Untranslatable words: Mono No Aware, Shakkei, Hikikomori, Omotenashi, Betsubara

It happened to everyone at least once to surf the internet and find articles about "untranslatable words". In fact, we often discover that every nation has special words with a certain meaning without any correspondence in its own language. Today we at Japan Italy Bridge want to try to summarize those special, unique and sometimes magical words that enclose an entire world.

Untranslatable words: Mono No Aware, Shakkei, Hikikomori, Omotenashi, Betsubara

Author: Sara

parole intraducibili

photo credits: Unsplash

Untranslatable words: Mono No Aware

The first on the list of our untranslatable words is 物の哀れ, "mono no aware". An aesthetic concept that expresses strong emotional participation in the beauty of nature and human life with a consequent nostalgic feeling linked to its incessant change. So literally we could translate it as "the pathos of things" or "the beauty of the ephemeral".

Mono no Aware finds its roots in the Heian period, but it spread only in the Edo period when the scholar Motoori Norinaga made a careful analysis and criticism of Murasaki Shikibu's "The Tale of Genji" defining it as a perfect example of "mono no aware", the perfect essence of Japanese culture. From this moment on, the creative path of many Japanese artists has had as its pivot this strange and complex concept. In fact, we find extremely sentimental the "transience" of things to take over, both in literary as well as cinematographic works. This leaves that feeling of "lack" for an ending that neither the reader nor the spectator is satisfied with. A sweet sadness and awareness that everything is destined to die slowly (and for this reason it must be loved deeply).

Shakkei

parole intraducibili

photo credits: wikipedia.org

The second expression we want to analyze is 借景, "shakkei". This time it is a particular technique literally defined as "landscape on loan", i.e. incorporating external elements of the landscape into the composition of a garden, the perfect fusion of the available elements already present with the surrounding aesthetics.

We could say that the whole of Japan refers to the concept of "Shakkei". Everything seems to be exactly in the right place in a harmonious and not shamelessly calculated and studied way. A sort of exaltation of nature as if even skyscrapers were an integral and perfect part of the whole landscape. In reality, however, this expression refers purely to the gardens of East Asia, which gives them the charm we know well. The principles of "borrowed landscape" have their roots in the Sakuteiteki (ancient Japanese gardening treatise), which developed further and further until it reached its maximum popularity during the Meiji and Taisho periods.

Hikikomori

parole intraducibili

photo credits: emefka.sk

The third word is perhaps among the best known and most "dangerous". We are talking about 引き籠もり, Hikikomori. Today it is a sad social phenomenon that can have extreme consequences and goes beyond mere "isolation". There are people who decide to voluntarily withdraw from social life, seeking extreme levels of loneliness by assuming a deleterious lifestyle both physically and psychologically. Night and day are reversed, direct relationships are often replaced by virtual ones or, in even more extreme cases, none at all. The hikikomori wanders around his room, devoid of any stimuli and this, as is intuitable, are characteristics that distinguish depressed subjects with obsessive-compulsive attitudes.

The first to give a name to this particular phenomenon was the psychiatrist Tamaki Saitō when he observed that the number of those who presented this deep lethargy towards life increased and the characteristics were always the same. Therefore, we can define Hikikomori as a syndrome rather than a word in itself.

Untranslatable words: Omotenashi

photo credits: livingnomads.com

The fourth on the list is お持て成し, "omotenashi". It is really difficult to find an equivalent that can even give an idea of this wonderful concept. We could use the word "hospitality", but it is almost reductive. This word expresses one of the most complex and profound aspects of Japanese culture. Omotenashi is the will to be attentive and take care of others. It also means to give importance to details, to be aware of one's own actions, to have the sensibility to seek harmony and to make others feel good. It was the Buddhist monk Sen no Rikyū who established the principles and good rules of conduct during the famous tea ceremony, an expression of the utmost care towards the guest.

There fore, Omotenashi is a reflection of Japan, the basis on which the behavioural etiquette of the entire country is rooted. Even if it is not said that this sense of "hospitality" is always encountered (the whole world is a country: there are also very unfriendly Japanese!), but you can easily perceive it when you experience it.

Betsubara

photo credits: lickthatspoon.blogspot.com

The last term we will address today is べつばら, "betsubara". It's a word that can make you smile and literally means "separate stomach." This is where all dessert goes when you say you can't eat another bite, but you eat it anyway. It's a bit like when you say, "there's always room for dessert" even though you already feel totally full. Obviously it can be understood for any food you have a weakness for: it can be ramen, sushi, pizza. So everyone has a different "betsubara"! Which one is yours?


