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Japan Festival 2017 at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath
Japan Festival 2017 at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath

Japan Festival 2017 at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath

17 June 2017 |

The Japan Festival in Bath is an annual fundraising event celebrating all things Japanese in the heart of the historic city. Hosted by the Museum of East Asian Art, the only UK museum dedicated to the arts and cultures of East and South East Asia, this Sunday is set to be an extravaganza of haiku, origami, martial arts performances, Japanese calligraphy and kimono dressing up. We talked to festival coordinator Yukie Scott to find out more about what’s in store.

Culture Calling: Can you tell us about the origins of the Japan Festival?
 
Yukie Scott: The Japan Festival is a fundraising event organised by Pray 4 Japan Bath and the Bath & Beppu Friendship Association (BBFA). Since the great earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku area of Japan in 2011, Pray 4 Japan Bath has been holding Japanese cultural events to raise funds for and support the victims of the affected areas. The Museum of East Asian Art has lent its support by providing the venue for these events.
 
CC: How long has the festival been running and how did it come about?
 
YS: The festival was launched in June 2016 and it was a great success, welcoming hundreds of visitors through the door and raising money to donate to the council in Kumamoto via the Japanese Embassy. Building on that experience, this year Pray 4 Japan and BBFA are once again going to hold the event on Sunday 18 June 2017 at the Museum of East Asian Art, providing a family-friendly programme of Japanese cultural activities.
 
CC: For those who haven’t been before, what can we expect from the festival?
 
YS: We are aiming to raise awareness of Japanese culture among local residents in Bath through Japanese arts, dance and music, and we hope to get the local community involved using arts in a fun, creative and cultural context. Expect a fun-packed afternoon of Japanese arts & crafts – there will be an origami workshop, Japanese calligraphy, Japanese games, Emakimono-making and Kimono dressing up, a Haiku challenge, and a tea ceremony.


 
CC: What events are new to the programme this year?
 
YS: We are going to be introducing some traditional Japanese activities to take place outdoors, which will be new to many of the residents in Bath. We’re organizing outdoor performances of the Japanese martial arts Kendo and Karate, Japanese Bon Odori and Taiko, a Japanese drumming performance. Plus there will be a Japanese market selling and displaying Japanese products.
 
CC: Can you tell me a little about the kind of things visitors can see at the Museum of East Asian Art?
 
YS: MEAA’s collection consists of nearly 2000 objects from East and South East Asia. The collection of Chinese art is particularly comprehensive, spanning from 5000 BC to the present, and featuring ceramics, jades, bronzes and much more. Some of the Chinese bamboo and wood carvings are among the finest in Europe.

CC: What is the relationship between Bath and Beppu, Japan, and their role in the festival?
 
YS: The two cities of Beppu, in Oita province in Japan, and Bath formally signed a sister city link in 1994. A committee from the council had worked to take this friendship forward in February 2016 for Beppu Mayor’s visit to Bath in July 2016. We also have a display of an Emakimono scroll created by children from three schools in Bath and children from Beppu, Japan. We hope this project will act as a bridge for an arts and cultural exchange between Japan and England. People attending the Japan Festival will be invited to draw images or write descriptions focusing on the cultural aspects of Bath or the UK and these will be linked together to form a scroll. These two scrolls will be linked together and shared between the two cities.
 
CC: What do you think the festival’s role will be going forward?
 
YS: Going forward, Bath and Beppu are going to share these experiences as sister link cities and will continue the Emakimono projects to strengthen the bond and increase the communication not only with Beppu, but also with Ishinomaki in Miyagi province and Kumamoto province, where all the profits of this event will be sent.
 
The Japan Festival will take place on Sunday 18 June at the Museum of East Asian Art.

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