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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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The Crane hr574

The hotel I checked in on my trip to Kyoto gave me a discount coupon for the buffet breakfast and I had it next morning at the restaurant. The buffet had Japanese expensive dishes in addition to the familiar Western breakfast dishes, which made up the most luxurious buffet breakfast I’d ever had. As there were many foreign guests around, it produced an international atmosphere. One of the walls of the restaurant was the glass window from the ceiling to the floor. Beyond it was a small Japanese garden that had a pond with many red-and-white-colored koi fish. When I was eating delicious breakfast and thinking I hadn’t known that Kyoto had a fabulous place like this, something out of the window caught my eyes. A tall, sleek, beautiful crane came flying from somewhere and landed in the garden. Its height was about half of mine and its color was mainly white mixed with silver and black. It stood just five feet away from me separated by the window, watching the koi fish in the pond with its cool eyes. I was close enough to see each of its feathers clearly. I had never been this near to a crane before. It didn’t try to fly away but stood still majestically. There’s a myth in Japan that a crane lives one thousand years. Since it is regarded as the embodiment of celebration, kimonos for a wedding or the New Year have crane patterns. The crane standing in the garden also looked as if it had lived for a long time and the restaurant was somehow filled with a sense of awe in the air. Because this trip was the first one after my family sold and left its land that had been inherited from my ancestors over for one thousand years from generation to generation, I felt the spirit of the land finally got freedom, took the shape of the crane and flew away. And it came here to say goodbye to me. I was convinced that parting with the land was the right thing to do. It set each of my family free after all. The crane kept staring at the koi fish a long while and suddenly crouched as if it decided to pounce. I was thrilled to see if it would eat expensive colored koi fish that often cost thousands of dollars, but it returned to its previous calm position and stood straight. It repeated those moves several times and then flew away without attacking the koi fish. Goodbye, gorgeous crane. Goodbye, my ancestors’ land and its spirit. I was going to visit my parents on that day. Visiting them usually ends horribly and I had been quite worried about it this time too. But seeing the crane was auspicious and made me feel that the visit would go well. After the mystic breakfast, I was headed for a strange town where the condominium that my parents had moved in located…

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