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Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

Sachiko Kuroiwa
Violinist / Teacher

Lives and works in Paris. After working as the first violinist of the Milan Symphony Orchestra, she moved to France.She has been active as an orchestra and chamber musician in France and abroad. In recent years, she has been passionate about teaching young musicians in Paris.

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DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

Thoughts after the Festival


Christmas and New Year's, which I had been waiting for like a child somewhere in my heart, came and went as usual.


December to January is a strange time.

Christmas and New Year's, which follows it, are so grand that it seems as if even the unit of time is stretched out to a great length.


In France, there is no "New Year's Day," the special flow of time that Japanese people have, but Christmas is the big event that replaces it.

Therefore, after the Christmas vacations, which start a little before Christmas, Paris gradually loses its people.

Every time I see this, I think to myself, "Ah, so this is a city like Tokyo that is supported by people from the countryside.

It is as if the end of the year in Japan has come a little earlier, and I enjoy that.

And this atmosphere will continue until around the second day of the New Year.



It is still a mystery to me how time flows with a festive mood that is ambiguous but does not exist in any other month of the year.

Do the days of the second half of December that line the calendar belong to a completely different time and space?

The tiny year that we humans, with our short lives, have arbitrarily delimited may be as light as a cough in the grand universe, but perhaps it is at this time of year that God works his magic on the weight of the year that these tiny beings have so desperately lived.

That is why our pathetic brains tend to forget when this magic will end.


Like children who believe that summer vacation will last forever, we believe that the end of this festival is far away.

God, however, may cast a little spell on our brains to "take a break," but He does not double the time.

Around Christmas time, I too dreamed of lying comfortably on the couch of tender time at the end of the year and watching that movie or reading that book, but strangely enough, I could not reach this "graceful couch".


From Christmas to New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we start by buying food and cleaning our rooms.

After that, it's time to greet the New Year.

As I make phone calls and reply to messages, I gradually get tired.

I was so tired from looking at my phone so much that I couldn't even open a book.

I thought that tomorrow would be fine, but then I realized that the date had already changed to January 2.


Unfortunately, there is no sense of "three days" in France, so once New Year's Day has passed, the world around me will soon return to normal.

Then I realized something.

I wondered how many hours I remembered sitting on the "elegant couch" with a book in my hand.

Then, a lesson for this year naturally came to me.

It is "Do what you want to do the most first.

The cold has eased up for a while in Paris this week, and the days are clearly a little longer.

That alone is somewhat encouraging. The exit from winter, which is hard work just to stay alive, is just around the corner.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

Merry Christmas through the keyhole


Paris became extremely cold as soon as November arrived.
There was almost no mild autumn.
Every time I open the window, I shiver and stare at the autumn leaves in the park.
Today, when I woke up in the morning, it was so cold that I was surprised to see the thermometer reading only 3 degrees Celsius.
Is it already midwinter? I thought, "Is it already the middle of winter?

It's that time of year again.
I am reminded that Christmas is just around the corner.
That's because TV and YouTube are once again showing a creepy smiling Santa Claus and chocolates covered in mass-produced additives.
or a family smiling happily in front of a pile of mass-produced, additive-laden chocolates.
and images of happy, smiling families in front of piles of mass-produced, additive-laden chocolates.
The reason is that the Christmas shopping season is being waged with images of happy, smiling families in front of mountains of mass-produced, additive-laden chocolate.

Until last year, after watching such commercials
I would have had a moment of warmth in my heart after seeing such commercials.
But this year, for some reason, I find such advertisements extremely depressing.
It's not that Christmas is bad.
Once I think about the horrific wars going on in the world today
The image of a happy Christmas is nothing more than a figment of the imagination.
It is like saying "I'm so happy" inside a house when everything around the house is on fire.

The problem lies with the human race.

While there are pious people who are mindful of poverty and piety, there are black-hearted people who have been living in poverty for thousands of years.
While there are those who are religious and keep poverty in mind, black-hearted people have been using religion as a tool to make money and justify killing for thousands of years.
So I repeat the question I have been asking myself since I was 10 years old: "Why has science and technology evolved so far?

"Why is it that science and technology have evolved so much, but war has not ceased to exist since time immemorial?"

The term "double standard" is often heard today.
I feel like this applies to the governments of all countries.
I feel a sense of hopelessness that there is no such thing as justice anywhere anymore.
So in this day and age, if there is still such a thing as a real Holy Night
If God does not give up on us poor people
I feel that it would be too thoughtless to spend Christmas just floating around and consuming.
I feel that it is too thoughtless to spend Christmas just floating around and consuming.

At least, I don't want to spend Christmas in a crowded shopping center in Paris
I was shot in the head by one of the terrorists while I was wandering around like a bunch of piglets in a shopping center in Paris during Christmas.
I don't want to end up being shot in the head by one of the terrorists while I was wandering around like a bunch of piglets in a crowded Parisian shopping center at Christmas time.


So I came up with the most nekkid way to spend Christmas.
I could spend the morning reading a Zen book by myself, or create a makeshift tea room.
Or maybe I could use a corner of my room as a tea room and meditate in the weak winter light.

Come to think of it, for me, from the time I was born until today
Having a good time has not always meant being with someone.

Rather, it is when I think about what I am going to do alone that I am most excited.

