2013 Japanese Cultural Festival

Ichitaro on the Japanese Taiko Drums
Masaki Nakamura on the Shakuhachi
On Saturday, November 2nd 2013, the Embassy of Japan in Kenya held the Japanese Cultural Festival. The festival was the last in a series of cultural events that celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations between Kenya and Japan. Other events in this series were the Japanese Drum “Taiko” Concert, the Japanese Anime Festival and a Jazz Drum Concert by the world renowned Jazz drummer Shingo Okudaira and his equally talented band, The Force.
The Japanese Drum Concert was held at the Japan Information & Culture Centre, Embassy of Japan. The festival was officially opened by Mr. Tatsushi Terada, the Ambassador-Designate of Japan to Kenya. In his opening address, Mr. Terada reiterated his commitment to strengthening the ties between Japan and Kenya. This sentiment was echoed by Mr. Patrick Omutia, the Principal Secretary of Sports, Culture and the Arts, who remarked that Japan was one of the first countries to recognize Kenya as a young independent state and that since then, the two countries have enjoyed a cordial relationship which has grown from strength to strength.
The main event of this year’s cultural festival was a Japanese Drum Performance. The drum performance featured Ichitaro on the Japanese taiko drums, Masaki Nakamura on the shakuhachi and Masakatsu on the tsugaru jamisen. The music played ranged from traditional Japanese tunes to songs inspired by Africa. The performance of the national anthem on the shakuhachi was received with joy and the famous ‘zilizopendwa’ (old favourites) ‘Jambo’ had the crowd clapping along.
Masakatsu on the Tsugaru Jamisen
Following the drum performance was a Japanese cooking show. The members of the audience were taught to make makizushi, which is a rolled sushi dish, and tempura, a battered and deep fried fish and/or vegetable dish. After the cooking show, the participants were treated to samples of various types of Japanese food.
After the lunch break, an Inter-University Competition was held. Here, Japanese club students from Strathmore University and United States International University (USIU) got a chance to show the audience their interpretation of Japan and the Japanese Culture. Students from Strathmore produced a video that contrasted the Japanese classroom and the Kenyan classroom. Students from USIU on the other hand presented a manga (Japanese comic) and simultaneously acted it out as the manga story was being told. For the second year in a row, the competition was won by students from the USIU Japanese club.
Japanese Cooking Show - How to Make Makizushi
Students from the USIU Japanese Club, Winners of the 2013 Inter-University Competition
Running concurrently with the inter-university competition was a kimono demonstration. The kimono is traditional Japanese garment worn by men, women and children. Nowadays, the kimono is mostly worn during special occasions. The complex task of wearing a kimono was skilfully demonstrated on a model by Mrs. Shimada and an assistant.
The Kimono Demonstration in Progress
The Model, Fully Clad in a Kimono
A martial arts demonstration was the final event of the 2013 edition of the cultural festival. A karate, judo and aikido exhibition was shown. Members of the audience were encouraged to take part in the karate demonstration so that instead of being mere spectators, they could also get the feel of practicing karate.
Members of the Audience Stretching after Taking Part in the Karate Demonstration
Judo Demonstration in Progress

Recommended Information

Mr. Tatsushi Terada, Ambassador-Designate of Japan to Kenya
Mr. Patrick Omutia, Principal Secretary of Sports, Culture and the Arts