Giovedì, Febbraio 14, 2013

Valentine’s Day

Un omaggio a questo giorno dedicato all’amore, a voi lettori e alla mia scrittrice giapponese del cuore.

Mi riferisco a Sei Shonagon grande donna e scrittrice che nonostante abbia annotato queste parole nel suo Makura no soshi -conosciuto in italiano con il titolo di Note del Guanciale alla fine del X secolo- è assolutamente attuale e capace di comunicare in maniera impeccabile.

Le riporto in inglese per accontentare tutti ^__^ Auguri

Hateful things

A lover who is leaving at dawn announces that he has to find his fan and his paper.
-I know I put them somewhere last night- he says.
Since it is pitch dark, he gropes about the room, bumping into the furniture and muttering.
-Strange! Where on earth can they be-.
Finally he discovers the objects.
He thrusts the paper into the breast of his robe with a great rustling sound; then he snaps open his fan and busily fans away with it.
Only now is he ready to take his leave.
What charmless behaviour! Hateful is an understatement.

Equally disagreeable is the man who, when leaving in the middle of the night, takes care to fasten the cord of his headdress.
This is quite unnecessary; he could perfectly well put it gently on his head without tying the cord.
And why must he spend time adjusting his cloak or hunting costume?
Does he really think someone may see him at this time of night and criticize him for not being impeccably dressed?

A good lover will behave as elegantly at dawn as at any other time.
He drags himself out of bed with a look of dismay on his face.
The lady urges him on: -Come, my friend, it’s getting light. You don’t want anyone to find you here-.
He gives a deep sigh, as if to say that the night has not been nearly long enough and that it is agony to leave.
Once up, he does not instantly pull on his trousers.
Instead he comes close to the lady and whispers whatever was left unsaid during the night.
Even when he is dressed, he still lingers, vaguely pretending to be fastening his sash.

Indeed, one’s attachment to a man depends largely on the elegance of his leave-taking.
When he jumps out of bed, scurries about the room, tightly fastens his trouser-sash, rolls up the sleeves of his Court cloak, over-robe, or hunting costume, stuffs his belongings into the breast of his robe and then briskly secures the outer sash—one really begins to hate him.


Mercoledì, Maggio 16, 2012

Japanese Gay couple and Mickey Mouse

Thanks to the AFP news agency I know that just a few days after U.S. President Barack Obama came out in favor of gay marriage, another supporter of same-sex unions has emerged in Japan….

It’s not a politician or a Show business personality, we are talking of Mickey Mouse
And this is because despite their having no legal status, same-sex couples in Japan are able to hold fabolous fairytale wedding ceremonies at hotels inside Tokyo Disney Resort .
-Of course including ceremonies at the Cinderella Castle- a company spokeswoman said yesterday.
And pretty soon there will be the first same sex couple marriage at the resort……
Mrs. Koyuki Higashi and her partner Hiroko have in fact visited Tokyo Disneyland, where they met Mickey Mouse to give him the good news……

-Mickey first looked surprised to hear that we are a couple of girls -Higashi wrote- But we said we were there to thank him because same-sex weddings can be held at the Disney Resort, and he celebrated with us-.

The only real problem is that it is not known if Higashi and her partner will go ahead with a wedding at the Cinderella Castle, which costs the absurd record of 7.5 million yen.
And in any case: Congratulations and happy wedding!


Lunedì, Aprile 16, 2012

Haiku and Black Cats


published on La Repubblica, April 13, 2012

This recently published book is the last work of Pino Pace, a Torinese writer specialized on children’s books.
He loves Japan and among other activities he practices martial arts, bicycles a lot and enjoys to compose haiku using italian language.

Un gatto nero in candeggina finì, or A black cat who ended up in bleach it’s an amazing collection of Haiku, mainly thought for children.

I bet all of you know what haiku are but just to remind you, Haiku is a form of Japanese poem which dates back several centuries:
it consists of 17 On, or sounds, in three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 On respectively.
But because it is quite difficult to translate this rule from Japanese into a different language, Haiku are often stated to have 17 syllables, even if this is incorrect as syllables and On are not the same.

The wonderful images on this book have been designed by Tai Pera a Taiwanese designer now living in Milano.
Her illustrations are definitely cute and smart, making the whole book interesting both for children and adults.

