This year’s Nihongo Fiesta displayed some of the most fascinating facets of Japan’s rich and evolving culture—from the Japanese language and traditional Japanese desserts to modern jazz music.
The annual festival by the Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM), which aims to promote international cultural and arts exchange between Japan and the Philippines, organized a one-night free jazz concert, an engaging lecture and demonstration on how to make beautiful wagashi, the much-awaited Nihongo Speech Contest for Japanese language Filipino students and professional (non-student) and the 4th Nihongo Quiz Bee for Filipino High School Students.
Unit Asia Jazz Concert
The festivities commenced on the eve of Valentine’s with a one-night free concert of Asian jazz group Unit Asia at SM City North EDSA Sky Dome in Quezon City. The five-piece group of talented jazz musicians from Japan, Thailand and Malaysia gave a rousing and refreshing performance.
Adding a familiar sound to the concert was Filipino alternative-rock crooner Cooky Chua, who joined the band to sing some rock and pop classics played with an exciting jazz rhythm. The “Unit Asia Jazz Concert 2012” was also part of the month-long Philippine International Jazz Festival.
Wagashi: Japanese Traditional Confectionary Lecture/Demonstration
After treating the public to jazz music, JFM served up some delicate and delicious desserts at the Wagashi: Japanese Traditional Confectionary Lecture/Demonstration last February 18 at the Atrium of The Podium in Mandaluyong City.
Dessert lovers got to satisfy their sweet tooth thanks to three young Japanese pastry chefs, Mr. Noriyuki Myojin, Mr. Keisuke Yoshihashi, and Mr. Naoya Koizumi, who have honed their skills in highly respected and famous confectionary houses of Japan.
They showed selected participants how to make traditional Japanese desserts, which included jonamagashi (high-quality raw confections that are individually made by hand using flowers and other seasonal motifs), hasamikiku (an elaborate confection made to look like a chrysanthemum) and dorayaki (a pancake confection filled with sweet red bean paste). The lecture and demonstration showed the intricacy and beauty of the traditional desserts and the meticulous skill necessary to make each one by hand.
39th Nihongo Speech Contest & 4th Nihongo Quiz Bee
Considered the main highlight of every Nihongo Fiesta, the Nihongo Speech Contest held last February 25 at The Tents, Alphaland Southgate Mall in Makati City, gathered Filipino students and professionals from all over the country to show off their excellence in the Japanese language. This year, a total of 15 qualified contestants made it to the finals to compete in the Student, Non-Student and Open Divisions.
The panel of judges included Mr. Kiyoshi Takeuchi, director of Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan; Mr. Nobuya Ichiki, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc.; Mr. Kiyoshi Mitsui, Bureau Chief of Kyodo News Manila Bureau; Dr. Amparo Adelina C. Umali, III, Ph.D., associate professor at the Center for International Studies, UP Diliman; Mr. Kunio Aonuma, a Japanese language education adviser at JFM; and Mr. Shuji Takatori, the director of JFM.
In the end, they judged the following as the winners: Ms. Rosario Q. Ocho from Cebu was awarded Grand Champion and first place of the Open Division and Ms. Shieba L. Magno from Davao got the Outstanding Performance Award and the first place for the Non-Student Division; both were awarded an all-expense paid week-long study tour in Japan by JAMI, JCCIPI and the Japan Overseas Enterprises Association. Special Jury Award went to Ms. Erika Mae Z. Lirio from Metro Manila. In the Student Division, first place went to Ms. Dianne Dawn T. Fernandez and second place went to Ms. Jan Corvie L. Villamor. In the Non-Student Division, second place went to Mr. Kenny Shin R. Erno.
High school students from 23 schools in the country also got to participate in all things Nihongo at the 4th Nihongo Quiz Bee held on the same day at The Tents. Quizzed on Japanese language and culture, the following schools came out the winners: Grand Champion, Manila Science High School; second place went to Sen. Renato “Compañero” Cayetano Memorial Science & Technology High School; and, third place went to Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School.
The 2012 Nihongo Fiesta was made possible with the support of The Podium, SM City North EDSA, GA Yupangco, Yoshinoya, Philippine International Jazz and Arts Festival Foundation, Inc., the Center for Culinary Arts, the Embassy of Japan, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines, Inc. (JCCIPI), The Japanese Association Manila (JAMI), Japan Overseas Enterprises Association (JOEA), Association of Filipino Nihongo Teachers (AFINITE), All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., Canon Information Technologies Philippines Inc., Canon Marketing (Philippines), Inc., Japan Airlines International Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation of the Philippines, Mitsui & Co. (Asia Pacific) Pte. Ltd., Nippon Express Philippines Corporation, Sojitz Philippines Corporation and UP Tomokai.
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