Ever since I was a child, I have been drawing pictures (comics), writing, and taking pictures.I've always been trying to send out something.
I hope that I can be a switch that changes someone's perspective and feelings.
I hope to continue expressing myself through words, pictures and photos.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Summer Vacation at Grandmother's House
Before I know it, the rainy season has ended and summer is in full swing.
Where have the summers gone when it was hot, but still had a certain emotional quality to it?
When I open the window in the morning and smell the early summer air, I remember the morning air of radio gymnastics during summer vacation.
I am surprised that the air of the season and the experience of summer vacation continue to be linked in my brain, even though decades have passed.
I hung a stamp card with a string around my neck, and when the exercises were over, I went under the wisteria trellis and had it stamped with a picture of my choice. It was a small, rough illustration of a sailboat or a flower, but I looked forward to having it stamped.
Every year in August, around the time of the Bon Festival, my mother took me to stay at my grandmother's house in Tochigi, that is, my mother's parents' house.
It was a regular summer vacation event when I was a child, and I looked forward to it more than anything else.
We would take the "Ryomou" express train from the Tobu station in Asakusa.
I was looking forward to this express train because I did not usually travel very often, and I enjoyed being able to set up a small table where I could put my lunch and tea, so I called it "the train with a table.
The view from the train window was another thing to look forward to.
I was absorbed in watching the green landscape of rice paddies and fields, a single house standing alone in a spacious place, small shrines and chinju-no-mori, and the scenery flying by.
Once, for a summer homework assignment, I drew the scenery seen from the train window on a piece of paper like a scroll.
After getting off at Ashikaga station, the birthplace of the Ashikaga clan, we often took a cab to my grandmother's house.
The landmark where we would get off was a public bathhouse. From there it was a short walk, and I ran, happy to see my grandmother and her house again.
My grandmother always came out to the front door and welcomed me with a smile.
The house was an old wooden two-story structure; my aunt (my mother's sister) lived with us when she was still single, and after she got married, the second floor became the lodger's room.
The water coming out of the kitchen faucet was well water, which was cool and very cold in summer. In winter it was warm.
The living room and sleeping area were in the same Japanese-style room, with a round brown chabutai (tea table).
I can hardly remember what kind of food we ate there, but I remember only my grandmother's sweet omelet, which I liked because the omelet at home was not sweet.
I loved my grandmother's house, but one thing I was not happy about was the bathroom.
The toilets in old houses were always located at the far end of the house.
The wooden door had two doors: the first one opened to the men's toilet, and another door had to be opened to get to the back of the toilet.
And since it is not a flush, it is very difficult not to look down.
When I was little, I think my grandmother or mother had to come to the front.
There is no bath, so we go to the public bathhouse just around the corner.
This is also a unique summer vacation experience.
At night, when I am reading a comic book in my futon, I sometimes hear the faint sounds of the bathhouse. Since my house faces the street, I can sometimes hear the sound of footsteps walking toward the bathhouse wearing karakoro- geta (Japanese clogs).
The bathhouse is actually an old one, built in 1953, and was used for the exterior of the bathhouse that is the setting for the 2016 movie "Hot Enough to Boil Your Bath" (starring Rie Miyazawa) (the interior is apparently a different bathhouse).
Partly because of this, and partly because it is the only remaining Showa-era public bathhouse in the city, it is now quite famous, but at the time it must have been a very ordinary town bathhouse.
It is no longer there, but there used to be a department store there, and I used to enjoy going there for shopping and being taken to the Restaurant.
I think we were served children's lunch or pudding a la mode.
The area around the main street was much livelier and there were many stores.
I was a child, so the whole town seemed big, but when I visited there after many decades, I was surprised to find that the streets were much narrower than I remembered and the whole town was smaller than I remembered.
My love of travel may have started with a summer vacation to my grandmother's house.
Waking up in an unusual house, I couldn't help but be excited by the unusualness and freedom.
After my stay was over, while I was waiting for the cab to take me to the train station, I felt a sense of disappointment that I was going to return to my daily routine, and a sense of loneliness that I would not see my grandmother and this house again until next year.
I had forgotten how I felt as I watched my grandmother waving her hands and the house shrinking in size from the cab, and writing this has reminded me of what I had forgotten.
After my grandmother went into the hospital and no one lived in the house, I stopped going to Tochigi in the summer. It was probably when I was in middle school.
During my school years, when I was working at a company, and many times since then, summer vacations have come and gone, even to places farther away than Tochigi.
But the place I would like to go back to is my grandmother's house on that summer vacation.
I would like to hear my grandmother's soft Tochigi dialect one more time, as she served me cold water saying, "Yes, sir.
The photo is of Ashikaga Gakko (Ashikaga School), which is considered the oldest school in Japan. It was recognized as a Japan Heritage site in 2015.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
The world is a mixture of lies and truth.
Some time ago, there was a TV special on fortune-telling scams on the Internet.
It is common to see free fortune-telling appraisals on the Internet, and of course, not all of them are nefarious.
However, after registering, one is sent various messages ("You have an aura that other people don't have," or something like that, apparently), and then invited to pay repeatedly, eventually being swindled out of a large sum of money.
If you only listen to the story, you may think, "Why do you believe such a false story?" I think.
However, when you are feeling anxious and clutching at straws when it comes to money, and you are told that "you will be lucky with your money in a few more days," you may be tempted to think that things will turn out all right.
The number of consultations about damage from such fortune-telling sites has increased eightfold in the last fiscal year due to anxiety about the future caused by epidemics and illnesses in the family.
It may be that many women are particularly fond of fortune telling, and when they are anxious about something, they may be tempted to seek an appraisal for emotional support and reassurance that they will be all right.
At the end of this special feature, the moderator declined to say, "Of course, there are those who do proper fortune telling.
Of course there are, but since fortune-telling is often seen as a scam to begin with, this may have reinforced the image that fortune-telling is a scam or a lie, and that people who are into fortune-telling are a bit crazy.
But I think that is a little unfortunate.
This is because fortune-telling can sometimes be a refreshing change of pace, a great encouragement, or, if something deeply makes sense to you, a guideline for your life.
Most of the scams seem to be money-related fortune-telling, but there are also those who "make you send them unknown characters or combinations of Chinese characters that seem to bring you good luck in money by e-mail or chat.
If there were a sequence of numbers or kanji that could bring up one's money fortune, everyone would have been rich by now.
I know that kanji, words, and numbers have special meanings and, in some cases, power, and I am sure that there is such a thing as "placing something in which direction will bring you luck in money" according to feng shui.
But if money and good luck sometimes come in this way, it is because the person's inner self changes in a bright and positive way.
I was fortunate enough to make my debut as a photographer for a women's magazine specializing in fortune-telling.
The magazine carried articles on Western astrology, tarot, and various other forms of fortune telling, written by well-known astrologers, psychics, and fortune tellers.
I have never studied Western astrology or tarot properly, but there are many people around me who specialize in these fields, and I have only dabbled in them myself.
So I can't explain them in detail, but I can say that many of them have a long history and are very deep.
In the case of astrology, it would be interesting to learn what we can learn from the arrangement of the stars and why, and in the case of tarot, it would be interesting to learn about its history and the symbols it contains.
I think it would be interesting to learn about the history of the Tarot and the symbols it contains, but I have not yet found the right time to begin serious study.
However, I do know that it is not as simple as "hit or miss".
I always think that the world is a mixture of the true and the false.
And even if something is true, it may be obscured by something fishy, or it may not be conveyed properly if the atmosphere of the person conveying it is not very good.
It is not limited to fortune-telling, but the same is true of the news that is making the rounds.
In this day and age when we are bombarded with more information than we need, we should not blindly follow what we hear, but rather shut it down and sharpen our sensibility to sort out the truth from the lies.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Live as I am
I celebrated my birthday at the end of March, when the cherry blossom trees around my house had much more leaves.
I woke up in the morning and thought to myself, "I am entering a season of life in which I will live as my true self.
True means that there is no pretense.
I guess you could call it "just as I am.
I feel as if I have always unconsciously (or automatically) put limits on myself, saying, "This is the way I really am, but I have no choice now," or "This is what I really want to do, but it's impossible for me.
I think I have always been unconsciously (automatically) putting limits on myself.
I once participated in a transformation game, a kind of spiritual version of the game of life.
What I realized then was that I did not want to reach the goal and "climb" up.
For some reason, I found myself wanting to look this way and that way before the goal.
Does it seem boring because once you reach the finish line, it's over?
Or is it because I don't like games where I have to compete with someone else to win or lose, and I want to be late and out of the race?
I wrote all this and then I realized something.
I remember that just about a year ago, I wrote a post in NOTE titled "The Purpose of Life Was Not to Reach Somewhere.
It seems that quite a few people saw this post.
I wrote that the purpose of life is not to reach somewhere or to "become" something, but to live each moment with joy, and to "create oneself to be the joy itself.
It is not about creating something, but about continuing to create our own way of being.
I wrote "continue" because the moment continues forever.
Reaching a goal is something that feels like it is far in the future, but the moment is right here and now.
So it is always about how you are right now, right now, right now, in this moment.
Reaching somewhere is a bonus or a reward in the creation of the moment.
Another important thing is that it seems that moments are not even physically connected to each other.
If it didn't work yesterday, it doesn't have to work today.
No, it seems that even now and a few minutes ago are not connected, and that it is you who is making the connection.
They say that there are several timelines, and you can switch to a different timeline.
(I used to use this at the dentist. I get on the timeline that is painless and easy to complete! I decide, I did that, and it was over really fast.)
In the long (but fleeting) march of life, it's easy to get discouraged.
Just when you think you're on a roll, you get depressed that you might not make it.
The more depressed I get, the more I limit myself repeatedly, because the reality becomes commensurate with the depression.
I think this is how I have been repeatedly up and down.
Maybe I have been repeating the ups and downs because I like them, because I don't want to finish at the finish line in the game of life.
Wouldn't it be fun if things went smoothly?
Maybe I actually want to be jittery in the middle of the game, even though my manifest consciousness wants it to go better and better.
I hear that many people are afraid to be happy, and maybe I actually have that kind of fear.
In any case, if you want to experience jitteriness and unhappiness, go for it.
But I've had enough of it.
So on the morning of my birthday, I decided.
I'm going to experience the greatest version of myself that I can.
We have the freedom to choose the worst and the best.
So those who want to end up with the lowest can do so.
But I was kind of curious to see what it would be like if I increased my output.
Many things are said to be happening in the next few years.
One of them is that the monetary economy is said to be collapsing.
I have been so tamed by this economy that I have recently been struggling to change my view of money.
It is said that money will cease to exist in the future (although it is already long gone. ) and that a more wonderful world awaits us in the future.
Many things will happen before then.