Focus on: Nambu ironware

If we think of typical Japanese furniture, we immediately think of an iron teapot, also known as Nambu ironware.

The Nambu ironware and its history

Author: Erika | Source: Tokyo Weekender

Nambu Tekki, or Nambu ironware, is a specific method typical of the city of Morioka in Iwate Prefecture. Created in the middle of the Edo period, this art is named Nambu after the feudal domain of the same name. Modern techniques also use the molten metal produced near Morioka, in Sendai or the present-day town of Oshu.

Nambu

Rust-resistant, durable and well-insulated, these objects provide uniform heat circulation. In fact, the outside of the kettles has an irregular texture called ploughing or hail. This is often used in Nambu ironware dishes and kettles are the representative product. However, the various models change from artisan to artisan because each artist is free to create his or her own model at will.

The History of Nambu ironware

Nambu ironware products sink their history into the production of tableware for the Tea Ceremony during the homonymous domination in the middle of the 17th century. Thanks to the abundance of iron resources, Morioka was a perfect area for the foundry industry.
In fact, in 1659, a feudal lord who wanted to promote the tea ceremony ordered Nizaemon Koizumi to move to Kyoto. It was here, in the area around the castle in Nambu, that the kettles began to be made.

The Koizumi family

Craftsmen par excellence during the Nambu domain, this family launched for the first time the pots used for the tea ceremony. The tea casting technique and control were passed down from father to son. Not only traditional products, but this family was also the focus of innovations for the time. In fact, the famous Nambu Iron Kettle was invented by the third generation of the Koizumi family. The Taisho Emperor himself, who reigned from 1912 to 1926, visited the Tohoku region for this family. In fact, in 1908, on the occasion of the visit, the eighth generation of the Koizumi showed the emperor the production process of these iron tools. This event was so famous that all the national newspapers of the time talked about it. In fact, even today, all the pieces produced in the Morioka and Mizusawa areas in Iwate are still called "Nambu Ironware".

Nambu Ironware

More than just tea

Although the products related to the tea ceremony are the most famous among the Nambu ironware, there are many other items related to the home that can be purchased. In fact, Western kitchen cooks know that one of the best investments you can make is a cast iron frying pan.
However, other Nambu ironware items that are worth buying are the furin (the Japanese windchimes), incense holders, small decorations but also chopsticks holders.

Nambu

Have you ever bought any of these items or would you like to take some? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page!


Nikken Cutlery makes you feel like real samurai

Nikken Cutlery not only decided to explain to you how Oda Nobunaga and the greatest Samurai cut the tags from their clothes, but they also created the way to make you do the same nowadays!

Nikken Cutlery makes you feel like real samurai

Autore: SaiKaiAngel | Fonte: Soranews24.com

In ancient times, the Samurai never left the house without their sword, because they didn't know when they should defend themselves. Nowadays, luckily it's less likely to meet enemies or brigands on the street (hopefully!), but still, the need of having to cut something or open a snack could happen. How nice would it be to be able to open a snack with this set of mini scissors in the shape of the real and historic katana? Enjoy the samurai spirit into everyday life!

Nikken Cutlery Nikken Cutlery

If you look carefully, you can also notice the famous hamon on the metal of these cutters in the shape of a katana, do you know what it is? The hamon (刃 文) is the line of tempering that characterizes the katana obtained through differentiated tempering.
A particular type of "differentiated" hardening between the back and the wire produces a slightly different colour line on the cutting edge, called hamon (刃 文). The shape of the hamon is an identifying sign of the age of the blade and of the author. In fact, the real katana connoisseur, looks at the hamon immediately. Obviously, Nikken Cutlery has also remained faithful to this for these special cutters.

Nikken Cutlery Nikken Cutlery

Nikken Cutlery, which is based in the city of Seki in the prefecture of Gifu, offers three models:

  • First model: based on the Heshikiri Hasebe, the famous sword of the warlord Oda Nobunaga.
  • Second model: Izumi no Kami Kanesada from Hijikata Toshizo, deputy commander of the 19th century Shinsengumi group.
  • Third model: it comes from Shinsengumi, in the form of Yamato no Kamiyasusada, the sword of Okita Soji, a member of Shinsengumi.

