Things to do during Quarantine: Visit the museums of Japan virtually

Visit every museum in Japan, it's possible but only virtually

written by: Sara | source: Tokyo Weekender

Phase two here in Italy has started but traveling is still impossible, so let's continue our section on things to do in quarantine, and today we talk about how to visit the museums of Japan, virtually.


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In an instant, we were overwhelmed by an invisible enemy that has inevitably turned everyone's lives around the world. The spread of the new coronavirus and the pandemic that followed unfortunately led to the closure of many economic sectors, but also places of cultural interest.

The situations are the most varied and we at Japan Italy Bridge want to try not to share sadness, but to give small brackets of leisure to all our readers. In fact, although COVID-19 has deeply affected us all, our mission remains to take you on a journey with us among the wonders of the Rising Sun.

Embracing the slogan #stayathome, the hashtag that has spread in recent months, and thanks to Google Art And Culture and other individual initiatives, Japan has also opened the virtual doors of its wonderful museums and exhibitions, allowing us to visit them comfortably from the living room of our house! The list is very long, but we have selected our favorites. So how about distracting us a bit and starting this virtual itinerary? Between art, fashion, ceramics, and history: let the journey begin!

Chihiro Art Museum

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The Chihiro Art Museum in Tokyo was established in 1977 in honor of the artist Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974), famous for his delicate pastel-colored illustration for children. Today this museum also houses exhibits with works by other illustrators from around the world.

Fukuoka Art Museum

Opened in 1979, the Fukuoka Art Museum offers a collection of 16,000 works: tea utensils, Buddhist art, paintings not only local but also famous paintings by Dalì, Mirò, and Chagall.

Fukuoka City Museum

Asian art takes on charm and originality that no other museum in the world will ever be able to offer. In fact, at the Fukuoka City Museum, we find works by artists who "exceed" the standard to create a "contemporary" Asia.

The Keio University Library museum

The Keio university has always been one of Japan's most important and its library includes collections of inestimable value, such as the Gutenberg Bible, ukiyo-e, and over 10,000 rare editions consisting of manuscripts and letters written by leading figures in history.

Kyoto National Museum


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The Kyoto National Museum was opened in 1897 with the name of the Kyoto Imperial Museum. In 2014, the museum opened a new wing, the Heisei Chishinkan, to host exhibits from its vast collections, which include over 12,500 traditional Japanese works of art.

Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum exhibits a large collection of works of art and antiques from Japan, from ancient ceramics to prints of the Edo period and works from other Asian countries.

The Kyoto Costume Institute

Japanese fashion has always influenced the world and the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI) systematically collects and conserves exceptional examples of Western clothing through centuries.

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum


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There is very little to tell for the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. It was born not to forget what happened on August 9, 1945, at 11:02 am when all the clocks stopped, visiting this place it's a tremendously moving experience.

The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka

Founded in November 1982, the Museum of Oriental Ceramics in Osaka includes about a thousand pieces of Chinese and Korean ceramics as well as works from the Rhee Byung-Chang collection and works signed by Hamada Shoji.

Sagawa Art Museum

Opened in March 1998, the Sagawa Art Museum offers the public the works of Japanese artists such as Ikuo Hirayama, Churyo Sato, and Raku Kichizaemon XV.

Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds

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In the Museum of Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds we find a collection of artifacts, which later became national treasures. In fact, in the rooms of this museum, we see extremely valuable resources that will let you understand the ancient history of Japan.

If you think it is still not enough and you feel the desire to walk virtually through the cities of Japan, today it is possible! In fact, visiting the buildings and streets of the Rising Sun becomes easy thanks to Google Street View. Here millions of absolutely breathtaking panoramic images that will make you dream and transport you beyond any geographical border!

14th Japan International Manga Award

14th Japan International Manga Award

written by: SaiKaiAngel

If you know and love the Manga culture, you cannot miss the MANGA AWARD! Do you know how to draw or simply love manga so much that you spend a good part of the day on this topic? We think you should stop for a moment and read this very important announcement. We find the positive in a moment in which we must necessarily stay at home! Let's dedicate ourselves to make our Manga works even better and take part in this beautiful initiative!

The application period for the 14th Japan International MANGA Award runs from April 6, 2020 to June 19, 2020. MANGA artists from all over the world, JOIN THE CHALLENGE!

Manga Award Manga Award Manga Award

Here are the simple and easy instructions:

Why is it important?