But all I have to do now is to live in the moment, and I am sure that I will be able to handle it.
It seems that each person has plenty of support from invisible entities in addition to the visible ones.
This is very reassuring, but many people are unaware of it.
And I believe that each person can do more if they themselves are connected to their "real" selves.
That is why I would like to continue to communicate about the invisible and the spiritual world from time to time.
Perhaps this is the "real" part of me.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Is it the question or the answer that matters?
If you have an answer, that's the end. When you have a question, that's the beginning.
I had been casually listening to them, but then I remembered that answering a question can lead to a deeper exploration of one's inner self than I had expected.
There is a book of photographs by Takashi Kanda titled "Always have 'flowers' in your heart" (Inochino Kotoba-sha).
In the book, there are pictures of beautiful flower arrangements and flowers blooming outside, accompanied by words from the Psalms of the Bible in both English and Japanese.
At the end of the book, there are a few pages where you can write about "who I am now.
There are a number of questions and space for you to write your answers to them.
For example, "Where I want to visit someday," "My favorite color," "The town I want to live in someday," and other questions that you may have thought of yourself, as well as "What I have left to do," "When I feel happy," "What I cannot reach," "My favorite time of the day," "What I want to tell my father," "If I could have one wish fulfilled," "What supports me," etc.
I was asked these questions, and I had to take some time to think about them.
When I look at them, I think, "Okay, I'll write down some answers.
Sometimes, by thinking about it and answering it, I realize that I am feeling this way.
I just remembered that I may have once wanted to make a little press with a list of questions like this.
What do you really want to do?" is probably the question I have asked myself most in the past few years.
It seems that there are so many people who say, "I don't know what I want to do," but perhaps I could substitute the question, "What feelings do I want to feel?
What emotions do you want to feel while living your life?
Fulfilled, excited, calm, warm, joyful, smiley, happy, secure, relaxed...
For example, he said, if you don't know what kind of work you want to do, try to imagine what kind of feelings you want to work with.
I like the poem "The First Question" by the poet Hiroshi Osada, who died in 2015.
I first read it when I picked up the picture book "The First Question" by painter and picture book author Hideko Ise.
Was the sky far away or near?
The book begins with the question, "Did you look up at the sky today?
One day, I found a book of poems in the library and wrote down the full text of the poem again.
What can you say without hesitation?
Can you name seven of your favorite flowers?
Who is "we" to you?
What is the first landscape that comes to your mind when you think of the world?
As I read on, I wondered what it would have been like.
Can you name your seven favorite flowers? I thought to myself, "Seven is not enough.
I thought I was okay if I thought, "Seven is not enough.
The question, the answer, and the answer.
Which is more important for you right now?
If I had to choose, I would say the question.
Only when you are asked the question do you become aware of it, and the answer comes to you from within.
The year 2023 has just begun, so you might as well ask yourself the question.
If you had the time, the money, and the support from everyone.
What would you do?
Asking yourself this question and fantasizing about it is where reality creation begins.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
The year I allowed myself to enjoy
In last December's Stay Salty, I wrote a piece titled "A Dolce Christmas," in which I wrote about my memories of Christmas.
It has been a year since then.
I think it's too soon to be true.
I heard on TV that the reason why the days go by faster when you grow up than when you were a child is because you have less excitement.
I think there is a certain amount of excitement. I think so, but it is true that we are still saying, "Today is a hamburger steak! Yay! I think there may be less excitement in our daily lives.
Looking back on 2022, I allowed myself to do what I wanted to do, what I was interested in, and what I liked.
I can't do things that cost too much money, but I can't ask myself, "What's in it for me? Is it going to be a job? You have other things to do than that!" I stopped letting those ego voices stop me.
That's exactly what I did, like a child, "I want to do it! I'm excited! Like a child, I cherished the feeling of "I'm excited!
First, in the spring, I took an on-demand course taught by watercolor illustrator Marie Abe.
I had a book on watercolor and a book on "short-time sketching," which allows me to sketch outside in a short time, but I couldn't take the class in person because she lives in the Kansai region.
So this was an opportunity I could not have wished for.
And as a café lover, I was delighted to learn that the content of the book was short sketches of café scenes.
I enjoyed watching the video of the instructor's work and drawing the pictures together.
After taking this class, I was able to draw illustrations and sketches as I had expected (though only "better than before").
I used to run a manga club when I was a student, so I can draw a few pictures.
But it is difficult to paint a landscape and I can't do them! But after taking the course, I was able to draw with a certain atmosphere while looking at photos I took abroad in the past.
One of the reasons I am now able to draw even if only somewhat, is that I no longer aim for perfection.
The way to draw short sketches was "don't worry if it is distorted or crooked," so I opened my mind to the idea that it was okay if it was distorted or crooked, since I had not properly learned how to draw.
If you think about it, distortion has its own flavor.
When I was doing photography, I thought that the lack of fundamentals should not be replaced with "taste" or "sensitivity.
As with anything, it is always better to start with the basics.
But now that I am of an age where my future is much shorter than the years I have lived so far, it is also possible for me to start with what I enjoy rather than building up from the basics.
I loosely think that I can do the basics when I feel like it.
It was a progress for me to be able to change my mind like that.
On the other hand, I started calligraphy four years ago.
It is a so-called Western calligraphy, which requires steady practice, so it is not at all beautiful even if you write in a nonsense way.
However, I did not spend much time practicing calligraphy this year.
I have been practicing some typefaces that I haven't learned from a teacher by myself with the help of books, but it hasn't been going as well as I'd like.
Rather, I would occasionally pull out the typeface textbooks I had learned and review them, thinking that I had forgotten some of them.
Still, I like calligraphy and have no intention of quitting.
When the time comes, I would like to learn from a teacher with whom I have a connection.
I have always been interested in letters, language, and the history of books.
They say that a book is a "source.
Something that is true, essential, basic, or fundamental.
In other words, he says, a book is something that contains what is right and true.
The ultimate book is the Bible.
I may be offended if I write this, but whether the Bible is a book that contains what is true and correct is another story.
But in the Middle Ages, beautifully decorated manuscripts were produced to propagate Christianity.
There is a mountain of art that was developed and created thanks to the spread of Christianity.
Medieval manuscripts were decorated with handwritten text and beautiful pictures, and later the illustrations were printed in woodblock and then in letterpress as printing became more widespread.
The calligraphy I am currently practicing on my own is a typeface called the Copperplate style.
It means "copperplate," and in calligraphy, it is modeled after the typeface used in copperplate printing.
I learned about this after I started calligraphy.
And what I have been wanting to do for several years now is copperplate printing.
It is interesting because all of my interests are connected.
At the beginning of the year 2022, I decided on "An" as the kanji for this year for me.
Not "cheap," but "safe.
I decided to base everything I do on the feeling of security, but I had forgotten about it until I look back on it now.
Although I had forgotten the kanji, I think I have been trying for the past year to put my axis on the word "an" (an).
Otherwise, I would not have had the inspiration to do what I wanted to do.
I wonder what my kanji for 2023 will be.
This year I frequently received messages telling me to "just play" or "have fun.
I have always had a hard time just playing or just having fun, and I have always held up the meaning and significance of whatever I do, so I think "play" might be a good kanji for next year.
Even in our work, we may get ideas by enjoying ourselves as if we were playing, and we came to this earth to play in the first place.
We want to play as much as we can so that when we leave the amusement park, we will not regret saying, "I wish I had taken the plunge and ridden that one, too.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
For some time this year, I have had the opportunity to read many people's waka poems.
I have never been interested in haiku or tanka poetry, but I like only Saigyo, a poet who lived from the late Heian to the early Kamakura period, and I just visited the "Saigyo Exhibition" the other day.
Aside from that, it was my first experience to read many poems.
When I read them, I could understand the person's life, daily thoughts and feelings in a short phrase as if I could grasp them.
I was reminded once again that even though there are so many people in the world, we all share the same feelings and emotions about the same things.
I don't have the same experience of looking up at the sky at dusk when someone go back to clean up their parents' house in the countryside, but I can imagine it with deep emotion.
Sometimes I even cried because I resonated so much with various people's situations.
Many of the older people wrote about their children and grandchildren. Some sang about the birth of a grandchild, New Year's surrounded by children and grandchildren, and other picture-perfect scenes of happiness.
On the other hand, there are many who have lost a spouse or child, or a friend has passed away.
There are also songs about the sadness and grief of living alone.
By comparison, we end up feeling happy with a life surrounded by many family members.
This is certainly one form of happiness from the outside.
But what do people mean when they talk about "happiness"?
The other day, as I was walking down my usual street to go shopping and passing many people, it occurred to me.
If there are hundreds of millions of people in the world, and they all aim for the same pattern of life, there would be no need for so many people.
There is a view that the purpose of human birth is to have a body, to experience various things, and to experience various emotions.
I thought to myself, "If there are a thousand different kinds of people, each with a different purpose, then there is no point in comparing them to others to see who is happier.
Looking back, when I was young, especially in my 20s, the world was surprisingly small, and the definition of "happiness" seemed to be predetermined, as was the era itself.
The image of "general happiness" was to go to a good school, get into a good university, get into a good company (in other words, a first-class one), get married, have children, and so on.
This was the era when the phrase "three highs" became popular. In other words, a man with high education, high income, and high height was considered an ideal partner.
I laugh when I think back on it, but I don't think it was a complete joke.
The tendency toward male chauvinism was much stronger than it is today, and perhaps because the company I worked for was an old-fashioned one, the way of thinking was old-fashioned, even though it was a department with many young people.
Many female employees got married and retired after about three years, and very few stayed on for long.
Although I was not aiming for the "common route to happiness," I think that before I knew it, a spell had been created within me that made that image the "main road" for me.
Since the time when macs, let alone windows, did not yet exist, I voluntarily deviated from the "main road" and worked as a dispatched operator of large computers at various companies.
There were a number of companies that were well known to all Japanese, and there were many people who had graduated from top universities.
However, not all of them were leading "picture-perfectly happy lives.
It is a matter of course now.
Just when I thought that the term "O-Juken" had become a thing of the past, I was hired as a part-time employee at a school that I could not enter even if I stood on my own two feet.
At that time, I learned that "getting into a good university" was still considered a good thing.
Now that I am no longer in that position, I hear that campus life has been suspended at the university for a little over two years due to an epidemic.
My life has been disrupted and many things have changed, so my sense of values may have changed all at once.
Still, I wonder if it is my imagination that I still see many people on social networking sites who use the "vague happiness route" as a standard and put a buck on themselves for deviating from it.
I have recently come to realize that one of the benefits of getting older is that it becomes easier and easier to get out of the rigid frame of mind.
I have come to believe that there are different definitions of happiness.
