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!


Hiroshima, a prefecture waiting to be discovered

Japan Italy Bridge promotes Japan and creates a real bridge between Japan and Italy and today we focus on Hiroshima. The Japan National Tourism Organization promotes tourism and this month focuses on Hiroshima prefecture. Let's give a more in-depth look.

hiroshima

Hiroshima, a prefecture waiting to be discovered

Author: SaiKaiAngel

History

Hiroshima

photo credits: un.org

The city of Hiroshima was founded in 1589, during the feudal period Sengoku by the Japanese daimyō Mōri Terumoto who made it the capital of his feud. After the battle of Sekigahara for territorial possessions, Terumoto had to surrender Hiroshima to the winner Tokugawa Ieyasu, who decided to have it administered by the daimyō Fukushima Masanori.

In 1871 the city became the capital of the homonymous prefecture and an important commercial and naval centre of Japan. At the end of the 19th century, Hiroshima witnessed further industrialization, which culminated with the war facilities erected during the Russian -Japanese war of 1904, and became Mazda's headquarters in 1920. In 1938 it became part of the broader war scenario of the Second World War. Unfortunately, on August 6, 1945, at 8:16 and 8 seconds, the bomb called Little Boy exploded at 576 meters, with a power equal to 12,500 tons of TNT. The nuclear explosion killed about 260,000 people and injured more than 160,000 in the months immediately following due to radiation.

The Territory

Hiroshima

photo credits: locationscout.net

The centre lies on the harbour bay towards the sea of Aki-nada and the territory is hilly. Hiroshima has many islands such as Etajima-Nomi and Itsukushima and, inland, the territory becomes rockier with the Gosasou and Shiraki mountains as a road to the Ota River.

As JNTO also explains and assures, you can explore Japan in absolute safety! Visit Hiroshima without fear and in complete peace of mind, you will always be guaranteed the right distance, temperature detection in shops and places of interest, protection such as the mask. Do not risk anything, as the first interest of the person and the tourist there is always safety in every place.

Take advantage to visit this beautiful prefecture that gives us not only great emotions but also enchanting places that you will remember forever. Despite the tragedy caused by the explosion of the atomic bomb, Hiroshima had doubled its pre-war population in 1974 and was considered the "peace capital" of the world. Hiroshima is home to important attractions to visit absolutely, let's see them in detail.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima

photo credits: theplanetsworld.com

Symbol of the need for eternal peace, it commemorates the numerous victims of the first nuclear attack and is located right in the epicentre of the explosion. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park boasts many important monuments, museums related to the events of that day and its consequences. In addition to the beautiful gardens with their cherry blossoms, we find the Peace Memorial Museum, the Memorial Cenotaph, the Flame of Peace, and the Atom Bomb Dome with the ruins of the old Chamber of Industry and Commerce. A very interesting place is the Children's Peace Monument and the Monument to the victims of the Atom Bomb.

Shukkei-en Garden

Hiroshima

photo credits: theplanetsworld.com

The Shukkei-en Garden is a wonderful garden on the banks of the river Ōta. A space of peace and quiet desired by Asano Nagaakira in 1620. This garden was once the home of Emperor Meiji, and after the damage caused by the explosion in 1945, they literally flourished again in 1951 in all their beauty. The gardens opened to the public after being donated to the city in 1940 and, despite the heavy damage caused by the 1945 nuclear attack, the gardens reopened in all their former glory in 1951. Bridges, paths, a true landscape of calm and relaxation pampered by the sound of streams that draw from the river Ōta.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima

photo credits: theplanetsworld.com

The exhibitions focused on the explosion of the atomic bomb of the Peace Memorial Museum are very hard and very painful and are exhibited together with exhibitions that extol world peace. This museum is one of the sites that cannot be missed during your trip to Japan, both to experience the rebirth of a prefecture and to pay homage to those who lost their lives during the terrible bombing.

Hiroshima Castle

photo credits: theplanetsworld.com

The Castle of Hiroshima (Rijō), also known as Carp Castle, was the residence of Fukushima Masanori and then passed into the possession of the famous Asano Nagaakira in 1619. In the castle and in particular, in the tower, there is a museum about the history of the castle with images of Hiroshima. In the castle, we can also find three trees that survived the atomic bomb and a bunker used for radio transmissions after the explosion.

Itsukushima island sanctuary

Hiroshima

photo credits: theplanetsworld.com

Miyajima, the Sanctuary Island, is famous for the sanctuary of Itsukushima, dedicated to the princesses Ichikishimahime, Tagorihime and Tagitsu-hime, daughters of the wind god Susanoo. The buildings with the high tide, seem to float magically on the water because they are located on a bay supported by stilts. The show is not to be missed, a feast of colours, red wooden structures and white walls. Honden (Main Hall), Heiden (the offering hall). Haiden (the prayer hall), Senjokaku (the Hall of a Thousand Carpets) and Takabutai used for the Bugaku and Kagura dances are the places you cannot miss during your visit to Hiroshima.