Because the MANGA is much more than two big eyes full of enthusiasm and fun. It is a real CULTURE and it is also a way to destroy borders and promote international cultural exchanges!

Are there any prizes?

Of course! The Japan International MANGA Award for the best MANGA work, the Silver Award for three excellent works, and the Bronze Award for eleven other works.
The winners of the Gold Award and the Silver Award, therefore not the winners of the Bronze Award, will be able to take advantage of the invitation to Japan for 10 days at the award ceremony!

How can you participate in the International Manga Awards?

MANGAs must consist of more than 16 pages. You can submit Manga works that have already been published or not, obviously, the winning works of the past editions of the Japan International Manga Awards will not be accepted.

Which MANGA works are accepted?

MANGA works must have been produced in the past three years (2017-2020).

In what form are MANGA works accepted?

MANGA works must be presented in printed form.

Can publishers participate in the Manga Awards?

Overseas publishers can participate in the Japan International MANGA Award, after confirmation by MANGA artists to present their work. The artist or screenwriter of the work presented must be foreign citizens. The representative who will participate in the invitation for the winners of the Gold and Silver awards must also be foreign citizens.

How many works can be presented?

Each participant must submit only one work. In the case of a story collection, only one will be accepted. Duplicates are invalid.

How does the Manga Award nomination work?

Applying is simple! You must send your registration from April 6 to June 19 2020 to:

1) Japanese embassies or consulates

or to:

2) P.O.Box MBE193 The 14th Executive Committee of the MANGA International Award of Japan Shinjuku Oak Tower 2F, 6-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 163-6002

Two copies of the work must be sent, despite this, additional copies may be required in the case of a prize.

Attached to the MANGA work, there must be a completed registration form in English or Japanese. The numbers must be indicated on each page of the MANGA work. If the MANGA work does not take the form of a book, it must be specified.

Will MANGA works be returned?

No, the submitted MANGA works will not be returned to the candidates. Therefore, if the work has not yet been published, it is advisable to send a copy of the work and keep the original. Keep in mind that the works presented could be donated or exhibited.

The Executive Committee of the MANGA Prize may (partially) upload the winner's MANGA works to its website with the prior approval of the artists.

Who is in charge of the selection?

The 14th MANGA International Japan Award Selection Committee will be responsible for the selection procedures.

Remember that the award ceremony will be held in Tokyo in February 2021.

You can have the opportunity not only to win prizes, not only to make your MANGA work known all over the world but also to be invited to Japan! What are you waiting for? You still have time to register and participate. We are curious to see your MANGA works, hurry up!! Make this moment even more fun and productive.

Further information:

The 14th Japan International MANGA Award Guidelines for Application
The 14th Japan International MANGA Award Entry Form

Mame Kurogouchi x TOD'S

Mame Kurogouchi x TOD'S, when Made in Italy encounters with Japan

written by: Erika | Photo courtesy of TOD's

Japan and Italy have always been linked by many things, the love for art and fashion is one of them, hence the new collaboration of Mame Kurogouchi with TOD's.

TOD's, historic Italian brand founded in the early 1900s by Filippo Della Valle, is today one of the most known brands in the world. The fashion house became famous for its iconic footwear, and today, under the guidance of Diego Della Valle, it holds a large slice of the Italian fashion market. With the always impeccable, classy, minimal, and chic design, TOD's has always winked a little at what are also the characteristics of Japanese design. For this reason, we are not surprised by the collaboration with Maiko Kurogouchi, designer of the Mame Kurogouchi brand.

Mame Kurogouchi TOD'S

The designer is the new guest of T-Factory, a project launched by Diego Della Valle in 2018 that previously involved Alessandro Dell'Acqua and Alber Elbaz. A collection of 26 pieces of clothing and accessories launched online on March 27 which focuses on shades of white and blue navy. Along with this, we also find pure and architectural silhouettes for both clothes and footwear.

Maiko, aka Mame, Kurogouchi

Born in 1985, originally from Nagano, the designer founded the homonymous brand in 2010, combining minimal and clean aesthetics with the more traditional aesthetic of Japan. In fact, she draws a lot of inspiration from everything in her Japanese DNA, from hand sewing to the traditional way of wrapping foods and packages.

The connection with TOD's started in Paris after a conversation with Mr. Della Valle. In fact, the two creatives discovered that they have a lot in common starting from their visions. A brand idea with a timeless elegance, which respects the traditional craftsmanship and an aesthetic linked to the concept of travel. These are also the basic elements of the collection designed for the brand.

