Japan History: Sanada Yukimura

photo credits: wikipedia.org

Sanada (Yukimura) Nobushige was one of the greatest samurai of the Sengoku period. Second child of Sanada Masayuki and younger brother of Sanada Nobuyuki, he was never called "Yukimura" during his lifetime, since his real name was Nobushige. It seems that Yukimura was obtained at the end of the Edo period. Known as "Crimson Demon of War" for his blood-red banners and red armor, he was also recognized as "the greatest warrior of Japan" and even "The last Sengoku hero" by his peers.

As a young man, he was sent by his father as a hostage to the Uesugi clan in exchange for Uesugi's support against the Tokugawa. The father who later sided with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, as Uesugi had done, allowed him to return home to Ueda.

Sanada Nobushige served Hideyoshi directly. His first wife, Aki-hime, was the daughter of Otani Yoshitsugu even though adopted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Nobushige had seven daughters and three children with four wives, the last was born two months after his father's death.


photo credits: samurai-world.com

Ueda Castle, built in 1583, was the home of the Sanada clan. The fact that it was well built was first tested in 1583 when the castle resisted the attack of a numerically superior Tokugawa force. The defeat would have been embarrassing for the Tokugawa in the future. Another similar siege of Ueda Castle in the 1600s at the time of the Battle of Sekigahara also saw Tokugawa Hidetada, son and heir of Ieyasu, who led his army along Nakasendo, strategically important. Along the way, he stopped and besieged Ueda Castle. Although there was a great distance from the battlefield of Sekigahara, events at Ueda Castle would have almost destroyed the intentions of the Tokugawa legions. The Sanada resisted long enough for Hidetada to arrive late to the battle itself, depriving Tokugawa of about 38,000 men. Nobushige commanded only 2,000 men inside the castle.

Sanada Masayuki and his son Nobushige kept Ueda's castle as an ally of Western forces, however, Sanada Nobuyuki, was fighting for the Tokugawa. This ensured that at least one member of the Sanada family would be among the winners, regardless of the outcome. This was clearly a plan to preserve the family name. Following Sekigahara, Nobushige and his father were deprived of their domain and exiled to the holy mountain, Koya.

Photo Credits: tozandoshop.com

14 years after Sanada's father and son were sent into exile, Nobushige would rebel against the Tokugawa again during the winter siege of Osaka, and again the following year in the summer campaign. Nobushige had built a crescent-shaped fortress in the southwestern corner of Osaka Castle, known as Sanada Maru. The fortified outpost was surrounded by a wide, deep and dry moat. The earth of the moat was piled up inside, and along the top of this embankment, there was a simple two-story wooden wall, with platforms at regular intervals. Apparently, the Sanada Maru was armed with cannons along the walls. Sanada Nobushige and about 7,000 men repeatedly repulsed around 25,000 Tokugawa allies. Sometimes the Sanada samurai left the borders of the Sanada Maru to counter the enemy troops.

The following year, during the summer siege of Osaka, Sanada Nobushige commanded the right flank of Toyotomi's forces. On June 3, despite being completely exhausted from the battle against Date Masamune's forces, Nobushige and his men had returned to Osaka Castle to find the 150,000 Tokugawa men preparing to make one final assault. Hoping to catch them off guard and destroy their formations, Nobushige sent his son, Daisuke, to instruct Hideyori to look for opportunities to get out of the castle and attack the Tokugawa.

photo credits: pinterest.it

However, at the time of the attack, Hideyori appears to have lost control and failed to launch a counterattack that could have reversed the siege. The Sanada troops were overwhelmed. Seriously wounded in the fierce battle against Matsudaira Tadanao who had pledged him for most of this day, from 12 to 17, Nobushige sat under a pine tree in the Yasui Shrine grounds, unable to continue. When the wave of enemy forces approached, he calmly said his name, and saying that he was too tired to continue fighting, he allowed a Tokugawa samurai named Nishio Nizaemon to take his head. Sanada Nobushige was 47 years old. The news of his death spread rapidly and the morale of Osaka's troops fell.

The name Yukimura was known throughout Japan due to its fearless fighting.
Shimazu Iehisa of Satsuma praised Yukimura, writing "Sanada was the greatest warrior in Japan, stronger than any warrior in the stories of ancient times. The Tokugawa army was half defeated. I say this only in general."

