Sunday, July 29, 2007

trips within trips / 旅行裡的旅行

圖為文中介紹的插畫家Nathalie Lete的舊作─巴黎之吻,取自於Nathalie的網站

In the picture is the book Bon Baiser de Paris by Nathalie Lete, the artist introduced in the article / picture taken from Nathalie's website


In recent years, visiting bookstores has become part of my itineraries when traveling. But it is not planned in advance. Often I find bookstores by accident on my way to a certain destination. Once I spot any of them, I can't help but be drawn in like a magnet to the iron. The world I see before and after going bookstores can be so different that it is not exaggerating to compare trips to bookstores abroad to "trips within trips."


On my trip to Japan this summer, I learned how to give up the itineraries prepared ahead of time because of many external and internal factors. There were some scenic spots I regarded as "must-go" before the trip, but it takes pleasant weather and good physical condition to have a safe and nice trip. Now I can live with spending an evening in the hotel room writing journals or hanging out in a bookstore nearby. In this way, the mental and physical pressure can be relieved, and my companion and I can breathe without having to being stuck together 24/7.


The first bookstore where I took my time to read on the trip is Miyawaki Bookstore in the big shopping district in Takamatsu city. I couldn't locate my favorite illustrated or children's book area at first sight, but I was impressed with Japanese' preference for using illustrated book covers. After browsing through shelves of books on how to prepare for exams in all fields, I was attracted by books centering on the topics about love, marriage and family. Maybe they are targeted basically for women, so I found large numbers of pictures and illustrations in many books. The Japanese I encountered gave me the impression of being discreet and self-disciplined, but in these pictures, I saw the childlike innocence and creativity. I am glad my new discovery showed me different sides of Japanese people. I walked out of the bookstore at a light pace. The orderly and low-keyed world I envisioned in my mind for Japanese took on some colors.

印象最深刻的書店是德島市車站旁SOGO樓上的紀伊屋國,那天有點颱風要來襲的意味,我和媽咪在陰暗的傍晚在明亮的八樓書店打發時間,書店裡有下班的上班族、小學生等等,我一路瀏覽過五花八門的雜誌,有關於東京生活的東京人期刊,有各類旅行的雜誌,甚至有針對繪本討論的crayonhouse ehon school,我不禁又血脈噴張起來。童書區雖不大,但是對我來說每一本都是新書,我用力抄下喜歡的書名,計畫在旅行的最後一天把書購齊。那天傍晚步出書店時,感覺輕飄飄的,因為旅行因此又多了個目標,令我心情大好的目標。

I was most impressed with the visit to Kinokuniya on the 8th floor of Sogo near the train station of Tokushima city. That day, we could smell the threat of the No. 4 Typhoon in the air, so my mom and I decided to spend the cloudy evening in the well-lit bookstore. There were people who just got off work, students who searched hard for books, etc. The variety of magazines really amazed me. Tokyo jin is about life in Tokyo. One can find all kinds of magazines on traveling. There is even a periodical crayonhouse ehon school devoted to the discussion on illustrated books. I felt my adrenaline speeding up after a long interval or dormancy. The area for children's books isn't daunting in size, but hey, every book was new for me. I copied the titles of those that captured my attention, planning to buy them all on the last day of my trip. When I left, I felt so light because I had one more goal, a goal that took me to seventh heaven.

於是旅途中只要有機會去到書店,我想擁有的書目不停增加,我沒有什麼野心,擁有這些書對我來說就等於擁有全世界。於是當我們最後購齊了親朋好友的紀念品之後,媽媽問我對於那些美麗的衣裳有沒有興趣,我直嚷嚷書店才是我最想去的地方。我們從四國松山市大街的大明書店找到本州大阪新齋橋商店街的雅典書店,除了找到我看好的書之外,又有了個新發現。雅典書店在一樓特地開闢一小塊空間,主題是巴黎,上頭陳列著日本出版社和巴黎人的合作書籍,有的書只是集結20名巴黎在地人的訪談,有的書則拜訪巴黎戀人的公寓等等,我個人認為這些應該都是日本人對於巴黎嚮往之下的產物,不過書籍做得很精美,我無法抗拒地從其中選了一本 A to Z de Nathalie Lete,納塔莉是住在巴黎的藝術家,她的作品多采多姿,反正一本書可以讓我從大阪飛到巴黎,何樂而不為呢?

I didn't give up any opportunity to go to bookstores. The books I would like to have kept increasing in number. I was not ambitious. Owning these books meant having the whole world for me. After we got all the souvenirs for friends and family members, my mom asked me if I was interested in beautiful clothes. I thought of nothing but the books. We made our way from one local bookstore in Matsuyama city in Shikoku to Athens Bookstore in the Shinsaibashi shopping area in Osaka in Honshu. In the process I found something intriguing again. In Athens Bookstore, a shelf is reserved for books on Paris. They are mostly products designed by Japanese publishers with interviews of Parisians, Parisian lovers and their apartments, and what not. Personally, they reflect how crazy Japanese are about French or European culture. The contents didn't deprive me of my rationality, but I have to admit that the designs of the books are enticing. I chose one titled A to Z de Nathalie Lete, an artist living in Paris. Her artworks are extremely colorful. Well, merely a book can take me from Osaka to Paris. I didn't see any harm in buying it.

