The 3rd Gagaku and International Cultural Exchange Event
“Toward the 150th anniversary of cultural exchange between Belgium and Japan”
Supported by: The Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Japan
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The 3rd Gagaku and International Cultural Exchange Event was held at Ginza Jyujiya Hall in Tokyo on February 1, 2014. About one hundred people attended the event including special guests Mr. Eisuke Mori, member of the House of Representatives and special advisor to the Ensemble, Mr. Crispophe De Bassompierre, Chargés d'affaires ad interim of the Kingdom of Belgium, Mr. June Yokota, former ambassador to Belgium, and Mr. Shogo Anzai, former chief court musician at Imperial Household Agency.
The program started with Mr. Mori’s speech followed by the gagaku performance of Kangen Taishikicho no netori, Rinko kodatsu and Saho Bugaku Seigaiha.
The second part started with Mr. Yokota’s speech followed by Professor Willy Vande Walle’s lecture titled “Toward the 150th Anniversary of Cultural Exchange between Belgium and Japan.
Professor Vande Walle is an authority of Japanese Studies in Europe and is a chairperson of the Department of Asian and East European Studies at University of Leuvan, Belgium.
In 1866, the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation was signed between Japan and Belgium. The year 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of a diplomatic relationship between the Kingdom of Belgium (founded in 1830) and Japan. The first contact with Belgium goes back to the 16th century when the Portuguese first came to Japan. In the lecture, Professor Vande Wally explained in detail using photos how the Belgian people had played many roles in Japan through the propagation of Christianity, Herbalism and trades since then.
Professor Vande Walle talked about many forgotten stories. For example, when the library at Leuven Catholic University was destroyed by fire set by German soldiers during World War I, Japan donated many Japanese books to the library as part of its restoration program.
In 1923, when Japan was hit hard by the Great Kanto earthquake, the Belgium government donated the third largest amount of money to Japan after the USA and Great Britain. These stories touched the audience’s heart.
Afterwards, Mr. Iguchi, president of the Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble, thanked everyone for coming to the event. Then, Mr. De Bassompierre made a speech to commemorate the 150th anniversary. It is such a coincident that Mr. De Bassompierre's grandfather was a Belgium ambassador (1920-1939) to Japan when the Great Kanto earthquake hit Japan. He made every effort to help those who were affected by the quake.
After the lecture, a ceremony of breaking a sake cast made by Kidoizumi Sake Brewer in Ohara, Chiba was held. The sake was served to all the participants for a toast. The food for the reception was prepared by Mrs. Hisako Hakkaku, whose husband was a former councilor at Japan Embassy in Luxembourg. The cuisines include Carbonade Flamande, chicory appetizer, and homemade Belgium waffle. Furthermore, Belgium white beer and Neuhaus Belgium chocolate were also served to the guests. Everybody enjoyed the delicious Belgium cuisines and had a wonderful time.
As a part of international cultural exchange, Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble will plan to invite more renowned guests in and out of Japan and to have them talk on various themes in the future.