The wonderful gardens of Japan

With Japan Italy Bridge we have already addressed a deep focus on the Imperial Palace and its gardens, but those are not the only gardens of Japan. Today we will talk about the most beautiful green spaces of the Rising Sun.

Gardens of Japan, the green in the midst of modernity

Author: Sara

giardini del Giappone

photo credits: giardiniepiscine.it

Every country in the world, no matter how evolved, technological and chaotic it is, always hides an oasis of extraordinary peace, a place where the hand of man has not destroyed, but rather takes care of natural beauties of indescribable charm. We are not talking about natural parks this time, but about smaller green spaces such as gardens. Green spaces that arise in unexpected places and that give the mind and soul a break from all that is skyscraper landscapes and cars that, again, Japan knows how to give us with its usual elegance and unique spiritual touch.

The trip we are proposing today will make you relax, so how about making yourself comfortable, preparing a delicious herbal tea and follow us?

Kenrokuen

giardini del Giappone

photo credits: japantravel.com

The first of our stops is Kanazawa where there is the Kenrokuen which covers an area of 11.4 hectares and is considered one of the most beautiful gardens of the Rising Sun. Kept luxuriant from generation to generation by the Maeda family since the feudal period, in Japanese the name Kenrokuen means "garden of 6 attributes" because in it are enclosed the 6 characteristics of the perfect garden: space, tranquility, artifice, antiquity, waterways and landscapes.

Official Web Site: pref.ishikawa.jp

Korakuen

photo credits: okayama-kanko.net

The second stop takes us to Okayama, where the magnificent Korakuen stands: built in 1687 exclusively as a place of entertainment for the ruling family, it was opened to the public in 1884, when it became property of Okayama prefecture. It encloses forests, tea and rice fields, a spectacular pond and many small streams.

Official Web Site: okayama-korakuen.jp

Kairakuen

photo credits: flickr.com

We have come to the third of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan, we are in Mito, the capital of Ibaraki Prefecture and here Kairakuen has always been a place accessible to all, not only for the local lord Tokugawa Nariaki who had it built in 1841. This beautiful green space has become famous thanks to the Mito Ume Matsuri, the festival of plum blossoms, held between February and March: a spectacle of timeless charm.

Official Web Site: ibaraki-kairakuen.jp

Kokedera

giardini del Giappone

photo credits: saihoji-kokedera.com

Our fourth visit will be to Kyoto, to the garden that is home to 120 different types of moss! It is the Kokedera or Saihoji Temple, originally part of a royal villa it became a temple almost 1000 years ago and today is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting this place also offers a unique opportunity, as before being allowed access, visitors must participate in kito (chanting) and shakyo (the copying of Buddhist scriptures).

Official Web Site: saihoji-kokedera.com

Shinjuku Gyoen

photo credits: www.japanistry.com

For our fifth stop, we fly straight into beautiful Tokyo where we can come across the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, one of the most striking national parks in the country. Built in the Edo period as a private residence of the feudal lord Kiyonari Naito, it became open to the public in 1949. Inside you can immerse yourself in various gardens, first of all the oldest one in Japan full of lakes, islets, bridges and pavilions. Then you can get lost in the magnificent rose garden of the French-style garden and, last but not least, enter the English-style garden with its wide green lawns lined with beautiful cherry trees: here Hanami acquires an indescribable magic!

Official Web Site: env.go.jp

Imperial Palace East Gardens

giardini del Giappone

photo credits: enjoy.vivi.city

We conclude our nature trail by staying in Tokyo. Over 210,000 square meters where, once upon a time, stood the walls of Edo Castle, residence of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. At the foot of the hill, exactly where the defensive walls once stood, lies this marvellous garden in which the Ninomaru pond is home to some rather rare aquatic plants and is covered with Nuphar Japonicum, yellow water lilies.

Official Web Site: https://www.kunaicho.go.jp


Japan, the preferred destination for people wanting to move abroad

Its timeless charm, the opportunities it offers, the hustle and bustle of its cities and the sheer size of its cities make Japan the preferred destination for all those who decide to move abroad to live and work.

Japan, the preferred destination for people wanting to move abroad

Author: Sara

photo credits: tokeet.com

According to a global survey, Tokyo stands out among the top 5 cities in the world chosen to embark on a new life experience. Working in Japan seems to have become the aspiration of many, according to a recent ranking by Remitly, a British company that offers a global digital money transfer service to help all immigrants around the world who make great sacrifices to live and work in another country, the number of those who choose the Rising Sun as a destination to change their lives is surprisingly high, even in this time of pandemic.

