A dynamic international exchange event that gathered representatives of 41 nations

to Japanese version report

With the support of 6 embassies including Nepal, Republic of Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Republic of Albania, Republic of Togo, and Republic of Congo, the Multicultural Exchange Festival in Tokyo was held to encouraging its main theme, “Let’s share cultures and strengthen bond between nations,” at the outdoor stage in Shakujii Park in Nerima ward, Tokyo, on Saturday, August 1st. The Multicultural Exchange Festival mobilized 1,100 people, and the excitement of the festival was heated up so much that it even surpassed the heatwave in the park.

In the era of globalization, we need to provide opportunities for Japanese and people from outside the country to create network and understand each other’s culture. For substantiating multicultural exchange society, the festival was launched by an executive committee consisted of Japanese and foreign residents in Japan, who had emphasized on a significance of international exchange activities. The Multicultural Exchange Festival drives toward the success of 2020 Tokyo Olympics through organizing various kinds of international and multicultural exchange events for encouraging multiculturalism in Japanese society.

On July 20th, we held an orientation during which we shared the descriptions, purposes, and contents of the Multicultural Exchange Festival with participants.

The entire festival was led by two of outstanding MCs, Mr. Dayama and Ms. Aiko spoken in Japanese and English. On the outdoor stage, 15 of superbly qualified performers from different countries showed their talents through song, instrumental music, dance, talk show, and live performance. The outdoor stage performances went beyond the borders between countries and became an opportunity for audience to experience and enjoy the variety of different cultures and traditions through watching those performances.

In the first half of the stage or the Morning stage, the series of international and multicultural performances were done by Karinka, a group of Russian dancers, a Sri Lankan singer with his peers, a team of two American Robot dancers, and Enjoy Africa, a team of experts on African traditional instruments. A nonprofit organization, which had supported Dominican Republic, introduced the history, culture, and society of the country, and Ms. Joselyn Saladin, the temporary deputy ambassador of Dominican Republic in Japan, gave a short speech. During the intermission of the stage performances, all the participants had unusual, rare, and also unforgettable experiences of learning greetings of different languages through a stamp rally. The stamp rally was one of the main events of the festival, which let participants collect stamps by greeting or chatting with people from different countries. At the end of the Morning stage, a group of sign language dancers showed their performances with using sign language and taught audience some of basic sign language.

The second half of the stage or the Afternoon stage was started by singing and dancing along “Happy One Family,” the theme song of the Multicultural Exchange Festival. Welcoming remarks were given by Mr. Tatsuo Mizuno, the Chairman of the executive committee of the festival and the former ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Japan in Nepal, and the program of the afternoon stage was explained by Mr. Koji Matsuda, the Vice-chairman of the committee.

Bike riders of Peace Road, an international bike relay, from 41 countries went up to the stage at 1:30 pm, when the highest temperature of the day was reached. All the country representatives on the stage were wearing T-shirts that printed the flag of each country. The scene on the wide outdoor stage filled with the representatives impressed the entire audience and gave them an idea how dynamic and significant multicultural community could be. The Peace Road launched as two riders from Niger and Brazil pronounced riders oath on behalf of all the country representatives. For the bike relay, two representatives of each of two countries made a circuit of Shakujii Park with bicycles and passed the bicycles to next representatives with having heart of promoting reconciliation and peace between nations.

As encouraging people to help and assist for the Nepal earthquake recovery and relief, a group of Japanese young people, including a college student, singer song writer, and music teacher, who had been to Nepal and contributed their time towards supporting the country, shared their volunteer experiences and performed Furukowakama, a Nepali traditional song. We were privileged to welcome Dr. Madan Kumar Bhattarai, the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Nepal, and his wife to give a message of appreciation for supporting his country. Mr. Mizuno handed the donation collected throughout Japan to Dr. Bhattarai, and a letter of appreciation was given to Mr. Mizuno from Dr. Bhattarai.

The representatives of embassies of Indonesia, Republic of Albania, Republic of Togo, and Republic of Congo, which provided nominal and/or financial support to the festival, also went up to the stage and introduced their countries. A public relations officer of the embassy of Republic of Togo included some jokes in his introductory speech about his country, and his sense of humor made the audience laugh.