And there’s more! The mini katana is equipped with a mini katanabukuro (the cloth container), with the blue and white Shinsengumi motif for the swords of Hijikata and Okita, or purple for the Nobunaga katanas.

Nikken Cutlery Nikken Cutlery

And again! Nikken Cutlery has decided to make you a Samurai also in the office. It’s true, their skills have also expanded in the creation of office tools and we are talking about surprising katana-shaped letter openers with the possibility of personalized engravings. So you want to open the letters like a real samurai? Not a problem thanks to Nikken Cutlery!

Nikken Cutlery samurai

Also here you can choose among three varieties of katana letter openers. Each of them is equipped with support, so you can show your warrior spirit to everyone and with pride!

  • First model: "Iron Cloud". Its handle is black and gold, and its sheath seems coated with lacquer since it is a glossy black with golden sparkles.
  • Second model: "Scarlet Gold Cloud", with an elegant black and red hilt and a red sheath with splashes of gold.
  • Third model: "Black Grains of Rock", which has a purple and black hilt and a black sheath with a rough texture that appears to have been roughly carved from lava rock.

nobunaga

All sheaths are hand-painted by craftsmen, so each of them will be unique, as the blades are always created by Seki craftsmen. Each blade will have a very tapered edge but don't worry, they are specially designed not to cut human skin. It is not a real weapon, be quiet warriors! In addition, the blade is carefully hardened with a heat treatment that uses traditional blacksmith techniques and makes them resistant.

In case you are interested in the very personal engraving, these are made on the blade near the hilt and they can be names, messages, given all within eight kanji, hiragana and katakana characters or 15 Roman letters and numbers including spaces.

Nikken Cutlery

Don’t miss the opportunity to dress your day with Japanese tradition, rely on Nikken Cutlery!

For more information on these products: Nikken Cutlery official site | Twitter


The Animal Crossing Phenomenon

As we already know, Japan is a land of trends that come and go, but the recent Animal Crossing phenomenon has involved the whole world, and we're not just talking about the gaming one.

Animal Crossing, Nintendo's worldwide phenomenon

written by: Sara

When it comes to writing about video games in our blog, I'm always strongly questioning whether or not to do so because there are myriad titles from the Rising Sun worthy of note! This time, however, we couldn't help but wonder: the video game in question has really won everyone over, especially during the quarantine period with its simplicity, its "chill" mood and its bright colors. Yes, I'm talking about Animal Crossing!

Animal Crossing

photo credits: gamereactor.it

The various versions

The Japanese title どうぶつの森 (Doubutsu no Mori) literally means "Animal Forest" and was developed for Nintendo by game designer Hisashi Nogami back in 2001 and quickly became one of the most popular video games ever. At its first release, in fact, there were several editions such as Animal Crossing: Wild World, Animal Crossing: Let's Go to the City, Animal Crossing: New Leaf and the very recent Animal Crossing: New Horizons; in addition to cute spin-offs such as Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, the latter available for Android and iOS.

Animal Crossing

photo credits: pinimg.com

Simulator of life, this game catapults us into a world inhabited by curious anthropomorphic animals with which you can interact. There is no real goal, the strength of the series is to customize your village, collect objects, explore and... relax. In addition, the time flows exactly like that of our reality. The day and night, the seasons, the festivities, alternate following the rhythms of our daily life.
The latest edition of the game, New Horizons, is set in a deserted island, totally customizable thanks to the Terra Forming feature that allows you to let your imagination run wild and recreate environments of the most varied inspiration.

photo credits: twitter.com/ryuryu_12mj

Once you have created your own style, furnished the furniture, invited friends to visit the island etc etc etc what is left to do? Some might say that playability runs out, but it doesn't. In fact, events and updates make New Horizons an endless and fascinating video game where you can celebrate weddings, birthdays and ceremonies of various kinds. Create a party with friends, celebrate holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Tanabata, participate in festivals of various kinds, competitions and surprise events! Once again, Japan has given us something unique. A game to play when the world around us is stifling and hectic or simply when we want to escape, but we can't do it physically.

Animal Crossing

photo credits: twitter.com/opeope1006

All titles in the series are available on the official NINTENDO website.


TENOHA &| TASTE: it's Tanabata time

We can come back to love each other in compliance with the rules with the TANABATA aperitivo at TENOHA Milano! Summer has already begun and what better way to start again than by celebrating the Japanese Star Festival? As always, TENOHA makes your journey to Japan lighter and it always makes you feel part of the Rising Sun, thanks to its events and its food prepared especially for you by true Japanese chefs. By popular demand, the special TANABATA aperitivo is back again this year!

