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DAYS

STAY SALTY ...... means column

Sumiko Kuramitsu Column

Beloved Buenos Aires

from  Buenos Aires / Argentina

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Sumiko Kuramitsu
Reiki Teacher / Hypnotherapy Therapist

Reiki teacher and hypnotherapy therapist. Fascinated by the Argentine tango, she moved to Buenos Aires and fell in love with the city, the sky, the culture and the people. She spends her days enjoying tango and photography while running a healing salon. I will share with you the charm of Buenos Aires.

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6.2.2021

DAYS / Sumiko Kuramitsu Column

Beloved Buenos Aires

The fun of visiting street art

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Like the situation in the rest of the world, the lockdown in Buenos Aires has been loosened and tightened repeatedly, and recently it has become difficult to go out again.

Under the strict regulations, you need a permit to take public transportation, so those who don't have one tend to take cabs or go out mainly on foot.

But even if you have to walk for an hour, the saving grace of the city is the pleasant view.

 

The historic buildings and street trees are nice, but my favorite part is walking around and finding the street art painted on the walls.

As you walk down the street, you can enjoy a variety of art, from shutter-sized pieces to those that decorate the walls of buildings.

If you take a different street from the one you usually walk on, you will encounter new things, and if you keep scurrying along, you will reach your destination in no time.

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Street art in Buenos Aires started out as spray-painted graffiti.

The economic crisis of 2001 was a major trigger for the transformation of graffiti, which had been a way to express political grievances, into art.

The owners of the buildings began to ask artists to paint their walls in order to brighten up the city, which had been hit hard by the economic crisis.

Now, 20 years later, the city has positioned street art as a tourist asset, and there are many works to enjoy.

There are many different sizes and styles.

Of course, you can see some with strong political messages, and some that are purely artistic.

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There are two things that I find attractive about street art.

 

The first is that its life is short and changing.

On the one hand, this is a pity, but I think it is also a charm.

It is interesting to watch the changes from the freshly painted shiny state to the one that gradually blends into a part of the city after being exposed to the rain and wind. There is also the surprise of seeing a new painting on a familiar wall.

 

Another point is that street art is art with a background.

A painting on a store wall or shutter is a work of art in harmony with the entire building and the people on the street, while a wall of art has the sky as its background.

Some of the paintings look great against the blue sky, while others, I discovered one day, look better against a cloudy sky.

If you are lucky enough to come across a moment when the changing colors of the sky and cloud formations at dusk are beautifully combined with the wall painting, you will feel very fortunate.

In this way, art in a living city has the pleasure of a once-in-a-lifetime encounter, which is different from that in a museum.

That's why I can't stop walking the streets of Buenos Aires.

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5.2.2021

DAYS / Sumiko Kuramitsu Column

Beloved Buenos Aires

Café Notable in Buenos Aires

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Cafes in Buenos Aires are friendly.

Even if you are all alone, you somehow feel accepted by the place and the city when you are there.

In particular, old-fashioned cafes have a unique warmth.

Perhaps it is because the walls, floors, and spaces are imprinted with the history of joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness of the people who have gathered there over the decades.

 

When I first started living in Buenos Aires, with few acquaintances and not knowing the language well, cafes were an important place for me to connect with the city and its people.

The old decorations and high ceilings were comfortable, and I would often spread out my language school homework on the well-worn wooden tables and do some idle people-watching.

I think I absorbed a lot of Argentine behavior and phrases there.

The hustle and bustle of the city coming in through the open windows with the breeze and the chatter in Spanish coming from the table next to me was lively and energizing, and I felt at ease with the feeling that I was a part of the place.

In recent years, Buenos Aires has seen an increase in the number of modern cafes, but I definitely prefer the old, tacky classics to the nicer ones.

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Cafes with history and atmosphere are known as "Cafe Notable," and their conditions are defined by Law 35 of the City of Buenos Aires.

The list of establishments that meet the criteria, such as year of establishment, architecture, and cultural value, includes some long-established establishments from as far back as the 1800s, some with stunning stained glass windows, and others whose names appear in the lyrics of tango songs.

Some of the stores have been forced to close due to the repeated recessions and the recent lockdowns, and the number of stores is said to be decreasing these days, but it is said that nearly 100 stores were initially listed.

 

In Buenos Aires, you can spend hours in a café for a single drink.

The people of the city have been using cafes in this way for a long time, and no one says anything.

Whether it is an elderly person eating the same breakfast at the same table every morning, a group of girls talking for a long time, or a couple arguing, no one cares how long you stay.

