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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.520

Let me report how a small rural town I live in has been lately. Since there are many skiing slopes in the town, the forlorn main street has ski lodges, B and Bs, souvenir shops and rental ski shops. Quite a few had been out of business as the skiing boom was gone. One out of every three shops is closed now along the street. The other day I found that my favorite shop there hung a sign saying ‘For Rent’. The shop was my dream shop that carried imported foods and goods from U.S. Imported merchandise is usually costly, but that shop sold selected Costco-brand foods at almost the same prices at Costco or sometimes lower prices. Considering the membership fee at Costco, they cost less here. The stamp card of the shop was also magical. They gave the customers stamps according to the sum of purchase and the accumulated stamps were exchanged for the merchandise. Those stamps were ridiculously easy to be collected and I couldn’t count how many bottles of salsa I got for free. In addition, the shop often held a prize drawing event. The drawing always came out with a prize and I got numerous freebies such as pouches and stuffed animals. I had never left the shop without something free in my bag. It was almost charity for me and I felt the more I shopped, the more the shop was in the red. That maybe proved true. The shop has been closed for good and sadly my strange rule that my favorite place is almost certainly to be out of business worked again just as I had been afraid of. The number of children in the town has decreased and several schools were merged into one. That one school is also small and the local bus started to be partly operated as a school bus. Noisy kids rush in the bus in the afternoon and I can’t use it any more. My favorite modern restaurant in town has had more and more closed days. Now it closes on three days of weekdays and opens only for three hours each on the remaining two weekdays. One of the B and Bs on the main street newly got out of business and came into the market. The price was unbelievably low. Even so, nobody bought it and the price got even lower. It’s less than a tenth of a typical house price for three times the space of a typical house. It was cheap enough for me to think of running a B and B myself. I quickly came to my senses that getting into the black with a B and B in this town is nearly impossible. To add to my town’s miserable conditions, my own income also will be reduced by one third starting next month…

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