Odawara: Its treasures and pinky ninja

The first time I visited Odawara, I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as I saw it,  I fell in love, metaphorically and literally.  And even now after so many years, it still speaking to me.

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And to many people, because even the samurais stop to take photos in front of it (Odawara castle)

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Its solid wooden gates welcomed me as it has welcomed thousands of people before me.  And will continue to do so until the end of times. Perhaps.

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And with the brave “pink” ninja who kindly posed  for my camera before I left, I said goodbye to Odawara castle once more.

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Without internet: Could you work?

 

“I’m telling you when I started my career, we didn’t have internet, we didn’t even work with computers” was saying, my middle-aged colleague.

 

I stared at my colleague while holding my fork halfway to my mouth.
My colleague’s words shocked me because, although, I interact with technology every day, as most of you, it is shocking to be reminded that it was not always the case.

 

My colleagues started talking about telephones, faxes, and notebooks and pens.

“Can you imagine? I even had to go to a seminar to learn how to send e-mails?” My colleague was saying in a low voice as if making me a confidence.

 

My colleague’s words resonate with me because in the back of my head, I still remembering the world without internet, perhaps my generation is the last generation to have grown up without it (internet). Yes, I am that old 🙂

I still remember the boring Sunday afternoons and the horrible silence in the streets when the children went back home for dinner.

 

In other words, I remember daily life without internet. But business without internet, I have never experienced..!! and I think that is a huge (very big) challenge.

 

Just think about it, you are only giving a notebook and pen. And you can use the office’s phone and fax machine as long as the other thirty people, who work with you, are not using it 😫

I don’t know you, but I couldn’t work properly. Or maybe I am just spoiled.

 

Working without computer or internet, I have never done. And that’s why I take my hat off (I want to show my respect) to those colleagues who have achieved so much without technology. Thank you, and I hope one day, I can be as good as you are.

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Meiji shrine: Where the Gods meet

Tokyo is a place of contradictions, where you can find glamour in one corner and tradition and culture in another one (another corner). When visiting Harajuku, Shibuya’s cheeky little sister, one find eccentricity, and it (Harajuku) never disappoints, with its vibrant colors, rare stores, and beautiful people, you navigate through its small allies in a trancelike state. At least that’s how I feel every time I go there (Harajuku)

But just around Harajuku station (Omotesando exit), you will find one of its most precious treasures: Meiji Shrine (明治神宮 Meiji jingū) a place that has survived modernity until now. And still bring people together, local and visitors, we can feel the Gods and their spirits whisper in the trees when they ruffle the leaves, which some confuse with the wind. But I know it’s them who met in the trees’ top to talk about us, to make fun of us, to help us, to listen and to remind us that this is not the only life we will live.

The entrance of this enchanted place

Barrels of sake

Barrels of wine

We do like spirits here, what can I say?😉

 

 

Isn’t it breathtaking?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Meiji jingū, a place not only to worship but to talk to the Gods and to meet them.

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Spider’s adventures

 

It was a lovely ride home, almost no one on the train, just a lady, wearing a “more than indiscrete” skirt sitting right in front of me, two college girls next to her. And next to them a very grumpy old man, and a lovely couple, one of those couples, which makes you hate them for being so lovely to each other. 

As I had enough space for myself, I took out my iPad. And I was about to start reading my new e-book when I noticed my train-mates were raising their voices. I lifted my eyes, and a “more-cheeky-than-life” spider was making its way down from the roof and was landing-to everybody’s horror- on the lady with the “more-than-indiscreet” skirt, who was sleeping as peacefully as if she were in her own bed. 

“What should we do?” everybody was asking. 

Shall we wake her up? said the grumpy man with a grunt.

Nobody knew what to do 

Then a brave young woman, one of the college girls, courageously took the spider threat and delicately took the spider from the unconscious woman and put the invader on safe ground. 

Everbody was speechless. I was speechless. I had just witnessed a real hero in action. 

But the invader was not happy, the little “more-cheeky-than-life” spider was coming towards me. 

Straight to me. It wanted a victim, and it was going to be me. 

It is not my time yet. I must kill it before it kills me, I thought. But then I couldn’t. 