Giappone

photo credits: travelwithvik.com

Online searches speak for themselves: Japan is the second most popular country in the world to which everyone wants to move after Canada! Most of the data comes from specific countries such as the USA, Australia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines.
The desire to change one's life by looking to the Land of the Samurai as a destination is also increased by the high degree of safety, beauty and culture. The Japanese response to the pandemic, its rigorous conduct in establishing a state of emergency and avoiding panic and misinformation to the population, has only increased the desire to make the big move and 'try one's luck' in one of the magnificent regions of this immense island.

Giappone Giappone

photo credits: transferwise.com, boutiquejapan.com

What do you think? Would you take the "big leap"? Is Japan the chosen destination for you too, or are there other countries you are aiming at? Let us know! And anyway, we wish you to realise all your dreams as soon as possible, 頑張ってください!


Contemporary Japanese artists abroad

Japan, like Italy, is a country very attached to art and many contemporary Japanese artists have exported their works abroad.

Contemporary Japanese artists abroad

Author: Sara

Museums, art fairs and expositions have allowed the Japanese contemporary art world to look outwards. At last, even great artists are going out beyond the borders of the Rising Sun. We at Japan Italy Bridge have decided to introduce you to some of the most important contemporary artists who have received worldwide acclaim. We are talking about creatives like Yayoi Kusama, Tatsuo Miyajima, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Are you ready for this trip?

Yayoi Kusama

photo credits: wsj.com

Born in Nagano in 1929, Yayoi Kusama is perhaps the best known among Japanese contemporary artists. She began to show her immense artistic talents at the age of 10. The difficult relationship with her mother and trauma that deeply affected her led Kusama to paint her experiences on the canvas. The physical environment and her personality vanished swallowed up by the space that moved at an incredible speed. She also began to draw inspiration from Georgia O'Keeffe and wrote a letter to her. The artist replied and Kusama moved to New York where he began making monochrome paintings that immediately attracted attention.

The early 1960s were certainly not easy for a woman, especially a Japanese woman, and being able to exhibit in galleries was a difficult undertaking. However, she did succeed and became increasingly well known in the field of conceptual art. Her works include attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, surrealism, art brut, pop art and abstract expressionism, all united by the polka dot technique.

Back in Japan, the artist was able to enjoy the success she deserved. Her works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. Between 1994 and 2012, Kusama collaborated with the musician Peter Gabriel and especially with Marc Jacobs, artistic director of Louis Vuitton. Kusama now lives in the Seiwa Psychiatric Hospital in Japan by personal choice and continues to paint daily in his studio in Shinjuku.

Tatsuo Miyajima

artisti contemporanei giapponesi

photo credits: smh.com.au

Born in Tokyo in 1957, Tatsuo Miyajima graduated from the oil painting course at the Fine Arts Department of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. He began experimenting with performance art before moving on to light-based installations.

Miyajima stated that the desire to create more lasting work, in contrast to the necessarily ephemeral nature of his performance and actions, motivated him to start working on sculptures and installations. Using contemporary materials such as electrical circuits, video and computers, Miyajima's highly technological work focused on the use of digital light-emitting diode (LED) counters. These numbers, flashing in continuous and repetitive cycles from 1 to 9, represent the journey from life to death, whose purpose is symbolised by the "0", a number that never appears in her work.

Miyajima has had solo exhibitions at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, the Miyanomori Art Museum in Hokkaido, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She has also taken part in the Venice Biennale and numerous group exhibitions, from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney to the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. Since 2006 Miyajima has been Vice President of the Tohoku University of Art and Design.

Takashi Murakami

artisti contemporanei giapponesi

photo credits: crfashionbook.com

Born in Tokyo in 1962, Takashi Murakami began his studies of traditional Japanese painting at Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku. However, his aspiration was to become a great mangaka. After graduating with a degree in traditional Nihon-ga painting, he won a MoMA PS1 scholarship. He moved to New York enriching his influences with the works of Andy Warhol and drawing inspiration from the production philosophies of film companies such as Disney, LucasFilm and Hayao Miyazaki's Ghibli Studio.

