WILD SWANS TAKE US PARTLY BY TRAIN TO JAPAN AND CHINA/D/E/I


Hauptbahnhof, Zürich/Main station, Zurich/Stazione principale, Zurigo-Tokyo e poi fino a Kofu!/ Auf den Bahnhöfen in Japans Städten bestand bereits in den 7oiger Jahren eine grosse Hektik und sogenannte “Pushers” sorgten dafür, dass das Ein-und Aussteigen schneller ging!

For English and italiano, please scroll down

Wie jede Woche, seit einem Jahr, haben meine Freundin und ich zusammen am Telefon in unserem jetzigen Buch mit dem Titel «Wilde Schwäne» von Jung Chang gelesen. Die Schriftstellerin erzählt darin über das Leben ihrer Grossmutter, Mutter und die von sich selbst. Diese ergreifende autobiographische Familiengeschichte überspannt ungefähr ein Jahrhundert und beginnt in Yixian in der südwestlichen Mandschurei. Da wir auf unserer Chinareise in Chengde/Hebei, das nicht weit entfernt ist, waren, kann ich mir die Umgebung recht gut vorstellen, aber vielleicht die Geschichte nicht!

 Die Grossmutter wurde 1909 geboren, also gegen Ende der Qing Dynastie, und bekam einen Namen, was bereits eine Sensation war! Ihre Füsse wurden ab dem 2. Jahr eingebunden, was mit unvorstellbaren Schmerzen verbunden war, weil die Knochen auch ab und zu brachen, aber eine Frau mit normal grossen Füssen wurde von der Gesellschaft ausgeschlossen und übrigens fühlten sich Männer offenbar von kleinen Füssen erotisch angezogen! Als sehr junges Mädchen wurde sie als Konkubine mit einem einflussreichen Kriegsfürsten verheiratet. Fu-fang verbrachte mehrere Jahre ohne ihren Mann in einem prächtigen Haus, musste aber immer Angst haben bespitzelt und eventuell verraten zu werden. Schlussendlich besuchte er sie doch und sie bekam eine Tochter. Leider verstarb ihr Ehemann aber kurz darauf und Fu-fang hatte Angst um ihr Kind und von der Ehefrau eliminiert zu werden, weshalb sie angab das Kind sei gestorben und ist zu ihren Eltern geflüchtet.

Später heiratete sie den sehr angesehenen, freundlichen und sehr fähigen buddhistischen Mandschu Arzt Dr. Xia, der auch arme Leute behandelte und dem es nichts ausmachte, dass Fu-fangs Vater nichts zur Aussteuer beitragen konnte oder wollte. Die Kinder aus erster Ehe waren damit überhaupt nicht einverstanden und der Altersunterschied betrug ca. 20 Jahre, aber sie mussten sich fügen. Am Schluss entschied Dr. Xia jedoch sein ganzes Eigentum unter den Verwandten aufzuteilen, um schliesslich in Frieden leben zu können und in Jinzhou wieder ganz von vorne anzufangen!

Das Kaiserreich Mandschu mit dem von den Japanern eingesetzten Puyi (der letzte Kaiser der Qing Dynastie) hatte 1932 seinen Anfang. Im Buch wird natürlich von der grausamen Behandlung, des Hungers und der Vertreibung der Menschen durch die Japaner gesprochen, die Japanisch als Hauptsprache einsetzten. Ausserdem wurde der Mutter in der Schule beigebracht, dass Mandschuko ihr Heimatland sei und dass es unter den Nachbarländern zwei chinesische Republiken gäbe, die ihnen schlecht Gesinnte von Chiang Kai-shek und die gut gesinnte pro-japanische Marionettenregierung. Sie hat nie gelernt, dass die Mandschurei zu China gehörte. Es wurde ihr kein Konzept gezeigt, in welchem die Mandschurei zu China gehörte. Ihre Mutter verstand schon sehr früh, dass ihr Land nur für die Japaner ein Paradies war und für Mandschuren die Hölle, die erst 1945 zusammenbrach. Die letzten Kämpfe im Bürgerkrieg zwischen den Komunisten und Chiang Kai-shek endeten erst 1949.