By making a strong commitment to myself.
I love that refreshing feeling of being able to see the world as a whole in a lively way by committing myself strongly to myself.

That being said, I do not like to sit at the same table with strangers (and four people) in a small restaurant full of people, as is often the case in Paris.
I was seated at the same table as a stranger (and we were seated in a four-seater!). I was seated at the same table as a stranger (and seated for four!).
There is nothing worse than eating a meal while enduring the spit flying out of the mouth of the person next to you, or the loud voices of the people at a party.
I can't stand the noise at a party either.
I start thinking, "How many hertz would this noise be in terms of a helicopter? I always end up running away from the party.

I always end up running away from the party.

I, a person who is extremely unsociable like this, open the door of my house, jump inside, and as soon as I put down the lock, I am immediately distracted by the sound of the noise.
As soon as I unlock the door, I feel at ease. Now, for a moment, farewell to the chaos of the world.

Wishing for the world to return to kindness and a new order as soon as possible, even if it is only for a minute or a second, I wish you a Merry Christmas from the keyhole.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

Lovely coincidence.


On the morning of my birthday, I had my first meeting at my new work place in Paris.

While looking at the area on Google Maps the night before, I spotted a familiar name about a 3 minute walk from my work place.


Le Pure Café.


Could it be that this café was the one in that movie I had always wanted to visit?
That movie" was "Before Sunset," the second film in a trilogy of love stories, the first of which was released around 1995 and starred Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.


The first film Before Sunrise (the similarity of the title is somewhat kitschy and funny) was released in the same year as the main characters, and was set in Vienna, where I was studying at the time.


It was a favorite of mine in every way, from the fun of finding familiar cafes and streets here and there on the screen, to the realistic atmosphere with a sense of escapism, to the tasteful music.
Watching it now, it seems like a lovely diary of my own youthful days.
The second film was released nine years later, the same year I moved to Paris, and by a strange coincidence, the film is also set in Paris (as if following me).

While the first film, about a young man and woman who meet on a long-distance train, get off the train in Vienna, spend a short, dreamlike time together, and then part, is filled with the fragrance of sweet and sour youth, this second film is about two grown-up people with jobs and families who happen to meet again in Paris.
Walking the streets of Paris or in a café, they engage in an endless dialogue as if to fill the gap of nine years.

(The Parisian café is the perfect setting for this trilogy of Nouvelle Vague escapism.)

) I immediately decided to have breakfast at this café for my birthday this year.


Isn't it a happy coincidence that the place where a scene from my favorite movie was shot is right next to where I work?
I instantly started to feel a kind of connection to this place as many unforgettable scenes came back to my mind.

The next day, my work meeting was at 10:00 a.m., so I decided to leave home a little early and got off the metro at the Chalonne station, which I had never been to before.


The atmosphere of Paris changes drastically just a little bit in different districts.I walked for about three minutes from the station to this store in the 11th arrondissement, and turned a corner to find it.

As with many filming locations in Paris, there was nothing really special about the place, and the localized café looked much older than it did on the screen (which is no surprise, since it had been filming for almost 20 years).
But the entrance, located at the angled corner of the apartment building, looked nothing like it did in the movie, and the terrace was still empty.
I entered the retro store with a somewhat prewar atmosphere and ordered a café au lait and a pain au chocolat on the counter before sitting down on the terrace.
After sitting there for a while, I began to see a glimpse of unique people in the style of the 11th arrondissement.Their creative yet relaxed outfits are in stark contrast to the modest yet exuberantly high quality fashions of the well-to-do madames who take tea in the St. Germain area.


The pain au chocolat that was brought to me with my coffee was not very impressive in appearance, but it was one of the best I have had in the past few years.

The unusual view from the café I entered for the first time was like a supplement that changed the landscape of my mind.


The lovers from this film, which I had completely forgotten about, suddenly returned to my mind, and I felt the desire to rewatch the trilogy again in great detail.With a strangely happy premonition.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

Looking for my father's favorite food.


Amidst the extraordinary price hike of airline tickets, I was fortunate to miraculously find a direct flight at a lower price than connecting flights, and was able to return home this summer where my father was waiting for me after he recovered from his illness.

My father, who had collapsed from heart failure last summer, was released from the hospital in October, and since then he has been living alone in his new home with the help of helpers.

The house was tidy after nearly a year, and my father, thin as an Indian monk, lived mainly in front of the round glass coffee table at the end of the kitchen, rather than at the folding table my brother and I had chosen.

When I looked into my father's room, I saw many magazine interviews and newspaper clippings from his youth on the walls.

Around his bed, there was an inexplicable string, from which pieces of paper and all sorts of things were hung, creating a castle of my father's own.


What struck me was that my father seemed to be losing interest in food itself.

I don't care what it is.

He ate his bento delivered twice a day slowly over the course of an afternoon, and showed little interest in anything I bought or made for him.


He seemed somewhat sulky, as if he had made a promise to himself to resign himself to the fact that he could not go far to buy delicious food by himself.


Still, she seemed to make an exception for the chocolates I had bought from France, which she ate after every meal and, to top it all off, she would hurriedly bring them to the altar.

After each meal, I would arrange these individually wrapped chocolates of various kinds on the table like tarot cards, look at my father, who was staring at them, and ask him, "Which one do you want today? I myself was hoping to go to Paris soon to buy some high-end "Yukimi-dakkuhu" or Kit Kat's green tea flavor.


