Friday, 22 June 2018

A Spectacular Showcase of Japanese Culture at Harmony in Perspective Exhibition

Having fun in the beautiful kimono

From 25 May to 3 June 2018, IPPIN (supporting agency for Japanese SMEs) celebrated the best of Japan in an exhibition at Paragon Level 1 Main Atrium.

 An experiential exhibition, Harmony in Perspective featured a series of workshops and performances allowing participants to have greater insight into Japanese culture. I was delighted to attend some of the workshops and performances including the Kimono Showcase, Origami Workshop, Yukata Rental Sessions, Traditional Music Performance Origami Workshop, Yukata Rental Session, Green Tea Sampling, Sake Appreciation, Kimono Fabric Workshop and Kendo Japanese Sword Demo. 

Some of the highlights include:

1. Kimono Exhibition (25 May - 3 June 2018) 
I was impressed by the luxurious showcase of kimonos for men, ladies and kids. The most exquisite piece was the Uchikake Wedding Kimono priced at S$35,000 per piece.

The most exquisite Uchikake Wedding Kimono worth S$35,000

The Hakama Men's Wedding Kimono

The pretty Shichigosan Kids' Kimono on the left 

The Furisode "Coming of Age" Kimono in a stunning blue tone

Another Furisode "Coming of Age" Kimono in a vibrant red tone

The lovely Ubugi Baby Kimono

Other alluring pieces include the Hakama Wedding Kimono for men, Furisode “Coming of Age Kimono”, the Shichigosan Kids' Kimono and the Ubugi Baby Kimono. "Ubugi" is a Kimono specially made for newborn babies. The special white piece on the left was worn by a member of the Japanese Royal Family.

2. Origami Workshop (26 - 27 May, 2 - 3 June 2018) 
This was my very first experience at an Origami workshop. Defined as the art of paper folding, origami is often associated with Japanese culture. During the workshop, we learned to fold memorable pieces including paper crane, butterfly and swan. The workshop was very therapeutic and rewarding and I felt gratified looking at my creations. It was a wonderful way to relax and be in touch with myself. I have also heard that origami helps patients to regain control over their hand movements and build muscles after a surgery. The workshop was priced at S$10 per person and all proceeds of the workshop were contributed to the NUHS Fund Limited. 

Learning the art of Origami

With the Instructor, Jasmine at my very first Origami Workshop

3. Yukata Rental Session (26 - 27 May, 29 May, 2 - 3 June 2018) 
This was probably the session I enjoyed the most. I have always dreamt of donning a yukata as it is such a pretty piece of clothing. The yukata is a light cotton kimono worn in summer. It is a little less elaborate than the usual kimono and I felt really comfortable wearing it. During the session, I selected my preferred kimono before being ushered into the styling area where I was dressed by skilful experts. In fact, I love the kimonos so much that I tried on three different sets! 

Stylists dressing me up in a Kimono

A group shot with the ladies in Kimonos

4. Traditional Music Performance by Tagai (26, 28 - 30 May 2018) 
'互-tagai- ' is formed by young Japanese musicians who graduated from Japanese Traditional Music Department of Tokyo University of Art. Featuring traditional music and original tracks by members, the group focuses on genres such as Folk Songs and Kagura. Instruments such as Koto and Bamboo Flute were used to create the enchanting and profound music which reinforced the dreams of the young musicians. 

 Mr. Yasutaka Yamashita : Tsugaru Shamisen 
At the tender age of eight, he participated in a competition of Japanese traditional folk songs and danced in Kumamoto prefecture upon his mother’s recommendation. He also sang ‘‘Ushibuka Haiya bushi’’ and won the competition. In 2002, he clinched the 5th place at the national Tsugaru jamisen competition in Osaka and in the following year, he won the 3rd position. In 2004, attained the 2nd place, and in 2005, he came in first in the competition. 