https://rivella49.wordpress.com/filmsbooksedi2/filmsbooksed/balzac-and-the-little-chinese-seamstress/E
https://rivella49.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/hongkongchinapearl-buckde/D/E/I

Als wir vom Thema abgeleitet wurden und über Japan und unsere Reisen mit dem Zug in dieses Land und im Land zu sprechen begannen, dachte ich ein kleiner Bericht darüber wäre vielleicht noch ganz spannend, weil es damals gar nicht so einfach war sich in Japan, ohne Kenntnisse der Sprache zurechtzufinden, denn Englisch war noch selten anzutreffen! Das heisst auch, dass wir später über die grosse Kulturelle Revolution von 1966-1976 lesen werden!

Wenn jemand die kurze Zusammenfassung meiner Freundin zur Reise lesen möchte, kann man

sie hier herunterladen:

Like every week for the last year, I have my phone session together with my friend when we read in a book. Recently we have tackled “White Swans” by Jung Chang. The writer narrates the touching stories of her grandmother, mother and herself. This autobiographic family narrative spans approximately a century and starts in Yixian, in the southwest of Manchuria. Due to the fact that my husband and me have been in Chengde/Hebei, which is close to Liaoning on our trip to China I can quite imagine the natural surrounding, but maybe not the historical one.

The grandmother of the writer was born in 1909 towards the end of the Qing dynasty and was even given a name, Fu-fang, this was already quite a surprise for just a girl. Her feet were bandaged from the ages of two and the consequence were terrible pains because the bones broke frequently. A young lady with normal feet length couldn’t be sold for marriage, which was a business transaction and didn’t have anything to do with love. Besides it seems, small feet were also a sexual attraction for men! When she was about fifteen years old she was married, as a concubine, to a powerful warlord. She then lived in a gorgeous mansion without her husband but with several employees, by whom she was spied on and had to be careful of what she said and did. After he had finally come to visit her, she became pregnant and a daughter was born. Shortly after that her husband became ill and died. The grandmother had been very afraid that the wife of the warlord would want to get rid of the daughter and herself so that she escaped to her parents.

My husband and me had the pleasure to walk on this wall
Franz und ich auf der Chinesischen Mauer/My husband and myself on the Chinese Wall!

Later she married the kind and very respected buddhist Manchu doctor Xia, who also treated poor people. He also had quite a fight about this marriage with his children from the first marriage, who had to accept the decision taken by him in the end. He decided even to divide all his propriety among his family in order to live in peace and start once more from scratch in Jinzhou! The difference of age between the couple was more than 20 years, but it was love! By the way, the doctor didn’t mind that the writer’s father couldn’t or wouldn’t contribute any dowry.

The empire of Manchu with the emperor Puyi (the last emperor of the Qing dynasty) appointed by the Japanese began in 1932. In the book the writer, speaks, of course, of the cruel treatments by the Japanese,the hunger or the mass expulsion of the indigenous people from their homes. Japanese was introduced as first language and her mother was taught at school that Manchukuo was her home country and that among their neighbor countries there were two Chinese republics, one the ill disposed by Chiang Kai-shek and the other, the well disposed Japanese puppet government. At school she was not told in any way that Manchuria was part of China!

Her mother understood very quickly that her country was a paradise only for the Japanese, because their schools were dilapidated and sometimes they had to kneel for hours in the snow. This regime collapsed in 1945. The civil war between the communists and Chiang Kai-shek only ended in 1949!

Reading about Japan and the Japanese made us deviate from our book and we started speaking about our trips by train to this country or our journeys in Japan, and I thought it could maybe interesting to tell you something about it/them. At that time it was not so easy to travel in Japan, because English was still a rarity! This means also that we will latergo on reading about the big Cultural Revolution between 1966-1976!

