A Japanese Cultural Expo, which showcased some of Japan’s most loved cultural pursuits, was hosted by the Embassy of Japan at Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria on the weekend.
The exhibition, which is one of the several events to be held this year to celebrate Japan’s 100-year bilateral relationship with South Africa, attracted the attention of hundreds of visitors, affording them insight into the country’s long and rich cultural heritage.
Embassy of Japan spokesperson, Taro Sawada, says the various events are aimed at deepening the mutual understanding between South Africa and Japan. “It is important for us to continually build on our relationship with South Africa and its people. This event gave us the opportunity to provide everyday South Africans with a snapshot into some of our most cherished traditions.”
Visitors experienced various aspects of Japanese culture, from Ikebana (flower arrangement), bonsai (ornamental trees) and Japanese traditional costumes, to martial arts, Koto (a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument) and Hinamatsuri, also known as Doll's Day or Girls' Day, which is celebrated each year on 3 March by displaying a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants and musicians in the traditional court dress of the Heian period (794 AD – 1185).
The martial arts element of the activities drew the rapt attention of visitors, who got to see demonstrations by karate, judo, kyudo and kendo experts. Kyudo, or longbow archery, incorporates a set of rhythmic movements that are practised in a meditative state.
Kendo is a modern Japanese martial art that is descended from swordsmanship and uses bamboo swords and protective armour. Today, it is widely practiced in Japan and other countries around the world.
Perhaps the highlight of the festival will be the classical music show by Japanese musician, Ingrid Fuzjko Hemming, who is a highly-acclaimed concert pianist despite severe hearing difficulties, which will take place on the 07th March at the Brooklyn Theatre.