Tokyo Disneyland Resort - 3 unforgettable days

Today we talk about the Tokyo Disneyland Resort. Walt Disney said that Disneyland would continue to grow until the imagination remained in the world. The visions of a great man have accompanied our childhood and still today give magic to millions of people. Theme parks have always been an extraordinary attraction that knows no age limits. Tokyo Disney Resort is a great alternative to Disneyland Paris, Disneyland California and Magic Kingdom in Florida.
If you are in this enchanting metropolis and have 3 days free from commitments and don't know how to spend your time, this guide will do for you!

Disneyland

photo credits: .tokyodisneyresort.jp 

The park, located in Chiba, is divided into two parts: Tokyo Disney Sea Park and Tokyo Disneyland Park. Our journey to discover this world of fantasy starts right from the first one to which we have decided to dedicate two days!

2 days at Tokyo Disney Sea Park

Divided into 7 thematic "ports", Tokyo DisneySea offers visitors numerous attractions, parades, shows, shops and restaurants.

Disneyland

photo credits: thegaijinghost.com 

Our visit starts with Mediterranean Harbor: a beautiful and faithful reconstruction of the Mediterranean Sea. Here you will have the opportunity to make an adventurous ride on the steamer or visit the romantic canals of Venice aboard the characteristic gondolas. If you are a fan of astronomy and boating, you should not miss Fortress Explorations. In fact, through the visit of the fortress, you will see exhibitions on the study of the planets, the Earth's rotation and the functioning of the instruments used onboard a galleon.

A journey from America to Australia

Disneyland

photo credits: tombricker

Moving on, we are transported to a New York of the twenties animated by new immigrants and by the New England fishing community of Cape Cod. We are at the American Waterfront equipped with an elevated railway, a traditional American Theater and a harbor among which the massive British Columbia stands out! Here we find the Tower of Terror, where guests will witness the fearful story of the tragic death of Harrison Hightower III after the theft of "Shiriki Utundu", a cursed African idol. If the thrill is not for you, you can enter the S.S. Columbia. Here you will have the chance to interact with Crush, the turtle of the Disney Pixar movie "Finding Nemo". However, the highlight is definitely Toy Story Mania. Recently built, it consists of a tour of Disney California Adventure Park and of Disney Studios in Hollywood, obviously based on Toy Story.

Disneyland

photo credits: RetroFuturism 

A 4D cinema, moored submarines, and sci-fi adventures meet in Port Discovery, inspired by the visions of Jules Verne. A space-style port where two fictitious companies arise: the "Center for Weather Control" and the "Marine Life Institute" inspired by the Disney animated film Pixar "Finding Dory".

From Agrabah to Atlantide

Disneyland

photo credits: tokyodisneyresort.jp 

Are you Indiana Jones’ fans? Have you loved his adventures and somehow imagined living them? Now it is possible to do so in the Lost River Delta whose landmark is an ancient Aztec pyramid. Thanks to a careful reproduction of an archaeological site in a tropical rainforest of Central America in the 1930s you will experience thousands of adventures with traps and cursed temples!

Tokyo Disney Resort

photo credits: tdrfan.com 

Don't you hear the music of snake charmers? It is the Arabian Coast, which unites the universe of the Disney movie "Aladdin" with the world of Agrabah and the thousand and one nights. Its atmosphere and Middle Eastern architecture are worth a stop: ready to fly on the magic carpet?

Disneyland

photo credits: findingsummersend.com 

Imagine walking around the park and suddenly having the feeling of being underwater and then finding yourself in front of King Tritone’s Palace. It's all true, it's the Mermaid Lagoon inspired by the world of The Little Mermaid! Most rides in this area are aimed at younger children.

Disneyland

photo credits: tdrexplorer.com 

Explosion? Lava? Yes, it is not a hallucination but the Mount Prometheus, an "active" volcano that is the location of Mysterious Island! We are back in the world of Jules Verne, and precisely in the lair of Captain Nemo of 20,000 leagues under the sea to face the journey to the center of the earth!

It was two days of adventure, wasn't it? Now it is the dawn of the 3rd day and our destination is Tokyo Disneyland!

1 day in Tokyo Disneyland

Just like the Disney Sea, Tokyo Disneyland is divided into as many theme areas, let the journey begin!

Tokyo Disney Resort

photo credits: tokyodisneyresort.jp 

The World Bazaar is a strictly commercial indoor area that takes us back in time. We are in a small America, a city of the 20th century where the shops and restaurants that line the streets are in Victorian style.

Tokyo Disney Resortphoto credits: tdrfan.com 

We are at Disneyland so you cannot miss an area totally dedicated to the world of the most beloved fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White, Dumbo. But also Winnie The Pooh, The adventures of Mickey Mouse, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio, we are in Fantasyland!

Welcome to Toontown

Disneylandphoto credits: cafetricot 

Remember "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" In 1988? In the movie, "Toontown" was the city where all the cartoon characters lived. It was in this area that it was recreated in detail, in fact, you can meet them and visit their homes!