Memorial Cathedral for World Peace

Hiroshima

photo credits: theplanetsworld.com

The Memorial Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Asia, built in 1954 by German Jesuit priest Hugo Lassalle from a design by Japanese architect Murano Tohgo. The Memorial Cathedral has four bells in the 46-meter tower, an organ provided by the city of Cologne and the bronze doors of Düsseldorf.

The Mitaki-dera temple

photo credits: theplanetsworld.com

One of the most beautiful temples in Hiroshima is Mitaki-dera. Built in 809 and rebuilt after the war, it is also famous for its beautiful gardens, which in autumn give a fiery red show to visitors. Also known as the Temple of the Three Falls for its location at the foot of Mount Mitaki, the temple is famous for its red lacquer pagoda, Tahoto and waterfalls.

Fudoin Temple

photo credits: japanvisitor.com

Another beautiful place to visit is the Temple of Fudoin, the architecture of the Muromachi period between the 14th and 16th century with a large main hall containing a carved statue designated as a national treasure.

Hiroshima museums

The city of Hiroshima and the whole prefecture are also famous for the many museums in the area. Below are the ones that we believe are unmissable on your trip to Hiroshima.

Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum (Hiroshima Kenritsu Bijutsukan)

Hiroshima

photo credits: theplanetsworld.com

This Museum, opened in 1968, focuses on local artists with collections related to the atomic bombardment and a children's gallery.

Hiroshima Museum of Art

The Hiroshima Museum of Art consists of eight world-class art galleries. We can find the collection of paintings by European masters such as Monet, Renoir, Degas, Maillol and Picasso together with leading Japanese artists such as Ryohei Koiso and Yuzo Saeki.

Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park

Hiroshima

photo credits: japantravel.com

Opened in 1971, the Asa Zoological Park is about 124 hectares large and is home to 170 species of animals, like minor pandas, Japanese giant salamanders, lions, giraffes and rhinos. A place to distract yourself from the other important places in Hiroshima and to entertain the mind, not only for children but also for adults!

Food and beverage

Obviously, with such an interesting trip, we can't forget to eat and drink and that's why Hiroshima gives us unique experiences here too! Not to be forgotten are five famous Sakaguras from Hiroshima thanks to which we can enjoy exceptional sake. Read carefully here for a unique experience in the Japanese tradition.

Honshu ichi - Brasserie UmedaCo., Ltd.

Category】Junmai Ginjo
【Ingredients】Rice, Koji rice (Senbon Nishiki / Hiroshima product)
【Polishing ratio】60%
【Alcohol content】 16.8 °
【Glucose density】 1.8
【Acidity】1.7
【Sake Gradation】 +5
【Aroma】Sweet fruity aroma
【Pairing】Fish in general, chicken, sweets with strong flavour such as cheesecake
【Features】
A Junmai Ginjo Sake produced by Hiroshima Prefecture, preparing "Senbon Nishiki" rice with Hiroshima Ginjo yeast. It is characterized by the fruity aroma of Ginjo sake, slightly sweet taste. It can be enjoyed with fish and cheese dishes.

‘Zoka’ - Kamoizumi Shuzo Co., Ltd. 創業 1912年 founded in 1912
【Category】Junmai
【Ingredients】Rice, Koji, Water (Rice: Yamadanishiki/100% Higashiroshima )
【Polishing ratio】65%
【Alcohol content】16°
【Glucose density】2.0%
【Acidity】1.8
【Sake Gradation】±0
【Aroma】Sweet chestnut, with a strong smell of rice and wheat.
【Pairing】Boiled tofu, sweet with citrus fruits, marinated food.
【Features】
Junmai Daiginjo is made from "Yamada Nishiki" sake rice grown in a field located about 6 km north of the brewery, using Saijo underground water and the Hiroshima Mori technique. The delicate aroma and sweetness of the transparent and gentle rice harmonize perfectly with the fresh acidity. You can enjoy it cooled with a thin cup or glass of wine. Sake certified with Saijo JAPAN brand)

Itteki Nyukon - KamotsuruCo., Ltd.

【Category】Junmai Ginjoshu
【Ingredients】Rice, Koji rice(100% Hiroshima rice)
【Polishing ratio】60%
【Alcohol Gradation】15 - 16 °
【Glucose density】1.0
【Acidity】1.6
【Sake Gradation】+3
【Sweet】Aroma
【Pairing】Sauté of chicken, Gelée of white peaches
【Features】
This sake has as first material the rice suitable for its preparation. A slightly dry Junmai Ginjo sake that goes well with foods with the right acidity, good both cold and hot.

