Six Angels

There is a building of a newspaper company called NZZ near the Opera House.
When you walk on the road along the lake from this street, you will find some interior shops like select shops.

I went there to find 6 angles one day before Christmas.

As a matter of fact, I wanted them last year but I inadvertently forgot to purchase them. After a doubtful look on her face for a second in response to my question, the sales person replied, “Oh yes. We have them,” and brought them on her both hands from behind the door.

Somehow my poor pointless explanation as “They are very small angels, and each has different gesture, with the face that you may want to place them in different places,” was understood, and 6 angels were revealed from chiffon cloth one by one.

Although it could be an interesting idea to display each in unexpected places, like sitting or lying down and so on, when we have guests, I decided to have them play around the wreath during the time when the candles of Advent Krantz are lit.

4 weeks before Christmas, counting from Christmas Eve. This year, the fist candle was lit on the last Sunday of November, and the fourth was lit this Sunday.

Fur trees are brought from the nearby forests, as well as from farther north in Europe.

It is our tradition to decorate them on the 24th.

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Happy New Year!

Swans are floating on the lake.

Squirrels and foxes in the forest
are looking for food by digging holes in the snow with their heads.

We, living with humans,
all got together to celebrate the new year,
and slowly started to get going again.

We wish for a happy year,
and hope to expect many fun things to come.

We wish you that this year will be a peaceful one.

We appreciate your continuous support for another year.


Photo:© Schweizer Milchproduzenten SMP • PSL

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Winter Lights

Since the big snow three weeks ago, the temperature has dropped considerably in Zurich. A snow-white world welcomes you when you get up in the morning, and you hear the elementary school children throwing snowballs on their way to school.

The big twinkling Christmas tree decorated with Swarovski crystals is stood up as usual in the Christmas market at the Central Station. As many as 160 venders are busy, selling cheese, dry sausages, raclette, wooden crafts of traditional Swiss arts and crafts or handmade natural stone accessories, as well as sweaters from Peru or silks from China.

It is the busiest time of the year. Finishing up your work, meeting people, small parties to attend and so on. Although fixed appointments will gradually disappear from your schedule once it’s done, there are things that tend to be put off later.

They are decorating inside the house, confirming the menu for Christmas Eve, looking for presents, and baking cookies and so on.

Whether you are religious or not, this custom has become a familiar event for me, even though I feel some temperature difference in the enthusiasm of religious Europeans. However, besides that, if you somehow plan to celebrate the Japanese-style New Year, you have to be in high spirits and energetic just for the sake of these several weeks of the year. In order to enjoy every process, some cheering voices may be required in your mind.

Many small presents will be prepared for one person. When you think of the presents to give to the people you expect that night, the number will be several times the number of people, which is really something. You buy several types of winterly wrapping papers and ribbons, and start wrapping each one by changing the color of paper and adding some decorations in place of sign.

While I knew it was about time to browse and look for such things, I hurried through the street by avoiding the people among the vendors, telling myself that I would come to the Market some other time to take a good look. The fluffy fraglance of cinamon and anis just passed me.

Snowflakes started to flutter down on the city streets in the twilight.

The temperature is probably around -5℃. Lots of people have gathered around the hot wine vendor. Having a little flushed cheeks and displaying heir breaths like smoke, they seem to have been chatting there for quite a while.

My feet headed from the street where brand shops stood side by side, to the plaza of the financial district.

Although you may find many Sprünglie, a well-established chocolatier, in town, I somehow end up with this shop. Since they do not have this brand in Japan, it is the place where I buy my souvenirs or presents, just like going to Akasaka all the way to buy the sweet bean paste of Toraya in Japan.

Holding some boxes wrapped in gold packing paper, I chose the black truffle freshly made today for myself.

As the light was so beautiful that I decided to walk to the post office.

Medieval stone-paved lanes often branch off in narrow paths. Restaurants are lit, and numerous miniature bulbs are everywhere, just like falling from the sky, lighting up the people’s faces passing by.

The next corner is where I am heading.

The church bells are ringing loud and clear in the freezing sky.

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A Village not on the Map


With the snow-capped Alps in the far distance, the ridgeline of the mountains is sharp and clear.The village of which I took a picture a few weeks ago, must be beautiful in the deep fall colors.

Dairy farmers who made cheese in the mountain lodges in the Alps meadows during summer, come back to the villages at the foot of the mountain, bringing cows with them. The cows are decorated with colorful flowers and special costumes, and walk through the village ringing the bells. This is called “cow parade” descending the mountains. At the Chästeilet (which literally means “dividing of the chees”) Festival held in the village, the faramers divide the piled-up huge round cheeses to the dairy farmers depending on the amount of milk they used. It is a traditional festival seen in various areas in the Alps.