Among the various solo exhibitions, there is one that will mark the birth of a new Japanese art movement: "Superflat". This was the title of the exhibition at MOCA in Los Angeles which became the artist's programmatic and aesthetic manifesto systematically promoting the value of Japanese art independent of Western influences. An art capable of expressing the cultural reality of the new Japan. Superflat in fact mixes otaku elements with Kabuki and jōruri elements, fused and flattened into images with smooth surfaces and brilliant colours in which the aesthetic themes are amplified and exalted.

Murakami collaborated with Marc Jacobs and created the limited-edition Cherry Blossom bag for Louis Vuitton, designing for the occasion a kawaii pattern with the monogram of the fashion company.

Thanks to his aesthetic and entrepreneurial approach to art, Murakami has fully entered the international elite art scene, selling through third party companies, objects destined for the mass market, inventing and promoting the Kaikai Kiki and GEISAI brands.

Yoshitomo Nara

artisti contemporanei giapponesi

photo credits: scmp.com

Born in Hirosaki in 1959, Yoshitomo Nara studied at the Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in Aichi and at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf.

Nara is known for his paintings whose subjects are deceptively simple. We find children and animals in pastel colours with cartoon-like features with little or no background that appear both sweet and sinister. They also sometimes wield weapons such as knives and saws and their looks are accusatory. His art is a metaphor that accuses people of attacking the innocence of childhood.

Nara's objective perversions are rooted in Japanese popular culture, but these influences are mixed with those of Eastern and Western society. Her paintings, sculptures, installations and engravings explore the themes of isolation, rebellion, spirituality and religion.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

artisti contemporanei giapponesi

photo credits: artslife.com

Born in 1948 in Tokyo, Hiroshi Sugimoto, after obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree, moved to Los Angeles to study photography. These studies led him, in the 1970s, to establish himself as one of the most famous contemporary photographers.

His work deals with history and temporal existence, investigating themes such as time, empiricism and metaphysics. Sugimoto has received numerous grants and his works are exhibited in the collections of the Tate Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Guggenheim in New York.
Like many contemporary artists, Sugimoto has collaborated with fashion, this time with the French company Hermès. Sugimoto's colour photos for Hermes' foulards were exhibited in June 2012 at the Museum of Cultures in Basel. During the 2014 Venice Biennale, Sugimoto unveiled his "Glass Tea House Mondiran" at Le Stanze del Vetro on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

The art world is full of facets given by continuous inspirations, by the search for the ego, by the need to express profound concepts without the use of words. Which of the contemporary Japanese artists have impressed you the most? Let us know in the comments!


Nada no Kenka Matsuri

From October 14th to 15th of each year, in the Matubata Hachiman Shrine (松原八幡神社) in the city of Shirahama in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, the Nada no Kenka Matsuri (灘のけんか祭り) one of the biggest autumn festivals in Japan is held.

Nada no Kenka Matsuri, Fighting for blessings

Author: Sara

Nada no Kenka

photo credits: armidaleexpress.com.au

The term "kenka"(けんか) contained in the name of the Festival means "to fight", for this reason, in the current language, it is defined as "the Festival of the fight" in which the Kami (the gods) will bless the winner of the fight with a good harvest. Given the impetuousness with which it takes place, only high school boys and men up to the age of 45 can participate in the event according to Shinto tradition. In addition, participants must belong to 7 specific villages: Higashiyama (東山), Kiba (木場), Matsubara (松原), Yaka (八家), Mega (妻鹿), Usazaki (宇佐崎), Nakamura (中村).

October 14: The Eve "Yoi-Miya" (宵宮)

photo credits: armidaleexpress.com.au

At 11:00 am everything is ready for the "Neri-dashi" parade (練りだし). The 7 Yatai (small sacred floats) from the 7 villages go to the Matubata Hachiman Shrine to receive the divine blessing, "Miya-Iri" (宮入). Here the Yatai compete in the first competition called "Neri-Awase" (練り合わせ), competing against each other. A sort of "preparation" because the real "fight" will take place the next day and will be even more difficult. At this point, the "Shishimai" takes place: a dragon dance in front of the elementary school of Shirahama.

