I came across a website on which custom-made T-shirts, caps and tote bags are made and sold worldwide. Since I have been in a financial crunch lately, I could make and sell T-shirts with my poor drawing on them there. I browsed others’ merchandise which designs looked professional and like works of art. Looking at them, it was obvious that my daub had no part to play there. I tried to look for some other possible designs of my own.
It was when the idea of kanji struck me. Kanji means Chinese characters in Japanese and one of three character sets used for Japanese. That character set is prevalent in Japan and most Japanese names contain it. My name also consists of three kanji characters. When I lived in the U.S. and Canada and my signature was required at shops or other businesses, the salesclerk who looked at it curiously often expressed how cool it was. I sometimes saw a person wearing a T-shirt that had kanji on it, but mostly it didn’t make sense or it had an awkward meaning. That was probably because someone who didn’t have enough knowledge about kanji made the shirt easily. While I understood that the person wearing it didn’t know her or his shirt was telling an absurd thing to the public, I couldn’t help giggling secretly. I even spotted those who tattooed that weird kind of kanji. As a native of Japan, I thought I could make kanji merchandise with proper meanings and decided to give it a try.
Every kanji has its meaning. For instance, my first name is comprised of two kanji characters one of which means ‘excellent’ and the other means ‘beautiful’, and they are read ‘Hidemi’ together. Because of the character’s meaning, my name is embarrassing, I admit. Japanese parents put their expectations and wishes into a name when they name their child. A child’s name reflects their parents’ taste and personality. They wish her or him to be gentle, or to be kind, and they choose the corresponding kanji for their child’s name in most cases. Sometimes a name seems destined specifically for a politician, or a name aims to endure life. As for my partner’s name, its meaning is to be dutiful to one’s parents. Both his parents have already deceased and whether he fulfilled their wish or not is uncertain. Japanese people have to live with carrying bittersweet names on their shoulders.
When I was little, I asked my grandmother on my mother’s side what kanji characters were used for her name Fuki. She told me that Fuki was her nickname and her real name was Fukiko by three kanji characters with the meaning of ‘wealthy’, ‘noble’ and ‘child’ respectively. I had sent her a New Year card or a Christmas card every year by that name with those kanji characters for decades until she passed away. When I attended her funeral, I saw a placard hung at the entrance of a small shabby prefabricated funeral home. It showed whose funeral this was. Although the funeral took place according to officially registered documents, my grandmother’s name on the placard wasn’t what she had told me. Her name was actually Fuki, not Fukiko, and kanji wasn’t used for it. There is a different character set in Japan called katakana, which represents only sound without meaning like the alphabet. Her real name was in those characters, not in kanji. I asked my mother if she had known that. My mother said she also had thought her name was Fukiko in kanji since she was a child. I wondered how many family members of hers had known her real name. At least her own child and grandchild hadn’t. I suppose that she wanted to be wealthy and noble, for which she chose the kanji characters, and named herself.
I chose kanji for my first custom-made T-shirt. They mean ‘hope’.
As I’ve been constantly looking for an apartment online, I found a pretty good one again. It’s located by a lake near Mt. Fuji and it’s spacious, furnished and Western-style. Usually, this kind of property is far above my price range, but this one is discounted considerably so that it dove into my range.
The catch is that the building is very old by Japanese standards. It’s 36 years old. Still, it’s the most gorgeous place I could possibly afford. I gathered information about the area, such as the climate, restaurants, shops and most importantly, the train and bus schedules because I don’t have a car. I decided to go to look at the room and sent an e-mail to the real estate company for an appointment. Meanwhile, I bought a train schedule book and made a precise plan to go there as a weekend trip.
A reply from the real estate company included the more detailed information about the apartment. Because it’s old, the water pipes may give out at any moment. The boiler is broken, too. To finish up, one of the residents is wanted for murder. It’s not the one again…or, is it…?