Disneyland

photo credits: disneyparks.disney.go.com 

If we pause to think of the name Tomorrowland, the image that comes to mind is that of a futuristic world. However, in this case, Tokyo Disneyland gives up a vision based on realism and instead presents science fiction themes. The rides include Space Mountain, Star Tours - The Adventures Continue and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

The adventure continues

Disneyland

photo credits: youinjapan.net 

A park without adventure is not a park, right? So here we are in Adventureland! Here we find two distinct but complementary areas, one with a New Orleans theme and the other with a "jungle" theme. It's a kind of combination of the areas of New Orleans Square and Adventureland that are located at Disneyland Park in the USA.

Tokyo Disney Resort

photo credits: disneyparks.disney.go.com 

The Old West is always a timeless attraction and you can relive those Westernland atmospheres. Here the landscape is dominated by the Rivers of America, an artificial waterway that hosts the Mark Twain Riverboat, Tom Sawyer Island, numerous animals both true and animatronic.

Disneyland

photo credits: wikipedia.org 

The last area of the park is a small strip of land whose main attraction is Splash Mountain. Based on the characters, stories, and songs of the 1946 Disney movie "Song of the South", we find the classic ride-on logs. Initially peaceful, the excitement gradually increases, ending with a steep descent of about 15 meters. Because of its popularity, Critter Country is extremely crowded during the day.

Our 3 days at Tokyo Disney Resort have ended. What do you think of this little trip? I love theme parks, I consider them a way to cut the world out for a while and experience adventures that normally wouldn't be possible. That right wonder, that bit of adrenaline and all the romance that only the world of fairy tales can give us!


Japan History: Kusunoki Masashige

Kusunoki Masashige, (1294 - 4 July 1336) was born in Minato-gawa, province of Settsu, and was a 14th century samurai who fought for the Emperor Go-Daigo in the Genkō war.

Kusunoki Masashige

photo credit: ninja.fandom.com

Much of his early education took place in the Kanshin-ji temple in Kawachinagano, in the south of Osaka, where he later organized major restoration work.

Legend has it that the emperor Go-Daigo had a dream in which he was taking refuge under a camphor tree (the "kusunoki"). This dream brought him to the surname of the warrior who would support him. Indeed, in 1331 Kusunoki joined the emperor Go-Daigo in a revolt to wrest government power from the shogunate, the military dictatorship that had dominated Japan since 1192. Although numerically stronger shogunate troops captured the emperor, Kusunoki fled continuing to use guerrilla tactics.

The capture of Kusunoki near Nara in 1332 proved to be a serious threat to the government. The shogun then concentrated all his forces against Kusunoki. In one of the most famous battles in Japanese history, Kusunoki successfully defended the fortress of Chihaya against the upper shogunal forces.

Kusunoki Masashige

photo credit: davtov2000.blogspot.com

From 1333 to 1335

In 1333, Go-Daigo rewarded Masashige with the governorate of the province of Settsu and the province of Kawachi and promoted him to the fifth degree. Subsequently, he received the appointment on the Records Office and Settlement Board. However, one of the loyalist generals, Ashikaga Takauji, betrayed Go-Daigo and led an army against Kusunoki. Takauji took possession of Kyoto, but only temporarily before Nitta Yoshisada and Masashige forced Takauji to flee. In 1336 Takauji was again a threat to Kyoto.

During the short period following the imperial rule, Kusunoki was governor of the central Japanese provinces of Settsu. The real power in the countryside, however, continued to be held by the great hereditary lords, Ashikaga Takauji and Nitta Yoshisada. The latter openly challenged themselves to obtain the loyalty of minor feudal leaders.

Kusunoki suggested to the Emperor to take refuge on the sacred Mount Hiei and allow Takauji to take Kyoto. This is to allow him to descend from the mountain and, with the help of the monks of Mount Hiei, trap Takauji.

Go-Daigo was not willing to leave the capital and insisted that Kusunoki meet Takauji's forces on the field. Kusunoki, in what would later be seen as the last act of samurai loyalty, accepted obediently. The battle, which took place in Minatogawa, in present-day Chūō-ku, Kobe, was a tactical disaster. There are two reports of the proposal made by Kusunoki Masashige to the emperor Go-Daigo, the Taiheiki and the Baisho Ron, entbe ingorati. One was that they would group together and attack from two sides, the other was that they would take General Takauji back on their side.

Kusunoki's army was only 50 of the 700 knights. According to legend, the last words of his brother Masasue were Shichisei Hōkoku! ("I wish I had seven lives to give to my emperor!") Obviously Kusunoki Masashige agreed.
At his death, his head was sent to Kanshin-ji and buried in a tomb known as Kubi-zuka.

Eboshigata Castle and Ishibotoke Castle were both built along the route of the Koya Kaido, a famous pilgrimage route that stretches between Kyoto and Koyasan. Designed not only to protect the path from bandits, these were also an important source of income as travelers were forced to pay a toll.

From 1335 to the Meiji restoration

In 1335 Go-Daigo sided with Nitta Yoshisada against Ashikaga Takauji. As head of the imperial forces, Kusunoki defeated Takauji's troops in January 1336 and forced him to flee the capital. A few months later, however, Takauji returned to the head of a large army. Kusunoki suggested temporarily withdrawing so he could fight Takauji's forces at a point where the terrain was more favorable. The emperor insisted that Kusunoki meet enemy forces before occupying the capital. In the final battle on the Minato River, near the modern Kobe, Kusunoki fought bravely for many hours. His troops were finally overwhelmed and committed suicide rather than face capture.

