“Ike-ya”? 「池屋」?

Entrance to IKEA direct from Westbahnhof concourse.

“This table I bought from IKEA”. That is what a Japanese resident, in the same building I was living at, said when she showed my a beautiful round table. It was my first apartment in Vienna and it was over 30 years ago. Back then I was totally new here without any knowledge and I thought that there was a Japanese furniture shop in Vienna called “Ike-ya”. And I thought how wonderful Japanese people are also selling furniture in Vienna. Soon however I discovered that it was in fact called “IKEA” and that it was a Swedish chain of stores. This name could really be Japanese and so I misunderstood.

Back then about once a year, a thick catalogue of IKEA was sent free to all households in Vienna. One day that catalogue appeared at the door just like a present. What joy it was to browse through that catalogue in full colour! I moved four times within Vienna but always to fully furnitured places. Therefore buying furniture was not necessary but nevertheless with pleasure I always looked at the catalogue and fantasized. Also “IKEA” was somewhat far away from the city and without my own car, I had to use the shuttle bus for about 30 minutes. So when I finally arrived I could see beautiful interiors and imagine living there and as souvenirs I took home small things such as candles, napkins, artificial plants, etc.

Time passes, online commerce has become so widespread, that nowadays most catalogues and sortiments can be viewed on the internet. Therefore that present from IKEA to me ceased to exist. But recently IKEA gave me a big present of a different kind. In a central location of Vienna a branch of IKEA opened its doors! It is next to Westbahnhof station and there is even one direct access from the station concourse. The size and capacity of this store is smaller but one can stroll around inside and see many different types of merchandise. Above all, there are many small affordable items such as candles, napkins, etc. IKEA is now close to me.




After my visit to IKEA it was already quite dark outside.
Soon it will be a full moon.

Pictures March 16, 2022 in Vienna

Christmas market in Vienna finally opens again after a missed year 昨年は見送られたウイーンのクリスマス市がやっと開きました

One entrance to the Christmas market
at Spittelberg in Vienna

Last year due to Covid there were no Christmas markets in Vienna and now finally some have opened again! I visited the one at Spittelberg in the 7th district. Many shops were showing their colourful goods sparkling into the darkness. How nice to see that again! It was really busy and it was even difficult to move forward in the crowd. I was quite astonished however that many visitors were not wearing masks. Even this past Spring it was compulsory to wear masks in some empty park areas. Of course by now many people have been vaccinated but nevertheless I hear that people get infected. Even the Netherlands with a high percentage of vaccinations have recently reimposed a lockdown for all. I got a little fearful, could not calmly look at shops and quickly returned home.


Picture by Yuka Simeno, November 14, 2021 in Vienna

Compulsory registration in gastronomy in Vienna ウィーンの飲食店における個人情報記入

Starting today, because of the coronavirus, in Vienna there is now a compulsory registration for all customers of gastronomy. This does not apply to take out items. Name, telephone number and/or email address has to be registered by the establishment on a paper form. A friend of mine told me that such a system is already in place in Germany and many people provided false names. She told me that she will not provide her email address because she wishes not to receive any future advertisements. My husband does not want to register and therefore he says we should always do take out. Today we went to get some coffee and sweets from Starbucks as take out. Even though it had rained a little before, we sat outside somewhere on a bench on a street nearby eating and drinking. I would like to value and protect my private information.


Finally it is working! ついに稼働!

The device I mentioned in a previous post was finally active today! This is more than mist however, almost like a gentle shower. One can really cool down, fantastic!


Pictures by Dieter Pasching and Yuka Simeno, June 2020 On Mariahilfer Strasse in Vienna

“Fuyō” or “Mukuge”? 「芙蓉」か「むくげ」か?

The part closest to Mariahilferstrasse of Otto Bauergasse in the 6th district in Vienna was renovated a couple of months ago. The border between sidewalk and street was removed and the street is now all flat and paved with new stones. This makes the steet appear broader. There are new flowerbeds . Since the advent of Spring, many different plants can be enjoyed. In the flowerbeds trees have also been planted. They are quite slim and look young. It was hard to identify what kind of trees they are. Some now carry blossoms as in the picture above. I know this blossom, I suppose they are from Asia.

