Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.363

Basically, there’s no custom in Japan to celebrate Halloween. But as a retail scheme, it has become a popular event. More and more stores and restaurants have had Halloween decorations in recent years. I had thought it happened only in urban areas and I wouldn’t see them in a rural area I newly moved in. On the contrary, people here celebrate Halloween zealously, with much more passion than in the city. Although there are only a small number of stores on the main street, they started the decorations in early September, which was as early as in Tokyo Disneyland. In some shops, they have more decorations than their merchandise. I wonder why they like Halloween so much. Come to think of it, I find too many spider webs across the town. Because the town is small and sparsely populated, it’s sometimes spooky and looks like a ghost town. Also, it has so many graves for its population. Maybe it was easy for people living here to adapt themselves to an event like Halloween. Walking around the town, I feel as if I was in a Halloween town with natural decorations…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.362

As it’s near to my birthday, I remembered my sixteenth birthday. I had been trying to be popular all the years in junior high and high school, which was excruciating because I had been acting someone totally different from me. By the time I became sixteen, I had been the class clown. On my birthday, a lot of friends brought their presents to school for me and I received them even from the girls in other classes that I didn’t know so well. I got the biggest number of presents of my life that year. I came home with full of bags and opened them with my mother. When we were done and looking at all the gifts, my mother made an unreasonable suggestion. She said that I should give one of them to my younger sister. Since they were my birthday gifts, I said no. Her suggestion grew into an order. I didn’t understand why my sister could have one of them on my birthday. My mother explained it was because she felt pity for my sister who didn’t have any while I had plenty. To me who kept insisting it was my birthday, my mother began to threaten that there would be a punishment from God for this. I gave in and my sister took a present away from me. In Japan, if someone gives you something, you must give something back to him or her later as a courtesy. In my case, a record amount of presents meant a record amount of requital. For the following year, I’d had to give a birthday gift to each one of them who gave me one. My monthly allowance wasn’t enough because I had a few or more birthdays in a month. It was a horrible aftermath with struggling to raise money. Being the class clown never paid…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.361

Since the earthquake in Japan, the power companies had requested their customers to save on electricity, as the supply was short. Companies, offices and homes alike had been willing to comply with the request for half a year. It had been a stressful time for me because I had never had any intention of complying with such a ridiculous request. Before the earthquake, the power companies had repeated the nuclear power plant would never fail no matter what happened, which I’d never believed. And after the earthquake, they made their customers pay the price for their own debacle. I had no idea why people and stores obediently turned off the lights at nighttime although saving the power was meaningless except for the peak hours of demand. In my apartment building, one of two elevators, a Jacuzzi and a sauna in the spa had been stopped, and the lights in and outside the building had been limited. Other residents had voluntarily turned off the lights in the communal spaces such as the spa. I’d been fed up with a dark, gloomy atmosphere created by unnecessary effort. Two weeks ago, that annoying request from the power companies finally got lifted. The elevator, the Jacuzzi, the sauna and the lights all came back on. The spa resumed being operated in the morning hours as well. I was so glad everything got back to normal. But I noticed that not everybody felt that way. In the lobby, one of the residents was asking to turn off some of the lights. In the spa, some residents still turned off the lights eagerly. On TV, people were talking how united they had felt while saving on electricity as if they wanted to do that again. Now I found out what all the fuss was about. Japanese people were saving the power not because the power companies asked them to. It was because they liked to do the same thing at the same time all together, and, simply liked to turn off the lights…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.360

Until I moved into my new apartment, one day had had 25 hours for me. For instance, I got up at 7 a.m. in the morning and went to sleep at 11 p.m. one day, I got up at 8 a.m. and went to sleep at 12 a.m. the next day, and did 9 a.m. and 1 a.m. the day after. It was a 25-hour cycle. What started me living on the odd cycle was that I used to fly back and forth between Japan and North America frequently. The time difference would hinder me from keep regular hours and disrupt my health. When I decided to let my body clock control, it found a 25-hour cycle as a perfect solution for me. I’d lived that way more than 10 years and been remarkably healthy without even having a cold. That the hours of rising and bedtime shifted one hour a day every day meant I spent the whole daytime sleeping and the nighttime working at some point. Or, I walked in the dark, sleeping town to have a morning special at a 24-hour-open restaurant as my lunch and enjoyed a beautiful morning glow before dinner. It had fitted me so well. But, on the day I moved here, my body clock somehow adjusted to a normal 24-hour cycle for a day all of a sudden. Since then, I’ve gotten up and gone to sleep at the fixed times every day, and still stayed healthy. I can’t figure out what happened to me but my day is one hour shorter than before for sure. I feel like I’m losing one hour steadily each day…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.359

A relaxing way for me is being in a quiet place, alone. When I use the spa in my apartment building, I aim at a quiet time. There seems to be a certain wave of people somehow. While nobody had been in the spa until a little while ago, a few residents rush in and leave all at once and the place returns to be empty again. When there are other residents in the spa, I try to get in the hot tub or the Jacuzzi or the sauna alone because I don’t like to make conversation. I wait in a shower for people to get out, and take a bath alone. If someone comes in the tub while I’m there, I get out as soon as possible. On the contrary, some people don’t like to be alone in the spa. They wait for someone to get in the tub and join her. The other day, I inadvertently stepped in the sauna when someone was there. From the sauna’s small window I couldn’t see her who was lying on the blind corner. She leaped at conversation from the moment I entered and kept talking to me vigorously. I was watching an ever-slower-moving hand of the wall sauna clock, with occasional ‘uh-huh’s and ‘really’s for her. I gradually admired her stamina to be able to keep chattering away in such a hot, humid condition like a sauna. When I stepped out there, she followed right after me, still talking. It’s not so easy to relax in the spa either…

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