Letter from Yoyi Kanematz to Rosita Quiroga
By Luis Alposta
he chronicle of tango, half legendary half epic, many times tells us about events of a deep and fictional attraction, with a mysterious and magical background, where beings with poetic profiles dwell, transcending the usual boundaries of a less poetic reality.
Beings that we are used to represent as outskirts characters, so setting up an authentic mythology of the city.
But what happens when we change the setting, and one of those characters is a man with a bright black hair and oblique eyes, walking daily among pagodas and gardens with almond trees?
What a tango story should we dare to design then with those elements and with the aggravating circumstance of seeing that this new landscape is becoming blurred in the chaos of a war?
Only the most imaginative reality may tell us this story that speaks about the passion of a man towards tango; a story developed not only in the antipodes of our geography but of our style and essence.
Yoyi Kanematz, its protagonist, a member of an academy that in Tokyo would correspond to our Academia Nacional del Tango, who has just passed away; a Japanese that perfectly knew our language and the meaning of most lunfardo idioms; an "edoko" that on the fortieth anniversary of Carlos Gardel's death traveled to Buenos Aires to place a tablet on his grave; one who guided Borges in his stay in Japan and who made my stay happy by singing the tango "Mano a mano" accompanying himself on guitar, he was who, in 1970, when he came to know that Rosita Quiroga was about to visit his country, and without knowing her personally, he wrote this letter to her:
I dare to tell you that I am the happiest person by knowing through Oiwa that you are in good health, and that you are planning to make a visit to my country in 1971.
As I have been admiring you for thirty years, this piece of news made me very happy.
I recall that in the last days of the past war, when the American airplanes were dropping their bombs, I daily sought refuge in an anti-aircraft foxhole with my records under my arm, the discs you had recorded for the Victor company: "Vieja guitarra", "Sentimiento malevo", "Viejo coche", "Negro" always accompanied me.
At night, despite the complaints of the ignorant
people of the town who were afraid that an enemy aircraft would hear
the sound of that music, I used to listen to tangos with the phonograph
covered with a blanket.
After the war, searching with much difficulties everywhere, I got, second- hand, some of your records to restore my lost collection.
As you already know, through Oiwa, you were very much loved by the Japanese tango fans before the last war. Today, the survivors always keep the memory of the voice and image of the great tango artist you are. Today, the new generation, thanks to some tangos re-issued in LP, can share the happiness of knowing the soul of tango interpreted by you.
I hope you forgive my impudence for writing to you, but my emotion does not know about frontiers or etiquette. Our country is quite far from yours in distance, but very close in feeling.
I send you this letter through Mr. Armando Husso, violinist of the José Basso's orchestra.
Mr. Husso, after hearing the tango "Vieja guitarra" performed by you, was so touched that he recorded it on tape and brought it to Buenos Aires.
My friend Oiwa showed me some photographs with you and Mrs. Mercedes Simone, whom I equally admire much. He also told me about the times he spent with you.
Congratulations and I pray to God that happiness
would be your inseparable partner for many years to come.