 

Once, I lingered in a cafe late at night with a friend.

She had a problem and couldn't leave the conversation in the middle of the night.

After 1:00 a.m., we were the only customers in the cafe, and the waiters started cleaning up, but they never asked us to leave.

Of course, there was no announcement of "Last order. We talked to our hearts' content until all the chairs in the restaurant were placed upside down on the tables.

I left a little extra tip and said, "I'm sorry it took so long. I said, "No problem. I'll stay either way until everything is cleaned up. He replied, "That's okay.

This is the kind of atmosphere that makes Cafe Notable so welcoming to people.

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4.1.2021

DAYS / Sumiko Kuramitsu Column

Beloved Buenos Aires

Argentina's Birthday

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I was born in the spring.

Birthdays at this time of year have a very different atmosphere depending on where you are.

In Hokkaido, where I was born and raised, March and April are still in the thawing period, and the roadsides are still covered with black snow, dusty and gray in color.

It is still an extension of winter.

When I first came to live in Tokyo, the same day was the time when the cherry blossoms were in bloom, and the pink color made me feel excited, which changed my mood a lot.

At the same time, it was the beginning of autumn in Buenos Aires, and the street trees were turning yellow and orange.

The combination of retro cityscape, cobblestones and autumn leaves makes Buenos Aires even more unique and melancholy.

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Now, Argentina's birthday.

In Spanish, birthdays are called cumpleaños.

While the Japanese and English word birthday means "the day you were born," the Spanish word is "the day you cumplir (reach) año (age).

Rather than celebrating the fact that you were born on a certain day in the past, you celebrate the fact that you have arrived here today.

There is also a difference in the way we celebrate.

In Japan, birthdays are usually celebrated by the people around you, but in Argentina, it is the person who is celebrating the birthday who sets up the party.

The party is planned, arranged, and the cake is prepared by you.

Everyone says, "It's almost my birthday! and they often talk about how they will arrange their birthday.

I'm the one who doesn't bother to mention my birthday because I feel like I'm making people feel uncomfortable, but this is a completely different feeling.

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So this is the topic of birthday parties that I come across frequently, but there is one thing that you must be absolutely careful about.

Don't say congratulations before the birthday.

It is "mala suerte" to ask for congratulations before the day itself.

At milongas, tango dance halls, you often see birthday parties, where friends gather around a big table for the purpose, but no one says congratulations or gives gifts until after midnight.

After the date changes, they usually spread out the cake and celebrate with champagne.

It is also customary to make three wishes in your mind after lighting the candles on the cake, before extinguishing them.

The candles for the cake are like fireworks over there, so you may feel impatient to put them out quickly, but the three wishes are important.

After that, we ate the cake, but of course, it was up to me to cut it up and hand it out.

The main person is also the host, so he or she is busy.

The cake is cut in a strange way.

A circle is cut out of the center of the whole cake, and from there, double or triple circles are drawn, and then the cake is cut into small pieces in a radial pattern.

Each slice ends up as a conical trapezoid (like cutting a baumkuchen), and many pieces can be cut from one whole.

In a place like a milonga, it is a ritual to serve the cake not only to the friends invited to the table, but also to the many acquaintances in the hall, since many people know each other.

This may be the reason why such a way of cutting the cake was born.

 

In the world of tango, there is also a special birthday dance.

While tango is usually danced with the same partner for several songs, the birthday dance is a waltz with different partners, one after the other.

It is a celebration of friends, and if you are popular, there is a line of people waiting to dance with you.

This is a wonderful and heartwarming custom that I have seen many times.

 

The tango scene in Buenos Aires is still far from normal, but I hope that such birthday party scenes will return soon.

 

3.1.2021

DAYS / Sumiko Kuramitsu Column

Beloved Buenos Aires

Let's go to the park with a yerba mate tea set!

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I wonder if Japan is in the mood to refrain from cherry blossom viewing again this year.
Sitting under a cherry blossom tree, talking with friends and admiring the flowers is a wonderful part of spring in Japan, so I hope the ban will be lifted soon.
Although flowers bloom beautifully in Argentina in spring, there is no such culture as hanami there.
They go to parks on a daily basis, sit on the greenery, take a break, and let their children play, so they may not need to get into the spirit of "hanami".
What they bring with them when they go to the park is yerba mate tea.
Yerba Mate is a tea unique to South America, and is also called "drinking salad." It is rich in vitamins and minerals, and some say that Yerba Mate helps Argentines, who eat less vegetables than meat, to maintain a good nutritional balance.
It has a bitter taste, but once you get used to it, it becomes addictive.
It can also be blended with herbs or dried orange peel.