If you would like to buy it look for:

-Un Gatto nero in candeggina finì-
Pino Pace and Tai Pera
Notes Edizioni
40 pages
10 Euro


Martedì, Febbraio 28, 2012

Love in Transition


photo by Patrick de Volpi

When I first landed at the Narita International Airport I definitely thought it was entertaining.
But to render the idea of what I felt when I actually arrived in the Harajuku area in Tokyo, that adjective should be centuplicated.
-Am I in Disneyland or in some Fun Land Park?- the question flew across my mind.
I found the whole setting to be super amusing: people, streets, shops, temples, cats and even banks were absolutely colorful and inviting.
Even after many years of down-to-earth emotions, Tokyo still looks like a lively, 24-hour, non-stop amusement park experienced by 20 million people each day. It’s not news that Japanese people love to play; from pachinko to video games, and karaoke to theme parks, the Japanese have a peculiar feel on how to enjoy drinking, eating, traveling and dancing together.
Tokyo’s visual background is almost comparable to a giant manga roll—a real-life comic book filled with funny pictures, videos, music and neon colors.
Boys and girls, men and women are wearing the most interesting fashions on the planet, and they are showing off the majority of a brand’s bag, shoe, watch or dress for every square meter of the world to see.
But here …
Love is in transition.
Difficult to catch.
As it is all around the hectic present we are trapped in, to be honest.
In the Capital of the East, though, social models and pattern changes happen earlier than elsewhere.
That’s true for love matters, as well; I can personally guarantee it.
Love relationships are not fashionable nowadays; it’s better to have money to buy a ticket for some exotic place.
Love and marriage can wait …
According to a recent survey, this year’s St. Valentine’s date night might have had plently of vacant spots.
The survey said about 60 percent of men ages 18-34 have no girlfriend, up nearly 10 percent in just a few years.
A record 49.5 percent of women in the same age group have no boyfriend, up almost 5 percent.
Being a couple seems to be on the way out, a kind of bother.

Why is that? How could that happen? How come, in the cutest of the capital of the world, in which pictures of hearts and romance are visible everywhere, love isn’t a desiderable state?

There are at least two main answers to these questions:
Due to the economic recession, the nature of intimate relationships before marriage is in a state of transition.
Worst of all, intimacy has become irrelevant to most young people.
This lack of desire seems to resemble a sort of hikikomori or a tendency to be pathologically reclusive, which leads leads people to shut themselves away from love.
Listen to what nearly 10 percent of young boys and girls are saying—We are not in a relationship because we do not know how to be in one .
What is, really, the big problem for dating, getting married or even splurging on the occasional dinner for two?
One simple and nitty reality is that marriage has little to do with romantic love for most of the Japanese people.
Girls in Japan used to tell me - Japanese men just don’t understand romance (Are there any men in the world who do?)
But, what the hell? We can’t demand romance from our own family .
Having understood that, even dating for romance or for sex (let’s not lie about this) does not exactly mean enjoying it for long periods of time.
Women grow very independent, self-confident and determined. They are able to take care of themselves.
Men, instead, are less confident, are scared of responsibility, are concerned about money and have, virtually, very little to say.
We might also blame technology for the lack of love around the Japanese archipelago, but the Internet is a crutch, not a cause.

Perhaps we should also consider how love and Romanticism are presented in Japanese literature, movies and manga productions.
In my opinion, the greatest writer of all has been Soei Shonagon who completed her journal-book, Makura no Sōshi better known as The Pillow Book around the year 1002.
Shonagon was a court lady to Empress Teishi in Kyoto during the gorgous Heian Era (794-1185).
In those years, the main purpose of the people living at court was to write poems, to paint and to observe the beauty of nature and depict human feelings.
With her journal, which is filled with lists of all kinds, Shonagon has been able to reach the deepest secrets of people’s hearts:

When I make myself imagine what it is like to be one of those women who lives at home and faithfully serves her husband—a woman who does not have a single exciting prospect in life, yet believes she is prefectly happy—I am filled with scorn. Often, these women are of relatively good birth, yet have no opportunity to find out what the world is like .

This was just one of many thoughts of Shonagon, a Japanese woman of a thousand years ago. I love her !
Nowadays, there are writers such as Haruki Murakami and Natsuo Kirino as well as many others, who are talking of love in their fiction books and, quite often, their stories are about how love hurts or how love can drive you crazy [/i] or even about teenage couples who are eternally separated by terminal disease
Most of the movies follow the same pattern as the books: depressed, introverted, vacillating, extreme, fragile love.
The latest movie I have seen was Norwegian Wood which is director Tran Anh Hung’s adaptation of the Murakami novel, which has sold around 4 million copies since its 1987 publication.
The movie is dramatically stylish and has several emotional scenes, as well as great actors.
But how are love relationships depicted? Are they happy and healthy?
They don’t look like it. We also have to consider, though, that a simple and happy love story isn’t that interesting—otherwise, Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t be eternally inside our hearts!

And after all this long digression in the Japanese sense for love, I could assert that love is having a pretty hard time globally-speaking, not just in Tokyo.
It’s especially hard for those of us who are living in big cities.
Single life for women and men is becoming an undeniable reality.
It does not count how beautiful or sexy we are (am I serious?); it’s a matter of blind fortune and compromise, folks!
Love is in transition in Japan, and it is in the entire, lonely planet.
My suggestion, though, is to try to catch it whenever we have the right chance, to never give up no matter what.
It’s worth it, isn’t it?

=http://www.lostinfi … licca su questo link


Venerdì, Febbraio 3, 2012

Cat Cafè in Tokyo