His son, Kusunoki Masatsura, served as the emperor's successor, 12-year-old Go-Murakami, in a relationship of mutual trust that reflected the figure of his father Kusunoki and kept the flame of loyal resistance alive.

After the imperial restoration in 1868, a splendid sanctuary was erected on the site of Kusunoki's death. His loyalty to the emperor and his being one of the greatest military strategists in Japanese history, made him a legendary figure. He also received the highest decoration from the Japanese Meiji government in 1880.

photo credit: wikipedia.org

Legend

After the introduction of Neoconfucianism as a state philosophy by the Tokugawa shogunate, Kusunoki Masashige was declared with the emperor Go-Daigo forerunner of the synocentric absolutists. During the Edo period, scholars and samurai who were influenced by neoconfucian theories created the legend of Kusunoki. They consecrated him patriotic hero, with the name of Nankō or Dai-Nankō, incarnation of loyalty, courage and devotion to the Emperor. Kusunoki later became a sort of patron saint of the WWII suicide bombers. His spiritual heirs were those who sacrificed their lives for the emperor.


TENOHA & | TASTE - Hakken menu returns

Holidays are over and with the reopening of TENOHA it is possible to taste the new menu starting today! Following the success of the first Hakken menu session, TENOHA accompanies you on another exciting journey through Japan's prefectures.

Tenoha Hakken

Hakken Menu

Soumen & Takomeshi with Tempura

19 August - 1 September: Soumen & Takomeshi with Tempura (そうめんとたこ飯のセット 天ぷら添え) - Hyogo Prefecture

Tenoha Hakken

Hyogo Prefecture is located in the midwest of Japan and overlooks the Inland Sea of Seto and the Sea of Japan. The dish chosen for this prefecture is Soumen and Rice with octopus. For those of you who do not know what Soumen is, it is a thin Japanese white flour pasta and is popular as a summer dish. Rice with octopus is famous for being the local dish on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea.

These delicious Japanese noodles are served cold accompanied by dashi broth, rice bowl with boiled chicken and tempura of assorted vegetables.

Kanpachi Teriyaki

2 - 15 September: Kanpachi Teriyaki (カンパチの照り焼き) - Kagoshima Prefecture

Hakken

The prefecture of Kagoshima is located at the southwestern end of the island of Kyushu. With a similar scenario in Naples, the city of Kagoshima has long been called the "Naples of Japan" and twinning agreements have been signed between the city of Kagoshima and the city of Naples. The signature dish of this prefecture is the amberjack, the most cultivated fish in Japan. From September, you can get grilled amberjack in teriyaki sauce with seasonal vegetables, accompanied by rice and miso soup.

Ready to lick your chops? Stay tuned to discover the next dishes and we are waiting for you at TENOHA in via Vigevano 18, Milan!


Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to forget

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two symbolic cities of Japan that remind us of the greatest mistake humanity has ever made.

The sad legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Located west of Honshū and facing the sea, Hiroshima (広島市) is the largest port city in Chugoku.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: viaggi-lowcost.info

Hiroshima

Founded by the daimyo Mōri Terumoto in 1589, Hiroshima passed into the hands of various administrations. In 1938 it became a military centre of strategic and military importance throughout the Second World War. No bombing struck the city until that tragic August 6, 1945, at 08:16:08. "Little Boy", the first atomic bomb ever used in a conflict, was launched by the United States over the city causing thousands of victims instantly. However, these increased in the months following the causes of radioactive fallout. Despite the radioactivity, the city was rebuilt in 1949 regaining its industrial importance.
The damage caused by the atomic bomb persisted in the following years and in 1955 the Hijiyama medical centre was established, where to welcome, study and treat the sick. In the early 70's the "Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission" was born to control the land and the air.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: focus.it

Although the city was razed to the ground on that tragic day, only one building resisted bringing with it the sad signs of what happened. We are talking about the Genbaku Dome (原爆ドーム, the dome of the atomic bomb). However, before the war, the palace was the seat of the ancient chamber of commerce, today it is classified world heritage by UNESCO as a testimony to the devastation of nuclear weapons.

photo credits: agrpress.it

Visit Hiroshima

What history has left us must be a warning to the future and both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a living example. In this regard, if you plan to visit Hiroshima, one of the milestones is the Peace Park. It includes the Peace Museum and the Cenotaph of the memorial for the victims of the atomic bomb. The latter, built by the architect Kenzo Tange, lists the victims of the bomb whose epitaph reads: "May souls rest here in peace so that hell is not repeated". We cannot then forget the dome of the bomb.
For any information regarding the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum you can visit the official website in English.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: visithiroshima.net

In the city, we can find other interesting museums, such as the Hiroshima Museum of Art. Here the museum displays a vast collection of modern European art, from romanticism to impressionism. Moreover, the Hiroshima MOCA (museum of contemporary art) exhibits the works of Japanese and foreign artists after the Second World War.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: maitreyoda

