Pumpkin season かぼちゃの季節

Pumpkins at a supermarket.スーパーのかぼちゃコーナー
      ”Hokkaido” pumpkin. I put a full sized fork next to it to demonstrate size.「Hokkaido」。大きさの比較のため食事用フォークを置きました

Now it is pumpkin season. At supermarkets in Vienna many different pumpkins can be seen. From very large ones to small ones are decorated in many colours and sizes. It is entertaining and humorous to watch.

I think what I as Japanese imagine in terms of taste and what local people do could be quite different. Usually in Japan, pumpkin dishes have a very sumptuous taste which is more dense and sweet than Austrian cuisine. A typical pumpkin dish, which my grandmother always prepared, is cooked and sweet. Not only pumpkins, my grandmother also cooked bean dishes with a sweet taste. As a child, such a sweet taste accompanying rice was not something I liked. Now however I enjoy such a taste and I miss it a lot. If one wanted to create the same taste with local pumpkins, one would not succeed. Local pumpkins are much harder and have a more neutral taste. Starting some years ago, a type of pumpkin named “Hokkaido” has been available in Austria. Hokkaido is one of the Japanese main islands. I do not know whether there is a relationship between those pumpkins and the island but I had hoped the taste would be similar to Japanese pumpkins. I tried to prepare it Japanese style but unfortunately just like all other available pumpkins in Austria, the taste did not turn out the way I intended. Nevertheless recently I bought a “Hokkaido” pumpkin and prepared it in different ways as salad, soup and stir-fry and enjoyed it.

By the way, today is Halloween. When I started living in Austria, there was no such thing here. But around the turn of the millennium this custom was slowly adopted here as well. Of course at Halloween pumpkins cannot be missing. This year however due to the Coronavirus, the Austrian government is asking people not to participate in Halloween parties. The government is already preparing the announcement of stricter measures. This year, the faces of Halloween pumpkin decorations, to my eyes appear not to be smiling…




Pictures by Yuka Simeno, October 2020 in Vienna

End of Summer Time サマータイムの終わり

During the night of Saturday and Sunday (this year the 24th/25th of October ) Summer Time ended and Regular Time returned. Surely many people know that it is said that Summer Time will be abolished in the EU within a few years.

I came to Austria a long time ago for the first time in my life in May when there was already Summer Time active. I was astonished that it did not get dark until quite late. Even at 9PM there still was twilight outside. Also in the morning around 4PM there was some light outside. I got a feeling of living almost all the time in daylight. In Winter however it can be felt already around 2 PM that it is getting darker and sunrise is quite late. And so I get the feeling of always living in a dark atmosphere. This difference between Summer and Winter is enormous. In Summer I want to do lots of things because of the brightness and I automatically become active. In Winter because of darkness I easily get somewhat depressed and in order to overcome this, I often eat a little too much. I could say that this is a somewhat dangerous season for me. That is why Christmas market is so alluring and illuminations radiate so beautifully in the dark. At home one likes to light candles and thereby finding joy in Winter.

My hometown Kochi in Japan has no such extreme differences between Summer and Winter. There is a difference but not comparable to Austria. When it starts getting dark, this happens rather quickly. No wonder because Kochi is located on about the same latitude as Casablanca in Morocco.

There is one hour difference between Summer and Standard Time. When Summer Time begings, one hour is lost. When Standard Time returns, that hour will be gained back. For example today Standard Time returned so one could sleep one hour longer. One might think that it is just one hour but it takes some time to adjust. Maybe such a lazy person like myself does indeed have an internal clock.





Picture by Yuka Simeno, October 25th 2020 in Vienna

Injection 注射

Sweet trophy 甘い戦利品

Recently I had an injection against Influenza. I had heard that this year it would be provided free of charge and so I made an appointment and went to get it. The specially designated location was very well organized and my turn came with almost no waiting time at all. There were some small separated rooms and I entered the one designated for me. In this small room I immediately saw a friendly lady and a heap of colourful lollipops on the desk. This lady from the medical personnel prepared the injection and asked me whether I was afraid of needles. When I said yes, she told me to look at the lollipops while receiving the injection. It was very quick and almost painless and as a reward for my courage I was allowed to take a lollipop with me.