A statue of the weary warrior is now found under the second-generation pine tree in the ground of the sanctuary.

photo credits: samurai-world.com


Japan Italy: Far East Film Festival

There is a very special event from April 26 to May 4, we are talking about the Far East Film Festival, an event dedicated to Asian cinema that will fill the city of Udine and the Teatro Nuovo "Giovanni da Udine".

At its twenty-first edition, the Far East Film Festival 2019 once again follows the Silk Road. Opening on April 26 with a world premiere will be Birthday, directly from Korea. The story is about the sinking of the Sewol ferry which marked a "before" and an "after" in the history of South Korea. The film tells the pain of two parents who lost their son and a nation that lost more than 300. It tells the present that, despite everything, becomes tomorrow. Always. With Birthday the FEFF pays tribute to that enormous wound (human, political, social) so difficult to heal.

Someone who remembers the very first FEFF is surely one of the super guests of this year, who in 1999 accompanied the legendary Beast Cops by Gordon Chan-Dante Lam to Udine and returned here to accompany two films: My Name Ain't Suzie di Angie Chan, with its the now distant debut title (1985), and the magnificent Still Human by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan. We are, of course, talking about Anthony Wong, the star and legend from Hong Kong, who will collect the Golden Mulberry for his career joining the names of other giants such as Jackie Chan, Joe Hisaishi and Brigitte Lin in the Udine hall of fame.

For an extraordinary Hong Kong icon, an extraordinary Chinese icon: the beautiful Yao Chen, diva (the media like to compare her to Angelina Jolie) and legend (80 million followers), great actress and tireless activist, who will take the stage at FEFF to present the social thriller Lost, Found by Lue Yue (produced by Feng Xiaogang). A vivid reflection on civil rights and the condition of women in contemporary China that finds in Yao Chen the "politically" perfect protagonist. Time Magazine has included her among the 100 most influential people in the world.

With 76 titles on the program (51 in competition) from 12 countries, a retrospective, a monograph, a tribute to the new independent Korean cinema, 2 “strange couples”, a world-premier restoration and more than 100 thematic events organized in the heart of Udine, the Far East Film Festival is the perfect setting for a new connection between Asia and Europe and more specifically, Italy.

A real "island of cinema" where cinema is not only celebrated - 3 world premieres, 12 international, 18 European - but it is also declined to the future. This 2019 marks the choice of 15 projects chosen for Focus Asia, the Festival market, and 10 for Ties That Bind, the international Asia/Europe workshop. Over 200 industry professionals are expected in Udine, from 36 countries, and there is an important innovation to highlight: the Co-Production Day, set for May 1st. A large working table that will gather European and Asian filmmakers and producers, to analyze and develop the Italy/China co-production agreement of 2018.

Today's films and the ones of “tomorrow”, movies that speak the language of current affairs, often directly from the news, starting with the collective story Ten Years (after Hong Kong, the narrative axis moves to Japan and Thailand) and with 14 first works included in the line-up. Films that sometimes investigate the same theme from completely different angles, like the three wonderful senile ballads Only The Cat Knows by Syoutarou Kobayasi, Romang by Lee Chang-Geun, Heaven's Waiting by Dan Villegas: a Japanese, a Korean, a Filipino. How does the perception of reality change from country to country?

A fascinating "game of differences" that does not end here and not only in the long-awaited Korean remake of Perfect Strangers (by Intimate Strangers by JQ Lee), thanks to which the FEFF 21 built on a special segment, The Odd Couples, edited by mister Roger Garcia. Four “strange couples” of cinema twins where the East is measured with its western “double” and vice versa (My Name Ain't Suzie by Angie Chan/The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Quine and City On Fire by Ringo Lam/Le Hyenas by Quentin Tarantino, a tribute from the Festival to the recently deceased dear Hong Kong friend.

If the contemporary Korean cinema selected by the Festival will range from the epic action (The Great Battle by Kim Kwang-Sik) to the police comedy (the irresistible Extreme Job by Lee Byeong-heon), passing by the most entertaining zombies of the year (The Odd Family by Lee Min-jae), even Japan, ready to enter the New Era - Reiwa -, will enjoy spacing between genres. From the unmissable documentary Kampai! Sake Sisters by Mirai Konishi, in Udine as a world premiere, up to the surprising Melancholic by Seiji Tanaka (one of the 14 debut features we have already talked about), passing by the European premiere of Fly me to the Saitama (Tonde Saitama) by Takeuchi Hideki a comedy film based on famous manga of the 80s with the same name written and illustrated by Mineo Maya, Every Day on Good Day by Tatsushi Omori that we can consider the last, beautiful, greeting of Kirin Kiki.

