Special to The Wild East
A kiss just a kiss. Or is it?
A Taiwanese woman named Ya-ching Yang has become famous around the world for a blog she set up about pursuing 100 kisses from Parisian men.
Based on a whim she had three years ago, she went into action last summer in Paris. With 54 kisses under her belt so far, Yang is accompanied on her fishing, er, kissing, expeditions in France by a Parisian friend, Chinese photographer Xiang Zhenhua, who gets everything on film and then posts the shots to her blog.
Recently, I caught up with the kissing classical piano student and asked her a few questions — by email.
When asked the initial inspiration for her kissing adventures in Paris, Yang said no specific event or inspiration set her off on her seemingly quixotic quest.
“The idea flashed in my mind about three years ago … I felt that since the idea would not go away, and that it came back to me again this year, maybe it was time to do something about it. So I did.”
When asked how her mother and father in Taiwan were reacting to news about their “kissing daughter” in local Taiwan newspapers and around the world, Yang said, “My parents always taught me, and instilled in me, that I should always be true to myself and follow my own inclinations, independently of how others look at me… although without going overboard of course!”
“So I felt very positive about this kissing idea … My parents completely supported me, stood behind me on this, from the very beginning of the media glare that my blog created. They also anticipated the pressure that Taiwanese society might put upon them, but they are bearing it well. In fact, my parents’ positive reactions and support have touched me deeply in the way that they have shown unconditional love for me on this. They are great people and wonderful parents. A daughter couldn’t ask for better parents.”
Yang, who speaks French and English, in addition to Chinese and Taiwanese, went to National Taichung Second Senior High School and then studied at Shih Chien University in Taipei where she majored in piano. She first began to learn French when she was 25 when she went to Paris for a master’s degree in classical piano.
Yang has been studying in Paris for the past two years, posting some of her piano recitals online, with plans to perform as part of a chamber group when she returns to Taiwan next year.
“I enjoy playing chamber music with a group, with others on different instruments in addition to the piano,” she said. “I hope to do more of that when I return to Taiwan.”
When asked her favorite composer, Yang said: “Oh, that’s easy. I absolutely love the music of Maurice Ravel, and in fact that is why I chose to come to France — to continue my piano studies. I really love French music, I feel it matches my soul. Of course, I like other composers as well; all classical music is so beautiful.”
With the photos and posts on her blog getting worldwide attention, not to mention more than a million hits from Internet surfers in Taiwan, Yang has toyed with the idea of putting her project on paper in the form of a picture-book. Some Taiwan publishers have expressed interest in turning her blog into a book, although she’s as yet undecided on the title.
“The book will most likely be a pictorial edition with an accompanying text, and we will try to connect the words with the photographs,” Yang said. “I haven’t decided who the publisher in Taipei will be yet. I’m planning to be back in Taiwan soon, in the future, and I have some job interviews already lined up in the next few months. I’ve enjoyed my life and studies in France, but I am definitely going back to Taiwan. Taiwan is my home. The book will be published there, first. If there are any foreign editions later, that will be great, too.”
Her book might be titled “A Hundred Kisses”, or “One Hundred Messages From a Kiss”, Yang said, adding that she would love to hear from readers of her blog what titles they might suggest, too.
When asked what a kiss meant to her growing up in Taiwan, and what kisses mean to her now as an adult, Yang waxed philosophical.
“The meaning, the message, from a kiss is beyond words, beyond my imagination,” Yang said. “Even just a light brief kiss on the lip has its meaning, and each person, I believe, has their own unique style of kissing.
“For example, there’s the tender kisser with his rather soft and tender kiss, and then there’s the naughty kisser with his — how shall I say it? — exiciting and ‘fun’ kiss. So, in fact, every kiss is very special and individualistic, in my experience of things.”
“In Taiwan, where I grew up, a kiss was something different from what I have seen here in Paris,” Yang added. “Back home, a kiss was regarded as a kind of promise, to stay together for a long time, maybe forever, since most people are more conservative about kissing than here in France. I can now imagine, yes, kissing my Mr. Right someday. I haven’t found him yet.”
Kisses, especially kisses in public, did not come easily to Yang at first, she said.
“My parents didn’t kiss in front of me, never, and when I watched kissing scenes in movies as a child and teenager in Taiwan, I was very shy about looking at the TV or movie screen,” she explained. “It wasn’t until I went to college, when I entered university, that I became more comfortable watching those kinds of movies.”
“And of course, coming to Paris two years to study classical piano, being in this very romantic city really opened my eyes and my heart to understand what kissing is really all about,” she added. “Now I feel it is very romantic to watch kissing screnes in a movie, and to me, now, a kiss seems like an amazing exchange of very interesting ‘energy’ for both the people kissing each other. That’s what I’ve learned.”
“A kiss is a way of passing on an intriguing kind of energy with another person, and it’s very different from verbal communication,” Yang said. “A kiss is very subtle, very delicate, there is a lot to learn from all this.”
When asked if she considers herself a shy or extroverted woman, Yang said: “You know, sometimes I am shy, and sometimes I am very outgoing. People often tell me I appear to be a very calm and logical person.”
And how old was she when she got her first kiss?
“Nineteen. My first boyfriend, in Taiwan.”
MEDIA LINKS :
The colorful tabloid newspaper Apple Daily did a big Chinese-language spread on her in September, she’s been written up in newspapers from Sydney to New York, and she’s all over the French Internet as well.
The Taipei Times ran a brief story about her from the local office of the Germany-based Deutsche Press Agentur news agency on September 12.