The Laos Festival 2017 was held in Tokyo last weekend to promote the country’s charms to people in Japan, with visitors enjoying performances by dancers and musicians from Laos while trying out its traditional food.
At the opening ceremony, Lao Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara said the festival, launched a decade ago, is now “recognised as a more and more popular cultural event to promote bilateral friendship and broaden better understanding of Laos among Japanese people.”
“We greatly wish and expect more Japanese tourists to visit Laos” as the country has declared 2018 as “Visit Laos Year” to promote the country’s culture, traditions, ethnic lifestyles and historical and natural attractions, he said.
“Laos is a country full of charm for Japanese people,” Kiyoshi Odawara, Japan’s parliamentary vice foreign minister, told the opening ceremony. “I hope many people will become fans of Laos through this festival.”
On the stage at Yoyogi Park near Harajuku during the festival held last Saturday and Sunday, Laos’ national dance troupe performed traditional dances.
Lao and Japanese musicians also set the groove with energetic performances. Among guests from Laos, Sack, the vocalist of rock band Cells, female singer Namfon and Ola, a member of rock band Blackeyes, performed together after singing their respective songs.
Visitors also enjoyed traditional Lao dishes and Beerlao, a famous beer brand in Laos, as well as cultural experiences, including Lao language lessons and cooking courses. Booths opened at the festival venue included those selling folk crafts and skirts, shirts and shawls using Lao silk, and a corner introducing “SaiNamlai” (Flowing Tide), the first movie co-produced between Laos and Japan, to be released in Japan in June.
About 150,000 people are estimated to have visited the two-day event, the seventh of its kind, according to organisers.
Tatsuki Suzuki, a 21-year-old university student, said, “I came here to feel the atmosphere of Southeast Asia as I have experience studying there.” Natsue Sakamoto, a 21-year-old female university student who visited the festival with Suzuki, said, “I have been to Laos when I studied in Southeast Asia, and I wanted to drink Beerlao again here.”
The Lao Embassy in Tokyo and Sakura Kokusai High School have been jointly hosting the festival since 2007 to help people in Japan experience the charms of Laos, including its culture, food and tourism. As part of its international exchanges, the high school in Tokyo has been engaged in activities since 1996 to build schools in Laos with funds raised from donations and charity bazaars.
Source: Lao News Agency