丸の内カフェで"PORTUGAL~ARTE E POESIA”開催中!

2011年1月26日(水)に、丸の内カフェ(千代田区丸の内3-3-1 新東京ビルジング1F)で旅と英会話スキルのセミナー”「私だけの旅」をつくる簡単英会話”の講師を勤めさせていただきました♪受講者の皆さんが、ノリノリで発音練習を一緒にやってくださったので、嬉しかったです。
http://www.marunouchicafe.com/seminar/index.html#20110126

2010年6月1日(火)~14日(月)に丸の内カフェにて、ポルトガルで描いてきた水彩画風景を展示。おかげさまで沢山の方にご来場・ご鑑賞頂きました。ありがとうございます♪

(日本ポルトガル通商修好条約締結150周年記念イベントです↓)

http://www.marunouchicafe.com/gallery/index.html#20106130

December 31, 2008

Year of the Ox


The symbol animal of year 2009 is OX. Pastelaria Gojo in Tokyo's Ichigaya district has offered annual special sweets based on the Oriental Zodiac. And the newest version is "Ox Cakes."

The cheese cake-based sweets are too cute to eat... But I couldn't help but eating them up...NO, I just ate one of them!

"The Year of the Rat" might be the good one for many people on the earth. But for me, the year 2008 was just great! I had such a wonderful time with my family, friends whom I know for years, and new friends I just met this year.

Thank you for the year 2008 and Hello to the year 2009!

I'm looking forward to making good memories in the coming year.

December 25, 2008

Heart Warming Christmas Eve


Santa Claus has not visited my place for decades, but I still believe that something sweet will happen on me if I am a good girl. So, even on the night of Christmas Eve, I worked hard until late as usual.

When I got home, I recognized that I have received packages. One was a box and the other one was a big envelope.

I opened the box first. It was from Marlo in Southern California. And in the box...there are boxful of penguins! My favorite ones!!

"The kids tried to find anything like penguins in their toy collection and whenever we went out to send to you. They remembered that you loved penguins, so now you have many more to add to your collection! We hope you like them."

Trinity and Jett found them for me! How sweet they are!!

While holding the penguinful box, I couldn't help but warming the cookies of my heart.

Isn't it nice to have somebody who remember me overseas?

I also opened the other parcel. There was a book, "Dewey" (by Vicki Mayson) and a Christmas card from Mary in Medford, Oregon. She wrote a lot for me with her heart-warming words.

Finally, tears came from my eyes.

Thank you my friends! I always love you and miss you!!

I believe Santa Claus came to deliver those parcels for me, while I was gone for work...

So...let me say..."Thank you, too, Mr. Santa Claus!"

Besides there presents, I have enjoyed such a wonderful Christmas season this year.

Dec. 20 -- Christmas Dinner at Ritsuko's House: I made Roasted Chiken and Chinese Pork for five good girls. Everybody loves my dishes. Ritsuko prepared salad with 'miracle' honey mustard dressing, which was innovated by accident.

Dec. 21 -- Christmas Dinner with Mika. We enjoyed Spanish food at El Camino Comedor in Kagurazaka, Tokyo.

Dec. 22 -- Breakfast with Mr. Santa Claus (winter-only! who came to Tokyo from Kyoto for work) in Roppongi, Tokyo. We had such a nice talk over the breakfast, as usual, and I had abdominal muscle-ache as we laugh too much. Thanks to him, I manged the busiest-day-of-the -week while keep smiling throughout the day.

Dec. 23 -- Christmas Dinner with a new friend. We have known each other for months via Internet but just found out we in the same area of Tokyo. I asked him for dinner as my favorite restaurant offers special Christmas menu on Dec. 23-24. As he runs a popular gourmet blog with hundreds viewers daily, I thought he must be an ideal person to go out with on the night... and I was right! It was such a nice dinner, something "VERY CHRISTMAS."

Hope everybody, my dearest friends and the people on this earth, be happy like me!

Happy Holidays!!!

December 10, 2008

Traveling Kyoto In Late Fall


Kyoto is one of the most popular and must-to-visit cities in Japan, according to many people and travel books. Of course I also visited there in my life, however I did not recognized the beauty of the old city when I went there as school activities.