When I heard the phrase, "Happiness is satisfaction," the scales fell from my eyes, but that does not mean that I should be satisfied with the way things are.
It does not mean that we should be satisfied with where we are. I think it means that it is important to affirm ourselves.
But now I have a slightly different image of happiness.
Happiness for me is
Being at peace and at ease.
Being able to believe that something is happening for the sake of something, even when it's hard.
Being excited about what I want to know and do.
That making the most of myself and enjoying myself will contribute to others and to society.
To be able to look back at my former self and realize that I was actually in love and abundance.
To have the sensitivity to feel when beautiful light comes into a room.
The list goes on and on.
I feel that the image of happiness has expanded itself.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Sweet memories and a changing city
I was born and raised somewhere between Yokohama and Shibuya. When I was a child, my mother would sometimes take me to Jiyugaoka for shopping.
Nowadays, there are many fashionable stores in Jiyugaoka, but back then, it must not have been as fashionable as it is now.
But it was still a "town" with special stores and restaurants.
Whenever she took me to Jiyugaoka, my mother would shop at a supermarket called Peacock. Unlike the local markets and supermarkets, it must have been a little more upscale and fashionable.
Then there were times when we would go into the Fujiya restaurant in front of the station. I vaguely remember that there was a Peco doll at the entrance, and if I am not mistaken, the restaurant was on the second floor, up a narrow staircase, with a side view of the doll.
I had a "Pecochan sundae" with colored spray (fine chocolate) sprinkled on top of ice cream, and I was so happy to see those colorful little chocolate mounds, which were beautiful and cute.
I am sure there were many other things I ate, but only the impression of the colored sprays remains with a sense of excitement.
In fact, I wrote about the above Peacock at first, saying that it is still in the same place.
The day after I wrote that, it was a beautiful Sunday after a long absence, and there was an exhibition in Jiyugaoka that I wanted to see, so I went to see it.
Although I had passed by Jiyugaoka by train, I had hardly walked around the town in the past two and a half years.
Since it had been a while since I had been there, I started wandering around, thinking of stores I wanted to see in that area or this area.
When I came to the street where Peacock is located, I saw that a fairly large lot had been enclosed for construction.
What the hell was this place? I wandered around and found that the Peacock was located there, and the building next to it had been completely demolished and nothing was left.
I had always wondered how it had continued to be in the same place when I grew up.
But at last, another place that I remember from my childhood has disappeared from the earth, and it is now only in my mind.
I was somewhat stunned as I looked at the place where the sky seemed to be wide open only there.
The Fujiya restaurant in front of the station had long since disappeared.
I walked around after that, and found many stores gone, and even a coffee shop in a place like this! There were more than one or two places where I wondered, "Where did this coffee shop used to be?
There was a nice café that my friend and I used to go to, but most of the stores were empty, probably due to renovation.
Is this the result of an epidemic, or is the speed of change in the city accelerating?
The arcade of stores to the right as you exit the station has already been closed due to redevelopment.
This is the street where the famous "Mont Blanc" is located.
Mont Blanc" is said to have started making western-style confections in Jiyugaoka in 1933, which was still a rarity in Japan.
According to the official website, the first president, who loved mountain climbing, saw Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, in Chamonix and named the store Mont Blanc. He has also received proper permission from the mayor of Chamonix.
He also said that the Mont Blanc dessert, which was served in French hotels and restaurants and consisted of marron cream on top of meringue, was reworked so that it could be taken home, and this was the beginning of the Mont Blanc cake in Japan.
The store's symbolic painting of a woman by Seiji Togo is fantastic, and as a child I thought it had a mysterious atmosphere.
There is a coffee shop space in the semi-basement, which still has a Showa-era atmosphere.
I heard that this coffee shop part will be gone when the shop is relocated, and it will be closed at the end of this year.
I have another sweet memory of Jiyugaoka.
It is the omelet cake at Jiyugaoka Top.
It is a fluffy round sponge, filled with cream, bananas and fruits, and folded into a half-moon shape.
My mother used to buy it as a gift for someone and of course for an occasional treat at home.
There were several different types of filling, and they were just so incredibly delicious.
The top one was apparently a French restaurant, but I was a kid so I had no idea about that.
Even after I became a student, I was sometimes asked to buy them, but I think they were sold together with some kind of deli.
The store by the train station has been gone for sometime; apparently it went out of business in the 1980s.
I still see similar ones today, but I don't think I will ever be able to have that delicious taste I felt as a child again.
The reason why I am reminiscing about old snacks now is because I have been illustrating sweets at will since last year or so, and I often recall the things I used to eat.
And because I have been baking sweets at home for the first time in a while.
I have heard several times that when my mother was a child during and after the war, sugar was rationed and was a precious commodity.
Nowadays, the streets are overflowing with sweets.
Sugar," which was precious and appreciated, is now treated as a bad thing because it is not good for the body.
Sweet foods are called "sweets," and many of them are pretty or very stylishly designed to look good in photos.
That is all well and good, but what sweets will remain in our memories in the future amidst such an abundance of sweets?
Maybe it would be good if they leave behind a sense of excitement like the color sprays in my memory.
Come to think of it, there was still something in Jiyugaoka that I must not forget.
Kameya Mannendo's Navona. It was born in 1963.
I will probably never forget Oh's line, "Navona is the home run king of sweets.
However, it was a Tokyo souvenir (although I doubt if there are still people who buy it as a souvenir), so only people in the Tokyo metropolitan area probably know about it.
Nowadays, it is called "boussé," and I sometimes want to eat it when I see something similar.
I don't know if you know about the "fresh nabona," which is made in the store, so next time you are in Jiyugaoka, you might want to visit the main store of Kameya. It seems that they still have some left there.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Let it happen, that is.
I wonder if this is a previous life? When I was in my 20s, I went to Hawaii for the first time with a friend.
At that time, my friend wanted to try shooting, which can only be experienced in the United States.
As a student of Kyudo (Japanese archery), I also wanted to try it, so I decided to give it a try.
I remembered that one of my seniors who had become a police officer had earned his Class A shooting license and had told me, "People who used to do archery can do it.
So I went to a shooting club where tourists could experience shooting, and when I looked at the target I brought back as a souvenir, I saw that the address was the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
I was surprised to see that I could shoot while shopping.
First, I was given an explanation and asked to sign something like a consent form.
I don't remember the details, but I think it said that unless the store was at fault, I was responsible for any accidents that occurred.
What I vaguely remember is the "possibility of rupturing your eardrums".
When you shoot, you wear some kind of headphones, and I flinched a bit when I read that.
There are three different types of experience: rifle, automatic, and revolver.
I think I fired probably 10 rounds each in that order.
It was my first time, but I like to aim at targets, and I felt like I knew what it felt like.
The rifle is long and supported by the buttocks around the base of the shoulder.
When I fired the rifle, I was surprised by the strong impact of the shoulder being pushed backward. I was surprised by the strong impact of the shoulder being pushed backward, but it only missed by a few rounds and most of them penetrated the circle in the middle.
I was able to gather the next automatic rather centrally, but the last revolver was almost always off at 11 o'clock.
It was a clear result of my lack of strength, which caused me to get more and more tired and out of position as I was shooting, and it was a clear sign that it was coming off.
In both pistols and archery (Western-style bow), it is important to aim at the target.
It seems to be a matter of course, but the Japanese bow is a little different.
The German philosopher Eugen Herrigel, author of "The Bow and Zen," a lifelong favorite of Apple's Steve Jobs, thought that his years of training as a marksman would help him in the Japanese martial arts of Kyudo.
But that was totally mistaken.
If you are competing for points by hitting a target in a match, it is natural to have the will to aim for the center of the target.
But if it goes too far and becomes an obsession to hit the target, you will collapse and destroy yourself.
I think that the mental aspect of the bow is more likely to have an effect on archery than other sports.
The state in which the bow is drawn and the arrow is extended toward the target is called "kai.
The top of the head is suspended in the sky, the legs are pulled toward the center of the earth, the left hand is extended toward the target, and the elbow of the right hand is extended in the opposite direction.
In his right hand, he wears a yugake, a leather glove, and the string with the arrow attached is hooked over the groove of his thumb and twisted slightly.
The body is stretched out to the left and right with the tanden located below the navel, and when the body is full of energy, the arrow is released from the bow, and at the same time, the right hand is naturally released from the string.
I haven't held a bow for decades now, so it is difficult to explain in words, and I may be somewhat wrong. But that is what my body remembers.
This moment of releasing the arrow is difficult to explain. It is obviously different from pulling the trigger as in shooting, and I have little awareness of how my right hand, hooked on the string, leaves the string.
In "Bow and Zen," Herrigel was troubled by his inability to release an arrow that he had nocked. His teacher, Kenzo Awa, said to him, "The correct way is to follow the big one," he said.
The right path is", he said in a loud voice. The right path is one that has no purpose, no intention. The more you persist in your willingness to learn to let go of the arrow in order to hit the target, the more it will not work, and the further away the other will go. Your being too consciously willful is getting in your way. You assume that if you don't will it, nothing will arise."
I feel like I've been doing that at various times in my life, and I still haven't gotten out from under the spell of that idea.
I still haven't gotten out from under the spell of this thinking. I try to force things to happen by placing more importance on how I act than on how I am.
If we relax, we can float on the water and go with the flow, but if we are in a hurry and get impatient, we will sink.
We make things difficult by doubting ourselves and putting mud on ourselves or on the road ahead of us, when we should just go with trust.
I recently learned the phrase "Let it happen.
There are several ways to use it, but it means to let it happen, to allow it to happen.
It means that if you are in a state of being that serves your purpose, it will happen.
I still remember how I felt when I faced the target at a shooting center in Hawaii.
After being taught how to hold the gun and set the target, I imagined that I would send the bullet straight out toward the target without applying any unnecessary force.
The bullet's movement should be unobstructed by my consciousness and body.
Then the bullet would go straight to where it was aimed.
In kyudo (Japanese archery), this might be called "being one with the target.
If I had understood this feeling more when I was a student, I would have become a good archer.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
still small voice
Congratulations on Stay Salty entering its third year.
My first writing was ON THE WAY in April 2021, about my travels.
It was the first time I wrote outside of my own place, such as a website, blog, or a zine (little press) I created myself, and then I received a page from DAYS and started writing in June, so it has been exactly one year.
After writing every month as I thought of it, I wondered if this was the right way to go....
I wondered if this was the right thing to do.
So I went back and read the concept of Stay Salty again.
In the midst of the Corona epidemic, the words that speak of people's thoughts and the paths they have taken in their lives...
Stay Salty" was started to help those who were struggling and stagnating in the midst of the Corona epidemic with words that speak of people's thoughts and the path they have lived.
Unfortunately, I have not lived a life that I can speak too loudly about.
