Drawings, doodles, and self-portraits

I am living busy days, some even would say life-changing days, but nothing is set on stone. Not just yet. We might as well keep dreaming and let time pass.
The uncertainty takes my mind into a spiral of mixed emotions. My mind resembles a puddle of standing water that looks calm on the outside but festers below the surface. My thoughts do not flow freely, and even worse, they always go back to the same dark place.
But my drawings, my characters, and little muses come to my rescue. They guide my hand to the pencil, and slowly what was dark becomes colourful, peaceful and even cheerful.

And sometimes, I draw self-portraits just to have fun

Found the lost

Kuro, the hero

I look at the screen in utter horror. 
The draft of my newest novella “The nun and the prostitute” is gone.
My brain is screaming thousand swearing words unknown to me, “How do I know so many bad words,” I ask to myself.My shaking hands type again, and error comes out like the unavoidable curse that has fallen on me and my computer. 
“It’s got to be somewhere,” I tell to myself trying to remain calm. I log into various accounts, clouds, and alternative boxes and nothing “How did this happen?,” I scream at the computer. And again error.  Tears come to my eyes but I refuse to give up, and go old school and take a look at abandoned USBs. The first USB only brings more disappointment. The story repeats itself with the second, and the third USB I check. And the last one, the one I named “Kuro” (black in Japanese) brings almost no hope because this USB comes with me everywhere, to my classes, to my lectures, to my business trips. I know what’s in there, and what it isn’t. 

Drawing by Yoneko Shiraishi

But I decided to check it anyway. And to my surprise, there is an old copy, only 22 pages, almost a fifth of the final version. “Better than nothing,” I console myself. 
I decide to keep checking just in case, I click in an old folder and there, shining like, an oasis in the desert, is a PDF version with all 98 pages of it. 
The whole novella!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
The characters and I cried of happiness. We’re together again. I found what was lost. Or better say, the characters found me again. I’m home. And kuro, the hero, takes a well-deserved rest.

International Affairs Forum

This has been a hectic week, but I didn’t want to spend another day without thanking you for your support to @consultculture
Thanks to you we’re growing. Thank you very very much.

https://www.ia-forum.org/Content/ViewInternalDocument.cfm?ContentID=8893

Tokyo Station: The rebirth of a giant

Tokyo station  resembles  the scenery of a film set from the 1920s. With its inspired European architecture, lighting and breeze atmosphere, it invites you to dream of a Japan that no longer exist but that we all yearn for.

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Bombed during WWII it wasn’t until 2012 that it will be restored to its former glory to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its existence.

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And the surroundings  of the Tokyo station do not disappoint.

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At my arrival to the Imperial Palace I saw the merge of the new and old. All in one

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The Imperial palace guarded by thousand samurai souls

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Everything in Tokyo glows mystery.

Error 5440

 

I upload my contents like every day, and like every day, I take a second to thank whomever deity might make people click on my posts,

I upload today’s post. And instead of the delightful thrill, I get by seeing my posts flying on the web. I get chills because the generous spirits (genies or angels) that have been helping me, putting my posts out there, are not doing it anymore.

All I get is Error 5440. Click again and as many times as my trembling fingers allow me, and the same message comes out: Error 5440

I’m sweating cold, and the anxiety’s invisible hand is tightening around my throat.

I try again: Error 5440. And another message: the website you are trying to find is nonexistent.

This is too much for me

I decide to leave it for now and to make myself a cup of tea, but something is missing. Maybe biscuits could go well with this fiery cup of glory.

I leave the house, and right in front of the door, I find a group of funny looking spirits who seem to be having a jolly good time. They look at me and flee into the house like a group of mischievous children.Something tells me I should get a better set of helping genies because these are more bananas (crazy) than I am

Anyway, I think I’ll better get to work again because if I leave my genies to their free will, I will never get anything done.

Ginza Tsutaya Books: The Edo heiress

Glamorous and exotic, Tokyo has countless secrets, some of them will never be shared, others will be given to you as soon as you arrive in the city. Some others will take time. 