China will be represented, as always, by very strong titles (we mention Dying to Survive by Wen Muye, which puts the spotlight on the market for drugs for terminally ill patients, and The Rib by Zhang Wei, an unexpected family transgender-themed drama), while Hong Kong will field all the creative energy of the “old school” thrillers (Project Gutenberg by Felix Chong) as well as all the subversive force of the independent scene (Fruit Chan's Three Husbands), without forgetting the return of Herman Yau (A Home With a View).

And on the Southeast Asian front, where genre cinema dominates (in Udine, among the various titles, we will see the excellent Malaysian horror film Two Sisters), there will be two guests that the audience will particularly enjoy: Chito Rono and Joyce Bernal, dear and affectionate friends of the Festival.

A network of friends, old and new, literally scattered around the world, a magic circle that opens and closes year after year. It means getting away from your center, traveling, moving, exploring, raising the threshold of curiosity and then returning with something new inside your eyes. A precious different look, this is the Far East Film Festival 2019. We are waiting for you!

How to Participate?

You can watch the screenings by purchasing a ticket or by accreditation.

The accreditation is recommended to all those who have a professional or cultural interest in Asian cinema and wish to attend as many screenings as possible at an advantageous price.

Information

The screenings start at 9.00 am and end late at night. The program includes two screenings in the morning, two in the afternoon and two or three films at the end of the day, in the evening.
Entry is forbidden to children under 18, as films are not subject to Italian censorship visas.

Where to buy tickets

Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine & Cinema Centrale
Morning shows (weekdays): € 6.00 per film (or 10.00 for both films).
Morning shows (holidays): € 10.00 per film (or 15.00 for both films).
Afternoon performances (weekdays): € 6.00 per film (or 10.00 for both films).
Afternoon performances (holidays and pre-holidays): € 10.00 per film (or € 15.00 for both films).
Evening shows: € 10.00 per film (or € 15.00 for both films).
Night show: € 6.00.
A daily ticket will also be available at a cost of € 25.00 which allows you to attend all the shows on the day of issue.

Presale: at the Teatro Nuovo ticket office

Opening time:
Friday 26 April: from 11.00 am until the beginning of the last screening of the day
from Saturday 27th April: from 8.30 am until the beginning of the last screening of the day

The presale for the projections of the following days is suspended during the movie start times. For information (from 24 April): tel. 0432-248484


Bringing Japan to Italy: episode 02 – Masami Suda

Here we are with the second episode of our series Bringing Japan to Italy, where we interview people that help spreading Japanese culture in Italy and in the world.

After the huge success of the first episode dedicated to Alberto Moro, today we share with you our talk with Masami Suda, character designer of many animes such as Hokuto no Ken (Kenshiro), dr Slump & Arale, Yo-Kai Watch, Mach Go Go Go, Candy Candy, Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman F, Ai Shite Knight and many other works that have defined the childhood of hundreds of adults of today.

Enjoy the video and we are curious to read your comments!

 


Japan Italy: Nendo shop @ TENOHA Milano

It's quite well known in Milan, that the most frantic week of the year is about to start, the Salone del Mobile is finally here. The city is going to be transformed into the European capital of design from April 9th to 14th and in these days it won't be rare to attend various events dedicated to the world of interior design and architecture.

As you know, Japan Italy Bridge takes care of promoting all those companies and events that move between Italy and Japan and that help the spreading of the culture and connections between the two nations. today we are here to present you a wonderful initiative by TENOHA Milano.

Nendo x TENOHA

photo credit: Akihiro Yoshida

The Japanese-inspired concept store is, in fact, ready to welcome an exclusive installation by Nendo, a highly acclaimed Japanese Design studio led by architect Oki Sato, at the 2019 Fuorisalone. But not just this! This wonderful collaboration will be deepened in the &|SHOP area, where more than 100 objects designed by Nendo will be on sale.

photo credit: Masayuki Hayashi

In the & | SHOP space it will also be possible to win small designer objects with the famous Japanese game gacha gacha. Visitors will have the chance to win small sketches distributed by an automatic machine randomly. Ready to collect them all?

photo credit: Akihiro Yoshida

Nendo and TENOHA are linked together in the &|SHOP area, where every day, a rich selection of objects created by the Japanese studio will be on sale, starting from today, April 8th!

