Japan Italy: Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Photo Credits: Google Images

Connections between Italy and Japan are steadily increasing, and a recent proof of this bond is an exhibition dedicated to the ukiyo-e master Utagawa Kuniyoshi, on display at the Museo della Permanente in Milan.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi was born on January the 1º, 1798, with the name of  Yoshisaburō. Later, in 1814, he took the name we all know. Utagawa derives from the name of his master, Utagawa Toyokuni. Instead Kuniyoshi derives from the second half of his master’s surname and the first half of his own name. From an early age he had developed a great ability in drawing, attracting the attention of the famous ukiyo-e master Utagawa Toyokuni.

Kuniyoshi is considered as one of the last great masters of the Japanese Ukiyo-e style prints (a kind of Japanese print on paper made with wooden matrices, that flourished in the Edo period). Always attentive to details, especially for dresses that were represented with great accuracy, this ability should not come as a surprise, being him the son of a silk-dyer. He loved to experiment, often playing with the use of chiaroscuro and shades, and he also tried to add depth to his works.

Kuniyoshi often produced triptychs, Yoko-e, a print in horizontal or “landscape”, but also single sheet prints. Some of his most famous works are Miyamoto Musashi and the Whale, Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre, The brave woman of the Omi Province, An unfortunate day.

Photo Credits: Google Images

Photo Credits: Google Images


Photo Credits: Google Images

Many where the themes represented by Kuniyoshi. The most famous and recurring ones were Cats, Toko, Caricatures, but also Heroes and Samurai.                                                                                            Kuniyoshi greatly loved cats and he produced many prints representing these felines. He often added them to other works, for example in prints with people as decoration to their dresses.

Photo Credits: Google Images

Photo Credits: Google Images

Photo Credits: Google Images

Heroes and Samurai

Photo Credits: Google Images

Many Kuniyoshi’s xylographies representing warriors and samurai took their inspiration from legends and war tales like The tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari) and the Rise and Fall of Genji and Heike (Genpei Seisuiki).  The innovative aspect of his prints inspired to popular heroes, that distinguishes them from similar works of the time, is the stress he put on supernatural elements. This is particularly visible in his dark atmospheres, ghostly apparitions, omens and the representations of warriors with superhuman features. These fantastic elements can be found for example in the Taira Tomomori borei no zu or in the Gōjō no bashi no zu, a triptych from 1839. In the latter, the fierce battle between Yoshitsune and Benkei is effectively depicted. This narrative style met the interest of the public that in those years was oriented to the themes of horror and grotesque.

Feminine figures and Kabuki Theater 

Photo Credits: Google Images

After the Tenpō reforms in 1841–1843, prints and drawings representing actors and courtesans were officially banned. This act aimed to alleviate the economic crisis by controlling public displays of luxury and wealth.

This might have had some influence on Kuniyoshi's production of caricature prints or comic pictures, which were used to disguise actual actors and courtesans. Many of these prints symbolically and humorously criticized the shogunate.

Photo Credits: Google Images

For example, the 1843 print showing Minamoto no Yorimitsu asleep, haunted by the Earth Spider and his demons. This xylography became popular among the public that was politically dissatisfied.

In late 1840s, Kuniyoshi began to illustrate kabuki actors again, eluding censorship once again through the use of caricature prints. The production of the period includes the famous Nitakaragurakabe no mudagaki. Here, in a very creative way, he placed an elementary, childlike script written in kana under the actor face.

His love for cats is also reflected in representations of cats in human-like shape in kabuki or satirical prints. In the same decade he also experimented new compositions, enhancing visual elements to maximize the dramatic effect.

Info e contacts

The exhibition named Kuniyoshi. The Visionary of the Floating World showcases a great variety of works. 165 color xylographies provided by the Masao Takashima collection that retrace the master’s career. Produced by MondoMostre Skira and curated by Rossella Menegazzo, the itinerary is divided in 5 thematic sections. "Beauty", "Landscapes", "Heroes and Warriors", with a special sub-section dedicated “Suikoden Heroes” (Brigands), "Animals and parodies",  and obviously a section dedicated to "Cats".

