Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.498

on December 14, 2013
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I ask you to keep what you are about to read in here to yourself since it’s regarding an illegal activity I was once engaged in. Until I was about sixteen years old, my parents, my younger sister and I had visited my grandparents’ home every year during the New Year’s. Limited for that time of the year, a quiet countryside house of my grandparents’ would turn into a family casino. It consisted of three different areas. In the card game area, which was the living room, a card game called ‘kabu’ that is similar to blackjack would be played. In the coin game area, which was my grandparents’ room, would be for a game called ‘mortar roller’. And the break area, which was the dining room, would be for those who didn’t like gambling or who needed food and drink. It would be open for 24 hours but only the family members could play. The coin game was organized by my grandmother. She set up a huge china mortar for sesame on the tatami floor and the players would sit around it on the floor. They would take turns and roll a 10-yen coin, which is worth about ten cents, inside the mortar. The coin rolled along the side of the round mortar, descending gradually toward the bottom. If it landed on other coins at the bottom, the player could get them. Although the game was simple, we would be absorbed in playing and our heads and eyes were rolling with a coin above the mortar. My cousin was good at it with her own devised technique to throw in a coin. I would also win snugly with my fixation on money. Beside the excited circle, my grandfather and my father, who were not interested in gambling, would talk over Japanese tea that my grandfather would make. My grandmother would start fretting after midnight and tell us to be quiet because she had believed that the military policemen could bust in with bayonets. We laughed at her anachronism while seeing her try to mute the mortar and still live the WWII era. She upgraded the mortar one year by putting a round piece of cardboard near the bottom. The mortar’s floor was raised and became wider and flatter so that it was harder to make the coin lie on top of the other. More coins to take would be left at the bottom and the game got more exciting. Those were such fond memories and I can still hear the sound of a rolling coin inside a mortar during New Year’s. Later on, the joyful grandparents’ house was burned down by my grandmother’s carelessness with a candle. It’s gone forever…

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***** 88th Planet Project *****

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