Mr. Joji Murasawa : Flautist specialising in playing the Bamboo Flute
Starting as a Aoyama foundation scholarship student, he won many awards including 2nd place in the Michio Miyagi Memorial Koto contest (there was no 1st place) in 2006 and 2013, and also passed the Tozan school of Shakuhachi master test as a top student in recent years. He has performed in various countries including Japan, Holland, Germany and France. 

Mr. Kyoichi Iwakiri : Japanese Drummer 
When he was two, he enjoyed playing a toy drum given by his father. Even at a young age, he had a great sense of rhythm, and started to play as a member of the Tachibana Daiko (Japanese drum) ‘‘Hibikiza’’ when he was at 4th grade in primary school. He won Best Prime Minister’s Award twice as a leader of a junior part of Hibikiza participating in Japan Taiko Junior Competition. His drumming characteristics are unique incorporating the rhythms of Japanese drums and foreign music. 

With the talented musicians from '互-tagai- Traditional Musical Group

Splendid traditional music performance by '互-tagai- ' 

5. Green Tea Sampling (28 May, 30 May - 1 June 2018) 
Tea appreciation is a vital part of Japanese culture. During this session, I learned how 'the golden drop' was achieved for the magical difference in taste. 

The art of making Green Tea

Tea sampling with the experts

I also sampled various types of tea including Sencha, Genmaicha, Houjicha and Gyokuro from Tea Maker Marumo Mori. Since its launch in 1877, Marumo Mori has been making premium Japanese tea using a combination of traditional techniques and the latest technology, producing the best tea leaves. 

9. Sake Appreciation by Ms Ayumi Fujishiro (30 May - 31 May 2018) 
I was delighted to attend the Sake appreciation by Ms Ayumi Fujishiro, one of the world’s youngest and Singapore’s youngest Sake Lecturers. The session was an insightful, enriching and fun one. 

With Sake Lecturer, Ms Ayumi Fujushiro

Ms Ayumi spent three years as an International Kikisake-shi (Sake Sommelier), and at the age of 28, she pursued her passion in Sake, holding the distinction of a Sake Service Institute Official Lecturer in 2017, a league above the International Kikisake-shi. 

During the session, I got to learn more about brewing techniques and the different types of Sake to pair with salads, seafood and meats. Some of the interesting varieties include Junmai, Tokubetsu Junmai, Tokubetsu Honjozo, Junmai Ginjo, Ginjo, Junmai Dai Ginjo and Dai Ginjo. In addition, I got to try the Fruit Sake including peach, yuzu and strawberry. The Fruit Sake pairs perfectly with desserts and other sweet treats and serves to cleanse the palate and conclude the meal on a refreshing note.

10. Kimono Fabric Workshop by Ms Keiko Miura (2 to 3 June 2018)

Sewing a little pouch with Kimono fabric

Conducted by Ms Keiko Miura,  this workshop teaches one to learn basic sewing and construction methods using kimono fabric. I was glad that I made it for this workshop as I learned to sew a little pouch for myself and even received a certificate upon completion of the workshop.

11.  Kendo Japanese Sword Demo by Singapore Kendo Club 2 June -3 June 2018)

Kendo Japanese Sword Demo

Skilful Kendo moves

This was my first experience watching a Kendo Japanese Sword Demo and I was amazed by how the Sword concept of Kendo disciplines the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword). The demo was conducted by the Singapore Kendo Club founded  in 1972. Accorded a National Sports Association status by the National Sports Council of Singapore since its inception, Singapore Kendo Club receives tremendous support from the Sports Council as well as the Japanese Association and the Japanese school.

Kendo is a sport aimed at cultivating a person's mind to achieve shin-ki-ryoku-itchi (unification of the mind, spirit and technique) and utilisation of the shinai. The 'shinai-sword' is not only directed at one's opponent, but also at the self. Through Kendo, one is trained to learn the etiquette of respecting partners and nurture a dignified and humane character.

Overall, the Harmony in Perspective Exhibition was a very insightful and educational one. During the entire week, I have gained tremendous knowledge on Japanese culture and tradition.

Thank you IPPIN for organising this exhibition and for inviting me to attend the workshops and performances.

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