The best memory of 2021 2021年最高の思い出

July 25th 2021 at Blue Rose Hall (Suntory Hall).
Yuka Simeno – Soprano, Dieter Pasching – Tenor, Yuko Kojima – Piano
示野由佳-ソプラノ、ディーター パッシング-テノール、小島裕子-ピアノ

Today is the last day of 2021. This year started with much uncertainty. In April, we were supposed to participate in a concert at Suntory Hall in Japan. Rising and falling Covid-19 infection numbers made the whole global situation highly unstable. We were actually originally supposed to participate in a concert in May 2020 but due to the pandemic this was postponed to July 2020. It was however postponed again to April 2021. The situation did not improve sufficiently and the concert had yet to be postponed again, this time to July 25th of 2021! Because of Covid and strictly limited immigration into Japan, it was quite difficult to obtain a visa for my husband. After arriving we had to quarantine for a total of 14 days. During that quarantine, Tokyo again went into a state of emergency. So unfortunately we could not invite many guests. Nevertheless the concert went very well and a surprisingly big number of guests attended. I am very grateful to the organizers, their job was hard and their effort under exceptional circumstances was remarkable.


Pictures July 25th 2021 at Blue Rose Hall (Suntory Hall Tokyo)

Lucky charms ラッキー チャーム

2021 is only a short while longer. Due to Covid-19 New Year parties must be very small and reduced. But walking on the street in Vienna, I do not see a real difference between years past and now. Many people are out and about and as usual street vendors selling lucky charms are there. Here in Austria for the transitioning into the New Year people give each other small lucky charms as presents. Yes, this year we are in real need of good luck!

2021年も残り僅か。コロナのせいで、年越しのお祝いは、少人数で小さくしなければなりません。しかし、ウイーンの街を歩く限り、そのような印象はあまり受けないように思います。人通りも多いようだし、年末恒例のラッキー チャームを売る屋台も出ているのです。オーストリアでは、年が変わるころ、幸運を願って、ささやかなラッキー チャームを贈り合う習慣があります。そう、今年は本当に幸運が必要です!

Mushrooms, chimney cleaners, frogs…
Next to typical European lucky charms
there are also Tiger for the next Chinese Year zodiac sign.
Also pigs are very popular.

Pictures by Yuka Simeno, December 30th 2021 in Vienna

A church with ties to Franz Schubert フランツ シューベルトゆかりの教会

Josefskirche in the 5th district of Vienna

Today while going for a walk I discovered Josefskirche. The body of the deceased Franz Schubert received final blessings here. I had known before of the existence of such a a church in this area but I never spontaneously went looking for it. My apartment is rather close to this church and never having visited this place as a musician I somewhat regret that. Many years ago I used to live close to Sxchubert’s birthplace. I always passed by in a streetcar but all the time of about 6 years of living close by I never really went there. Only when a friend from Japan came to visit me we went together and I had profound excitement about that visit. I thought about why I did not go to this house earlier. Maybe living too close by one thinks “I can always go there” and one becomes a little complacent. I am quite happy that I found this church today. Schubert is one of the most famous Viennese composers and as a singer of classical music I would like to pay my respects to him.

Josefskirche was constructed from 1765 until 1769 and Schubert’s funeral ceremony took place here in 1828. On the front wall there is a commemorative plaque mentioning that fact. Below you can see more pictures.



Pictures by Yuka Simeno, December 29th 2021 in Vienna

Hot hands (2) 熱い手(2)

Yesterday I wrote about my hands very often being hot. Also my mother always used to have hot hands. She said that getting older it diminished somewhat but when she was young, the heat in her hands ws almost unbearable. In Summer she often put her hands to my grandfather’s upper arm because that part was mostly cooler. Surely he felt hot too but he said nothing and just let it be. I imitated her and put my hands to my father’s upper arm. After only a few seconds he exclaimed “Help, this child is too hot!”. I thought, if he had only been a gentle person like my grandfather… But thinking about it now I think why didn’t I touch my mother’s upper arm? That is exactly what she did to her father and I really wanted to see her reaction. I think it is sad that I did not get this idea much earlier.

I have another similiarity with my mother. I heard that almost all Japanese babies have a spot on the back or bottom and this spot vanishes over time. My grandmother said however that neither my mother nor I had this spot at birth. I find genetic transmission very interesting.



