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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Mona Lisa hr618

It was about when I was eight years old and visited my grandparents’ for the first time since their house was rebuilt where their old one in which my mother was born and grew up had stood. I stepped into the living room of their brand-new house and my uncle welcomed me.
   The house belonged to my grandparents on my mother’s side. As an old custom of Japan, the first-born child used to live with his or her parents after marriage. That’s why I had lived with my grandparents on my father’s side all the way until I left home. Accordingly, my mother’s elder sister took a husband into the family and had lived with her parents. Her husband was this uncle of mine. He was married to my aunt as an heir-to-be and related to me by marriage not by blood.
   He has gotten the best seat in the new living room. It was placed at the top of the table and the closest to the TV. What caught my eyes was the painting hung on the wall behind him. It was a large copy of Mona Lisa.
   I don’t think I recognized it as Mona Lisa back then, but I knew it was a Western painting and felt a decisively unsuitable, out-of-place sense. The house was located in a rural area in Kyoto, in typical countryside where Western paintings were hardly spotted. Though it was new, the house was Japanese-style. The living room had no chairs as they sat on the floor around the low table. Yet, above my uncle was a gorgeously framed, dignified Mona Lisa. I’m still not sure if someone gave it as a housewarming gift or he got it himself, but it was certainly the furthest thing from my uncle who was a lean, uncultured, gamble-inclined man. While I gaped at the painting thinking how opposite it was to my uncle, he said to me smiling, cheerfully and proudly, “Isn’t this painting nice? I like this. It’s nice, isn’t it? Nice, hah?”
   Until mid-teen, I had often visited the house. Mona Lisa was always there as my uncle’s favorite. In every New Year’s holiday, my uncle acted as a dealer for our annual family gambling card game at the living room. It may sound peaceful, but it was a serious high-stakes battle between my uncle, my cousin, my mother and me. Although my uncle loved gambling and was buried into every bet, he would lose big every year. From above, Mona Lisa watched him losing to his son with tears in his eyes, with her archaic smile.
   I went abroad for the first time when I finished high school. I visited France and saw the real Mona Lisa at the Louvre. I wasn’t interested in art so much then, and walked through rather than appreciated. But once I entered the big hall where Mona Lisa was displayed, I noticed something fundamentally different. Although there were quite a few visitors, the hall was almost completely silent. The air was strained and tense. It was as if everybody had been holding their breath. At first, I didn’t know what was happening. I walked forward and found Mona Lisa at the back of the hall. Since it was beyond security guards, tasseled ropes and the reinforced glass, there was still some distance from me when I stood in front. Nevertheless, the real one was surprisingly powerful and captivating. I clearly remember I felt like being gravitated to it and couldn’t help fix my eyes on it.
   As for my uncle’s favorite copy of Mona Lisa, when my grandparents’ house was burned to the ground in after years by my grandmother’s carelessness in which she lit a candle too close to a sheet of Buddhism talisman paper on the alter one morning, Mona Lisa was burned away with the house. When the fire broke out, my uncle, who had been even thinner because of terminal cancer, carried in his arms my aunt, who had been fat and suffered from dementia and was asleep in the upstairs bedroom, ran down the stairs holding her, and saved her life. I thought I found out who his favorite lady really was, and who he really was...

 

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Specialty #coffee was all free as much as I wanted at the #lounge in the #hotel where I stayed during a #trip to #Chiba. Great saving for $120 per night. #Japan Specialty #coffee was all free as much as I wanted at the #lounge in the #hotel where I stayed during a #trip to #Chiba. Great saving for $120 per night. #Japan
My new #blog is posted. It's about a #trip to the western #Japan that I took to see my #parents in May. https://hidemiwoods.com My new #blog is posted. It's about a #trip to the western #Japan that I took to see my #parents in May. https://hidemiwoods.com
The Mickey #bus from the #hotel to the monorail station that leads to #TokyoDisneyland. Do you see a Mickey statue on the top? #Japan #MickeyMouse The Mickey #bus from the #hotel to the monorail station that leads to #TokyoDisneyland. Do you see a Mickey statue on the top? #Japan #MickeyMouse
Arranged a #dessert plate out of the free #breakfast #buffet at the #hotel where I stayed during a #trip to #Chiba. #Japan #coffee #waffles #fruit Arranged a #dessert plate out of the free #breakfast #buffet at the #hotel where I stayed during a #trip to #Chiba. #Japan #coffee #waffles #fruit
Just dropping by Tokyo #Disneylandhotel where it's too expensive for me to stay the night. #TokyoDisneyland #disneyland #Japan #hotel #MickeyMouse Just dropping by Tokyo #Disneylandhotel where it's too expensive for me to stay the night. #TokyoDisneyland #disneyland #Japan #hotel #MickeyMouse
One more plate for the free #breakfast at the #hotel. #Japan #smokedsalmon One more plate for the free #breakfast at the #hotel. #Japan #smokedsalmon
The #hotel was close to #TokyoDisneyResort. Enjoyed a view of #TokyoDisneySea from the window of my room. #Japan #disney The #hotel was close to #TokyoDisneyResort. Enjoyed a view of #TokyoDisneySea from the window of my room. #Japan #disney
Moved to the different #hotel that was a little more expensive than the former one. So, the free #breakfast was also better. #Japan #trip Moved to the different #hotel that was a little more expensive than the former one. So, the free #breakfast was also better. #Japan #trip

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