Sempuku Shinriki 【Nickname】Filled with happiness - Brasserie MiyakeCo., Ltd. Sempuku Shinriki

【Category】Saké Daiginjo
【Ingredients】Rice, Koji (Shinriki) rice
【Polishing ratio】 85%
【Alcohol content】 19.0 °
【Glucose density】 1.2
【Acidity】2.3
【Sake Gradation】 +5
【Aroma】Mature aroma, almond
【Pairing】Sukiyaki, Steak, Cheese, Chocolate
【Features】
Kamiriki rice, which is the origin of Chifuku, is 85% processed and is close to the processing speed of rice from the Meiji and Taisho eras. A bottle full of feelings for the preparation of sake, especially suitable for people who particularly care about Japanese sake.

Night Emperor - Fuji Shuzo

【Category】Junmai
【Ingredients】Rice, Hattan Nishiki Koji, Water
【Polishing ratio】65%
【Alcohol content】 15 °
【Glucose density】N/A
【Acidity】1.6
【Aroma】Moscato, walnuts
【Sake Gradation】 +9
【Pairing】Tartare, Lemon Grilled Chicken
【Features】
Night Emperor is a mixed Hachitan Nishiki based liqueur produced in Hiroshima Prefecture. This versatile liqueur is easy to combine with any dish. Soft taste that takes advantage of the characteristics of fresh water preparation and keeps the alcohol content low while maintaining the taste of koji and rice. Good tasted both cold and hot.

We have given you some examples and information that will surely push you to live the Hiroshima experience, but there is even more! Hiroshima prefecture is a treasure chest full of treasures just waiting to be explored by you! What are you waiting for? We at Japan Italy Bridge do not make us repeat it twice, it will be a joy both for the eyes and for the palate and the heart and soul. We will all come out of it enriched!


Okinawa and The case of the over centenarians

The Japan Italy Bridge column continues to promote in-depth studies related to the world of Japan, today we are talking about Okinawa and the case of the over one hundred-year-old population.

"At 70 you are only a child. At 80 you are a young man. At 90, if your ancestors call you to heaven, ask them to wait until you are 100 years old. Then you can think about it". So says an ancient saying in Okinawa, unfailingly quoted every time you get ready to talk about its mythical inhabitants. Words that seem to find confirmation, even in ancient legends that would speak of this place as a "Land of the immortals".

Okinawa 沖縄 The case of the over centenarians

Guest Author: Flavia

A few years ago even the show "Le Iene" brought the case of Okinawa to prime time, giving us a very nice report. The longevity of its inhabitants and even more so the incredible quality of their ageing is immediately witnessed by the first two ladies who appear in the tv show. I think that whoever saw them was amazed: I don't lie if I say that they show something like 15 years less! Unbelievable. As noted by the journalist Nadia Toffa, sent by the tv show in question, we also have them here in Italy. So the point is, how do you get to those ages. That is: with what quality of life? Usually, the pains of our elderly people, as we know, are such as to affect the quality of their last journey of life. As a society, it is now accepted that illness and loss of autonomy are what is hopelessly awaiting us when we cross those age thresholds. Well, the case of Okinawa's (super-) grandparents shows us that things don't have to be like that! And that it is in everyone's power to ensure psycho-physical well-being during, starting from ... as soon as possible! The sooner you start to treat yourself, the better you can prepare for your old age.

Okinawa

photo credits: mediaset.it

The typical ailments of our western societies - which often even young people(!) like to experience - Okinawa's elders almost don't know what they are. The incidence of diseases related to senility or degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, sclerosis, cancer... is very low.

Okinawa: blue zone, paradise of longevity

These people have an extraordinary quality of life own on this island. We are talking about people who have never been to the hospital, who have never taken medication... who are even able to continue working or driving their car beyond the age of 90/95. Who in any case have a margin of autonomy unthinkable for a local elderly person, except in sporadic cases. Among them, the small village of Ōgimi stands out for the high concentration of centenarians compared to the total number of inhabitants. In reality, a case of similar longevity is present, you will know, also in our house: in the nearby Sardinia. Not by chance: Okinawa, Sardinia, the Greek island Ikaria, the Costa Rican Nicoya and a small community near Loma Linda in California, all fall under the name of "blue zone".

photo credits: ilviaggio.biz

Any area in the world where life expectancy is higher than the general average is called the "Blue Zone". Real "paradises of longevity" that attract researchers from all over the world to try to capture the "secret" of their populations. In this sense, Okinawa and its inhabitants even surpass even mainland Japan, which does not lag behind in terms of quality of life, but has a higher incidence of disease, for example.

