Japan’s culture showcased at Japan Day

The Japanese consul provided event-goers with a great experience despite a few hiccups regarding cancelled activities.

On Saturday, Japan Day returned to the Slow Market in Stellenbosch. Japan Day is a comprehensive cultural interaction day hosted by the Japanese Consul in Cape Town where many aspects of Japanese culture are showcased to Cape Town.

The event started with a no handshake policy. Rather, visitors were encouraged to bow, the greeting used in Japan which is done far from the other person and requires no physical contact, the perfect way to help fight off the coronavirus for the day. 

Much of the day featured South Africans. South Africa already has many Japanese cultural practitioners and so Japan Day became the perfect opportunity to showcase some of their talents. 

Sporting clubs, such as karate, aikido, kendo, and kyudo (archery) demonstrated their prowess on the main stage and what the audience can expect should they choose to join the schools one day. There were also musical demonstrations including Taiko, a Japanese drum used in ancient military battles and for religious purposes, which was performed by the only Taiko club in South Africa, and a performance from the only koto player in South Africa. 

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South Africa’s only Taiko drumming club, Tamashii Daiko, during their performance at Japan Day 2020. Picture: Luther de Lange

There were presentations for those wanting to work with or in Japan in the future. This included presentations from the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). 

JET offers South Africans the chance to become cultural ambassadors to Japan and teach English in Japan as a teaching assistant, JICA provides internships and scholarships to South Africans with an honours degree looking to earn their masters degree at a japanese university, and JETRO bridges the gap between South African and Japanese markets, assisting both sides to do business with each other.  

The event closed with a Bon Odori performance, a dance commonly done at summer festivals in August, or July if you are in Tokyo as they are the most impatient of Japanese people, our MC from Tokyo joked. 

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The Bon Odori performance at Japan Day with Consul General, Yasushi Naito, at the drum. Picture: Luther de Lange

Japan Day 2020 was fun despite the challenges it faced. Learning about japanese culture through the cultural performances was fun for the whole family and I look forward to experiencing what is planned for next year.

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