We visited there to see historic sites, seeing wooden Buddhas, taking photos with friends and etc... It was not really fun, honestly to say, when I was a KID.


However, the real beauty of the city started talking to us all of a sudden. It might be a sign of telling us "OK! You're finally good/old enough to appreciate Kyoto." And time has come to me, too. After living in the U.S. for years, traveling Europe and Africa, I finally was able to have an ability to find the true value and importance of the city.


It was surely nothing else but boring to see the old wooden statues in a shabby temple when I was a teenager. But I can feel the power of people's thoughts and sorrow when they built the old temple and the Buddha statures to make their wishes for peace. The silence along with old wooden houses, which were totally unfamiliar with me who grown up in a big modern cosmopolitan, could even touches me... the nostalgia!


Why it happened? Maybe because I became older and cultural knowledge, which was formed in the U.S. and Europe, helped me to awake my DNA as a Japanese. Of course I always love skyscrapers in Tokyo as they I grown up with them. I also love red brick buildings and European churches and castles I dreamt of visiting for years.


BUT I now fell in love with wooden old temples, castles and statures built hundreds years ago, as well as the perfect matches with autumn leaves.


Here is my compromise. I did my painting in the garden of the Nanzenji Temple and the red brick building is a bridge with waterway built in 1890. Though the bridge is not really old, compared to the ones in Europe, it is one of the oldest western-style waterway bridge in this country. Besides, the colors of autumn leaves make perfect contrast and reflection on the red bricks!


I finished this painting in 35 minutes. Am I quick? Yes, of course! Because I WAS NOT ABLE TO STAY THERE ANY LONGER, because of the rapidly dropping temperature there. It was about 5 Celsius, or 40 in Fahrenheit; the coldest day of this year!


As soon as I folded my palette, I got out of the temple and ran back to the subway station nearby. Though the scenery was perfect, the autumn leaves in sunset, it was not the prefect season/timing for my painting. I became feverish by the time I am back to Tokyo and spent a whole day in a bed...dreaming of Kyoto.

November 20, 2008

Aftermath of Global Financial Crunch?

As a matter of fact, I thought I am totally free from the recent global financial turmoil. I do not mean I am wealthy enough to waste some money, but I just DO NOT have any assets to be hurt by the international credit crunch.

However, it was only a couple of weeks ago when I got a bank account report from a Japanese city bank, I recognized the aftermath of the disaster has finally reached me.

I opened a bank account at the bank about 6 years ago to save my bonus payment in euro and Aussie dollars. Why did I put my money there in Aussie? The reason was easy -- interest rates! Initially, I planned to buy only euro with my bonus in Japanese yen. But... all of a sudden...somebody inside me whispered a warning: "Mina, Don't you have to hedge risks? Is euro-only saving good enough for you?"

In terms of risk hedges of stronger yen against other currencies --which would lessen my bank account balance in yen eventually-- as well as to earn better profits via differences of higher interest rates, I decided to put the half of my bonus into Aussie...

Yet, it seemed to be OK until September this year. The unrealized profits of my saving in euro and Aussie increased by 25-30% from the initial capital, thanks to weaker-than-expected yen against those currencies and relatively high interest rates.

But the situation converted all of a sudden under the growing concerns on the global credit crunch triggered by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and other related issues.

The latest account report showed my "Unrealized Losses" are now swelling to as much as 10%; Aussie plunged by 40% while euro weakened by 25% against yen during the past two monthes.

I know it's not easy to earn money...... But I learned now that it's SO EASY to lose money in a instant.

November 6, 2008

Has The Change Really Come To America?


Nov. 4 of 2008 will be the really unforgettable day not only for the people in the U.S., but for the rest of the world as Barack Obama has been elected president of the controversial nation, as the first African-American elected to the country's highest office. We were, there was no doubt, one of the witnesses of the historic moment. The speech made by the next President of the United States was surely moving.

As a matter of fact, I was somewhat skeptical about Obama's landslide victory though the U.S. Media expected him to win with a wide margin. As a person who was educated in the U.S., I thought America is not yet ready to have an African-American President. Although I had never felt that I was a MINORITY at school or in the Bay Area, I knew that the place I was from was not mirroring the whole shape of the nation. The reality of the professed nation of the unity is not a melting pot but a large piece of patchwork.