Okinawaphoto credits: orcls.org

But who are the Okinawans? Let's first find out who we're dealing with.

Identikit of the Japanese "tropics"

Okinawa is the main complex ( 沖縄諸島 Okinawa-Shotō ) of the Ryūkyū archipelago and is located between "mainland" Japan and Taiwan. It consists of a main island of the same name plus other smaller islands. Naha ( 那覇 ), is its capital. It was named prefecture of Japan in 1879 although the Ryūkyū complex ( 琉球諸島 Ryūkyū -Shotō ), which incorporated it, was formally annexed in 1874. At that time Japan was in the process of modernization and this was matched by a process of unification of all the territories of the archipelago under a single flag.

Okinawa

photo credits: lacooltura.com, pinterest.it.

Before 1874 Ryūkyū was an autonomous kingdom, whose foundation in the 15th century led to the unification of the islands of Okinawa. Formally it was recognized by the Tokugawa - lords of Japan until 1868 - under the jurisdiction of the fief of Satsuma (today Kagoshima Prefecture). In fact, however, it was independent, so much so that it was the fiscal kingdom of both Japan Tokugawa and, even before that, China.
Okinawa is a rather peculiar region, more in its own right than the rest of Japan. It is influenced by China and South-East Asia, due to the frequent trade and cultural exchanges maintained by the Ryūkyan Kingdom over the centuries. Okinawa cuisine itself and Karate, the made-in-Okinawa martial art par excellence, are the result of such interactions.
The lush nature of these islands, made up of numerous coral reefs and extensive rainforests, together with a sub-tropical climate, makes Okinawa a true paradise. It is not uncommon to find it referred to under expressions such as "tropical corner" or "Caribbean" of Japan. A climate that is somewhat reminiscent of that of the blue zones of Sardinia and Ikaria, which are also islands. I am not surprised that paradises like these can host "elixirs" of long life.
But let's see what researchers' discoveries tell us about Okinawa's elixir.

The ORCLS researchers' studies

The Okinawa Centenarian Study (OCS), is the longest centenarian study currently in existence. It is conducted by the Okinawa Research Center for Longevity Science (ORCLS) research team, which has been reviewing various aspects of local life since 1975. Among these, social, psychological and spiritual aspects are also given high consideration. Professor Craig Willcox, interviewed in the service by the Hyenas, is one of the leading researchers. Willcox tells the Hyenas' cameras about the discoveries his team has made over the years. First of all, the presence of a particular gene, FOXO3, readily christened the "longevity gene", was observed. However, the researchers found that longevity and longevity quality are inversely proportional to a number of health risk factors that were present before the age of 50. That is, the chances of reaching at least 85 years of age in good health increase if there are no more than 7 risk factors before middle age. Conversely, with more than 7 factors, Willcox tells us that the odds can be as high as 0%.

And here are the risk factors:

  •  
  • Hyperglycemia (with risk of diabetes)
  • Hypertension (with risk of heart attack or stroke)
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Low level of education (education would foster a greater awareness of what it means to have a healthy lifestyle)
  • Being overweight
  • Poor diet (lack of vitamins, proteins, mineral salts)
  • High triglycerides (with risk, for example, of arteriosclerosis)
  • Low gripping force in the hands
  • Smoking
  • Only for men: don't be married!

The latter is quite curious, as Toffa immediately notes in his interview. Willcox motivates him as follows: "women are much better [at taking care of themselves] they don't need men, they can survive without them". This is why having a woman at your side would increase the life expectancy of the average man. However things may be, if we think that historically Okinawa women play a key role in Okinawa society, this could take on a wider meaning. And good Okinawan women!

Not only Okinawa DNA

But the research does not end there. Willcox says he and his team examined a sample of 8000 men with Japanese ancestors in their genealogy. Considering the two analysis variables, presence of the FOXO3 gene (1) and healthy lifestyle (2), they divided the subjects into 4 groups. Well: the individuals who possess the gene linked to longevity, however, have an incorrect diet, live less than those who, although not genetically predisposed, maintain a healthy diet. This clearly shows us - as Willcox says - the power that a healthy diet and lifestyle have on the physical health of individuals.

photo credits: mediaset.it

Another thing observed is that the Okinawan population does not consume more than 1100 calories per day. This is 10% less than the calories usually indicated by each nutritional table. In particular, their habit of "nibbling rather than bingeing," Willcox always explains, "is key. But a snack made from healthy food: snacks, for example, are made from dried fruit or dried fish (a snack that is also common in mainland Japan). All this in conjunction with a broader, healthier lifestyle.

Shall we find out in detail what all this consists of? Let's start with eating habits.

