Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Travel and Luck hr621

I took a trip to the western region of Japan with my partner. To travel there is an about-once-a-year event for me because the region is where my parents live and one of my favorite destinations to spend a short vacation. I had made a precise plan for this trip a few months in advance. The plan was taking a bullet train and then a plane to get there, hanging around the outlet mall, meeting my high school teacher and visiting my parents’ home.
I saw rain falling quite heavily out of my window on the morning of departure although the weather forecast had been for rain only in the afternoon. Thanks to the inaccurate weather forecast, I would have to walk in the rain to the nearest local train station for ten minutes with an umbrella added to my heavy bags. When we left and got down to the entrance of our apartment building though, the rain just stopped. My partner exclaimed excessively, “How lucky we are! It stopped raining just when we’re stepping outside! How about that!”
We were transferring from the local train to the bullet train at the station. We didn’t have our seats reserved on a bullet train as it cost less. Before getting aboard, we were going to drop by a kiosk to get breakfast. But we looked in an information board for coming trains instead of entering into a kiosk directly. A station attendant happened to pass by, and told us the platform number where the next train would come although we didn’t ask. He also added that if we moved now, we would catch it in time. Instead of breakfast, we took an escalator to the platform while hearing the train coming in. Just when we got to the platform, the train door opened before us. Two business men got off, and two of us got on. Although the train had been full, only two seats that those business men had taken side by side were empty. We sat together without a reservation. My partner was enraptured and said, “Got aboard just in time, only two seats together were empty! How lucky we are!”

airport airplane plane terminal

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After arriving at the airport, we flew to Kansai Airport by a low cost carrier. The flight was completely packed since the fare was incredibly low. I was irritated for the whole flight because a group of a kid, a mother and her friend was sitting right behind me and extremely noisy. The kid was shouting all the way. My patience was about to reach the limit in the end of a mere 90-minute flight. When the plane descended and prepared for landing, it was lapped by dark clouds. Large drops of rain drummed on the windows. The captain announced the weather at the airport would be heavy rain. Probably because it was a low cost carrier plane, it wasn’t connected to a ramp but parked far from the terminal building. After landing, we needed to use the stairs to go down to the ground and walk outside to the building. While I was going down the stairs, I noticed the heavy rain had just stopped. My partner said exultantly, “Look at the sodden tarmac! It must have been raining hard until minutes ago! How lucky we are!”
I finally dared to question him, “If we are that lucky, how come we sat in front of the only noisy child on the plane?” He answered convincingly, “It’s a piece of advice that we shouldn’t take any longer flight than this on a low cost carrier.” He apparently implicated our tentative plan to fly to North America by a low cost carrier and sounded as if we were lucky to find the right indication for the plan.
We took a train to the nearest station from a hotel we had booked. The hotel was a 7-to-8 minute walk from the station. On our way, drops of rain started falling. It rained in earnest a few feet away from the hotel and we rushed forth to the entrance. After we settled in a hotel room, I suggested that we should give up our plan to go to the outlet mall. I thought that it wouldn’t rain again like this if the plan to go there was right. We changed our plan and took the hotel’s spa instead.

bed bedroom chair comfort

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Since the hotel was the economy one, I didn’t expect too much of the hotel bath. But as it turned out, it was the best communal bath I’d ever taken. It was small but clean and stylish, and the total atmosphere was superb with the modern lighting and jazzy background music. And I was the only guest there. I enjoyed it immensely and relaxed totally. It unexpectedly became a true vacation experience. Luck seemed to be on my side on this trip so far. I couldn’t tell any more who or what decides our itinerary…

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A Trip after The Storm hr611

