The Northeast Japan Caravan, a two-day cultural extravaganza organized under the aegis of the Japan Foundation, was inaugurated by Task Force for Music & Arts (TaFMA) chairman Theja Meru here at the Capital Cultural Hall on Friday.
The annual caravan was started in 2019, and with its arrival here on Friday, the caravan has now encompassed six cities of the north-eastern region– Dimapur, Guwahati, Imphal, Shillong, Aizawl, and Kohima.
Speaking on the occasion, TaFMA chairman Theja Meru highlighted the close bond between the people of Nagaland and Japan. He claimed that Nagaland held a special affection for Japan, adding that Nagaland Cosplay stood testimony to the immense love for Japanese culture, including food and lifestyle.
He viewed the Northeast Japan Caravan, symbolising the strong connection and appreciation between the two cultures, as an opportunity for Nagaland to further strengthen the bond.
Addressing the programme, Japan Foundation director (arts & culture) Aoi Ishimaru highlighted the significance of the cultural exchange initiative, the first Japanese culture event in the region.
She said the decision to focus on the Northeast stemmed from the region’s significance, with the goal of nurturing friendship and promoting human-to-human exchanges.
Referring to the distinctive nature of the caravan’s Kohima leg, Ishimaru claimed that during the interactions, many individuals had expressed their profound admiration for Japanese culture.
She attributed this to shared cultural roots and emphasised cultural understanding for enduring friendship. Ishimaru said the Kohima leg of the caravan would encompass diverse cultural activities such as language seminars, film screenings, and even cosplay.
In his speech, Engineer-in-Chief, Power department Er. Moa Aier referred to the historical ties of the Nagas with the Japanese. He claimed that the Japanese presence, even though for a short period in 1944, left a lasting impact on Nagaland’s culture and society, particularly in areas like music, arts, and various skill domains.
He expressed his desire to see further strengthening of the ties with Japan, especially through the India-Japan governments’ Technical Intern Programme. The programme spans three years and provides an opportunity for Nagaland’s youth to work in Japan, gaining valuable skills to contribute to the state’s development.
Aier disclosed that around 50 Naga youth had participated in the programme over the past year, adding that there were plans to send hundreds more in the future. He maintained that the initiative aimed to empower the youth, sharpening their skills and expertise for the benefit of Nagaland.
Later, speaking to Nagaland Post, Taisei Toyomaru from The Japan Foundation cited the growing interest among Indian individuals in studying Japanese culture and language.
He mentioned that The Japan Foundation was actively encouraging people to join the efforts in expanding the understanding of Japanese culture. With the caravan reaching Kohima, he said the foundation anticipated a warm reception and widespread acceptance of Japanese culture and language, fostering mutual appreciation between the two communities. The programme also included Yukata experience session, screening of anime films “Penguin Highway” and “Ride your wave”, and Japanese language trial session.