"I am concerned that every woman can wear these pieces, and that in doing so she feels safe, at ease"

Mame Kurogouchi TOD'S Mame Kurogouchi x TOD'S Mame Kurogouchi TOD'S

Acclaimed as one of the best emerging designers in Japan, Mame Kurogouchi has reworked the key garments of the brand, changing all the details to fully blend this meeting between Italy and Japan. With precision and passion, Kurogouchi has transformed everyday life into something elegant both for clothing and accessories. Mixing classic Japanese design with contemporary silhouettes and sporty fabrics, Mame Kurogouchi thinks about what is really necessary for a woman.

The collection

A 26-piece collection that draws and winks at Japan in many details. Among the key pieces, we find a single-breasted trench coat with shirt-style  collar and leather pockets, trapeze pullover tunics with kimono sleeves and shirts with puffed sleeves and a belt that refers to the Samurai ensamble. In addition, practicality is the main focus of each garment together with the modernization of the brand's iconic pieces. In fact, Mame Kurogouchi reinterprets the classic ring bag discovered by the brand archive, making it a perfect piece for all women on the go but also looking for elegance, lightness, and versatility.

Mame Kurogouchi Mame Kurogouchi TOD'S Mame Kurogouchi TOD'S

Another element that recalls Japan are all the intricate embroideries that, according to the designer, recall the Kogin-Zashi sewing techniques. Furthermore, the designer found several similarities from the TOD's archives with Japanese artisanal work, despite the geographical and cultural distance between Italy and Japan. In this regard, the straps on the accessories become a symbol of closeness even between the two nations and cultures. A perfect blend of old and new but also between Japan and Italy.

The Mame Kurogouchi x TOD'S collection, available on the e-commerce of the brand, is only the first step towards the international growth of this young and talented designer.


Things to do in Quarantine: the best podcasts about Japan

The best Podcast about Japan

written by: Erika | source: TimeOut Tokyo

Let's continue our feature on things to do in quarantine and today we talk to you about some podcasts dedicated to Japan.


The COVID-19 emergency has practically made it impossible to plan trips for at least another year. However, for all fans of Japanese culture, today we share with you an easy and fun way to learn more about this topic. In fact, there are several podcasts that can fill this void by helping you discover Japan's many facets. In fact, through these audios, it will be possible to discover the many hidden aspects and facets of the Rising Sun without having to face crowded flights and trains.

For example, are you aware of why spider lily flowers are located near Japanese cemeteries and rice fields? Do you know who the pioneering women of the Rising Sun were? These podcasts will not only delve into the food, history, and legends of this country but will also answer questions you didn't even know you had. So, in this moment where we cannot go out and travel, let these podcasts take you on a few minutes journey through Japan.

Japan Eats - Learn about Japanese cuisine

Podcast giappone

Japan Eats is a podcast of a historic Brooklyn-based radio focused on food. Presented by Akiko Katayama, Japanese cuisine journalist and director of the New York Japanese Culinary Academy. Here we talk about everything from the various trends of Japanese cuisine, to drinks and much more. In one of the recent episodes, Akiko focused even on how to live a vegetarian life in Japan, the art of the Yakitori and more. The podcast already has more than 180 episodes with a new one every week.

Uncanny Japan - All Japanese legends in one podcast

Podcast giappone

Theresa Matsuura, an American author who has lived half her life in a fishing village in Japan, presents Uncanny Japan. In this podcast, Matsuura talks about those parts of Japanese culture that are often invisible or inaccessible to anyone who does not speak the language. At the same time, it offers an insight into local customs, legends, folklore and superstitions of the rising sun. Ready to immerse yourself in the imaginative and sometimes even spooky Japanese fairy tales?

History of Japan - Learn Japanese history


Isaac Meyer, a teacher with a PhD specializing in modern Japan, leaves nothing hidden in this historical podcast. From ancient to modern Japan, passing through poets, political scandals, economic booms, samurai, geishas and much more. Indeed, this podcast is an in-depth look through the history of the rising sun in each episode. Informative but also fascinating to hear, History of Japan has more than 300 episodes that can keep you company in this lockdown period.

Voices in Japan - Life in Japan


Ben and Burke, expats in Japan who live in Hokkaido, share their life experience in the land of the Rising Sun. The podcast Voices in Japan talks about their life from work to studying the Japanese language, and also learning the customs of the nation and much more. The weekly episodes include general topics related to living in Japan such as a look at the Japanese health system. In addition, the talk also revolves around the love of technology, Sumo and the potential benefits of the Japanese diet. Whether you live in Japan or just want to hear more about life experiences, this podcast is ready for you.

