the supermarket turns into heaven

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The nearest supermarket to my apartment puts half-off stickers to the prepared foods that are left unsold at 7:30 p.m. And sometimes, they put 75% off stickers to the ones that are still unsold after the half off at 8:30 p.m. But it all depends on the unsold amount and the 75% off sale is rarely fulfilled. When it is, though, the supermarket turns into heaven to me. It’s a risky challenge worth a bet.

I decided to go for it today and convinced myself that the main purpose was not to get the 75% off foods but to take a walk. This is my fail-safe mindset to protect myself from a bitter disappointment in case nothing is left at the store. I went there, and lost the bet. Their shelf for prepared foods was completely emptied. I kept saying to myself that I came here to take a walk, not to shop. But I had to buy some other mildly discounted items to console myself. I couldn’t shake off the frustration in any way. My fail-safe plan didn’t work for my greed…

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.

‘Lowest price’ is the keyword that always hooks me

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Yesterday I happened to see a news program on TV reporting about a discount store, which carries the lowest price soda in Japan. ‘Lowest price’ is the keyword that always hooks me and I watched the report. Astonishingly, the reported store is located near my apartment.

I rushed into the store today. It existed on the site of a supermarket where I used to shop frequently but was closed for good four years ago. The building had been abandoned until the new discount store opened there last July. I can’t believe I had neglected to find it for almost a year as a person who is hunting for the lowest price constantly. While the building was the same as four years ago, the store had been transformed into my taste. The prices are incredibly low, some are the lowest in Japan, and the store opens 24 hours!

I had wanted an around-the-clock discount store for years. Since I decided to move out here, I’ve found fabulous shopping destinations one after another – first Costco, then this place. Is this a sign to stay put? I’m so confused now…

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.

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. 

 

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. 

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. 

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…

Free download of Kindle ebook! July23rd-27th “The New Stage of One Singer-songwriter in Japan: new song, moving and stay alive without giving up / Hidemi Woods”

When I decided to go back to the mix down from the mastering of our new song in order to boost its overall volume, I prepared to take a few more months to complete it.
  Once I accepted the delay and released myself from constraint called time, things presented a new twist. I had compared the volume of our song to other CDs with the stereo components. Our song came from the computer through the line-in of the stereo, which meant I compared the line-in sound to CDs. Before going back to the mix down, I burned the song to a CD as a low-volume version because except for the volume, the mastering went perfectly.
  It happened when I checked the sound of the CD. The volume was as high as other CDs! It had been indeed boosted already during the mastering. I just compared it in a wrong way through the line-in. I had been struggling with the volume for a couple of months based on my false judgement.
  When I heard our song at the right volume, I found out how silly I was and laughed out loud. At the same time, I burst into tears for indescribable joy. The only remaining problem to complete this song was the volume. Now that the volume was boosted, the song’s completion was within my grasp.
  Looking up at the ceiling of my room, I was loudly laughing, crying, then laughing, and again crying, with tears falling down. It was so funny, ironic, stupid and joyful…

The New Stage of One Singer-songwriter in Japan: new song, moving and stay alive without giving up / Hidemi Woods

Free download of Kindle ebook! July2nd~6th “Diary of The Hottest Summer in Tokyo by Hidemi Woods”

Diary of The Hottest Summer in Tokyo / Hidemi Woods

There is no formal casino in Japan. Instead, there are innumerable pachinko parlors all over Japan. A pachinko is a very popular Japanese gambling game that is partly like pinball and partly like slot. They buy small silver balls to play with, and the machine brings out the balls if they win. They exchange the balls for money or items like cigarettes and chocolates. For some reason, it’s not allowed to exchange directly for money. They get a certain strange item with their balls once, and exchange it for money at a small dark hut behind the building. A pachinko parlor is sort of a mix of a casino and a game arcade. It has a large number of pachinko machines side by side in aisles and exists around almost everywhere people live.Sadly, it doesn’t make people a millionaire. By playing all day, they win a few hundred dollars at most. As for me, I’ve never played a pachinko in my life. My life itself is awfully like gambling and I’m bogged down with it completely…

Diary of The Hottest Summer in Tokyo: My Apartment Hunting, New Song and Costco / Hidemi Woods

Free download of Kindle ebook! May29th-June2nd, ”The Singer-songwriter / Hidemi Woods”