I like sushi, but I am also a sucker for Japanese B-class gourmet food and Showa-era Western-style food.

I am happy to report that the cost of such food was surprisingly low this time due to the weak yen.

I enjoyed going to Freshness Burger and Yayoiken in front of Hino Station several times (it was strange that a set meal with miso soup and a well-balanced side dish at Yayoiken cost less than 1,000 yen, while a hamburger and fries set cost more than 1,000 yen).


Since my father was still unable to go out alone, I did my best to eat with him at home, except when I had to run errands or occasionally went out for lunch with friends.

His bento lunches were well-balanced, but I still needed to add fresh vegetables, fruit, and miso soup.

 I made pasta for myself and ate it while he ate his lunch.

After a while, I got tired of eating pasta without Parmigiano, so I bought natto (fermented soybeans), which I loved, and ate rice with grilled fish more often.

I realized once again that this kind of meal is the best in Japan.


Two slices of salmon cost 1,500 yen in France, but only a few hundred yen in Japan, so there was no reason not to enjoy it.

At the supermarket, I also put horse mackerel and wild yellowtail in my basket.

My father was also very interested in eating grilled horse mackerel, which used to be on the table when my mother was at home.


One day, as I left the house to accompany my father on his daily walk around the grounds of our apartment, he suddenly wanted to take the bus from the bus stop right in front of us.

I had never ridden the bus alone since he collapsed, and I was worried about whether I could take him with his cane, but the bus arrived just in time and we decided to go with him to a nearby shopping center.

When we arrived at the shopping center, I suggested my father have an ice cream for the first time in a while.

The wind had picked up and it was a little cooler, so my father wanted to sit on a bench outside on the terrace and wait.

As I approached the bench with the ice cream, for a moment I couldn't see him.

As I got even closer, I saw only the tip of his walking stick.

Not even ten minutes had passed, and he was already lying on the bench like a tired, dead tree.

When I called out to him, he got up, flapping his arms and legs like an ant, and accepted the ice cream.

He couldn't wait to eat it, and when he put it in his mouth, I couldn't help but say, "Yum! I couldn't wait to get it in my mouth.


My father, who had been involved in various accidents since he was a young man racing cars, and who came back to life like a phoenix each time, was now 84 years old and definitely getting older. Where in the world does aging come from?

 As I watched the sky enveloped by the brilliant July sunset, I recalled the day a year ago when the doctor told me that my father would never come home again.


A few months later, he made a full recovery and has been living on his own for the past eight months.

As I watched him eat ice cream with the enthusiasm of a child, I couldn't help but hope that he would continue to defy the norms of the world with a nonchalant face.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

I don't need pride to play music.

After 8:00 p.m., as I looked out the window of the bus heading to Charles de Gaulle Airport, I was struck by a strange feeling of discomfort.

The landscape, which was still as bright as daylight, suddenly seemed to lose its sound.


It was eerie, somewhat similar to the beautiful Ophelia floating on the water, still rosy-cheeked on the outside, but inside, death was surely spreading with each passing second, and the landscape that seemed bright was surely spreading a dark night inside.

It was strange to watch the bright night go by, as if the day that had ended in such an invisible place was being quietly enveloped in silence.


In violin lesson today, when my student Camille said she didn't want to play in the recital because she wasn't proud of her performance, I was startled to hear my own voice explaining that being proud of oneself is the most superfluous thing in music.

Had something taken over me?

Because I knew those were exactly the words that were directed at me.


The more proud you are of yourself, the more you are trapped in a cage of perfection that you can't do anything about.

For example, I become more and more afraid to perform in front of others, and the only thing that matters is whether or not I have made a mistake.

It is not an artist's job to be proud, but what have I done wrong in my life?

Why couldn't I think that if I can truly love and enjoy music, it is okay to be a free idiot?

Every time I played in front of others, I always wished to give a performance that I could be proud of.

What kind of performance is a performance that makes you proud of yourself?

Is it a performance that never goes out of tune?


One phrase from an interview with Françoise Sagan that I read as a teenager has, strangely enough, come back to haunt me often in my later life.

It was, "In a fire, we do not choose the hand that is offered to us," meaning that in an emergency situation like a fire, we do not have the luxury of choosing only the first-rate hand.


The same is true of art. When music or words inspire us, it does not necessarily have to be the words of Victor Hugo or the sound of the Vienna Philharmonic.

They may be the words of a schoolteacher or a road construction worker.


Fame and perfection (or the appearance of perfection) that looms before us like a mirage has no substance, and if we set our sights on such things, we will be betrayed.

Therefore, I think it is better to make an effort to make yourself happy as much as you can (which is also tremendously difficult!). 

Perhaps that is the only way to reach our true selves.


For several days now, I have been obsessed with Brahms played by an old pianist whose name I have never heard before.

The recording is old and the sound quality is poor, with an aggressive squeak on the high notes, so it is hardly a perfect recording.

But I keep listening to it over and over again.

What emerges from the performance, which is so unrefined that it could be called rough and ready, is the essence of Brahms' music, which is more realistic than anything I have ever felt before.


It is as if he was playing a piano he found by chance on a battlefield or in a disaster-stricken area with all his might, with a strange passion and "real" intensity.

