The Tanabata Festival held its opening ceremony in a grand fashion at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center (CCJC) today, marking its 65th anniversary of Japan and Cambodia’s friendship. The joint collaboration of the Embassy of Japan, CCJC, and the Japan Foundation Asia Center (JFAC) is held every year and will include workshops such as the Japanese art of paper folding called “Origami,” cooking classes, the art of cutting paper called “Kiragami,” Japanese Calligraphy, wardrobe, and screening of the popular animation — One Piece.
This year the festival welcomes Pro Musica Nipponia, a group of Japanese composers and musicians who have performed many classical and contemporary music by traditional Japanese musical instruments. In a collaboration of traditional instruments from Japan and Cambodia, Pro Musica Nipponia and Khmer musicians from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts performed a rendition of the popular song “Arapiya” to a clapping crowd.
Yamanaka Hitomi, a Japanese artist who specializes in creating performances of Khmer traditional dance inspired by Japanese literature, was happy to see many young people take an interest in the two cultures. Watching the country grow since she studied at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh in 1997 and graduating in 2003, she has returned to Cambodia at least once a year. “Now Cambodians look happier than before,” Yamanaka noted. Although much of the country has changed since she was a student, she still feels the friendliness and hope of many Cambodian youths.
The festival was created from a Japanese tale of two lovers who were separated by the Amanogawa River. Once a year on July 7, young people write down their wishes on pieces of paper and hang them on a bamboo tree, hopeful that it will one day come true.
The festival will continue to take place on July 6 from 8 am to 7 pm. There will be many Cambodians competing in the “Nodojiman” Japanese song contest, as well as an instrumental workshop and concert by Pro Musica Nipponia.