The Shukkei-en garden and Hiroshima Castle

The Shukkei-en garden was built in 1620 during Shigeyasu Ueda on the orders of Asano Nagaakira, daimyo of Hiroshima han (fief). Used as a residence of the Asano family in 1940, and then given to the prefecture of Hiroshima. Located very close to the zero point of the nuclear attack, the Shukkei-en suffered extensive damage and later became a refuge for war victims. After renovations, it reopened to the public in 1951.

photo credits: thetruejapan.com

A Castle is closely connected to this wonderful garden, it's the (広島城) Hiroshima-jō also called (鯉城) Rijō literally Carp-Castle. In fact, the exterior, completely painted in black, would refer to the image of a black carp. Built in 1590, it became the residence of the lord of the feud, Mori Terumoto. Destroyed by atomic bombing, it was faithfully rebuilt in 1958.
It is currently the home of the Hiroshima history and culture museum surrounded by a public park. From the top of the castle, you can enjoy a splendid view of the port of Hiroshima and the island of Miyajima.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: fr.japantravel.com

To discover all the attractions and wonderful temples that rise in Hiroshima, you can visit the official site of the city (in English).

Nagasaki

Like Hiroshima, Nagasaki (長崎市) is today an important international trading and port centre.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: getyourguide.it

This modern town with a thriving maritime economy developed in the 11th century, expanding rapidly. In 1568 the daimyo Ōmura Sumitada converted to Christianity and made Nagasaki an international port, thus opening it to the influence of Europe. However, when the army chief Toyotomi Hideyoshi came to power, the city turned into a nightmare for Christians. In fact, on February 5, 1597, 26 people who professed the Christian religion were crucified. Christianity was banned and the kakure kirishitan (隠れキリシタン), Christians who professed their faith in great secrecy and clandestinity, spread. It was only with the Meiji Restoration in the mid-800s that religious freedom made Nagasaki the centre of Japanese Catholicism. The city became even stronger from the industrial point of view.

However, this also marked the condemnation of Nagasaki. On 9 August 1945, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, the now-famous "Operation Manhattan" by the USA was implemented. "Fat Man", the second atomic bomb, fell on the city.
Being purely an industrial zone and being the bomb less powerful than that of Hiroshima, the victims of the attack were significantly lower. In 1949 Nagasaki was quickly rebuilt and all its economic prestige recovered.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: bbc.com

Nagasaki's wounds

The symbol of the history of Christianity in Japan is the Twenty Six Martyrs Museum which commemorates the 26 martyrs killed in 1597.

photo credits: tropki.com, tripadvisor.it

Of course, as in Hiroshima, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is also a milestone in this journey. A memorial showing the city before and after the bombardment with the aim of pushing people to reflect on what truly means peace and denuclearization. Moreover, exactly in the place where the bomb broke out, stands the Peace Park.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: welcomekyushu.com, wantabi.info

At 20 km from the port, there is Gunkanjima (Hashima Island, the armoured island), the smallest most populated island in the world, or so it was until the 70s. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, the island took on the appearance of a massive battleship. Later, it was completely abandoned, becoming an example of industrial archaeology that attracts ruins enthusiasts!

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: japan-guide.com

Visit Nagasaki

If you are a fan of breathtaking city views, a must is the summit of Mount Inasa (稲佐山, Inasayama) which, with its 333 meters, is located near the centre of Nagasaki. Besides the car and the bus, you can use the cable car to fully appreciate the beauty of the surrounding nature!

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: travel.gaijinpot.com

Naturally, Japan has accustomed us to splendid corners of paradise-like gardens. In fact, in Nagasaki we find the Glover Garden. Located on the hill where Western merchants settled since 1850, it is a real museum where you can visit the buildings of the time.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: japanmeetings.org

Among the many temples, there is something that is not easy to find in Japan. We are talking about the Basilica of the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs of Japan (日本二十六聖殉教者堂) or Ōura Church (大浦天主堂 Ōura Tenshudō). It is a Catholic church dating back to the Edo period. For many years it was the only Western-style building inscribed in Japan's National Treasury and is considered the oldest church in Japan.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: yitubao.com

Behind the sad story that unites these two cities, there is the great strength of a Nation that has always known how to rise back up. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are historical testimonies that we wanted to remind you of and that too often are considered as distant realities, but which instead must make us reflect deeply, not to forget what happened.


Japan Tradition: Akita Kantō

The Akita Kantō (秋田竿燈まつり) is the Akita city festival. It is celebrated from 3 to 7 August with the aim of praying for a good harvest. This festival is very special, and to participate there is a need for special skills.

Akita Kantō

photo credits: Zamboni.

The peculiarity of the Akita Kantō

If you have never had the chance to attend this particular matsuri, surely today you will be surprised. In fact, the festivities consist of taking bamboo poles around the city by night. And so far it could even be simple, except that these poles have a length that varies from five to twelve meters. Furthermore, on top of these, there are twenty-four or twenty-six lanterns with gohei (wooden sticks) attached. The total weight of these poles can reach 50 kilos. They are transported through the city streets on the palms, foreheads, shoulders or backs of the participants.

The Akita Kantō is one of the main festivals in the Tōhoku region together with the Tanabata, the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri and the Hanagasa Matsuri. In fact, in 1980 it was defined as an important and intact property of folk culture.