Because 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the ongoing friendship and collaboration between Japan and Korea, a Korean outstanding musician of Tanso, a Korean traditional recorder, performed few Korean and Japanese songs with beautiful sounds of the recorder to commemorate the anniversary.

Between the stage performances, audience participated in the World Quiz, which kept on asking them questions related to the countries of Peace Road riders until leaving less than twenty people. A book contained a collection of poems written by the diplomatic secretary of the embassy of Republic of Togo was given to each winner of the quiz.

During international singing shows, performers from Philippines and Democratic and Republic of Congo sang one song each in their beautiful and dynamic voices, and the following program of Philippines traditional dance invited some from audience to the stage and let them experience Bamboo Dance.

As coming close to the end of the festival, three international couples went up to the stage and had an international talk show, during which those three couples shared their experiences in Japan, such as things that they found good and surprised about this country. The majority of audience seemed to be curious about knowing impressions of Japan from the perspectives of foreign residents and enjoy listening to their talks, in which their sense of humor was included. The last three stage performances including Peace Rangers’ live performances to instruct correct and safety ways of riding a bicycle, outstanding and funny performance of an American street performer, and soulful songs by a Japanese singer, entertained the audience with those various kinds of performances.

At the end of the festival, other three international couples went up to the stage and received an award for being exemplary international couples. Those three couples were appointed to be awarded based on different types of contributions and accomplishments, including raising many children, initiating many activities to strengthen the bond between Japan and Philippines, and supporting their local community in Japan through involving and organizing many volunteer activities. The certificate for exemplary international couples was handed by Mr. Mizuno.

The executive committee of the Multicultural Exchange Festival asked all the participants to donate their used books for raising funds to protect the global environment. The collected books would be sold online, and money raised through selling them would be used to support an afforestation project in Indonesia. At the end of the festival, 16 cardboard boxes full of books were collected. Mr. Rinji Miyazaki, the Vice-chairman of the festival and also the Chairman of the Board of Directors at NPO Asian Green Forest Network, who had contributed to preserve and restore forests in Indonesia through organizing afforestation projects and activities, expressed his gratitude to those who donated their books during the festival.

By the time of the finale, all Peace Road riders except for the representatives of the last two countries had completed their roles and went up to the stage to welcoming the last riders back and celebrating the completion of the peace bicycle relay of the representatives of 41 nations. As the last riders finished their turns and went up to the stage, all the riders, stage performers, distinguished guests, staff, and participants went up or went close to the stage and started signing “We Are The World” together to celebrate the successful finale of the festival.

Many people were moved, and some of them even shed tears by seeing and being part of the scene, in which people from more than 40 nations gathered around the outdoor stage and sang together with holding their hands. The spirit of multicultural coexistence and one world one family was there at the end of the festival.

◆Participants’ impressions and reflections on the festival:

Japanese participants

“The multicultural atmosphere in the festival gave me energy.”
“I was glad that I could participate in such an international festival. I felt I was in a foreign country.”
“Even though it was very hot outside, I like the festival a lot.”

International participants

“I thought the festival was successful with the full smiles and happiness of participants.”
“I felt that the great team work made this event successful.”
“I enjoyed participating in both Peace Road and Stamp Rally. I strongly hope that I can participate in the next one.”
“I think it was a great idea to host an international exchange event, which gathered people from different countries, and let Japanese and people from other countries spend their time together. I was glad to be part of the international festival. I will surely bring more of my friends to the next festival.”

In spite of the heatwave, all the volunteer staff worked hard to make the festival successful and prevent problems could be occurred during the festival.

We the executive committee of the Multicultural Exchange Festival in Tokyo plan to organize some multicultural exchange forums later and make our festival an annual event until the year of 2020 to finally substantiating multicultural society and helping 2020 Tokyo Olympics succeed.

*The executive committee had collected monetary donation from organizations and individuals to support Nepal before the day of the festival, and as a result, we could send 1,625,000 yen to Nepal Government through the embassy of Nepal in Japan. We deeply appreciate your contribution.

* The participants were asked to bring and donate their used books, and 16 cardboard boxes full of books were collected at the end of the festival. All of those collected books were donated to NPO Asian Green Forest Network. The NPO will sell those used books online, and all of the funds raised through selling them will be used for afforestation project in Indonesia. We thank you sincerely for your support.