STAY SALTY ...... means column

Kaori Kawamura Column

La Vita é Bella.

from  Yokohama / Japan

Kaori Kawamura
Writer / Photographer

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.

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DAYS /  Kaori Kawamura Column

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.


Spring 1993.
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.