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Tokyo holds its very first Myanmar Festival

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Although 2014 marks the 60th year since relations between Japan and Myanmar were established, for many, Myanmar’s culture and customs remain a mystery. This Sunday, however, you’ll get an opportunity to experience the Southeast Asian nation at a special festival in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

During the Myanmar Festival, a first of its kind, visitors will be able to participate in workshops on how to wear a longyi — the sarong-like garment worn by both men and women in Myanmar. Women will be also able to try Thanaka cream — a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from Thanaka wood, which about 2,000 years ago was worn to protect the skin from the sun. Still used decoratively today, the paste is applied on the face and body, and women in Myanmar usually prepare it each night by mixing several drops of water with Thanaka wood on a whetstone.

Other highlights at the festival include chinlone matches, Myanmar’s traditional sport, which is combined with dance. Visitors will be also able to try this out for themselves.

For those interested in food, dishes prepared and served by representatives of different ethnic groups will be available at stalls, and include curries as well as regional specialties. Myanmar’s popular milk-tea mix and Myanmar beer will also be served

Other entertainment includes booths offering traditional Myanmar crafts, clothing and sundries, as well as music and traditional dance performances. About 480 photographs focused on the cultural exchange between the two countries, will also be displayed at a special exhibition.

Those who want to learn even more about the country’s culture, its bilateral relations or the activities of Japanese organizations involved with Myanmar, can attend a symposium held on the same day.

Myanmar Festival takes place on Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Zojoji Temple inside Shiba Park in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. Take Exit 4 of Shiba Koen Station on the Toei Mita Line. Admission is free. For more information, visit myanmarfestival.org/index.html.