FEATURE
A Japanese Summer in Singapore
JAPANESE CHILDREN LOOK FORWARD TO THE SUMMER FESTIVAL EVERY YEAR — THIS YEAR, IT’S YOUR TURN TO EXPERIENCE IT WITH YOUR FAMILY AT THE SINGAPORE SPORTS HUB.
27-Aug-2018

Madam Izumi Yamada fondly remembers the summers she spent in Tokyo as a child in the 1960s. "In the evenings, when it was cooler, we would run off to the many summer festivals held around Tokyo," she recalls. "There would be good food, cold drinks, fun games, as well as performances for everybody to enjoy." So it should come as no surprise that Mdm Yamada is involved in the Japan Summer Festival 2018, which will take place during the weekend of 8 and 9 September.

For the first time ever, the event will be held at the Singapore Sports Hub, in collaboration with the Japanese Association, Singapore and aims to harness better cultural understanding between both the Japanese and local communities.

"To have it held at such a large space is great because Singaporeans are very fond of Japanese culture — and this means they will be experiencing more aspects of it," explains Mdm Yamada, 59.

A DANCE TO REMEMBER

Visitors to the event can expect to see over 100 authentic Japanese F&B, merchandise and game stalls associated with the Festival. A troupe of Bon-Odori dancers will grace the stage at the Festival to do their part to spread Japanese culture.Bon-Odori is a folk dance traditionally put on during festivals, explains Mdm Yamada, who will lead the troupe of eight women.

"It's a very simple, easy dance that is meant to have everybody in the community come together and dance," shares Mdm Yamada, who has been performing Bon-Odori for more than 20 years. "I remember being enthralled by it as a child and when I came to Singapore, I decided to learn it formally."

But even casual dancers —including those with no formal dance training — can join in the Bon-Odori. In fact, Mdm Yamada encourages them to. "My fellow dancers and I will be dancing in a circle and we will be performing easy, repetitive movements with our hands. So if you're at the Festival, join us!"

If you're hankering for some Japanese-themed games, fret not. Organisers from the Japanese Association, Singapore have lined up various traditional games, among them Hanetsuki (think badminton sans net) and Otedama (similar to five stones).

In its early days, the Bon dance tradition was closely associated with religion. Over time, the original religious meaning faded and the dance has become associated with summer.

The Bon-Odori will be held from 7pm on 8 September and 6pm on 9 September. The two-hour performance by members of the Japanese Association, Singapore marks the first time the dance is performed under the canopy of the world's largest free-spanning dome.

KONNICHIWA YATAI

Enthusiastically awaiting the Japan Summer Festival 2018 is Ms Midori Takasuga. The 44 year-old will also be spreading Japanese culture at the Festival. To do this, she will be setting up a yatai (food stall). "For many Japanese, memories of the Summer Festival are tied to the food served there," she explains. "As young ones, we used to save our pocket money to buy things liketakoyaki (wheat balls) and bananas dipped in chocolate."

And that's precisely what Ms Takasuga and her colleagues from Akane & Donguri will be serving at the Japan Summer Festival 2018. With prices that range from S$3 to S$7, these goodies will be an affordable way of experiencing well-loved traditional Japanese fare.

 

 

 

In summer festivals in Japan, we are never afraid of rain since it's always sunny at that time of the year. But in Singapore, it can rain quite a bit — so we're very grateful that the event is being held at Singapore Sports Hub, with its famous roof.

 
 

DID YOU KNOW?

Mr Endo Tomekichi is the man credited with the creation of takoyaki. Octopus was plentiful where the street vendor lived and he decided to use the sea creature in a battered dish in 1935.

Source: University of Florida

PUT YOUR BEST DRESS ON

What's a Japanese festival without an ode to the country's unique fashion and culture? Visitors will be able to try out the yukata, a summer version of the ubiquitous kimono. The yukata is made of a lighter material than the traditional kimono but features the same colourful and eye-catching prints. Fans of tradition can also get an up-close look at what happens during a Japanese-style tea ceremony.

If you're feeling more adventurous, you can don your favourite Pikachu outfit and get into the groove at the Pokémon Carnival which will be held concurrently with the Summer Festival. Or if Domo-Kun is more up your alley, there's even a chance to dance along with the furry brown creature.

LET'S PLAY

The festival will be held in conjunction with the Sports Hub Community Play Day, which as its name suggests, is a chance for the community to come together and play.

The Sports Hub Community Play Day will take place just one week before the Singapore Grand Prix. In view of the excitement that the annual race drives up, the Play Day will be themed "Fun On Wheels". It will include a number of motor sport-related activities suitable for people of all ages. These include F1 car racing simulators try-outs, Daytona arcade games and a Family Drag Race.

Fitness buffs can also get their fix at the J-Party Fitness Workout, where Japanese instructors will lead participants in an energetic Zumba routine. These will be held from 1pm to 3pm on both days of the Festival.

KNOW THIS

What?
Japan Summer Festival in conjunction with Sports Hub Community Play Day

When?
8 September (12pm to 9pm) and
9 September (12pm to 8pm)

Where?
National Stadium at Singapore Sports Hub

How much?
S$5 for tickets purchased before 7 September
(S$6 for tickets purchased on-site)

Tickets available at
sportshub.com.sg/japansummerfest.