The year 2022 marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Japan. The year also represents an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which the two countries intend to strengthen cooperation over the next 50 years and diversify an important relationship. Furthermore, the two countries’ partnership in the arts, culture, and education sectors has enabled the UAE and Japan to exchange best practices while encouraging people-to-people ties among citizens, especially the youth. The popularity of Japanese cuisine has outgrown the community’s size with its cosmopolitan appeal. This keen interest of residents in Japanese food has also played a major role in robust people-to-people relations as both nations celebrate their five decades of diplomatic ties.
When you think of Japan, what comes to mind could be cherry blossoms, majestic castles, and tranquil temples, but the land of the rising sun is steeped in a history of rich culture. Japan’s distinct character has always set it apart from the rest of the world. As an ancient island nation, Japanese culture has evolved into a unique culture that fascinates many. As one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, Dubai is home to people from all over the world and has an interesting mix of cultures and people, with almost 4,400 Japanese people living here in the UAE, making it home to one of the largest Japanese communities in the GCC. Because Japanese people are open to sharing their culture with the world, many visitors try to experience a few aspects of Japanese culture on their visit to Japan, but what if you could experience the same in the UAE without visiting Japan and explore the unique cultural experiences that Japan has to offer? The good news is that the Japan Association will be hosting its very own ‘Japan Festival’ on December 11 at the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort in Dubai. A first for the UAE as well as the emirate, the upcoming festival will offer visitors a glimpse of Japan’s famed art, culture and the ‘way of life’ along with famed food, live music, creative and freestyle performances. The Japan Festival is intended to the mark a day of celebration among the Japanese community. Consolidating the power of community, the festival that takes place in Dubai, 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.
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. 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. The food festival will also help in fostering trade relations between Japan and the UAE to spread awareness about Japanese cuisine in the UAE. The event is free to attend for all visitors. Furthermore, Japanese traditional attractions, such as ‘Yo-Yo Fishing’, ‘Goldfish Scooping’ and ‘Katanuki’ which is seen in ordinary Japanese festivals, will also be set up to entertain participants from all generations and nationalities, with the concept of ‘Let’s enjoy a Japanese Ennichi in Dubai’. No festival is complete without a soundtrack! Apart from sampling some of the best meals, residents, and visitors will also be treated to some breathtaking performances to keep you dancing into the evening — from Wadaiko, the Japanese Drum show, Aikido, Japanese Marshall Arts, and the main highlight of the show Maguro Kaitai, where you can witness the preparation of one of the most sought after delicacies in the world. 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.
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 others. The head office of the association is located inside the Japanese School in Dubai at Al Wasl.
Furyu Odori: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage
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.