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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi's Rambling No.533

New Year’s Day is the biggest holiday in Japan. It’s as big as Thanksgiving and Christmas put together. It’s a day when millions of people visit shrines and temples wearing kimono or their best clothes and pray for good luck by offering money into the boxes. Before midnight, shrines and temples begin to seethe with people. I used to be one of them when I lived in my hometown, but now I just watch the tumult on TV at home every year. I recall New Year’s Day of 2011 as my merriest one. Back then, I still lived in the apartment in a suburb of Tokyo. The plan to move into this rural town had been already arranged, but I hadn’t moved out yet. From the last minutes of New Year’s Eve to the first minutes of New Year’s Day, shrines and temples all over Japan ring the bell 108 times. 108 represents the number of worldly desires of each person. The bell ring is supposed to take them away one by one for the new year. I was listening to the faint sound of the bell that a temple near my apartment was ringing when 2011 arrived. I opened a bottle of champagne, which is too expensive for me to drink except on this day every year, prepared the New Year’s meal that’s not traditional but of my own style, and had it with my partner who looked somewhat to be in bad shape, while watching a comedy live show on TV. After I watched the first sunrise of the year over Mt. Fuji on TV, I turned on my PC and found that my new song that I had spent several years to complete was put up on i-Tunes and Amazon for the first time. I felt like a new life for me had started with the new year and it would get better from now on, with my new apartment in a new place in the wings and my new song made public. I guess the reason why New Year’s Day of 2011 was the merriest for me isn’t just an expensive champagne or the New Year’s meal or the comedy show. It’s because I felt so much hope. I continued watching comedy TV shows until noon that day feeling so good, and when I was about to go to bed, my partner confessed that he had caught a cold and was undoubtedly sick…

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