E' tempo di Tanabata da TENOHA Milano

Autore: SaiKaiAngel

tanabata tenoha

Are you feeling more Vega or Altair? We know that you want to dream and cross the Milky Way to meet your loved one, but also to write your desire to see it come true. Here at TENOHA Milan you can do it! Write your wishes on the Tanzaku (those wonderful colored sheets of paper fluttering attached to the bamboo branches) and then see it dance in the wind among the leaves of the bamboo tree.
Because Tanabata (七夕 "seventh night") is the feast of the stars in love, a romantic feast that if TENOHA Milan weren't there you could only celebrate in Japan. But luckily, TENOHA Milan exists and it is that corner of Japan that you have always wanted. Live a romantic story, special days, feel Vega or Altair and come here to TENOHA Milan!

Ok the romance, but do we want to talk about what you can taste during TANABATA?

TENOHA Milan prepared for you 1 Drink + Aperitif box + Takoyaki (Japanese octopus meatballs) complete with show cooking + Kakigori (Japanese granita) All accompanied by Asahi Beer 20 ml.

Information

Where: TENOHA MILANO Via Vigevano, 18, 20144 Milano
When: From July 7th to 12th from 18.00 to 20.30
Cost: 12€
Event powered by Asahi Super Dry

Reservation is preferable, here you can find the phone number and email to reserve your seats: (+39) 02 8088 9868 | taste@tenoha.it

For more information: https://www.tenoha.it/events/aperitivo-tanabata/


MONDE, the artist who creates a little Tokyo in your house

Monde, a famous Japanese designer recreates special dioramas for our libraries. First of all, what is a diorama? A diorama is the reduced-scale reproduction of scenography that recreates different settings. The diorama is also called plastic, but it is not used in the architectural field. The word Diorama itself means "to look through" and it’s in fact the reproduction of a scenography inside an open box that allows you to admire its content.

MONDE, the artist who creates a little Tokyo in your house

Autore: SaiKaiAngel | Photo Credits: MONDE Twitter

MONDE

Initially, the diorama presupposed the reproduction of the scenography inside a semi-open "box" equipped with a glass in order to admire its contents. Dioramas differ from plastic models also in the precision of their details, extremely accurate.

MONDE

Monde decided to create Dioramas and use them as bookends. These are magical 3D dioramas that allow us to experience a world apart and transform even the simplest of bookcases into something unique. Just look at them carefully to fall in love and realize that the work of art is perfect even in the smallest details. If you don’t have the opportunity to experience the alleys of Tokyo even in their most minute details, you can turn your library into a secret passage to Japan.

Depending on the diorama, you will find an arrangement of plants and lights made with different materials, which actually create the illusion of scrutinizing a dimly lit Japanese alley, but directly from your home! The artist told Buzzfeed News Japan, "I thought it would be interesting to create a path in the gap between the shelves" and in fact, his idea proved to be not only brilliant but also innovative!

The artist created this project for the Design Festa, an international art event in Tokyo, with "detailed replicas of the winding and narrow alleys of Japan." Monde creates objects inspired not only by the city but also by animals and insects. Do you want to have these small universes at home? You can contact the artist directly on his Twitter profile

MONDE

What are you waiting for? Monde has created the way to have Japan in your homes. Fall in love with the alleys of Tokyo and enjoy them comfortably seated on the sofa. Tokyo has never been so close thanks to Monde.


Lucky charm, directly from Japan

Japan has rich and varied traditions, one of the most famous of which is the one linked to lucky charms or amulets. In fact, o-mamori (お守り) are easy to find and just go to any temple to buy them. But what exactly are they and how are they made?

O-mamori (お守り), amulets brings luck and lucky charm

author: Sara | source: Tokyo Weekender

Lucky charm par excellence, these amulets instil protection precisely because 守り (mamori) means protection/guide. In fact, an auspicious prayer written on paper or wood is then wrapped in a fine silk cloth. Made of different colours depending on the type for which they are intended, these lucky charms represent love, health, luck, money, learning, etc.
Their effectiveness is destined to wear off after a year or to achieve their purpose. In fact, in the end, you should take them where they were purchased so that they are burned in a sacred fire.