It is true, I really am afraid of injections. When I was a child, shortly before starting primary school, I had to stay at a hospital for a few days. That was not due to some serious illness but I suspect rather a case of Influenza and diarrhea. The stay at the childrens’ hospital was not very strenuous for me, I even enjoyed it because my family was quite nice to me and I felt like a princess. I was even allowed to read a manga book that was actually forbidden by my father. There was only one negative component and those were injections. Those were so negative to me, when I saw the long thin needles, I felt cold and my pain was bigger. One day I realized that I could in fact refuse the injection since it was so uncomfortable for me. Maybe others didn’t realize that I disliked injections so much. I thought I should politely decline and so I took action. The nurse on duty just said “No!”. So I politely repeated my wish. But she was also stubborn and so after a couple of times going back and forth, she pushed a button on the wall. Then a flock of nurses rushed in, turned me over on the bed, held me down and administered the injection into my behind. Since my family was very strict, I was not hysterical or rude but rather I politely explained my will… To such a composed child, should people not provide a sensible and logical explanation that the injection was important for my health?

Ever since, I have never again declined an injection. But I still have not overcome my fear of injection.




Picture by Yuka Simeno, October 2020 in Vienna

Kumquat 金柑

Recently at a supermarket in Vienna, I found Kumquats. I remembered that my grandmother always said that Kumquats were good for he voice. When I was about four or five years old, my family lived in a rented house and in the garden there was a Kumquat tree. So I remembered that time back then with a feeling of nostalgia and I absolutely wanted to buy one pack.

In that house, the living room windows had a wide board underneath and one could actually sit on it. As a child I climbed up and often looked outside. In front of that window there was the Kumquat tree. When that tree carried fruits, I was very happy about those yellow small fruits. My grandmother said “That is Kumquat. It is edible.”. I was allowed to reach out of the window and take one of the fruits. They were so cute, so small and beautiful and to a child they looked like a tiny tangerine. Because my grandmother gave me permission to eat it whole with the peel, I took a bite. It was quite a dense strong aroma, tasted bittersweet as though some electrical current ran through my brain. But I nevertheless liked it. My grandmother said that it was good for the voice.

I assume that here in Austria it is not possible to harvest citrus fruits. As far as I know, all the cirus fruits at the supermarket come from southern countries such as Italy, Spain, etc. On this Kumquat package it says that it is from South Africa. That is truly far away. I did some research on the internet about Kumquats and those fruits can mostly be harvested in Autumn. South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere which means that it is now Spring there. Why can Kumquats be harvested there now? Could it be that the place of origin is in the Northern Hemisphere and they have that harvest season in them? I do not really know. In any case, I find those small fruits so cute and I want to welcome them to Vienna.

According to a recipe I found on the internet, I made some Kumquats in honey. That is only removing the seed, cutting it into small slices and leaving it in honey. Eating this a topping on Yoghurt tasted really good. I read that it can also be used to flavour tea, which I would like to try soon.





Picture by Yuka Simeno, October 2020 in Vienna

Cold rain in Autumn 冷たい秋の雨

flowerbed on the street 道端の花壇

Recently the weather in Vienna is not very nice. It rains a lot, not strong but persistently. In Japan there is a saying that in Autumn it rains persisently. Maybe over time I noticed that here in Vienna this could be true as well. But even on such dark, cold and wet days joy can be found. For example waterdrops on plants . I love looking at them a lot. Also leaves in puddles of water… When it gets darker, lights are vaguely reflected from the water surface in beautiful gradations… Every day I would like to feel life as much as possible.


Fallen leaves in a puddle of water on the street 水たまりと落ち葉
Evening on Mariahilferstrasse in Vienna マリアヒルフ通りの夕暮れ

Pictures by Yuka Simeno, October 2020 in Vienna

Autumn in Vienna 深まるウィーンの秋

Yellow leaves flying in the wind 黄色い木の葉が風に舞っています

Today the weather was beautiful but in the afternoon dark clouds started arriving. From tomorrow it will be cooler and rainy. The first picture was taken about 16:30. About 30 minutes later I took the second picture. Already dark clouds were arriving and rain could be felt in the air.


Pictures by Yuka Simeno. October 10th 2020 on Mariahilferstrasse in the 6th district of Vienna

Death of Hercule Poirot 名探偵ポワローの死

Often on TV I watch the British series “Poirot”. I noticed the existence of this series during the Austrian Corona lockdown in March. Poirot is a famous main character of Agatha Christie’s literature (for example “Murder on the Orient Express”). I feel ashamed that I myself have not read any of that literature but I have heard about it often as well as having seen some of the movie or TV productions. The British TV series which can be seen in Austria now features David Suchet as the famous private investigator Hercule Poirot. When I started watching this series it seemed that it had been aired for a long time and each episode had quite a long duration like in the cinema. This is an expensive series of high quality because one appears to truly be close to the time of the setting. Costumes, vehicles, props, architecture, landscapes, etc. seem from that era and can be felt close. Also the camera is well and effectively used and I often could sense that the camera did project the psyche of the characters.