I myself have worried and hesitated, I have stagnated many times, and I think I have gained strength from the words and ideas of many different people.
In the past two years, in particular, I have been asked how I want to see the world and what kind of world I want to live in.
While it was reported that infectious diseases were spreading and many people were dying, there were also those who questioned the numbers and those who were divided on the pros and cons of vaccines, and there was even a situation in which people criticized each other.
Some people, if they believed the TV news, would have thought that the whole world was being hit by a terrible infectious disease, like in the days of the medieval plague, and that everyone was equally afraid of it.
On the other hand, there are a certain number of people who believe that something is false, and the same is true about the wars being waged today.
When something is communicated, it is always from some side's point of view.
Since there is rarely a God-like, cosmic point of view, I have become more conscious over the past two years of what I am being shown, and from which side.
I tried my best not to be too biased toward one side or the other, but rather to keep a bird's-eye view, wobbling and swaying like a yajirobe (a Japanese doll).
I was also trying to look at the situation from my own perspective, thinking that perhaps this was what was going on.
And amidst all this information, I finally came to realize the importance of having a firm central axis.
I had no choice but to trust my own center, which I had not been able to trust for a long time.
Instead of letting something outside have authority over me, the only place I can finally rely on is within myself.
It's like a gut feeling.
I had always used something like intuition, but now I was more conscious of how I felt.
At one point, I realized that guidance like intuition is quite normal and appears silently in my mind.
The other day, when I went to the store in front of the station to buy ink for my printer, they didn't have the black cartridge I wanted, and if they didn't have it, I had to take the train to another large store, and I was a little disappointed.
As I looked at the "out of stock" sign, the thought occurred to me that if I asked at the counter, they might have it.
I am the type of person who uses my feet rather than my mouth, so normally I would have moved on to another store because of the hassle of asking, but at that moment I felt that I should not ignore the feeling that "if I ask, they might have it.
I did so, and they had one in stock, and I was able to buy it easily.
It may not seem important, but at that moment, I knew that guidance would come to me like a whisper.
It was more like a revelation, more than a knee-slapping "Oh yeah! it might be a voice that is always whispering, "This way," or "This way is better," in various situations in our daily lives.
In the Old Testament book of Kings, there is a scene in which the prophet Elijah is conversing with God, and the phrase "still small voice" is said to appear.
He says, "Then the Lord passed by, and a violent wind struck the mountains, and the rocks were shattered. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake, but the Lord was not there either. After the earthquake, a fire burned, but the Lord was not there in the fire either. After the fire I heard a whispering, thin voice."
Instead of believing in a particular religion, I believe that there is a kind of "true self" that knows everything.
Some people call it God, the soul, or the Higher Self, but it doesn't matter what you call it.
I feel that it is telling me, "This way is better," or "This is the way to do it.
Sometimes you may feel it in your body as a blurred feeling of discomfort.
It is a very small voice, so you have to silence the noisy thoughts in your head and listen carefully to hear it.
They say that thinking and listening cannot be done at the same time because they are in different modes.
I don't know how the world will turn out in the future.
I don't know what will happen to the world in the future, but I do know that it is no longer the time to think less of myself.
Whenever you feel unsure of yourself or unsure of something, you might want to take some time to listen carefully.
Just as you can't listen to an FM program while tuned to an AM frequency, you can't hear it unless you tune the frequency to the station you want.
Even though I like to sit idle in a café, I am in such a hurry with so many things that I end up having unwanted thoughts.
From now on, I'm going to make more time to be absent-minded than ever.
Either way, it's just right in the summer when it's so hot that most of my thoughts stop.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
I love the morning hours, even though getting up early is never my forte.
I especially like mornings after rain or when the air is clear and the light is beautifully slanted, and I often wonder why I have to go to work on such days.
The day after I buy good bread, I look forward to breakfast.
There is a good bakery about a 20-minute walk from my house that sells bread made of domestic wheat, with no trans fatty acids such as margarine, and no cream or other unnecessary ingredients.
When I eat such well-made bread, I don't think flour is bad for my health.
Since when, I have also come to like eating breakfast outside.
Before, there were no coffee shops in my hometown that served morning breakfast, so I had never thought of eating breakfast outside except on trips.
But when coffee shops and bakeries that served morning breakfast started to open, and I went out of my way to go near a train station on a holiday to eat breakfast, I felt fresh and excited to be away from my daily routine even though I was in my hometown.
This may have been just around the time when the chain restaurants in Nagoya started to appear in Yokohama as well.
I have always enjoyed breakfast when I travel, so I usually choose hotels that include breakfast.
However, even if it is a buffet breakfast at a regular city hotel, the contents are usually fixed, but I guess I enjoy going to the restaurant or cafe where the breakfast is served in the morning.
Sometimes I miss Italian mornings, and unless I am staying in a four-star hotel, breakfast is sweet bread and coffee.
For me it was usually cappuccino.
The bread was cornetto in the shape of a croissant, either dusted with powdered sugar, cream, or jam. In some regions, it is also called brioche.
In some hotels, you may find two small square rusks in a bag, or other breads, but I had never seen what is called a loaf of bread.
According to a guidebook, some trendy stores nowadays offer to fill the cornetto with pistachio cream and other ingredients on the spot after you order it.
I really feel that times have changed.
What I miss, however, is breakfast at a table under a big tree in a cozy breakfast room of a small two-star hotel, or at an inn where I used to stay often.
As I sip the cappuccino brought by the innkeeper and nibble on the cornetto, I think about going there and there today.
It is a well-known story nowadays that Italians eat a sweet breakfast. In fact, the first time I stayed at an Italian's house, there was a bag of biscuits with chocolate sandwiches in a bowl on the breakfast table.
Fortunately for me, I don't suffer from sweet things in the morning.
One of the best breakfasts I had on my trip abroad was at a hotel in front of Vienna's West Station.
Hotel rates were low, probably because it was early December, and since it was my first time in Austria, I decided to go with a 4-star hotel for peace of mind.
I was looking forward to it because I had read many reviews that the breakfast was good, and it really was.
There were many kinds of breads.
There were breads like ordinary bread, Kaisersemmel, which is a round bread with a slit in the top and sunflower seeds or poppy seeds around it, rye bread, and pound cake like morning cake.
I don't have a cell phone with a camera, and I didn't have the energy or courage to bring my SLR camera to the breakfast, so I don't have any pictures, but I think there were so many different kinds of food that I couldn't eat them all even if I wanted to.
Of course, there were also various egg dishes, ham, sausages, etc.
But anyway, I was surprised at how good the bread was, because I had no idea that Austrian bread was good at all.
I also like Japanese breakfast, and often choose Japanese food at breakfast buffets in Japan.
When I stayed on Shijo Street in Kyoto, I decided to go without breakfast and went to an obanzai restaurant in Sanjo for breakfast.
I remember it was quite pleasant in the early morning on Shijo Street with few cars and people.
There is one breakfast that I regret.
Tokyo Station Hotel.
In the center of the Marunouchi station building, in the attic of the main roof, there is a guest lounge where a breakfast buffet is prepared exclusively for hotel guests in the morning.
The space, with its skylight and partially exposed red-brick walls, is lined with sophisticated dishes and breads.
I was probably not that hungry at the time, but I ended up ordering an omelette that the chef made in front of me, which filled me up to some extent and prevented me from eating many things.
I still think it was a shame, but I don't think I'll be staying there again.
The price was almost the same as the price of a Shinkansen package with a hotel in Kyoto during the cheap season.
I happened to get a room upgrade at that time, and it was a very nice hotel, but it was a bit bothersome to be in Tokyo Station and not be able to travel.
Then again, I still want to travel, so I'm still somewhat longing for that morning lounge breakfast, even though I've had it before.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Cherry blossoms bloom
In March, the growth of spring flowers took off with a sudden burst of warm weather.
I was surprised to notice that the white flowers of kobushi and haku-mokuren were in full bloom on the tallest trees.
I didn't even notice the buds, which seemed to open in a matter of days.
Looking around, daffodils and roadside violets were also in bloom, and the light purple honeysuckle, which is often seen at the foot of the cherry trees, was also showing its face.
Spring flowers bloomed early this year.
The apartment complex where I live is built slightly up from the street, overlooking the bus route.
The street is lined with cherry blossom trees, and in spring, someiyoshino cherry trees bloom as if they are spreading clouds.
Every year when the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the number of residents strolling along the street increases, and everyone seems somewhat happy.
The trees line the street for several kilometers, and when they are in full bloom, they become an archway of flowers in some places.
When I took a bus to pass under the arches just as the blossoms were beginning to fall, I was mesmerized by the petals floating up and down behind me.
There were two pedestrian bridges nearby, so I could see the top of the cherry tree right in front of me.
The flowers covered the railing of the pedestrian bridge and looked dreamily beautiful.
Every year I walked around the neighborhood with my camera taking pictures of the cherry blossoms, and one of my favorite things to do was to take pictures of the cherry blossoms on the pedestrian bridge.
Someiyoshino cherry trees at the beginning of blooming are fresh and sprightly.
Through the viewfinder, the flowers swayed in the wind as if the girls were giggling, and they were so cute that I said, "Hello! Welcome, welcome, welcome," .
A couple of years ago, the cherry trees in this row of trees had grown too big and their branches had been cut down, and the flowers were all shabby. It may not arch so easily anymore.
Some of the branches on the pedestrian bridge have also been cut off or cut down from the bottom, so they no longer bloom over the railing.
At the end of the month as I write this, a few days ago, the cherry trees in front of my house were not even a minute in bloom, but today they are seven or eight minutes open, making it a spring scene.
I heard that the cherry blossoms are already in full bloom in Tokyo, so by the time this Stay Salty is published, they may have completely fallen and the double-flowered cherry trees may have begun to bloom.
Unlike the wild cherry trees that have existed in Japan for centuries, the Someiyoshino cherry tree is known as a clonal cherry tree, which means that it was created from cuttings or grafts by humans.
They are said to have a life span of about 60 years, and if they were planted at the same time, they will probably weaken about the same.
The number of cherry trees around my house with scraggly trunks seems to increase, and every year some of them seem to be cut down.
But after a little research, I found that it is not impossible to extend the life of the trees.
Leaving the technicalities to the professionals, the only thing the average person can do is to be careful not to step on the cherry tree roots.
More than 10 years ago, I took an overnight bus for the first time to Kyoto and Nara during the cherry blossom season.
The main purpose was to photograph the cherry blossoms at Yoshinoyama in Nara, but before that, I decided to visit the cherry blossoms in Kyoto, which I had always avoided because of the crowds.
I arrived in front of Kyoto Station at 6:00 in the morning.