Sake on Air - All about the world of Sake

Podcast giappone

For all fans of Sake and shochu, Sake on Air is the podcast made for you. The experts of this famous Japanese drink share their knowledge in each episode, inviting us to this virtual dinner. In fact, in each episode, we find a different topic such as new trends in manufacturing, stories from producers but not just this. We can also learn about the various flavors, the difference between the rice used and how to combine the various flavors of Sake with food. So, if you are also curious, arm yourself with a glass of wine or your favorite sake and listen to this podcast!


Things to do in Quarantine: create an edible Zen garden

Creating an edible Zen garden

written by: Erika

The world is still in lockdown and in the absence of things to do we can give ourselves crazy joy in the kitchen, that's why today we share a new idea with you, create an edible zen garden!

giardino zen giardino zen

In Japan there are mixes made specifically to share this experience with the whole family, even together with the little ones. Instead, today we offer you a variant to be created directly at your home with ingredients easily available in any supermarket.

In every self-respecting Zen garden we find rocks, sand or gravel, greenery and some stones to be able to cross it without disturbing its tranquility. By following our instructions, you can recreate exactly this atmosphere.

Step 1: The Rocks

As you well know, a fundamental ornament of the Zen garden are these huge stones present inside. In our recipe, we are going to create stones with simple brownies.

Brownies - Ingredients

  • Dark chocolate 265 g
  • Eggs (approx. 4) 200 g
  • Whole peeled hazelnuts 175 g
  • Room temperature butter 135 g
  • 00 flour 135 g
  • Sugar 255 g
  • Pinch of salt

Brownies are easy to make and won't take too long, so start chopping the chocolate coarsely and melt it in a water bath. When it is almost melted, add the soft butter cut into small pieces.
Stir thoroughly until everything melts in a water bath and then remove it from the heat. Then let it cool, stirring it occasionally.

While you wait for the chocolate to cool, take the hazelnuts and let them toast in a preheated oven at 180° for about 7/8 minutes. Once out of the oven, let them cool in order not to burn you, then chop them coarsely and keep them aside.

giardino zen brownie

Let's move on to the next step, put the eggs in a bowl and begin to beat them and then add the sugar. It is not necessary to whip the mixture, but continue to beat only until the sugar is well dissolved. At this point, add a pinch of salt and let it dissolve too. Still with the whips in action, slowly add the chocolate and butter mixture that will have cooled down by now.

As soon as everything is mixed, stop whipping. Take a narrow mesh strainer and sift through the flour. Then, mix everything with a spatula until the flour is absorbed uniformly. Then take the chopped hazelnuts and mix everything.

After having greased and lined a baking sheet, pour the dough inside by leveling it with a spatula so that it is evenly distributed. Bake in a static and preheated oven at 180° for 25 minutes, then take out of the oven and leave to cool. At this point, with a knife, you can create the rock-shaped pieces for your zen garden!

Step 2: The gravel

Another fundamental element for a Zen garden is gravel, a symbol of tranquility and purity. But let's see our suggestions to create this element!

Almond crumble - Ingredients

  • flour 0 60g
  • Finely chopped almonds 60 g
  • Brown sugar 60 g 
  • Butter 50 g
  • Half vanilla bean
  • Icing sugar

With the crumble, we are going to create most of our zen garden so we start by preheating the oven to 180°. As the oven heats up, we take the almonds and start peeling them. Then, we take a baking sheet and place it on the baking tin.

Next, we toast the almonds for 7/8 minutes inside the oven, then let them cool and finely chop them with a knife. Afterward, we take the 0 flour and mix the chopped almonds inside with the brown sugar. When we have an amalgamated mixture, we take the butter and cut it into cubes and then add it inside the same mixture together with the vanilla seeds.


Work the whole mixture with your fingertips until a grainy mixture is obtained. Alternatively, it is also possible to prepare all this with a mixer but the crumbs that we are going to get will be coarser.

At this point, you should have obtained a mixture that is somewhat reminiscent of shortcrust pastry. Leave it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, then spread it on the oven paper and then bake it for about 15 minutes at 180° in a preheated oven. Once the cooking is complete, let it cool and then crumble it inside your dish ready for presentation. Cover everything with icing sugar to recreate the effect of the white gravel typical of Zen gardens.

Step 3: Green

Japan is one of the greenest lands and all major Japanese cities are full of large parks. Of course, even in our edible zen garden you can't miss a green area.