Then destiny intervened, and the spider made a wrong turn, and to everybody’s shock, the “more-cheeky-than-life” spider and the grumpy old man were facing each other now.

We all saw it coming.

The grumpy old man lifted his foot, and it was the end of the “more-cheeky-than-life” spider’s adventures 😭

 

 

Latinoamérica: La camaradería

 

Mi vida fuera de mi amada Latinoamérica me ha forzada siempre ha escribir en otros idiomas. Asi que hoy quise rendirle un merecido homenaje a mi tierra linda, a mi gente. Y sobretodo refugiarme en el cálido idioma nuestro.

La vida fuera de Latinoamérica puede ser estimulante intelectualmente y profesionalmente, pero la calidéz de la gente, es algo que no se encuentra fácilmente fuera del territorio Latinoaméricano. Se encuentra amabilidad, gente educada, gente de la que puedes aprender mucho. Pero no hay esa conexión de la que disfrutamos.

Y una de las cosas que más se extraña de la tierra bendita nuestra son los saludos, por simple que parezca, el mágico hola que se da a diestra y siniestra, es unas de las características más propias de nuestra cultura. Y por supuesto tiene algunas reglas implícitas. Ya que el “hola” siempre debe de ir acompañada de una hermosa sonrisa, porque sino no es un hola de corazón. Y si un hola no es dado de corazón entonces no es válido, o peor aún, no bien visto.

Fuera de Latinomámerica, no habrán nunca un “chino de la esquina” o un “gordo de la cuadra”. Ni escucharemos nunca el famoso “habla chato” cuando saludamos a los amigos. Todos esas saludos llenan la atmósfera de alegría y camaradería. E incluso la manera que tenemos de hablar. Sí, nosotros los latinoaméricanos tenemos una manera de hablar que puede hasta parecer ruidoso y hasta escandalosa para personas de otros culturas. Pero para nosotros el hablar con voz alta, significa alegría. El abrazar y besar al saludarnos, es una manera de dar la bienvenida a amigos, amigos que son como familia y a desconocidos que ya son amigos. 

La riqueza de la cultura Latinoaméricana empieza con un hola al dar la bienvenida. Y no sabe nunca decir adiós. Sino que se queda calada en alma de aquellos que tienen la dicha y la suerte de entender sus enigmas.

Bendita cultura Latinoaméricana.

original post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/latinoamérica-y-la-camarader%C3%ADa-yoneko-shiraishi-

Lunch with myself: Learning to live in the present

 

For a hyper person such as myself, who always wakes up with a to-do list every morning living in the moment is a challenge..!! 

Oh boy..!! And to make things worse, I have a great memory..! So if you ever told me the story of your life, I will probably remember it the rest of my days. 

So ask to my brain to live in the present is a challenge, almost a mission impossible. 

But I am slowly learning to trick myself into living the present. Mwahahaha..! (This is my evil laugh 😝)

And how am I accomplishing this great conquest? 
Well, I am starting for taking myself out for lunch. For no reason, or whatsoever. And believe it or not, as silly as it sounds, those moments with myself make me slow down, appreciate my time and somehow find inspiration. 

You probably should know that I like talking to strangers.

That’s right..! I randomly talk to strangers 

So now that you are here, tell me: How are you? Everything ok? 😉

The Empress: Her tea house, her lake and her garden

As soon as you step into the garden, something changes in the atmosphere, I don’t know if it is the temperature, the cicadas that sing in unison with the wind. Or the voices of visitors that become a mere whisper in the distance. I have no idea, what it is, but something changes. Or maybe it is the Empress Shōken herself welcoming you to her garden.

I see the lights on in Empress Shōken’s tea house, and I can’t help but feel naughty, as if I were spying on someone. But I imagine that if Empress Shōken discovered me outside her tea house, instead of getting upset, she would invite me to drink tea with her. Because I think she was indeed a generous soul.

I just imagine her (Empress Shōken) sitting there in her tea house, looking at the little lake in front of it (the tea house), letting her maids entertain her, and ask them to leave as soon her husband arrives. Of course, nothing of this is written anywhere. I just like to imagine it.

A few shots of the empress’s lake little lake, where the water lilies imperceptibly move with the soft afternoon breeze.