I rode the subway with the commuters and went to see the crimson weeping cherry blossoms along the river Kamo at Nakaragi-no-Michi.
It was early in the morning, and since it was not a shrine or temple, the only people present were joggers and dog walkers.
In the leisurely morning light, I was able to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto for the first time.
I was then welcomed by many cherry trees, including those in the Shinto garden of Heian Shrine, Hirano Shrine with many rare cherry trees, Ryoanji Temple with its famous stone garden and cherry blossom garden, Ninnaji Temple with its late-blooming Omuro cherry trees, Shojiji Temple, which is related to Saigyo Hoshi, and Houkongoin Temple.
Of course there must have been someiyoshino cherry trees, and the contrast between their reflection on the river and the vermilion bridge was wonderful.
Looking back, however, it was probably the weeping cherry trees that left the greatest impression on me in Kyoto.
Nakaragi-no-Michi, Heian Shrine, and Ryoan-ji Temple all had graceful red weeping cherry blossoms that swayed in the wind, a true Kyoto experience.
I have not been to Kyoto during the cherry blossom season since then, although I would like to go back.
There are apparently as many as 400 varieties of cherry blossoms.
They are all slightly different in shape and color, but they all have something that tugs at my heartstrings, whether it is a feeling of happiness or sadness.
This may be due to the presence of the cherry blossom, but I think it may also be because spring is a time of beginnings and endings for the Japanese, and cherry blossoms are found in some corner of each person's milestone.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with a poem by Saigyo Houshi, a poet who was addicted to cherry blossoms for a while.
The heart that laments the falling cherry blossoms should stay and become a seed of spring to come again.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
I have loved to write letters since I was a student.
Besides friends who had moved far away, I always had some pen pals to send them to.
In the old days, magazines had a section for pen pals, and the name and address of the individual were listed, which is unthinkable nowadays.
There were no problems with this, and Japan was truly a peaceful country.
When I wrote letters, I used my favorite letter sets and put cute stickers on them.
When I was a student, Sanrio was in its heyday, and letterheads and envelopes were more affordable than now, probably due to the fact that they were aimed at children.
These days, when I write a proper letter or card, I feel as if my hand is dizzy, as if my brain and fingers are not connected properly.
That is why I have fewer opportunities to write and receive letters.
I wonder if the joyful feeling of receiving a letter in the mailbox is on the verge of extinction.
On the other hand, it seems that correspondence has been popular for several years, and there was a news report on TV featuring it.
At a major stationery store in Ginza, a surprisingly large number of people are choosing letterheads and cards for their correspondence.
I used to like to match the patterns of letterheads and postcards to the season and stamps to the taste and atmosphere of the recipient, but I would like to see such small details remain.
I also liked to write postcards from my travels, and I never forgot to write down my friends' addresses when I went on trips.
It was completely self-satisfying, and the recipients may not have thought anything of it, but when the Internet was not yet available, one of the pleasures of traveling was to write postcards at night in my hotel room.
Lately, I feel that letters take on a different character over time.
When I traveled to Europe on my first overseas trip, my parents gave me a postcard that I had sent to my family after I returned to Japan.
Recently, I found the postcard for the first time in a long time, and it was so fresh that I could not remember the details of the postcard myself since several decades had passed.
Let me quote a few of them here.
"I arrived in London via Dubai, Saudi Arabia, at 6:00 AM. I told immigration that I was a tourist, but they suspected that I was studying abroad or something, and for a moment I thought I would be denied entry. The hotel was a B&B (Bed&Breakfast) about a 5-minute walk from Victoria Station, and I walked around from the first day. I walked around the palace, etc. The city is smaller than I expected and I can walk if I want to, so I don't have to walk for an hour or two and I don't get lost on the subway, which has become a model for Japan. (omission) The food in England is indeed bad. I buy apples and sandwiches at department stores and supermarkets and nibble on them. I've changed my plans and will enter Paris for now on the 30th by overnight flight. I'll tell you what."
In 1988, there was no Eurostar yet, and the only way to get to Paris was by plane or by boat across the Straits of Dover.
It was only after the direct connection between London and Paris that I heard rumors that the food in England had become better.
Dubai was not the tourist city it is today, and I had never even heard of it.
When we landed for refueling, bearded men in white came pounding into the cabin, looking as if they were about to pull a gun on us, but all they had in their hands were cleaning supplies.
It is interesting that although it is a postcard I wrote, through the ages it reads like an essay written by someone else.
I feel that something like the atmosphere of the times comes to the fore, rather than me as an individual.
In a previous issue, I wrote that I could not throw away the photos left by my parents.
It is not only the photos that I cannot throw away, but also the letters.
I should really throw them away already because they are personal, but I can't seem to throw them away easily.
I opened the letter that my aunt wrote to my mother, thinking that I shouldn't read it.
The letter begins with the words "Dear Sister..." and is so carefully worded that I feel as if I am reading a work of literature.
Of course, the letterhead is written vertically.
I feel as if the many brown letters that have come to my mother from the Showa and Heisei eras, transcend the individual, and give off the scent of the times and the universality of what people feel and think.
It is similar to the way that when you see a sepia-toned photograph in an antique store, you feel a presence that transcends who the person is and where he or she came from.
Letters transcend time, but they also transcend dimensions.
When you have lost someone and are having a hard time putting your heart back together, writing a letter to the person who has passed away may help you heal.
Facing one's feelings and putting them into words, writing down what one wants to say, can be a rich time.
I heard that there are "letter temples" in Funabashi, Chiba and Ginza, where you can write letters in a quiet space and have them burned at a Buddhist temple.
They also take care of your last letter.
If you are interested, you should check it out.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Traveling on the Inside
The trip I had hoped to take to Paris and Italy in the fall of 2020 has faded into a dream, and now that more months have passed, foreign countries have become far away places.
In the meantime, I've been able to moderate my excursions and goings-on, and have time to face myself anew.
I'm sure there are many people like that.
I used to have a strong sense of "needing to act" in my daily life, and I used to feel guilty when I didn't move, but now that society as a whole is in a state of self-restraint, I feel that it's okay to take my time and think and feel without moving blindly.
There is a saying, "A journey to find yourself," but you can't find yourself by wandering around outside.
When you go on a trip and see something new, you may notice something that changes your mood, but in the end, it is something that was originally inside of you.
That's why I think it's important to look inside yourself from time to time.
While I was not actively going out, I often searched for images I liked on the web.
When I search for things on Pinterest, I can't stop looking for related images.
I was reminded that I liked this kind of atmosphere, this kind of air, this kind of design, this kind of space.
I have always loved colors and was interested in how people's emotions and minds work, so I went to a school for color psychology and art therapy.
Then, I experienced collage for the first time in a special course at that school.
The word "collage" is derived from the French word "coller", which means "to paste with glue".
You cut out photos, pictures, letters, and other things you like from magazines, etc., and paste them on a backing board to make a single work of art.
It is said to be an art expression born in the early 20th century.
After that, I attended a workshop of a group that was doing collage as a psychological analysis.
The act of using scissors to cut out pieces from magazines is a good stimulus in itself, and it is simply fun to collect photos and illustrations that you like and place them on construction paper or notebooks.
In a multi-participant workshop, each participant can show and share their creations.
It's interesting to listen to people's stories while looking at what they've made, and it's also interesting to see how different you are from them and learn more about yourself.
Many people cut and collect what they think they like at the time, but there are also people who cut and paste sharp shapes in specific colors, which is interesting because some people express themselves in ways I would never have thought of.
I myself once hosted a collage session as part of a workshop I was organizing to help people change their moods on a daily basis using art therapy.
It's not a work of art, so it's okay to make it neat, but if you feel like messing it up, that's okay too.
I don't try to analyze the finished product.
It's fine if you notice something when you look at the finished product, or if it just makes you feel good.
In that case, I asked them to make a collage on a box instead of a flat surface.
When I tried it myself, I wondered what the difference was between the inside and outside, top, bottom, left, right, and back.
Is it important to put something inside, or is it something you don't want to show around?
Sometimes I feel like doing this at home by myself, and I cut and paste my favorite photos in a scrapbook or on construction paper.
It becomes fun as I focus more and more on the photos I am attracted to.
It's like I'm exploring inside myself, thinking that this is the state I'm in right now.
If I keep the finished product on display where I can see it for a while, every time I look at it, it somehow lifts my spirits.
The other day, I walked past a stationery store and saw that the card section was dyed pink.
Lately, I've been seeing a lot of pinks and yellows in general merchandise and flower shops, and it makes me feel cheerful that spring is coming.
At such times, it's good to put a color that makes you feel joy in your heart when you see it, whether it's a card, a handkerchief, or a flower.
Whether it's an image you like, a color you're drawn to, a trip you want to take, or a person you want to meet, it will nourish your soul.
In these days when so many things are considered unnecessary and unneeded, when the mind withers, the body's immunity also drops.
If you have restrictions, it is recommended to use the time to explore and prepare your inner self.
When you are ready to move, you may receive inspiration on where to point your sails.
Above all, when the inside is in order, the world you see on the outside will change.
In the meantime, I think I'll buy some flowers and taste spring first, if only for the mood.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
A Dolce Christmas
In the latter half of November, when the Christmas decorations start to increase in the streets, I feel a sense of joy even though I don't have any special plans.
It's that time of the year when I feel like playing Christmas background music to get a taste of the atmosphere, even though I think it's too early to do so (I'm playing instrumental Christmas music as I type this), when I'm strangely attracted to the color red, and when I start wondering about Christmas sweets from different countries, such as Stollen, Kuglof, and Panettone.
When I was a child, Christmas was a special day when we ate treats and cakes and got presents.
Unlike today, when you can eat cake anytime you want, there were only a limited number of days in the year, so the special feeling was incomparable.
Santa Claus would bring us presents.
How cute I was, sitting in my futon, listening for the sound of the bell.
My father worked for a trading company and dealt with many foreign countries, so we received Christmas cards from abroad every year.
Perhaps because of this, although not many families had tape recorders at that time, I was given English picture books with cassette tapes from an early age, and I also had Christmas records (sonosheets) with picture books to listen to Christmas songs.
A sonosheet is a flimsy red or green vinyl record.
The record included the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with the lyrics "Es-sama” will protect you. I wondered what "Es-sama" meant. What is "Es-sama"? Who is he? I've always wondered.
It wasn't until a little later that I realized that it meant the same thing as "Jesus-sama.
When I was in the third grade, I attended a church Sunday school for a year at the invitation of a good friend of mine.
We went to mass on Sunday mornings, sang hymns, gave money to the offering box that was passed around, and then sat in a circle in groups and read the assigned parts of the Bible.
I was in elementary school, so I didn't know what was in the Bible, but I still have the Bible I was given at that time in a worn-out state.