Ominous black clouds still still loom over the country and thus over the rest of the world.

In his speech, Barack Obama declared, saying "The Change has come to America." However in the midst of his supporters' chorus of shouts "Yes, We Can! Yes, We Can!" the next President of the U.S. was standing behind bulletproof glass walls.

It is surely sad and unfortunate to say that there has always been a considerable danger for Mr. Obama to be assassinated. In fact, exit polls showed that about 55% of WHITE American gave vote to John McCain. I can easily imagine that some people would say "Oh my God, The White House is no more the one we loved as it became The Black House," or something like that... In fact, it was only a couple of days ago when some creepy crazy white-Americans plot the death of Mr. Obama.

Moreover, I always wonder whether the U.S. is a real democratic and developed country or not, in terms of the MESS of voting. The election result came out clearly and quickly this time, but the complicated and not functional voting system let people to wait in the long line for hours to cast their votes.

Before dispatching troops to the middle-east and South Asia, the U.S. had better settle down a 'modern election system' not to be supervised by the United Nations election administration committee.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/04/MNFA13RQDA.DTL&type=politics&tsp=1

October 11, 2008

Wine Train Ride in Napa, California


Taking a Wine Train trip in Napa is one of the most favorite events for many travelers in Northern California. But just like not many Tokyoite go to the observatory of the Tokyo Tower several times or very few Japanese poeple climb up to the top of Mt. Fuji repeatedly, it is not really common either for Northern Californian to take wine train trips several time in their lives...I guess. However, as a matter of fact, it was my third time to take the tourist train with gorgeous dishes.

The first time was with my farther... I believe it was in the summer 2000. We enjoyed champagne branch ride. The meal was great and my Dad really enjoyed and loved the tour.

The second time was with my female friend who was traveling together in the Bay Area to attend my Berkeley friend's wedding. At that time, we enjoyed Spas and grape seed oil massage at a hotel and then head toward the dinner. That was...just great and we both loved the treatment.

So, this time, me and my mother tried lunch ride. As I'm driving, I was not able to drink wine during the ride, though I could enjoyed some 'tasting' before boarding.

As Mother and I ordered different plates, we could enjoy both versions. It was surely expensive, but worth trying to entertain special people, such as PARENTS! My mother, needless to say, really loved the experience in Napa.
Yes, Mama, I'm glad you to say that! Why don't we come back here with Dad sometime again?

September 24, 2008

Sundial Bridge in Redding, California


People will imagine palm trees, beach and the Holly Wood sign as the typical images of California. But THAT IS NOT THE TRUTH! California is more than that!!!

Whenever I travel to see my friends in Northern California, my Japanese friends ask me, "Did you go to Holly Wood? What about the Disneyland in L.A.?"

No kidding! The land size of California is about the same of the main island of Japan. Nobody would expect foregin travelers in Tokyo to drive down to Hiroshima or to Okayama for a day trip... right?

Anyway, my second home, filled with my school days memories, is in Northern California of green mountain area, crystal clear lakes, rice fields and the Bay Area. California is really big, maybe much bigger than everybody (in Japan) thinks. So is Northern California, as it will take more than 5 hours if you drive down from Mt. Shasta to Berkeley, the East bay of the Bay Area.

I usually drive straight between Mt. Shasta and Berkeley, except 1-2 times of coffee break. This time, too, I could take my Mother to Napa from Mt. Shasta within 6 hours. But I decided to stay overnight in Redding, one of the LARGEST cities in Northern California. (Mom is not really used to long-distance travel by driving.)

Ron recommended us to stop by the Sundial Bridge in Redding. Though I did not know anything about the site because the bridge was built only a couple of years ago at the Turtle Bay, I thought it should be a good idea to entertain Mother in a small city, where there is nothing special to host foreign visitors besides the newly built bridge.

By the time we got the Turtle Bay park, a popular camping field, the sun was about to drop over the mountains. The reflection over the water --Sacrament River-- was nothing else but gorgeous! I quickly opened my sketch book and grabbed a pen and a brush to paint the beautiful moment.

Here it is!

September 12, 2008

Traveling Northern California: Mt. Shasta


One of the biggest events of this summer for me was traveling Northern California to see my old friends from junior college and Berkeley.

