Dear <<First Name>>, here I am again, writing this letter in between books - the ones I am wrapping to exhibit and the one I am writing. The rain has briefly stopped and I have a thickly-foamed cup of coffee and milk next to my laptop. 

The year of the tiger has long ago started, and finally... a big FINALLY... the first manuscript for "Autumn in Japan" is complete. This is where I need your 
help today, and why now might very well be the perfect time to send these words out.

A tiger in winter, after Maruyama Ōkyo, 2022


It is always a slightly frightening moment to share one's inner thoughts with others, be it words or images. Today's letter goes slightly beyond. I will be asking for your feedback on my words for "Autumn in Japan" as we enter the final editing phase. I am glad this is a good year for courage. And while you wait for the new book to be ready, I have prepared some other news and a short spring story:
  • Editing "Autumn in Japan" 📕
  • Exhibiting again in Switzerland 👩🏻‍🎨
  • A spring short story 🍃


On April 30 I finished the draft manuscript containing the entire text for the "Autumn in Japan" edition. If you have forgotten what this is all about, the short version is I am turning my visual travel journal of Japan in the fall season into a book. The long version is here, and I promise to make it even longer by updating this "making of" the book as soon as I can get to it.

The nine chapters and introduction need to be finalised in the coming weeks. Would you like to review one of these sections and send me your feedback? If yes, click the box at the end of this section, and let me know which chapter you would like to review. I will send you the draft text by e-mail.

- Introduction about the Japanese travel diary tradition
- Tokyo and Asakusa (4 chapters, random pick)
- The Nakasendo
- Matsumoto and Kamikochi National Park
- Hida Takayama, Hida Furukawa and Shirakawa-go
- Kyoto and Nara
- Ise Peninsula

Writing up the words that go along with a visual travel diary brings a number of fresh questions. Can the content be made exciting enough? Will readers recognise some of the places as well as discover something new? Will I remember enough of the travels behind every painting?
What is "Autumn in Japan" really meant to be?

I have an answer to the latter two. I am hoping you will help me with the first two.
It is amazing what painting can do for your memory. The atmosphere of a day, portions of dialogue, thoughts of the books that inspired me, all poured onto the page by contemplating the paintings again.
Ultimately "Autumn in Japan" is meant as a visual and written tribute to the Japanese travel diary tradition. Or perhaps one long love letter to the literature and art that keeps me coming back to Japan.

I like letters, and I hope some of you will want to help me write a really good one.
Yes, I will read and send my feedback


If you missed my solo exhibition in Zurich last November, there will be another chance to see some of my paintings again very soon. From May 12 to June 7, I will be part of the "Die Poesie der Tusche" exhibition at the Japanese Information and Cultural Center (JICC). It is a great honour as a Swiss-Portuguese artist to show some of my works in Japan's "home" in Switzerland.

A selection of my paintings as well as artist books will be on display. The paintings I prepared for this year's Tokyo exhibition as well. I recently received my International Honor Art Award for the Kanazawa Castle scroll, which was a wonderful surprise.

After the exhibition is before the exhibition. The composition for Tokyo 2023 is already waiting in line for the time when "Autumn in Japan" finally vacates my desk. 

The Bern exhibition's opening ceremony happens on May 11 from 6pm at the JICC, Engestrasse 43, 3012 Bern


It was a strange spring. Magnolia were blooming before camellia. It was warm, slightly too warm for early April. And then, overnight everything changed. A layer of spring snow coated the branches of trees, and the morning sky was a slate-grey. The piled snow was no longer powdery, but glass crystal-like. It was shrinking. Shrinking fast.  

I check the camera battery while rushing through breakfast. Enough, just about enough. It will have to do. If I want to capture any image of the last spring snow in the city, I have to leave now. The clouds are thinning out already. "But where to?" is the question on my mind. Magnolia, of course. Blooming ahead of time. Which magnolia are nearest, and most promising? I exit the building and make my way along the Limmat to the Landesmuseum and Platzspitz beyond. The large and low-height trimmed trees should make for perfect flower photos.

Only a few people are around, mostly the mallards and black-headed gulls for company this morning. A Eurasian coot screeches from the river, unseen. The light is a little too dull, the earth a little too mushy. Circling the tree, pressing the shutter once, twice, however many times it takes. Deleting some, pressing again. "Come on, there has to be at least one shot worth looking at waiting in the wings", I tell myself.

I feel it in my stomach before it erupts, that whole cackle of laughter. When my lens finally feels the sun shining from the east and my eye finds, smack in the center, the biggest glittering, perfectly shaped shaved ice. Shaved ice served in a magnolia cup. I found the first kakigōri of the year, in early April in Zurich. I wonder, what do magnolia taste like?


If you can visit one exhibition in Switzerland this summer, then I recommend the surimono exhibition at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva. This image was one of my favourites from the first display (the display rotates in June). If you are not in Switzerland, you can still browse many of these beautiful, large-size surimono online. This print's details and a link to the online catalogue (in French only) below:


Summer is almost here. Why not surprise someone with the fresh larch cone mini print, or a summer-themed painting? I have some summer landscapes and flowers still available. Contact me if you are interested.

A summer greeting from the Alps
A summer greeting from the Alps
This is the first chapter of 2022 for the art journey. May the summer ahead bring all the chances of connection you are hoping for, and looking forward to hearing from you soon!
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Copyright © 2022 Mafalda Tenente, All images and content above property of the author, all rights reserved.

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