Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

I Have Everything I Need hr606

The next morning, I hurried to the restaurant in the hotel to be in time for its breakfast serving time. I like to have breakfast especially at this restaurant. I can get a slight taste of an overseas travel here and a feeling that I were outside of Japan as most guests are from foreign countries. I glutted myself with the breakfast buffet, got back to the room, packed, and checked out. I transferred the hotel’s free bus at the airport to the express bus to Tokyo Disney Resort this time. I often visit there but don’t enter the parks that are too crowded all the time. Instead, I usually hang around the surrounding hotels and the shopping district. This visit was no exception and I went directly into the movie theater. The object was to see ‘Star Wars The Last Jedi’. It was the third time to see it in the theater and the film won glory as one of my best three movies in my lifetime so far. I had never been sold on any Star Wars movies until I saw this particular one. They were mere melodramas in the galaxy to me. But the one before ‘The Last Jedi’ turned the tide and this one blew me away completely. It has deepened my emotions every time I see it. It was too touching for me to stop crying at the very last scene, again. The story is very much like a film ‘Tomorrowland’ that is the best movie of my life. Both films tell about hope and if ‘Tomorrowland’ was made in a Star Wars setting, it would be ‘The Last Jedi’. I’m constantly afraid of not being recognized as a musician forever because my likings rarely agree with others. For the person like me, it’s a big relief when a favorite movie becomes a blockbuster. It literally gives me hope. Later on, I bought gadgets of R2-D2 and BB-8 that respond to my voice and talk back. I’ve enjoyed talking with them everyday. After the movie, I had a snack at a Mexican fast-food restaurant because it had happy hour that made margarita half price. A clerk there made a mistake for my order in a good way and gave me one more guacamole for free. Then I had a cafe latte at a bakery cafe in one of Disney hotels. Although the place was near empty, a cue of customers began to form outside. It was getting longer in a matter of minutes. It turned out that the sale time for freshly-baked croquette sandwiches was approaching and people were waiting to get them. Japanese people really love to stand in line for fresh food even though it’s expensive. Their strong zest for something hot from the oven is amazing, which I never understand. I saw the fireworks of the park from the same shopping district for free and headed for Tokyo Station by train to catch the bullet train home I’d booked at 35 percent off. At the station, I got croissants and a pork bowl both at half price by a closeout sale that were left unsold and old, and had dinner with them on the bullet train instead of at a restaurant. All in all, my trip cost so little for a luxury savor I could felt. Only, I was kind of blue as the exciting trip was coming to an end now while the train was sending me back to a sober, indifferent small town where my plain daily life exists…

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Around Narita Airport hr605

The bullet train arrived in Ueno and I walked toward the express railroad station steering through a crowd on the nasty, squalid streets between unsightly tall buildings. The express train I transferred to took me to Narita Airport in about 40 minutes. At the airport, I took the bus not the plane, to go to the outlet mall that was the first destination of my trip. It seemed all the passengers except for my partner and me were foreign tourists mainly from China who had just gotten off the plane. I almost didn’t shop anything at the mall, but enjoyed browsing cool stores and having coffee at a cafe and dinner at the food court. My partner sat in a bench watching the mall’s chic streets in the twilight as it was an outside mall. Since most shoppers had already left and only few were strolling, he murmured that he wished he could live in a town like this if it had existed in the real world. The buildings and pavements are tasteful and well-maintained, which decoration is colorful and sophisticated. I’ve never seen such a beautiful town with stylish buildings and neat people outside Disney Channel. All the while I was in this ideal town though, I had been carrying one problem. I had had a stupidly outrageous turmoil when I started off this trip this morning that had emptied out all my energy and caused a headache. It had accompanied me all the way here and gotten worse gradually. By the dinnertime, it became severe. I ended up taking aspirin at the mall’s food court. The hotel I was staying at was also near Narita Airport from which its free bus was available. When I checked in, the front clerk told me that breakfast wasn’t included. I thought the plan I had selected at the hotel’s website included breakfast although I wasn’t sure because I had made the reservation quite a while back and the rate was incredibly low by the limited time sale. They said that my stay would be without breakfast when I asked to double check. Afterward, it will have turned out that breakfast was indeed included and drawn a trouble, but there was no way of knowing at this point in time. Next morning, I had a lunch buffet at the hotel’s restaurant instead as I didn’t have breakfast and had a discount coupon for it. The restaurant was full but everything was so delicious that I ate as much as I could until I got too full to move. Then I took the free bus again to the airport, and transferred to another free bus to the different hotel for the second night. I’ve stayed at this hotel for a couple of times as it’s one of my favorites. The room they chose for me was the one that I had stayed in before. I like this room so much because the rate is low although its large window looks out on the runways of the airport and lets me see planes taking off and landing on closely. The jacket photo of my album that was recently released was taken from this room, too. The hotel’s lounge has happy hour during which drinks are served half price. I had one drink along with free popcorn and edamame. After that, I dropped by a convenience store inside the hotel for my usual main event of a trip. It’s eating and drinking inside the room without ordering room service. While the whole setting was gorgeous, what I was having were cheap snacks and drinks in the freebie-studded day. Reality intrudes on my trip always…