Although I had received “the last letter to me” quoted as written from my mother a few months before in which she wrote she wouldn’t like to see me or hear from me or receive any gifts from me or stay in contact with me any more for the rest of her life, I ignored it completely and made an annual visit to my parents as usual. She had sent me that offensive letter behind my father’s back and he doesn’t know about a broken relationship between me and my mother.
My father also used to be bad-tempered and attack me when I returned home once a year or two. But since he sold our family’s house, he has welcomed me in a good mood at his small apartment in an unfamiliar town and hasn’t criticized me. He seems simply happy to see me each time I visit their apartment. And I know that is exactly what annoys my mother to the limit.
To her, her new life is degradation. She was always unhappy when she lived in a big house with her husband to whom she married for his money. And now she has become even unhappier living in the small apartment without our family’s fortune. It’s easy to imagine how disgusted she is by my father’s upbeat attitude toward his new life. She must have sought revenge to make him equally unhappy and come up with that letter. She thought I would stop visiting them as she asked to. That would take away one of his pleasures and get him one step closer to unhappiness. She loves any kind of plot all her life but none of them is ever clever. This one is no exception that is too apparent for me to be fallen into. My decision to carry out a visit despite her letter implicated harassment to her because it would show her that her wicked plot failed yet again.
A week before the trip, a big typhoon hit the western part of Japan where my parents live. Much damage resulted from it including to Kansai Airport on which my flight was going to arrive. As the airport is a man-made island in the sea, its runways and facilities were flooded by a storm surge. On top of that, a tanker crushed into the only bridge that connects the airport to the shore and broke it. The airport has been shut down.
I hesitated about the trip. I couldn’t decide whether I should cancel my reservations for the flight and the hotel. Above all things, I wondered if this was a sign telling me not to visit my parents.
But I had to go at all cost because it was my mother who had told me not to come. I’ve discovered and followed the unshaken rule since I was a teenager -do the opposite of what my mother says and I’ll be happy and everything will go well. This rule has worked 100 percent and has never failed in my life.
Meanwhile, the airport partially reopened unexpectedly sooner than reported. Among most suspended flights, mine was one of the few that partially started re-operating. The damaged bridge to the shore returned passable by the limited lanes. I visited my parents as I had planned.
I knew it would be so awkward to see my mother but I had determined not to get angry at her or blame her on her letter. If I did so, it would be her achievement. Her purpose is always to make me unhappy with any blow she could think of. I should behave unbreakable, which would be my blow against her.
My mother met me at the entrance of their apartment as if nothing had happened between us. She desperately acted joyfully, uttering shallow flattery like I looked young or my outfit was pretty. Not only when my father was around, but also when there were only two of us, we never mentioned about the letter. She just kept on flattering and wearing fake smile. She even told me what she had never told before -tons of complains about her favorite, my younger sister. What surprised me more than that was the fact my mother had aged so suddenly. Her countenance had changed too. She had a face like a devil. With her aged shape and evil countenance, she looked exactly like a witch in “Snow White”. Looking at her sudden change, I realized that she regretted the letter. The moment she dropped the letter into the mail box, she became aware that she was old and helpless. Numerous unusual disasters that hit her region after the letter, such as crazy heat, a big earthquake and the typhoon, made her more insecure and anxious. She regretted that she had cut me off from her life because she threw away a thin rope by herself that she could have relied on in the future. It’s too late now.
On the train back to the hotel, I felt good as everything went well on my side. At the same time, I felt an enormous relief and found how nervous I was during the visit. As it turned out, it was a showdown rather than a visit…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.545

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. on the day that I set out for my first travel to U.S. in about ten years. Some last-minute preparations before going to bed and tension granted me only a three-hour sleep. Considering the coming ten-hour flight and the time difference, my next sleep in bed would be 30 hours later. I remembered my old days when I had been to U.S. several times a year. I always departed with lack of sleep and arrived with a strong headache or vomit. I was afraid of being sick again this time and added a new item to my bursting worry bank. I set off on foot to the train station near my apartment. When my partner who accompanied me on this trip bought train tickets, he found a 100-yen coin left in the ticket machine. He told me excitingly, “Look at this! 100 yen! You hardly ever pick this big amount!” He was all smiles as if the 100-yen coin would promise a successful trip. After the local train, I took the bullet train to Tokyo and arrived at Haneda Airport two more transfers later. My connecting domestic flight would depart from this airport that amazed me with the new convenient technology. There was no need to check in at the counter. We just went straight into the security gate without boarding tickets, had our mileage cards scanned with a device that gave us a piece of paper like a receipt on which our flight and seat numbers were printed, and went on to the boarding gate. It was as easy as getting on a train. I flew to Kansai Airport that I had never been before. After I received my suitcase I had sent beforehand and dollar bills I had exchanged online, I was headed toward the check-in counter of the airline I had booked. The airline has two brands, the regular one and the low-cost carrier. My flight was the low-cost one called ‘Rouge’. Although their website said we could check in with a machine, those machines were deserted and lines of people were formed at the counter instead. I had prepped for a use for the machine online, which was a waste. Since the airline has two brands, I wasn’t sure which line I should join. The airline worker approached and asked me which flight I would take. When I said “Rouge,” she repeated dubiously, “Ro..u..ge…?” She sounded like she heard the word for the first time. I was alarmed. Those who were checking in here now were most likely on the Rouge flight. But the airline worker apparently didn’t know her company’s flight. As she directed me the wrong line any way, I looked for the correct one by myself and my turn to check in came. I handed over my passport and my reservation was on the computer screen. Looking at it, the woman said, “You’re going to Las Vegas, right?” My blood ran cold. My destination was Los Angeles. What had happened to my reservation? Was there neither ‘Rouge’ nor Los Angeles? I said in a trembling voice, “No, to LAX.” She made sure of my reservation in her computer screen and said again, “Your destination is Las Vegas.” When I froze at her words, she threw me another blow by saying, “Oh, I see. You’re going to Las Vegas the next day!” My worry bank ruptured and I felt I was going black. The whole itinerary was disrupted and I couldn’t avoid going to Las Vegas. I regretted from the bottom of my heart that I had chosen this airline. I braced myself to end my trip even before leaving Japan. Then, beside me who was knocked out and almost unconscious, my partner said to her calmly, “We’re going to Los Angeles.” She looked in her screen again, nodded, gave us boarding tickets according to my reservation as though nothing had happened. The fact was that she thought LAX stood for Las Vegas International Airport. She was a professional sitting at the check-in counter and seeing customers’ reservations every day, and yet didn’t know LAX. I was about to leave Japan and cross the Pacific by a plane of an airline like this. Now I realized that I was standing on the edge. It was time to jump…

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