Out of the milk from one cow, approximately 6 pieces of huge cheese, weighing more than 10 kg, can be made during one summer. I understand they have a traditional method of calculation, telling which cow of which farmer has given so much milk. This seriousness really sounds like Swiss.

Once I have seen this festival in a very thick photo book. Under a clear blue sky, they wear traditional clothes and hats handed down through generations in the village, and proudly carry the cheeses. I thought it would be great to meet some cattleman with a deep wrinkled face, a mustache, and mysterious eyes just like a mountain avatar.

I searched in the Internet and made a phone call to the department that looked appropriate. It seemed 2 weeks too early for the “Cheese Dividing Festival.” However, I was told that there is a small dairy farm house that gives away, not divide, cheese over the weekend. As the weather turned out beautiful, we decided to go for a drive to the Alps.

By train, the station you get off is Zweisimmen in the Province of Bern. It is well known as a summer and ski resort.From here, you may take the mail bus, which runs one every hour, to get to the house, the venue of this day. However, this place was farther from our place than we had expected, and due to the gridlock on the way, we missed this bus.

“We have to drive very close to the edge of the cliff roads without guardrails. It can be quite dangerous driving such winding roads,” said my husband, who had weakness in heights, and much hesitated to drive. Wether we would wait for 1 hour or drive up the road. Consequently we decided to drive and we input the address on the navigator, but it did not show on the map because it was such a small village. Before long, we came to a halt.

We were lost, and asked some people who were resting in the middle of their walks. They said, “Go back a little, and turn at the water fountain; we think that’s the place you’re looking for.”

1800 meters above sea level. The chorus of yodel started to surround us. The language might be ancient Swiss German. Although I was not able to hear the words, the voices of the singing group of 10 people wearing sky-blue uniforms, echoed in the Alps and reverberated in transparent vibrato.
Huge mountains standing in front of us, scattered houses, green farmlands, and plants and flowers in the plateau. The tone resonating to the wild nature was too beautiful, and it touched my heart like somewhere unknown, which made me very emotional.

Although it was before lunchtime, wooden tables and benches were almost full. We were able to sit where we could see the mountains in front of us, and we ordered the local beer, cheese, and fresh ham.


Although people gathered together, it had a quiet atmosphere just like a pre-celebration. We came to realize that this was the house that produced the cheese for the village. We were guided to the storage where all the cheeses were neatly arranged side by side.

The person who guided us was the eldest son of Mr. Santschi, who provided this venue that day. We learned that his morning ritual included soaking a total of 800 round cheeses, each weighing 15 kg, into the salt water then placing them back into the original locations.
There is a famous sport called , which is like a cross of Sumo and wrestling, originated from the Alps kids’ play. It is a fighting sport and Swiss national sport where you swing your oponent around to put him down. He was a player of this sport. We saw him as a macho man with muscled chest, but we realized that he trained himself with cheese, instead of dumbbells, every morning.

We were given some share of this year’s cheese from the storage, and we went back down slowly, enjoying looking at the cows eating grass or taking a nap with the Alps in the background.

Every house and store in the small town at the foot of the mountain had full of red or pink geraniums, which were gently in harmony with the delicately carved preserved wooden architecture that is unique to this region.

As Switzerland has unique breads by each region, we dropped in at one bread shop first. Here, we got the address of a cheese shop of this town.
We selected Gruyere, Emmental, Reblochon, goat cheese, and fruit cheese.

That night, we tried those cheeses with figs and grapes for dinner with our guests from Germany, to go with La Côte, white wine from the Lake Geneva. Every cheese demonstrated wonderful flavor.


Downloaded the photos into my computer, I clicked sceneries that were postcard-like even when cut at any angle.

While Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, I feel things move slowly compared to Tokyo. The biggest difference is the fact that we have forests and lakes within the city. Even on boulevards, you see spring water everywhere, and you can bring your lips closer to drink. It is crisp and cold, the water from the mountains.

People here fully enjoy weekends, and days for annual paid vacation is 50 days or longer. Having said that, the stress level suffered by the people working in the center of this financial world is abnormally high. I hear that those men who wish to quietly move to a remote village in the Alps and become “cattlemen” are not a minority.

I cannot imagine the severity of the Alps when locked in the snow, and I don’t believe that cows will be cooperative all the time.

