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“Italy in Japan 2013” opens with Raphael

An exhibition on Raphael, one of the most important events on this sublime artist from Urbino ever to be organised outside Italy, will open “Italy in Japan 2013”. With around 100 events, the programme will provide a flavour of the “Made in Italy” brand in all its facets: the arts, business, lifestyle, research and innovation, tourism, and food and wine.

The programme was presented at the Embassy of Italy and will open on 2 March at the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, with the exhibition on Raphael. The show will cover the main periods of the artist’s career, with numerous masterpieces (including the Madonna del Granduca – Madonna of the Grand Duke) never before shown in Asia. Other exhibitions will feature Leonardo, Rubens (focusing on the 8 years he spent in Italy) and Michelangelo, as well as 19th- and 20th-century Italian art from Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

“A year to remember for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi and the 400th anniversary of the departure of Hasekura Tsunenaga’s mission at the head of one of the first official delegations to Europe and Italy”. This was how Shuji Takashima, Emeritus Professor at the University of Tokyo and one of Japan’s leading experts in Western art, described 2013 and its events. “From Rome onwards”, added Professor Takashima, “Italy was a cultural development model for all the courts of Europe, and influenced Japan during the Meiji revolution” in the second half of the 19th century.

A rich and important lead-in to the 150th anniversary of bilateral relations, says Ambassador Giorgi

“A rich and important programme in the run-up to 2016, the year that sees the 150th anniversary of Italian-Japanese bilateral relations”, was how the Italian Ambassador to Tokyo, Domenico Giorgi, described the “Year”. Worthy of note, he commented, are the modern aspects of that relationship, based on links in the fields on science and innovation, robotics, medicine, and new materials. Advances that will be featured in the exhibition on “The Italy of the Future”, starring iCub, a humanoid robot.

Tour by the Teatro la Fenice company

The musical programme will open in Osaka on 10 April, with a tour by Venice’s Gran Teatro la Fenice. This will be followed in September by Milan’s Teatro alla Scala and its Corps de Ballet and in November by the Regio, from Turin. For the first time, three of Italy’s most prestigious opera companies will star in the Japanese opera season, as part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi.

Other highlights of the Year will be the tours by the Santa Cecilia company and the Solisti Veneti, jazz by Stefano Bollani, photography exhibitions by Giacomelli and Farsari, and seminars and literary events featuring D’Annunzio, Tabucchi and others. New Italian films will be screened in Tokyo and Osaka at the 13th Italian Film Festival.

The face of Italy today

Alongside the cultural initiatives, the Year will also devote ample space to the face of Italy today and to extending Italian-Japanese scientific collaboration in the science and technology sphere. “Italy of the Future”, an exhibition introducing the most significant innovations in Italian research to both the general public and the scientific community, will open in Tokyo in April 2013. It will feature medicine, new materials, cultural assets and restoration, the sea and transport, particle physics and robotics. Star of the show will be iCub, a humanoid robot.

The Italian research centres organising the event, and their Japanese counterparts, will also be featured. By building on the synergies between Italian and Japanese research hubs, the aim is to foster cooperation in advanced sectors of industry and develop bilateral investment. The 25th Annual Meeting of the Italy-Japan Business Group, which will be held in Tokyo in October 2013, will focus on strengthening such collaboration.

A varied programme of events throughout the year will promote the “Made in Italy” brand in the sectors of food and wine, fashion, crafts and design.

Hasekura Tsunenaga’s mission, 400 years on

Italy in Japan 2013 coincides with an especially significant occasion for Italian-Japanese relations: the 400th anniversary of the departure of Hasekura Tsunenaga’s mission to Europe, where he eventually reached Rome in 1615. The Year will showcase this early glimmering of friendship between the two peoples, not least in light of the 150th anniversary of bilateral relations, which falls in 2016. Preparations are already under way for the high-profile economic, scientific and cultural events that will celebrate this historic anniversary.

The goal is 2 million visits

The organisers of Italy in Japan 2013 hope to beat the record attained in 2009, by attracting over 2 million visits. One goal has already been achieved: the major sponsors, starting with the Yomiuri, Asahi, Mainichi, Nikkei and TBS media groups, have provided nearly all of the over 40 million euros – the highest ever sum – needed to organise the rich programme of events.