Postcard from... Antwerp
What connects busloads of Japanese tourists, the Rubens masterpiece Descent from the Cross, and a dead dog? The answer lies in Antwerp, a city otherwise known for its fashionable shops and thumping nightlife.
The unusually high number of Japanese sightseers in the city is linked to a little boy called Nello and his faithful canine companion, Patrasche. While A Dog of Flanders is not a tale that would ring any immediate bells in Britain, it is beloved of the Japanese, who teach it in schools and churn out animé films based on the story.
The basics of the 1872 children’s book are as follows: a poor orphan called Nello from a suburb of Antwerp befriends an abused dog, Patrasche. They happily deliver milk together until the boy falls in love with the wrong girl. Her father accuses Nello – an aspiring artist – of starting a fire, so boy and dog become outcasts. They are eventually found frozen to death in Antwerp’s cathedral in front of Descent from the Cross.
I could not speculate what it is about the story which appeals in Japan in particular, although most adaptations have apparently scrapped the unhappy ending for something more uplifting.
But sure enough at Antwerp’s majestic cathedral, groups of Japanese stand in awe in front of Rubens’ painting. The owner of one restaurant I dined in rolled his eyes. They have 100 beers on the menu, but when the Japanese come, they only want to drink one thing: Patrasche beer, complete with picture of boy and dog on the label.
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Lee Rigby murder: How killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale became ultra-violent radicals
Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
Paul Walker death caused by speed alone
Apollo Theatre collapse: Scores injured after ceiling collapses in London's West End
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- < Previous
- Next >
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Secondary Maths Teache...
£38000 - £42000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: A well-renowned London based...
£75000 - £110000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Economist or Tax profession...
£55000 - £120000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Financial Services Tran...