Although I understand that most of them fail during the apprenticeship and return to the city, one former elite banker in his 40s was introduced as a success story on TV. He lives with cows, has leaned how to make cheese, and have become a successful farmer living in the Alps.

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Easter Bunnies

How exciting it is as a play to hide and seek small presents such as colorful eggs or chocolates in the grass of your garden after the snow has melted. How fun and joyous the dinner of spring is when families and relatives gather together. She repeatedly told me about Easter.

Pious Catholics abstain from eating meat 40 days before Easter, starting from Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. As Zurich is a Protestant town, I have never heard of very strict stories, however, celebratory mood is in the air as Easter gets closer, and people spend time to decorate at home.

You will find bunnies everywhere in town.
First of all, chocolate shops. Well known Sprüngli established in 1836, or Teuscher which was introduced in Japan, bring out the same old bunnies every year. Looking at some of the new ones, you may see modern artistic bunnies. Those carrying traditional eggs, or playing the accordion, or dancing. It is quite interesting to find such bunnies as if they are jumping out of picture books.

Show-windows display bunnies, bunnies and bunnies.
In the interior corners of department stores, you will find bunnies of various colors such as green, pink or gold, or bird nests decorated with such eggs, or egg ornaments with beautiful patterns or pictures which can be hung on tree branches.

The great granddaddy of them all is the real bunnies. Small rabbits of shiny pink skin with the fur ripped off, lay down in an orderly manner with their limbs stretched out on the trays in the food floor. I sometimes go down their to check if they are still there that day, but I do not have courage to purchse any.

Vitality of trees to spout and eggs as a symbol of life. Productiveness and vibrant dynamism of rabbits. Joy and hope. These elements become the symbols to celebrate the rebirth of Jesus and decorate the room.

April 2 is Good Friday or Holy Friday. Apart from my faithfulness, I usually cook a whole freshwater fish like seaperch (Suzuki) or trout, to follow the tradition here.

This year’s Easter falls under the third day from this day, Sunday, April 4. Traditionally it will be lamb or goat. If you have a big family, I understand you will eat the whole lamb or goat. I wonder this custom teaches the sharing of the sacrificed. I hear rabbit come after lamb in terms of priority.

The Easter decoration brought out to the garden. This white bunny was sitting quietly inside the house until a little while ago.

Spring has come.

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Happy New Year!


Alpine Mountains were asleep in the color of silver.

Although it snowed at midnight on the New Year’s Day, all melted in the following day and it brought a brilliant blue sky for the first three days of the year.

New Year’s Eve. All the churches in this neighborhood rang their bells all at once, and fireworks shot in the sky one after another in the opposite side of the lake. We could hear the cheers from the far distance.

The top of the champagne bottle that was supposed to be opened for the New Year’s Eve Countdown, was quite stubborn, but finally opened by the force of a nut cracker, just in time for the midnight. The TV was showing the live street views of Zurich. Various faces from Africa, Eastern Europe, or South America as well as the local Swiss youth, were smiling at the TV screen.

The fireworks set pieces, which were to be developed in full scale at around 300 meters from the ground, were quite artistic and displayed interesting performances this year. They erupted from the lake, kept running up and ended up with dancing in the space. Fantastic glow like aurora, appeared in the darkness and covered the surface of the water.

In the bright light, lovers embraced each other, kissed each other time to time, and looked up the night sky again.

New Year has come!

We all wish for a peaceful year.

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Silent Night

A fir tree arrived from the further north of Northern Europe.
In the German-speaking world, there is a custom to decorate the tree on the morning of the 24th.

When farmiliar faces get together, the presents under the fur tree pile up higher.
Sooner or later, someone will light the candle one by one.

Father telling a Christmas story to his children. Music scores of the hymns. Sound of an organ.
Although this scene of the night will change little by little every year,
While it is peaceful, you feel some solemnness in the air.

Merry Christmas!!

Wishing you all a wonderful night.

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Aroma of Christmas

Cinnamon, ginger, anis, clove….
All of these are the spices used for cakes and cookies for Christmas. Such aroma was floating in the air from the Central station building, Christmas markets and hot wine stands along the streets.

The period from the fourth Sunday before Christmas is called Advent in the German-speaking Swiss region, and everybody starts to prepare for the Christmas. People get excited and happy. It is just like the joyful but restless moments before the New Year in Japan.

We look for presents for each member of your family and relatives, which requires certain days to give each a different wrapping. Illuminations will be lit and big Santa will be on the wall in the house where children are around, and the wreath on the front door is another element to consider. I have changed my potpourri to the one of Christmas flavor. When I had my face close to the branch of the fir tree that was just chopped down, I could smell the cold and tranquil forest. This should be also arranged around the potpourri.