Memories of my friends trip to Japan:

https://rivella49.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/neue-eiserne-seidenstrassedei/D/E/I
https://rivella49.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/salzsaltsaledei/D/E/I

Das Reisen mit dem “SHINKANSEN “Hochgeschwindigkeitszug, der anscheinend bis zu 35o Km pro Stunde zurücklegt, war für uns im Jahr 1975 ein absolut atemberaubendes Erlebnis! Hier sind wir auf der Fahrt nach Nagoya!
In the year 1975 it was for us an absolute extraordinary experience to travel by this high speed SHINKANSEN train, which seems to reach 35o kilometer, in Japan! In the 7oies there was usually quite a lot of hectic on Japan’s stations. Pushers were there to make people enter faster into the trains!
Viaggiare in Jappone nel 1975 con questo treno di alta velocità era per noi un esperienza assolutamente mozzafiato!

ITALIANO

Come ogni settimana nell’ultimo anno, io e la mia amica abbiamo letto insieme al telefono il nostro libro attuale intitolato “Wild Swans” di Jung Chang. In esso, la scrittrice racconta la storia di sua nonna, di sua madre e di se stessa. Questa storia familiare autobiografica attraversa circa un secolo e inizia a Yixian, nel sud-ovest della Manciuria.

Dato che siamo stati a Chengde/Hebei, che non è lontano, durante il nostro viaggio in Cina, posso immaginare l’ambientazione abbastanza bene, ma magari non la loro storia!

 La nonna è nata nel 1909, verso la fine della dinastia Qing, e le è stato dato un nome che faceva già sensazione! I suoi piedi erano legati dal 2° anno, il che era associato a dolori inimmaginabili perché anche le ossa si rompevano di tanto in tanto, ma una donna con piedi di dimensioni normali era esclusa dalla società e a quanto pare gli uomini si sentivano eroticamente attratti dai piedi piccoli! Quando era molto giovane, fu data in sposa come concubina a un influente signore della guerra. Fu-fang trascorse diversi anni senza il marito, in una splendida casa, ma dovette sempre temere di essere spiata e forse tradita. Alla fine l’ha visitata e lei ha avuto una figlia. Purtroppo, suo marito morì poco dopo e Fu-fang aveva paura per il suo bambino e di essere eliminata dalla moglie, così disse che il bambino era morto e fuggì dai suoi genitori.

Più tardi sposò il dottor Xia, medico buddista manciù molto rispettato, amichevole e capace, che curava anche i poveri e a cui non importava che il padre di Fu-fang non potesse o non volesse contribuire alla dote. I figli del primo matrimonio non erano affatto d’accordo e la differenza d’età era di circa 20 anni, ma hanno dovuto adeguarsi. Alla fine, però, il dottor Xia decise di dividere tutte le sue proprietà tra i suoi parenti per poter finalmente vivere in pace e ricominciare a tutto da capo a Jinzhou!

L’impero Manciù, con Puyi (l’ultimo imperatore della dinastia Qing) installato dai giapponesi, ha avuto il suo inizio nel 1932. Il libro parla naturalmente del crudele trattamento, della fame e dell’espulsione del popolo da parte dei giapponesi, che usavano il giapponese come lingua principale. Inoltre, a sua madre fu insegnato a scuola che il Manchukuo era la sua patria e che tra i paesi vicini c’erano due repubbliche cinesi, quella maldisposta di Chiang Kai-shek e il benintenzionato governo fantoccio filo-giapponese. Non le fu insegnato che la Manciuria apparteneva alla Cina. Non le fu mostrato alcun concetto in cui la Manciuria appartenesse alla Cina. Sua madre capì molto presto che il suo paese era un paradiso solo per i giapponesi e un inferno per i manciù, che non crollò fino al 1945. Le ultime bataglie decisive fra i comunisti e Chiang Kai-shek hanno avuto luogo nel 1949.

I remember very well this boat trip on the Lake Ashi, Japan. Ich M.Ramsauer erinnere mich sehr gut an diese Bootsfahrt auf dem Ashisee, Hakone, Japan/ Mi ricordo molto bene dell’escursione in batello sul lago Ashi!

