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”.

Her

There she was waiting. I could see in her profile that she was shy.

Once we started talking I could see in her a wise but fragile soul, as she had survived not one but many battles, cried defeats and survived ignominy. She smiled and laughed at my poor attempts at humor. But her laughter, although sweet, was a cover. A cover of what? I don’t know. But I could see in her eyes memories that still hunt happiness away.

Her soul was a pandora box that could mirror the deepest darkest corners of ourselves. And yet, she was fragile. And in more need of protection than anybody, I have met before or after her.

“I have to go,” she said

She just stood up and walk out the door. And for a brief moment, I felt as if a part of me had just left behind her.

Broken pens: the drama and the inspiration

I love pens. I love holding them. But at this moment, all the pens I own are broken. Why are they all broken? I have no idea. 

The spring that unfailingly lowers the tip is stuck..!And It’s hard to make the ink leave a mark on the paper. I try writing with the other pens, but it is all the same result. 

And when inspiration strikes, it has to wait until I finish battling (dueling at times) with the pen, the ink, and the spring.
I’d love to curse and let it all out, but I shut those thoughts down because the inspiration is a sensitive spirit, who needs to feel peace and calm to work her magic. So there she is now waiting with crossed arms in front of her. She is huffing and puffing at me, and the foolishness of who I am. 

“Buy new pens,” she says. 

“I like these old ones. I’ve had them forever” I simply reply.

And the inspiration just rolls her eyes at me as answer.

When I finally get the pen to work, I write it all down, but something is missing. I know. And the inspiration knows I know. I look at her, but I don’t beg her. 

“Fine” she says angrily. And she starts pouring silk on air.

She cries with me in the funeral of Prince Charming and smiles at the birth of his heir. And when we finish the story she leaves without warning or a goodbye. But I know she will come back. Because although I know, she doesn’t like me because I am a talentless writer, I know she will come back because she has nothing better to do than torture me.

The annoying meatballs

Italy, 2002

I am glad I let my friend Francesca set me up with this guy, I mean the guy is gorgeous, he looks like a model from one of those expensive magazines. He is just sitting in front of me. And I think I just forgot my name.

Did I take a shower before coming here? Yes, I think I did. God..! Just looking at him makes my head spin.

I can do this. Yes, I will seduce him with my charismatic personality. I am giving him my best smile when I hear an annoying pitchy voice.

“Stop fooling yourself, honey” the annoying pitchy voice is saying.

When I look down at my plate, I realize, to my horror, that a small round meatball has just spoken to me.

I need to lay down. I think I’m having a breakdown.

“You are not having a breakdown” repeats another meatball.

 “Elizabeth….are you ok?” asks my gorgeous date.

I reply the best I can, and I start rolling the spaghetti onto my fork.

“You know?….I wasn’t so sure about this date, but I am glad I agreed to it” he says with a killing smile, I freeze but I try to reply with coherence.

And the spaghetti takes the opportunity to jump back into the plate.

“It is cold,” it (the spaghetti) says when I was about to tell it off. But as I am too dazzled by my date, I decide not to pay much attention to the cheeky fugitive spaghetti.

I’ll get it later, though.

He (my date) reaches for my hand, lifting it to his lips, and my heart skips a beat.

I think I am in love.

“Elizabeth….” He says my name

“Yes…” I reply making plans for our wedding already.

“I hope you don’t mind….” he says

“Yes..” I reply again encouragingly

“I hope you don’t mind….but I forgot my wallet..” He says sheepishly.

Needless to say that I heard laughter coming not only from my plate but from all over the restaurant.

“Told you, honey,” says the small round meatball laughing at me.

I take my fork, and I stab it (the meatball) so hard that I almost brake the plate.

“Ahhh…..” the meatball screams.

And I eat it in one mouthful.

That’ll show them. I might be having a rubbish date, but the food won’t be showing me up.

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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Japanese theater: Noh and Kyogen

The origins of Noh theater can be traced back to the 8th century,  when sangaku, a form of entertainment that included music and performances was brought from China.

But as everything that arrives in Japan “sangaku” would go under a transformation, becoming Noh, one of the most emblematic cultural expressions that would ever be born. Noh is intense. It penetrates the air with its flute, drums, and songs. It will transport you to a mythical Japan, where demons and men fight the eternal battle between good and evil. But above all,  Noh will bring back the spirits of forgotten ancestors that still hovering the island.

Noh is a gust of air that becomes a tornado. And that’s where Kyogen, its loyal companion comes in handy. Without the fresh air kyogen blows into the room, I couldn’t recover from all the emotions Noh brings to life. Kyogen is lighthearted, it presents human nature, as it is, a maze of countless contradictions, which put in scene are rather amusing to watch. And perhaps their contrast is a reflection of our complicated and unpredictable lives.

  • A little video from the Noh National theater garden.

A little bit of Yokohama: Summer 2017 

Yokohama, the biggest city in Kanagawa-ken has different faces. Traditional and modern. Old and new collectively creat and craft the identity of this lovely city.


I was just taking as many pictures as I could possibly take in the incandescent heat of the summer, without perishing from a heatstroke. When I found this:  A gigantic snoopy that made it all better.

I also found jugglers entertaining children and adults with children’s souls 💕 It was nice.

El despistado de Colón: Y los que nos comemos el cuento

 

¿Es que somos los latinoamericanos bobos? o como diríamos en la jerga peruana, ¿És que estamos bien caídos del palto, para andar homenajeando a un hombre despistado, que ni siquiera supo a dónde había llegado?

Quiero decir, ahí los libros de historia, que dicen bien clarito que Don Colón creyó haber llegado a las Indias. El hombre nunca supo que había llegado al gran continente nuestro. Y aunque hay historiadores que dicen que sí lo supo, pero que lo supo en su cuarto viaje, o sea ya bien tarde. Aunque yo personalmente creo que se fue a la tumba tan cabezota como vivió 😉 

Pero lo yo quisiera saber mis queridos hermanos latinoamericanos es, a merced de qué santo le vamos a celebrar su día? ¿Qué porqué descubrió America? Que yo sepa, hacía rato había gente habitando el continente. 

Ahora no te doy aquí fechas, ni te voy a aburrir con toneladas de información histórica porque para eso esta el amado wikipedia. 

Lo que yo quiero es que nos pongamos a pensar, y a analizar. ¿Es Don Colón el héroe que nos pintaron en el colegio? o ¿Es Don Colón una de las mentiras más grandes que la historia oficial nos ha vendido? 

La historia no la podemos cambiar, lo que pasó, pasó. Pero podemos aprender de ella, y podemos aprender sin odios, ni venganza. Pero para eso debemos pensar, aprender a cuestionar lo que creemos saber, para así tener nuevos conocimientos, además de nuevas y mejores perspectivas de nuestra propia realidad, aprender a discutir sin pelear, y buscar conocimiento. 

Pictures: The power of perseverance

 

“You are good at taking pictures” people kindly say. And although I thank you all for your kind words, I have a little secret to share.

And the secret is that I’m actually not good at taking pictures. Or at least, I wasn’t. If you do not believe me, you could ask people who have known me for decades, and they would gladly tell you that I am terrible at taking pictures.

But as I’m a stubborn little person, seriously, I’m little. I’m only 5 feet 3 inches tall (164 cms), I don’t quit once I set my mind on something I want.

So, when it comes to taking photos, I see something I like, I adjust the lens and shoot. And if I happen to have my iPod instead of my camera, then I shoot unstoppable. I shoot and shoot until I get a pic that it’s worth something.

Because there is always a shot that can be used. Effort always pays off. And, perseverance beats talent, at least it does in my case.

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 😭