My apartment hunting is still going on and I found the best pick so far online last night. That could be it. It looked so attractive and I got excited enough to prepare for going there to close a deal first thing in the morning.
There was some time before dawn and I looked up on the Internet about the property. Plenty of information was there, most of which were complaints about the superintendent of the building. All complaints seemed to refer to the same person and I became doubtful whether I could live in a place that such a bad person manages. While I read on the complaints, a different one caught my eye. A low flow of a shower. It was the last blow. By the time the morning dawned, my excitement was gone…
I shopped at the discount supermarket that I’d recently noticed its existence again. Their usual prices are at the level of special sale prices at other supermarkets. They also have their private brand at even lower prices for beer, noodles and wine. Meat is cheaper than the half-price one at other stores. I get the meat there with further discounts because of the imminent expiration date, so that the price is unbelievable for meat.
It’s open 24 hours and I can go there any time I want without worrying about its closing time. It’s a perfect place to shop for me if not one particular thing – the music played in the store. They play Japanese hit songs annoyingly loudly. Their problems are they sound like a patchwork of fragments from hit songs of U.S. that were popular ten years ago. Their Japanese lyrics are particularly horrible with childishness. I try not to listen to them but it’s loud enough to beat any defense like earplugs or portable music devices. I don’t want to be contaminated, so I have to leave the store quickly each time. Being unable to enjoy shopping leisurely is the catch of this otherwise great store. The low price always has its reasons…
When I left for Costco yesterday, it started raining slightly. I thought how unlucky I was. I could have returned home but I didn’t want to waste my time to have prepared for going out and went on. By the time I got off the bus to walk to Costco for the rest of the way, it had stopped raining. There seemed a big downpour during my bus ride. I may have been lucky after all. On my way home, I missed the bus. I thought how unlucky I was, again. But by taking the next bus, my subsequent connections for the train and the buss went incredibly smoothly. I may have been lucky again.
When I went to bed that night, I felt numb in my left arm and I feared that I would die from a stroke during my sleep. Thinking how unlucky I was, I fell asleep…
I got up 1 p.m. and when I arrived at Costco after walking to the station and taking a train and a bus, it was already 7 p.m. By the time I finished shopping and started back home, I felt exhausted because of heat, humidity and the long trip.
Platforms of the train station were packed with commuters although it was 9 p.m. They were waiting for the train, standing squeezing each other and almost spilling over from the platform. I was sitting on a bench at the platform to take a rest and watching them get on the train, crammed and holding a strap.
I was impressed by their physical strength. They get up early in the morning, commute all the way, work all day long and still have this energy left, while I get up in the afternoon, go shopping and rest on a bench waiting for the less crowded train. To me, this is a once- or twice-a-month thing, but they are doing this every day! Are they human beings with mighty power? Or, I’m a super weak person. Can I withstand all summer like this…?
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…
The weekend of Monaco GrandPrix has come. As an avid fan of Formula One racing, Monaco is a special place for me. To live there is my dream.
When I was younger, I worked for my music in order to live there. I even told my late grandparents that I would take them there if I made a big success with music. Now, both of them have passed away without going there and I’ve found the right purpose of music. But watching beautiful Formula One cars weave through the breathtaking Monaco, I nearly lose my principles from the desire every year. No, I’m done being stupid. Even so, it’s Monaco, I do want to live there someday…
After the mix down of our new song, I couldn’t manage to get it to the suitable volume. Instead of taking it to a recording studio to adjust it at the mastering, I decided to do the mastering by installing Cubase AI on my different computer, recording the song to it and increasing the volume.
The other night, I had a dream in which I took the song to a studio engineer for the mastering. I listened to the finished sound by the engineer and screamed in despair, “No! This isn’t what I wanted at all! This is too muffled!” And I woke up. It seems that I think the sound of our new song isn’t crisp enough. Now that my dream told me so, I will use the equalizer again on the mastering. Thus, our new song is in a final burst. Well, I’ve been saying this for over six months now…