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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi's Rambling No.541

I came across a very nice restaurant that served an incredibly money-saving all-you-can-eat lunch buffet on weekdays, and I have been frequently there lately. The restaurant is inside a thrifty hotel but its interior and food is gorgeous since the hotel is also used as a wedding ceremony hall. The lunch buffet has mainly Japanese dishes that other buffet restaurants usually don’t serve because they are costly and time-consuming to prepare. In addition to common buffet items like curry, fried chicken and pasta, it has a wide variety of expensive dishes such as seafood, tempura, chirashi sushi and beef stew. They are laid out on the beautifully decorated buffet table in a luxurious atmosphere. Amazingly, the price is only $11, including soft drinks and desserts. It’s so unreal and I feel I must be in a dream or something every time I eat there. Maybe because of the surreal price, a line of customers is often formed in front of the entrance before the restaurant opens. It happened once that I couldn’t get in when the table got full in the middle of the line. About 70 percent of the customers are seniors, which is peculiar for an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant and I guess is due to Japanese food. As seniors are getting healthier, or they have too much time to spare, or human greed never decays, or for whatever reason, they devour and enjoy lunch immensely. Come to think of it, Japanese society has been aging rapidly and shopping malls and cafes are filled with seniors. Japan has a crazy pension system that seniors receive what young people pay. The demographic change of more seniors and less youth causes a serious shortage of the pension and the government makes up for it by a debt. Japan is tumbling down a steep slope by keeping such an unsustainable system. Thinking this country might be eaten up by senior citizens soon, I match them with my appetite at the buffet and eat gasping for air even after I’m full. I stay on until the lunch time ends and the place closes, and by the time I’m leaving, I end up running toward the bathroom. I have an upset stomach almost every time because I eat far too much there. The super-saving buffet may work against me after all, but I will feel like going back there by the next day…

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