There are two different kinds that carry quite similar flowers but they are different after all. One is called “Fuyō” and the other is called “Mukuge”. In Japan in my garden there is a “Mukuge” tree. My mother loved plants and so she had this tree planted in our garden. But she used to call this tree “Fuyō”. Always in summer when this tree carried big soft bright purple blossoms, then my mother said “Oh how beautiful the blossoms of Fuyō are!”. Recently my gardener said that it is “Mukuge”. My mother passed away without knowing it was in fact “Mukuge”. It does not really matter because this tree gave her great joy.

When I see the blossoms of the trees in Otto Bauergasse my thoughts fly to my garden in Japan. Does my “Mukuge “carry blossoms too now? And I think of my mother…

ウィーン6区の、オットー バウアー通りの、マリアヒルファー通りに近い部分は、少し前に改装されました。歩道と車道の境がなく、平になり、新しい石も敷かれました。道が広くなったように見えます。新しい花壇もできました。春が訪れてから、いろんな花が次々と咲き、目を楽しませてくれています。花壇の中には木も植えられました。細くて、まだ若い木のようです。いくつかの木が、上の写真のように花を付けました。この花、私、知ってます。東洋の木だと思います。


オットー バウアー通りの木を見ると、私の想いは日本の我が家の庭に飛んでいきます。もう「むくげ」は咲いたでしょうか?そして母のことを想います…

Picture by Yuka Simeno, June 2020 in Vienna

Gradus ad Parnassum グラドゥス アド パルナッスム

Due to coronavirus related travel restrictions I still cannot go to Italy to my voice teacher. But I still have the previous recordings of my lessons with her and so I can nevertheless learn a lot. At home I kept trying to understand those lessons and kept trying over and over again. I have noticed that recently I can sing the way I want to express myself. I am so happy and want to continue on this path. I give thanks to my voice teacher and look forward to seeing her again soon.

Classical singing, which I am specialising in, truly is a precious art. Everyone can sing somehow but there is only one right way to master this art. That can only be studied with a good teacher. I can say that everything that I have experienced, also with all previous teachers, has supported my path. I am very grateful for that. My path is not straight, there have been many detours and obstacles but I want to believe that all of it has value. In the future I would like to convey the best and most correct to others through my experiences.

When I was a juniorhigh school pupil , I studied piano siries “Children’s corner” by Claude Debussy. The title of the first piece is “Gradus ad Parnassum” and my piano teacher commended me for playing this piece very well, which made me very happy. I heard that this title “Gradus ad Parnassum” means a difficult path which has to be followed anyway. I find it amusing that Debussy chose this title for the first piece in “Children’s corner”. I grew from this children’s corner and now have reached an age when I can look back at the path to Parnassus but I am still continuing on it.



中学生の頃、ドビュッシー作曲のピアノ組曲「子供の領分」を習いました。第1曲目は「グラドゥス アド パルナッスム」という題名で、ピアノの先生が非常に上手に弾けている、と褒めてくださったことがとても嬉しかったです。この「グラドゥス アド パルナッスム」は、通らねばならない難しい道を示している、と聞きました。ドビュッシーが「子供の領分」の第1曲にこの題名を選んだことを、とても面白く思います。私は、「子供の領分」から育ち、「グラドゥス アド パルナッスム」を振り返ることのできる年齢になりましたが、今も変わらずその道を歩んでいます。

Picture by Yuka Simeno, June 2020 in Vienna

Cat’s ears 猫の耳

Cats are very cute. Even when they are naughty, I find them cute. I love all about cats! Especially the ears are one of my preferred parts of cats. They are thin and when I lightly pinch them, I feel happy. Cats mostly let me do that without problems. We talk to cats and we think they are listening but I heard that cats can choose what to hear. That may be because we think they are listening to us when in fact they are listening to something else or just ignoring us. You never know!

