Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 JakJapan Matsuri opens on high note

The fifth Jakarta-Japan (JakJapan) Matsuri (Japanese for “festival”) kicked off on Sunday with musical performances by artists from both countries. 

Visitors could see and hear the fusion of the musical traditions of Indonesia and Japan, which are marking their 55th year of diplomatic relations, during the opening ceremony held at JS Luwansa hotel. The festival opened with a performance of one of the capital city’s signature dances, Lenggang Jakarta.

The Japanese musical duo Nao Goto, who plays the flute, and Miki Goto, who plays the koto (Japanese harp), sang “Nona Manis Siapa yang Punya” (Who has the Sweet Girl) from Maluku, the revolutionary song “Halo Halo Bandung” and Japanese pop tunes, including “Sakura” (Cherry Blossom) and “Furusato” (Hometown).

The event also featured performances from Sing Out Asia, an a cappella group comprised of young people from three countries — Japan, Thailand and Indonesia — and Enjuku, a Japanese-language theater troupe made up of students from 20 universities across Jakarta. 

Japanese visitor Naoki Sakiyama, who was on a multi-day trip to Jakarta, said that he was amazed with the festival.

“I have never been to this kind of festival before in Japan. It’s very 
interesting and fun,” he said.

Sakiyama said he really enjoyed the performances, especially by Sing Out Asia, which sang several songs, including the Betawi tune “Kicir Kicir”.

“The group consists of young people from three countries. It’s very rare,” he said, adding that it could be good for the diplomatic relationships among the countries. 

A Sushi chef competition called Sushi Battle and a song-and-dance performance by girl band JKT 48 rounded out the opening ceremony.

Festival attendee Resta, a 24-year-old accountant, said she was glad the festival was being held again in Jakarta. “I have loved watching Japanese series and films since I was young,” she said.

Resta, who wants to go on vacation to Japan one day, said she would also be attending the closing ceremony of the festival at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta next Sunday.

The director of information and culture at the Japanese Embassy, Kenichi Takeyama, said the JakJapan organizing committee had put more hues of Jakartan and Indonesian culture into the festival than were in last year’s.

“Jokowi [Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo] suggested we embed more Jakartan culture into the festival, as it was not only a festival about Japan but also about Jakarta,” he said. 

Takeyama, who was also the JakJapan committee’s secretariat general, said he hoped the number of visitors would increase from last year, when up to 35,000 attended the closing ceremony. 

JakJapan Matsuri will be held everyday through Sunday, Sept. 8, with various performances.

Events will take place in Plaza Senayan shopping mall from Monday to Saturday, including workshops for making Temari (embroidered hand balls) and Hankie Kinchaku (traditional pouches), music sessions, a Cosplay (costume play) talk show and Taiko (Japanese percussion) performances.

The closing ceremony at Monas will feature several performances, including a Japanese drum art performance, a Doraemon show presentation and pop musical performances from JKT 48 and Agnes Monica. (JakartaPost)

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