There were 4 candles for Advent. This year, one candle was lit on the last Sunday of November, and on every Sunday since then, the 2nd and the 3rd candles were lit. Today makes the 4th one to be lit.

While the classical decoration means ribbons or ornaments over the evergreen wreath, that varies depending on the family. Whatever color or design that you like. Since the first-lit candle becomes the shortest, some people design so that the candles will be of different height. Although we enjoyed covering the whole floor with tree branches and used blue candles last year, this year gave us a different mood.

We thought Sarabande might be suitable to listen, so we selected D major. In accompany with the slow melody of cello, we idly gazed at the shadows of the candles.

Outside is -10 degrees. Over the snow that fell last night, frost flowers are sparkling radiantly.

Christmas is just around the corner.

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Zurich Opera House/ “Corsaro”

Every year, from autumn to winter season, we welcome guests from Japan who come at random. And usually they come here as treats for themselves, such as because they have just finished some project or it is the right time to have a break from work, and so on. Quite often they come as solo travelers.
Although these people may be quite demanding, they know what they want and are very independent. Therefore, it is fine to let them to be themselves during the day, as they know how to enjoy themselves. However, the problem is the evening part on how to make them satisfied.

If it is in the cold season, we would like to recommend some opera, after all. Therefore, quite often, their schedule may be slightly adjusted, after we go through the program beforehand.

Zurich Opera House is solemnly situated near the lake. At the moment, it is one of the hottest opera houses in the world. It is also known as one opera house where the performances shown from September to June are of top level and it is hard to obtain tickets.

In the fall of 2007, “La traviat” and “Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose)” were performed in the Orchard Hall in Japan. It was a hot topic of town as excellent opera singers were lined-up lavishly on stage.

The Aktientheater build in 1834 was the predecessor. It was the venue where Richard Wagner, who went into exile in Switzerland at that time, demonstrated his talents. Even now, I understand that there still remain quite a lot of musical notes of Wagner in an antique shop near the university. This theater was burnt down in the past, and the current Zurich Opera House was build in 1891. We understand that eminent big-time masters such as Wilhelm Furtwangler, and Richard Strauss, as well as Wagner were hired to perform on the stage, and the success and its reputation overwhelmed the Europe.

The House accommodates 1100 seats. Although the exterior and the interior are beautiful and massive, it is rather small compared to the counterparts of Paris and Vienna. It is just like a cute princess.

However, the convenience of the location and the economic power of Zurich play a great role here. Furthermore, the country has 4 languages and English is spoken normally. There are many people who speak 2 or 3 languages. Among my Swiss friends, some has an excellent skill to switch languages whenever she goes across the border within Europe. It is a great advantage not to have a language barrier. Italy, Germnay, Austlia and Easter European countires. Each program has the world’s top class singers all lined-up. This town has all the required conditions to attract and focus on such vast range of talents.

The Opera House welcomed Alexander Pereira, present General Manager, in 1991. Since then, under his firm leadership, the Opera House has been gaining the momentum year after year.

The annual performance repertory holds 32 to 35 performances, 15 of which will be totally new interpretations. While it indicates that at least 1 performance will be a new one per month during the season, it is considered almost impossible frequency in the general opera world.

Franz Welser-Möst, who was appointed as the Chief Conductor in 1995 and served as the General Music Director since 2005, will become the General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera in 2010. This position was suceeded by Italian Daniele Gatti in June this year.

The curtain opens at 8 o’clock. We left our coats at the cloak, and we are at the lobby holding the pamphlet in hand. Our seat is the balcony on the 2nd floor, which is our favorite.。

Photo: Opernhaus Zürich/ Suzanne Schwiertz

The production is Verdi’s “Corsaro.” Corrado, the chief corsair, is performed by Vittorio Grigolo who is now on the rise. His lover Medora is performed by Elena Mosuc, female slave Gulnara by Carmen Giannattasio, and Seid who loves her, by Juan Pons. Grigolo who stands between two sopulano is just perfect.

Last fall, by using the Zurich central station building as was, involving the people after work and the audience, “La Traviata” was performed and simultaneously broadcasted on TV. The singer who played Alfredo there was this Grigolo. While he was a wonderful singer, it was interesting to see a glimpse of his mischievous character during the interview, which made me his fan, anxious to listen to his voice in other performances.

