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The secret to success for Italians in Japan: Interview with Francesco Bellissimo

On August 25th, 1866, Italy and Japan signed the Treaty of Friendship and Trades which was created to guarantee long lasting peace and good relations. Since then, 150 years have passed and finally this year, many official events both in Italy and Japan will celebrate this important anniversary.

Italia, amore mio! is one of these events and you will be one of the celebrities that will participate. What does Italia, amore mio! mean for you?

Firstly, I would like to say best wishes to all for this anniversary! This festival will be a great opportunity for Italians; it will take place in Roppongi Hills, a strategic centre for business and symbol of night worldliness. This setting is an important choice because Made in Italy represents quality, tradition and is very trendy in Japan. I think we are in the right place and in the right moment.

Italia, amore mio! is the first festival of Italy in Japan. What made you impressed and keen to participate?

The hope that this festival about Italy will be the best event ever planned in Japan and the first of a long series. Italy and Japan can share and learn many things from each other.

You started to work in Japan about 20 years ago, after moving from Italy where you were born. Today your success here in Japan in the fields of food, cinema, and TV have contributed to increasing the knowledge of our country, Italy. What aspects of Italy are more appealing for the Japanese people?

This quality does not belong only to me. All the Italians who work hard abroad contribute to spreading this knowledge in many ways, showing a good image of our country and creating a positive interest. I think that sympathy is one of the aspects of Italians that mainly captures the interest of the Japanese. The etymology of “sympathy” is “Syn Pathos” from Greek, meaning “together feeling”. Sympathy is not making jokes but the capability to tune into one’s feelings, share these feelings and make one ‘smile’. This sympathy is due to the flexibility and adaptability that are typical of Italians. These traits are important for the Japanese to accept Italians for who we are and to overcome cultural boundaries. 

Italian and Japanese culture are both very ancient; they are different but at the same time they have passions in common: the love for the beauty and for high quality arts and crafts, the deep link to the sea which is a key influence to the economy and habits, the respect of traditions. In your life, when did you experience similarities between these two cultures?

I experience similarities when I go to the countryside and talk to people. I feel their love for their native land and the strong passion for their work. Smells and tastes of these places are unforgettable and feed not only your body but also your spirit. I like to listen to the tales of these people and sometimes stay to drink good sake during the sunset.

The rich calendar of performances planned for Italia, amore mio! deals with food and soccer, music and dance, design and art. Many possibilities for different people. What will stay in the minds and in the hearts of people who decide to be part of this Festival?

I think that the wish to visit and better know Italy and Italians will be the main feeling taken from this event. I hope everyone has a great time at the event! 


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