YOSHIN RYU: “A Story of Passion”
Japanese culture is quite famous for capturing kids’ and adults’ imagination alike with its colourful anime movies and manga. Even though this interest in Japanese culture is only a recent phenomenon, the Italian association Yoshin Ryu has been working on bringing the Japanese culture in a Western context since 1978. Their mission is to build a bridge between the East and the West, in order to create a new society, taking the best from both parts. This commitment didn’t go unnoticed and Yoshin Ryu’s founder, Master Cesare Turtoro, has also received two important awards for his work: in 2016 from Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and in 2018 from the Japan Emperor, the “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays”.
The journey of Yoshin Ryu has started as a school of Jutaijutsu, a Japanese martial art, but it soon focused on more social matters. Particularly keen on the research, the experimentation, and the training, Yoshin Ryu has been taking courageous choices and accepting different types of challenges through the years. The first social commitment was in 1981 when Master Turtoro and his students joined the project “Ferrante Aporti”, thought for the young detainees of the juvenile detention centre of Turin. As part of the programme sports and cultural-artistic workshops were organised, including music and carpentry classes. This experience achieved amazing results, and many young adults kept going to Yoshin Ryu in order to deepen Jutaijutsu skills. Since that experience, Yoshin Ryu has always taken part into many important social-centred initiatives: from 1987 to 1991 it has worked on a project focused on helping groups of non-EU citizens with sports activities. In 1997 the association projected and realized initiatives in order to include people with a handicap in the oriental disciplines. More recently, they collaborated on training courses for the Police staff in partnership with the city of Turin and the region of Piedmont.
During these years of social experiences and activities, Yoshin Ryu worked towards a new and faster way to engage with a wider audience: in 2002, they entered the exhibition market with “Kagemusha: Shadow of the Warrior (L’ombra del Guerriero)”, a series of three shows displayed in different places in Turin. The rich collections that are at the core of their exhibitions are the result of years of passionate work: many of the artworks are from private collectors associated with Yoshin Ryu, and have been accumulated during many years of travels to Japan. Furthermore, the association has been able to create a network with local institutions and was granted the possibility of accessing prestigious places, mainly in Turin and its region, such as Palazzo Barolo, Palazzo Bricherasio and MAO Museum of Oriental Arts. In addition, according to Roberto Cartei, the public is extremely enthusiastic and the exhibitions have been very successful so far: for example, “Ninja: the Truth beyond the Myth”, a project about Japanese warriors and their weapons and armours, reached 23.689 visitors, becoming in this way one of the most visited shows at the Museum of Oriental Art in Turin.
Recently, Yoshin Ryu has decided to expand their presence in the travelling exhibitions market through Vastari, with four main shows on the platform: each of them focussing on different aspects of the Japanese culture and on themes that are dear to Yoshin Ryu, bringing them now to a more global audience. This decision was led mostly by their passion and desire to give something to the city of Turin and make people engage with Japanese traditions. Therefore, their shows are highly emotional and designed to fully involve visitors. However, there is another reason behind the decision of promoting their content on Vastari: working with cultural institutions and museums is not so easy in Italy, especially because of the bureaucracy as well as the logistics issue.
Everything moves extremely slowly and it requires a lot of time and energy, on top of financial resources, to create and tour a project. In addition, some museums are not open to working with travelling exhibition producers and it is quite hard to approach them, overcome the scepticism and establish a long-term relationship.
Despite all the difficulties met during these years, Yoshin Ryu has always been working on introducing unknown aspects of Japanese culture and has been trying to help people by making traditions and teachings available to them. Thanks to its commitment and determination, it became not only a point of reference in the Turinese community but also an important ambassador of the Oriental traditions in Italy. Now, the decision of entering the travelling exhibition market is just the natural step forward for their growth, which will bring Yoshin Ryu to expand beyond the Italian borders.