A very interesting exhibition that represents a slice of the Japanese universe, that can be visited until January 28.

info@adartem.it; www.adartem.it

MondoMostre Skira
Lucia Crespi | tel. + 39 02 89415532 | lucia@luciacrespi.it
Federica Mariani | tel. +39 366 6493235 | federicamariani@mondomostre.it | www.mondomostre.it
Barbara Notaro Dietrich | tel. +39 348 7946585 | b.notarodietrich@gmail.com

tel. 0299901905 - www.vivaticket.it

BIGLIETTI (audioguida inclusa)

TICKETS (audioguide included)

Full price: € 13,00

Concessions: € 11,00
Visitors form 6 to 26 years old, disabled, groups (min 15 max 25 people – from monday to friday), teachers, soldiers, Skira card holders;

Special concessions: € 8,00
Journalists not accredited by the exhibiiton's press office

Special concessions: € 6,00
School groups – from tuesday to sunday (min 15 max 25 people, tolerated up to 29), schools of each order and degree;

Free: € 0,00
less then 6 years old, certificated tourist guides, an accompanying person for each group, two accompanying persons for each school group, an accompanying person for disabled person who needs of support, journalist accredited by the exhibitionìs press office;


Japan Italy: Takahiro Iwasaki

Takahiro Iwasaki

Photo credits: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra flickr.com

This week we will talk about the artist who just this year represented the Japanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale: Takahiro Iwasaki.
Takahiro Iwasaki was born and grew up in Hiroshima, where he attended University obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in 1998. He later obtained a Master of Arts in 2001 and a Doctorate of Philosophy in 2003.
We are talking about an artist renowned internationally for his uniqueness and recognizability at a glance. His works have been exhibited all over the world, including: the Museum of Modern Art in Seoul, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in Moscow and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Trento and Rovereto.
In 2005 he also obtained a Master of Fine Arts from the Edinburgh College of Art in the UK.

Poetics and Works

Photo credits: Jean Bosco SIBOMANA flickr.com

Takahiro Iwasaki mainly focuses on "material changes" and "context changes". In fact, he is known for his works in which he transforms seemingly banal materials and waste products into stunning sculptures realised with great precision and meticulousness. By transforming common objects and materials that we all use every day, and reinterpreting them by giving them a second life, he allows us to look at them in a different light.
The deep and indissoluble relation with his own city prompted him to create an introspective and reflective poetics. Hiroshima, first destroyed by the atomic bomb during the Second World War, and subsequently rebuilt, inspired the artist in the choices of his own communicative and artistic style. But not only this, for Iwasaki the relation with nature is also very important, and together with his city it is one of the greatest sources of inspiration.
 Having spent his childhood in Hiroshima, Iwasaki grew up with the reflection of its memory inscribed in his mind. This reminds us that the moment of reflection could also be interpreted as his awareness of "the passing time".

Iwasaki’s most popular series is Out of Disorder, which reproduces architectural structures using unusual materials such as hair, dust, wires, towels, and toothbrushes.
Among the reconstructed structures there are the panoramic wheel of Coney Island, the Cosmoworld of Yokohama and also port areas and oil refineries.
The series also includes maps carved on rolls of duct tape, including a reproduction of the Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.
These works were exhibited at the Cornerhouse gallery in Manchester in 2011, during the Asian Art Biennale at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in 2013 and at the Kawasaki City Museum in 2014.
Another series of Iwasaki is represented by temples carved in Japanese cypress wood. A specular version of the temple is attached underneath as if it is reflected on water, and the whole sculpture is suspended in mid air.