A shot of the tea house from the little lake

I distractedly (without paying attention) walk through the garden and, as always, my feet take somewhere I didn’t mean to go and I arrive to Kiyomasa-Ido well, which is famous for the purity of its water.

But I am afraid it’s time to leave, because I am the only person  in the garden now.  Or maybe I’ll just stay a little bit longer so I can make Empress Shōken company, at least for a little bit longer.

NOTE: Although, Meiji jingū gyoen (Meiji jingū inner garden) existed before the construction of Meiji Shrine, according to the Meiji Jingū gyoen brochure, I always think of the garden, as Empress Shōken’s garden, because the tea house that adorns this secret garden was built especially for her.

Warning: Writing is addictive

 

When I started writing my blog, I thought, I might do it once or, maximum, twice a week, nothing that could take so much time because I am always busy. Besides, there are other things to do in life, right?

 

Writing isn’t everything, is it?

 

Wrong..!!!

 

Writing is everything.

I can’t spend a day without, at least, writing a line. And even during the few months, I spent without posting. I spent them writing short stories, which hopefully, will see the light someday.

 

Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. I don’t know yet. But you bet I am working on it 🙂

 

But I wish someone would have warned me. Tell me that writing is addictive. I got myself into this dependence on writing, I need it and crave it. It is like every emotion I feel must be processed through writing, otherwise, my feelings do not make sense. It is like the words burn and heal me, all at the same time.

 

So, if you are thinking of starting writing, my dear friend, welcome to the clan. But be aware that once you start this journey, there is no coming back, the words will pull you back in. There is no escape. You will never be same, you will be transformed by the need to create and to free the words from the prison of your mind.

 

You have been warned. Good luck.

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Once upon a time: I didn’t like children

There was upon a time, where I thought the most important things in life were economical success, travels, status, and money. In other words, I was a cold-hearted bitch.

Some people still thinking I am that person, but they are granted their opinion, FYI (For your information) I think I am a softy-walking marshmallow. But we all got the right to our opinion so that I won’t fight it. But we all got, as well, the right to change and to become better persons, and maybe that’s why we have changing life-moments.

And God knows I’ve had so many changing-life moments..!! But in this case, the breaking point came when I was hired to teach children in the Japanese elementary Schools.

 At that time that was a dreadful prospect. Because I couldn’t even stand the sights of those mini-humans. But I needed the money, so I took the job.

 If you met me in person now, perhaps you would think I am lying, but as I don’t like lies, you can be sure that I am absolutely honest, when I say that when I got hired to teach children, I couldn’t even stand the sight of them. I thought them as humans on the making. Some sort of half humans, who were not quite there yet and who were rather annoying and not even interesting enough to deserve my attention.

 My first day, I was obviously nervous, and I was begging the Lord to let me go back to the corporate world, where I belonged, or so I thought at the time. But five years would pass for me to return to the corporate world, where I finally found money and the other shenanigans (silly things) I have been looking for.

 I thought I was happy but every time, I faced bumps on the road, I remembered my little children, whose faces would light up as soon as I entered the classroom. I remembered our songs, and I know they still remember them as well. And above all, I remembered their dirty little hands covered in mud and unthinkable bacterias while their little eyes looked into mine telling me how much they loved me with their sweet innocent voices.

They did love me unconditionally, and with that avalanche of love, I learn to understand them, to listen to them, to love them. And to love my inner silly banana side. I was their teacher, but it was them who taught me to love.

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Music: Musical notes and words

The earliest memories I have of music involve a piano, a guitar, and my grandfather’s sanshin (Okinawan guitar of three strings).

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We would enjoy music together. But don’t misunderstand my words, the musician was my grandfather. I was only the audience. He would play beautiful songs for me every afternoon to save us from the boredom of the routine.

He would play unknown songs, and the musical notes would dance in the air bringing us smiles. And if for any reason I couldn’t find grandpa in the house, I just had to follow the music notes hanging in the air. They always guided me to him.

And since then music has accompanied me in everything I do, even this humble post, without music, would simply no exist. And If I play the correct tune, I feel my heart opening causing the words to start pouring themselves on the paper. However, we all know very well that most of what I write it is not always entertaining nor interesting, but poor letters are better than nothing.