I remember attending a Christmas mass once, and I was mesmerized by the beautiful flickering light of the many candles lit on the walls of the cathedral.
I didn't go to Sunday school anymore because my good friend changed schools, but it was the first time I had direct contact with the Christian world.
As I recall, there was only a crucifix in the cathedral, and I don't think there were any statues of crucifixion or Mary, so it must have been a Protestant church.
In the 80's, Christmas became an event for couples due to the influence of magazines, and then the bubble economy hit, and Christmas became more glitzy than sparkly.
This trend had nothing to do with me.
It wasn't until I actually went to Europe that I started to look into Christmas again.
December 25th is not the birthday of Jesus Christ, but a day to commemorate his birth.
Originally, in ancient Rome, the festival of the sun god Mithras was held on December 25, even before Christianity spread.
Christians associated this day with the birth of Christ, who in the Bible is considered to be "the light that shines in the darkness of the world," in relation to the sun god.
The winter solstice is the longest time of the year when all things are dead and darkness reigns. After that, the days gradually become longer.
Christmas is the time of transition from death to rebirth.
In December 2003, my last trip to Europe was to Austria during Advent.
I thought Germany would be a good place to visit to take pictures of the Christmas markets, but I decided to go to Salzburg, the city of Mozart, after reading in a magazine that it is a city where you can experience Christmas with all your senses, with real firs decorating every corner of the city.
I took a free tour of Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck in the Tyrol region, and the village of Oberndorf near the German border where the chapel associated with "Silent Night" is located.
It was my first time in Europe in winter, and even though I was wearing a long down coat, my knees creaked from the cold when I was shooting outside all the time.
The dawn was late and it got dark after 3:00 p.m. I was more interested in photographing the Christmas market and the atmosphere of the town than the sights, and when it got cold, I enjoyed going to a cafe and ordering a mélange (cappuccino-like milk coffee) and cake.
In the old town of Salzburg, it was fun to walk into the alleys here and there, and there were small squares at the end of the narrow alleys where there were Christmas stalls.
From the central square, I could hear Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus", and when I went there, I found a group of citizens singing the chorus.
Illuminations were scattered all over the city, but the light was not childish, but elegant and calm.
The experience of this trip is still like a warm glow in my memory.
I would like to travel to Germany, the Alsace region of France, and Advent in Italy someday, but I have not had the opportunity to do so for many years.
My image of Christmas is strongly influenced by my past experiences and what I have liked to see and hear.
However, my starting point is the Christmas of my childhood.
The moment I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a present under my pillow, I can still faintly recall the feeling of happiness, even though it was a long time ago.
Now I can only be grateful to my family for giving me such warm memories.
The word "dolce" in the title of this article means not only "sweet" or "dessert" but also "gentle, calm, and loving" in Italian.
I sincerely hope that this time of the year will be warm and peaceful for many people.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Efficacy of Pushing Activities
When did the word "guess" first come into use?
When I looked it up, I found that it came into general use when AKB48 took the world by storm.
It's only been a few years since I've heard of it, since almost no one around me (my generation) uses it.
Originally, it was an abbreviation of "Suishimen" (first choice member), and it came to mean people, things, and genres that you like so much that you want to recommend them to others.
In a recent exchange with a friend, I heard that "guessing activity" can cure diseases.
I've also heard that if you try to do something you like for even 10 minutes every day, the symptoms of your chronic disease will improve.
Doing and thinking about what you like will change the energy you have.
Everything vibrates and has its own frequency, so it is only natural that if you are happy and have fun, your disturbed frequency will be adjusted.
When I think back, studying Italian, visiting Italy, and sending out information about Italy was a great "promoting Italy activity.
Since it was before the Internet became popular, I often met and communicated with Italy lovers in person, and also invited teachers and Italians who appeared in NHK's Italian language courses.
I also joined my first photography club, which was formed by graduates of the photography course at the Italian language school and the instructor, a photographer.
I never liked singers or actors to the extent that I followed them, but I did follow Italian singers for a little while when I was in the "Pushing Life" period.
Nowadays, we hear Italian pop music on the radio and in the background music of TV programs, but before that, the only Italian songs we heard in Japan were canzones, such as Neapolitan folk songs (by the way, "canzone" means "song").
The first time I heard Italian pop music was on a cassette tape (!) sent to me by a pen pal.
The only place in Japan that sold Italian CDs was a small CD store specializing in Italian music, located in a room of an old apartment building in Tokyo.
It was during this time that an Italian singer-songwriter named Michele Zarillo decided to come to Japan to perform.
The tour was sponsored by Fiat Japan and was to visit 10 places in Kanagawa, Tokyo, Tohoku and Kyushu.
I went to the concert on the first day with a friend with no prior knowledge and got hooked, so I went to the next day's concert in Tokyo with another person on the same day, and decided to go to the Nagasaki concert a few days later with a friend who was with me on the first day.
It was the first time for me to fly to Nagasaki for a concert, and to make a decision out of the blue.
Since we were going to Nagasaki, we decided to do some sightseeing, so we left the airport and took a boat to Huis Ten Bosch.
When I saw the European cityscape, I was moved by the beauty.
I don't have any impression of the concert, probably because it was my third time there.
What was more impressive was that the Chinatown in Nagasaki where we went to have dinner was very small (we were both from Kanagawa and the comparison was Yokohama Chinatown) and most of the stores were closed, probably because it was the wrong day of the week.
Also, the city of Nagasaki and its people were somewhat similar to Italy.
The streetcars running through the city reminded me of Milan.
You can easily talk to people on the train. When I was looking at a map or guidebook at a stop or on the street, they would ask me where I wanted to go. They would ask me where I wanted to go.
I laughed with my friend that it was just like in Italy that the way they told us where to go differed from person to person.
I read in a book that when Italians are asked for directions, they tell you what they think is the best way to go, so it varies from person to person.
However, the three different paths will eventually come together as they go along.
The day after the concert, we headed for Glover's House.
There was a hotel at the top of the hill where Glover's Palace is located, and as we walked into the lobby to check out the souvenir section, we were surprised to see Michele Zarillo's tour crew.
There was an Italian lady from Fiat Japan who was hosting the event, so I took the liberty of talking to her, and she was surprised to know that I was from Kanto.
She said, "Go see Michele, where is he? and tried to find him, but unfortunately he was not there.
We couldn't see him, but we were happy enough to speak Italian with the staff, and we were more excited about the coincidence (or inevitability).
After that, I pushed Michele Zarillo around to my Italy-loving friends.
I think a few of them were hooked as well.
Now that I am writing this article, I have listened to the CD for the first time in a long time, and maybe it is because I have listened to it too much, but I am not so sure.
However, when I listen to the song "Strada di Roma," I remember the streets of Rome with nostalgia as before.
When I was pushing myself, I had a lot more weight on my shoulders than I do now.
I didn't even realize that I was in a heavy state, because it wasn't a tangible problem, but rather something that was not obvious to the casual observer, such as being caught up in old-fashioned notions or having a low sense of self-worth.
People are usually unaware of how they are feeling.
Especially anxiety, anger, bewilderment, self-denial, and worthlessness, we are so assimilated with them that we don't even know what state we are in.
In such a situation, time spent liking something and engaging in various activities can revitalize you and switch you to a state of feeling good.
When I am absorbed in something, I am often guided by inspiration, as I was when I went to Nagasaki.
Looking back now, I think that Italy was calling me and saving me.
Many people may have had an uneasy time last year or this year.
But for some people, it must have been a great opportunity to change their lives.
The more times of change you go through, the more important it is to take time to get back to your center.
If there is something that you love so much that you want to push for it, and if just turning your attention to it makes you feel better, that is a very fortunate thing.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
St. Francis and Porziuncola
In the Umbria region of central Italy, known as the "Green Heart," there is a small town called Assisi.
It is famous as the birthplace of St. Francis, the greatest saint of medieval Italy, and many pilgrims and tourists visit.
Even if the Italian name "San (St.) Francesco" doesn't ring a bell, there are probably few people who don't know the name of the American city of San Francisco.
The name of the current Pope Francis is taken from this saint.
On October 3, 1226, in a hut at the foot of a hill in Assisi, Francis died surrounded by his friends and disciples who adored him. 44 or 45 years old.
Two years after his death, he was canonized by Pope Gregory IX and later became the patron saint of the country of Italy.
Every year on October 3, the anniversary of his death, the main cathedrals and churches in Assisi hold a homecoming service called Transitus, and the following day, October 4, is celebrated as a national holiday because it is his birthday in heaven.
The following day, the 4th, is celebrated as a holiday because it is the day of his birth in heaven. These two days must be special days for the Franciscan churches all over the world, including Japan.
In 1993, I visited Assisi on my first solo trip to Italy, and three years later, I stayed there for three months to attend a language school, and have been back several times since then.
It is interesting to note that many people who are not Christians, such as myself, are somehow attracted to Francesco and the land of Assisi and end up visiting.
Some of them come at a time in their lives when they are at a standstill or a turning point.
The "Basilica of San Francesco and Related Monastic Sites" was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2000.
It's a small hill about the size of a walking trail that you can walk straight from one end to the other, just down from Mount Subagio, a branch of the Apennines.
This time, however, I would like to introduce you to a rather unusual chapel at the bottom of the hill.
When you arrive in Assisi by train and leave the station building, you will see the old town on a hill that stretches out horizontally.
Most travelers buy a ticket at the station store and take a bus to the top of the hill, or if they are on a tour, they take a tour bus up to the entrance of the town.
But actually, there is a very important place on the opposite side of the hill from the train station.
It is the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
It means "Our Lady of the Angels" and is the original name of Los Angeles, USA.
It is quite a large building, and its round roof can be seen from the top of the hill.
As I entered the entrance, I was struck by a strange sight.
There is a small chapel in front of the building.
The chapel stands alone under the dome of the large cathedral.
Every time I looked at it, I couldn't take my eyes off the strange space.
The chapel is called Porziuncola, and it is the place where Francesco and his friends made their base. It is also the place where Francesco loved most in this world and where he took his last breath.
The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli was built to cover and protect the Porziuncola.
Francesco was born into a wealthy merchant family in Assisi, but he longed to be a knight and took part in battles, and was held as a prisoner of war in the neighboring town of Perugia for a year, where he suffered physical damage. After returning to Assisi to recuperate, he tried to go to war again, but heard the voice of God saying, "Rebuild my house," and finally abandoned his parents and property, returned his clothes to his parents, and descended the hill of Assisi with nothing.
At that time, one of the churches and cathedrals that he restored by piling up stones with his own hands was Porziuncola.
It was originally built around the 4th century, but it had been neglected for a long time. The frescoes on the front give it a gorgeous image now, but they seem to have been put up in the 14th or 15th century.