Photo credits: Gerard Lemos flickr.com

The first work of this kind, Reflection Model, was exhibited at the Tokyo Natsuka Gallery in 2001.
 Of the aforementioned work, in 2012, Iwasaki completed a new and more complex model, which faithfully represents the Byōdō-in near Kyoto. The latter was exhibited at the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art organized by the Queensland Art Gallery in Australia.
In September of the same year, in the exhibition space of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Iwasaki arranged numerous microscopic sculptures including an incomplete Eiffel Tower.
In 2014 Iwasaki created two site-specific works for the exhibition Perduti nel paesaggio (Lost in Landscape) of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Trento. The two works, built with hair and dust, represent the cupola of the museum and a tower, and they are visible through the use of a telescope.

Japan Pavilion - Venice Biennale of Arts 2017

For the 57th Venice Biennale in Venice, the Japanese Pavilion hosts his exhibition called Turned Upside Down, It's a Forest, and whose title is inspired by Venice itself.
As a whole, this work is characterized by the inclusion of elements that, although not physically present, represent the main part of the work's identity. For example water in the Reflection Model series, for the constant contrast between order and disorder and for a profound interest in ecological and social issues.
Therefore the exhibition presents seven works among sculptures and installations, some of which were specifically designed by Iwasaki for the 2017 Bienniale.

Photo credits: Gerard Lemos flickr.com

The series Reflection Models consists of large architectural models of existing Japanese temples realised as if they were reflecting on the water pond on which the original buildings were actually located. This recalls the fascinating dualism that unites reality and ambiguity.
To further emphasize this concept the models are made with the same wood, Japanese cypress, used for the real life buildings.

Finally, the work Flow, which is part of the series Tectonic Models, alludes to the instability of the earth's crust, and more generally, of our social systems. The work is made up of a stack of scientific books precariously resting on an small, old table that the artist found in Venice, arranged so as to refer to the idea of a building under construction.

Photo credits: Annette Dubois flickr.com


Japan Italy: Boom Beat Bubble

BOOM| BEAT| BUBBLE Japanese Prints  sixties | seventies | eighties

Photo credits: lazionauta.it

An interesting exhibition just closed at the Japanese Cultural Institute in Rome: BOOM | BEAT | BUBBLE by Marcella Cossu.

The exhibition, that began on May 4 and ended on October 12, dealt with prints, a typical Japanese art that started with the current of the ukiyo-e (浮世 絵 "images of the floating world") in the XVII and which continues today still.

From the "Economic Miracle" to the "Speculative Bubble"

Photo credits:  roma.repubblica.it

The peculiarity of this evocative exhibition was the choice of the historical period. Three decades closer to us than we might think, 60s, 70s and 80s, opening a door and making us discover the evolution of modern Japan as we know it. We could call it the Japanese counterpart of that most popular American Pop Art with Warhol.

We saw the BOOM, the explosion of the 60s with the "economic miracle" where Japan on its knees after the defeat in World War II managed to recover from the crisis due to the peak of the economy. Moving to the BEAT after the '68 which also affected them with a changing world leading to the decade of the 70s that saw Japan emerge and stand as one of the world's powerful nations. And the 80s with the BUBBLE, the "speculative bubble" that broke out during the following decade with the consequent rising prices of stocks in the financial and property sector .

With multiple topics, 24 artists and 54 works, it was not the usual exhibition.

Prints that are still modern today.

Photo credits: jfroma.it

Japan Italy Bridge Tips: From Kyoto to Rome - Japanese craftsmanship on display

From Kyoto to Rome: Japanese craftsmanship on display

Photo credits: google images

The restaurant, tea room and bookshop Doozo, that in Japanese means ‘you are welcome’, is a place where you can spend your free time in a dimension of exchange, growth and comparison between two cultures that are distant from one another: the Italian one and the Japanese one. Here, at the exhibition space, Saturday October 28th, Rome will meet Japan through the event: "From Kyoto to Rome: Japanese craftsmanship on display".

The protagonists will be Takaaki Saida, 39, stone artisan and sculptor of tōrō lanterns in Kyoto and Akihiro Mashimo, 40, a bamboo craftsman known for creating a 1 mile long promenade. They are among the last recognized Master Craftsmen left in Japan.

