I’m a super weak person.

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…?

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

heartburn again

I successfully got up earlier than usual enough to shop at Costco before it closed for the day yesterday. It was my first time to shop there in the evening and the store was a lot less crowded and easier to move around with its gigantic cart because housewives in large numbers had gone home. I bought huge squares of garlic bread with a coupon, which price was about a quarter of the one at regular bakeries in Japan. After shopping, I had a slice of the delicious pizza outside the store watching the beautiful twilight sky.

To go home, I need to walk for 15 minutes to the bus stop and take the bus to the train station before I take the train. When I was walking along the street toward the bus stop, I was passed by three buses in succession only several yards off to the bus stop. I thought I would have to wait for the next bus for a long time but two buses came in succession right away. This local bus line has the world’s largest services, I guess.

I came home and tried a piece of the garlic bread. It was so delicious but soon, I had heartburn. I had another piece for lunch today and had heartburn again. If it doesn’t suit my digestion, what should I do with the massive rest of the bread…?

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

lowest-price hunting life

The most exciting time of year has come for a lowest-price shopper like me. Apparel stores had done their clearance sales for winter clothing and they started selling what were still left unsold at the incredibly low prices to get rid of them. It’s time for me to shop winter clothing for next winter. The other day, I found fleece jackets which prices were 90% off from the already discounted prices. I bought a couple of those at 40 cents each. Even in my lowest-price hunting life, it was a record low for a jacket. I also got a down coat at $28, marked down from $80. I bought several other clothes at such immensely reduced prices as well and felt so exhilarated. At the end of the day, I’ve got a lot more winter clothes at home although I’m in the middle of moving to my new place. More time for packing and cost for moving has been added…

closing sale

I went shopping for a closing sale of a store, which was going out of business after over 30 years. The store usually has sparse customers but its closing sale changed it completely. The floor was filled with people who waited in a long line at the checkout with a basketful of clothing. I had never seen so many shoppers in that store. I bought knitted caps at $3 each marked down from $20 and scarfs at $2 from $20. And I noticed there were only few younger people in the store. They were all elderly people around me. A large number of aged people were shopping around so vigorously. I don’t see such lively old people so often. Was the store aimed at elderly people? If so, my taste for clothing is similar to them…

one of the saddest sights

I usually get prepared foods at half price at a supermarket after they give up on selling them at the list prices as the store’s closing time draws near. I know very well the exact times when they put half-off stickers on the leftover items for several supermarkets near my apartment. As I’ve been shopping this way for years, some of the shoppers have become familiar to me. At several different supermarkets, the people jostling for half-off items are usually the same line-up, including me. They sometimes get acquainted with each other and exchange information. Although I am, without doubt, one of them, I don’t feel like joining the half-off circle. When I find familiar faces, I always pretend not to notice and try to look away from them. It seems my last pride while enjoying shopping at half price more than anybody else. I saw one of familiar half-off shoppers at a supermarket the other day. She’s the one I see almost every time I shop during the half-off time. That evening, she was returning some half-off items to the shelf, looking into her wallet carefully. I thought I saw what I should not see because it was one of the saddest sights to me that someone was calculating the rest of money for what they wanted to buy. As soon as she left the shelf though, I picked the items she had unwillingly returned into my basket, as they were goodies. While buying them were completely legal and nothing unethical, I couldn’t help feeling guilty somehow…

desperate loneliness with these old memories

I had a dream last night that my mother left me in a shopping mall to enjoy shopping just with my younger sister. The sensation I felt in the dream was so familiar that I recalled the similar experiences in my real life. Since I started junior high school, my parents and my sister had often gone out without me because my school was far from home and I came home late every day. As I got furious each time when they came back, they usually lied that they went out just for an errand. But I always knew they went shopping together or in a worse case, visited my favorite grandparents’ house without me. The main reason I could see through their deceit was because they bought something for my sister when going out, and I often found it later in her room, as the evidence. In my theory, parents should get something for a child they leave at home, but my parents do the opposite and get something for a child they are taking with them. And the luckier one who got into the car with my parents for fun was always my sister who came home much earlier from elementary school. I can’t count how many times I shouted a word ‘unfair’ to my parents. Sometimes, they even ate out just three of them and still pretended that they hadn’t had dinner yet. At dinnertime of those occasions, they had strangely little appetite while I was starving. My mother repeated, ‘It’s weird. I’m not hungry tonight’, and my sister followed suit. Only my father tried to eat his second dinner for the night, contorting with fullness. Their acts were so poor that anyone could tell they had already eaten. But no matter how hard I demanded, my mother kept lying. I can still feel some sort of desperate loneliness with these old memories…