Among T-shirts, tote bags, limited editions, the very special Gloo glue and much more, it is possible to buy many objects of Japanese design and high quality, directly from TENOHA Milano.

Breeze of Light

The special project that Nendo, in participation with Daikin, will bring to TENOHA during the Milan Design Week is called "Breeze of Light".

The installation is inspired by one of the four natural elements, the air, which with its characteristics of imperceptibility and invisibility will act as a leitmotif for Nendo's fantastic work. Taking advantage of the peculiarities of lights and colors, it will be possible to witness a suggestive and concrete atmosphere.

nendo / Oki Sato

Born in Toronto, Canada, Oki Sato studied architecture at Waseda University in Tokyo and established his headquarters in the same city in 2002. The Nendo studio's portfolio ranges from product design, interior design, architecture, graphic design, and corporate branding.

To arrive in Milan, Nendo must wait until 2005, but it is precisely here that a rich period of enormous development begins for the company and the designer himself. A path that will lead him to be a lecturer at Waseda University in 20125, to be the youngest designer to win the "designer of the year" award from the magazines "Wallpaper" and "Elle Deco International Design Award", but not just this.

In 2013 he was chosen as the "guest of honor" at the Stockholm international furniture fair, the largest design exhibition in northern Europe, but also in Toronto during the "Interior Design Show". Two years later, in 2015, he had the opportunity to present "Colorful shadows" at the Japan pavilion during the Milan EXPO along with many other successes that continue to this day, including having won the "Designer of the Year 2019" by AW Architektur & amp; Wohnen magazine and the "Industrial Designer" at the Design Anthology Awards 2019.


The installation can be visited in the spaces of & | DISCOVER from Wednesday 10 to Sunday 14 April 2019, from 9 to 19, in via Vigevano 18 at TENOHA Milan. In the TENOHA Milano space & SHOP, it will be possible to buy all the brand new and exclusive design objects signed by Nendo starting from 8 April 2019, from 8.30 to 21. See you there!


Japan Italy: Japan 4 L'Aquila

The friendship between Japan and Italy is getting closer and closer as the years go by. Today we are happy to present you an event that brings together our countries even more: Japan 4 L'Aquila.

From Mount Fuji to the Gran Sasso, a path that crosses the globe and reaches us, in a city that has much in common with Japan. In these areas where life is being reborn and returning to normal after the great earthquake of April 6, 2009, the Japan Association in Abruzzo from Fuji to Gran Sasso has organized this free cultural event to promote interculturality and solidarity between Italy and Japan.

Between 30 and 31 March, you will have the opportunity to attend four events, four artistic souls that from the Rising Sun will come to make their own contribution to the cultural renaissance of the city of L'Aquila. A voluntary and solidarity initiative that strongly highlights the sense of belonging and the pain caused by such devastating natural disasters, in Italy as in Japan.

The appeal of Japan 4 The Eagle has been received by several people, who, having learned of the initiative, have done their best to participate in it and give the city of L'Aquila a sign of hope of rebirth and overcoming pain.

Two days full of events to bring our two cultures closer together. The first event will be held on March 30th 2019 from 6.30pm at the Basilica of San Bernardino, Armonie d'Argento (The Eagle). A singing event performed by three choirs, two Italians and one Japanese. Here it will be possible to listen to the Aquilano Choir "Armonie d’Argento", the "Francesco D'Urbano" Choir of "Fara Filiorum Petri" and the Japanese "en" choir of pianist Mami Odagiri. Each of the three choirs will perform pieces from their repertoire to then join in the performance of "Furusato" a Japanese song and Inno "A San Bernardino da Siena" at the end of the concert.

A concert as a sign of friendship to commemorate and pray together for the victims of the earthquakes in L'Aquila and the grinding earthquake of the Tohoku region, hit hard in March 2011 by an earthquake that generated a violent Tsunami, causing the accident at the nuclear power plant of Fukushima.

This initiative thus becomes a bridge, a symbol of friendship and hope that unites Italy and Japan that without borders have experienced the same tragedies.