Members of the Kyōtoshokuninkōbo Handcraft Laboratory (京都 職 人工 房) they will showcase the Japanese craft tradition in Italy, after being in America at the Anderson Japanese Garden. This was made possible thanks to a fund obtained from the Kameoka Chamber of Commerce in Kyoto. The following day, October 29, it will be possible to take part in a workshop aimed at the creation of the traditional bamboo basket together with the master craftsman Akihiro Mashimo.

Photo credits: google images

The intention of the two young masters is to spread the techniques for working stone and bamboo with live demonstrations. Takaaki Saida will give a demonstration of traditional craftsmanship through stone engraving, also using a video clip to explain the history of this ancient craft. On the other hand, Mashimo will show how to cut and manipulate bamboo to create traditional fences for Japanese gardens along with other commonly used items.

Photo credits: google images


“From Kyoto to Rome: Japanese craftsmanship on display”

Doozo art book & sushi - Via Palermo 51-53, Roma - Tel. 06 481 56 55 - Email. info@doozo.it

October 28, Saturday, from 15.00 to 19.00,  free entry;
October 29, Sunday, from 16.00 to 18.00, workshop with admission fee

During the two-days event you will be able to taste a Saké-based aperitif offered by the 3 Japanese sponsors of the exhibition:

Tatenokawa Shizou 楯野川 with a Junmaidaiginjou Seiryu 純米大吟醸
Nagai shuzou 永井酒造株式会社 with a Junmaiginjou Mizubashou 水芭蕉
Konishi shuzou 小西酒造 with a Junmaishu Aobaenosumikirijunmai 碧冴えの澄みきり純米

Japan Italy: Hokusai "In the footsteps of the master"

Hokusai: In the footsteps of the master

Photo credits: arapacis.it

Katsushika Hokusai (葛 飾 北 斎?, Edo, October or November 1760 - Edo, May 10, 1849) was a Japanese painter and engraver, mainly known for his ukiyo-e works. This is an art genre typical of Japan and it consists of a print on paper with a wooden mold, thriving in the Edo period.

With a career over sixty years long where he explored various forms of art, he is known by the public mainly thanks to his famous 'Hundred views of Mount Fuji'. In particular the "Kanagawa Great Wave", which has become the symbol of this collection, is now part of the mass culture. His works not only spread all over the world, but have also been a source of inspiration for many European impressionist artists such as Claude Monet, and many post-Impressionists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

Photo credits: arapacis.it

For some years now, Italy has been hosting several exhibitions dedicated to this great artist. First in Milan at the Museo del '900 and now in Rome. In fact, from October 12, 2017 to January 14, 2018, at the Ara Pacis Museum, Hokusai's works will be available to the public in an exhibition called "In The Footsteps of the Master". A great display that illustrates and compares about 200 works from Master Hokusai’s production with those of the artists that followed in his footsteps.

Photo credits: arapacis.it

The exhibition held at the Royal Palace in Milan preceded the one held at the British Museum in London, and now in the Italian capital it is possible to admire works gathered from different museums and collections. Among others, the Chiba City Museum of Art, and important Japanese collectors like Uragami Mitsuru Collection and Kawasaki Isago no Sato Museum, as well as the Museo d’arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone in Genoa.

As we mentioned before, this exhibition illustrates and compares Master Hokusai’s production with that of some of the artists who followed in his footsteps, creating new lines, new shapes, new colors, and a new ukiyo-e school.

Photo credits: arapacis.it

From nature to kabuki actors, from female beauties to warriors, arriving to the imagery of ghosts, spirits and semi-legendary beings, these will be the themes that visitors will find on display. The techniques and formats Hokusai used for his works varies greatly. From ink and color painting realised on vertical or horizontal scrolls, to polychromatic xylographies of all sizes, to the finest surimi. The latter were used as greeting cards, invitations for tea ceremonies and more.

Photo credits: arapacis.it

From the press release of the exhibition, we can read that the showcase consists of five sections that will cover the most fashionable and most sought themes from the market of the time:

1- MEISHŌ: places not to be missed

It features the most famous series of Hokusai: the Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji, the Eight views of Ōmi, the three volumes on the Hundred views of Fuji and a scroll painting of Mount Fuji, presented for the first time in Italy and in absolute preview.