Well, although I was born and grew up in Tokyo, I would say Northern California (above San Francisco) is my second home.

As well as seeing and talking to my dearest friends, I was able to say 'Hi' to my sacred and special mountain, Mt. Shasta.

Though the air was a bit smoggier than usual because of wild fine in Happy Camp, the beautiful mountain was still there and smiling to me...

Hello, I'm home!!

July 21, 2008

Cinque Terre in Italia, 2006




"Cinque Terre" means "Five Lands," or laterally five small fishing villages located in the northwestern coast area in Italy. I came by these villages on the way from Siena to Milan, via Pisa. It took about 2 hours from Pisa by local train.


I stayed at an apartment in Riomaggiore and, of course, had a great time there.


In Manarola, I met a guy Bepe from Perusia. We had nice conversation and Bepe would not leave me while I was painting the sunset view in Manarola. Because he does not speak any English, we had to speak in Italian, baby talk Italian...
When I finished painting, Bepe told me something like this (in Italian).
"I'm sorry but I have to go now, as my friends and I have an appointment for dinner tonight."
"That's OK. It was nice meeting you Bepe. I have decided to have supper at a restaurant over there (you can see it the green house in my picture "Manarola"). So have a good night."
"No, no! I want to see you again after the dinner. I will come back quickly as soon as I finish the meal."
"Oh, no. You don't have to. Anyway, I have to take a train to go back to my apartment in Riomaggiore, the next train stop. So, I have to leave heare a hour later or so..."
"I'll come back as soon as possible, OK?"
Bepe left me and I had supper at the restaurant by myself. When I was leaving the restaurant I saw Bepe was running up to me from the hill.
"Mina, Mina! I'm back!"
But we had about 10-15 min. before the train arrival. He wanted me to walk back to the next stop Riomaggiore, about 1 mile away from Manarola. However...after the sunset, walking back along the promenade in the dark with an Italian guy? Well...I don't think so!
So I said good bye to him again telling that I have already got a train ticket and left Manarola.
The train was late about 10-15 min. as usual. When I got the Riomaggiore Station and walked up the hill for a while toward my apartment, I saw Bepe sitting on the bench and waiting for me.
Mamma Mia! Bepe was such an Italian gentleman.
I admired his passion so that could not help but having a glass of beer with him before I went back to my room.

July 20, 2008

Piazza del Campo in Siena


I painted this piece from the roof top of the museum, next to the Duomo.
The view was... Just Fantastic! Que vella la vista!!

July 15, 2008

Watercolors from Siena



When I saw the TV program introducing Siena, Italy, a couple years ago, I could not help but stop thinking about going to the historic city. Soon after I got to know about the city, I started looking for air tickets and hotels to realize my dream; painting the beautiful plaza, Il Campo, in Siena!!


As soon as I arrived at the city, I rushed out to the plaza and found an ideal seat to paint the tower of the plaza. Then I moved to Duomo and was very impressed by the beauty melting in the sunset... Though the city is too historic and is seen as somehow rusty, but I recognized the wonderland was surely alive! Especially when I had local dishes, I fully understood how and why the city has been loved by millions of travelers, as well as local people, for centuries.

Sweets and Flowers








Many friends who came to see my watercolors at the Pastelaria Gojo in Ichigaya, Tokyo, brought me flowers. How sweet of them!

Speaking of sweet, special sweet treats at the Pastelaria Gojo are nothing else but great. Don't they look great? Yes, they taste great, too, as a matter of fact.

It will be more than my pleasure if people can enjoy these sweet plates along with my sweet(?) touch of watercolors.

July 7, 2008

Watoercolors from Rome, Italy




Let me show you some of my watercolors painted in Rome, Italy in 2006. They are now showing at the Pastelaria Gojo in Ichigaya, Tokyo.
(
http://www.ryokucha.co.jp/pastelaria/)

Rome is one of my favorite cities in Italy, besides the city is always the starting point of my trip in the country. There are too many things to see, to eat and to paint in the treasure box-like historical city.