Matcha Chiffon Cake - Ingredients

  • Granulated sugar 300 g
  • 00 flour 280 g
  • Matcha green tea powder 20 g
  • 1 sachet of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 sachet of cream of tartar
  • Sunflower oil 130 m
  • Hot water 180 ml
  • 1 teaspoon of natural vanilla extract

This is the most difficult part of our recipe, but don't be afraid, if you follow the instructions step by step you will be able to complete this part too. Let's start by preheating the static oven to 150° and preparing an aluminum cake mold. Make sure this mold is tall enough as our chiffon cake will rise a lot.

Separate the yolks from the egg whites and in a clean bowl add the egg whites with the cream of tartar, whipping the mixture until you get firm crests.

giardino zen chiffon cake matcha giardino zen

In another bowl sift the green tea, the flour, the baking powder, salt and sugar and with a metal whisk by hand make sure that everything mixes well. In a separate bowl, combine the water, oil and vanilla extract. Once you have everything well mixed, pour the yolks and the mixture with the water and oil into the bowl with the flour and green tea.

Mix everything with the metal whisk by hand until a uniform mixture is obtained. Then transfer 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into your dough and mix with a spatula to lighten all the contents. Whipped egg whites should always be mixed with a movement that starts from the bottom so that they do not lose the whipping. Next, incorporate the rest of the egg whites into three other additions.

giardino zen torta té matcha giardino zen

When you have the mixture well amalgamated, pour the mixture into the pan that should not be buttered or floured. Put everything in a preheated oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes and when cooked, remove the pan and turn it immediately upside down.

giardino zen matcha giardino zen

Let it cool slightly and then remove the cake from the pan. Once ready, you can cut thin slices to decorate your Zen garden.

Step 4: The Pathway

In some Zen gardens, we also find flat stones that allow us to cross the garden leaving it undisturbed. Here is how we will create them.

Mini Meringues - Ingredients

  • Egg whites (about 3 medium eggs) at room temperature 100 g
  • Icing sugar 220 g
  • Lemon juice just enough

The trick in preparing the meringues is all in the eggs, in fact, the trick is to have fresh eggs and at room temperature. Then separate the yolks from the whites, pouring them into a large enough bowl. In this case, we won't use the yolks, but do not waste them and keep them aside, you will surely find a way to use them in the kitchen.

Make sure there are no residual yolks inside the bowl otherwise they will not mount. Then take the electric whips and operate them at medium speed. Alternatively, you can also carry out this process inside a planetary mixer, if available. While you are whipping the eggs, gradually pour the sugar into the bowl together with a few drops of lemon juice.

To create perfect meringues, the egg whites will have to be whipped very firmly and to understand if you are doing everything correctly there are two tests. The first is the visual one, in fact, the mixture must always be shiny and frothy. You can do the second test with the whips. In fact, detaching the latter you should notice a tuft of egg white with the tip. Everything must be similar to a sort of frothy and shiny cloud.

giardino zen meringhe

Prepare a baking tray with a baking sheet and then transfer all the mixture into a sac-à-poche with a round hole nozzle. Form small disks from 2 to 4 cm in diameter (this depends on the size of your final zen garden) well spaced apart. Then put them in the static oven preheated to 75° for about 2 hours.

Your meringues will have to dry slowly in the oven and as soon as they are completely dry, take the pan out of the oven and let it cool completely before removing it from the pan.

Step 5: Serving the Zen Garden

Now you can let your imagination run wild and build your edible zen garden according to your preferences! In case you want some ideas, below you will find some reference images. If you decide to try this recipe, send us your photos in the comments below or on our social pages, we are curious to see your creations!

Sources:,, Pinterest, Wikipedia

Japan History: Minamoto No Yoshiie

Minamoto No Yoshiie, the spirit of the Samurai

written by: SaiKaiAngel | translation: Erika

Minamoto No Yoshiie (1039 - 4 August 1106), embodies the spirit of the samurai. He was the first son of Minamoto Yoriyoshi, a famous commander.

Minamoto No Yoshiie

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In 1051 Minamoto No Yoshiie was charged with defeating the Abe clan in the Zenkunen war (war of the first nine years) and the Kiyohara clan in the Gosannen war (war of the next three years). Abe had held important positions for years in this distant and prohibitive region and had come to assume a certain autonomy. Like Taira Masakado, Abe had had the task of subduing the northern barbarians and, from the court's point of view, becoming barbarians themselves. They have indeed been described as ebisu, a generic term that has also been applied to Ainu.
After his death, Yoshiie was elevated to Kami status: renamed "Hachimantaro" which means "son of Hachiman", the god of Shinto war.