Akita Kantō

photo credits: Laura Tomàs Avellana, hitoyam

The origins

The festival originates from Neburi Nagashi, a celebration that was intended to free from illness and negativity during the summer. Already present during the Horeki period, in the middle of the Edo era, evidence can be found in various historical documents. One of these is "Yuki no huru michi" (written by Soan Tsumura in 1789). This is indeed the oldest documentation describing Neburi Nagashi, which says that the festival was held on 6 July according to the lunar calendar and it's defined as the original Akita tradition.

During Neburi Nagashi, people decorated bamboo trees and plants with pieces of paper where they wrote their wishes. Later, the participants walked around the city with these plants along with candles and lanterns. Later, Neburi Nagashi took the name of Kanto.

photo credits: foxeight 

The history of the Akita Kantō

The current name of the event was used for the first time by Tetsusaku Okubo in 1881. In this period, in fact, the emperor Meiji visited Akita. Here Okubo suggested entertaining the emperor with the Kanto performance.

Due to the change of the lunar-to-solar calendar in 1872 and given the smaller number of Kanto participating in the festival, the realization of the latter began to be uncertain.
However, in 1908 the emperor Taisho visited Akita and fell in love with the Kanto performance. The following year, a soft drink company printed its products' names on the Kanto lanterns. These two events led to the restoration of the Kanto festival and its change of dates, to avoid the rainy season.

Akita Kantō Akita Kantō

photo credits: Laura Tomàs Avellana

As a result, the number of visitors increased and the Kanto Society was established in 1931 was in charge of managing the festival.

Afterwards, the festival was canceled during the Second World War, and then after the end of the conflict, the Executive Committee of the Kanto Festival was created.

In 1976, after a successful performance in San Diego, USA, Kanto became popular in various countries.

Cos’è il Kantō

Literally, Kantō means "a pole with lanterns" and is made from bamboo poles and rice paper lanterns hung on horizontal bars.
The main bamboo pole is called "Oyatake" and they are of rather thick features and all produced in Japan. There are even very strict rules on the thickness and the spaces of junction from the root for these poles.
Therefore, people who choose the pole must be very demanding on the type of bamboo used to produce Kantō.

photo credits: Laura Tomàs Avellana, Choo Yut Shing

The horizontal branches are called "Yokotake" and it is here that lanterns are hung. The pieces of bamboo used to make the Oyatake even longer are called "Tsugidake".

The Kantō are divided into four categories with regulated length: Oowaka, Chuwaka, Kowaka and Youkawa.

Kantō techniques

There are various techniques for using Kantō from the name "Myogi" and divided into 5 categories.

Akita Kantō Akita Kantō

photo credits: Laura Tomàs Avellana

Nagashi
The artists hold the Kantō in the palm of their hands and balance it with their fingers. In this way, other artists can add Tsugitake

Hirate (hand)
The artists hold the Kantō still higher in the palm of his hand

Koshi (hips)
Kantō is held by the fingers. Later moved to the palm of the hand and then to the side. The artist bends sideways and balances with his own legs.

Akita Kantō

photo credits: Laura Tomàs Avellana

Kata (shoulder)
The artists hold the Kantō in the palm of their dominant hand and form a starting line from the leg to the Kantō, raising it even higher.

Hitai (forehead)
The artist holds the Kantō with his fingers and then moves it to the palm, then on the forehead.

During the day there are also competitions to test these skills, the Myogikai. The aim is not only to show their skills but also to study those of the other participants to learn new techniques.

Akita Kantō

photo credits: foxeight

The Akita Kantō today

The date of the festival has been changed three times. It is currently held from 3 to 6 August each year.

The evening performance of the Akita Kantō is the main one and is held at the Kanto Oodori, one of the main streets of Akita. Here the purpose of the performers is not to compete with each other, but to entertain visitors by showing their skills and illuminating Kanto. More than 230 are raised at the same time to the sound of taiko music and flutes.

Akita Kantō

photo credits: foxeight

A unique experience of its kind that is worth living in full, as soon as you have the chance.


Luxury Ryokans in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka

Finding the ideal hotel is not at all difficult in Japan, especially if you want to stay in a Ryokan! Modernity will always give you unforgettable experiences, but you can also immerse yourself in the rhythm of the countryside.
Tokyo is an amazing city, always on the move and full of wonders to explore. However, if you want to regenerate your soul for a few days around the big metropolis, then the ryokan are what you are looking for!

photo credits: gorahanaougi.com

When time stops

The ryokan (旅館) is nothing more than a hotel with very few rooms whose style has remained unchanged since the Edo era. From the well-kept aesthetics, in these traditional hotels there is always a garden visible from any point of the washitsu (和室). In this typical essential Japanese room we find the tokonoma (床の間). It’s a small closed and raised window in which we find Japanese parchments, called emakimono, ikebana and bonsai. Here, the floor is strictly composed of tatami (畳), above which lies the futon (布団, literally "rolled mattress"). The only traces of modernity are given by the presence of air conditioning, television and telephone.
Guests of the ryokans are entrusted to the care of an old maid. The latter welcomes visitors by serving them welcome tea, collects orders and accompanies them to the Osen (thermal bath) or Ofuro (bathing in hinoki wooden tubs).

ryokan

photo credits: gorakadan.com

The Ryokans are scattered a little throughout Japan, especially in the inland areas. However, today we will limit ourselves to those that can be reached more easily, located between Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka!

