Friday, April 29, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.319

There is a mysterious pattern that my favorite place is destined to be unpopular and eventually closed down. Shops, restaurants, theme parks and even attractions in popular theme parks have closed down once they became my favorite. My favorite restaurant in this area used to be Red Lobster because of its chic interior and westernized menu, but as I feared, it fell into the cursed pattern and closed. The TV said Pizza Hut opened where Red Lobster had been, and people have flooded for all-you-can-eat pizzas baked with a stone oven. Months later, I happened to have an errand near the restaurant and tried in. While the building remained the same as Red Lobster’s, the interior was remodeled into a casual style. The place was empty, except for a few servers having time on their hands. I had a wonderful time with delicious pizza and pasta, the reasonable price, and the quiet atmosphere above all. Soon, I started to be worried about the place. The fact that it was about to become my favorite and that my partner and I were the only customers in this large restaurant might mean the place wouldn’t last long. I was thinking about the fate of this restaurant when families with small children came in one after another. The place was quickly filled with clamor and we had to flee. A restaurant with families is all but closed down to me…

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.318

Now that I have already submitted a month’s notice to move out this apartment in mid-May, it’s less than a month for me to leave. Through my vigorous packing after the earthquake, my apartment is quite empty. I realized how spacious it was and how neat it looked without things. On the other hand, ironically, the destination of my things, which is my new apartment, has had less space and looked more and more like a storage room with numerous cardboard boxes towering to the ceiling. I’ve often heard on TV that there is a strong possibility this 9.0-magnitude earthquake will trigger an earthquake which epicenter is the metropolitan area. That plausible story combined with daily fears of aftershocks and radiation makes my resolution to move out of the Tokyo area firm no matter how attractive my current apartment has become once again. While I want to move to my new place as soon as possible, thinking about those towering boxes there, I have no idea how many months it will take to unpack all of them. The completion of the move won’t come so easily…

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.317

The region where my new apartment is located is famous for hot springs and my apartment building has its spa for the residents. For this trip there, I had looked forward to easing my stress from the earthquake’s aftermath in a hot spa by feeling relaxed and rich. But when I went there, I found out that the operating hours were cut short due to shortages of electricity and oil because the nuclear power plants and some of the thermal power stations for this region had been damaged too and remained to stop after the earthquake. Also, to save on electricity, most lights in the spa were off and the Jacuzzi and the sauna were closed. All I could enjoy was to sit in the hot tub in a weirdly dark, silent spa. That easily made me downhearted. To make things even worse, a mother with a shrieking child came in and destroyed the remnants of peace. There is no way to avoid the aftermath, and a noisy kid, in Japan…

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.316

Aftershocks persist day and night although it is more than a month since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit Japan. I often wake up in the middle of the night by a jolt and brace myself for a possible big one. As a result, I get up every morning tired. To escape form those stressful days and also move my furniture and boxes, I took a trip to my new place for a couple of days. About 70 percent of the move was completed by this trip. The goal is near. The region of my new apartment was still covered with snow and looked like a different world. I was able to be absorbed in cleaning the apartment without thinking about aftershocks, radiation and a shortage of food for a while. It was when I began to feel unwilling to go back to the Tokyo area that I jumped out of bed at night with a big jolt. I turned on my new TV which I had just set up that evening and found out the seismic center was right under the area of my new apartment. There is no way to avoid an earthquake in Japan…

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.315

I've written a note about how disturbing the loud noise that a neighbor kid made by shooting hoops on the street was, and dropped the note to the kid's crazy family for four times. Nevertheless, he started it again and this time I consulted my partner as to what to do. He said he would visit the family to complain face to face and went out in the evening. I began to be worried when he hadn't come back after a while. I went out to see what happened but a hush fell over the crazy family's house and there was no sign of my partner. An ominous feeling seized me. Did they come to blows and was he killed? Is he lying dead inside the house? Or, is he being carried away by the family's car to be buried? I came back to my apartment after searching for him in the neighborhood and thought I could save him if I called the police right now. When I was about to make the call, he returned, safe and sound. According to him, the crazy family told him that they didn't care that they let their kid play on a public road as if in their own yard, or that the noise annoyed the neighborhood. Because they had no concept of morality or legality, he left. Then, the kid's father followed him cursing out loud. As the man acted like a crazy animal, my partner ignored him and detoured back after losing him. My partner could have been killed or imprisoned for assault by countering, for such a frivolous matter like this. The noise of a bouncing ball stopped the next day, the day after and the day following. Did our risk-taking pay off? I have the feeling that the noise will return sooner or later...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.314

