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Japan’s annual festival in Dubai celebrates culture, heritage with “Smiles of Japan”

The free festival took place at Sheraton Jumeriah Beach from 1:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (ANJ)
The free festival took place at Sheraton Jumeriah Beach from 1:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (ANJ)
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12 Dec 2023 05:12:38 GMT9
12 Dec 2023 05:12:38 GMT9

Manar Elbaz

DUBAI: Japan festival took place in Dubai on Sunday under the slogan “Smiles of Japan,” where guests enjoyed authentic Japanese art paired with delicious food. 

Taking place at Sheraton Jumeriah Beach Resort, the free festival was held from 1:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. as attendees enjoyed a day full of Japanese-related activities. 

A tuna-cutting show taking place at Japan festival. (ANJ)

Tadahiro Matsushita, head of the Japan festival Executive Committee, explained this year’s slogan to Arab News Japan, saying, “Japan (represents) peace, community, and bonding. We concluded that these words are represented in the word “smile.” A “smile” represents peace and harmony. That is the important keyword of this event.”

“We are happy to share our voluntary contribution with the Japanese community, and we can have many “smiles” of Japan,” he added. 

The Uchiwa awarding ceremony celebrated the girls who designed the hand fans. (ANJ)

This year, the festival added a variety of changes to level up the guests’ experience, such as the mobile event guide as well as guests from Japan. Last year, the festival celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the UAE

Upon entry, guests received Japanese hand fans, known as Uchiwa, with the design collected from Japanese students in Dubai for Japan festival designs. Two young girls from Dubai Japanese School were later rewarded for their gorgeous designs that showcased Japanese and Arab cultures. 

One of the Japanese hand fans that were given to guests during Japan Festival. (ANJ)

A variety of Japanese restaurants had small pop-ups to offer delicious Japanese treats for guests to enjoy. Multiple shops had discounted prices to attract more customers, with prices starting at ¥358. 

Yamanote Atelier’s booth at Japan Festival. (ANJ)

Additionally, guests had the chance to try Japanese skincare products from the Japanese cosmetic company Shiseido. Founded in 1872, Shiseido is considered a leading beauty brand and one of the most renowned skincare brands in Japan, with one branch in the Middle East at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates. 

Saori Umebayashi, Shiseido’s Regional Manager Head, told Arab News Japan that this is the first time the brand has participated in Japan festival. “It is so nice to present Japanese products to those who are interested in Japanese culture,” she told Arab News Japan. 

Saori Umebayashi, Shiseido’s Regional Manager Head, at the brand’s booth during Japan festival. (ANJ)

“Although Shiseido’s brand has been in the Middle East for some time, our brand awareness is still not there, so we are engaging a lot with the customers today,” she added. 

The booth gave away free product samples to customers and a voucher to those who visited. Shiseido’s representatives also offered educational advice about skincare to guests.

“Skincare, in the Middle East, is not as much of a priority when it comes to beauty, unlike makeup and fragrances. We want to educate people on beauty as well as our products,” Umebayashi said. 

Decorations during Japan festival. (ANJ)

For the first part of the festival, guests enjoyed a variety of Japanese traditional dances, such as the Sōran Bushi, also known as Nanchū Sōran, performed by Japanese students. The song is a sea shanty about fishermen’s journey to catch herrings. Later on, guests participated in the Japanese dance, Bon Odori. 

A tuna-cutting show, a karaoke contest, and Japanese martial arts shows also took place during the first part of the festival.

Japanese students performing Sōran Bushi during Japan festival. (ANJ)

The second part of the festival started at 5:30 p.m. and included musical performances, a cosplay show, and a performance of the Japanese classical dance Nihon-buyō, who came from Japan to perform at Japan festival. 

Performance of the Japanese classical dance Nihon-buyō taking place at Japan festival. (ANJ)
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