In the past, this area was in the middle of a forest, and Francesco and his friends built a hut out of branches, leaves, and mud near the Porziuncola and lived there, going out on missionary trips and coming back again.
I rented a room in an old stone building in the old town, and sometimes I took the bus to the train station and went for a walk in the new town where Santa Maria degli Angeli is located.
Sometimes I wanted to go to the supermarket, which was not on the hill, but first I liked to go into the cathedral and sit on a chair in front of the porziuncola and look at it for a while, then go inside and sit on one of the old wooden chairs, of which there were only about six.
The chairs were pulled right up against the wall and I could feel the bumpy stone walls.
The narrow hall was dimly lit and quiet, filled with the atmosphere of the time when Francesco and his friends lived.
Diagonally to the right was the Chapel of the Divine Calling.
This is the place where Francesco died, and the rope that he wore around his waist is kept inside.
I used to sit on a chair next to this chapel and look at the painting.
There are other attractions in the chapel, such as the museum, but the small rose garden in the courtyard called Il Roseto is also well known. When we went there, we could only see it from the outside, but it is said that Francesco threw himself naked into the rose bushes to fight against his desires, and since then the roses have lost their thorns.
I once stared and searched to see if there were really no thorns, but I found only a few.
I wondered if there was anything in their way of life that could be useful to us today.
In those days, the difference between the rich and the poor was so great that even the clergy wore gorgeous holy garments in biographical movies.
The voice of God that Francesco heard, "My house..." was not a building, but a church organization.
If you own something, you need to protect it, and that can cause conflict.
Francesco thought that God would take care of him even if he did not own anything.
He said, "Look at the birds of the air, which neither sow nor reap nor keep in storehouses, but your heavenly Father feeds them. As the saying goes, "・・・・ so do not worry about what you will eat, what you will drink, or what you will wear" (Matthew 6:26-31).
It's not practical to give up everything in this day and age, and I don't believe in a "God in the heavens," but I've been thinking lately that it would be nice to be more aware that we are alive to something greater, and that we are constantly being given.
If we deny that this is possible, we are holding back the flow with mud.
Trust the flow. If you do, it will flow.
Actually, I am now experimenting to see if that is really true.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Welcome to the world of characters!
"Welcome to the world of characters!
That's what the teacher said to me at the beginning of a trial lesson at a school in Ginza, and it gave me a fresh feeling.
The world of characters... I didn't know there was such a world.
Just three years ago this summer, I decided to take a correspondence course at a calligraphy school.
So I went to Ginza to take a trial lesson.
Calligraphy is an English word that originated from the Greek word for "beautiful writing.
In Japan, it is generally recognized as "calligraphy of the Latin alphabet," but I think there are still many people who don't know about it.
I knew the name of it, but I only had a skewed image of it as "learning to write cards with colorful pens," and I didn't think it was something that would fit my interests.
However, when I was browsing the design shelves of a bookstore, I happened to come across a very nice book.
It was a book about styling and graphic design using calligraphy by an Indonesian calligrapher who was starting to gain popularity in Japan. I was shocked and went straight to the checkout.
I've never studied calligraphy, but I've always been interested in design, and I've often combined my own photos with words, and I've enjoyed choosing fonts.
But of course, fonts and handwriting are different.
It takes a lot of steady practice, and I wondered for a while if I could keep doing it.
When I was in elementary school, I had learned calligraphy, but it was so hard to practice that I once put a half sheet of paper on the teacher's orange handwriting model and traced it out.
However, I was fascinated by the following sentence in the aforementioned book.
"When you write, you need to unify your mind and concentrate on what is in front of you. The feeling was like meditation. The beautiful lines and shapes that emerge from the pen are all unique. They had a lot in common with nature, such as the gently crisscrossing branches of trees and the undulations of grass. When I was immersed in calligraphy, I felt as if I was in the middle of a forest, and a sense of tranquility came over me, and inspiration flooded through my fingertips. It was an indescribable moment of bliss."
From "Calligraphy Styling" by Veronica Halim, published by Shufu no Tomo.
What do the curves and shapes of plants and letters have in common?
I wondered how nice it would be to be able to write beautiful letters as if I were meditating in a forest, so I decided to step into that world.
It was a much wider and deeper world than I expected.
There are two styles of calligraphy, classic and modern. The school I applied to was a school that teaches classic typefaces.
The school I applied to was a school that teaches classic typefaces, and the first one I learned was italic.
Speaking of italics, on a computer, it means to slant the letters.
I didn't even think about why it was Italian, I just assumed that was the way it was.
There is an italic font on the Mac called Apple Chancery, which I like and use from time to time.
I didn't know how to read Chancery, so I just read Century or something lazy like that.
Italic is similar to this, I thought.
I was delighted to learn that I could write my favorite typeface by hand, but the similarity was obvious.
I learned that another name for italics is chancery.
Italic, which is said to have originated in the late 14th century by Italian scholars, became the official typeface of the papal chancery in the 15th century.
A chancery is an institution that is responsible for the administration and management of the papacy.
They wrote the same letters as the people who lived during the Renaissance!
This was nothing but a blessing for me, as I love Europe.
The history of calligraphy is over 2000 years old.
The Roman capitals, which were already in use in the first century B.C., were used on stone monuments of Roman emperors and are said to be the most prestigious of all letters.
This was the first time I had heard that letters had a rank.
Ancials were used for biblical manuscripts in the 3rd century, Carolingian spread during the reign of Karl the Great in the Frankish kingdom (8th-9th century), Gothic became the mainstream from the 13th century...
It is said that a variety of other typefaces branched out depending on the era and region.
I had no idea that there was such a vast history, so I struggled with italics at first.
I decided to use the correspondence correction method, which allowed me to practice at my own pace, but it took me much longer than I had planned to finish because I didn't have many opportunities to go to school and have the teacher directly instruct me in detail.
Of course, there is no end to practicing letters.
Even though I could write the individual alphabets, I still hadn't learned how to space the letters neatly.
I'm hoping to make it my own italic style little by little.
Now, the next step is to learn the "Copperplate," which I originally wanted to learn so that I can add ornaments in a flowing manner...
Just as I was thinking that, I came across something else.
This is a French typeface that I learned from a teacher living in Paris.
I saw it on Instagram and thought, "What the heck is this? I thought to myself again.
Once I had that feeling, I would go there no matter what.
Because that exciting feeling is my guidepost.
After that, I learned three French style typefaces.
I heard that the French style has many different origins, including Italian.
I love practicing with natural brown walnut ink and rough croquis paper made by a French company called Canson, which makes me feel like I'm in 19th century Paris while I'm writing.
This was also a blissful time for me.
My journey in the world of characters is continuing at my own pace.
I'm currently learning the "Copperplate with curly ornaments," which I've been longing for, by myself with the help of a detailed instruction book written by a German calligrapher.
I don't know how much I can learn on my own, but I'm happy that I'm gradually learning to draw the shape I've always wanted.
However, I'm not sure how much I can learn on my own, but I'm happy to be able to draw the shapes I've been dreaming of little by little.
I need to practice the styles I have learned so far, and there are so many styles I want to try.
I wonder how far I will be able to travel in the rest of my life.
In addition, writing characters has brought me into contact with another world.
"It's the world of tools.
I will talk about this another time.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Okinawa in My Memory
Summer has come again.
I used to love the Japanese summer season, but what is it with this uncommon heat?
One day, before the rainy season started, I went out on the balcony and smelled the humid sun. At the same time, I remembered a nostalgic smell in my memory.
The smell of the sun and the humid air of my first trip to Okinawa when I was in college.
As I exited Naha Airport, I was surprised to feel a momentary heaviness in my body due to the humidity that I had never experienced before.
The daytime sun was strong enough to pierce my skin. But if you go into the shade, the breeze from the sea is cool.
The sky was wide and open, and when I could see the ocean, it was the most beautiful color I had ever seen.
As we drove along Route 58, lined with palm trees, we saw more and more signs in English. When I stopped at an A&W hamburger shop, I felt as if I were in the U.S. I had never been out of Japan before.
For the first time, my friends and I flew together, and my friend from Okinawa, who was also in my department, let us stay at his parents' house and showed us around.
We went to the southern part of the island, where the war had been fierce, and visited the Himeyuri Tower and other battle sites, and felt the tragedy of the Battle of Okinawa, but it was a fun trip full of extraordinary things such as the beautiful sea and sky, the unique Ryukyu culture, colorful tropical drinks with paper parasols, midnight discos, steaks cooked right in front of us, and Blue Seal ice cream.
It was unlike any other tourist destination in Japan that I had been to before.
I couldn't help but ask, "How much would it cost to send a postcard to Honshu? I even asked how much it would cost to send a postcard to Honshu.
From that moment on, Okinawa became a special place unlike any other.
I visited my friends back in Okinawa several times after I became an adult, either alone or with another friend, and for some reason I started crying every time the plane took off from Naha.
It's partly because I miss my friends, but for some reason, when I leave Okinawa, I feel as if I am leaving my soul behind, and tears come to my eyes.
I've come to prefer the quiet beaches and non-touristy seaside areas to the bustling resorts.
At dusk, the empty white sand beach was like being on another planet, and I remember sitting on the bank, watching the lightning flash in the clouds in the distance, and chatting all the while.
Eventually, I began to learn more about the unique spiritual world of Okinawa.
Ancestor worship, the existence of yuta (folk mediums) and noro (female priests in Ryukyu Shinto), sacred places such as Utaki and Uganju, and the Nirai Kanai faith are all things that are difficult for mainlanders to understand.
There is also a large turtle shell tomb right behind a convenience store, giving me the impression that the distance between the dead and the living is very close.
The distance between the dead and the living is very close.
One day while I was in Okinawa, I decided to visit Kudaka Island by myself. Kudakajima is an island located in the southeast of Okinawa Island. It is a sacred place where Amamikiyo, the founder of Ryukyu, descended from the heavens and started to build a nation.
In those days, when there was no Internet, I just used the information in my guidebook to get to Azama Port from Naha, and then took a boat from there.
At Kudaka Island, I was planning to go to Cape Kabeer, where Amamikiyo is said to have first landed. If you go straight ahead with your back to the harbor, you should be able to get there.
It was just around noon under the strong sun, and there were few tourists. I rented a bicycle near the harbor and started pedaling, only passing one bicycle coming back from the front, and then I was almost alone.
On the way, I stopped at what looked like Ishiki Beach on the east side of the island. Legend has it that a pot containing the seeds of the five grains washed ashore at Ishiki Beach. Since I was alone, I wasn't sure if it was really Ishiki Beach or not.
From there, I pedaled my bike along a path surrounded by plants.
There was nothing but the blue of the sky, the white of the road, and the green of the plants.