This section illustrates travel destinations and famous places that a Japanese of the Edo period shouldn’t absolutely miss or at least had to know: waterfalls, bridges and natural places of the faraway provinces, views of Mount Fuji from renowned spots, inns and restaurants, and postal towns along the Tōkaido road that connected Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto.

There is also Hokusai’s "Great Wave", which can be appreciated in two different versions that will be alternated halfway through the exposition for conservative reasons: one from the Museo d’arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone of Genoa, the other from the Kawasaki Isago no Sato Museum collection, as well as many other important xyloghaphies of the Thirty-eight views of Mount Fuji comparable in their double version..

2- Fashionable beauty

A series of remarkable scroll paintings and polygraphic xylographies dedicated to the portraits of female beauties and courtesans from the famous tea houses in Yoshiwara's renowned entertainment district compares the style of master Hokusai with that of some of his most famous students including Gessai Utamasa, Ryūryūkyō Shinsai, Hokumei, Teisai Hokuba.

In particular, it underlines the novelty of Keisai Eisen’s composition, great personality in the field of female portrait, that draws a true fashion reportage, wrapping up his women and putting them in a position able to highlight their kimonos and imposing obi, refined fabrics with elegant motifs, very colorful and always designed down to the smallest detail.

In this context, it has also been included a small but sophisticated collection of images linked to seduction and the world of pleasure and eroticism, that compares Hokusai with Eisen through "dangerous"  (abunae) xyloghraphies, in which  some love-exchange situations can be perceived without revealing its sexual aspect, sublimated through the beauty of fabrics and clothes that cover the bodies and make the audience dream, as well as the famous pages of Hokusai’s erotic volume "Kinoe no Komatsu".

3- Fortune and good deed

In a xylography format, belonging to Eisen in this case, and through a series of eleven scroll paintings by Hokusai representing people’s divinities of fortune, the audience can see some of the most popular subjects of the time like charms, protections, wish for special occasions. All works exhibited for the first time in Italy.

4- Capture the essence of nature

A comparison between Hokusai and his students through a series of scroll paintings from Japan on the theme of nature and animals to emphasize the classic motifs of painting with "flowers and birds", and the symbolic value of some animals such as dragon, tiger, carp, rooster reproposed in the style of each artist.

5- Manga and manuals to learn

The complete series of 15 volumes of Hokusai's Mangas are displayed in this section and it refer to the traits and the strength that the master is able to give to every creature he decides to represent, but also to his will to teach the rules of painting to artists and enthusiasts. Beside Hokusai’s volumes, an album of his student Shotei retraces subjects and forms of his master offering similar pages full of drawings and sketches.

Photo credits: arapacis.it


Museo dell'Ara Pacis


From October 12, 2017 to January 14, 2018
Every day  9.30-19.30
On December 24 and 31 9.30-14.00

The ticket office closes an hour before
Closed on December 25 and January 1

Admission ticket

Exhibition only:

€ 11,00 whole-price ticket; € 9,00€ reduced-price ticket


Tel. 060608 every day 9.00-19.00

The 100 views of Mount Fuji in Arcore

Photo credits: arapacis.it

At the same time, after the great success of the exhibition in Milan, Hokusai returns to Lombardy and this time comes to Arcore.  The free entrance exhibition entitled "HOKUSAI. 100 views of Fuji. One hundred ways to talk about God without ever naming him” inaugurated on Saturday, October 7. The exhibition organised by Bruno Gallotta and Alberto Moioli is hosted by the Scuderie of Villa Borromeo and will allow the public to see 102 images created by the hand of the great Japanese artist.

Photo credits: wikipedia.org 

This exhibition illustrates the spiritual interpretation that the Japanese artist has unconsciously (or deliberately) inserted into his works.