Such a live performance grabs the audience's heart and does not let go.


It is true that words like "perfect" and "famous" sound gorgeous and drive people crazy.

However, it is not the purpose of art to make people have such illusions.

Art is there for us when we need it, before we need our best friends.


If it is music that gives us a ray of hope that tomorrow we may be able to start our lives anew, even when we are feeling empty and without hope or dreams, then I, as a musician, must take this more seriously and act accordingly.

Not for my own self-satisfaction, but for the sake of those who need the music right now.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

The 19th spring


It's cherry blossom season again this year.
This is the 19th spring in Paris.

To my delight, I can see pretty cherry trees from the two windows of the conservatoire where I teach.
Cherry blossoms are a mysterious flower, not only because they are beautiful but also because they symbolize Japan, which is why they are so popular among people like me who have been away from their home country for a long time (?). For someone like me, who has been away from my home country for a long time due to a long fugitive life (?), cherry blossoms stir up a sense of nostalgia to the point of sadness.
At the same time, it is true that it triggers serious thoughts such as "Oh, what have I been doing here for nearly 20 years?
Therefore, the existence of cherry blossoms, which does not simply make one's eyes water with nostalgia for their beauty, is somewhat like a troublesome uncle who persistently tries to remind us of the problems we have put off in our minds every time we see him.


Paris is in the midst of its cherry blossom season, and the atmosphere in the city is more unsettled than ever.
Strike after strike over the pension issue has made it impossible to make even the most serious plans to go anywhere.

In fact, I am even prevented from going to work as usual.

Even garbage trucks have stopped coming, and the trash piled high on the roadsides is ruining the Parisian landscape.
Ironically, I had to take a day off work not because of the strike, but because of the flu.

For two days, I was unable to eat, take my medicine, or get up. I lay on the floor suffering from headaches and nausea and dreamed countless dreams in my foggy head.

The faces of my students at the Conservatoire appeared one after another in my dream, and the dreams were so realistic that I could hardly believe that they were dreams.
In the dream, I could clearly see their faces as they grew older and even as they became grandparents.
For example, Artur, who was 11 years old, handsome and good at playing the piano, had become a popular artist, and Charlotte, who was 12 years old, came from a famous family and was already as smart as a career woman, had become a lawyer.

There was nothing strange about that!
As I had read in a book before, it is true that from the moment we are born, we have everything inside of us.

It can be said that being a baby means that you already have your grandparents inside of you.

I apologize to the innocent students who appeared in my dream, but I woke up at that moment with a feeling that I could not escape from this inescapable fate of human beings as individuals and the shortness of our lives.
At the same time, I strongly felt that if we are beings that contain the future, the stronger the image of each future that we can already glimpse from the present, the more strongly the present will be drawn to it.
It has been said many times in the "attraction" literature that we create a controllable future through images, but when I think about it, it seems quite natural.



After two hellish days, I awoke feeling like I had shed my old chrysalis, back in a body that could once again feel the benefits of the spring light.

And as I realized the wonder and splendor of breathing in an easy body again, and of being able to eat breakfast normally again, my wobbly body was filled with relief and gratitude.
On such a precious morning, my brain, which was still wandering a little on the border between dream and reality, suddenly posed a question to itself.

What kind of image am I giving to people? I was still wandering around the boundary of reality in a dream.
How much of a gap is there between the image I usually have of myself and the image other people have of me?
Is it because of my realistic dream, a compact condensation of the lives of my students?

Only at this time, I strongly felt that I wanted to be the kind of person who would give others the image of the future I wanted to be, anyway.
I only live once, and I want to be worthy of the image of the future I want.

In order to make it happen, even if only a little bit, I must first believe in myself as I am now.

I told myself this as strongly as if it were New Year's Day.

Then, I grinned to myself, thinking that people can learn something from every experience.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

Haruki and Carrots

After living in Paris for 18 years, I have gradually come to see things.
One of the most recent things I have come to realize is that this is a city with the joys of a village. 
In France, retail stores still function well today, and even if you don't go to the supermarket, you can find a cheese shop for cheese and a greengrocer for vegetables.
For example, you don't have to go to a supermarket to buy cheese at a cheese shop. And, as you visit these places many times, you may even find a shopkeeper you like and enjoy a short chat with him or her (somewhat reminiscent of the shopping streets of the Showa period).


However, it takes a long time to realize the goodness of Paris after living in the city. 
The first thing that hits you when you start living in Paris is the gap between your more or less megalomaniacal image (although it is something that we foreigners create on our own) and the reality.
It takes a long time to get used to the fact that people do not find you immediately after entering a cafe, that they become numb and hopelessly wave their hands in the air after 15 minutes or so, or that you are directly subjected to the grumpiness of store clerks in stores and supermarkets. In addition, the daily delays in transportation, the never-ending strikes, the difference in distance between people, the difference in hygiene, etc., are too many to list, but French life is enough to blow up Japanese norms one after another.


