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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi's Rambling No.524

August 29, 2014

In the middle of August every year, Japan has the Bon Festival. It’s believed that spirits of ancestors return to each family during the festival. If I had stayed in my hometown of Kyoto and gotten married there, I would have been the 63rd successor of the family. I suppose my ancestor had acquired land around where the house I grew up in stood, long before Kyoto once became the capital city of Japan 1200 years ago. The family has farmed and lived on the same spot generation after generation since then. To sustain the family succession, some of my ancestors may have given up what they wanted to do, some may have been forced into arranged marriages for the tie between families, some may have had troubles over their shares of an inheritance, and some may have been distressed for the pressures of succeeding the family. I imagine quite a few ancestors of mine had a terrible life. The family line is finally to come to an end by me, but I doubt my ancestors feel sad about it. The times have changed and the farming business in the urbanized Kyoto isn’t sustainable. Without farming, to preserve land isn’t meaningful. My mother used to say repeatedly to me that our ancestors would punish me bitterly if I left home and lived the way I wanted to live instead of succeeding the family. That hasn’t been the case so far. Since I left Kyoto, I’ve been better off. To me, it seems my mother whom my ancestors kept punishing relentlessly. A fortuneteller came to the door of my parents’ house once. She told my mother that all the spirits of our female ancestors, who suffered unhappy lives because they sacrificed themselves for the family succession, had possessed me. My mother interpreted it as the proof of her theory that they would punish me and lead me to an unhappy life. I don’t know if it was because of those spirits or my own will, I got to leave home, break the family succession and live my life. Now it depends on me whether I will have a happy life or not…

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