Minamoto No Yoshiie

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The Zenkunen war

By 1050 the power of Abe no Yoritoki was widespread throughout the region, and this gave him permission to collect taxes and confiscate lands. The official governor, private from each region, asked the imperial government for help. Minamoto no Yoriyoshi was then appointed new governor and together with his son he was sent against the Abe clan.

The struggle lasted from 1051 to 1063, twelve years including nine of war and three of truce. Yoshiie fought alongside his father in all the fighting, including the battle of Kawasaki and the siege of Kuriyagawa.

In 1057 Abe no Yoritoki's son Abe no Sadato continued the war after his father's death.

In Mutzu Waki, a tribute to the reputation of Yoshiie's warrior, there is the story of an exchange that took place between Yoshiie and Sadato during his escape from the fortress on the Kurika River, during the attacks by the Minamoto army.

Hachimantarō, during a chase along the Koromo River shouted: "Sir, you are showing your back to the enemy! Aren't you ashamed? Turn around for a moment, I have something to tell you." When Sadato turned around, Yoshiie said, "Koromo castle has been destroyed." Sadato, turning around, said: "Over the years the threads have become tangled, and this pains me." At that point, Yoshiie put down the arrow he had loaded and returned to his field. In the midst of such a savage battle, that was a gentlemanly act.
Yoshiie returned to Kyoto in early 1063 with the Head of Abe no Sadato and the following year he took several followers of the Abe clan whom he had taken prisoners as servants.

Minamoto No Yoshiie

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Gosannen war

Yoshiie was commander during another major Heian period conflict. In early 1083, appointed governor of the province of Mutsu, he intervened to calm the hearts within the Kiyohara clan, previously a Minamoto ally in the war against the Abe.

Despite this, the clash leadership struggle between Kiyohara no Masahira, Narihira and Iehira did not stop, and so Yoshiie pledged to restore peace to the region. The final clash took place in 1087 on the palisades of Kanazawa. Yoshiie, aided by his younger brother Minamoto no Yoshimitsu and Fujiwara Kiyohira, attacked the position held by Kiyohara no Iehira and his uncle Kiyohara no Takahira. The conflict became known as the subsequent three-year war and culminated in Numu (1086) when Takahira and Iehira were killed. In the Kokon Chomonjū it is said that during the siege of Kanezawa, Yoshiie avoided an ambush by noticing a flock of birds taking flight from a forest. Despite suffering large losses in his ranks, Yoshiie is said to have been a particularly effective leader, managing to keep morale high and maintaining discipline among the warriors.

Minamoto No Yoshiie was called "The Samurai with the greatest courage under heaven". Mel 1098 was granted to Yoshiie to visit the Imperial Court, a rare honor which by its very rarity indicates the growing gap between the Court and the provincial houses. This alienation would eventually contribute to the samurai eclipse of imperial authority in the late 12th century.

However, it is difficult to place Minamoto Yoshiie in a historical context. His greatest political contribution was probably to strengthen the Minamoto family, especially those branches that reside in Kanto. His other contribution was less tangible. The legend of Minamoto No Yoshiie, who emerged from his northern wars and reports as a cultured war man, established a model for the future samurai that would influence subsequent generations of warriors.

Japan Italy: "An Italian in Japan" the serie - Saracchan

Saracchan e la sua esperienza

Written by: Erika

A few months ago we launched the column "An Italian in Japan" where we interview our compatriots in the land of the rising sun. Few succeed in realizing the dream of going to live in Japan and we want to share with you the experiences of those who have succeeded! Today we introduce you to Sara, another very Italian girl who lives and works in Japan!


JIB: Tell us briefly about who you are

Saracchan: Good morning everyone! My name is Sara, I am 25 years old and I come from Milan, where I have lived for most of my life. I love playing the piano, studying Japanese, singing karaoke and doing hanami, meaning looking at cherry blossoms in full bloom. About three years ago, I embarked on an adventure that completely changed my life: I moved to Japan, where I still live, work and attend university.
Before moving to the land of the Rising Sun, I opened a Facebook page called Saracchan’s Japan, where I publish photos and videos for fans of this beautiful country. I also manage a personal profile on Instagram where I publish my daily adventures in Tokyo.

JIB: How did your passion for Japan come about?