As a sign of solidarity and brotherhood with the post-earthquake boys from L'Aquila together with the children of the Izumi Kids Camp, Iwaki elementary schools, they created and painted 99 okiagari-koboshi for the city of 99. The okiagari-koboshi are dolls of papier-mache typical of the Japanese tradition, symbol of perseverance and resilience. Their characteristic is to fall and stand up again immediately. The dolls, held on display in the days of the exhibition at the Palazzetto dei Nobili, will be donated to the Dante Alighieri State High School in L'Aquila as a sign of solidarity among children of the same age who have suffered the same experiences with the wish of get up and keep smiling.

We then continue with the Japanese artist Ayami Noritake, with his artistic project "Roman Kobo Ren". On Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 March 2019, the works will be exhibited in the rooms of the Palazzetto dei Nobili, where the artist Ayami Noritake will also show her working techniques and the creative process linked to her works.

Thanks to the use of the chigiri technique-and the artist Noritake uses rice paper, typical of the Japanese tradition, to create three-dimensional paintings where a material, light and inconsistent like paper, take new forms.

On the 30th afternoon, the Japanese documentary film Yoshizaku Kaneyama, entitled "Sukagawa, a step towards reconstruction" (須賀川、復興への歩み) will be broadcast with Italian subtitles.

We can never forget the great earthquake of Tohoku that hit Japan in March 2011. The earthquake caused a violent tsunami that, in addition to devastating entire cities and wiping out thousands of lives, also caused the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Through his "docu-film television", the director Kaneyama addresses the complicated theme of this terrifying earthquake in the city of Sukagawa. It tells the various passages from pain to the rebirth of the Sukagawa community, documenting how, even in a country like Japan, used to strong and constant earthquakes, it is slow and complicated to activate a collective mechanism that leads to the rehabilitation of a city/society, affected from a natural disaster.

The event will then end in great joy thanks to the "Vaiwatts" who will hold a free concerto on the evening of March 30th!

The group, composed of musicians and vocalist Tama and Pierrot Ken, decided to give the city of L'Aquila an evening of his 2019 European tour, as a sign of solidarity and sympathy. The duo will also be joined by guitarist Daisuke Chiba, who has been working with them for years now.

From 2014 to 2017 they held solidarity concerts for Tohoku and decided to continue this experience of solidarity, arriving in L'Aquila with their passion and the hope of being able to approach two peoples through their music.

If you are in the surroundings of L'Aquila, we strongly advise you to attend these events, a wonderful opportunity to deepen the culture of Japan and be able to bring solidarity to our two nations hit so hard by catastrophes like the earthquake.


Bringing Japan to Italy: episode 01 - Alberto Moro

Here we are with the first episode of our new series『Bringing Japan to Italy』dedicated to Alberto Moro, Giappone in Italia Association's President.

Some weeks ago we met him during the finissage of his exhibition "Il mio Giappone" that, as he said himself, it's a great act of love towards this Nation, the Japanese culture and people.

With this first video, we are launching our new series dedicated to all those people that promot the Japanese culture and the world surrounding Japan in our Nation. Japan Italy Bridge, wants to promote this Nation on an even deeper level, together with its companies and all that concernes the land of the Rising Sun.

Enjoy!


Japan Italy: Next stop: Japan! Interview with Stefania Sabia

"An Italian in Japan" the series - Stefania Sabia

The brotherhood between Italy and Japan in recent years has become increasingly close and supportive. It is not rare to find our compatriots wishing to move to the land of the Rising Sun, but few succeed in realizing this dream. Today we want to share with you the experience of Stefania Sabia, a very Italian girl who has been living and working in Japan for about two years!

JIB: Hi Stefania, first of all thank you for agreeing to have this interview with us.
S: Thank you for contacting me and thinking about my blog!

JIB: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do in life.
S: My name is Stefania, I graduated in Japanese language and literature and I have been living and working in Tokyo for about 2 years.
I'm the creator of the Prossima fermata Giappone (Next Stop Japan) blog, which I opened together with the Facebook page 4 years ago, during my first study trip to Tokyo, followed by Instagram and Youtube about a year ago, which I update daily.
Since then I continue to share my travels and my daily life in Japan through articles, photos, videos, with all the love that I have.
I have a particular passion for the Shitamachi of the capital, the ancient places of Tokyo mixed with the modern urban fabric, but which retain a unique atmosphere, often accompanied by incredible small cafes.
I love the explosion of colors of the Japanese blooms, and the cute themed restaurants that invariably snatch you a smile and, when I have the chance, I love to wear the kimono.
Exploring and sharing this wonderful country always fills me with an immense joy.

