Costa Rica’s sixth annual Japan Week is running long this year, with events beginning Sept. 29 and stretching to Oct. 19, in an attempt to pack in a fusion of the traditional and modern aspects of Japanese culture. The events range from a judo competition to a screening of anime movies and from a karaoke battle to several traditional music concerts.
Though the Japanese community is small in Costa Rica, the Japanese Embassy predicts a large turnout for the free celebration, which has traditionally drawn crowds.
“A lot of people always go,” said Ligia Villalobos, a spokeswoman for the embassy in San José. She said organizers expect to fill the Eugene O’Neill Theater at the CostaRican-NorthAmericanCulturalCenter in the eastern San José neighborhood of Barrio Dent for the week’s inaugural event, pianist Junko Ueno’s concert Sept. 29. They also are ready for a full house for jazz concerts Oct. 11 at the CartagoMunicipality’s performance hall, east of the capital, and Oct. 12 at San José’s Melico Salazar Theater.
Ueno debuted in South America in 1992, after attending a prestigious music academy in Tokyo. Her concert here will be entitled “Piano Voyage From Japan,” and will express the musical history of Japan since it opened up to Western culture.
The Oct. 11 and 12 jazz concerts will feature three musicians: guitarist Haruko Nara and pianist Yoshiaki Masuo, both from New York, and vocalist and percussionist Gino Sitson from France. Sitson integrates African sounds into his jazz vocals.
Oct. 18 is Japanese Pop Culture Day at the National Culture Center (CENAC). Participants will be able to enter competitions of karaoke and cosplay, short for “costume play,” a type of performance art in which participants outfit themselves as anime, manga or other Japanese media characters.
A Japanese cooking demonstration is also planned for this day.
The last day of Japan Week, Oct. 19, will feature traditional aspects of Japanese culture at CENAC. Bonsai exhibitions and a tea ceremony will precede a martial arts demonstration of judo, karate, aikido and jujitsu.
“During (these last) two days, the protagonists will be Costa Ricans themselves, who have an open mind to absorb the essence of Japanese culture and make it their own,” Japanese Ambassador to Costa Rica Hidekazu Yamaguchi said in a statement.
The celebrations are sponsored by the Japanese government and the Japan Foundation, an independent organization that fosters cultural exchange.
For a full schedule of events, see the Calendar on pages W10 and W11 or the embassy’s Web site at www.cr.emb-japan.go.jp.