Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.557

At the end of my last homecoming day, I got into the cab heading for the train station, saying goodbye to my mother who was merrily talking about which condominium she would move in, to my father who was weirdly cheery, and to the house and its land one last time. When I dropped out college and left home for Tokyo to be a musician a long time ago, I thought I would never come back to this house again. I have made unplanned visits since then, but I assumed it would be the last visit each time. I was accustomed to a farewell feeling toward the house in a way and I departed with no particular emotions this time either. The cab was running through my familiar neighborhood where I spent my entire childhood. It was still shabby as it used to be. The cab drove through old houses of my childhood friends where I used to play with them, and under the overhead train bridge where I ran into perverts so many times. From the window, I saw the elementary school I went to, and the sidewalk my first song came to me while I was walking on. The bookstore where my father bought me my first English dictionary and also where he spotted his missing cousin. A place where a milk factory used to be that I waved to its plastic cows beside the gate every time I passed by in my father’s car. The old temple where my late grandparents used to take me and let me feed doves. Then something struck me and I suddenly realized. It wasn’t just the house I was losing. I was losing my hometown and departing from my childhood. I would never be in this neighborhood again because it was going to be an unrelated, foreign place from now on. Although I had always hated my neighborhood, that thought brought a lump to my throat and soon I found myself crying. I was stunned at this unexpected feeling. If I hadn’t been inside a cab, I would have wailed. The cab came near Kyoto Station that was my destination. My late grandfather often took me to this area around the station that used to be undeveloped, decayed and in the miserable condition. But now, after years of intense redevelopment, it has become an urban area with numerous modern buildings of hotels, fashionable shops and huge shopping malls. It was a completely new different place and I found no trace of what I was familiar with the area. The cab stopped at the signal close to the station and there stood a new movie complex by the street. I casually wondered if it showed ‘Tomorrowland’. Then I felt I was actually stepping into it. Things and places I had been with were all disappearing and a place I had never seen before appeared in front of me. I saw a change more clearly than ever. I was leaving everything old behind and going into a new world. The world I’m walking in is unknown, but therefore there are full of possibilities…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.556

As the house where I grew up was being sold, I came home in Kyoto for the last time fearfully. My parents had been constantly sullen from anxiety about money and their future since I left home. Now that they gave up their house and our ancestor’s last land, I had wondered how gloomy they were. On the contrary, I was surprised that they were utterly in a good mood. They seemed at ease as if a great weight had been lifted from their shoulders. I hadn’t seen them like this for a long time. The main purpose of my visit was sorting out my stuff. To get some keepsakes and mementos of my childhood, I entered my room for the first time in decades. It had become my younger sister’s room, who now lived abroad. Some of my old stuff was kept in the mud-walled warehouse that had stood next to the house for several hundred years. This ancient two-story warehouse that my ancestors used generation after generation is also going to be torn down along with the house. The last time I got in there was probably with my late grandfather when I was a child. So this was the first time I got in as a grown-up, and also the last. I found my first stuffed animal downstairs there and was about to get out with it when my father told me to go upstairs with him. I climbed the steep wooden ladder to the second floor that was more like an attic. It had a small skylight on the plaster wall and tons of dust all around. On the wooden shelves along the wall were an antique balance and bronze weights that used to belong exclusively to a landowner during the Japanese feudal times. There were also numerous coated plates, bowls and trays with legs that my ancestors used for banquets. On the entire floor were Japanese traditional huge oblong treasure chests called ‘Nagamochi’ that size was about two coffins. They had sit there keeping my ancestors’ valuables all through the times of wars and my family’s decline. My father once saw many swords inside one of them and wanted to show them to me. I was keyed up about unveiling what my ancestors had inherited for so many generations. We opened dust-covered chests one by one, but every chest contained the same thing – futon. So many old musty futons appeared from chest after chest. They must have been expensive in the old days and my ancestors stored them for the house guests. Everything in the warehouse told how prosperous our family used to be and how low we have gotten now. It was funny though, that what our family had inherited and preserved to pass on to the next generation for years were mostly futons. I had quarreled with my parents over succeeding the family all these years and had been on bad terms with them for that because I had refused. Many ancestors of mine gave in to unwanted marriages or sacrificed their lives to succeed the family. We all suffered from the family succession and everything was for futon! I wanted to tell my ancestors that futons of good quality were widely available at incredibly low prices in the discount stores nowadays. Succeeding the family turned out to be preserving what became worthless today. That was ridiculous enough for me to make my anger pass into laughter. At the very back of the warehouse was one chest that hasn’t been opened for who knows how many years. It was practically impossible to open it as other big chests were stacked up over it. Nobody had an idea what was inside. I strongly hoped that wasn’t futon although it was quite likely…

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