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The tea is drunk in a unique way, by inserting a straw-like object called a "bombisha" into a cup of yerba mate filled with tea leaves.
Confusingly, the tea leaves are also called yerba mate and the tea container is also called yerba mate.
You need to carry a set of yerba mate tea leaves, yerba mate container, and a pot with lukewarm water (boiling water will burn you when you drink it).
Of course, there are many situations where I drink tea at home, but it's interesting that I take that style of drinking with me everywhere.
When I went to the park, I saw a lot of people with pots under their arms, which seemed very strange to me at first.

Originally, the standard way to drink yerba mate was to pass around a single cup.
However, after Corona became popular, each person was encouraged to have his or her own bowl of yerba mate.
The magic of communicating with each other by sharing a single bowl is one of the charms of yerba mate, so it is a little sad to think that such a culture has been lost.

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There is a specific etiquette for drinking yerba mate.
In the circle, there is an owner who is in charge of pouring hot water, and no one else is allowed to touch the bot. The owner prepares the tea leaves in the yerba mate cup, and after taking the first bitter sip himself, he pours enough hot water and offers it to others.
The recipient drinks it up and then returns the cup to the owner.
The owner then pours hot water into the bowl and offers the tea to another person.
This process is repeated for each person.
Naturally, the owner will be busy, but he is an Argentinean.
He's not very attentive and doesn't manage well, so he'll turn the tea in the wrong order, or he'll be so absorbed in his conversation that he'll forget to pour the hot water. But it doesn't matter to anyone, it's the topics, the yerba mate, and the time spent sharing as people come and go that is important.
Japanese people say "Let's have tea" and Argentines say "Let's drink yerba mate" in the same way, but in Argentina, it is more relaxed and there is no time limit.
You don't need to have anything important to do, and you can just relax and spend the same time in the park, enjoying the greenery, flowers, and breeze, while drinking yerba mate.
The scenery of the Corona vortex park yerba mate is a new style of bringing my yerba mate without turning it, but I think there is still a loose flow of time there.

2.1.2021

DAYS / Sumiko Kuramitsu Column

Beloved Buenos Aires

Locro in the winter in Buenos Aires

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February in Buenos Aires, the other side of the world, is the height of summer, with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees every day.

But I'd like to talk about winter in line with Japan.

 

It doesn't snow in Buenos Aires in winter.

There are records of snowfall in the past, but it usually doesn't, and the temperature never goes down to minus.

But it's cold.

But it's cold. It's a keen, bone-chilling cold.

The large La Plata River runs beside the city, and the humidity makes the cold feel even stronger.

I often feel cold indoors due to the drafts that enter the rooms of buildings that are not well sealed.

 

The food for such a season is, after all, stewed food.

As is typical in the beef kingdom, a dish called "Locro" is made by slowly stewing beef chunks, offal, vegetables, corn, and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and white beans.

This is not only the taste of each family's mother, but is also a menu item that always appears on today's specials at restaurants during special occasions.

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That's why when I walk down the street and see a sign that says "Locro is available," I think, "What day is it today? I think, "What day is it today?

It could be Independence Day, May Revolution Day, or General's Day.

 

I immediately asked my friends, "Do you want to go out to eat Locro? and we went out to a restaurant.

As the theory of stewing goes, it is always better to prepare a large amount of stew and make it in a big pot.

The taste of the beans soaking up the flavor and fat of the beef is a winter treat.

It warms you up, and above all, it tastes good.

I usually suffer from an upset stomach that night, but I still give in to the temptation when I see the menu.

 

In winter in Buenos Aires, it's Locro.

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1.3.2021

DAYS / Sumiko Kuramitsu Column

Beloved Buenos Aires

Maradona is not a soccer player.

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In 2021, there will be no Maradona in Argentina.

After he passed away, someone said to me as I left Buenos Aires, "Argentina is worthless without Maradona. It sounds like a joke.

It sounds like a joke, but the news of Maradona's death was such a big news for Argentines that it could not be called a joke.

 

It was reported on November 25, and on the same day, the Argentine government announced that a farewell ceremony would be held at the presidential office on the next day, and that the government would be in mourning for three days.

Immediately after that, many fans started gathering in the plaza in front of the presidential palace, and the next day, the number of citizens who wanted to pass by his coffin to say goodbye swelled to hundreds of thousands, and the line stretched for kilometers.