“It has been proven that Hokusai was a faithful Buddhist and is equally certain that he was an educated person: so he knew well that "FU NI", as well as being one of the possible ways to write the name of the famous volcano, is a particularly significant expression of the Mahayana Buddhism from which derived all the Buddhist traditions that spread in China and Japan”, the organisers say.
“This exhibition aims to demonstrate that the Mount Fuji used by Hokusai as a spiritual symbol and called "FU NI" contemplates both meanings. For this purpose, for interested visitors, some copies of the exegetical text have been prepared and are available for free consultation”.

Photo credits: wikipedia.org 

Thanks to the sponsorship of the European Office of Zen Buddhism (Soto), the showcase finally comes to Arcore after having touched Lodi in 2015 and Piacenza in 2016 as part of the celebrations for 150 years of relationship between Italy and Japan.

The exhibition is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 7pm.

Photo credits: wikipedia.org 

Schedule and related events


Scuderie of Villa Borromeo


October 7 – 22, 2017
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm

Related events

Sunday, October 8 at 17pm, meeting with Giuseppe Jiso Forzani "Art, Nature, Religion in Japanese Sensibility"

Tuesday, October 10, at the Nuovo Teatro Cinema of Arcore, the film dedicated to the Japanese master and created by the British Museum of London will be screened in Italian.

Saturday, October 14 at 17pm, meeting with Bruno Gallotta "Hokusai: An Unprecedented Reading" An interpretative key still unexplored ".

Saturday, October 21 at 17 pm meeting with Ornella Civardi "Jisei" - Reading of Japanese poems with the musical accompaniment of Alexander Zyumbrovskiy’s cello.

Japan Italy: Ōki Izumi's "Ponti di luce" (Bridges of Light)

 Ōki Izumi's "Ponti di luce" (Bridges of Light) on display in Genoa

Photo credits: artslife.com

Ōki Izumi, a sculptor born in Tokyo, Japan, studied literature, painting and sculpture with Aiko Miyawaki, Taku Iwasaki and Yoshishige Saito. In 1997 she won a scholarship from the Italian government and in 1981 she graduated at the Brera Academy under the guidance of Giancarlo Marchese.

She has participated in several installations between Italy, Japan and other nations. The most recent one is "Ponti di Luce" on display in Genoa from 19 April 2017 to 1 October 2017 at the The Edoardo Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art. This particular exhibition is a dialogue between the permanent works of the museum and the contemporary sculptures of this Japanese sculptor.

A bridge between Japan and Italy, between ancient and modern. Here, the sculptures with the typical blue-green color of the industrial glass, the only material used by the artist, recall natural elements. Air and water undertake a dialogue with the precious Japanese and Oriental art heritage, gathered in Japan during the Meiji period (1868-1912) by Edoardo Chiossone.

Sinuous curves and beveled corner

Photo credits: artslife.com

The museum houses Japanese works of various ages, paintings, weapons and armors, pottery, masks and a rich collection of big sculptures from Japan, China and Siam.

As we have just said, the exhibition "Ponti di Luce" focuses on the processing of industrial glass, which transforms in the hands of the artist. Between sinuous curves and beveled corners, her works becomes a transparent skyline representing "Past-Present-Future", the waves of Japanese seas, surrealistic shells and bright prisms. Their reflections glimmer on the ancient artworks in the same hall.

Izumi's works are made of stratifications. Plates assembled while the transparency of the matter becomes an integral part of the place, and constantly changes thanks to the light and the reflections that are created.

Photo credits: artslife.com

Everything starts with a detailed and precise design, made of numerical calculations that from a rough sketch become sculpture. Regardless of their size, whether they are small jewelry or large installations, in these artworks you can find all the typical Oriental accuracy and attention.

The purpose of the works

The purpose, as the artist confirms, is to emphasize the harmony of shapes and make the spectator reflect by baring it through the transformation of a hard and hardly malleable material into something soft and pliable. Oki Izumi once again wanted to emphasize the contrast between antiquity and modernity, highlighting the contact points between the two spheres of time. An evolving art that over the years frees herself from all excesses becoming more and more conceptual and poetic.

