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Taka Iwasaki

senior business development manager at imec, Leuven, Belgium

Taka Iwasaki
“I remember learning calligraphy as a regular part of the curriculum, as Japan strongly emphasizes the art of presentation in everything.”

The timeless elegance and neon dreams

Taka comes from Amagasaki, a city near Osaka, Japan, and pursued electronics engineering following high school. In 2001, he moved to Victoria, Canada, for English studies and later worked at Nitto Denko in Osaka upon his return. In 2006, Taka relocated to Brussels, Belgium while working for Nitto. Fast forward to 2023, Taka has now taken on the role of a business development manager at imec. These days, he proudly calls Lanaken, Belgium, his home.

nigiri - a traditional japanese sushi
Nigiri - A traditional Japanese sushi
hokkaido - flower farm in biei
Hokkaido - Flower farm in Biei
the traditional art of calligraphy
The traditional art of calligraphy
osaka - dotonbori district
Osaka - Dotonbori district

Welcome to the neighborhood

Taka’s first experience in Brussels, Belgium, was reminiscent of the European movies he had watched in Japan. Initially, he and his wife embraced the vibrant city life, but as their family expanded, they yearned for a quieter haven, which they found in Lanaken. Unlike the anonymity of their Brussels neighbors, Lanaken welcomed them with open arms, with the entire community forming a close-knit bond. The warm and friendly atmosphere of Lanaken made them feel right at home. Taka attributes this seamless transition to the general curiosity and respect that the locals have for Japanese culture. This mutual respect has been pivotal in nurturing a profound sense of belonging in their new community.

danjiri matsuri - traditional cart-pulling festival
Danjiri Matsuri - Traditional cart-pulling festival

The portable shrine of Danjiri

Across the world, Japanese people are often seen as quiet, but the Danjiri Festival shatters that stereotype with its burst of high energy. This annual summer event, celebrated in Taka’s hometown, Amagasaki, showcases the energy and dynamism of participants. They pull elaborately designed wooden carts, or danjiri, like portable shrines, through the town. In this traditional event, teams from various districts, dressed in vibrant costumes, compete against each other.

Typically, two danjiri floats confront each other in a direct collision, and the team that manages to hit the peak of their opponent’s float successfully is declared the winner. The air is filled with chants and shouts, displaying their physical fitness and unwavering determination. Rooted in traditional harvest festivals, the Danjiri Festival is a vibrant expression of gratitude for bountiful harvests, fostering a strong sense of belonging and cultural pride in heritage. It is an example of Japan’s unique blend of tradition and exuberance.

kyoto - woman walking in bamboo forest wearing traditional kimono
Kyoto - Woman walking in bamboo forest wearing traditional Kimono

Tradition meets innovation

Japan is a land of captivating contrasts, where ancient traditions and modern marvels coexist harmoniously, offering travelers a diverse and unforgettable journey. Taka feels each region provides something for everyone in every season. Japan’s diversity is captivating, from the timeless beauty of Kyoto, where cherry blossoms bloom in spring, to the snowy wonderland of Nagano, a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. Gifu Prefecture, located in the Chubu region of central Japan, offers a glimpse into history with well preserved streets from the Edo period, while Kyushu, Japan’s adventurous island, promises unforgettable experiences, from volcanic mud springs to mouthwatering cuisine from the samurai era.

Must do

Explore Gifu Castle, perched on Mount Kinka, with panoramic city views.

gifu castle on mount kinka
Gifu Castle on Mount Kinka

A culinary adventure awaits in Hokkaido, with a delightful array of seafood, succulent meats, and dairy products. Along the northern coast, the Sanriku Coast’s beauty and Hokkaido’s pristine landscapes create a breathtaking backdrop. For pop culture enthusiasts, Akihabara in Tokyo is a neon-lit paradise, known for its electronic shops, manga stores, and anime culture. Just an hour away is the whimsical Ghibli Park, a tribute to iconic animator Hayao Miyazaki.

Japan’s seamless blend of tradition and innovation is a traveler’s dream come true. Whether someone is drawn to timeless rituals in Kyoto, hitting the slopes in Nagano, or immersing in the world of anime in Akihabara, Japan’s diverse regions offer a rich mosaic of experiences to cater to every traveler’s unique taste and preference.