Since radiation leaked from the nuclear power plant and I refrained from going out, I've been consequently able to speed up my packing for a move to my new apartment. My strong wish to move out of this inconvenient life impelled me to pack eagerly without lingering. But as the temperature has risen, the scheduled blackout hasn't been carried out these days. Also, the amount of radioactive materials in water supply has declined drastically. I was beginning to feel that I could slow down packing when a kid of the crazy neighbor family resumed shooting hoops on the street. The family set up the basket facing the street so that the kid plays on the busy street between crammed houses. That's why I call them crazy. The noise he makes by bouncing a ball is loud and extremely annoying. I've complained about the noise by a note several times. He stops playing each time, but starts again a couple of weeks later. I was about to regain a comfortable life here and the noise began to disrupt my life. This must be another sign to move out quickly...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.313

The contaminated water by radiation has been drained into the ocean from the exploded nuclear power plant. I consider that means I'd better not eat my favorite sushi. Even if seafood from waters there is safe, I don’t feel like eating it. Since the heat doesn’t dissipate radiation, I suspect safety of cooked seafood as well. I usually get prepared foods at a supermarket for my meals and they often contain grilled salmon or fried fish. The labels describe the ingredients but not the detailed areas of the sources. Should I get prepared foods that don’t include seafood generally? But what about cooked vegetables, then? Their sources aren’t available for prepared foods. That leads me to get produce and seafood which source is clearly labeled and cook it by myself. It would be a new burden for me who doesn’t cook so much. I might as well eat prepared foods that may have ingredients with radioactive materials in them as cook safe food. Either way, I’ve lost a worry-free, convenient life I had enjoyed until the earthquake…

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.312

After I had stayed inside my apartment for days to avoid radiation since the accident of the nuclear power plant, I had a need for shopping and went outside. As the TV said, there were many empty shelves at the supermarket. Merchandise has been scarce everywhere around Tokyo since the earthquake because people bought up groceries, some of the vegetables got contaminated by radiation, some factories stopped operations and distribution was disrupted. On top of that, a shortage of electricity made the store turn off the signboard, about half of its lights inside and the music. A dark and quiet floor of the supermarket with empty shelves was such a bleak sight. Shopping used to be great fun for me but now it just depressed me. Other shoppers also looked down. They walked somewhat unsteadily and bumped me probably because they were worn out from aftershocks, scheduled blackouts and a nuclear scare. Most of all, lack of discounted or sale goods deprived me of fun to shop. The store hours have been shortened that is so inconvenient. It seems like a long time ago when the store shelves overflowed with merchandise and I often picked up and put back to the shelf what had literally tumbled down from it. I wonder how long it will take the shopping to return to what it used to be. Or, will it never be the same again forever...?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.311

The water supply got contaminated by a radioactive material which amount was above the intake limit for babies. A few days earlier, a dangerous level of radiation for overall intake had been detected on spinach from the areas near the exploded nuclear power plant. Since the earthquake hit Japan, a new fear has arisen day after day. This time, the TV news showed a long line of people at stores, who came to buy bottled waters. The water in my town was also contaminated over the intake limit for babies temporarily, but now the amount of a radioactive material has dropped and the water is drinkable. I look up the readings of radiation for the area I live in on the Internet everyday and fluctuate between hope and despair. Aftershocks and scheduled blackouts still continue. Worries and fuss that I had regularly had about a move to my new place seem so trivial now. Just surviving is fortunate enough. Being able to use electricity and water supply is fully grateful. For the first time, I found myself longing for cherry blossoms to bloom soon…