#1 Traditional diet

Two, are basically the principles underlying the Okinawan diet and concern quantity and quality of food.

腹八分 (Hara-Hachi-Bu): " stomach [full] for 8 parts"

That's 8 parts out of 10: "Always leave some space in your stomach...that is, eat until you are 70-80% full" explains Willcox. A guideline, it would seem, of Confucian origin, which seeks moderation rather than satiety: never fill up completely but eat what is strictly necessary. And in fact, the second elder tells journalist Toffa: "I eat what is right but never fill myself completely. I always get up with a bit of hunger".
The Okinawans are used to eat 5 meals a day (which is also recommended by local doctors), opting for low-calorie but satiating foods. Let's keep in mind the setting of the table, which is typical of Japanese cuisine. The contemporaneity of the dishes, through their arrangement in saucers and bowls, is a factor that certainly predisposes more to "small tastings" than to binge.

photo credits: travelbook.co.jp

I-Shoku-Dō-Gen ( 医食同源 ), "food and medicine, same origin", from Okinawa

For the local elderly, there is nothing healthier than lovingly caring for the garden and then feeding on the fruits of the earth. If we add marine food to these, we have our own miracle diet. This is what it is made up of:

  • Greens. Especially with green leaves, yellow roots and orange roots, all containing carotenoids and anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Tubers like the sweet purple potato of Chinese origin, with a very low glycemic index. Eugenio Iorio, an Italian researcher, explains: "it is there [in the purple] that these famous polyphenols [...] dialogue with our DNA and therefore help us to control the effect of free radicals";
  • Legumes. Like soya beans (with protein and fibre but without fat) and soya derivatives;
  • Algae, natural anti-inflammatory, ideal for free radicals and also for hair;
  • Fish and the already mentioned dried fish, rich in magnesium and omega 3;
  • Tea. Especially green tea and jasmine tea, anti-ageing;
  • Herbs to chew like Sakuna, "herb-elixir" slimming and antioxidant;
  • Fruits. Among which bitter melon Goya, used in the typical dish "Goya Champuru" and citrus Shikuwasa, anti-inflammatory, both typical of the place.

Okinawa Okinawa

photo credits: ohayo.it

"Eating like a rainbow"

In the words of Dr Willcox, by virtue of the parade of colours that the great variety of fruit and vegetables brings to the tables of Okinawa. Variety. Another watchword in the agenda of the Okinawans who would use at least 18 foods daily. The important thing, however, is always to respect the seasonality of the fruit and vegetables. In this way, the maximum nutritional potential of the fruit and vegetables can be realised. And of course, the freshness of the food. It is also important if you decide to cook them, especially when it comes to fish and vegetables: never overcook them if you want to preserve the nutrients!
In addition to very low consumption of carbohydrates, salt and sugar are also used very little. Yes to spices, such as turmeric, and mushrooms.

What about meat?

As a result of that Chinese influence mentioned at the beginning, meat consumption is also well established in Okinawa's cuisine. But meat, as well as dairy products and cereals, are categories with a high nutritional density...so they are consumed in even smaller quantities! Even rice is eaten less than the rest of Japan and quinoa is often preferred to rice. We speak of a low-calorie diet also for this reason; because it counterbalances with smaller quantities of nutritional contributions otherwise potentially excessive. Also because vegetable and marine foods and fruit remain the true carriers of all those beneficial substances that make up the food elixir of Okinawa.

#2 Motor and mental activity

"When the body moves, the brain goes into rhythm" - this is the motto of Jim Kwik, an internationally renowned trainer who deals with fast learning. Kwik always urges even those who have to spend their days sitting down for work or study not to stay in the chair all the time but to take breaks and move around. Even just a few minutes of simple movements between breaks, as well as drinking water and making small snacks, are enough. In doing so, Kwik suggests, our performance is even better, because the brain works better if we treat ourselves this way. Exercise as a stimulator of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity: facilitates the creation of new neural connections. In short, physical movement is also a gym for the brain! That comes out strengthened. And if the brain is active the whole organism benefits. It is a vicious, beneficial circle that, when activated, becomes self-feeding. And this is also the basis for all the nutritional discourse that has just been made, as well as the other factors that we will see in a moment. Let us bear in mind that this discourse is not compartmentalised: everything is connected.

photo credits: okinawa.stripes.com

Observing the lives of our Okinawans, we find that, in their own way, they put into practice very similar things to those promoted by Mr. Kwik. The second reason for their well-being lies in the fact that they are active, not only in their body but also in their mind! The grandfather we see in the hyena service, for example, reads the newspaper every day when he returns from his morning walk. And watch out, 100 years go by, he does so without the help of glasses. Not to mention the fact that he worked in the countryside until he was 97 years old!