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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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Hidemi’s Rambling No.552

After I got my boarding ticket at the check-in counter in LAX, I was headed for the security gate. As a typical, old-fashioned Japanese, I strictly separate the floor on which I step with my shoes off from the one with my shoes on. Without my shoes, I wouldn’t let my feet touch the outside or public floor where people walk with their shoes on. The security gate where I need to take off my shoes on the dirty public floor is a torture for me. My custom there is putting additional socks as covers over the ones I’m wearing, and take them off when my feet return into my shoes. By that way, my socks stay clean without touching the dirty surface directly, which means my home floor also stays clean when I come home and take off my shoes at the entrance. Because of my peculiar custom, my preparation in the line for the security check is quite hectic. I’m pulling a new pair of socks out of my bag, taking off my shoes and my jacket, putting on the socks over my socks, taking off a pin and a wristwatch, putting them in the basket along with a smartphone. The security machine at LAX was state-of-the-art that I had never been through before and had seen only in a news show on TV. When I go through the usual security gate, a beep often goes off for some reason. I wondered how many beeps would go off when I was completely scanned with this high-tech machine. I went in the machine with spread arms and legs tensely. Except that a security worker told me to turn my pendants around to my back, I got through without beeping. I was relieved and taking my stuff from the basket when I noticed my partner had forgotten his pen and his money clip in the basket next to mine. I scrambled his stuff and put back on my jacket and shoes at the bench. Then, the scare hit me. My wristwatch was gone! My favorite, dear watch that I had put onto my jacket was missing. I remembered a man was looking around restlessly beside the pick-up lane. Did he take it? I also remembered a young woman was looking into several baskets behind me. Was it her? Or, one of the workers who scanned the belongings took it while scanning? All at once, everyone around me looked like a thief and I was surrounded by evil people. I had forgotten that this was Los Angeles. Someone must have stolen it. The watch was not expensive, but it was a rare Mickey Mouse one I found at an online auction site and I was attached to it. This trip had been going so well without mishap, and it was so close to be ended successfully. I was almost there. I was shocked that something bad happened in the end and ruined the whole trip. To me, what was gone was not just my watch but my good impression for people here and this trip altogether. I was utterly disappointed at this sad ending for the trip. I told my partner that the inevitable finally happened and my watch was stolen. He suggested I should report it somewhere. I had already given up but went back to the gate reluctantly to make a useless attempt. In a jam of people around the gate, I managed to talk to a security worker. Although I had expected an indifferent response, he listened to me intently and showed sympathy for me. He kindly figured out what to do and told me to go to the nearby counter. A person at the counter showed me the lost-and-found items. There was even a bunch of keys among them, but not my watch. She went away to the distant shelves while I was standing dazed and faint with a shock and despair. A different worker walked past beside me carrying a basket. I casually glanced at it and couldn’t believe my own eyes. Sitting on the bottom of the basket was none other than my watch! I shouted, “That’s mine! That’s mine!” I was jumping, with my arms waving high above me like a banzai-style. The workers gave a wry smile and brought the basket to me. I uttered thank-you for a million times. It wasn’t stolen but merely my fault. It turned out that I had paid attention to my partner’s left stuff too much to double-check mine. The watch had slipped from onto my jacket to the corner of the basket and been left there. The basket then quickly had been returned to the entrance of the gate with my watch in it, but no one took it. I was ashamed of myself. I regarded everybody as a thief, even the security workers who were very compassionate. I was surrounded by good people and the most evil person at the security gate was me at that time…

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