JIB: How and from what your passion of Japan was born?
S: The passion for Japan arises as a result of the curiosity about the culture of this country. I have always found fascinating its history, folklore, literature and even the language. I could spend hours listening to the smooth sound of Japanese, relaxing as gurgling water.
One of the first legends to have enchanted me, I still remember that now, was that of the Tanabata.
As a child I dreamed of being able to participate in the festivities one day, to wear the yukata and see the sea of shimmering decorations above my head, typical of this occasion.

JIB: And in the end you made it! You have been living in Japan for a few years now, tell us something about your experience and how you got to today.
S: Living here in Tokyo is an incredible experience, sometimes difficult, but that in any case I would not change with anything else in the world. It can be a challenge, a trial, a surprise.
Living so far away from home there are many first times, you learn so many things about yourself and others, and what perhaps in Italy I had never done alone I found myself having to face it.
The part that I love most is undoubtedly the exploration, having the opportunity to know Tokyo deeply and calmly, to reveal the layers of the city first hand, all his anaba // the small locations, the secret corners, the places of heart. I love this city with all of myself.
I came to Japan for the first time 4 years ago, during my second year of university, thinking that a study period could help me with the language and the following exams. So I enrolled in a 3 month course at a language school in Nippori (one of the areas of Shitamachi I mentioned above) and have literally been struck by the capital.
With a heart full of feelings, I returned to Italy knowing that once I graduated I would have absolutely wanted to come back.
After graduation I left again as a student, with the intention of improving my Japanese as much as possible and try to get a job visa.
I got my 3-year work visa about 3 months ago and now I work in a Japanese company, I especially take care of helping other Westerners find jobs in Japan.

 

JIB: Which Japanese city has captured your heart?
S: Maybe you can already understand that from other answers, but I love Tokyo with all my heart. I think it's a unique city. A “patchwork” city, made of rainbow remnants of every kind and shape. An extraordinary interlocking of modern and ancient. It doesn’t have the typical beauty of traditional Kyoto, it has more the charm of the places that you live at the fullest. those places that are able to tell you a story at every corner, to amaze you again and again without ever failing. This city is a whole universe, you never stop understanding it, learning it.
If we talk about extraordinary places for beauty and memories, then I must mention Takaragawa Onsen, one of the most magical places I've ever been in Japan. I have wonderful memories of this ryokan with onsen, which seems to come from another era, lying in the middle of the forests of Gunma, very far from the city, next on the course of the river Takara. I also talked about it on the blog. It’s just pure marvel.

JIB: Your story is really exciting and we are sure that you can have unique experiences every day and create many memories that will always be in your heart. Would you like to share with us one of the most amusing or significant moments that have happened to you since you live in Japan?
S: One of my favorite experiences was to bring the mikoshi during the matsuri o my neighborhood. The feeling of community cohesion and the meaning of festivals is something fantastic.
It was incredible to be able to see a matsuri in its life, from the gathering of the participants, to the toast and prayers and have the opportunity to bring the divinity, inside the mikoshi, so that it could be thanked by everyone and therefore guarantee luck and prosperity to the district and its inhabitants.

 

JIB: It must have been a really intense experience. Also, from what was our blog born, prossimafermatagiappone.com, and how did you develop the concept until you got to what it is today?
S: The blog was born from the desire to put into words the boundless love I feel for Japan.
I have always loved to write since I was a child, and I thought that telling stories about this country could connect and help many other lovers of Japan.
It's a travel blog, but it's often the feelings for places that dominate, a genuine and total enthusiasm for what I see or what I do.
The sincere affection for certain districts, the fascination that the ancient and the traditions exert over me, the places that sing to my heart. One thing, which I think and hope can be understood by reading the blog, is that I don’t write just for the journeys themselves, but for the emotions and the paths that I share.
I actually think that often, even a day-to-day and less visited or less famous place can reserve great discoveries and a lot of wonder.
The blog was born like this, from the sincerity of my feelings for Japan, for 4 years, almost every day I published stories, photos, itineraries, tips for those who are preparing to leave for a trip, to study or to live in Japan .

