2017 Japanese Cultural Festival

The Japan Information and Culture Centre (JICC) held a Japanese Cultural Festival on Saturday, December 09, 2017. The Japanese Cultural Festival is an annual event where various aspects of the Japanese culture are showcased to members of the public. Through this, the Cultural Centre aims to enhance mutual friendship and understanding between Kenya and Japan.

This year’s Japanese Cultural Festival was officially opened by H.E. Mr. Toshitsugu Uesawa, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Kenya. Ms. Joy Mboya, Executive Director at the Go-down Arts Centre also graced the occasion. The cultural festival was attended by about 500 people.

Ambassador Uesawa delivering his opening remarks

Prior to the start of the day’s activities, members of the audience were taught how to play the game kendama. Kendama is a popular traditional Japanese game enjoyed by both adults and children. The main event during the morning session of the Japanese Cultural Festival was a Japanese Tea Ceremony. The Tea Ceremony commonly referred to as sado was performed by a Japanese Tea Ceremony Group based in Kenya.
Kendama demonstration
Members of the Japanese Tea Ceremony group pose for a photo before the tea ceremony demonstration
Ambassador Uesawa and Ms. Mboya taking part in the Japanese Tea Ceremony
Members of the audience having a taste of maccha (green tea)
During the afternoon session, a Nodojiman and Cosplay competition was held. Nodojiman is a Japanese singing competition while cosplay, which is short for costume play, involves dressing and acting as popular characters from manga, anime, video games and film. This year’s competition attracted a total of 15 individuals and groups for the Nodojiman competition and 14 for the cosplay competition.

Winners of the Nodojiman Competition receiving their prize from one of the judges
Winners of the Cosplay Competition pose for a photo with one of the judges

Different other venues within the cultural centre played host to various cultural activities.  One of the side events, which attracted quite an audience, was an open house exhibition at the centre’s library, which showcased items both historical and cultural. Various items were exhibited including: photos depicting people in Japan enjoying summer festival in Tohoku region; Ningyo (dolls), including: Kokeshi, Hakata, Daruma, Kyo, Noh and Oyama. Other very popular items included: Matsumoto Handballs (temari), Origami items intricately folded from paper, wadako (Japanese kites), Chochin (Japanese paper lanterns), Kabuto Kazari (children’s day display), Traditional Japanese games (including the Karuta or playing cards), Wanage (ring toss), Koma, Kendama, Daruma Otoshi, Go and Shogi board games, taketombo and fukuwarai) Kadomatsu, UNESCO World Heritage sites and Sumo. Origami demonstration and experience also took place at the JICC library.

Origami and demonstration experience

The courtyard at JICC played host to booths, most being manned by young people engaging in Japanese pop culture. Other booths had, namely: a Japanese Shiatsu massage group and a Pop cereal processing group, of which both demonstrated their different works to the attendees of the festival. Martial arts demonstration’s also took place at the courtyard. Visitors were treated to: Judo, Karate and Aikido.

Japanese Shiatsu Massage Booth

The conference room had other activities going on and this included; a screening of the movie: A Tale of Samurai Cooking, a Japan Quiz, and two sessions of Japanese Language conducted by the Japanese Language Teachers Association of Kenya.

Members of staff during the cultural festival pose for a photo after a successful day