It is also true that in the midst of such an uncomfortably quiet daily life, there is the joy of finding one's place in the world, little by little.
The way to do this is through the "village socializing" I mentioned earlier.
No matter how angry I am that day, I can go to a place where I can smile, where there are people who laugh at my stories and sympathize with me.
I finally found such a restaurant.
One such store is a few steps from my house, a grocery store specializing in organic produce.
The clerk, a man I always talk with, is a great Japanophile, an avid reader of Haruki Murakami's works and an expert on the best and cheapest Japanese restaurants in Paris, so much so that I have to get information from him myself.
He told me that there is a Japanese restaurant in the Japanese Cultural Center where you can eat Japanese food at a reasonable price. He also told me that rice cake sweets, which have been secretly booming in Paris recently, are his favorite, and he sometimes buys rice cakes from a popular store, which are packed in beautiful boxes like expensive chocolates.
He told me that he sometimes buys rice cakes from a popular shop that packs them in beautiful boxes like expensive chocolates.

But what he really wanted to talk about was his "beloved Haruki.
When his eyes meet mine at the store, he comes up to me, eyes shining, and starts talking with a big smile on his face.


I told you the other day about Halki's IQ of 84..."




My mind was occupied with vegetables for tonight's menu, and I hurriedly tried to make them disappear from my thoughts and switch my mode of thinking to the world of books, but somehow it didn't work.
With a muddy carrot dangling in my hand, I had no choice but to say, "Oh, I haven't read that one yet..." as I tried to squeeze it out. as if to squeeze it out.
In front of this Frenchman who had read all of Haruki's works, no matter how Japanese I was, I could not pretend to be a know-it-all.
He has a lot more to offer, so he asked, "What about 'Kafka by the Sea'? He then asked me, "What about Kafka on the seashore?
I was relieved to know that I had read that a few years ago, but I realized that I had forgotten the story completely.


I had read it, but I had forgotten the story. It was certainly an interesting novel, but it didn't really click with me," I confessed.


He nodded his head and looked incredibly happy.
I was about to ask him why Haruki Murakami is so popular in France when I heard a voice calling him from the cash register.
A long line had formed in front of the cash register as we stood talking in front of the carrot shelf.
As I watched his back as he hurriedly walked away from the spot, I felt a little strange.


Sometimes I wonder what the route is when a work that is completely different in language and culture from the one in one's own country grabs someone's heart.
Naturally, the rhythm of a work changes when it is translated, and a change in rhythm means a change in atmosphere, but interestingly, the essence of the work is always conveyed. When I was struck by the works of Sagan and Duras in the past, even though the text I received directly from them was in Japanese, I was hearing French in the Japanese text and sensing something far removed from the Japanese in the lines between them.
Of course, the excellent work of the translator, the sensitivity of the reader, and the imagination are all at work here, but the fact that a work becomes a source of sustenance for a person must mean that there are some fateful vibrations occurring between the work and the person himself/herself.
In the process of inviting the worldview and atmosphere of a new book into the uniquely developed culture of "self," the book reader is always unconsciously searching for the wavelength that resonates with him or her.


After leaving the store, as I walked up the hill to my apartment with the vegetables I had successfully purchased in my hands, I imagined that the shopkeeper might prefer to spend her time in her quiet room empathizing with the Haruki-like characters rather than gathering with her French friends and making a fuss.
I felt as if another cell division had occurred within me and a small story had been born.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

A happy wellspring


This year's winter in Paris really came out of nowhere.
After a very cold September, October was as warm as spring.
Then, when I let my guard down a little, the thermometer suddenly dropped to single digits.
In the 18 years I have lived in Paris, I have never experienced such a short autumn as I did this year.
In mid-November, I went to Rue de Rivoli and found that the town was already in a Christmas mood.
I was surprised to see that the department stores had already finished putting up their Christmas decorations.
I was surprised to see that the Christmas decorations had already been put up in the department stores. It was already the end of the year!
A lot has happened this year.
For me, it has been a year of many different kinds of hardships and joys, a year that has been somewhat like an encounter with the unknown.
And yet, I still think, "What is important may be the confidence that has no root.


This summer, more things happened to me than I can count in my life so far.
My father arrived in Japan and survived, and I was able to finish moving my parents' house with the help of my brother and his wife.
In the midst of these tumultuous days in Tokyo, the few meals I had with my former teacher from elementary school were a time of heartfelt relief for me.
One day I said, "It's strange, but even when I feel down, I seem to have an unfounded confidence in myself," and my teacher laughed and said, "That is the characteristic of the students at our school.

The private elementary school in Tokyo where I met my teacher was a very unique school that had a total of 12 grades through high school (I transferred in the 9th grade).
The catchphrase, "Every person is different," which has been heard everywhere in Japan for some time, has not yet completely taken root in Japan, and to me it sounds like an overreach.
But at our school, it has been the norm since its founding 100 years ago, and we were raised with the idea that "only by being so" can each individual's potential expand.


When I was in elementary school in the early 80's, there were still strict school rules and violence by teachers in Japan, and with the exception of the Totsuka Yacht School incident, I don't think it was discussed as much in the media as it is now.
I wonder now how much discomfort the students of our school must have felt when they were thrown out into Japanese society for examinations and employment afterwards.
After all, we were probably a minority in a society that valued discipline and harmony.
There were no morning assemblies, no uniforms, no school rules.
What was expected of us was to think equally, to think freely and develop our strengths, and the first people to praise us for these strengths were our homeroom teachers and classmates.

