The Japan Foundation, Bangkok
The Japan Foundation, Bangkok, held Japanese Koto and flute concerts on September 7 and 8 in response to the request by the Embassy of Japan in Myanmar. Both concerts were great successes. On the first day, nearly 250 general public guests attended the concert with free tickets. These tickets were provided by the Embassy prior to the concert, and their availability was announced in the newspaper. During the first concert, there were no seats to be found as it was a full house. The audience represented all generations, though students who study Japanese and young people were prominent. It is known that Myanmar has long been a great supporter of Japan, but Myanmar is culturally closed off to the world now. Therefore, they hold admiration for Japanese culture and are strongly interested in Japan. On the second day, key government figures, members of the diplomatic corps, cultural figures, and artists were invited to the concert. The hall was almost a full house on the second day as well.
The Cultural Section staff of the Embassy of Japan in Myanmar were competent and caring partners, and their plan was well organized. The biggest reason for the great success this time was that they had started making arrangements well in advance, and worked closely together exchanging e-mails frequently for the preparation.
According to the Embassy, the stage performance was held for the first time since the Japanese drum performance 2 years ago. As for the general cultural events, they have hardly had cultural exchanges at a nongovernmental level, and the only thing they had this year was the flower arrangement lecture and demonstration group dispatched by the headquarters of the foundation.
People in Myanmar have been pro-Japan and are strongly interested in Japan. As shown in the recent sharp increase of the number of test-takers of the Japanese Language Aptitude Test, the number of learner of Japanese language is rapidly increasing. Using this as an opportunity, it is desirable to provide Japanese cultural events at least several times a year to provide the opportunity for the people of Myanmar to experience directly feel and become familiar with Japanese culture. In this sense, the Japanese Koto and flute ensemble concert which consisted of high level musicians who live in Bangkok was held for the first time in years, and many people from all across the social spectrum in Myanmar were greatly delighted with it.
For reference's sake, besides the above-mentioned concert in Myanmar, we planned the Asian tour of the Opera Theater Konnyakuza, a Japanese theater company, as performance program of the Japan Foundation, Bangkok in Indochina region this year. By the kind offices of the Embassy of Japan in Laos, we started the tour in north east Thailand in May, entered Laos by a land route, and realized a performance in Vientiane.