 Quando siamo andati fuori tema e abbiamo iniziato a parlare del Giappone e dei nostri viaggi in treno verso e in quel paese, ho pensato che un resoconto su questo potrebbe essere piuttosto eccitante, perché non era così facile di viaggiare da solo senza conoscenza della lingua giapponese! Questo vuol anche dire che continueremo più tardi a leggere della grande Revoluzione Culturale fra 1966-1976!

Per chi volesse leggere il piccolo riassunto del viaggio di mia amica può cliccare qui di sotto.

https://rivella49.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/terrakottakrieger-aus-xian-in-bern/?preview_id=15007&preview_nonce=28cbe3926e&preview=trueI/D/E
https://rivella49.wordpress.com/filmsbooksedi2/filmsbooksed/a-christmas-carolcharles-dickens/a-thousand-years-of-good-prayers26/

Nelle città giapponesi esisteva già negli anni 7o una frenesia sulle stazioni ferroviere e c’era del personale apposto per spingere i pendolari più velocemente sui treni! Mia amica mi ha detto che in russia avevano ricevuto prosecco e caviale per colazione!

38 replies »

  1. Visiting locations that are written about in books or seen in movies is always such a joy.
    I’ve not read ‘wild swans’ but it sounds as if it’s quite an emotional journey!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you, Sarah, that the combination between travelling to certain places, here the train has its important part, and reading about these places and their stories, brings us the situations much nearer!
      The whole story of “Wild Swans”, and its history is a hard one and I really enjoy reading it with my friend.
      I thank you very much for having taken your time to read my summary:)

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Very interesting post, Martina! I agree that reading about places we have visited greatly adds to the experience of a fiction or nonfiction book.

    And foot-binding…such an awful “tradition.” With women doing the suffering, of course. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

    • Exactly, Dave, and the trip together with my friend on the phone also made come up emotions we had then and showed us that by travelling in a slow way, such as by train gives many opportunieties of discoveries one may miss by only taking a
      plane and in this sense, I hope that some people may take it as a challenge for the future!
      About the cruelties committed to women in China, such as foot-binding, makes also clear that violences towards women is not an outdated topic, on the contrary, it seems to have been worsening these last months! I very much appreciate your visit to my house:)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, traveling in a slow way is a wonderful way to go, Martina, for the reason you mentioned! I’ve enjoyed that many times.

    And you’re absolutely right that violence of various sorts against women is far from outdated, with the horrific U.S. shootings in Atlanta just the latest example. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • I imagine you, Dave, travelling in a train to Marseille, meeting interesting people, chatting with them and drinking o glass of champagne, how wonderful!
      I have just read that among the killed people there are 6 women with Asien descent! It seems to never end, which makes me very sad.

      Liked by 2 people

      • As we might have discussed when talking about “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Martina, my wife and I took the train (and buses) when visiting Aix-en-Provence and Marseille in 2007. 🙂 And a boat to see the Chateau d’If off Marseille.

        Yes, six of the eight killed were women of Asian descent. Yet another despicable hate crime by a white-male murderer.

        Liked by 2 people

      • So, I remembered well, that must have been great:) To cross the Sowjet Union in the 70ies as my friend did, was probably still slower and less luxurious! When my husband and I travelled to St.Petersburg by train ca.2001, we didn’t get anything to drink nor to eat and there was a kind of warden, who had a checking eye on us and controlled, from time to time, the space under our seats.
        I have just heard a shoking detailed report about the killings in Atlanta and these worsening atrocities .