Okinawa

photo credits: mediaset.it

Among the activities most loved by Okinawa's grandparents - in addition to the garden, as already mentioned - we find traditional dance or dabbling with some traditional musical instrument. Or, martial arts, ideal for the body-mind-spirit system, as in the case of master Seikichi Uehara. Uehara, a few years before his death at the age of 100, still taught Karate to his students. Or again: how not to mention the weaver Toshiko Taira who, at the age of 100, continues to work as a weaver of Bashōfu, an ancient fabric used for the Kimono (produced only at Ōgimi).

#3 Interior and exterior attitude

But it's not just a question of genes and nutrition. Turn that turns you back, you always come back there: the mind (and the spirit, which in the Japanese vision is one with the mind - as the parola心 "Kokoro" or heart/mind) testifies. Once again, the vision of things proves to be decisive. The most cynical ones will be tired of always hearing "the same old tune", I know; but instead of automatically throwing it on scepticism, I would start to give more credit to the "power of the mind". There will be a reason for this if it is invoked from many quarters. Those who have somehow experienced the beneficial influences of a clean mindset, from excessively... interpretative distortions of reality, let's put it this way.

The perception of the world and therefore of oneself has the power to affect the tangible world of people. Let's think about psychosomatic illnesses for example...or even just inner dialogue: thoughts or words directed towards something can influence this something, including ourselves.
Thus, even Okinawan scholars recognise optimism as a not inconsiderable factor, as well as more tangible factors. Optimism, attention, understood not as pretending that the challenges in life do not exist...but as a different way of accepting both the good and the bad. An openness towards life, which avoids complaining and the negative vision of things. A serenity given by knowing one's own soul and place in the world, with a consequent trust in life and in others. From giving the benefit of the possibility, to everything and everyone.

photo credits: mediaset.it

#4 Interpersonal relationships and social life

When this happens, the mind/spirit "machine" works properly and you feel better at 360 degrees. Even in the seemingly obvious little things that have their own importance, such as simple but authentic moments of conviviality. People in Okinawa generally have a very healthy social life, based on trust and balanced communication. It is often overlooked, precisely because it may seem like "the usual rhetoric", but, believe me, communication is essential to maintain healthy and satisfying human relationships. When people manage to have sincere, spontaneous, and serene communication - without any quarrels of any kind - the relationships are perfectly balanced. Without balanced and satisfying human relationships, the life of a human being is not the same. Just as moments of healthy solitude are essential, to rebalance oneself and recover one's energies, so, at a certain point, are human relationships. But be careful: they must be healthy and balanced. Just like those of our Okinawans.
The deep sense of belonging to the community that characterises their network of relationships and the value attributed to the elderly creates a buffer effect on the elderly that gives them confidence. With a community ready to support them, grandparents can thus live freely and still feel useful. Would you have me believe that the love and trust surrounding these people do not contribute to their quality of life?

#5 Spirituality

And all this takes us towards the last factor that remains for us to consider: spirituality. It "ferries us" because an approach to life like the one we have seen, from that part of the world, goes hand in hand with a certain kind of spiritual sensitivity. These two things are intimately linked if we think about it, and it could not be otherwise.
The philosophy of finding one's own reason to live, what gives it meaning, is from Okinawa, the famous Ikigai ( 生き甲斐 ). If this is missing, there is no healthy diet or strong genes to keep, for a long and quality life. Even the saying "Nan kuru nai sa ( なんくるないさ )" that is "Don't worry [it's all right] " is made in Okinawa. It indicates the profound belief that everything that happens in life has its own intrinsic meaning and that it serves us, for our growth. Having said that, everyone can and should do everything in his or her power in the situations that life confronts him or her with. If this is done, then the motto says to us "you have nothing to fear: everything you could do you have done, so it is all right, be at peace. Everything is as it should be".
Prayer and meditation, also beneficial against stress, are very present in the life of the Okinawans. In the morning, for example, they gather in front of an altar traditionally present in their homes to commemorate and thank their ancestors. This aspect of thanksgiving is something very important that potentially has an impact on the mentality and one's own worldview. And the same care of the vegetable garden already invoked higher up or even eating calmly (devoting all the attention to the act itself, without dispersing it with the TV, for example), is in truth in itself, already meditation.