I think this applies to humans as well. When during my education at university I had to teach at a high school, the class teacher I was assigned to said “the pupils only hear what they want to hear”. For example if there is a trip planned for the next day they like that information but in other cases they don’t remember at all what had been said. Therefore when I have something important to say, I should repeat it several times. I found that interesting and so when once I spoke about important information I wanted to check whether the pupils were really paying attention. I told one pupil to repeat what I had said but she could not and so it really is better to repeat the message several times. This does not only apply to pupils but to adults as well. I have experienced similar situations many times in life. If one wants to really make others understand something important, it is better to repeat that message several times.

I cannot complain about others, I am the same. I sometimes notice that I too am not really paying attention to other people and that my mind sometimes wanders… This may be due to a lack of concentration ability. In this respect I have a somewhat unpleasant memory. When I was a child my father taught me at home, also during the holidays. I am grateful that he so diligently wanted to teach me things, but his explanations were very long and quite repetitive. Therefore I developed a method of seeming to listen and sometimes reply “Yes, yes”. In my head however I heard the music I wanted to hear or thought about things I would have liked to do at that moment. This method was successful but I noticed that I have some difficulty with concentration. When I had to do something with concentration, my mind wandered and other thoughts came to my mind. I cannot blame everything on my father’s lectures but I suspect one factor of it lies there. I started to do concentration exercises sometimes and now I am doing much better.

But the cat ear method of choosing what to hear is not always bad. For example if my flight is delayed and around me there is much noise, I can sink into my thoughts or let music flow inside my head. And I think “I now have cat’s ears”, which gives a funny happy feeling.





Picture by Yuka Simeno, “Ear of my darling” 2020 in Vienna

Moon or clouds? 月か雲か?

Moon over Grinzing

When I was very young, I was walking on the street with a friend on a windy night. I noticed that the moon in the sky was moving quickly. I was fascinated and said to my friend “Look, the moon is moving so fast!”. Then my friend said “No, the clouds are moving fast”. That is correct of course, the moon never moves so quickly that it would be visible. I felt quite embarrassed.

I think that such optical confusions exist sometimes. For example, when the train I am travelling on is stopping at the station and there is another train in the opposite direction starts moving, I get the sensation that my train is moving as well. Have you had such experiences?

I think that I am not able to face away from the direction of travel on trains or buses. I have heard however, that this is a deception of my eyes because the outside scenery is coming from behind and is moving to the front which my eyes find uncomfortable. It is said that when one closes the eyes, one cannot exactly sense the direction of movement. I tried it and I think it could be true.

I find the diference between visible and actual things very interesting. When I experience such a thing, I try to enjoy it.





Picture by Yuka Simeno, in Vienna

Like a mermaid 人魚のように

During dinner I like to watch TV. Recently I noticed that TV programs almost always feature shows with criminal contents. I can say that I am in fact a cautiously fearful person and even cannot stand seeing my own blood and when I get an injection I turn my head to the other side crunching my teeth. If I am directly affected by something, even a small injection, often I am able to react. Such a self can watch dead people while having dinner. Since when have I become such a cold hearted person? Do I no longer feel other people’s pain? Then I remembered a scene from a film.

In this film the main character is a mermaid turned human. She watches TV for the first time. She just saw a tragic scene in a film and she is shocked, shows a lot of compassion and starts crying. Her human friend, a man, calms and consoles her by explaining that this violence on TV was not real and in fact just acted.

Nowadays we are overwhelmed by films, TV shows, etc. depicting accidents, violence, and many dead people in everyday life. Also because of the news, the internet, etc. every day we are touched by reports about accidents, violent crimes, etc. I think if we have too close contact with tragedy then over time we lose human feelings such as fear or compassion. This aspect should be considered in the development and production of media so that it does not become too overwhelming.

Of course watching dramas, films, art, etc. enriches our lives and it is good to be informed about the world. Nevertheless I think those who offer and those who receive, like the mermaid having just become human, should not lose our naive and natural hearts and compassion.





Picture by Yuka Simeo, April 2020 in Vienna