Wednesday, 30 November 2011

J-FEST Moscow 2011. Festival of Contemporary Japanese Culture

J-FEST was a festival of Contemporary  Japanese culture held in Moscow at the Central House of Artists. It was designed to showcase or present Japanese culture with an emphasis on youth and young people with the accent on phenomena like manga and animecosplay etc. The event was held in the House of Artists in the centre of Moscow. I wanted to the film the event partly out of curiosity and partly to collect material for the Japan-Philosophical Landscapes project and maybe get an interview or two with some of the main participants and speakers at the event. We arrived an hour or two after the event had started and I was surprised by how many people had turned up. Several hundred people were milling around the foyer and in the various exhibition points where events were being held.
A fashion show was just ending in the DNK hall with fashions from the Harajuku area of Tokyo. Outside in the foyer young Russians dressed in various costumes of manga and anime style were thronging around the two floors where the event was taking place. On one side of the foyer a whole wall had been given over to Kyoto Seiko Universtity  with a video instalation dedicated on the theme of the recent earthquake and a mural being painted by students from the university.
The costumes were various but mostly on the themes of maids, cosplay, anime and manga with a strong influence of gothic but generally recognisable as derived from the  street fashions of Harajuku.
At the press conference the panel consisted of the architect Takayuki Suzuki and May J the singer who heads the show J-Melo on NHK . J-Melo is a cult musical TV show Japanese TV channel NHK. It is broadcast in 180 countries and regions, and finally made ​​it to Moscow.  May J.  is of Japanese, Iranian, Turkish, Russian, Spanish and English extraction.
It was strange to see these symbols and emblems of Japanese culture being played out in Moscow but one way of understanding this phenomena is with reference to Takamasa Sakurai was also on the panal. A journalist and a media content producer - he is convinced that the world will certainly have a "kawaii revolution." He is convinced that due to the popularity of their pop culture, Japan could become a diplomatic mediator between different countries. In recent years, Sakurai-san has been an active lecturer in various countries.
The next day of the festival I managed to secure an interview with Takayuki Suzuki
Suzuki-sensei is trying to reconcile  modern building and new forms of the 21st century with traditional Japanese ideas of beauty. Thus, in their universitybuilding,  which he designed,  he tried to include as much as possible, "the sky" which "need students to dream."
    In his lecture he spoke  about contemporary Japanese landscapes from the perspective of Japanese culture.
    Takayuki Suzuki: "Situated in the Far East, modern Japan is one of the centers of world culture and therefore for understanding the future we need to talk about the features of Japanese culture, characteristic of the Japanese urban landscape and everyday life of Japanese youth".
After his interview I am hoping to use some of the material for the project Japan Philosophical Landscapes. His work and ideas may form the nexus between traditional and contemporary understandings of landscape and pinch  together these two major themes in the film.