Nature and environment

A spirituality in any case always close to nature...that recognizes the soul. Could it be that it is precisely the sharing with nature that has inspired these people over time to the right behaviour for a beneficial lifestyle? Although this specific aspect is difficult to quantify with empirical data, I believe so. Also because, if we take for granted that mentality and worldview can have power over our lives... why then discard a priori the power of the "spirit of nature"? Just like animals (think of pet-therapy), so can nature.
The spiritual is very present all over Japan but in Okinawa, it can count on a more uncontaminated nature, at least, compared to other places in the world. Let's remember that the increase in free radicals - potentially responsible for cancer - is also favoured by pollution as well as by bad behaviour. In order to link up with what we said at the beginning when we were thinking about the other blue areas, even the environmental factor - the ecosystem - has its own weight.

Okinawa

photo credits: visitokinawa.jp

The power of the Okinawa lifestyle

And so, alongside: healthy and balanced nutrition; the balanced activity of body and brain; a good relationship with life and consequently with others, here we have the spiritual dimension. But again, there is no hierarchy between these factors: just like the courses of the Japanese tables, they are all contemporary. Each one depends on the other and each influences the other. Of course, you will say, there is always a genetic predisposition. But while genes are not chosen, all these factors are in the hands of individuals. They are in their power. Good genes are undoubtedly a plus. However, as widely observed in OCS research, an individual with a healthy lifestyle lives better and for a long time, even without such a gene. While its effectiveness can also be cancelled out by the lack of just one of the other factors. This is already being demonstrated by the new generations of Okinawa. In fact, the young people of the area are at risk of losing the health benefits of their grandparents by becoming westernized between sedentariness and technology, consumption of pre-packaged food full of colourings.

Even in Italy, it is possible to have the same nutritional benefits as the Okinawa diet. After all, our Mediterranean diet, as Eugenio Iorio also tells us, is based on the same principles. Therefore, we also have the same food supplies in our lands and in our sea. We also talk about "MediterrAsian diet" if we try to integrate the two nutritional models. On the other hand, the Okinawa lifestyle and the Sardinian and Ikarian styles have some aspects in common: high consumption of vegetables and legumes, active and especially outdoor life, and finally, social life and strong family ties.


Nagano Firefly Festival

With the advent of COVID-19, many events have been cancelled all over the world, but the firefly festival in Japan doesn't stop and this year the luminous insects dance by themselves.

The solitary dance of fireflies in 2020

Authore: Erika | Source: Japan Times

It is a magical moment when in Tatsuno, in the Nagano prefecture, the sun sets and thousands of fireflies begin to dance and shine, creating a unique spectacle. Usually, this event brings crowds of visitors to the city, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year the spectators are not allowed to attend this event.

In fact, in this wacky 2020, the dance of incandescent insects takes place without spectators because the event has been cancelled. Nevertheless, although many fans were disappointed, an unusually serene and unique atmosphere was created. In fact, the insects do not stop and continue to shine, turning off and on, dancing in the night air. A natural spectacle that lasts only 10 days at the beginning of summer that marks the last chapter of a firefly's life.

Katsunori Funaki says that "The glow is the courting behaviour of fireflies. They glow is used to communicate between the male and female. During the short period of 10 days, they find a mate and lay eggs for the following year".

festival delle lucciole

In short, the firefly festival is a real date not to be missed. In fact, more than 30,000 perform this magic during those 10 days in Tatsuno, in the centre of Nagano prefecture. Mayor Yasuo Takei says "Historical evidence says that a huge number of fireflies were seen along the Tenryu River between the late 19th and early 20th century. These small creatures were almost extinct in the area due to the strong production of silk industries that created pollution.

However, after the Second World War, the city has worked hard to recreate and restore the suitable environment to protect the fireflies that now attract thousands of visitors during the annual summer festival. "When we have a lot of fireflies, we get a spectacular landscape full of lights, with both stars and fireflies shining reflected in the water," said Takei. A unique event and landscape.

festival delle lucciole

Precisely because of the strong importance that this festival has, the city has created a park with ditches to bring fresh water from the river, with waterfalls and an aquatic house rich in oxygen for insects.

Firefly festivals have been held since the end of June in many parts of Japan, and this ritual of luminous courtship is highly celebrated throughout the country.

"Fireflies are creatures that grow for over a year and fly for only 10 days to leave the next generation before they die," said the festival organizer. "We want to take care of them so that they leave their eggs for next year and we will see fireflies dance wonderfully once again.


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.


Things to do during Quarantine: Traveling to Japan through Movies

Embark on a Journey to Japan through movies

written by: Erika | source: Tokyo Weekender

The long quarantine is almost over but travel is still impossible, so let's continue our section on things to do in quarantine, and today we will explain how to discover Japan through movies.

film Giappone

With the coronavirus pandemic, the world's borders closed, airports blocked and flights canceled prevented people from traveling. This not only caused the tourism business to drop but also prevented us from getting to know and explore distant countries such as Japan. Precisely for this reason, today we share with you a simple method to be able to explore the land of the Rising Sun directly from your home. In fact, here are 5 films that will help you experience Japan as we know it today and as it was long ago.