Saracchan: My passion for Japan was born in a somewhat obvious way, so to speak, given that many people have recently approached this country in this way.
Perhaps some of you will remember that ten years ago, on MTV, some anime episodes were aired, including InuYasha. That day, after returning from high school, I decided to turn on channel 8 instead of watching the usual Simpson's cartoon. In that moment, I fell in love with this particular anime that told the tradition and history of Japan in a picturesque way. From that day on I started looking for more information on the internet and I was introduced to the world of manga and anime, which I began to read and watch assiduously. Through them, I created an image of Japan that made me dream, nevertheless for the language that sounded so fascinating and melodious. After that, after the anime and manga period, I approached culture and traditions and started studying the language on my own.


JIB: How long have you lived in Japan and why did you want to move to this country?

Saracchan: Considering all my experiences in Japan, I can say that I have lived in this wonderful country for about three and a half years. Although moving was a difficult journey, I can proudly say that I made my big dream come true. Note that by "difficult" I do not mean for bureaucratic issues, but precisely for the decision that led me to take this huge step.
In fact, after finishing high school I wanted to go absolutely to Tokyo to study Japanese but, for various reasons, I was "forced" to enroll in the biology faculty of Milan. Here I didn't feel fulfilled, I wasn't convinced that that was my way. One day, by chance, I happened to attend the presentation of the GoGoNihon agency in Milan, which opened the way for Japan to me. In fact, some time and some savings later, I enrolled in a language school in Takadanobaba, Tokyo, where I studied for one year, the most beautiful of my life. After that, after finishing my studies, I reluctantly returned to Milan, and I enrolled in the university of foreign languages ​​(including Japanese) in Bergamo. However, my heart now belonged to Japan and so the following year I enrolled in the Faculty of Business Economics at a university in Saitama, near Tokyo, where I am still studying.


JIB: Tell us about one of the funniest experiences that have happened to you since you lived in Japan.

Saracchan: Japan has offered me and still offers me many wonderful experiences! Perhaps the first experience that comes to mind, linked to my initial year in Japan, was when a dear Japanese friend of mine invited me to spend New Year's Eve in the home of her grandparents in the countryside, with all her family. We cooked soba together, ate traditional Japanese food, put on the kimono and, at the stroke of midnight, drank hot sake in front of the bonfire, exchanging greetings for the new year. It was a truly unforgettable experience!


JIB: As a westerner, what are the difficulties and differences that you encountered in the early days in Japan?

Saracchan: Definitely the language! When I moved I knew how to say just a few simple sentences and, not knowing anyone yet, I had to do everything myself, from shopping to paperwork. Not to mention the millions of kanji that I saw every day and that made absolutely no sense to me. Furthermore, it was very difficult to orient myself with the numerous and very crowded subway lines, but they are all things that I have faced with determination and great curiosity.

JIB: In our opinion, Italy and Japan have a lot in common, tell us a little bit about your point of view on this topic.

Saracchan: I think Japan is a "western" country in Asia, in many aspects very close to our culture and way of thinking. However, I think it would be more correct to list the differences between the two countries since they differ on some important features of daily life. For example, Japan is different in the culture of work, the punctuality of trains, safety on the streets, the way of living relationships and so on. Japanese society is more focused on the common good, while Italian society, in my opinion, is more individualistic.


JIB: Which city captured your heart in Japan?

Saracchan: Tokyo! It is a city that has everything, nothing is really missing. It is very modern, with very high skyscrapers, but at the same time ancient, with its hidden temples scattered around the city and the silent and characteristic lanes that transport you to another world. There are many activities to do, many places to visit, it's immense! Spectacular gardens, an imperial palace, karaoke, Harajuku with its colorful shops, particular and unique cafes, izakaya and much more. It never ceases to amaze you and every day you can discover new things and meet interesting people. In addition, it is in a very convenient location, a few minutes from other characteristic cities such as Yokohama, Enoshima and Kamakura. I would say that it is perfect for me, also because, contrary to what one might think, it is not polluted and there are not many cars.

JIB: Which Japanese city looks more like Italy?

Saracchan: As for the urban landscape, I'd say the modern center of Kyoto. There the buildings are quite low and it is much less chaotic than in Tokyo. Instead, for the "human" aspect, I think Osaka is the city that comes closest to Italy, as the Japanese who live there are more sociable and open to others. In my opinion, in Osaka it is easier to meet people and make new friends.

