Now’s the time to get to know Japan in Turkey

Let’s take a run through the halls of history. In 1887, Japanese Emperor Meiji’s nephew, Prince Komatsu, traveled with his wife to visit the Ottoman Empire. In response to this gesture, Sultan Abdülhamid II sent Adm. Osman Paşa’s Ertuğrul frigate with a delegation of 650 people to Japan in July 1889. In June 1890, the delegation arrived in Yokohama. Osman Paşa presented a medal to Emperor Meiji. In September 1890 the delegation set off on their return journey.

While traveling toward Kobe, the Ertuğrul got caught in a typhoon and was dashed against rocks due to the strong winds and massive waves, sinking. This would go into the history books as a major disaster, with the deaths of 587 people onboard -- only 69 people survived. The survivors were sent to İstanbul on ships belonging to the Japanese armada. Back in Japan, people collected donations for the families of the survivors and those who perished in the accident. The bonds between Turks and the Japanese grew even stronger after the disaster. The painful incident is still seen as the catalyst for the development of close relations between the two nations.

Activities for the “2010 Year of Japan in Turkey” kicked off yesterday with an opening ceremony at the Turkish-Japanese Foundation Cultural Center in Ankara. In addition to all of the activities planned as part of this celebration, there will also be the events planned for this year’s European Capital of Culture in İstanbul and so a lively scene can be expected in a variety of fields in the year to come.

So get ready to see the year’s logo created from a fusion of the Turkish and Japanese flags by young Tokyo artist, Tooru Noritomi, this year. The activities aren’t restricted to İstanbul -- there are plans for the cities of Konya, İzmir, Mersin, Ankara, Edirne, Eskişehir, Amasya, Safranbolu, Kaman and more to take part in the fun.

The planning committee of the “2010 Year of Japan in Turkey” sums up the goals of the year as follows: “Let’s get closer to Japan’s beauty, expand the boundaries of our friendship and carry our cooperation into the future.” Admission will be free for most of the activities for art lovers organized as part of the year, including a performance of the shadow play “Taketori Monogatari: The Story of Princess Kaguya,” the “Calligraphy: Different History, Different Tradition, One Heart” exhibition at the Sabancı Museum, the “Japan’s Beauties of 5,000 Years” exhibition at Topkapı Palace and a film festival and exhibition of world-famous Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s works.

Musa İğrek, İstanbul

06/01/2010

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