With love

Walking along the gray streets, sometimes, I wonder how I survived all this time without you.

pablo-4You said goodbye one morning, and although it was not up to you to stay, or to leave. The fact is that you left, and your farewell changed my life. For better or worse nothing was the same.

I was never the same.

And although, I know, deep down in my heart, that you never wanted to leave me, yet again you did.

Ironically, none of us had a say in what happened, but it still hurts, even today. In every step I walk, in every moment I live, in every dream, I still hope to find you.

And I want to think that you remember me as well. I want to believe that this post will reach you. And, that you will read it, and we will be together in some parallel universe. In one way or another.

Somehow trying to explain the emptiness you left in me, I had come up with the crazy idea that when you left, you took a piece of my heart to later hide it somewhere in the world. And that’s why I have lived like a gypsy looking for that missing part of me. Like a cursed soul, whose only hope to survive is to follow the memory of you in this world.

I guess what I mean to say so inadequately in these lines is that I will always love you and that nothing could ever erase nor replace you, ojii-chan (ojii-chan means grandpa in Japanese)

Taiyaki: The rebel fish

Nobody knows when exactly taiyaki 「たい焼き」appeared for the very first time in Japan, but according to some historians its origins can be traced back to the Meiji era.

But what most people find puzzling is its shape, which resembles a fish. And on this subject, although, there isn’t an absolute theory, I read somewhere, that during the Meiji era, red snapper (tai 鯛)was incredibly expensive, so as to give people the sensation they were eating something special, taiyaki was shapen into fish silhouette. Just to make people happy. As always making people happy it’s the main purpose of taiyaki’s short and yet incredible existence

I personally see taiyaki as the rebel fish, being born in an era of change, somehow it speaks of  human resilience and of the untamed determination to survive despite adversity. And while doing so, we can be happy.

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Matsumoto, its dots, castle and frog

Traveling around Japan, I arrived in Matsumoto, a town hidden among mountains, known for being home of the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, better known as “polka dot princess”. But Matsumoto it is much more than that.

The Matsumoto castle sits elegantly on the horizon, while life goes around. And it’s in this little town that the frog is considered a good luck charm.

The slimy, green, croaky, bug-eater amphibian has become a popular character in this land. 

You probably never heard this before, but the word kaeru, without the complications of kanji, can be interpreted in more than one way.

かえる (Kaeru) = Frog 🐸
かえる(kaeru) = to return home 

And taking advantage of this happy coincidence, Matsumoto locals use the Frog (kaeru) to personify this “praying”, because they want good things to return (kaeru). Besides, who wouldn’t want money, work, and health to come their way? 😊But it is in Matsumoto that this beautiful and genuine plead for compassion, to whomever deity might be in charge of Matsumoto, comes to live.

Matsumoto castle

Una noche solitaria

Henos aquí en otra noche de luna lunera cascabelera, en donde a mi cerebro se le ocurren ideas, llama recuerdos, e inventa historias que nunca acaban de empezar pero que mueren al alba.

Y aunque quisiera dármelas de poeta torturada, yo diría más bien que es todo lo contrario. Diría que vivo en el espejismo de mis delirios, donde creo ser la heroína de mi historia, una especie de cenicienta, con melena encanecida, y armadura de plástico.

Sentada en este sofá, a merced de grillos, mosquitos y cigarras nocturnas que tienen a bien hacernos compañía, trato de tejer historias, pero las ninfas que inundas mis noches, se niegan a hablarme, y las letras caen una a una como gotas de lluvia.

Simplemente nada desea quedarse en el papel, las letras han decidido hacer una huelga y se descuelgan una a una del papel. La “h” le ha pedido perdón a la “j” y se abrazan como hermanas, la “y” y su eterna rival la “i” se van de la mano. Al menos esta parece ser una noche de reconciliación entre ellas, aunque a mí no me quieran dar ni las buenas noches.

Sólo la pequeña “o” parece mirarme con cariño, pero ha venido su mamá, la “O”, y se la lleva de la mano. Es esta, en verdad, una noche solitaria.

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Misunderstanding Katakana

The Japanese language is a beautiful, even poetic, and yet enigmatic language. An ancient language composed of three alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Although some people might say that the Japanese language has evolved, therefore, now, we have four alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji and the (English) alphabet.

I want to explain traditional things here 🙂 so we will only focus just on the three alphabets: Hiragana, which is a phonetic alphabet, made of beautiful strokes that resemble the curves of a woman. Kanji, which comes from China and has suffered alterations to fit our needs. And katakana, which is the alphabet that introduces, or adapts, if you’d prefer, words from other languages into Japanese. For example:

Chocolate = チョコレート(chokore-to)pablo-5.png

Towel = タオル (taoru)

Katana is a resourceful and creative alphabet. Because it helps us understand other languages, and somehow make them familiar. While helping the Japanese language to overcome its lack of “L” sound

As you read it, in case you haven’t noticed in the examples above, the Japanese language doesn’t have “L” sound. And that’s why we replace it with the “R” sound, which we think is the closest to “L” so words with “L” suffered a few itsy-bitsy (very small) modifications:

Light = ライト(raito)

Lemon = レモン (remon)

Although we have found a creative way to overcome our shortage of “L” sound replacing it with the “R” sound, I’d be bold to say that that’s also the reason why we have some problems differentiating words such as:

Play (プレイpurei) Pray(プレイ purei)

And as most Japanese speakers will keep using the katakana pronunciation when speaking English because, as aforementioned, Katana is the alphabet that helps us understand sounds we are not familiar with, we rely on it. Therefore, some people, as it is logical, trust that the sound katana is providing us, it is the sound in the original language, which is, unfortunately, not always true.

And even countries’ names also suffer certain modifications

Brazil = ブラジル (Burajiru)

Russia = ロシア (Rosia)

Mexico = メキシコ (Mekishiko)

I have come across countless students, who become speechless once I correct the pronunciation of the countries’ names. Believe it or not, it is an eye opener.

But the real problem comes when we borrow words from other languages into Japanese language and then change their meanings. As you read it, we modify the meaning of the words we borrow.

As someone who loves languages, I have always found fascinating the interaction among them. But borrowing words and changing their meaning, it’s in my humble opinion, not good. Because aside from disrespecting the original meaning and richness of the language we are borrowing words from. We are consequently, damaging our learning process and our understanding of what a language means.

I will give you some examples to illustrate what I am trying to say. For example:

Complementary service = サービス (sa-bisu) we only take “service” which in English on its own doesn’t mean complementary service.

Transit = トランジット (toranjitto) which we use to refer to the places where we change planes while traveling.

Claim = クレーム (kure-mu) which we have decided means complaint.

It is not only Japanese language that has borrowed words from other languages. English has as well borrowed many words from French:

Croissant 🥐 = the rich buttery bread I could eat every single day 🙂

Bureaucracy = administrative system

As you can see, all languages borrow words from one another. Therefore, it is more than OK to borrow words from other languages. Especially in this time of technology, where finding the equivalents in our languages to all those new words is an enormous (very big)task. But fortunately, in Japanese, we have katakana to help us. But let’s not change the meaning of words, because we will be confusing ourselves creating a sort of Japanese- English mix that only works in Japan for Japanese speakers.

And as a result of all that, we will be unnecessarily complicating and delaying our learning process and, at the end, misunderstanding katakana.

Let’s keep learning together ❤️