Japan Day, hosted by the Embassy of Japan, continued its role of bringing Japanese and Jamaican cultures together as a sizeable crowd showed up at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Sunday (Feb 2) for the three-hour event.
The packed programme once started, kept the growing audience interested to the very end.
Displays of Japanese culture ranged from the simple beauty of Ikebana, their method of arranging flowers, to the high impact demonstrations of the Japanese martial arts of Karate, Aikido, and Judo.
Japanese influence on local culture could be best summed up by the contributions of the Anime Nerds of Jamaica, the Jamaica Kosplay Club, and dance group Jamaica Cosplay Dancers.
The three groups combined their efforts for a Kosplay fashion show with members dressed as popular characters from Japanese animation—anime, Japanese comics—manga, and video games. The Jamaica Kosplay Dancers hit the floor bopping to several Japanese pop songs.
Several gymnasts from Nishida’s Gymnastics also brought similar energy with their highflying skills.
The dancing became even more interactive when onlookers were introduced to Bon Odori.
Led by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency volunteers, all were asked to stand and follow along to this simple traditional Japanese dance normally performed during the Obon celebration.
The ultimate Japan/Jamaica mash-up was left for last as Japanese reggae performer Rankin Pumpkin Yoko closed out the event with her humour and dancehall musical style.
Beyond the entertainment packages, Japan Day had plenty to keep everyone busy as booths offered even deeper ways to experience Japanese culture.
Attendees could watch and learn the art of Japanese paper folding—Origami, learn to write Japanese with calligraphy lessons or even try on authentic Japanese clothing at the Yukata booth.
All were encouraged to grab colourful Japanese calendars, build one for themselves, or browse jewellery and art from Chupse and Rico Reiko Nagase.
Hiromasa Yamazaki, Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica took the time to highlight the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme as the ultimate expression of cultural exchange between the two countries.
“For persons who are interested in work or study in Japan, we have a great opportunity for you. We have sent twenty-six Jamaicans to Japan as assistant English teachers on the JET programme last year. This number is totalling four-hundred and nine Jamaicans since year 2000,” he said.
He added that 100 more persons were sent to Japan for similar positions via private programmes as well and expected that number to double this year.