Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

A Demon’s New Home hr575

I visited my parents for the first time since their financial difficulty made them sell their house and move into an old condominium. It situated only two train stations away from Kyoto but in the different prefecture, which meant they were kicked out of their hometown too. The moment I met them there, I noticed a big change. Both of them had turned into different persons. They used to be grumpy, gloomy and nagging all the time. But now, they were cheerful and lively. It was as if demons living inside my parents had departed and they regained consciousness. I felt like I saw my good old parents whom I’d known when I was little for the first time in decades. Even their faces had been changed somehow. My father was raving about his days of exploring his new town with childlike excitement. As he had been raised and lived as a successor of the family that had continued for generations on the same land, he had never imagined moving to a different place let alone actually moved out of the house. He moved to a new place for the first time in his life and realized how comfortable it could be. Because our house had stood in an old uncivilized area of Kyoto, everything here seemed modern and incredibly convenient to him. He rapturously talked about his new daily life of shopping at a discount store and eating at McDonald’s. He even mentioned that he intended to start new hobbies such as drawing or English conversation. I had never seen him so positive. It seemed he enjoyed his first freedom. My mother also talked about how much she liked the view from the balcony and how convenient to live in a compact apartment instead of a large house she used to live in. Only, she added every time lamentably, “But I had never imagined myself ending up my life in a small apartment.” I know too well how far the reality diverged from her plan. As a young girl, she planned to live a rich life whatever it took. So she got married with my father whom she didn’t love, and endured living with and taking care of my grandparents, all for money. In return, she believed she would live luxuriously in a mansion until she died. When I was a child, I often heard her say, “How stupid women who marry for love are! They live in a small apartment. But look where I live!” As it turned out, though, she found herself living in an apartment, being old without either love or money. “I should reap what I have sown,” she murmured with a cynical smile. My new changed parents didn’t attack me, which they used to do every time. Not a single complaint came out of their mouths. When I was leaving, my mother looked as if she would miss me. My father walked with me to the train station to see me off. In addition, he slipped me some money and told me to eat something good with it. All those things couldn’t be explained unless demons stopped possessing them. I got on the bullet train from Kyoto toward home and uttered “I’d like to come to Kyoto again.” That was what I’d never said before in my life. But I should have been careful about a wish. My wish to travel to Kyoto came true too quickly. The very next day I returned to my apartment, my partner’s brother called him to let him know his father passed away. Since his father also lived in Kyoto, I traveled back to Kyoto with my partner for the funeral only two days later. And then, three weeks later, I went down to Kyoto yet again with my partner to place the ashes of his father in the grave. I decided never to say ‘I’d like to go to Kyoto’ ever again. After his father’s death, my partner’s brother suddenly changed from a tender and modest man to a completely different person. He came up with a scheme to have a small inheritance all to himself, instead of dividing it with my partner as his father had told to. A demon which left my parents chose him as its new home and moved in…

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The Crane hr574

The hotel I checked in on my trip to Kyoto gave me a discount coupon for the buffet breakfast and I had it next morning at the restaurant. The buffet had Japanese expensive dishes in addition to the familiar Western breakfast dishes, which made up the most luxurious buffet breakfast I’d ever had. As there were many foreign guests around, it produced an international atmosphere. One of the walls of the restaurant was the glass window from the ceiling to the floor. Beyond it was a small Japanese garden that had a pond with many red-and-white-colored koi fish. When I was eating delicious breakfast and thinking I hadn’t known that Kyoto had a fabulous place like this, something out of the window caught my eyes. A tall, sleek, beautiful crane came flying from somewhere and landed in the garden. Its height was about half of mine and its color was mainly white mixed with silver and black. It stood just five feet away from me separated by the window, watching the koi fish in the pond with its cool eyes. I was close enough to see each of its feathers clearly. I had never been this near to a crane before. It didn’t try to fly away but stood still majestically. There’s a myth in Japan that a crane lives one thousand years. Since it is regarded as the embodiment of celebration, kimonos for a wedding or the New Year have crane patterns. The crane standing in the garden also looked as if it had lived for a long time and the restaurant was somehow filled with a sense of awe in the air. Because this trip was the first one after my family sold and left its land that had been inherited from my ancestors over for one thousand years from generation to generation, I felt the spirit of the land finally got freedom, took the shape of the crane and flew away. And it came here to say goodbye to me. I was convinced that parting with the land was the right thing to do. It set each of my family free after all. The crane kept staring at the koi fish a long while and suddenly crouched as if it decided to pounce. I was thrilled to see if it would eat expensive colored koi fish that often cost thousands of dollars, but it returned to its previous calm position and stood straight. It repeated those moves several times and then flew away without attacking the koi fish. Goodbye, gorgeous crane. Goodbye, my ancestors’ land and its spirit. I was going to visit my parents on that day. Visiting them usually ends horribly and I had been quite worried about it this time too. But seeing the crane was auspicious and made me feel that the visit would go well. After the mystic breakfast, I was headed for a strange town where the condominium that my parents had moved in located…

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