Picture by Yuka Simeno, 2019 in Kochi

Hot hands 熱い手

Ducks on icy Lake Neusiedl

Ever since I was born, as I remember consciously, my hands have always been quite warm. Therefore often touch my own earlobes because they are almost always cooler. When I was very young, I often touched my grandmother’s earlobes to cool my hands down. She loved me very much but sometimes that touch was too much for her and she scolded me.

Also the soles of my feet are usually very warm. My mother said that as a baby, she carried me on her back in traditional Japaese fashion, and I very often rubbed my feet together against her back which got on her nerves. I presume however that she made me wear socks and I felt hot and so I maybe wanted to take off those socks. I would like to justify myself in not being impatient as a baby for no reason.

I do not know exactly why my hands and feet are so warm. Some people say maybe my blood circulation is quite good. But a doctor who had studied traditional Chinese medicine in Japan said that the opposite was true just like those people with a non-optimal circulation.

In any case my hands and feet still tend to be warm most of the time. When they get cold, that means that the temperature outside is really cold. Yesterday was such a day. While I was taking the picture above, my hands felt so very cold and even got somewhat red and I could not stand it any longer. The temperature was about minus 3 degrees Celsius. For me temperatures below zero are much too cold.





Picture by Yuka Simeno, December 26th at Lake Neusiedl

Lake Neusiedl in Winter 冬のノイジィードル湖

The black dots on the lake are ducks.
Looks like they feel cold.

Today my husband and I went for a drive to Lake Neusiedl. I went there a couple of times in Summer but this was the first time during the cold season. The lake I know is quite vibrant and amusing with many visitors. Swimming, sailing, children playing everywhere on the shore… But now it is so cold and looks quite lonely with few people around compared to Summer.

Lake Neusiedl is located in the Easternmost Austrian province of Burgenland with a surface area of about 320 square kilometres. A small part of it is located in Hungary. I heard it is the largest lake in Europe without an outflow. It could be called a giant pond. Because Austria has no access to an ocean, the existence of this lake is so appealing.

Partly the lake is covered with a thin layer of ice. Today’s maximum temperature was below zero. Maybe ice will spread quickly…

 今日は夫と共に、ノイジィードル湖までドライヴしました。ここには夏に何度か来たことがありますが、寒い季節は初めてです。私が知っているノイジィードル湖は、人がいっぱいで、楽しさにうきうきしている所でした。遊泳する人達や、湖面に浮かぶヨット、岸で遊ぶ子供達… しかし、今はとても寒くて、人影もまばらです。



On the shore you can see the layer of ice on the water.
I always find reeds somewhat beautiful.

Pictures by Yuka Simeno, December 26th at Lake Neusiedl

Krems in the snow 雪のクレムス

In the background you can see the Danube

Today is Christmas Day. Since Austria is a Catholic country, people mostly celebrate Christmas Eve on the 24th of December. I went to my husband’s family and we had a nice evening there. Since they live a little farther away, we rented a car to get there. Because we do not own a car, we mostly use carsharing when needed. Fortunately this time we had a voucher for a free weekend. That is why we decided to used the voucher for this weekend. Today we wanted to do a little trip. Since we have the car for the whole weekend, we talked and decided to have a little fun. Due to holidays all shops are closed but we just wanted to do a relaxed drive. Even though we wanted to leave much earlier we got kind of stuck at home and could only leave in the afternoon. Our destination was Krems, a small city about 60 km West of Vienna. Unfortunately the sun sets very early and also it suddenly got much colder with even snowfall starting. We wanted to go for a walk in the city centre but because of the cold I gave up on that idea. Despite all that I could take some pictures and I am quite satisfied with our short trip. I think about where to go to tomorrow…

 今日はクリスマス。ここ、オーストリアはカトリックの国なので、24日のクリスマス イヴに重きを置いてお祝いをします。私も、オーストリア人の夫の家族の家で、共に楽しく聖夜を過ごしました。この親戚の家は、少し遠いので、私達はレンタカーを用いました。車を持っていないため、しばしば利用しています。今回は運良く、週末を無料で借りられるクーポンを利用することができました。今日と明日も車があるので、ドライヴを楽しもう、と夫と話し合いました。祭日でどこも開いていませんが、いい気分転換になりそうです。早くと思っていたのに、家でなにやらごそごそしていて、午後になってやっと出発できました。目的地はクレムス。ウイーンから西に約60kmのところにある小さな街です。残念ながら、陽が沈むのがとても早く(日没は16時半ごろ)、突然気温も下がり、雪まで降ってきました。クレムスの街を散歩したかったのですが、断念しました。しかし、写真を少し撮ることができたので、満足です。明日はどこへ行こうかな…

Schiffstation Krems
Cafe at the bank of the Danube in Krems.