 

JIB: This feeling that moved you to create your blog is really beautiful, and that's another thing we have in common. So many people like us dream of living in Japan and walking the same path you followed. However, as we all know, all that glitters is not always gold, and even Japan, like any other country, has its ups and downs. What are the difficulties you encountered in the early days in the Land of the Rising Sun?
S: I have to say that I have never encountered enormous difficulties since I moved. Or rather, nothing that I could never overcome with a little commitment or anything that I consider particularly negative.
It's funny and of uncertain result the first times you find yourself having to do things that in Italy would have been considered normal and easy, but which instead represent the unknown here. For example going for the first time to the doctor, making a phone contract and later embarking alone in the contract for the house and having to call the services to connect the utilities.
The most difficult moment was the search for a job, those were really tough and challenging months, made even by many “no thanks” and many "Will I be able to do this? I won’t give up! ". The job market for a foreigner is not always easy.
Last but so obvious was the distance from home, I would certainly love to have the opportunity to see more often my family.

JIB: What are your plans for the future?
S: Even if time is scarce at the moment, I would like to work more with the blog. Collaborate more with local companies, propose more activities to do on holiday.
It would be nice to be able to show Japan more and more and I hope to have the opportunity to do this.
Another dream would be to write a guide, particularly on Shitamachi, the ancient preserved areas of Tokyo, survivors of fires, earthquakes and bombings, these areas still not very famous are of a unique richness. They are my favorite part of the city and I would like to talk more in depth if I ever have the chance.
Work wise, in future I would like to do more tourism experiences in Japan, I would really like to work in this direction.

 

photo credits: @georgeyajima

JIB: It's really very interesting what you're sharing with us, and we too from Italy are convinced that we need more information about these particular areas of Japan, which are very often put aside by the masses . What do you think are the strongest connections you can find between Italy and Japan?
S: I think we are dealing with two deeply different countries, but surely both of them carry a thousand-year-old history, culture and traditions that are very great and fascinating. In both countries there is a great love for food, a great love for their artistic and historical background.

JIB: Do you think there is a future for an even closer collaboration between the two nations?
S: I hope so, especially from a tourism point of view, I think there is an increasing interest in Japan.
Italian tourists have been increasing for a couple of years and I hope that this mutual interest, this curiosity of travel, will open the door to new possibilities.
It would also be nice to have the working holiday for Italians in the future.

JIB: Do you ever miss Italy? Do you plan to come back here permanently?
S: As I said before, I miss Italy, my family, Italian friendships. If I didn’t have good Italian friends here it would be doubly difficult.
The other serious missing is the cured meats and cheeses (more than pasta and pizza that are very well done here), there is a very scarce and expensive selection for the most part. The sadness of not being able to make a mega salami sandwich!
Perhaps sooner or later I will return to Italy or Europe anyway, but for now it is difficult to say what the future holds for me. For the moment I would like to stay in Japan.

JIB: And we too hope you can stay in Japan! Thank you so much for your time and for the beautiful words and moments you shared with us. One last thing, send some greetings and advice to all our readers.
S: I thank you first for the interview, you were very nice to host me and it was amazing to have the chance to talk with you.
I would be really happy if more people could read the blog and find ideas, whether they are traveling or living in Japan, I am always available to help anyone who is looking for answers on the subject.
To those who would like to study or live in Japan I say not to abandon your dream, it can be a difficult country in some aspects, but if you love it and want to try, why not?
The only suggestion is to come here ready, Japan gives a lot but also asks a lot. And if the life of a student can be quite calm, that of a full-time worker has often a very hectic pace.
A work visa also requires a degree in 99% of cases, without that immigration is unlikely to issue a visa. Many office or tourism related jobs also often require a spoken ability that is business / N2. Come to Japan with these things in mind and persevere until you have achieved what makes you happy!
A hug to all readers!

 

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Japan Traditions: Wakakusa Yamayaki Matsuri

One of Japan's most famous matsuri is the Wakakusa Yamayaki Matsuri held in the city of Nara on the fourth Saturday of January.

photo credits: matsuritracker on flickr

Le Origini

On the top of the third hill of Mount Wakakusa we find the Uguisuzuka Kofun, a keyhole-shaped tombstone.
Legends say that in the past if the mountain was burned by the end of January in the new year, it was possible to repel deaths returning from their graves. On the contrary, if the mountain was not burned by the end of January, a big period of misfortune layed before the city of Nara. As a result, the stories tell that people passing by Mount Wakakusa began to ignite the mountain without permission.