Photo credits: artslife.com

The exhibition is sponsored by the Japanese Cultural Institute and is included in the official celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of the Relationships between Japan and Italy.

WHERE: The Edoardo Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art, piazzale Giuseppe Mazzini 4, Genoa
WHEN: from 19 April, Wednesday, to 1 October 2017,Sunday.  Tue-Fri 09:00 – 19:00; Sat-Sun 10:00 – 19:30

Info: museochiossone@comune.genova.it
Tel. 010542285


Japan Italy: Etegami "Discovering Italy through the eyes of Japanese children"

Etegami: discovering Italy through the eyes of Japanese children

Italy is recognized as one of the most beautiful and appreciated countries of the world thanks to not only its beautiful landscapes but also for the profound cultural riches that our country offers. An exhibition called “Etegami. How Japanese children see Italy” is being held in Pisa from June 16, 2017. This exhibition has been organized by the Japan Italy Foundation and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, together with the Japanese Embassy and the Japan Cultural Institute. On display are the works of several Japanese children who were asked to describe Italy as they see it through their eyes. The results are not only impressive but also touching.

Photo Credits: http://www.italiagiappone.it/attivita_etegami.html

But what exactly is an Etegami? An Etegami is one of the most popular and loved methods used by Japanese people. It consists of a simple drawing accompanied by a short and heartfelt message using black ink to define lines and writing, and watercolours to realize the insides. Even if not all the postcards sent by children were done in this precise style, each and every one of them was based on the 7 fundamental principles of the Etegami, established by Kunio Koike in the 60s.

Photo Credits: http://www.italiagiappone.it/attivita_etegami.html

The 7 fundamental principles of Etegami

From the Japan Italy Foundation official site:

1. Being good is fine, but not being good is better

The motto of Etegami is “Being good is fine, but not being good is better”. If the drawing was done with commitment and passion it is not necessary to have high drawing skills. In an Etegami written in a personal style and with commitment, the personality of an individual is easily perceived. The most important thing is the way we look at the postcard: it has to be unique and original; even if you are not skilled it will still remain a unique piece of art.

2. Do not make a draft

In an Etegami, the concept of “I made a mistake..!” does not exist. So, every piece is the real thing. When we make a draft there’s the idea that we need to do everything in the best way and create a work of perfection while worrying about making a good impression. Appearance ends up taking priority over something that identifies ourselves. A postcard is deemed as a success when it is able to show the natural demeanour of the person who made it. An impromptu Etegami without a draft has to convey the mood of the moment in which it was realized and what it was meant to express is that moment.

3. Draw after an attentive observation and draw ‘big’

An Etegami does not have an imposed model. On the contrary, it has “the principle of strenuously gaze without averting the eyes”, or else, it is drawn after an attentive observation of the original subject. If we look hard at fruits, vegetables, flowers and all the other things that surround us, we will notice details we didn't notice before.

On “Etegami” postcards, we are advised to ‘draw big’. By increasing the size even two or three times the original, and through strenuous and attentive observation, our observation spirit will gradually sharpen without us realising it. Even if the card cannot contain the whole drawing it’s okay. The person looking at it will imagine the cut out parts in their own way.

4. Represent only one thing

To those who start to draw an Etegami for the first time, we suggest that they choose only one object. It is necessary to stare at it without averting the eyes from it.

Photo Credits : http://www.italiagiappone.it/attivita_etegami.html

5. Draw each line carefully and slowly

When we draw contour lines quickly we end up forgetting to observe with attention. If we draw slowly we can really focus on what we are doing. Moreover, the more slowly you proceed, the easier it will be for the feeling to penetrate. The aim of drawing a line slowly is "drawing while concentrating all our energies into thinking about the person to whom it is dedicated". In fact, an expressive line is something that only appears when we trace it with all our energies. So, the important thing is to draw while focusing on expressing our own feelings.

6. Always send what you have done

Let’s always send the Etegami we have realized! The meaning of this postcard is not: I’ll send it when I’ve become skilled; since it did not come out as I wanted it to, I won’t send it! The idea of making a mistake does not belong to Etegami. Even if one thinks he made a wrong Etegami, since it has been made according to his own personality, it still is what he did in that moment. There is a particular charm in this.