In such a school life, we naturally developed a sense of self-affirmation, which is the minimum necessary to live a happy life.
Even when things didn't go well, I naturally developed the mindset that things would turn out well someday, even if they didn't now.
In other words, I became a somewhat mysterious adult.
This could be called happy brainwashing or no-tension, but I suppose it is the same in both cases.
Thanks to this baseless sense of self-affirmation, I think I have been able to live happily even in a world that is like a living horse's eye.


But even I have moments when I think, "I can't do this anymore! I have moments when I think, "I can't do it anymore!
At such times, I find myself back in that nostalgic elementary school classroom, writing essays.
It is as if my DNA has programmed me to return to that time when everything seemed possible and I could gain a tremendous amount of power from the source.
Perhaps that is why I have a hard time giving up on life.
Even though I know that the game of life is far from the mille-feuille sweetness that I love, I try to enjoy it for what it is.
Even if I am once a briquette in a competitive society, I would like to be an adult who can believe in the infinite possibilities within myself.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

Vienna and Paris: Kokoschka's paintings connect the two time zones.


This week, French schools started their big All Saints' Day vacation.
Although I was quite exhausted from my first teaching job at a music school, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to visit the Kokoschka exhibition that has been held in Paris since this fall.
Corona and other worries had kept me away from visiting exhibitions for a few years, but I finally had the time to do so again.
Since the day I found a poster of the Kokoshka exhibition in the metro, I had made up my mind that I would definitely go to the exhibition.


Kokoschka is a revolutionary who made the art scene in Vienna at the turn of the century so colorful.
He is also famous for his dramatic love story with Alma Mahler, the wife of the composer Gustav Mahler, but when I was living in Vienna, I was somewhat uncomfortable with Kokoschka's paintings.


The colors and touch of Kokoschka's paintings made viewers feel uneasy.
His paintings, which gave me a painful sensation as if I were diving into a bitter brain, did not appeal to me as much as Klimt's world of decadent smiling women in dazzling gold leaf, whose beauty seemed out of this world.


On the other hand, I was blinded by the stories of the many talented artists who were attracted to Alma, including Kokoschka
Klimt, Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus, and her dominant husband Mahler.
Their stories are told in various books, all of which tell us how fascinating and talented Alma Mahler was, and how surprisingly modern she was in the conservative world of her time.
In one of the many episodes, Alma is told that as a teenager she had already been reading Nietzsche and Wagner for inspiration, which makes a lot of sense to me, as I have been an ardent supporter of Alma since I read about her as a student, and even more so today. I think it is an episode that can stimulate my imagination about this character even more.

Returning to Kokoschka, Alma, herself a composer and faithful to her own desires, has perhaps more deeply imprinted her mark on this painter than on any of her lovers.
Their mistress relationship was officially very brief, but for Kokoschka, whose soul had been stolen by Alma, the loss of this love was spectacularly painful.
The painter, who could not forget her even after their breakup, volunteered to fight at the front and survived despite being seriously wounded twice, and after a period of recuperation had a life-size doll made in Alma's likeness.
He took the doll everywhere with him, and a few years later, at a party, he cut off the doll's head and doused it with red wine (you can see a photo of the doll at the time in this exhibition).

This famous episode, besides the passionate correspondence between Kokoschka and Alma, is perhaps the best representation of their relationship, which shared a passionate time that changed the axis of the earth.


It had been 20 years since I had recalled such a story, and yet, after so long a time, these works, found again in a museum near the Eiffel Tower, immediately transported me back to the beautiful city where I had spent four years of my school days.
Deciphering the cipher of Alma scattered throughout the works, savoring the familiar episodes, and filling in the occasional frayed memory, I was truly enchanted by the seamless stylistic beauty of the city, the Ringstrasse by night, the opera house where my former teacher worked, and all of the fin-de-siècle culture in which I became enamored. I almost kissed all the works in front of me as I felt myself surrounded by all of Vienna's fin-de-siècle culture.

As I left the last room of the exhibition, I saw a large, enlarged photograph on the wall.
It was a picture of Kokoschka in his prime, working energetically, and he was facing a large canvas.
The photograph, in which you could almost hear the creaking of the wooden step supporting his weight, captured Kokoschka in the midst of his 94-year life, in which he overcame difficulties such as a serious heartbreak followed by memories of the tragic war, exile, and the desecration of his work by the Nazis, always resisting unjust power, and yet, at a completely different level from these events, he was stretched out and absorbed in his work. In the midst of his 94 years of life, he always resisted unjust authorities.

It was a picture of him living freely in the present, detached from the harsh past and future, and that was the only way to be free from the relentless flow of time.
The moment I realized this, my heart filled with the feeling that I had been touched by a terribly sacred fact.

Then, in the picture, Kokoschka began to speak softly to me, almost in tears, as if he had once cared for his fellow Jews.
As I strained to hear, his voice sounded as if he was telling me that as long as I could forget everything and focus on just one thing, really just one thing, I would not be afraid of life or even death.

49 ( Quarante- neuf )


DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

49 ( Quarante- neuf )


I never imagined that the day would (really) come when I would celebrate my 50th birthday in France.

At least until a year ago.

It seemed as irrelevant to me as all the unreal entities and words, like a cloud floating somewhere far away, or like a death that would come one day.

And yet it was already two days away.

Then I thought to myself.

Oh well.

This is what it will be like when I die, I thought.

It will be just in front of me when I realize it.


