Ja­pan Cul­ture House opens in Myan­mar

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NANDAR AUNG nan­da­raung.mcm@gmail.com

MOST for­eign cul­ture cen­tres around Yan­gon are found in vil­las or large houses, with se­cu­rity guards and guest to greet vis­i­tors. The Ja­pan Cul­ture House, which opened to the pub­lic on Au­gust 31, is in a small house in Ba­han township, dec­o­rated with tra­di­tional Ja­panese tatami mats where guests can nap, re­cline, read or watch any num­ber of Ja­panese an­i­ma­tions avail­able.

The Ja­pan Cul­ture House opened to pro­mote a cul­tural ex­change be­tween Ja­pan and Myan­mar and is spon­sored by the Ja­pan Foun­da­tion Asia Cen­ter and the Myan­mar As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­pan Alumni (MAJA).

“We opened the cul­ture house not only to peo­ple study­ing Ja­panese lan­guage, but for any­one in­ter­ested to visit,” said Ja­pan Cul­ture House pro­gram of­fi­cer Chi­natsu Hy­odo. Ms Hy­odo, who is flu­ent in Myan­mar lan­guage, also goes by the name Aye Thi­dar. She stud­ied Myan­mar lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture at the Yan­gon Univer­sity of For­eign Lan­guage in 1996 and Myan­mar art and mu­sic at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Arts and Cul­ture in 2004.

“I’ve heard from my friends that they were afraid of vis­it­ing other for­eign in­sti­tutes like the French In­sti­tute for ex­am­ple be­cause they are Asian. I don’t want peo­ple to feel that way when they come here,” Ms Hy­odo said, striv­ing to cul­ti­vate a com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment. “That’s why I brought the tatami, to make peo­ple feel at home here.”

The cul­ture house fea­tures of vast li­brary of books on busi­ness, art, and cul­ture in Ja­panese, English, and Myan­mar. The li­brary is also home to a num­ber of Ja­panese car­toons, manga se­ries, anime movies, otaku mag­a­zines – quite pop­u­lar among Myan­mar’s youth – as well as a se­lec­tion of mag­a­zines, news­pa­pers and jour­nals.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the house of­fers Ja­panese TV sta­tions such as NHK and an an­i­ma­tion col­lec­tion from the in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned Stu­dio Ghi­bli. For chil­dren and el­ders alike, the house has Ken­dama and Igo (also known as the Go!), tra­di­tional Ja­panese toys and games for all to en­joy.

“Vis­i­tors can get to­gether and play with our monthly pro­grams such as Ja­panese quiz or karaoke,” she said. “And some­time soon we’re plan­ning to bring a fa­mous Burmese star and a Ja­panese star to meet up, ex­change cul­ture, and pro­duce some­thing new.”

Ms Hy­odo is also a bit of a star her­self, play­ing a role in a TV show ev­ery Fri­day from 5-6pm on MWD tele­vi­sion chan­nel.

The Ja­pan Cul­ture House is open to all with free en­trance ev­ery day from 10am to 6pm, ex­cept Tues­days and Gazette hol­i­days and on week­ends from 9am to 5:30pm.

Check out the Ja­pan Cul­ture House Face­book page to stay up to date on all of their pub­lic pro­grams, or to sug­gest any books, movies, or pro­grams you would like to see.

The Ja­pan Cul­ture House is lo­cated at R-322B, sec­ond floor, Build­ing-C, Pearl Condo, Kabar Aye Pagoda Road in Ba­han township.

Myan­mar women try on Ja­panese tra­di­tional ki­monos at the new Ja­pan Cul­ture House in Ba­han township.

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