At Japan Habba, focus on bridging 2 disparate cultures

At Japan Habba, focus on bridging two disparate cultures

Modern-day samurais, anime characters and a glimpse of old Japan, with its tea ceremonies and kimonos, this was the stuff of the city’s annual Japan Habba, which was held on Sunday.

The 16th iteration of the festival, held at the JN Tata Auditorium on the IISc campus, drew about 3,500 people. As many as 36 stalls (75% of which were Japanese, according to the organisers) entertained the visitors. It was an event which saw Japanese VIPs mix with expat workers, Japanophiles, students and cosplay enthusiasts with blonde wigs, schoolgirl skirts and paper-mache modelled after their favourite manga characters.

“The festival can be considered a bridge between India and Japan. It serves to enhance the Indian understanding of Japan, and it is held as a festival because only in light settings can people of different cultures find it easier to bond together,” explained Srividya A, chairperson of the Japan Habba organising committee.

Many visitors who spoke to DH said they felt an affinity for the Japanese culture because it was efficient. Nomita, 19, a student from Presidency College, was found at a stall selling second-hand Japanese manga comics and books donated by Japanese expats.

“The real draw about Japan is their civility and sense of order,” she said, adding that she was trying to get more into Japanese anime to learn more about their social norms.

Among the events at the festival were Haiku constructions, a selfie-friendly Bengaluru native dressed up as a 1500 AD Samurai warrior from the Tokugawa clan, film screenings, quick language tutorials in Japanese, food booths, quizzes and cosplay. Then there were the Kimono booths which attracted scores.

Trying on a black- and pink-coloured kimono, Shubhangi, 22 an IT professional, said she felt like an anime character. “I could wear this daily. I feel really cute,” she said.

Bollywood dance

Among the other attractions was a group of Japanese expat businesswomen and mothers, who regaled the crowd with Bollywood dances.

Meantime, the Japanese traditional artist, Shukou Tsuchiya, set about painting a Japanese phoenix on a sprawling 17 foot by 4 five-foot canvas, to symbolise what he said was the “India-Japan connection.”

For Takayuki Kitagawa, the city’s Consul-General of Japan, who partook in the cosplay spirit by dressing as a “Ninja,” this was precisely the aim of the “Habba.”

“There need to be more links between our cultures,” he said.

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