After a while, the sky and the sea spread out in my view, and I reached the end of the road.
It was a place where the other world and this world seemed to be in contact.
There was no one there.
As I looked at the clouds in the distance, I felt as if I would float away.
Blowing in the wind, I looked back the way I had come, and then again at the horizon in front of me.
I wondered where Nirai Kanai, the island of the gods, the utopia beyond the sea, was.
I tried to go back to the west side of the island, to the area called Romance Road, but I didn't feel like exploring much, so I just walked around a few houses and went back to the port.
The reason I didn't want to go around the island blindly was because I heard that Kudaka Island used to have wind burials until the 1960s. I heard that the wind burial site on the west side of the wharf was now covered with concrete, but I was afraid to go near such a place without knowing why.
I was afraid to go near such a place without knowing why, probably because I had heard a story about a colleague who had touched a coffin that had been placed outside during a trip to Okinawa.
When Okinawa was returned to Japan, I was in elementary school.
My homeroom teacher handed out a 1-cent stamp with a picture of a Ryukyuan dance and a 2-cent stamp with a Yuna flower to the whole class to commemorate "the addition of a new prefecture to Japan. Each one said "Ryukyu Post" on it, and I still have them.
I didn't really understand what it meant, and I never thought that I had any connection to Okinawa.
Even now, Okinawa is still a victim of war.
An Okinawa that still retains its old culture, traditions, and unique spiritual world.
It's not just a land of easy-going tourists, but I remember the feeling of freedom, of being released into the sky and sea.
It's been a long time since I've been there.
But I'm sure I'll be called back when my wavelength is right again.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Photographs were once treasures
My parents have already gone up in the sky, but there is one thing they left behind on earth that I cannot get rid of.
They are photographs.
Not only are there photos from after we children were born, but there are also photos from their bachelor days and even photos of my maternal grandparents from their youth.
Some of the photos I don't even know who they are.
The family name on the back is my mother's family, but I don't know who is in the picture.
There are also pictures of other people who are probably friends of my grandfather or father.
You might think that I should just throw them away, but I can't do that.
There are pictures of people who lived from the Meiji and Taisho eras to the postwar period, and the atmosphere of those days.
They are part of the memory, or rather the record, of a Japan that now exists nowhere else, even if it is the same Japan.
There is a photo of a young man in a school uniform pasted on a folded card-like backing.
It is covered with a thin piece of paper like a hatron paper to prevent it from being damaged, and on the paper are written in my own handwriting, "Graduation Memorial ○○ (the name of the person in the photo)" and "To ○○-kun (the name of my grandfather)", along with some kind of Japanese poem.
The photo was taken in the Meiji era. The name of a photo studio in Sapporo is printed on the mount.
In those days, photographs were a special kind of thing to be taken at a photo studio.
My grandfather graduated from a university in Hokkaido, so he and the man may have exchanged photos of themselves as a memento of their graduation.
In Europe and the U.S., there was a time in the late 19th century when carte de visite, small business-card sized portraits on mounts, became popular.
They began to be exchanged and collected instead of business cards, and I noticed that my grandfathers' photos were just like that.
I realized that the photos of my grandfathers were just like that, and there were similar ones in Japan.
In my own hands, too.
Today, photography and the circumstances surrounding it have changed drastically since the days of film.
Since we can take as many pictures as we want as long as we have the memory, many of them are stored inside the machine without being printed, and are quietly forgotten.
Even in the past, there were times when I made prints and left them in a can or a box instead of putting them in an album...
There was a time when photographs were more precious, more like treasures.
There was a time when photos were more precious and treasured, when they were like the alter ego of the person in the photo.
It was like an alter ego of the person in the photo.
Many years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to come into contact with old-fashioned cameras and photographs at work.
This was a very valuable experience for me.
I won't go into the history of the camera here, but it is said that the daguerreotype, a practical photographic technique, was born in France in 1839, after research by various scientists since the 16th century.
The daguerreotype is an image that is burned onto an iron plate for viewing, and is a one-of-a-kind piece that cannot be reprinted.
The images were portraits, and those who were able to be photographed were the wealthy in the U.S. who were able to get an education.
The ambrotype, invented in 1851, was printed on a glass plate, and by that time, middle class people were also able to be photographed.
During the time of these two types, photographs were placed in beautiful cases.
Depending on the era, the leather case had an embossed design on its surface.
When the clasp was removed and the lid opened, the inside was lined with cloth, which also had embossed patterns.
The cloth could be dark red, brown, or a beautiful green velvet.
There were metal frames around the photographs of people printed on steel or glass plates, which were also beautiful decorations.
Many of them were small enough to fit in one's hand, and some were a bit larger, but all of them looked like treasures that could be used as photo frames or carried around, and all of them were made by hand.
There must have been many children dying in those days.
There was a photo of an infant's body in a coffin, a photo of a girl with her hair in it, and a photo of a brother and sister with the child leaning back in a chair as if asleep.
The pendant with the woman's photo almost made me squeal when I turned it over and saw a golden braid in the clear glass.
I didn't know if it was her hair or if she had given it to someone to put in the pendant when she said goodbye. But I am sure that it is something important.
From the end of the Tokugawa shogunate to the beginning of the Meiji era, ambrotype portraits were produced in Japan, bound in paulownia wood boxes and very expensive.
Later, photographs came to be fixed on thin tin plates and paper, allowing ordinary people to be photographed.
Tintype tin plates were especially robust, so soldiers in the American Civil War used to carry photos of their loved ones in their breast pockets.
In this way, the photograph became like an alter ego of the person in the picture, accompanying their family and loved ones.
As I am surrounded by so many portraits in my work, I suddenly think about the fact that these photos are more than 100 years old.
The people in these photos taken over 100 years ago are no longer with us.
I wonder what kind of people they were and what kind of lives they led.
What they experienced in their lives, and the emotions they felt at that time, will disappear with them like the wind.
I used to lead an introductory photography course by correspondence.
where I asked the students to submit 2L prints of the photos they took for the assignments.
At that time, it was a transitional period from film to digital, but there were still many people who took pictures with film.
Many people were surprised to see the difference in the impression of the same photo when it was enlarged to a rather large 2L size.
It is a good idea to make a large print of an important photo once in a while.
When you hold them in your hands, they may change from airy data to a treasure with the weight of existence.
DAYS/ Kaori KawamuraColumn
La Vita é Bella.
Where there is a connection, there is guidance
Sometimes in life, we are led in a certain direction, whether we want to be or not.
Deep down, it is still the reality of our own choice, but sometimes we don't know until we go with the flow.
Italy was such an encounter for me.
When I was in college, my image of Italy was "somewhat bloody.
That's why I avoided Italy for my thesis topic.
When I decided to go to Europe for the first time, I didn't care about Italy and was looking forward to visiting Spain.
I wrote about my trip to Europe with a friend in 1988 in "STAY SALTY vol.11".
My friend and I, who had traveled from England to Switzerland and Germany via Paris, were wondering where to go in the train station in Munich, Germany.
Venice or Florence in Italy? In the end, we decided to go to Venice and then down to Florence. I checked the departure platform, pointed to a stopped train, and asked a nearby station attendant, "Does this stop in Venice? Just to be sure, I checked and got on.
At dawn, I stretched out my arms from my bunk and pulled back the curtains a little, and saw that the whole area outside the window was tinted orange.
It was the first time I had seen Italy.
I was in Italy. So this is Italy...
As I watched the scene, I felt that somehow the scenery in front of me was similar to that of Japan.
Then I left the compartment to go to the restroom, and as I walked to the rear of the train, I noticed that the back of the carriage was not as clean as it had been on departure.
I noticed that the carriage behind me that was there when I left was gone....
Apparently, it had been detached in the middle of the night.
We checked our current location and found that the train was heading south towards Florence.
We hurriedly changed our destination and transferred to a train that stopped in Florence.
In retrospect, Florence was many times more familiar to me than Venice.
In fact, it was only when I climbed up to the top of the round roof of Florence's cathedral and looked down on the city that I realized clearly that I was in Europe.
Even though I had been through four countries before, they may have been somewhat of a dream.
But the reddish brown roofs of Florence were more realistically European than any other place.
In the museums, there were mountains of famous paintings that I had seen in textbooks.
Even in churches, I suddenly came across paintings by masters.
When I walked around the city, I saw many beautiful people with deeply sculpted faces.
The sound of the Italian language was like music, and the rhythm of it was strongly etched in my consciousness.
After returning to Japan, I began to vaguely think that I would like to learn Italian, but it wasn't until 1990 that NHK started offering Italian language courses. It was in the late 80's or early 90's, when there was a boom in Italian food and tiramisu, and French restaurants were being replaced by Italian ones.
While learning the complicated grammar little by little, I thought that the only way to get used to this was through correspondence, so I visited the World Magazine Gallery, which was located at the Magazine House Company in Ginza. In this space where magazines from around the world could be browsed free of charge, I flipped through every Italian women's magazine I could find and sent a letter asking for a pen pal to what seemed to be a reader's submission page.
It was probably more than half a year later when I started receiving more than 150 letters from all over the world, not just Italy.
About half a year after I started correspondence with several Italians and other Europeans who could speak Italian, I decided to go to Italy alone for the first time to meet three of them.
Even though I couldn't speak a word of Italian yet.
When I think back to that time, it was like taking a bullet.
My itinerary was to stay at a pen friend's house in northern Italy and then revisit Florence.
On the way south from there to my pen pal's place in Rome, I thought I would like to stay in a small town somewhere.
I did some research and found out that there was a medieval town in the middle of the city that was accessible by train, so I decided to stay there for one night.
This was my first encounter with the city of Assisi, where I would spend three years and three months in language school.
The title of my DAYS, "La Vita é Bella." is a phrase that the landlord of my house in Assisi used to say.
Life is Beautiful".
Life is beautiful," which is also the title of an Italian movie.
Whenever she was happy about something, she would say, "La vita e bella! she would say.
But when there were problems or difficulties, she would shrug her shoulders and say, "La vita é difficile.
Just as there are always dark shadows where there is light, there are many social problems in Italy, and there is no point in thinking about them all the time, so let's just enjoy them! What I felt in Italy was such cheerfulness as well.
By the time the Internet became common, I had lost all of my pen pals, except for one, with whom I used to communicate by mail.
But when I started Instagram, one of the Italians who had been cut off sent me a message.
A guy who I've visited twice at home also recently talked to me on Messenger, and we connected for the first time in a long time.
Now I can easily comment on Instagram and even hear their voices on video.
The other day, for example, she pointed out a spelling mistake in Italian that I made in my calligraphy.
The flow of people and land continues as we move apart and connect again.
If you think you can flow in any direction, you may be led to a place you never thought you would be.
In any case, it is something that is connected to me.