It was quite a shock when I turned 40, but this time the feeling is even more intense.

My youth came much later than others.

And now it is time for me to fly away from the 10 years that I spent in my youth with a little bit of regret, to a new 10 years.

And considering that those 10 years passed so fast that it felt like only 6 years at most, how fast will the next 10 years go by?

Even though we are living in the age of 100 years, I don't see anyone I know who has lived to be 100 years old.

But I have already reached the halfway point.


The moments when I feel the most fear for myself are not when I think about superficial things like aging, but rather when I begin to think about how much I have accomplished for others in my life so far.

I still feel somewhat irresponsible about myself as I did when I was 20 years old, and since I have no children, I have lived for half a century as a child on the inside (i.e., I am always the main character).

I am good at finding small happiness in my daily life wherever I am, but when I think about it, I have no such grand dreams, and my thirties and forties have passed while I was preoccupied with winning an even smaller position in the closed and small competitive world of the French music world, so to speak. I honestly feel that my thirties and forties passed me by while I was preoccupied with winning an even smaller position in a small competitive world.

So I never really thought about what I should do with my life.

During those endless lockdown days, for the first time in my life, I really thought about what I could do for others.

But no matter how much I thought about my mission, how I used my talents, and so on, it was all somewhat fluffy.

It was evidence of how shortsighted I had been up to that point in my life.


When my father fell ill shortly after returning to Japan this summer, I finally felt myself forced to make the transition from a long childhood to adulthood.

I found myself no longer on the side of my parents' protection, but on the side of theirs.

When I returned to Paris in September with mixed feelings, God suddenly offered me 27 French children.

This was because I was assigned to teach a solfege class (a class to teach children the basics of music in general) as well as a violin class at the conservatoire (music school) where I was to teach from September.

It was a hard day's work, but I fell in love with them at first sight.

The skinny, fluffy, blonde-haired ones.

The tanned, energetic ones.

The quiet, intelligent ones. They are just like the children in the movies and cartoons.

As I interacted with them, I was reminded of the 14-year-old Tokyo children I met during my university teaching internship.


Although they come from different countries, they are all as fresh and lively as freshly squeezed fruit juice, and sometimes as sharp as a rose's prick.

They are a mass of pure energy.

I enjoyed meeting these children so much that I remembered the days when I would not even sleep in and eagerly go to my alma mater every day.

On the last day of my internship, I played Brahms' Violin Sonata for them.

Even the most talkative of the children listened attentively to my performance.

Afterwards, one of the boys from the so-called problem group, who was waiting for me at the school gate, asked me where he could get help.


[Will you come back to school again?]


I was going to study abroad in Vienna that year, and although I knew it was impossible, I felt a small twinge of regret at having said yes.


I was very worried about the different language and whether they would understand my French properly, but rather their energy has been a magical experience that has shaken something that I had forgotten within me.

If my encounter with these children was not a coincidence but inevitable, I never cease to be amazed at what a wonderful way God has led me to a new learning experience.

I don't know at this point how much longer I will be able to continue this work, but I am going to trust in the miracle of being 50 years old and resign myself to fate.

I would like to be able to think that this experience has encouraged me to grow in a way that will be invaluable to me in 10 years' time.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

My Father's House



t the beginning of June, I received two unexpected pieces of news.

The first was an appointment as a violin teacher at a conservatoire in a quiet town near Paris.

The second was that I had finally found a barrier-free apartment for my father, who lives alone in Tokyo, and we had decided to move in early July.

Gazing out the window at the fiery fresh greenery, I was relieved to feel a new cycle finally begin to make some noise somewhere.

Two weeks later, I returned to Tokyo to help my father move, just before the onset of the heat wave.

A year and a half had already passed since my last visit.

My father had always had a hard time throwing things away, and he had already accumulated a lot of stuff.

How should I proceed with the move while confronting these things?

When I started thinking about it, I forgot that I had come all the way back to Tokyo, and my mood became more and more blue.


However, my worries were over in three days.


On the morning of the third day after returning to Japan, my father was rushed to the hospital with heart failure.

Miraculously, I was able to notice his condition early in the morning and was able to save his life, but he would not be discharged from the hospital for a long time.

Suddenly I was left alone in the old house and had to make it through the two weeks until we moved in with my brother, who came to help us (although at least it was easier to declutter since my father did not interfere with every aspect of the cleanup).


My brother came almost every day, driving an hour each way in a small truck for garbage disposal.

It was somewhat strange to see my brother every day.

Come to think of it, I had never done anything with my brother like this before.

As I sorted through the house, I realized that about 50% of the things we accumulate over the course of a lifetime are photos and letters.

I recalled that in the days when there was no such thing as the cloud, taking photos and carefully storing them in albums was a sacred act to preserve the moments of family events and celebrations that would never be repeated in life.

I felt myself being sucked into the distortion of the vast amount of time that separated the present from the time in the album.


Then I found a quantity of letters that was almost as large as those photographs.

The ones from my now-deceased grandmother and grandfather were so real that I could still feel their warm voices and warmth when I read them now, and I still remembered some phrases from the mountain of letters that my childhood best friend gave me in elementary school.

They felt like a part of me, and despite the fact that they were quite a lot to put in cardboard boxes, I couldn't bring myself to throw them away and they were eventually packed away.

