Shibuya: History and beauty

Shibuya, one of the most cosmopolitan districts of Tokyo, is everything you would expect from a modern city: cheeky, entertaining and provocative.

 

fullsizeoutput_fb

fullsizeoutput_ec

But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, Hachiko could tell the story better than anybody else. He could tell you about the war days and how the bombs took his beloved master, how he bravely kept waiting for years until death came for him, too.

He let Shibuya be at night with the condition to restore its well-mannered behavior during the day.

fullsizeoutput_e6

 

Shibuya, has come a long way since the days of WWII and has become, along with its little sister Harajuku, the center of the Japanese fashion world.

 

fullsizeoutput_f6

fullsizeoutput_ed

fullsizeoutput_f0

In Shibuya time is ethereal

fullsizeoutput_e8

Shibuya is in another dimension, where bad memories can become sweet and precious. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Hachiko yourself.

[ssm_form id=’1172′]

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.

DSC_0009

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.

DSC_0008

fullsizeoutput_93

And the surroundings  of the Tokyo station do not disappoint.

fullsizeoutput_8f

fullsizeoutput_95

fullsizeoutput_94

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

DSC_0040

The Imperial palace guarded by thousand samurai souls

fullsizeoutput_96

DSC_0041

Everything in Tokyo glows mystery.

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.

fullsizeoutput_626

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

fullsizeoutput_61d

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.

fullsizeoutput_625

 

fullsizeoutput_614.jpeg

DSCF0167.JPG

fullsizeoutput_620.jpeg

fullsizeoutput_615

fullsizeoutput_61a

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

fullsizeoutput_629

 

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.

fullsizeoutput_632

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.

fullsizeoutput_62e

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.

Yone oni

One morning in the busy city I live in, I got into the train, without realizing I was about to be emotionally and physically abused by a ninny salary boy, who, I am sure, will die a virgin.

I will call him “the ninny”

I, unluckily, stood next to “the ninny” when I got on the train, and to an even worse luck, the train stopped suddenly, making us all stumble, onto one another. And to my outrage “the ninny” started elbowing me.!

 “The ninny” was elbowing me so I wouldn’t fall on him, which was not necessary because I was already trying hard not to.

Being elbowed so disrespectfully woke inside me, Yone oni (oni=devil), the dark side of me that I work hard to keep at bay.

But “the ninny” woke her up, I felt “Yone oni” waking up and start breathing with fury. We (Yone oni and I) took a look at him, and then we saw his weakness: embarrassment.

Embarrassing “the ninny” easy-peasy. So we started laughing at him. Laughing more and more, until we saw “the ninny’s” cheeks turning bright red.

Yone oni was happy but not satisfied. She started plotting against “the ninny” while I was trying hard to calm her down. But she refused to go back to sleep. She wanted revenge. She didn’t want to listen to me, until, I explained to her that spending more time on him would be a waste of our time.

Then she agreed, through clenched teeth, to take a little nap but she promised to keep an eye open just in case I might need her.

[ssm_form id=’1172′]

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.

[ssm_form id=’1172′]

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.

English and Español

 

If someone would come and ask me if I can write in English and Spanish in the same way, I would honestly say that I can’t, because they are utterly two different languages.

Spanish is a Roman language, and English, although, carries words from Latin and French, is part of the Germanic roots language family. However, their alphabets are similar, (not the same) the phonetics are different.

Their syntax and expressions are not always transferable from one language to another. Therefore, when I express myself in Spanish, I have a license to communicate things that wouldn’t make sense in English. Spanish has a wide range of emotions, feelings, and sensations that would be considered “too much” in the English language. So I need to tune it down when I want to express myself coherently in English.

English, on the other hand, is straightforward without being disrespectful, it’s logical, and its primary purpose is to communicate the message effectively.

In my humble experience with English, I would say that its logic forces me to leave my emotions at bay, and to say what I need to say. Nothing more, nothing less.

Both languages are beautiful, sometimes, I find myself laughing at jokes from Latinamerica and when I try explaining them in English, I can feel how the humorous expectations of my audience become disappointment.

Or when I find something incredibly exciting in English and share it with my Spanish speaking friends, and it doesn’t come across, in the same way.

Or it can be the case that I am not talented enough to make sense of both in the same way. One must be honest with its limitations.

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.