Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.235

In the TV series ‘LOST’, ‘candidates’ had met Jacob at one point of their lives, mostly at a young age and possibly at the miserable time. Thinking of a mysterious encounter, I may have met Jacob myself. When I was six or seven years old, my grandfather took me to my aunt’s house. They weren’t so well-off then, living in a small house with a lot of cats and dogs and eating from the aluminum plates. Across their house was a pachinko parlor. It was a really shabby place. My grandfather took me there and made me wait while he was playing. The place was small, filled with pachinko machines, cigarette smoke and down-and-outers. Since there was no waiting place for a kid, I was just strolling through the narrow aisles between the noisy machines and worn-out people. Suddenly, someone called me and I turned around. A man with sunglasses was standing behind me. He held two buckets of silver balls, which meant he had won a rare amount. The buckets were too full to hold the all balls and some of them were spilling. He pushed the buckets to me and said, ‘ Take these. Go exchange for your chocolates.’ Because he pressed them forcibly, I had no choice but to receive. And he disappeared. My grandfather was astounded when he saw me with the buckets and told me to return them to the man, but we couldn’t find him. I had never hold that much chocolate in my arms. The brand of the chocolate still remains my favorite but am I still a candidate? Or have I been blotted out long before…?

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.234

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…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.233

I often see people living in the States shoot hoops in their yard. In Japan, it’s almost impossible as the houses are crammed densely back-to-back with a very small yard or mostly none at all. Despite these circumstances, there appeared a daunting family who launched an outrage. They put up a net on the side of their house, which was facing the street directly, so that their kids could bounce a basketball on the street and shoot to the house’s outer wall. The street that is busy with people, bicycles and cars has now turned into their yard. Unfortunately, that crazy family lives so close to my apartment. The noise of a basketball hitting asphalt is very loud, resonating through walls of crammed houses. Since they started this assault, I’ve thought about complaining, but haven’t because I don’t want to get involved with this insane family, who willingly let their kids play on the public street and are fine with it. Yesterday, my sleep was disturbed by their noise two days in a row, as I slept in the daytime and worked at night. To the thin walls of my apartment, their dribble sounded like a continuous snare drum. The kids have expanded their street yard, closing in on me. That does it. It’s time for an action…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.232

Many municipalities in Japan hold a fireworks display during summer. The one for where I live took place yesterday. It’s an annual event of 90-minute fireworks. When I first moved here, the fireworks were visible from the window of my apartment. But soon a house was built right in front of it and blocked the view. I had been out to see them since then and had found a perfect spot near my apartment. But then, Seven Eleven was built right in front of my spot and blocked the view. So, this year, the event started with spot hunting. Soon after the fireworks began, my partner found the spot. It was beside a fence that surrounded a construction site for a condominium that had been abandoned due to the recession. The fence stood on a five-foot-high mound. I needed to stand on the 15-inch-wide edge after climbing the steep mound. While my partner easily reached the spot, I was fighting with my fear of slopes. As I was about to give up, my partner declared that the spot had the most splendid view for the fireworks around here. With his help, I managed to get to the top of the mound in every conceivably clumsy way. There, I made a discovery. In addition to almost all kinds of phobia, I also had a fear of heights. For 90 minutes, I clung to the fence with all my strength that would be unnecessary for people except for me. But, the view was indeed magnificent, the best spot ever for this fireworks display. On top of that, thanks to the height, I got to see the fireworks of Tokyo Disneyland, which I had heard the sound every night but never been able to see from my neighborhood. And today, every muscle in my body is screaming from the climbing and clinging. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.231

I’m poor at recognizing people’s faces. Sometimes they’re all the same – sometimes I can’t remember my acquaintance’s face. To me, Richard in ‘LOST’ and Mark in ‘Flash Forward’ is the same person. Even after I was told they were different actors, I still can’t see the difference between the two of them. When I lived in California, I had rented a room in a hotel where a long-term lease was available. The rent included breakfast and supper and I had eaten with other tenants or guests. One day, I went into the lounge where the supper was served as usual, after coming back from a vacation in Florida for a couple of weeks. A woman came up to me and asked, ‘How was Florida?’ I was frozen with terror. How could a total stranger like her ever possibly know I was in Florida? Is she a CIA or FBI or whatsoever agent? Why is the US intelligence after me who am the least important human being in the world? What did I do? What kind of threat is she posing to me? What does she want? With all those thoughts, the tongs in my hand were trembling while holding my favorite Chaw Main. I managed to squeeze my voice out of fear and asked her how she knew I was in Florida. She stared at me with a look of surprise and said, ‘You told me so yourself.’ She was my acquaintance. Although we had had a meal together for several times, I didn’t remember her face…

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