Old memories were sealed up in boxes again once they were dug up like that, but once they were colorfully resurrected in my mind, the fragments of old memories went to sleep with me for a while after that and woke up with me.


It seems that this world is governed by a delicate balance.

Those who have survived are no longer able to walk, and just when we think we have found some small happiness, a small tragedy comes knocking at our door.

In the end, life is plus, minus, and equal to zero. Maybe that's what it means.


I am sure that is the case. I'll write down where everything is on a sticker and put it up so that I won't be in trouble the day my father comes home safely from the hospital.


Today, too, I continue to prepare the house by myself, thinking of my father's and mother's healthy appearance.


And a few weeks later, I was once again alone in my new barrier-free house.

Not living alone, much less as a newlywed.

A home for my father, and for my mother, who might one day come home. Their new home.

I was living alone until the day I returned to Paris, and I was diligently preparing the house for when my father would be discharged from the hospital.

I hung curtains, installed light bulbs, and arranged books in the bookshelves as they had been before.

Little by little, the alien space disappears and the house becomes more and more like someone's home.

Still, I cannot shake the feeling that this house still belongs to no one.


The table that my brother and I chose together is light and compact, unlike the solid oak table we had in the house before, and its height can be adjusted with a single lever so that we can eat while sitting on the sofa.

I chose this table because I thought it would be perfect for my father's future life alone, but when I put it in my room, I found it somewhat tasteless.

It was too focused on "convenience" and lacked depth in both color and material, and was sadly devoid of emotion.

I brought my coffee to the table with these thoughts in mind.

As I looked around the room, thinking how well I had done, the words of my mother, who had moved into a special care facility four years earlier due to the aftereffects of a cerebral hemorrhage, suddenly came to mind.


I can't wait to walk back home.



DAYS/  Sachiko Kuroiwa Column

les toits de Paris et le violon

Surreal reality, dense virtual space.



Spring 2022 has come sooner than expected.

More than a month has already passed since the vaccine pass was withdrawn in Paris, and except in certain places, the city is already as lively as it was three years ago during the Easter vacations.

People laughing and murmuring on the terraces of cafes as if nothing had happened, evening lines forming in front of popular bakeries, lovers embracing on metro platforms.


These scenes are [very similar] to the Paris we know so well, like scenes from a scene in a Klapisch film.

But something is different. They have all lost a kind of [mass] and seem somehow transparent.

Is it Paris that has changed? Or is it me? 

Maybe it is both.

Maybe I have come to a parallel world today.

But on the other hand, there exists within me a reality that is more rich in flavor than this chaotic and unpredictable world that is now called [reality].

It is the reality of the world of the senses, such as sound, my feelings, and texture.


I am a musician, so my job is to interact with sound.

I am a musician, so my job is to interact with sound, which means I look inside myself to the point of boredom, always looking for answers in images.

Sound] cannot be seen with the naked eye, but it is a presence that can be felt with a sense of presence.

More specifically, the performer can even visualize the exact location of the sound.

It is like a [virtual space] that exists only within me, and rather than playing the violin in this space, I am sitting comfortably in the driver's seat and operating the steering wheel while watching the images (sounds) that are constantly crossing the windshield.


I must not come back to myself.


This is a lesson that every professional performer knows on stage.

If you become so nervous that you come back to yourself, the next note may disappear from your memory.

This is because [thinking] begins with [realizing].

This is precisely because "feeling" and "thinking" are two different things.

And once one thinks, the virtual space is cut off and the image of the sound is also cut off.

Therefore, the performer must remain in the virtual space (world of images) until the end of the piece, so to speak, but to achieve this in an ideal state requires considerable conscious training.


I was watching a YouTube video explaining the double-slit experiment in quantum mechanics, and even though I do not have even a millimeter of scientific brain, I noticed something.

It was that the process of the experiment, in which something that was previously a "wave" is transformed into a "particle" and materialized as soon as a person starts "observing" it, is reminiscent of the mechanism of musical performances, in which the essence of the performance is drastically changed by "observing" it as well. This is what I meant.


The famous "Law of Attraction" has already been scientifically proven in the field of quantum mechanics, but the most important aspect of this "attraction" is also the power of imagining.

Imagining is definitely the first step to materialize something.


If it is in the field of art, a vision in one's mind can become an actual architecture, a sculpture, or a sound.

Conversely, where there is no image, nothing happens or is created. Therefore, it is not surprising to artists that "imagining with a sense of presence," as the Law of Attraction always says, is closely related to the realization of dreams in life.


Incidentally, there is one way to make it easier to imagine great things.

One way to make it easier to imagine great things, by the way, is to feel good.

It is the same with music. It is very difficult to visualize your ideal performance if you are in a gloomy mood.

When I am in a positive, almost joyful mood, the power of a great image increases.


How strange it would be if my life today is the result of what I imagined in the past!

When I lived in Tokyo and Milan, I was never tired of living in the image of Paris through movies and music.

Paris was nothing but a condensed world of everything I wanted to be, everything I wanted, and everything I longed to be.

As a result of thinking about Paris so much, I am now living in the middle of the city every day.

In that sense, I can say that I have successfully attracted Paris.


What will I be living in three years from now?

The clue to that question is what exactly I am imagining [vividly] at this very moment.

The pipe that leads to the future is being formed at this very moment, without a break.

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