Japan-Cambodia Cultural Festival Begins Tonight

During the 10th annual Japan-Cambodia Kizuna Festival, the focus will be on the “kizuna,” or bond in Japanese, between the two countries.

The opening ceremony begins at 6 p.m. tonight, and the festival runs until Sunday evening. Admission is free, and more than 10,000 people are expected to attend throughout the weekend for a cooking competition, a concert with traditional Japanese instruments and a workshop and show for cosplayers, people who dress up as fictional characters.

As well as screenings of Japanese movies and workshops on origami and flower arrangements, there will be booths with information for students interested in studying in Japan, and on Japanese companies in Cambodia.

“It’s a win-win when more Japanese companies come,” said Oeurn Koem, director of the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center (CJCC), which is hosting the event along with the Japanese Embassy. “It’s good for Cambodians.”

CJCC also runs a school teaching Japanese to about 500 students each year including Phirun Kunnika, 20, a dancer in the opening ceremony tonight.

“It’s very interesting to study Japanese,” she said of her year at the school. “I love the culture.”

Although Japanese and Cambodian culture are different, Mr. Koem said he believes Cambodians are flexible in adopting elements of other cultures. He notes that some of the festival’s events, like marital arts and a football workshop for beginners, are both Cambodian and Japanese.

“In World War II, Japan was smashed to ash and then became a giant economy,” he noted. “Some people think there are similarities between Japan and Cambodia starting from zero and moving [on]. That’s why Japan fully understands Cambodia in that sense.”

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