Furthermore, in this performance, a young Japanese tenor, Mr. Shinya Kitajima, made his debut in the role of Selimo. Later on, I had a chance to talk with him.
“While I was lucky to have such wonderful co-performers, the reason why I was able to perform the premier without being too nervous owes a lot to the unique warm atmosphere of this Zurich Opera House, I believe.”
I think these words of Mr. Kitajima represent the characteristics of the Opera House.

Photo: Opernhaus Zürich/ Suzanne Schwiertz

Alexander Pereira, the General Manager, often says, “As far as it is faithful to the story, I belive producers are fee for any adventures.”

As for the “Corsaro” this time, when I asked the support members of the Opera House, most of them responded that they had no idea since the conductor and singers would be performing for the first time and the program was rarely performed.

However, day by day, reputation brought another reputation, which resulted in all fully booked performances.
Especially we noted the originality of the choreograph, such as the water on the whole surface of the stage to reflect on a huge mirror, sophistication of lighting and perfect tempo, all of which never bore us. Surprises and unexpectedness developed one after another.

We stepped out into the balcony holding champagne glasses at the interval. Although the glitz of the lobby was nice, the heat of the stage directly came into the air, which overwhelmed us. Cold night breeze was so refreshing.

Having the 6th curtain call, the opera house was filled with another roar of excitement. For this type of challenging and dynamic stage, the audiences gave generous applause. The high quality of such audience is also, I believe, a sign of high recognition in the world of opera house.


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To the Froest

One Sunday afternoon, I had a chance to go to the forest.
Although the Lake Zurich is nearby, you can easily access to the forest within walking distance from the central area of the city. Walking or jogging in the forest has become part of our daily life here.

The place I went this day was along the shore of the Lake Zurich. The forest was stretched out near my friend’s house. “Well, the weather turned out just wonderful,” a smiling blond intellectual-looking young man said, looking up the rainy sky.

Holding hands with a small boy wearing rain boots, singing German song that I had no clue what it meant, we climbed up the hill slowly, by walking over the fallen leaves. When we turned into a small lane, my tip of nose sensed something refreshing. I breathed in the deep smell of the forest. Once more, I breathed deeper. Numerous lofty trees connected the earth and the sky.

The moist air from the drizzle in the morning fallen on the ground, and everywhere was filled with this moist air. When crossing the stream, you could feel some slippery touch underneath the shoes. Big and small pebbles here and there were covered with soft moss. They walked through easily by stepping the stones one after another. Once in a while, small breaking sounds of twigs were heard.

Today’s goal is to make a fire in the forest, and to grill big sausages called Bratwurst.

We all spread out in the forest to find some long branches. What would happen to someone like me who had never had anything to do with the life in the mountains or forests, when participating in such an unfamiliar event and faced such an unknown situation?

Feeling simply impressed with the fact that these people have been living in touch with nature since their childhood, and at the same time, being fully aware that I would be no use here at this moment, I silently became the keeper for the Bratwurst. No, it may not be true. As a matter of fact, I did not know what to do. I was just wandering around.

While the army knife of VICTRINOX is well-known in Japan, everybody here has a well-used knife of his own. Taking them out of their pockets, they skillfully made skewers by sharpening the tip of the branches.

I have heard about the story that Swiss children go to barbecues by carrying one sausage of their own, and now I realized this would be the adult version.

It might not be wrong to say that most of the people working in Zurich spend their weekends in the forest in a varied form of this kind.

I wondered if this was the forest frequently visited by the people in the neighborhood. Stones were already piled up. We saw branches of beech tree, larch, and popular and so on. While placing thick trunks, we horizontally poked each “own” Bratwurst into the sharpend tips of the branches mentioned earlier.

Although I felt poking them vertically would be easier to eat, there must be some reason whey they placed them horizontally. Everybody had their own way of making cuts on their sausages. That, also might be their tradition of each family.

Let me repeat, you grill you own. More specifically, you change the angles to roast. Sitting on a fallen tree, by checking the directions of the wind and smoke, you put out your stick over the burning fire.

I found a big stone nearby which could turn to a table. When your own Bratwurst turns to nice brown color, just take it there.

Now I somehow understood the reason whey they had been placed horizontally, instead of vertically. However, they took them out of the sticks. Nicely browned Bratwurst sausages were, of course, very hot. But they grabbed them by hand to eat!!

Still this way of eating food exists in the present time, like a tail of ancient days. What a primitive but wonderful way. To me, grabbing the food to eat in a situation like this, looked very cool. Feeling the closeness of comrades, I simply imitated their ritual.

Around the fire, tranquil and comfortable time went by.

Out of nowhere, appeared some boys with flushed faces. Although this area is not far from town, there may be some secret lanes deep in the forest for these boys.

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