Meeting Sakura, strengthening friendship
It all began when my wife received a surprise email. It read: “I will be in Singapore for three days with the Japanese team to perform in the Singapore-Japan Friendship event. I missed you and Uncle and I hope we can meet if you and Uncle can come to Ngee Ann City. I will be performing in a Japanese dance there.”
The writer of the email to my wife is a Japanese girl named after the famous national flower of Japan – Sakura.
Ms Sakura Tsutsumi is a university student who was with us (with another of her course friend, Ms Kaho Matsushita) for two nights earlier this year under the JENESYS homestay programme. To read more these two girls go to my article in this blog: https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/general-interest-an-educational-treat-for-japanese-students-relishing-the-sights-sounds-and-tastes-of-vibrant-singapore/
I also wrote about them in the Malay newspaper, Berita Harian. The actual article is available online at: http://www.beritaharian.sg/setempat/sakura-jepun-segar-nikmati-homestay-di-singapura
My wife, Khairon Mastan, and I seized the opportunity of meeting Sakura and headed for Ngee Ann City, reaching there 10 minutes before 10 in the morning when the first item of the first day of the 2-day Japanese Tradition stage performance began. The stage performance is part of a 2-day programme to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic ties between Singapore and Japan. Called “50 years of Singapore-Japan Friendship” and referred to as “SJ50 Matsuri” (SJ50 Festival), the event was held on 29 and 30 October 2016.
Odori (festival dance) was the main attraction. The numerous performances for the two days include the ever-popular Awa Odori dance, Japanese Taiko drum, shamisen (three-stringed Japanese musical instrument), traditional Japanese songs and the Singapore-Japan Friendship Parade on Orchard Road (upon road closure) at 8 pm.
Some of my friends joined the parade for an evening of fun in celebrating the friendship event. Many Singaporeans joined the 200 Japanese dancers on the traffic-free Orchard Road as they danced away with top Awa Odori dancers from Japan, using the road from Lucky Plaza to Paragon.
The first item was the well-known Awa Odori, a traditional dance item with the sound of Japanese drums and shamisen piercing into the air while the energetic presentation by both male and female dancers entranced the audience. Awa Odori (Awa dancing) is held across Japan along roads in mid-August.
Sakura appeared with a troupe of dancers in the third item at 11:30 am. The troupe performed another vigorous and lively dance item.
I was able to meet Sakura before her performance for a few minutes, and after her performance my wife and I had the opportunity to meet Sakura for another five minutes to talk and take some pictures.
We parted company soon, and we do not know if we would ever meet again. But, friendship remains, both between nations (Singapore and Japan) and between us and Sakura.
30 October 2016