I had not been aware of the character of Poirot before and it seemed a bit ridiculous to me. Maybe Mr. Suchet is portraying this excentric genius with self-confidence, but elegance and charm very well. Over time Suchet’s portrayal of Poirot won my sympathy. Therefore when he died in the series it was a shock to me and I had to cry. The death of Poirot totally changed my mind about Agatha Christie’s work. All the time in the series there is a sense of depth but when I saw the last episode, I think I understood what that depth might be. All of it was not a personal problem of some upper class but rather deeply rooted problems relating to all of humanity. This wonderful genius investigator, having solved so many cases, himself commits a murder like self-righteous justice. He knew he was going to die due to illness and as his last work he committed a murder like a lynching and killed the perpetrator. Surely, the perpetrator insulting him also became one piece of his decision commit such an act. In any case, he could not end his life with a heroic reputation. Like his first name Hercule (Maybe his name comes from the Greek mythological hero Hercules) who because of greed died in fire, Poirot also died because of the swamp of human greed.

After the final episode of Poirot’s death, the series is being shown again from the beginning. It is obvious how young and fresh this actor seems. I see that he played Poirot for a very long time, which I find quite precious. Having already seen the end of the series, I watch it with pain and sadness, feeling as though I am some kind of prophet knowing who is going to die. Now I understand why the theme music sounds so sad.

よく観るテレヴィ番組のひとつに、イギリスのシリーズの「ポワロー」があります。この番組に私が気がついたのは、3月のオーストリアのロックダウン中でした。「ポワロー」は、「オリエント エクスプレスの殺人」などに登場する、アガサ クリスティーの小説の主人公のひとりです。恥ずかしながら、私は彼女の小説を読んだことがないのですが、その存在はよく聞きますし、映画化やテレヴィの番組化されたものはいくつか観たことがあります。今、オーストリアで観ることができるテレヴィシリーズの「ポワロー」では、デイヴッド スゥシェーが主人公の名探偵エルキュール ポワローを演じています。私がこのシリーズを観始めた頃は、すでに初めから回をずいぶん重ねていて、映画のような長編ばかりでした。非常にお金をかけた質の高い企画だという印象がします。衣装、乗り物、小道具、建築、風景などが素晴らしく、設定された時代に視聴者も引き込まれるように感じると思います。カメラも印象的で、登場人物の心理まで映し出されているように思えることが幾度もありました。

私は「ポワロー」の役柄を知らなかったので、観始めた頃は奇妙な感じを受けました。多分、スゥシェー氏は、ポワローの、風変わりで、自信に満ちた天才で、しかもエレガントでお洒落というような役柄を、とても良く演じているのでしょう。何度も観ているうちに親みを覚えるようになりました。そして、ポワローがシリーズ中に亡くなった時、私はショックを受け、泣いてしまいました。ポワローの死は、私のアガサ クリスティーに対する印象を変えました。シリーズを通して、ある種の「深み」を感じていましたが、この最終回を観たことによって、それが何であったのか分かったように思いました。話は上流階級の人間間の問題だけではなく、全ての人間の深いところに根付いている問題だったのだ、という気がします。この、たくさんの事件を解決した名探偵自身が、殺人に手を染めるのです。それは、自分の判断で、犯人を裁いた、という形ですが、人を殺すことに違いはありません。ポワローは、病気で自分の寿命が長くないのを知っていますし、犯人が彼を侮辱したことも、行為をうながしたのでしょう。いずれにせよ、彼は英雄として死ぬことにはならなかったのです。彼の名前「エルキュール」は、ギリシャ神話に登場する半神半人間の英雄「ヘラクレス」からきていると思われます。そのヘラクレスは、欲望により炎の中で死んでいきますが、ポワローもまた、人間の欲の沼の中に沈んでいくのです。


Autumn in the air on a Sunday in Vienna 秋の気配溢れる日曜日のウィーン

In front of Westbahnhof station 西駅を背に

Flowers in a flower bed 花壇の花

Yesterday was a stormy and rainy night. Today was totally different, beautiful weather! Blue sky and fresh air, a lovely Sunday for taking a walk. City view and also flowers in their beds, one can feel the atmosphere of Autumn.


Pictures by Yuka Simeno, October 4th 2020 in Vienna