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds like VERY memorable trips, Martina! (The one your friend took and the one you and your husband took.) The lack of food and drink, and that warden, sound annoying. 😦 I visited the Soviet Union in 1982, and did a lot of train travel. Not especially comfortable, but interesting! No warden-type person watching us — maybe because we were in a tour group.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I think our travel experiences were so great and interesting, also in Russia, that some little inconveniences must be accepted, or make it even more challenging! If it is like at home, I don‘t have to move!😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I found Wild Swans and have added it to my TBR pile. I know that this will be a page turner. “Wild Swans Three Daughter of China reminds me of Pearl S. Buck’s book “Three Daughter of Madame Laing” which I read many years ago, which tells the story of Madame Laing who leaves her husband after taking a concubine and starts an upscale restaurant. She sends her daughters to America to be educated. I can’t remember the entire story, but it gave insight into the history of China. Thank you for introducing me to Wild Swans. Sending hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Wild Swans” is really a familiy story which touches me deeply and among all these atrocities commited,by the Japanese, there is this most impressive doctor Xia, who just gives courage to humanity!
      On the other side there is the civil war and finally Mao’s and his wife’s most cruel Cultural Revolution. The Chinese have really gone true a most tragic century.
      I have also read the most beautiful “Les trois fils de Madame Liang” by Pearl S.Buck, Rebecca, and rereading the second but last page I saw that Madame Liang had not put her believes in the Gods, but in her people! Grace, her daughter, who is present and starts to feel the sense of her mother’s life and feels that she has now the responsibility to go on with what she had done! (Grace avait l’impression d’absorber en elle l’esprit de sa mère:) I am speechless, it is so beautiful and I am touched.) Big Hug and many thanks for this conversation:)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Your post is so filled with history, ideas, travel, women and cultural changes. I enjoyed the slow travel aspects and reading with your friend over the phone! In so many ways, the way humans treat one another really never changes. Thank God there are those who still treat one another with kindness, respect and love. Like Rebecca, I’m adding Wild Swans to my TBR list. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you Martina. I really enjoyed these stories of Japan. (Although I didn’t read the book Wild Swans I got a very good idea about the story from your description). I hope to visit one day, hopefuly when travel return to normal, but I suppose it’s very modern nowadays, compared to when you were there, so some of the adventure would be lost (those were the days before all the electronic gadgets). Very interesting story about the Trans-Siberian! And also about the trains in Japan.

    In my case I only did a journey by train between Moscow and Pskov on a tour of the Golden Circle in Russia in 2006. It was a one day and night journey, but very good anyway. From Pskov we travelled to a Russian banya and jumped into the lake through a hole in the ice! St Pete’s was beautiful, but I liked Moscow too – the centre. t outskirts have many rows Soviet.
    Best wishes,
    Jacques

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a real pleasure to read your words, Jean-Jacques and I thank you very much!
      I am sure that one day it would again be possible to travel to Japan, but the cities have already been crowded in the 70ies! In Nagoya there existed a city under the city, probably for space reasons. I would probably visit Hokkaido. Of course, in that period there were no mobile phones and the trains were spetacular as well as the whole atmosphere, like being on the moon, it was just outstanding!! We were invited at the house of our friends, who offered us tartar. They said 1 kilo of beef cost ca.300 francs!!
      I checked Pskov and it seems to be a gorgeous city. We travelled from Finland to St. Petersburg and greatly enjoyed all monuments, such as Peterhof, Catherinepalace with the famous replica of the amber room, Hermitage or at the home of Felix Yusupov where Rasputin was murdered. However, I thought it would be easy to travel by bus in St.Petersburg, because of my English knowledge, but there I was really mistaken! Unfortunately we didn’t see a lake to take a bath in icecold water!
      Best wishes
      Martina

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Reading your post makes we want to have a look at White Swans. Sounds like an interesting book. And it sure does make reading about other countries more interesting if you have or are visiting them (I have been to Japan on several occasions, by the way).

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I guess you have traveled extensively, like my friend Bob to which I passed the recommendation about Wild Swans, he used to talk to me about his trip on the Tran- Siberian railway, and visiting Mongolia, and China for four months around 1990, he and his wife Eva had being all over the World, except Australia, and South America. They stop traveling a few years ago when he first got a knee problem in Albania, then on his next trip he got ill, I do not remember exactly of what, and was hospitalized in Hanoi for close to three weeks, both are quite advanced in age, in their early nineties now, but keep active.

