The Sultanate of Oman and Japan have some similarities in common with regard to the Omani kahwa and the Japanese tea, traditionally on how to communicate with the people and society.
2022 marks the 50th anniversary for diplomatic relations between Japan and Oman. To celebrate this, a group of artists visited Oman in March to further friendship between the two countries.
The International Association for the Global Agenda with its founder member Miki Oikawa and public interest incorporated association Hosho-kai Chairman Atsushi Nishikori organised a major form of Japanese dance-drama called ‘Noh’ for the first time in Muscat and performed ‘Shakkyo’ on March 8 as part of the cultural programmes.
The play ‘Shakkyo,’ was performed at Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM), where the Japanese boy in the first half used costumes imagining the flag of Oman.
In the stage arts managed by the flower arrangement artist Yuki Tsuji, decorations by Japanese Ikebana used local plants, presenting a world view of each country.
Hundreds of visitors visited the performance which included high-level officials from the Government of Oman, ambassadors and diplomats from other countries, as well as students with a strong interest in Japanese culture from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and other universities.
The theme of the project was ‘Resilience and Revitalisation’ based on the situation due to the pandemic.
Various programmes included poetry reading by the award-winning poet Hassan Al Matrooshi followed by the significant dance of lion performed by Kazufusa Hosho, the 20th Grand Master of Hosho School of Noh, an exhibition of traditional Japanese arts and crafts related to Noh theatre art held at the Cultural Club, a lecture by the Grand Muster Hosho, and a workshop about the tea ceremony and its experience.
Jota Yamamoto, Japanese Ambassador of the Embassy of Japan in Oman, who co-hosted the event, says, “It was an opportunity for Omanis to deepen their understanding of Japan. I would like to develop these opportunities on an ongoing basis and further promote exchanges between the two countries.”
Miki Oikawa from International Association for the Global Agenda, who hosted the event, said the initiative not only deepened mutual understanding between the two countries but also promoted understanding of the culture of Middle Eastern Arab countries and Muslims in Japan, and was consistent with the vision of promoting understanding of the diversity of Global Agenda.
“I feel the participation of various groups enabled us to deepen exchanges on each other’s culture and deep spirituality. We will continue to work to increase opportunities that will lead to further development of both the countries,” she added.
While Kazufusa Hosho, the 20th Grand Master of Hosho School of Noh, who also hosted the event, was of the view that although Japan and Oman seemed distant from each other, he was able to feel the commonalities such as design, humanity, and ideas about nature.
Toru Nakai, Director of Japan Art and Culture Association, says Omani people respect each other and value the nature of harmony and tradition. The visit, he says, helped cultural exchange programmes in which both countries understand each other deeply.
He also drew similarities between Nishijin and Omani textiles, and compared the final product with differences regarding the design, thread dyeing or weaving.
“However, we can feel similarities on its sensitivity which nurtures with nature and the long history of the artisan’s technique passed on from generations until the present,” he adds
Tea Master, Ryo Iwamoto, says that the custom of having kahwa with dates is exactly the same as the Japanese tea. “As a Japanese person, I felt comfortable while tasting kahwa. We can emphasise it as a cultural similarity and I expect we create more opportunities for Omani people to understand Japanese culture and to have Japanese tea much like the Omani way.”
“I would like to know more about the traditions of Omanis and will be glad to have them visiting us the next time in Japan,” he says.
Miki Oikawa, Global Agenda, says while in Oman, she prefers to sit on the floor with Omani friends and taste kahwa.
“I would like Omani people to show how Japanese traditional life is similar and it is great to have friendship and welcome the guests. For the past 20 years, every time I visit Oman, I found something similar and lasting memories and expect my future visits to be yet another experience,” she concludes.