Departures (2008)

An Oscar winner, this beautiful film tells the story of the city of Sakata and its surroundings in the Shonai region of Yamagata prefecture, north of Japan. A work of art from the world of cinema, the film tells of a man who returns to his hometown after a failing career as a cellist. Here, the man begins a new life and a new career as a traditional funeral director. Unhappy with the situation but fighting against the prejudices connected to his new job, the man begins to love his new profession.

Initially regarded as a taboo, Departures then proclaimed the international recognition of director Yojiro Takita. Along with this, the building used for filming has become a very popular film location. However, the film's memorable scenes were shot in the countryside around the Gakko River and the snowy Mount Chokai. This feature is perfect for those who want to know the most rural locations in Japan and the more traditional customs of the rural life of the Rising Sun.

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Famous film and Oscar winner, Memoirs of a Geisha is one of those must-have films related to Japan. From the award-winning director Rob Marshall, this movie has indeed changed the face of Kyoto tourism. Although the film was not entirely shot in this city, the story lets us travel to the Kiyomizu-Dera temple, through the torii of the Fushimi Inari and the Arashiyama bamboo forest.

The film tells the story of the life of a 9-year-old girl whose father sells her to a Geisha house. In fact, we will set off on a journey that will transform this little girl into one of the most sought after geisha of the time. Not only does this film help us discover landscapes and traditions that are now almost lost, but it brought the culture of Geisha to the west for the first time. However, at the same time, Memoirs of a Geisha is also a celebration of Japan's harmony and unique ways of life.

In fact, the traditional tea ceremony, the beauties of the Zen gardens, the classic Buddhist temples, the traditional houses of the Edo period in the historic Gion district are the backdrop to this story. A perfect way to describe magical Kyoto and the experiences that can be faced in the ancient capital of Japan.

Lost in Translation (2003)

The film that launched the careers of Sofia Coppola and Scarlett Johansson, together with Bill Murray, this movie tells the story of a couple of friends who meet in a hotel in Tokyo. Filmed almost entirely in Japan, here we can see the contrast between the nightlife of the city and the colorful and noisy districts of Tokyo, together with the calm of the temples.

Winner of two Academy Awards, the film is a journey into modern Tokyo life. Moving from the neon graphics of the Kabukicho streets in Shinjuku, up to the beautiful images of the famous Shibuya crossing, the Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba. In addition, the film also shows us the countryside when the protagonist embarks on a journey to Kyoto. In fact, from the shinkansen, we can see the flowing of the Japanese countryside arriving then to the Nanzenji and Heian Temples. Let's not forget the beautiful scene where Murray plays golf in Kawaguchiko with the iconic views of Mount Fuji.

In short, a must-see movie for anyone who wants to find out more about Japan.

Rhapsody in August (1991)

One of the last films of the revolutionary director Akira Kurosawa, this film is set in a small town near Nagasaki. With a compelling but minimalist narrative, the story is about four teenagers who visit their grandmother during the summer. With a backdrop of cicadas, forest adventures, rickety wooden houses, and Buddhist ceremonies, the kids face a perfect holiday in the countryside of Japan.

In a bucolic portrait of Japanese country life, the four teenagers spend more time with their grandmother, listening to her stories. Subsequently, in the second half of the film, we will be able to see Nagasaki after the war with the bright colors of youth. In fact, the four young people embark on a journey to see the bombing sites and the school where their grandfather was a teacher when the explosion occurred.

A film that allows us to know the world of Japan after the war, but which at the same time becomes a denunciation of the guilt of the wars themselves. Controversial but at the same time enlightening, Rhapsody in August is a truly unmissable film for anyone who loves cinema and Japan.

Times of Joy and Sorrow (1957)

This time the acclaimed director Keisuke Kinoshita tells us the story of a lighthouse keeper, his wife, and their travels in 10 different lighthouses along the coast of Japan. A relationship and travels that cover 25 years of marriage, through this film we discover Japan through several years starting in 1932.

The famous site of Kannonzaki, the nation's first lighthouse, worked as a set for the opening scenes. In fact, here we now find a statue of the protagonists of the film. Thanks to the amazing work of the director of photography, through this film we have the opportunity to embark on a journey through the various lighthouses of the nation. In fact, in this regard, we see the beautiful scenes of the Hajikizaki lighthouse on the island of Sado, a wonder for our eyes.
Subsequently, the couple's journey takes us to some of the most remote areas of Japan and the adventures and misadventures of the protagonists introduce us to the lighthouse's staff.

An exciting film that accompanies us on a postcard trip of the shores of Japan, between waves and cliffs, absolutely not to be missed.