    Best wishes to you Martina. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • What an amazing story you are telling me here! So, “Wild Swans” could really be interesting for Bob, if he doesn’t know it already! I am speaking on my next post about our problems in China!! It’s really a pity that Bob doesn’t write to me here!!! I wish you all a good day, reading your kind of books and enjoying life by keeping fit:). Very best wishes Martina

      Liked by 2 people

      • Bob has being around, he was in the Navy when young, and served on a Carrier, in the Pacific, that got him the bug of traveling, after the Navy he fished in a boat in Alaska, to save money and travel around the World, he like race cars, and travel by boat to Europe to watch the Le Mans race in France, there he met Eva, by chance, she was born in Hungary, and lived in Germany as a child, but they had to flee to Canada because Hitler, and settle with her parents in Toronto, anyway met Bob in France, in the fifties, and I guess Bob forgot about the race, she was going to Israel to live in a Kibbutz, and Bob said: “I will take you there.” He had a motorcycle and she jump on the back of the motorcycle, and went through Europe to Israel, and they lived on a Kibbutz for a year or so, they did not like it and left, he went back to LA and her to Toronto, but he decided to marry her, and brought her to Los Angeles, he said she impressed the hell out of him, she used to recite lines from Shakespeare, and many poets when they were traveling in the motorcycle, anyway they have two daughters, and start reading the books Eva recommended to him, now he reads voraciously.
        He just told me this morning he ordered Wild Swans.
        I met him in LA somewhere in the early 90’s at a café in LA he was reading a book I just had read, a book and told him some passages that I did not find to my liking, and explained him why.
        So we become friends since then, when I lived in LA we will meet on the weekends and spend the day at Farmer’s Market drinking coffee, and reading books, and talking about them, he used to travel to Europe specially to Paris, and Hungary where Eva still has relatives, but they will go everywhere, Istanbul, Marrakesh, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Shanghai, Japan, England, countries in Africa, at least three or four times a year, for three or four weeks at a time, until just before I retired and he got sick in Hanoi, their daughters told them “enough of that.” Four years ago, I retired and moved over here.
        I have being back once in LA, and spent a few days visiting friends, and Bob.
        But I talk on the phone with him frequently, so we stay in touch. About Bob writing you on your blog, I guess he needs to have a blog, or a platform, at his age he is not computer savvy, I think Eva may know more than he does, I will ask permission to pass his telephone number, or his email address to you.
        Take care Martina. 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      • You cannot imagine, what a pleasure it was, first for me, and then also for my husband to read about this absolutely terrific life story!!:) Crazy, the little excursion from from France to Israel! I suppose Bob and Eva’s daughter didn’t agree anymore with their “Wanderlust”
        I very much love the connection between reciting Shakespeare’s lines and riding the motorcycle around the world! I suppose this was the real way of experiencing the world.
        My husband Franz has just sent some likes to see, if it works, if you just fill in your name and email address and we saw that the smilies arrived. If Bob agrees to give me his phone number or better email address, we can try to get into contact in that way. Many thanks for having taken the time to write me/us the readers about the great experiences!
        Take care, Mr. Brogido:):)

        Liked by 2 people

      • I called Bob, but Bob was at the dentist, but I had a long conversation with Eva, and told them about you guys, and learnt more about Eva’s past, she speaks German, and lived in Germany as a child, but her roots are Hungarian, and have relatives there, they moved to England first, then to Canada, she also speak French, and she told me he met Bob not in France, but in Greece, near the border with Yugoslavia, and they went to Israel together, she even told me about reciting Shakespeare to Bob’s ear when traveling, just as Bob told me, I will try to talk to Bob tomorrow for him to agree to give his email to you guys, I am sure you will have a lot of things to talk, books to recommend, and travel stories. 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      • Bob and Eva seem to be real polyglots!! It would, of course be very interesting to hear their stories or to discuss WILD SWANS or China‘s recent history😀 Take your time and in the meantime I‘m wishing you and your friends all the best🐇🐇🐇

        Liked by 2 people

      • Already sent Bob’s email to you, on my latest comment to you on my post, check it out, I will delete, when you acknowledge you have it. 😊

        Like

  9. Ich freue mich sehr, Ihren Artikel zu lesen. Sie geben den Menschen, die ich gesehen habe, sehr gute Informationen. Ihre Website wurde sehr schön gemacht. Ich danke Ihnen nochmals und bete, dass Sie das Gute aufrechterhalten.

    Like

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