into the new place.

For me being a singer-songwriter from Kyoto in Japan, the change coincided with the time when I gave up chasing fame and fortune that I had been craving fervently enough to leave my family and its long good lineage. I ignored the commercial-based timetable for the first time and took time as long as I was satisfied to complete a song for which I composed, wrote English words, arranged, and recorded all instruments and vocals by myself. When the song’s completion was on the horizon, what would change everything began to happen.

Embarrassment and conflict in my odd daily life, the massive earthquake and the following nuclear meltdown that unexpectedly knocked the bottom out of such daily life, surprises and transitions in the new place, and my new self. If you find my awkward, tottering adventure funny, it’d be worth taking on and I’d be more than happy.

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.