Ryokan of the Hakone region

The Hakone region is located along Tokaido, the historic streets of the Edo period and is perfect if you want to move comfortably between Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Moreover, if like me you are madly in love with Mount Fuji, the ryokans that I am about to present offer a breathtaking view!

photo credits: yado-resort.com

The first ryokan is the GORA HANAOUGI in the most famous area of Hakone and surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape.

Address: 1300-681 Gora, Hakone-machi, Ashigara-shimogun, Kanagawa 〒250-0408
Phone: + 81-460-87-7715
Website: https://gorahanaougi.com/

photo credits: kiwicollection.com

The second ryokan is the GORA KADAN which stands on the grounds of Villa Kan’in-no-miya, the former summer villa of a member of the imperial family in the city of Gora in Hakone.
Address: 1300 Gora, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa, 〒250-0408
Phone: +81-460-82-3331
Website: https://www.gorakadan.com/

ryokan

photo credits: ryokancollection.com

Finally the splendid YAMA-NO-CHAYA that rises in a bamboo grove through a suspension bridge.
Address: Tounosawa, Hakonemachi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa, 〒250-0315
Phone: +81-460-85-5493
Website: https://luxury-ryokan.com/

The Ryokan of the Izu Peninsula

The Izu Peninsula is located south of the Hakone region and Mount Fuji. Being less known than the Hakone region, it is a slightly less touristy destination, but one that will not disappoint you!

photo credits: ryokancollection.com

For this area I selected the YAGYU NO SHO, a ryokan where traditional cuisine, baths, hospitality and Japanese architecture blend together.
Address:1116-6 Shuzenji, Izu, Shizuoka 410-2416
Phone: +81-558-72-4126
Website: https://www.yagyu-no-sho.com

Ryokan between the Sea of Japan and the Alps

In the Chubu region, between the Sea of Japan and the Japanese Alps there are two areas of extraordinary beauty. We are talking about Hokuriku and Hida, about 3/4 hours away from Tokyo with the Shinkansen. Are you ready to immerse yourself in the generosity of nature?

ryokan

photo credits: japanish.tours

BENIYA MUKAYU is a place where everything that you have always considered useless, will acquire great value. A place where your mind will finally be stripped and you will find the peace you have been looking for so long.
Address: 55-1-3 Yamashiro Onsen, Kaga, Ishikawa, 922-0242
Phone:+81-(0)761-77-1340
Website: http://mukayu.com

photo credits: jetsetter.com

WANOSATO absolutely deserves our attention. Located in the heart of Gifu prefecture, near Hida-Takayama, it offers the opportunity to live a unique experience, immersed in nature, in tradition and tranquility.
Address: 1682 Ichinomiyamachi, Takayama, Gifu 509-3505,
Phone: +81 577-53-2321
Website: http://www.wanosato.com

Don’t you feel that strong desire to run away from everyday life and take refuge in one of these magnificent traditional hotels? I do. I would leave in this very moment and let myself be pampered by the scents and sounds of my beloved Japan.

photo credits: Masa Angenieux


Japan History: Takeda Shingen

Takeda Shingen (Takeda Harunobu December 1, 1521 - May 13, 1573), firstborn of warlord Takeda Nobutora, was born in the powerful Takeda clan. He was Shugo Daimyo (military governors) of the then province of Kai, present-day Yamanashi prefecture.

Takeda Shingen played a very important role in the battle of Un no Kuchi in 1536, he was only 15 years old. When his father designated his second son as heir, Shingen conducted a coup without bloodshed. This forced his father to retire as head of the clan. Later, Shingen began to expand his family's domains northward into the province of Shinano (present-day Nagano prefecture) and into lands adjacent to Kai.

As the undisputed leader of the Takeda clan, he began his expansionist policy starting with the Battle of Sezawa. He then continued with the sieges of Uehara, Kuwabara and Fukuyo, the battles of Ankokuji, Odaihara, Shiojiritoge, and the Kawanakajima battles series against Uesugi Kenshin.
Shingen decided to have all the warriors in the first lines of his armies wear red lacquered armor to intimidate the enemy psychologically. This idea was also later copied by the Tokugawa army clan.

Shingen

photo credits: japantimes.co.jp

The life of Takeda Shingen

In 1548 Takeda Shingen defeated Ogasawara Nagatoki in the battle of Shiojiritōge and took Fukashi in 1550. Uesugi Kenshin took the field at that time because the Takeda had now reached the borders of his province.
What began was a rivalry that became legendary and that led them to clash in the battles of Kawanakajima. These battles were generally skirmishes, in fact, none of the two daimyō wanted to discover themselves in an all-out battle.

The fiercest battle between the two was the fourth one, during which, according to legend, Uesugi Kenshin managed to break through the Takeda lines and faced Shingen. It is said that Kenshin attacked Shingen with his sword defending himself with his fan (or tessen). Both lost numerous men during the battle. In particular, Shingen lost two important generals, Yamamoto Kansuke and his younger brother Takeda Nobushige.