Etegami distribute happiness. Both people who draw them and people who receive them have fun and become cheerful. Let's always send them out.

7. Write words with all your heart

It is important that the words that accompany the drawing are few and that they are written naturally, as you have felt them in your mind. Do not worry if these words do not always relate to the things that are depicted. The good thing of Etegami is that it does not chain you to the rigid epistolary style. There is no need for the initial greeting formula usually found in letters. Let’s write with a clear handwriting thinking only of whom will read it.

Photo Credits : http://www.italiagiappone.it/attivita_etegami.html

Children are the future of our world, we all know this, and the The Italian Institute of Culture in Tokyo has asked several Japanese children to draw Italy based on their imagination. Primary and middle school children across Japan have met this request and have drawn over 25,000 Etegami that are now exhibited in Pisa, at the Museum of Graphics.

Photo Credits : http://www.italiagiappone.it/attivita_etegami.html

It is exciting to see how these drawings show us curious and suggestive images of how children of the rising sun country see our beautiful nation. A vision of Italy in in manga/anime style, filled with hopes, imagination and dreams of little Japanese children.

The initiative was born as part of ‘Italy in Japan’, the first and most important promotional initiative of the Sistema Italia (Italian System) abroad. Initiative that has seen our country protagonist in over 800 events throughout Japan.

Photo Credits : http://www.italiagiappone.it/attivita_etegami.html

Published by Polistampa, the catalog of the exhibition contains a selection of 300 Etegami divided into sections dedicated to cities and historical monuments, or characteristic aspects of Italian life and culture such as music and cooking. And there is also a special section entirely devoted to Pinocchio's character.

A jury of representatives of the organizing authorities together with Professor Shigetoshi Osano, professor of Art History at the University of Tokyo, selected the most beautiful works to be published. Three winners were also nominated and were allowed to come to Italy as guests of Alitalia - Italia Tours.

Photo Credits : http://www.museodellagrafica.unipi.it

It is possible to see the exhibition from June 16 to September 30, 2017, at the Museum of Graphics at Palazzo Lanfranchi in Pisa.

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Japan Italy Bridge Tips: Edogawa Fireworks

Edogawa Fireworks

Edogawa fireworks, japan italy bridge

photo credit: ajpscs

Se questa estate vi trovate a Tokyo vogliamo consigliarvi un meraviglioso spettacolo che da 43 anni a questa parte allieta gli abitanti di Edogawa (quartiere speciale di Tokyo che prende nome dal fiume Edo).
L’Edogawa Fireworks Festival si svolge ogni primo sabato d’agosto, dove per 75 minuti non potrete far altro che tenere gli occhi puntati al cielo. Uno spettacolo con più di 14,000 fuochi d’artificio lanciati nei cieli di Tokyo.

Vi consigliamo di assistere al festival dal Parco di Shinozaki, a circa 15 minuti a piedi dalla stazione omonima di Shinozaki. Guardare ovviamente è gratuito ma fatte presto a prendere il vostro posto perfetto! Giusto in tempo per rimanere estasiati dalla spettacolare apertura con il lancio di 1,000 fuochi d’artificio d’argento e oro solo nei primi incredibili minuti.

Se non siete sicuri di riuscire a conquistare il vostro posto in tempo potrete riservarne uno acquistando il vostro biglietto qui (Solo Giapponese).

Che siate da soli, o in dolce compagnia, con gli amici o con la vostra famiglia.. Non perdetevi questo spettacolo unico!!

DATA: 5 Ago, 2017
ORARIO DI INIZIO/FINE: 19:15 – 20:30
LOCATION: Edogawa Fireworks Festival Location
INGRESSO: Libero / Posto riservabile aquistando tramite questo sito (Solo giapponese)
DOVE: Ichikawa, Tokyo

Edogawa fireworks

photo credit: cate♪

photo credit: Luke Kaneko