 

photo credits: smartus & matsuritracker on flickr

Following this, there were some incidents where the fire from Mount Wakakusa came to approach the boundaries of the Todaiji and Kohfukuji temple repeatedly. Because of this, in December 1738, the Nara magistrate's office (Bugyosho) prohibited people from burning the mountain. However, the arson fires continued at the hands of anonymous people and on some occasions approached the nearby cities and temples. To avoid similar dangers, the city of Nara established a rule to allow people to burn the mountain with the participation of representatives of the Todaiji and Kohfukuji temples along with the Nara Bugyosho at the end of the Edo period.

photo credits: toshimo1123 on flickr

The Yamayaki festival (burning mountain) comes from superstitions to calm the spirits of the dead at the Uguisuzuka Kofun located at the top of the mountain, so the Yamayaki could also be considered as a moment of service in memory of the dead.

Modern history and present day

Since 1900, there have been a series of changes related to Wakakusa Yamayaki Matsuri. Firstly, the time was shifted from day to night and even its date moved to 11 February (Day of the Empire), although during the period of World War II, the celebrations were held during the afternoon. Later, in 1910, the organization passed into the hands of the prefecture of Nara.

 

photo credits: karihaugsdal on flickr

After the end of the war, the Yamayaki once again became an evening event together with a fireworks display of over one hundred fireworks.
During the fifties, the date of the Yamayaki was moved to January 15, the "Coming of Age day", while in 1999, due to the implementation of the so-called "Happy Monday System Act" (law that moved some public holidays on Mondays) , the festival was celebrated on the Sunday before the "Coming of Age day".

photo credits: toshimo1123 & nwhitely on flickr

Since 2009 we find the combination that still exists today, where the event is held on the fourth Saturday in January with a fireworks display of hundreds of fireworks.
On this matter, this is the only event in Nara that uses the Shakudama fireworks that have a diameter of over 30cm. An absolutely magical fireworks display that we guarantee will always remain engraved in your memories.

Mount Wakakusa

Mount Wakakusa is 342 meters high and 33 hectares wide and is covered with grass with delicate slopes. Here you can see deers, seasonal flowers and plants, like the traditional Japanese cherry trees in spring and the fantastic autumn colors typical of Japan. Also from its top, it is possible to see the whole panorama of the city of Nara with all its historical part.

 

photo credits: 158175735@N03 & mashipooh on flickr

Mount Wakakusa is surrounded by many UNESCO world heritage sites such as the temples Todaiji and Kohfukuji and the spring forest of Mount Kasuga, so be very careful to avoid accidents such as spreading the fire.

The parade

Led by the sound of shell horns played by the mountain priests of the Kinpusenji Temple, more than 40 people face the solemn parade through the park, wearing the traditional costumes of the representatives of the temples of Kasugataisha, Todaiji and Kohfukuji and of the officers of the judiciary office of Nara in the Edo period.

 

photo credits: toshimo1123 & katiefujiapple on flickr

The event begins with the Gojinkahotaisai, the sacred fire acceptance ceremony held at the Tobohino park, on the site of the Great Round Bonfire. In this ceremony, the sacred fire is transferred from the Great Round Bonfire to the torches. Following this, the parade will take the sacred fire to the Nogami temple. Once arrived at the Mizuya temple, the sacred fire brought by time Kasugataisha will be transferred to a series of torches. Once at the Nogami Temple, at the base of Mount Wakakusa, the sacred fire forms another great bonfire.

 

photo credits: katiefujiapple on flickr

During the parade, the fire is accompanied by constant prayers in the first place for the safety of the Yamayaki. The fire is then transferred back to the torches, accompanied by the songs of the priests of the temples Todaji, Kohfukuji and Kinpusenji. At this point, the parade moves towards the big bonfire in the center at the base of the mountain where it is lit, thus giving birth to the spectacle of light and heat.

photo credits: nara-park.com

Access

Mount Wakakusa is about a 10 - 15 minute walk from the Todaiji temple and Kasuga Taisha. The mountain can also be reached on foot from Kintetsu Nara station in about 35 minutes or from JR Nara station in about 50 minutes. Alternatively, you can use buses departing from both the station and Kasuga Taisha for a small fee.
If you are in Japan during this period, the next Yamamaki will take place in a few days, January 26, 2019. Do not miss it and we’ll wait for your stories!

photo credits: ks_photograph