March 07, 2016

Moscow Hosts the Seventh J-Fest Festival

The main sponsor of J-FEST, the largest festival of Japanese culture in Russia, is once again the Chodiev International Foundation

Moscow was the venue on 6th and 7th March for the seventh J-Fest festival, the largest modern Japanese cultural event in Russia. Top-ranking Japanese VIPs and world-famous artists and musicians attended. The festival presented all forms of modern Japanese art, including cinema, fashion, anime, manga, traditional and modern Japanese music, national cuisine, high tech industries, video art and choreography. J-Fest targets people of all ages, including children over six years of age. Visitors will be able to remain in the J-Fest area from opening time till evening, with a non-stop programme held in a number of large halls.

Special guests for the 2016 event were the world-famous Japanese Taiko drumming group ASKA Gumi. Their song and dance show is a showpiece, highlighting the capabilities of Japan. Several unique numbers are protected by copyright and cannot be replicated by other ensembles. The show is based on the traditional Japanese drum ritual expressing the worship of myriad gods.

Another headliner of the current festival is the renowned dancer Mao Aska, who performs traditional Japanese dances with a touch of the modern. J-Fest visitors had a unique opportunity to attend an open class given by the dancer. The ASKA Gumi drummers also held a master class session for visitors.

Part of the programme was set aside for anime, manga and cosplay enthusiasts (who usually visit the festival in their heroes’ costumes). J-Fest included the all-Russian premiere of the anime film “The Boy and the Beast”, the latest work of Director Mamoru Hosoda, best known for the animation films The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars and The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki. This animation film, which combines an action/adventure story and fantasy, tells the story of Kyuta, a boy lost in Tokyo in an alternate world featuring Kumatetsu, a bear-man struggling for survival.

Four key events were at the centre of the youth programme: the finals of the All-Russian cosplay and All-Russian karaoke competition, the J-Pop Dance competition and the Défilé finalists of the “Gothic Lolita” competition, a major part of the Japanese street fashion subculture that has recently become incredibly popular with Russian youth.

The festival also featured a show of avant-garde video art works held at the Media Culture Festival organised by the Japanese Culture Agency. Another art event was the All-Russian Photo-Cosplay Exhibition.

The organisers put together an exclusive programme of master classes and lessons led by renowned Japanese and Russian masters. At the festival it was possible to learn how to make origami, ikebana and Tirimen Jaika silk art items, learn how to brush and ink manga and sumi-e paintings and kirigami cuttings, play shogi and go, learn basic Japanese and take the first steps in aikido, kudo, kendo, karate, judo and (a first!) ninja.

Festival guests were also able to become familiar with the leading technical innovations of Japanese companies. There were also shops selling cosplay and karaoke goods and culinary stands for trying Japanese gastronomic specialities rarely if ever seen in Moscow restaurants.

Over the years that the festival has been running, the number of visitors has increased several times over, with tens of thousands of people of all ages attending the event, from all over Russia with a wide range of interests. As a result, interest in Japanese culture is growing in Russia, and the cultural ties between the two countries are becoming stronger by the year, thanks to J-Fest.

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