在書店裡,我看到了日本人的夢想 〈夢想之書也琳瑯滿目〉,日本人的愛旅行,日本人的創意,還有各種反映現實人生的考試書和實用手冊,當我的日本筆友被遺忘在年少的過往歲月,起碼有書店讓我可以多了解一下這個和我們那麼相似又那麼不同的民族,也讓我去到他們的內心世界一遊。

I got to see Japanese people's dreams (many books on this subject are available), their love for traveling, their creativity and all kinds of books and manuals that present how competitive the real life can be. Since all my Japanese pals were left in oblivion a long time ago, at least I still have bookstores to turn to and gain a better understanding of the race that is so similar to and so different from us. I also won a chance to travel to their inner worlds.


Nathalie's website is:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

this summer / 今年夏天該這樣過

森 友治 攝影

photo by Mori Yuji


Today is the first day after the short summer break. Girls asked, "Was the trip to Japan fun?" I gave some thought to the question, then it hit me that this trip was not quite like those I had taken before. There is no exaggerating or hilarious story to tell, but my journal book was full. What is verbally said seems too shallow, and only people of my age or even older can understand my feeling. I've seen too many things, but for the time being I have to put the records away. A little distance in time will do me some good.

遠離我狹隘的生活,去了日本,遇到許多日本人,買了好些日本人的書,此時的心情雲淡風輕,回頭看幾個星期前的人生像場鬧劇,我又準備要站起來了。這次很幸運地發現森 友治的新書,他的照片令我愛不釋手,我要過濾掉那些不重要的片段,把他小女兒的微笑放在心裡,穩穩地大步向前。今年的夏天還有時間成就一番作為。

To get away from my narrow life, I went to Japan, ran into many Japanese and bought some Japanese books. I feel quite light at this moment. My life a few weeks ago was nothing but a farce. I am ready to get up again. I was more than lucky to have found Mori Yuji's new book. I take so much delight in watching the photos he took. This summer, I am going to put aside those unimportant fragments and bear in my heart only the warm and innocent smile of Mr. Mori's daughter. I will stride forth at a much more steady pace this time.

森 友治的網站:

Link to Mori Yuji's website:

Friday, July 20, 2007

the meaning of traveling / 旅行的意義


photo taken in the movie village of 24 eyes, Shoudoshima, Japan


After this school year, I had a feeling that my heart was locked somewhere in the classroom. Somehow I lost my poise along the way, trapped in self-worry. I even couldn't find the desire to get out. So when my colleagues talked about their annual travel plans with excitement, I buried myself in the trifles at work quietly, as if I didn't plan to go anywhere. I couldn't understand if I was being low-key or indifferent.

圖攝於高知 Los Hotel

photo taken at Los Hotel, Kochi, Japan


"Would traveling make any difference?" I asked myself. Well, I still went on the trip planned in advance to Shikoku, Japan. Different from the past, I chose a low-profile destination where only a handful of tourists could be seen. Yet like before, I couldn't help taking wrong buses, getting lost. We even bumped into a typhoon. Our trip was enriched by what could and could not be expected. They might not always be pleasant, but these experiences took me out of the narrow frame of the reality. I saw myself on the tired look of the office workers. By traveling I took a glimpse into others' lives, so touched by their serious attitude toward life. I also realized how pointless my fear and worries were. I witnessed the strength of life in the beautiful nature. Out of the window in our small Japanese room, I saw the blue sky after the storm.


Two weeks later, I saw a brand-new me. I am not 100% brave, but I do not want to run away anymore. Nor will I change myself to cater to others. I want to hold onto my beliefs and find the answers I am looking for. You asked me the meaning of traveling. Languages seem extra. If you are sensitive enough, you'll find them in me.

Friday, July 06, 2007



Since I was little, I've known that I don't go for crowds. I am not fond of nor good at being with a large group of people. Sometimes I am nearly autistic. But people who know me well are aware of the detail that I am very sensitive to the interaction among individuals. I am also easily influenced by people's feeling. That is why practically all of my stories centered around humankind. I was constantly observing strangers when traveling. I never watched films without any real human actors. I thought I wouldn't change all my life.


Lately I've been very disappointed with mankind. I heard about all kinds of human vices and believed that I was always ready for the worst. But hell no, they are so much worse when you are confronted by them. Optimistic as I am, I can't but kind of despair. For the moment, I refuse to look at the dark and evil in the face.


I didn't like little animals. I would scream and run when seeing dogs when I was a kid. Now I find their frankness to be quite adorable. My current favorite, Shorty, never leaves a stranger without a stain of saliva on his/ her arm. It is so passionate about new people that I doubt if it still remembers who its owners are. Yet when the latter are about to go, Shorty does not forget to follow them, shamelessly with its head lowered. Its fickleness is so direct and obvious. On the other hand, the owners do not hesitate to forgive it when Shorty falls all over them and asks for love like sweet babies. Being in the company of a dog, one does not have to rack his brain. Life is so easy and carefree.


When I get so old and see through all the dirty tricks of human beings, I want to raise a dog and live my simple life away from all that sucks. Others will remember us as the dashing-single-girl-and-the-dog pair…