March 30~31, 2019
Ikeda Sae as a volunteerAt VDNKh, a permanent trade show and amusement park in northern Moscow, a Japanese cultural event, Sunrise (Hi no De), was held in pavilion number 75, under the sponsorship of the Saison Group and E. N. International. Two TUFS students who are currently studying at The Russia State University For the Humanities in Moscow, Ikeda Sae and Nemoto Akane, participated in the event as volunteers. What follows is Ms. Ikeda’s report.
Ikeda Sae, 4th-year Russian major, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Language and Culture Department
I volunteered to participate in rise (Hi no De), which is held every spring in Russia, and which is the largest event related to Japanese culture held in Russia. Japanese exchange students were put in charge of the Japanese summer festivals and fairs zone, which entailed preparing fukuwarai (Pin the Tail on the Donkey), momotsukami (a game involving picking up beans with chopsticks), ring-throwing, omikuji (fortunes written on paper), shaved ice, a souvenir-hut, and so forth. Visitors both young and old could enjoy these activities, usually for free. The sponsors told us that the festival and fair zone was the most popular of the activities held at the event. I felt that having Japanese people act as hosts to the Russian visitors was an excellent opportunity for them to gain a sense of the hospitability that is such an important point of the Japanese psyche.
I was in charge of writing Russian visitors’ names in katakana using calligraphy. This proved to be a wonderful opportunity for me, as I got to learn many Russian names, and even find out the meanings of a number of Russian names. I had a lot of people visit my booth and ask not only to have their own names written in katakana, but to have their surnames or their friends’ names written in katakana as well. While having one’s name written in katakana is but a very small thing, I couldn’t help but feel that it opened the door to people’s interest in Japan and Japanese culture.
Through the event, I learned more about my own culture, and I was witness to Russian people taking an interest in Japanese culture. Not only did I feel pride in my own country, but I also felt the desire to spread knowledge about Japanese culture to others. I also felt that there is not currently a corresponding interest in Russia among Japanese people. My own experience studying abroad in Russia has taught me that there many fascinating things about Russia. I hope that I can ultimately use my own knowledge and experiences of Russia to foster an interest in Russia among Japanese people.