Japan Day returns to Stellenbosch. Picture: Facebook
Japan Day returns to Stellenbosch. Picture: Facebook

Japan Day returns to Stellenbosch

By Luther de Lange Time of article published Mar 13, 2020

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The 8th annual Japan Day is set to return on Saturday, March 14 at the Slow Market on the Oude Libertas Estate in Stellenbosch. 

Japan Day is a comprehensive cultural interaction day hosted by the Japanese Consul in Cape Town, Japan’s oldest mission in Africa.

I sat down with Consul Yasushi Naito to learn more about the event and its origin.

Japan Day’s mission is to show Cape Town the goodness of Japan and achieve a deeper interaction between both countries, including the encouragement to visit Japan for leisure, training, or to work in the country.

Last year, Japan Day centred around the Rugby World Cup and featured appearances from prominent Western Cape rugby players, sevens players, and Siya Kolisi. 

South Africa’s victory in the world cup and Japan’s strong performance held the best possible outcome, says Naito, who believes both countries have become closer as a result. 

This year, Japan Day’s theme is the Summer Olympics which are being held in Japan from July 24th to August 9th. 

Someity (left) and Miraitowa (right), the official mascots of the Paralympic and Olympic Games respectively. Picture taken inside the Japanese Consul.

Japan Day takes place at the Slow Market in Stellenbosch. The venue remains unchanged as Naito outlined to me that the market believes in sustainable life which is very similar to Japanese ideology. Last year, the Slow Market saw an estimated 5000 people attend Japan Day celebrations. 

Japan Day is set to feature many cultural activities originating in Japan such as the bonsai competition, Japanese whiskey tasting, suikawari (watermelon smashing for kids), Japanese food and manga vendors, Japanese animation screenings, and a JET (English teaching in Japan) booth. 

There will be a variety of Japanese sports demonstrations including aikido, judo, kendo, and archery, as many of these Japanese sports are practised in South Africa already. 

Consul Naito told me he is looking forward to the Bon Odori, (a community dance at summer festivals), which will be done for the first time at Japan Day and he will be responsible for banging the drum. 

An example of manga, comic books or graphic novels originating in Japan. Picture taken inside the Japanese Consul.

March 11 marked the 9th anniversary of the Great Tōhoku Earthquake which devastated Japan. 

Mr Naito shared with me how South Africa sent rescue teams to Japan in the aftermath, which the cities who were helped by South Africans, like Iwanuma city, have never forgotten. This spirit of cooperation is what Japan Day is hoping to bring to light and use in Japan and South Africa’s continued relations.

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