Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.554

I hadn’t been to a movie theater for fifteen years. The film I saw at the theater fifteen years ago was Brad Pitt’s ‘Meet Joe Black’. It was surely a disappointing film but that wasn’t a reason why I stopped going to a theater. Back then, I lived in the States and movie theaters there were clean, modern and comfortable. They had also a reasonable matinee price. And I moved back to Japan where the movies from the States became the foreign ones. Movie theaters in Japan hadn’t been modernized yet with cramped stiff seats, and didn’t have a reduced price like a matinee. A ticket cost about $17 that was too expensive for me. On top of that, every foreign film had Japanese captions at the bottom of the screen, which obstructed each scene. Those theater circumstances in Japan were the reasons why I stopped going. But I like movies and had regularly watched them exclusively on the TV screen in my living room. My partner loves movies much more than I do. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday this year, his answer was a movie ‘Birdman’ at the theater. And for the first time in fifteen years, I got in the movie theater. While I was away from them, Japanese theaters had been transformed dramatically into modern, clean, gorgeous ones. The seats were large with padded backs and arms. The rows were placed so steeply that I no longer have trouble with someone’s head in front of me. They were just like US theaters and I loved them instantly. They also had a variety of tickets of a reduced price. Japanese captions were still there, but I managed to ignore them. ‘Birdman’ was such a good film by which I was moved so much, and I was completely awake to the charm of a movie theater. When I was leaving, I found a piece of information that said an advance ticket for a coming movie ‘Tomorrowland’ came with a pin. The film was what I had been interested in and I’m a pin collector. Since the advance ticket had a reduced price already, getting a pin with it would make the price for the film even lower. I purchased the ticket, got the pin, and set out for a trip to U.S. wearing the pin before I saw the movie. In Disney Resort, quite a few people approached me to talk about the pin. Most of them asked where I had gotten it. A cast member told me that the park had carried those and they had been sold out within a week. Those experiences made my expectations for the film higher. I saw it at the theater after I came back to Japan. I was deeply moved to tears that didn’t stop falling. It was so hard for me to mute my sobbing. The last time I cried this hard on the film was when I saw ‘Field of Dreams’. I remember that I wrung my T-shirt at the bathroom that was soaking wet with my tears. Only a couple of weeks after I saw ‘Tomorrowland’, I had an urge to see it again. As the nearest theater from my home had already ended showing it, I went to a distant theater. I was moved even more than the first time. I returned to that theater a few days later to see it for the third time. Then, as no theater around my home showed it any more, I took a trip to a theater in Tokyo by bullet train to see it for the fourth time. Considering the amount of money I had spent for ‘Tomorrowland’, I looked stupid myself. Still, I couldn’t stifle my urge and saw it for the fifth time at the same theater in Tokyo a few weeks later. A few more weeks later, I happened to know that the theater in Tokyo was the only one in Japan that still showed it, and would end that soon. If I missed this opportunity, I would never able to see it at the theater ever again. I felt I would be a fool if I didn’t see it one last time. I hopped on the bullet train yet again. The last week’s schedule for ‘Tomorrowland’ was moved to a late show slot, which meant a day trip was impossible for me because I couldn’t catch the last bullet train home. I stayed at a cheap hotel for the night to see it for the sixth time. My adventurous summer of ‘Tomorrowland’ had thus ended. It reminded me of my teenage time when I was hooked on going to concerts of my favorite band. I’ve made an advance purchase of a ‘Tomorrowland’ Blue-ray and DVD set at Amazon and now can’t wait for the release. One thing I don’t understand is that it wasn’t a mega hit…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.553

The frightening experience that I almost lost my precious wristwatch at LAX exhausted me but I had to wait for five hours for my flight because of the cancellations. I was allowed to use the executive lounge for the compensation and stepped in there for the first time. It was located on the second floor of the terminal and a totally different world. It was a quiet, spacious place with large sofas and sparse people who all looked rich. I was afraid that a person like me might be kicked out. There was a buffet that laid out a wide variety of expensive hams and cheese that I wouldn’t reach to get in my daily life. Since they were free here, I mounted them high on my plate and repeated it as much as I could. High-end gourmet coffees and teas were also free. It wasn’t the time for me to care about embarrassment of my devouring. Out of the huge window of the lounge, I enjoyed the view of planes taking off and landing. Out of the opposite side of the window, I saw the downstairs of the terminal. It was under construction and the walls were temporarily boards of wood. The passengers were waiting in the crammed gate area and some were sitting on the floor. Usually, that was me. Now I was looking down from above. I felt sorry and guilty. But at the same time, I found myself gloating. Five hours flashed by and I went down to the gate for boarding. Although the gate was packed with passengers, I got on the plane without waiting in line because I had gotten a free upgrade to the business class as the compensation of the flight cancellation. I was thrilled to sit in a full-flat seat for the first time in my life. Numerous buttons were all around the seat and it looked more like a console rather than a seat. As soon as the plane took off and the seat belt sign was turned off, I eagerly pushed the button for a flat position. With a subtle machinery noise, the back of the seat lowered and my feet were drawn beneath the table of the seat before mine. It slowly became completely flat. Because I’m short, there was still surplus space and I lay down without touching anywhere. It was felt like flying in a coffin, but for a person like me who had flown only in a tiny little seat, it was unbelievably comfortable. Probably because the flight time was less than three hours, nobody else made the seat flat. I was the only passenger in the business class who was rolling over and chuckling in the coffin. After I spent a night in Vancouver, I took an international flight to Japan the next day. This one was a long-haul flight of eleven hours. Quite a few Japanese families are usually on board on the flight to Japan, and they are almost always in a bad mood somewhat. The atmosphere on the plane is accordingly not nice. As I had feared, there was a Japanese family with ill-mannered children this time. The kids were noisy and disorderly, romping all the way. The flight attendants often came to stop their dangerous behaviors, but the parents ignored as if they were strangers, which is too much common in Japan. I remembered how things were going in Japan and started having a feeling of gloom. When the plane landed in Japan and I stepped out of the plane, the first thing that crossed my mind was a strong desire that I had been dreaming the whole thing and the trip hadn’t started yet. I wished I got back on the plane and set off a trip all over again right here, right now. The noisy family was walking ahead and the mother said loudly, “Finally, it’s over! I’m so happy to be back in Japan!” I wondered why they should have spent a lot of money and disturbed others by taking an overseas travel in the first place if they liked to be in Japan so much. Worn-out as I was, I already wanted to find the money to go to North America soon again. I meant, I was supposed to go there…

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