Martedì, Febbraio 28, 2012

Love in Transition

love-in-transition.jpg

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

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Martedì, Febbraio 14, 2012

First Valentine’s Day since March 11, 2011

happyvalentinesday.jpg Eccoci a San Valentino e come ormai tutti sapete, in Giappone questo giorno vedrebbe le donne, solo loro, regalare dei cioccolatini al proprio Valentino, ed anche ai colleghi di lavoro, compagni di studio, amici in genere.
Ma quest’anno ci sono alcune novità: intanto alcune ragazze i cioccolatini se li comprano da sole e se li mangiano con gusto, ed inoltre preferiscono comprare cioccolato Made in Sendai, conosciuta anche come la città degli alberi e capoluogo della regione del Tohoku quella vastissima zona dove lo scorso anno è avvenuto il disastro Terremoto- Tsunami.

Dall’agenzia di stampa Kyodo informano che le vendite di confezioni di cioccolato prodotto localmente con aggiunta di sake o hachi, ovvero miele di Sendai e contenenti messaggi di gratitudine, sono nettamente aumentate in questi giorni.
-Probabilmente le persone preferiscono aiutare la vendita di prodotti che usano alimenti provenienti dalle zone colpite dal disastro- racconta un membro della squadra di promozione del grande magazzino Fujisaki.
Fra le confezioni regalo più vendute c’è del cioccolato al gusto di 6 diversi sake tipici della Prefettura, poi dei chicchi di caffè tostati nella città di Ishinomaki e ricoperti di cioccolato ed anche dei cioccolatini a forma di favo d’api, con del miele prodotto a Sendai.
E’ la prima volta che questi prodotti vengono proposti in Giappone per San Valentino.

Pare che le persone stiano dando davvero valore alla parola Kizuna che vuol dire Legame fra famiglia ed amici….Kizuna è stata scelta come Parola dell’anno 2011 da tutti i giapponesi, tremendamente colpiti dal disastro del marzo 2011.
E per questa ragione il negozio ha anche preparato delle caramelle su cui è scritto Grazie in cinque lingue diverse. Un modo in cui poter esprimere la propria gratitudine a tutte le persone del mondo che hanno dato una mano.

Kiyomi Hishinuma, una signora di 42 anni che ha comprato del cioccolato per il marito, è d’accordo con lo spirito di questo giorno di San Valentino 2012.

- La persona su cui ho potuto contar di più, quando ci ha colpito il terremoto è stato mio marito.
Gli donerò questo cioccolato più caro del solito, per dimostrargli la mia gratitudine-

Buon San Valentino!

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happyvalentinesday.jpg Valentine’s Day here we are, and as you all know well, in Japan are only the girls the one who are expected to present chocolates to their own Valentine, as well as to their work associates, school mates, and friends.
But it looks like there are a few innovations this year: first of all girls are buying chocolates for themselves and are eating them with sadisfaction and furthermore they prefer to buy Made in Sendai choco products, a town well know as the “ town of trees and the capital of the Tohoku, a large disaster-hit areas.

From the Kyodo News Agency we know that chocolate gifts made with locally produced sake or honey and carrying messages of gratitude are gaining in popularity these days.
- It is probably because consumers want to support products using food from disaster-hit areas said a member of the Fujisaki store’s sales promotion team-

One product is made with six different types of sake brewed in the prefecture, while coffee beans roasted in the city of Ishinomaki and covered with chocolate are another popular treat. Chocolates in the shape of a honeycomb and made with honey produced in Sendai are also selling well.
It’s the first time that such items have been sold in Japan for Valentine’s Day.
As people grew to value kizuna — a Japanese word for bond — between family and friends after the disaster, the store prepared candy sets with a message saying Thank you in five different languages, including Japanese and English, so that people can express their gratitude.

Kiyomi Hishinuma , a 42 years old woman who bought chocolate for her husband, spoke of the spirit of this Valentine’s Day
-The person I counted on the most when the quake hit was my husband- she said.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Venerdì, Febbraio 3, 2012

Cat Cafè in Tokyo

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