Pictures by Yuka Simeno, December 25th 2021 in Krems


Shopwindow of a famous Viennese Patisserie

When I was about ten years old there was a children’s party in my neighbourhood in Japan. At the main hall in the district office many children gathered and received sweets. A young lady had organized our recreation activities and she sang Christmas songs for us. Before she started singing the famous “Jingle Bells” she gave us some instructions. She said that during the second half, we should exclaim “Yahoho!” between her melody. Back then I was very shy and that instruction was truly not suitable for me. Other children loudly exclaimed “Yahoho!” but I however only softly mumbled it. We followed that instruction but she said we were not loud enough and that we should exclaim passionately with a bigger voice. We again started to sing together and the lady always said “Louder!”. Because all the children were so loud, even I got some courage to loudly exclaim because with everyone being so loud no one would hear me. Compared to others my voice probably still was not too loud but to me that seemed like a personal revolution. I consciously used voice and joyful emotion at the same time for expression. As a classical singer now I always strive to express something in my music and therefore when I think back on that day, that is so interesting. It might be somewhat exaggerated but I could say that “Yahoho!” was my “artistic primal scream”. Again and again I am grateful to that lady who made us exclaim “Yahoho!”.

 私が10歳ぐらいのころ、住んでいた地区のクリスマス会に参加しました。それは子供の為の催しで、公民館が会場でした。たくさんの子供たちが集まり、皆でお菓子をいただきました。若い女性がレクリエーションを担当していて、いくつかクリスマスソングを披露してくれました。有名な「ジングル ベル」を歌う前に、彼女は私達に次のような要求をしました。曲の後半部分で、旋律と旋律の間に「ヤッホッホー!」と叫べ、というのです。しかし私は非常に恥ずかしがり屋だったので、そんなことはできない、と怯えました。他の子供達は言われた通り「ヤッホッホー!」と叫びましたが、私は口の奥で、やっとの思いで呟いたぐらいでした。ところが彼女は、私達の声が小さすぎる、というのです。もっと心を込めて力いっぱい叫びなさい、とのことで、また皆で一緒に歌い始めましたが、その最中にも「もっと大きく!もっと!もっと!」と彼女は繰り返し要求しました。他の子供たちが本当に大きな声で叫び始めたので、私も少し勇気が出ました。みんながうるさいから、誰も私の声は聞こえないだろうし、とも思いました。きっと私の叫びは、他の子たちよりずっと小さかったことでしょう。しかし、この叫びは私にとって、個人的革命とも言えるほどのものでした。初めて自分で意識して、声と喜びの感情を一緒に発することができたのです。後にクラシック音楽の声楽を専門とした私は、日々、歌で何かを表現しようと努めています。ですから、当時のことを思い出すと感銘を覚えます。あの「ヤッホッホー!」は、大袈裟ですが、私の芸術表現の産声だった気がするのです。そして、あの日私にこのことを教えてくれた若い女の方に、感謝の気持ちが湧き上がります。

Picture by Yuka Simeno, December 2021 in Vienna

Bingo! ビンゴ!

Shopwindow of a famous Viennese porcelain shop.

Even though I am not of Christian faith I have fond memories of Christmas season.

When I was a small child, I attended an English language course for children. That was a Catholic church and nuns were giving the lessons. I was not highly diligent at studying English but I very much enjoyed the atmosphere there.

One time there was a large Christmas party and there were so many people there, adults as well as children. For the first time I entered the main hall and I vaguely remember it being quite dark and a solemn atmosphere. We children played a short holy night stage play, which also left an impression on me. Afterwards all of us enjoyed ourselves in a large room. There were large beautiful and funny human-shaped cookies with sugar coating. Such cookies I had never eaten before and I liked the taste so much. Those cookies seemed so unique because Scandinavian nuns had baked therm. Then all of us played “Bingo”. That was the first ever “Bingo” in my life. I understood the rules but I was too shy to loudly shout “Bingo!”. That is why I did not win anything… That is such a heartwarming memory.




Picture by Yuka Simeno, December 2021 in Vienna