My childhood diet was very healthy. That may be the reason why I was such a skinny kid, contrary to how I am today.
I was born in a farmer’s family in Kyoto, an old city in Japan. My family used to be almost self-sufficient. We mainly ate the leftover vegetables of eggplant and spinach that weren’t fit to be sold at the market because of flaws. We also planted rice and other vegetables such as onions, potatoes, carrots, radishes, burdocks and green peppers, not for sale but exclusively for our daily meals. We kept barnyard fowls that provided fresh eggs every morning. Our breakfasts and lunches were almost always row egg mixed with rice and soy sauce, pickled vegetables and too-weak miso soup.
A natural life may sound beautiful and relaxing, but it’s not in reality. Our fowls would holler screaming crows at dawn every day which would induce the clamorous barking of dogs in the neighborhood. Sometimes, one of our fowls that I named and fed every day like my pets was missing, and we had chicken on the table at dinner that evening. It took time for me to realize I was eating my pet fowl while I was worried about its whereabouts. Sometimes, I did witness my grandfather choked and plucked our fowl.
Since we didn’t have to buy vegetables, we had large servings at meals. Unfortunately, all vegetable meals of ours tasted horrible because we had to pay for seasonings or cooking oil and we were stingy enough to refrain them. Everything on our table was flavorless and bland. It never stimulated my appetite and I stayed skinny. As time passed, shops had been appearing in the rural area around our house. Also, my grandfather began to loosen his tight reign of the household and my mother had been able to have some discretion to go shopping and spend money. Our self-sufficiency was rapidly falling. Foods from outside tasted awesome. My appetite finally came out of its long hibernation. I was hooked by ham and mayonnaise in particular, and became chubby in no time.
Of all the terribly-tasted foods that my grandfather had long eaten, he picked yogurt as the worst. When he saw my sister eat it everyday, he asked for one out of curiosity. He said he had never had such an awful food in his life. After I left home for my music career and started living by myself in Tokyo, he often asked my father to take him to my apartment that was far from Kyoto. He wanted to see what was like to live alone there. My father didn’t feel like taking on such a bother for him and used a clever repelling. He told my grandfather that I was eating pizza everyday in Tokyo.
Of course he knew both that I wasn’t and that my grandfather didn’t know what pizza was. He explained to my grandfather that a food called pizza was oily round bread covered with sour sticky substance called cheese that was stringy and trailed threads to a mouth at every bite. And he added a threat, “You would eat that thing in her small apartment. Can you do that?” My grandfather replied in horror, “Why should I eat such a thing rotten enough to pull threads? I can’t ever go to Tokyo.” That pizza description cleanly stopped my grandfather’s repetitive request.
When I returned home for a visit once, my grandfather asked me a question at dinner time. Pointing the four corners of the dining room and drawing invisible lines in the air with his chopsticks, he said, “Your entire apartment is merely about this size, isn’t it?” As I replied it was about right, he asked, “How come you chose to do all what is necessary to live in such a small space and eat stringy rotten foods with threads although you have a spacious house and nice foods here? Is music worth that much? I don’t understand at all.” He looked unconvinced. As for me, while I had a certain amount of hardship, I had a far better life with tasty foods and freedom compared to the one that I had had in this house. Nevertheless, I didn’t utter those words. I said nothing and pour sake for him into his small empty cup, instead.

The Singer-songwriter: How a Japanese Girl Became an Artist / Hidemi Woods

The Dream Super Express hr642

I was born and grew up in a small village of Kyoto, Japan. My family made a living by farming, which contributed to my even more old-fashioned childhood than usual that was nothing like a current ordinary life.
Food on the table was almost self-sufficient that came form our fields or the front yard and the chicken coops of the house. We had only one tiny refrigerator without a freezer that was more than enough as beer or watermelons were chilled by pumping well water. The bathtub was round and made of wood. Its floor was a round iron plate on which a round wooden board was put in to sit. Beneath the iron plate was a small furnace that my grandmother put wood, straw or used paper in the fire to heat water in the bathtub. Our toilet was a wooden bucket placed in the garage. My grandfather would carry it on a wooden pole to our fields as manure. Not only the way of living was old-fashioned, but also the way of thinking was. All the family members obeyed submissively my grandfather who was a patriarch of my family. Women were deemed to be inferior to men and treated unfairly. Families were giving and receiving them through marriage as if they were commodities.
But the changes of the world can’t be stopped. In the year I was born, a bullet train started running between two major cities in Japan, Tokyo and Osaka. It was dubbed ‘a dream super express’ because of a high speed. The city of Kyoto where I lived was close to Osaka and on the line of the bullet train. A new special railroad and its platforms were built above the existing ones. The railway near my home accordingly had the new overhead railroad above it. When I was an elementary school student, I crossed the local train railroad and the big, tall, splendid bullet train railroad by an underpass beneath the tracks on my way to school on foot every day. In the middle of the passage, when a local train or a freight train passed above my head, I would cringe at an enormously thunderous noise. But the bullet train sounded like a whistling wind, almost soothing.
The number of children had been increasing as the economy was picking up. The elementary school I went to burst with students and a new school was built when I was in the fifth grade. I was sent to the new one that stood right next to the railroad. Out of the windows, the bullet train was running. From a brand new school building, I had never get bored to see the bullet train zipping past at incredibly high speed through the countryside where time went by so slowly. Thanks to the bullet train, my new school had the air conditioner since the building had soundproofing windows that can’t be opened because of train noises. My former four years in the old school with wooden buildings and coal stoves were felt like ancient.
I loved the bullet train so much. To me, it seemed alive with a soul like Thomas the Tank Engine as its headlights looked like eyes and its coupler cover looked like a nose. Since I had difficulty in getting along with others back then, I felt more attached and closer to the bullet train than other human beings. Every time I saw it passing by, I sensed it glanced at me and was running toward the future, carrying hope and dreams. Years later, I left home of an old village and moved to Tokyo by bullet train to become a musician.
Sometimes there is a day when we feel that this world has come to an impasse and been headed just for destruction. But if we adapt ourselves to new ways of living or thinking, we may be able to see more of something bright and exciting. In 2027, Japan is going to have a new railway on which magnetic levitation bullet trains called Linear Bullet Trains run at the highest speed of 320 miles per hour. I wonder how their faces look like. I can’t wait to see them.

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