Tokyo is bejeweled but isn’t peaceful. Or so it seems at first glance, but if you give it time, it will tell you where to find those beautiful Eden gardens of peace. And it’s looking for peace myself that I made my way into “Ginza six” and on the 6th floor, I discovered “Ginza Tsutaya books” a real Eden of peace in this tumultuous city. One of Tokyo’s dearest secrets. 

 

The warm lights and works of arts displayed everywhere make of “Ginza Tsutaya books” more than a bookstore but an art gallery, where entering means not only sharing knowledge but experiencing real traditional Japanese culture and the art that this encloses. 

 

When asked about the “Ginza Tsutaya Books”, Pinlu Cheng, member of the PR department explains that “Ginza Tsutaya Books”, is special, a unique Tsutaya Books, because here (Ginza Tsutaya books) we want to people to see culture and art. We want our store to make people feel as if they were entering a gallery, where art and culture can not only be enjoyed but understood…” 

 

And that’s exactly what you feel when arriving in “Ginza Tsutaya books”, where bonsai trees, samurai swords, gigantic books and works of art coexist to form a living haiku (short Japanese poem) that is “Ginza Tsutaya books”.

Tea ceremony

I have recently read a couple of interesting books “Samurai Williams: The adventurer who unlock Japan” and “The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel.”

Both books talk about remarkable historical figures, who have had a significant impact in shaping Japan’s identity as such. And to my surprise, in both books, the “Japanese tea ceremony” is mentioned, almost as a coincidence.


So, I decided to join a “Japanese tea ceremony” to experience this ritual first hand.  And my scepticism was overthrown by the sacred atmosphere that surrounded the room as an invisible veil had covered it all leaving only our naked souls exposed to what whatever might happened.

I was first, presented with some sweets to help me stand the bitterness of the tea. They were hand-made, beautifully-shapen and, as I confirmed later, nectar of Gods.

Then, the preparation of the tea itself begun, a girl, whose skin resembles the white snow of Akita, with gracious and precise movements started folding and stretching a piece of cloth. Such movements had the audience in a trance. We all fell under the spell of her. She pours tea powder into a bowl and whisks it with intensity and reverence. Then she slowly pours water into the bowl.

Nobody speaks.

Once she finishes with the preparation, a handsome young man passes the bowls around.
He sits the bowl before you and reverently bows before leaving. We turn the cup three times clockwise. And drink the tea in three gulps.

I feel as if a spell has been broken and I can hear the traffic sounds, and people outside in the street again.
I’m asked to eat the sweets I had been given previously, a very polite reminder that it was time to leave.
Life goes on.

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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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Japanese business etiquette II: Business cards

Although, Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Our daily business interaction hasn’t changed much in the last decades.

What do you mean? You may ask

I mean that our ways to interact, to connect, to build relationships in business are still traditional. We still don’t rely on social media as most people, in other countries, do because we don’t trust it much yet.

We still go old school when it comes to “network” We go through the whole process. We make phone calls, send faxes (yes, you read that correctly) we make appointments, wait for appointment confirmation. Then on the day of the appointment, we dress formally, make our way to the meeting place, while being sure to arrive at least ten minutes before the agreed time, wait in the lobby room and greet our counterparts one these arrive.

And once we get inside the room where our meeting will be carried out then we finally exchange business cards.

There are also few steps for this simple and yet crucial moment.

1.- Hold your card with both hands. Do not simple handle the card. But offer it.

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2.- Then respectfully receive the business cards you are being offered.

3.- Once you get back to your seat, lay all the business cards you have received and read them.

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As you can see, business cards, physical business cards are a must, because business cards tell the person you are meeting that you are trustworthy. And if you translate your card even into simple Japanese, people would be grateful. And you’ll be showing your commitment and your willingness to go the extra mile, which will speak highly of you. Moreover, as Japanese people tend to be shy, your business card will be giving them “a hand” because they will make small talk based on the information you provide on them (your business cards).

In other words, business cards are still ,in this time of internet and social media, the best way to introduce yourself in Japan. And secure the beginning of a good business relationship with your possible clients and business partners.