University of Vienna, Picture by Yuka Simeno. Sigmund Freud attended University in Vienna.
I have been living in Vienna for more than 30 years now. When I started living here, one day I saw one piece of news on TV and I was positively surprised. That was a report about some incident involving many people and at the end of the report it was mentioned that the victims, their family members and other involved persons were receiving psychological assistance by specialists. Back then in Japan I had never heard in the news that counsellors were assisting victims psychologically. I thought that may be so because Austria is the birthplace of Sigmund Freud, the famous inventor of Psycho-analysis. I also thought that it may be the reason that Psychology and counselling is accepted and common among the people and so somehow I felt that being assisted by a specialist is something that is quite normal here. I thought that if also in Japan such a system of counselling could be established, that would be ideal. Recently on the internet, I saw in Japanese news that in a school there was a bloody incident and that for the shocked pupils there was a position of counsellor provided for them to talk to. Since I have been living in Vienna, maybe also in Japan in everyday life psychological counselling has gained importance and has becomme more common. I hope that many more people will be interested in counselling and that the Japanese government will put effort in creating and promoting counsellors. I also hope that people can go to counsellors easily and filled with trust, no matter if they are adults or children.
I live in Austria and there is a well known Viennese food called “Tafelspitz”. That is boiled beef served with different side dishes. “Tafelspitz” is one body part of beef and so this dish is named after it. When I ate this dish for the first time in a restaurant which is famous for that dish, I was shocked because the beef was served with creamy spinach. I heard from my grandmother that beef and spinach should not be eaten together because that makes a poisonous substance develop in the body. Timidly I asked my Austrian husband about it and he said that beef and spinach is quite a usual combination and he had never heard about anyone getting sick. I gathered my courage but my head constantly said “Don’t eat it!” and so I could not fully enjoy it. Nevertheless I ate all of it and thought that it was not too bad actually. While my grandmother was alive, at home there was a list with pictures explaining which foods not to combine. My grandmother always looked at the list before preparing the meals and she firmly believed in it. One of the forbidden combinations was beef and spinach. I remember for example crushed ice and Tempura (one type of fried food) and also Eel and Umeboshi (salty pickled plum) etc. My father said to my grandmother that those are only combinations that produce bad taste, there is no scientific basis for this and it does not have to be adhered to. I am still alive, even after Tafelspitz with spinach, and so maybe my father is correct even though he had a preference for Japanese tastes. Maybe not everything is correct but I think that not all is erroneous. That being said, I think there are combinations which have a negative effect on the body. When I was studying here in Vienna, I had a colleague fro Spain. She said that in Spain it was so hot, she ate many oranges and after that she drank some milk. She became really sick and she even noticed that her skin was yellow. She immediately went to the doctor’s and told him what she had done. The doctor said “No wonder, you must never combine oranges and milk. And your yellow skintone comes from an orange overdose.” A Swiss conductor, whom I was working with, told me that Swiss cheese fondue is very famous but you must never drink water with it. Water and the fat from the cheese don’t mix and you will get an upset stomach. Only white wine or fruit tea is recommended. Now my Austrian husband, who is 25% Swiss, told me the same. So maybe in Switzerland this is common knowledge. Not only in Japan, in other countries there are such alleged bad food combinations. I think that some are indeed based on science.
Recently there is the opportunity to see various American animated series on television. I watch those series mostly not because I plan to but rather by chance when I switch on the television. Often because of the strange nature of the contents I find myself staring at the tv. The optical depiction and the contents are unbelievably unreal and far beyond my power of imagination. I get a feeling that I cannot keep up with the flow of the times. When I watch it, it has a strong impression on me but my feeling is somehow vague and not clear. Only after I feel like telling others about it, I can comprehend the surreal nature of the contents. Again I think that I have seen such a strange thing. By expressing it with words I can comprehend it. But it is quite difficult to express something with words. Many parts I forgot to tell and also because of using words the freshness diminishes. When I started to live in Vienna, a young man started to talk to me in a supermarket. He was a student of Japanology and because he wanted to practice his Japanese, he asked my permission to talk to me while I was shopping. And so he started speaking to me in Japanese with great effort. In the bread section he wanted to explain about Austrian bread and he showed me dark bread naming it “kurai pan”. I could not comprehend what he was saying because in Japanese it is called “kuropan”.”Kuro “means black .”Kurai” menas darkness (lack of light) and also gloomy character or bad outlook, etc. In my mind I imagined bread being depressive.This conversation taught me that in German one can say “Schwarzbrot” as well as “Dunkles Brot”. In terms of language we mean the same thing but expressed it differently. Also Japanese use “Black” for dark skin. Presumably in the past there were only Asians living in Japan and all had a similar skin tone and maybe it was easy to express skin tone with “white” or “black”. He continued trying to speak Japanese and tried to explain that recently he had fallen down and blood came from a wound. In Japanese blood is “Chi” but usually the Chinese character is used. This character has many different types of pronouncing it. Blood can be read as “chi” or “ketsu”. In this case “chi” should be used. But he confused them and used “ketsu”. Unfortunately “ketsu” also means butt. Therefore he actually said “I fell down and my butt came out”. I wanted to be polite but I really could not stop laughing. He made that mistake because he was studying the characters and their way of pronounciation. Even though he was seriously explaining something, it became a very funny joke to me. With words we comprehend but that is not always easy, especially if you live in a foreign country like I do.