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JIB: Cherry blossom, tell us a little about the point of view of a westerner who lived it

Saracchan: This is my favorite event ever! All the streets turn pink and come alive with visitors taking hundreds of photos. Usually, the Japanese gather in the parks with friends and family, they lay large blue sheets on the lawn and spend the days picnicking and drinking sake. In addition, there are many matsuri, or festivals with stalls and street food that spread a very good perfume throughout the park. It is a unique experience, especially seeing the sakura in the evening, illuminated by colored lights that create splendid images. For those who go to Tokyo during this period, I highly recommend going along the Meguro river near the Imperial Palace, areas dotted with beautiful blooming sakura.

JIB: Do you think there is a future for an even closer collaboration between the two nations?

Saracchan: Absolutely yes! Lately, in Italy, Japan and its culture are catching on and there are more and more people interested in discovering this wonderful Asian country. At the same time, there are many Japanese who are developing a great interest in our beautiful country. In fact, Italian food and wine are very renowned and there are many restaurants specializing in Italian cuisine. Very often there are events that sponsor our country and I believe that in the future there will be closer collaborations, also given by the increase in Italians living in Japan.

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JIB: Do you ever miss Italy? Are you thinking of coming back here?

Saracchan: Sometimes I miss it, especially my family, my friends and the food! Both nations have much to offer, each with its strengths and weaknesses. At the moment I am not sure what I will do after graduation, if I will live in Japan or return to Italy, but I know that I would like to have a job that allows me to live between the two countries, maybe something related to the tourism sector.

JIB: Say something and give an advice to all our readers

Saracchan: If you have come to read this final question, thank you very much and I hope to have sent you something or at least to have given you some suggestions that you can use in the future. As a last tip, I would tell you not to give up and to do your best to achieve your goals, whether it is to move to Japan, to study Japanese or even just to make a trip to the land of the Rising Sun. They are not unattainable goals, there is no need to be rich, just be determined and want it with all your heart. I, even with the help of my parents, worked hard to make my dream come true and I made it! You can do it too, don't be afraid to dare.

Follow Sara

Instagram: @saracchan

A hotel with cats? It just opened in Japan!

The Neko Hotel opens in Osaka

written by: Erika | Source: SoraNews24

Although we are all still stuck home, nobody forbids us to travel with the mind, so here is a brand new hotel where you can vacation with cats, the Neko Hotel in Osaka!

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Forget about the sea view, now the "cat view" is what matters. As many of you know, in Japan there are the famous capsule hotels, very small rooms in excellent but low-priced locations. They call them capsule hotels because they are only a place to sleep with a shared bathroom/shower and nothing else. However, since last December, there is a brand new capsule hotel that offers extra comfort: cats!

Neko Yokujo & Neko Hatago, this is the name of the space that houses a small cafe and a neko hotel in Osaka. The buildings are divided in two parts with the cat cafe on one side and the hotel on the other. The floors are structured so that the area where the cats play is directly adjacent to the back of the guests' sleeping area. However, instead of having a solid wall that closes the view, the back of the night compartment is actually made of glass. In this way, a window is created that gives all the people who stay in this hotel a beautiful view of the cats.

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If you are wondering about your privacy, don't worry because each guest will be able to use curtains to isolate themselves if they wish to. In addition, the windows are placed so that one cannot look into the adjacent capsules. This way, you can keep the curtains open overnight, even after the cafe closes, so that you can observe the night adventures of the cats. In addition, the staff of the structure also offers special toys that can be controlled via radio in order to play with the cats beyond the glass.

Obviously, being able to observe cats only from a distance could become quite poignant. For this reason, the neko hotel offers all its guests a package that includes a two-hour voucher for the cat cafe worth ¥ 3000 with the possibility of accessing the cafe even before and after opening hours.

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The design of the neko hotel is in typical Japanese style and obviously cats are a recurring theme. However, for anyone who falls in love with these feline friends easily, it may be difficult to say goodbye after just a few nights. In this case, don't worry, the Neko Hatago hotel is managed by the animal welfare company Neco Republic. In fact, all the cats you find in this hotel are felines saved from the street and always looking for a new home. Both the café and the hotel encourage guests to consider the stay as a test period to see if their personality fits well with that of one of the cats, in the hope of encouraging their adoption.

Don't you find it a beautiful idea? It would be great to be able to replicate it also in other parts of the world and we would love to hear your comments about it!


Neko Yokujo & Neko Hatago / 猫浴場&猫旅籠
Address: Osaka-shi, Chuo-ku, Shimanouchi 1-14-29

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