Takeda Shingen entered the priesthood in 1551, at which time he assumed the Buddhist name Shingen. However, taking religious vows in no way prevented his participation in worldly affairs.

After the fourth battle, Shingen discovered two plots against his life. The first by his cousin Suwa Shigemasa, who was ordered to commit seppuku. While the second, a few years later by his son Takeda Yoshinobu. The latter was exiled to the Toko temple, where he died two years later perhaps by order of his father. After this incident, Shingen appointed his fourth child, Katsuyori as successor to the leadership of the clan.

After conquering Katsurao, Wada, Takashima and Fukuda, in 1554 he returned as many victories in the sieges of Fukushima, Kannomine, Matsuo and Yoshioka.

In 1563, together with Hōjō Ujiyasu, Takeda Shingen conquered Matsuyama Castle in the province of Musashi. Subsequently it obtained the possession of Kuragano in 1565 and of the castle of Minowa. Then he moved against the Hōjō attacking Hachigata castle.
He retired successfully after Hōjō Ujiteru and Hōjō Ujikuni failed to stop him in the battle of Mimasetōge.

Takeda Shingen

photo credits: pinimg.com

Harunobu's main ambition was the submission of Shinano. However, the resistance in that neighborhood was fierce. A number of Shinano warlords, including Murakami Yoshikiyo, Ogasawara Nagatoki, Suwa Yorishige and Kiso Yoshiyasu, made a move designed with the hope to cut off further Takeda aggressions.

The march towards the Kai borders

In April 1542 the four daimyo combined forces and marched towards the Kai border, encouraged by the news that Harunobu was strengthening his defenses and was preparing to take a stand in Fuchu. In fact, Harunobu's activities were a ploy. Far from passively waiting in Kai, Harunobu led his men and took the Shinano warriors by surprise, defeating them at Sezawa.

Encouraged by Sezawa's findings, Harunobu made a trip to Shinano focusing on the territory of the Suwa clan. He first took Uehara in a surprise attack and then moved to Suwa headquarters in Kuwahara, located 2 kilometers to the east. Suwa Yorishige had no choice but to surrender following Harunobu's promise of safe conduct. Yorishige and his brother were taken to Kai where General Takeda, Itagaki Nobutaka, organized their death. Both of them committed suicide.

Takeda Shingen

photo credits: pinterest.it

Harunobu, with the help of Yamamoto Kansuke's strategies, further expanded his territory through the defeat of Tozawa Yorichika and Takato Yoritsugu. The acquisition of the castle of Takato was of particular value. Indeed, it provided a safe stopping area in the south of Shinano, as well as a buffer against any southern aggression.

In 1544 the Takeda marched towards Suruga in support of Imagawa and confronted Hōjō Ujiyasu. No real conflict occurred following this confrontation. Harunobu was in fact forced to enter into a peace treaty between Hōjō and Imagawa.

Over the next decade, Harunobu continued to exert incessant pressure on the Shinano warlords. In 1548 Murakami Yoshikiyo, perhaps the most formidable Shinano enemy of Harunobu, moved to Ueda and defeated the Takeda clan in a bitter battle. Here a number of Chinese arquebuses were used, the first weapons of the genre ever deployed in a Japanese battle. While Uehara's defeat left two of his best generals dead, Harunobu quickly bounced back. In fact, in 1552 the Murakami and Ogasawara clans fled from Shinano to Echigo.

Takeda Shingen vs Uesugi Kenshin

In June and October 1553 the Takeda and Uesugi armies clashed near the Kawanakajima plain in northern Shinano. A clash lasted five times but only the fourth battle produced a wide-ranging race. Both sides suffered heavy losses that slowed both warlords for a few years. In particular, Shingen must have suffered from the loss of Nobushige and Yamamoto Kansuke, both of whom died in the battle.

In 1560 Shingen had discovered a plot against him led by his cousin Katanuma Nobumoto and in 1565 the one organized by his son Yoshinobu and Obu Toramasa. Two years later Yoshinbou died. Legend says that death is due either to illness or, as many believe, because Shingen had forced him to commit suicide. The event left Takeda's servants uneasy.

photo credits: wikipedia.org

In 1564, Shingen had subdued all of Shinano and turned his attention to Kōzuke, where he took a number of castles from the Uesugi clan. For the next five years, he limited himself to raids and local conquests, focusing on internal affairs.
In 1560, Shingen's greatest achievement was the Damji River Damming project. The benefit of the Fuji river project is considered one of the greatest national initiatives of the sixteenth century.

In 1568, Takeda's army was on the move again, this time south against Imagawa. The daimyo of that clan was Ujizane, the incompetent son of the late Imagawa Yoshimoto (killed in 1560 by Oda Nobunaga). Yoshinobu, son of Shingen, had married Ujizane's sister, but after her suicide in 1567, relations between the families had increased. It would appear that Shingen and Tokugawa Ieyasu had entered into an agreement under which the two would divide the remaining lands of Imagawa (Tōtōmi and Suruga). However, this agreement was never completed. Furthermore, Sagami's Hōjō did not see this shift in the balance of power. Because of this, he sent troops to challenge Shingen. In 1569 Shingen responded by invading Sagami and besieging Odawara (the capital of Hōjō). However, on the way back to Kai, the Takeda army managed to crush an attempted ambush by Mimasetoge of Hōjō.