I asked local people about their favorite monuments. Luca, a front desk clerk of my regular hotel near the Termini, recommended me to go to see the Piazza of Vittorio Emanuele II, top. Looking at the beautiful, but huge monument, my first impression was "Can I hit everything in one piece?" It took about one hour to finish cram everything into my sketch book and another 10-15 minutes to finish coloring on the site.

As soon as I finished the first piece, I recognized that there was a unique shaped building right behind me, middle. Not knowing the name of the structure, I just kept drawing the outlines. When I finished about two-thirds of this painting, a girl came up to me and asked to take a picture together -- me, my painting and the girl. Her name is Maria from Russia. As she is taking English lessens at home, she wanted talk to me in English, according to her mother.

The last piece was painted near the Sant' Angelo. As I worked on the object before from the front angle, across the bridge, I decided to change sites to place both Sant' Angelo and San Pietro next to each other= bottom. The sunset became the perfect lighting to outline the divine beauty of the world center of Catholicism.

July 4, 2008

My Art Show at Pastelaria Gojo


I have reached the halfway point... I'm talking about my Art Show at the Pastelaria Gojo in Ichigaya, Tokyo. Though it is not a typical gallery art show, it has successfully drawn many people's attention, even ones who had never been to gallery shows.

The cafe has a high popularity not only among sweet teeth, but the people who love both sweets and alcoholic drinks. During my exhibition, the chef, prepares special Italian menu inspired by my watercolors! Actually, she is good at French cuisine, but just for my art show, she decided to offer time-limited dishes, as a collaboration of Art and Food!

If you taste her special Italian menu, along with 11 pieces of my watercolors painted in Rome, Siena, Cinque Terre and Mirano, you may feel like traveling Italy with us!

July 3, 2008

Troubled Train -- Brand-New Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line



It's been a few weeks since the Tokyo's newest subway line, Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line, started operation in mid June. But the brand-new metro has series of troubles since its opening, due to several -- but very basic technical -- reasons.

I went to Shibuya today and I thought of taking the notorious line on the way back home. It was my first time to take the line as I have several other ways go back home by trains. But I had some time to kill... so I decided to try something new, even if I don't have to take the train at all.

But that was a mistake. When I went down to the platform of the Fukutoshin Line at Shibuya Terminal, I heard the in-station announcement that warned us to take "Detours" instead of taking the brand-new line. As somebody threw oneself in front of a train at Tokorozawa Station, more than 40km away from Shibuya, the time schedule was totally disrupted so that train cars were all stuck at each stations.

"We're sorry but we have no idea when we will be able to run the next train from hire (Shibuya) to Ikebukuro. Please take other transportations, such as the JR Yamanote Line..." The voice of the announcement tried to pursuade us, or rather urged us to get out of the Fukutoshin Line station for faster and more convenient transportations.

Still, I spent another 10-15 min. for the subway line to restart the operation, but in vein. However, I recognized that if I take the Yamanote Line from the upper level of the station, it won't take more than 15 min. to go back to Iidabashi...

OK... I thought of taking a detour from Shibuya to my house to experience something new, but I will go back home as usual, if you (Station Master) says so!

Finally, I made up my mind to follow the kind advice of the station master. At the gate, he gave us a free transfer ticket (one for each person, of course) and I managed to go back home within 15 min. It was so easy to bring everthing back in order when I gave up taking the brand-new Metro line.

Well...No Adventure Today!

June 26, 2008

Mina's Profile in Japanese By Pastelaria Gojo

I wish you could read Japanese...


June 25, 2008

L'estate in Italia (Summer in Italy@Tokyo)

Special Collaboration of Italian Sweets & Watercolors on June 16-July 19, 2008

Pastelaria Gojo in Ichigaya, Tokyo, is presenting early summer event "L'estate in Italia (Summer in Italy)" from June 16 to July 19.

During the special fiesta weeks, the fashionable cafe serves limited-time Italian dishes and variety of dessert menu, featuring watercolors by Mina Hasegawa.

About 10 of Mina's latest artworks (painted in Roma, Siena and Cinque Terre) will provide you an ideal atmosphere. You might feel like traveling Italy with her!

Please come and enjoy our special summer treats; grab your quick vacation in Italy at a Tokyo cafe.


For Shop Details & Map of Pastelaria Gojo, please click here; http://www.ryokucha.co.jp/pastelaria