After this time in Italy I flew back to Vienna from Bergamo. Because of this, I used the opportunity to look at Bergamo for a couple of hours. On a hill overlooking the city, there is the “Città alta” (high town). One way to go there is by “Funicolare” (cable car). There was not much time but still it was very interesting. Bergamo is the birthplace (and also place of death) of the famous Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Since many people say that his works are well suited for my voice, I visited this city with a special feeling. In the “Città alta” I found the house where he passed away. I must return to Bergamo, take enough time and explore the city much more.
Last week I was in Italy at my voice teacher’s. She is a world famous opera singer and also quite a wonderful teacher. This time as well I could study diligently and productively with her and for that I owe her gratitude. In March in Vienna I will have the possibility to present some Japanese songs. My teacher wanted to know what exactly I will sing for this occasion and so I told her my planned songs. She said that one of those songs she knows very well, which is “Sakura, Sakura”. She often went to Japan and because of that she knows this song very well. When her son was little, she taught him this song. She sang this song to me, which was so moving and wonderful, because she was able to sing this song from memory. I also noticed that her Japanese pronounciation was extremely good and as a Japanese I found it an immense honour and I felt so moved that she, as a great italian opera diva, had diligently and with respect studied this song. This song ends with the sound “N”. In Japan I learnt that one lets the sound “N” flow through the nose with an open mouth. But recently on Japanese TV I heard that Japanese singers pronounce this sound as “M”, like humming. Also here in Vienna I heard that a Japanese singer, who had studied classical music, did in fact sing “M” instead of “N”. But my teacher, exactly like I had learnt it, did really pronounce the ending as “N”. This really deserves respect. Since this way of singing “N” is so difficult, I too thought about using “M” instead, but when I heard my teacher using the correct pronounciation of “N” I thought that I must dare to stay true to what I had studied and not give in. From my teacher I can not only learn interpreation, technique, presentation, pronounciation, but also state of mind toward art. That is truly valuable.
Castello di Gabiano seen from a distance. 遠方より見たガビアーノ城
Nice man greeting us with a reception.入口で親切なお方がお迎えくださいました。
View from the Castle. In the lower left corner there was the place we stayed at. お城からの眺め。向かって左下あたりに私が泊まっている宿泊所があります。
Almost like a foot massage. ほとんど足マッサージ。
Now it is not possible to enter, but in the garden there is also a labyrinth. 今は入れませんが、お庭の奥には迷路があるそうです。
View to the North. You can see the Alps and the river Po. 北側の眺め。うっすらアルプス山脈とポー河が見えます。
Recently I went to Italy to receive voice lessons and a few days I stayed in Gabiano (region of Piemonte). In this town there is a castle and one day I went to visit it. Because it is still winter, there were no other tourists and I could calmly make good pictures. An Asian lady came up to me and talked to me. She told me that it is also possible to stay at the castle because they have rooms and also a restaurant. She was very polite and nice and said she was South Korean. I was amazed that she was working with such vitality so far from her home. She introduced us to a restaurant chef who was also a very likeable Italian lady. Although closed, we were allowed to see the beautifully renovated restaurant. Even the castle manager came to greet us and give us information about this place. At the castle there are many beautiful rooms and it is possible to eat at the restaurant after making a reservation. When Spring arrives, there will be many visitors. I would also like one day to spend some time here.
I went to Italy again to have voice lessons. This time I stayed in the town of Gabiano in the region of Piemonte, which is quite close to where my teacher lives. As you can see in this picture, the landscape is quite beautiful. To the North you can see the Alps and the curvy and glistening river “Po”. In the evening I saw many more stars than in Vienna and I could be inspired by nature and could recharge my soul. It has gotten much warmer, during daytime it was almost 20 degrees. One time in my room when I was resting during the day, maybe because of the good weather, I heard many different kinds of birds chirping , somewhere there were house dogs barking, churchbells were ringing every 30 minutes. This is something I cannot experience in Vienna, where I am living, and I find it pleasant. Then I remembered that in Austria somebody filed a lawsuit against a church, because in his estimation the useless and bothering ringing of churchbells during the night should be stopped so people could sleep in peace. I do not know how that lawsuit turned out. In Gabiano I really heard the churchbell ring every 30 minutes also during nighttime but it did not bother me. This was even quite pleasant. Of course it depends on how close you live to the church but in Gabiano I feel that all sounds melt into nature and breathe. Maybe the town in Austria is now modern with many houses unlike before, and between the houses there might be a strong echo of the churchbells. In Gabiano it seems that the churchbells sound free, wide and beautiful. I could enjoy beautiful nature and imagine a time gone by with horse carriages. I got a feeling that my soul could be replenished.
It is getting much warmer. Do violets blossom where you are? Her name is “Veilchen” (violet). （Sold) From the series “Klasse kunterbunt” だいぶ暖かくなりました。あなたのところで、もう、すみれは咲いていますか？この子の名前は「すみれ」です。（売） シリーズ「色とりどり組」より