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For the first time in the UAE Japan Festival is all set to take centrestage on December 11, presenting an array of culinary delights and distinct culture

By Kushmita Bose

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Japanese Tea Ceremony
Japanese Tea Ceremony

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 9:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 10:57 AM

The UAE and Japan are celebrating 50 years of its diplomatic relations this year. The year 2022 marks an important milestone and also provides an opportunity to reflect on how the two countries intend to strengthen cooperation and diversify an important relationship over the next 50 years. The partnership between the UAE and Japan in the arts, culture, and education sectors has allowed them to exchange best practices while encouraging people-to-people ties among citizens, particularly the youth.

The Baseball Team consisting of Japanese expats in the UAE
The Baseball Team consisting of Japanese expats in the UAE

The uniqueness of Japanese culture is renowned over the world. While Japanese food is a massive cultural export for the island nation, there are many amazing facets of Japanese life that are steeped in a history of rich culture. As one of the most cosmopolitan countries in the world, the UAE is home to almost 4,400 Japanese people living here making it home to one of the largest Japanese communities in the GCC.

The Football Team consisting of Japanese expats in the UAE
The Football Team consisting of Japanese expats in the UAE

Japanese cuisine sure has taken the world by storm, with Japanese eateries and restaurants popping up everywhere, especially here in the UAE, so what if you could experience the same here without visiting Japan and explore the cultural experiences that Japan has to offer? Your wait is over as Japan Association will be hosting its very own ‘Japan Festival’ on December 11 at the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort. The festival, which is being held for the first time will offer visitors a glimpse into the country’s rich culture, art, and the ‘way of life’, with live entertainment and exemplary performances. Consolidating the power of community, the festival aims to provide a platform where individuals come together to share a special moment with the people of the UAE, highlighting the diverse cultures of Japan. Tadahiro Matsushita is the Chairman of the Festival Executive Committee.

Japan is a culinary wonderland thanks to its unique heritage, a national obsession with cuisine, and an almost religious embrace of freshness and perfect production. Bringing together an expected 3,000 foodies, friends, and families, the one-day culinary extravaganza from 3 pm to 8 pm will be jam-packed with Japan’s best restaurants, shows, live entertainment, and more, so visitors will be able to sample some of the best authentic Japanese cuisines. The upcoming food festival will also help in fostering trade relations between Japan and the UAE to spread awareness about Japanese cuisine in the UAE.

Aikido: Japanese Martial Arts
Aikido: Japanese Martial Arts

A host of Japanese restaurants are set to display their mouth-watering cuisines like Fujiya, Yamanote, Yui, Ikigai-cha, Gourmet-ya, Momiji, Suzumo, Wokyo, and Summit Trading. Visitors can experience unique Japanese flavours with a wide array of authentic dishes (at a nominal price) starting from Chankonabe, Yakitori, Onigiri, Edamame, Japanese Tea, Yakiimo, Yakisoba, Sushi, Karaage, Agedashidofu, Yakionigiri, Onigiri, Ramen, and Omen, to name a few.

There are all kinds of fun traditions associated with Japanese festivals, but a few traditional attractions like ‘Katanuki’, are increasingly becoming popular these days among the young and old in Japan. Various activities such as ‘Yo-Yo Fishing’, ‘Goldfish Scooping’ and ‘Katanuki’ which are seen in ordinary Japanese festivals, will be set up to entertain participants from all generations and nationalities, with the concept of ‘Let’s enjoy a Japanese Ennichi in Dubai’.

Fancy some music? Apart from sampling some of the best dishes, residents, and visitors will also be treated to some breathtaking performances to keep you dancing into the evening. With a multitude of purposes, strong traditions, and dynamic rhythm, Wadaiko, or traditional Japanese drums, is a unique and interesting part of Japanese culture, has a niche following in Japan, and is the centerpiece of many festivals throughout the country. From Wadaiko to Aikido, visitors can also witness the preparation of one of the most sought-after delicacies in the world, and the main highlight of the show — Maguro Kaitai.

Yoshihisa Hayashi believes that the Japan Festival is one just event that people of all age groups can enjoy, which in turn will also help people understand and learn more about Japanese culture. The event is free to attend for all visitors.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has decided to register the Japanese folk art ‘Furyu Odori’, which is danced to the accompaniment of the music, such as Bon Odori as an intangible cultural heritage. Furyu Odori, which has been registered, is a compilation of 41 traditional events in 24 prefectures. Local people of all generations participate in the dance to pray for the dead, for a good harvest, and for rain. Among them are the Nishimonai no Bon Odori from Akita Prefecture, where elegant dances are performed, the Kansui Kake Odori, a traditional drum dance from Gifu Prefecture, and the Tsushima Bon Odori from Nagasaki Prefecture.

Bon Odori is one of the traditional Japanese dances that has developed in different regions across Japan and has been popular among the Japanese nationals for many centuries. Guests at the festivals are welcomed to join the Bon Odori dance around the wooden tower installed at the center of the venue. The songs for Bon Odori will include Dai Tokyo Ondo, Tanko Bushi, Doraemon Ondo, Kawachi Ondo, Zundoko Bushi and Tokyo Ondo. The festival will also feature several game booths for kids, along with the preparation of NPO activity and artefacts. Besides this, the Japanese Association also aims to foster a close-knit community in the UAE. It has the Football Club, Baseball Club, among many other activities. The head office of the association is located inside the Japanese School in Dubai at Al Wasl.

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