October 15: Hon-Miya the heavy Yatai clash

Nada no Kenka

photo credits: diversity-finder.net

The main event of the Festival starts at 5:00 am. The lion of the village of Matsubara (松原の獅子) celebrates the dragon dance at the Sanctuary to worship the gods. Afterwards, the ceremony moves to the ocean where the participants of the villages eliminate their impurities of the spirit by bathing in cold water (Osogi 禊). At this point, the Miya-Iri (opening ceremony) at the Matubata Hachiman Shrine is started with the blessing of the gods. At last, the thinking confrontation begins: the first are the 3 Mikoshi (the least expensive portable sanctuaries of the Yatai) of the village in charge of hosting the festival (every year the place changes alternating between the 7 villages).

The first Mikoshi (一の丸) is very heavy and is carried by men over 36 years old. The second (二の丸) is a bit lighter and is carried by men between 26 and 35 years old. The third Mikoshi (三の丸) is very light and is worn by men under 25 years old.

They fight each other twice (神輿合わせ, mikoshi-awase): first in front of the main building of the Sanctuary, then in the battlefield at the foot of Mount O-Tabi-Yama (御旅山). At the end of this clash, it is the Yatai's turn on the battlefield (Neri-awase 練り合わせ).

Nada no Kenka

photo credits: kabegami.image.coocan.jp

The excited cries of spectators and participants make the event particularly lively and full of passion. At the end of the battle, the 3 Mikoshi and 7 Yatai are taken to the top of the mountain where prayers are said. the Nada no Kenka Matsuri ends with the descent from the mountain which will take place in the same order in which the villages have climbed.


Introduction to Japanese poetry

Italy, France, England, America and many other countries in the world offer a vast poetic production, but what is Japanese poetry like? Here we are on this fascinating literary journey to discover something more about the Land of the Rising Sun!

Poesia giapponese

photo credits: grangerprints.printstoreonline.com

Introduction to Japanese poetry

Author: Sara | Inspiration: Tokyo Weekender

Japanese Poetry: Kanishi

photo credits: wikimedia.org

Curiously, most of the literary works of Japanese poetry were born during the Tang Dynasty, from the encounter of Japanese poets with Chinese ones. And so, under Chinese influence, Kanshi 漢詩 became the most popular form of poetry during the early Heian period among Japanese aristocrats and became increasingly popular in the modern period, especially among academics and intellectuals. The themes were free, while the forms were more rigid: the classical ones counted about 5 or 7 syllables in 4 or 8 lines, following the rules of Lushi 律詩 (rhyme on even lines with a regulated tone) and jueju 絕句 (rhyme in even lines and composed only of quatrains) based mainly on the tone of Mandarin Chinese.
The major exponents of this style are certainly Kukai, Sugawara no Michizane, Maresuke Nogi and Natsume Soseki.

Waka

Poesia giapponese

photo credits: https://matcha-jp.com/jp/289

Unlike Kanshi, Waka 和歌 was classical poetry written in Japanese with two very precise forms: Choka, 長歌, or long poems with no length restrictions. The structure is simple and consists of 2 lines of 5 or 7 syllabic sounds (which determine the accent) that ends with 3 lines of 5, 7 and again 7 syllabic sounds. Tanka, 短歌, instead has a similar structure, but they are shorter poems, often consisting of only five groups of words respectively of 5, 7, 5, 7 and, finally, 7 syllabic sounds. Waka does not follow the rhyming rules and is still very popular in modern Japan, even if now the Tanka form is preferred: the more incisive brevity reflects as always the essentiality of deep culture. The poet par excellence is certainly Machi Tawara.

Haiku

Poesia giapponese

photo credits: wikimedia.org

What is the Japanese poetic composition that we consider among the most famous? Without a shadow of a doubt, it's the Haiku, 俳句. Loved by all, it is usually composed of 3 verses and 17 total syllabic sounds, schematically 5/7/5. Haiku experienced its development in the Edo period when many poets relied on this genre to describe nature and human events directly related to it. In fact, these small "compositions of the soul" express the beauty of every single instant, representing "the moment" and giving the reader that sense of "enlightenment" thanks to the images that the words evoke. The most famous and beloved poets are undoubtedly Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki.

Our journey into Japanese poetry ends here, for now. This is a very short overview that has allowed us to enter the world of literature of our beloved Japan. What is your favourite form of poetry among the above? Mine is easy to guess: I particularly love Haiku. Here is one of my favourites by Matsuo Basho:

Let's take
the marshy path
to get to the clouds.

Continue to follow us to discover other little pearls of this oriental world and I recommend that you continue on the path you have taken: happiness is always in front of you!


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?


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.


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.