In no time, the city was filled with posters saying "AD10S," a combination of ADIOS (goodbye) and DIOS (God) and Maradona's number 10, and his life was marked with the infinite symbol "1960 - ∞" instead of ending in 2020.

Not only soccer fans, but also people from many other walks of life were saddened by his absence, which was a surprise to me.

I knew that Maradona was a famous and popular soccer player, even though I am not a soccer fan.

But I didn't expect it to be this big.

 

When I told my Argentine girlfriend that I was surprised that the farewell ceremony for a soccer player was held at the presidential palace, she said, "I'm surprised. I said to my Argentine girlfriend, "It's not just a soccer player. The commentary that followed was so long and so passionate that I couldn't stop myself.

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Maradona was born into a poor background and was not well-built, but in addition to making a name for himself in the world of soccer, he seemed to have a character that was loved by many.

He stood on the side of the weak and poor, and his actions and deeds were sometimes righteous, sometimes witty, and sympathetic to many people.

On the other hand, he is also a treasure trove of scandal.

He has a history of drug arrests, drinking, womanizing, and bad behavior.

Nevertheless, people are fascinated by his tremendous charisma.

There are so many people whose lives have been influenced by his play, his words, his actions, and his presence.

That's why everyone says 'thank you' to him.

 

A lot of memorial programs were aired in Argentina over the days, and in addition to a collection of famous scenes of soccer play, a lot of special features were planned on his words of wisdom.

One day, my girlfriend, who was watching TV with me, made me do a double-take when she uttered her lines word for word to Maradona on the screen.

My girlfriend is not an avid soccer fan.

But she is.

The people who lined up for hours to attend the farewell ceremony had no idea....

I was moved to tears when I watched the memorial program, even though I had no feelings for him at all.

 

In Argentina, the TV world has been abuzz with talk about him ever since.

The rush of memorial programs was followed by criticism of the Argentine team's response to the NZ Rugby and All Blacks' memorial haka, allegations of negligence by Maradona's doctor, and now the legacy issue.

Maybe people don't want to pretend that Maradona is over.

I'm sure they want him to be a constant source of consternation. I'm sure of it.

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12.1.2020

DAYS / Sumiko Kuramitsu Column

Beloved Buenos Aires

What the world's longest isolation policy has brought to Argentina.

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The eight-month isolation policy, said to be the longest in the world, has been eased to a limited extent in the metropolitan area, and life in Buenos Aires has finally begun to move forward.

I'm so glad to be able to come out to the city in the season when flowers are blooming and the city is beautifully colored.

But by this time, the temperature exceeds 25 degrees Celsius on some days, and this year's law requires people to wear masks, so it's not easy to feel stuffy or hot.

I heard that there were cool masks made of functional materials in summer in Japan, but it seems that these masks have not yet reached Argentina in South America.

After the quarantine policy started, all kinds of stores started selling handmade cloth masks, and you can choose from a wide variety of patterns and shapes, but we have yet to find a cool, comfortable mask.

Due to the corona fiasco, masks have become compulsory with penalties here in Argentina, and health and hygiene guidance has been strongly promoted.

It's funny to see people wearing unfamiliar masks, exchanging greetings without hugs, taking off their shoes at the entrance to their homes, and carrying around alcohol gel to disinfect their hands.

I think it's a tough thing to change a habit, but I'm impressed with how quickly people get used to it.

According to the Argentinean, we are good at adapting.

In a country where the economy is in a bad state and policies change drastically with each presidential change, it is natural for people to live flexibly.

No wonder they are so quick to produce their own cloth masks.

How resilient they are.

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This year, I've heard that the home delivery industry has grown all over the world, and I think it would be fair to say that Argentina has reached the genesis of home delivery.

In the past, it was a country where things were not delivered.

The service itself had been around for a long time, but people didn't trust the delivery service because it was almost the basic setup for things to get damaged or lost on the way, or take extra time.

However, in a situation where no one could go out, what a wonderful thing the delivery business started to work.

Whether it's groceries at the supermarket, clothing at the retail store, or gift delivery, it seems to have grown into a service worthy of being trusted.

 

Also, a system was put in place to make it easy to open a bank account with a smartphone in order to distribute benefits to citizens who do not have an account in this environment.

Some of the support for citizens who have lost their income includes a service that regularly distributes preserved foods such as flour, pasta, and oil to their homes, which may seem like a precursor to the much talked about basic income.

 

The long, long period of inconvenience may have been a catalyst for health education and modernization in Argentina.