Thus, in 1570, the lands of Takeda included Kai, Shinano, Suruga and pieces of Kozuke, Tōtōmi, and Hida. Shingen, at 49, was now more than a regional power. Takeda Shingen was in fact the most important warlord east of Mino. Moreover, he was the only one able to derail Oda Nobunaga's march to national hegemony. Only Shingen had the strategic position and the armed forces to stop it.

In 1570 the formidable Hōjō Ujiyasu died and his heir, Ujimasa, made peace with Shingen. This was an act that could have ensured Tokugawa Ieyasu final destruction. However, Shingen died in 1573 sending the plans into smoke.

The Takeda clan allies with the Oda clan

Meanwhile, the Takeda and Oda, aimed at controlling the Uesugi clan. After a failed diplomatic courtship, they started a war of words with the shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki.
Shingen intensified the pressure against Tokugawa and in 1572 launched an attack on Tōtōmi which led to the capture of Futamata. The following January, Shingen returned to the province and attracted Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Mikatagahara. Conducted on January 6 north of Hamamatsu, it ended with an almost complete defeat for Ieyasu.

Although they were often presented as initial moves in a march on Kyoto, Shingen's intentions were undoubtedly more conservative. Probably, Takeda Shingen aimed to test the answers of both Ieyasu and Nobunaga and, if possible, inflict a defeat on the two. In any case, within a few days of winning the battle, he received the news that Asakura Yoshikage had chosen not to oppose to Nobunaga. Shingen was sorry and could count on Yoshikage to maintain the tension on Nobunaga. This may have played a part in his decision to return to Kai, thus granting a truce to the bloody Tokugawa.

The figure of Takeda Shingen

Shingen was a complicated figure, sometimes absolutely cruel. At the beginning of his life, he had forced Suwa Yorishige to commit suicide (or murdered him) after the two warlords had signed a peace treaty. He then took Suwa's daughter as a lover, ignoring the fact that she was technically his own niece.

Apparently, Shingen created Shingen Tsuba, (sword guard) also known as Takeda Tsuba. The story goes that while waiting for a battle to begin, Shingen wrapped the brass wire around a large iron sukashi to keep himself focused and able to think until the battle began. Because of this, many of his vassals followed Shingen's leadership throughout the Edo period.

He is also credited with inventing the toilet drain, bathroom hygiene, apparently, was important to Shingen. He also built the vast dams known as Shingen Zutsumi along the Kamanashi segments of the Fuji river. These walls prevented flooding and were one of the largest and most ambitious national public works initiatives of the sixteenth century.

The well-considered laws of Shingen were not considered particularly severe. He suspended corporal punishment for most minor crimes. In fact, he adopted a system of financial fines, which earned him the respect and praise of the peasants and citizens of the province of Kai.
It is interesting to note that Shingen also had two large iron cauldrons in which to boil criminals still alive. Tokugawa Ieyasu, thinking that the punishment was excessively cruel, destroyed the cauldrons years later.

His economic reform was also innovative at the time. Indeed, Takeda Shingen taxed most of its subjects uniformly and allowed them the option of payments in gold or rice.

Takeda Shingen had planned on the districts of Mikawa and Owari (now both Aichi Prefecture). In 1571 he entered the territories of the Okudaira clan (later Tokugawa) and captured the castle of Noda.
In 1573, he invaded Mikawa and again attacked the castle of Noda. However, this time, the fortifications of the castle had been strengthened, allowing it to stand for several weeks.

photo credits: wikimedia.org

The death

On May 13, 1573, towards the end of the siege, just before the defenders of Noda Castle capitulated, Takeda Shingen was shot by a marksman. Shingen died during the escape.

The death of Takeda Shingen at the age of 49 remained a secret. The remains of the gun that was used to shoot Shingen are kept in the Shitagahara Museum in Nagashino, Aichi Prefecture. His son and successor, Takeda Katsuyori, was defeated by Oda and Tokugawa in the early 1580s, thus ending the power of the Takeda family.

Instead of a poem of death, he left the following words, borrowed from Zen literature: "It is largely left to its natural bodily perfection, and has no special need to resort to artificial coloring and powder to look beautiful. "


Bringing Japan to Italy: episode 08 - Alex Kerr

In conjunction with the release of his book "Lost Japan", Alex Kerr held a conference at the Palazzo Reale in Milan. We at Japan Italy Bridge had the opportunity to meet him and ask him some questions.

In this episode 8 of our Bringing Japan to Italy series, Alex Kerr tells us about his secret Japan. Son of an American navy family, from a young age he travels the world between Italy, Japan, USA, and then returns to the land of the Rising Sun. Since his college years, Alex Kerr has made Kyoto his life base.

Here he discovered a new world, a Japan that we Westerners can hardly see. A country made of traditions, small villages and thatched-roof houses with antique wood floors. He tells us how his life has changed thanks to winning the Scincho Gakugei literary prize. As a result, Alex Kerr came into contact with a group of Litterti and Japanese artists with whom he still collaborates today.

But now we leave you with the words of Alex Kerr and his secret Japan. Enjoy the video!

Special Thanks: Associazione Giappone in Italia

Lost Japan: Amazon Japan