The story of the O-mamori

Their history has Shintoist and Buddhist religious roots. In fact, priests thought they could protect people by driving away evil spirits through small pocket blessings. In fact, the strength and protection of the gods were encapsulated here.
Over time the omamori have multiplied, there are many different features and they can be purchased in the sanctuaries and in the times scattered throughout the Japanese territory.

lucky charm

photo credits: web-japan.org

Traditional Omamori: protection for every need

KATSUMORI 勝守, the success
The prayer of this omamori will ensure that the one goal you have set yourselves and to which you are dedicating your energies will be realized.

YAKUYOKE 厄除け, ward off evil
Often achieving a goal can be difficult or even hindered, so this amulet will help prevent potential demons that could inhibit success.

SHOUBAI-HANJOU 商売繁盛, money
Usually of bright yellow colour and shaped like a "bag", this omamori can be more generic and therefore guarantee monetary fortune or more specifically how-to protect investments, savings or good business.

GAKUGYOU-JOUJU 学業成就, education and learning
Encouraging and motivational in studies this omamori is very popular among students and can be seen hanging from their backpacks as a good luck charm for school careers.

KOUTSU-ANZEN 交通安全, a safe journey
Travelling safely is one of everyone's desires and this amulet has become the most loved and popular among those who drive public transport (buses, taxis and aeroplanes). Its function is to make the roads safer and protect drivers and passengers from road and aerospace inattentiveness. In fact, there is its own version dedicated to aeroplanes that takes the name of KOKU-ANZEN.

EN-MUSUBI 縁結び, love
There is little to explain, whether you are single, engaged, married or about to have a baby, these omamori have only one function. In fact, their purpose is to guarantee and strengthen love, give happiness, simplify things, protect the heart.

KAIUN 開運, Fortuna
A general omamori, that of fortune, this one does not dictate guidelines or constraints. It is simply a fortune enhancer, a lucky charm for any choice or occasion.

SHIAWASE 幸せ, happiness
In the wake of KAIUN, SHIAWASE is also a "guarantor of happiness". In fact, this becomes a motivator to improve one's life by remembering the small nuances that can change all points of view.

KENKO 健康, health
This talisman, as it is easy to guess, aims to protect against disease, keep the body healthy and help those who have it to live a long life.

lucky charm

photo credits: Fiona Dawkins

Omamori details: sometimes you have to hit the mark

FROM A LIE TO THE TRUTH
This omamori is very different from what we're used to. In fact, it is made entirely of carved wood and is shaped like a little bird. It can only be found once a year, on January 25th at the Shrine of Yushima and its purpose is to transform all the lies into a song of truth.

THE "ETERNAL" BEAUTY
There is the generic omamori aimed at overall beauty. However, there are also specific omamori to have beautiful legs, or anti-ageing or to have a slimmer waist, beautiful eyes, better skin and much more.

PETS
It's not that hard to find protective amulets for animals! They deserve a special blessing too, don't they?

TECHNOLOGY
It might make us smile at the thought of an amulet that can protect against the pitfalls of the internet or the difficulties of using electronic devices, yet it exists!

lucky charm

photo credits: Ryuko Studio Mexico

We could say that there is a lucky charm for each of us, unique combinations that probably won't change our existence. However, they are a nice way to wish the good of those we love or simply adorn our objects and means with something that reminds us of our goals.


TENOHA &| TASTE: now also available for Brunch

We start again and we do it amazingly at TENOHA Milano with its BRUNCH! TENOHA Milano is back stronger than ever and with a huge desire to start over with all of you.

Do you want to try something new? Something that brings you a different brunch and a new experience? If we want to start again we must do it with something news! And TENOHA | & TASTE offers you the real restart:

TENOHA BRUNCH | ブランチ

Autore: SaiKaiAngel

You can create your brunch with the formula inspired by ICHIJŪ SANSAI 一汁三菜. This formula is based on the Japanese principle of nutritional balance. Together with the well-known quality of TENOHA Milano's food, you can still enjoy a new trip to Japan without taking the plane! Would you like to know more? Below you will find all the photos of the irresistible brunch dishes. Together with the familiar and (super Japanese!) atmosphere of TENOHA Milano, you can experience the real restart. Are you ready?

The Brunch Menu

And here you can find the spectacular dishes created for you by the Japanese master chefs:

TENOHA Brunch

A special weekend? Only at TENOHA Milano. We are waiting for you!!!

Details

Where: TENOHA MILANO — Via Vigevano, 18, 20144 Milano
When: Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 to 15:30

More info: TENOHA &| TASTE