Bengaluru will witness its first Japanese speaking night, a platform for Indians who are learning Japanese to interact with the executives of Japanese companies operating in Bengaluru.
With the one month advent of the new consul-general of Japan in Bengaluru, Takayuki Kitagawa, this event will be held every three months. When Takayuki Kitagawa served as a deputy consul-general in Chennai four years ago, he started the Japanese speaking night, which escalated the language learners from 1,000 to 3,000, he says.
“The idea is to provide incentives to Indians learning the Japanese language and provide a first hand interaction and communication,” explains Kitagawa. The only rule is that Japanese language is to be spoken at the two-hour event in The Chancery Hotel on June 28.
In Bengaluru, there are about a thousand speakers of the language. Out of the five levels of language expertise, those between the level one and three are considered qualified for the event. That too is filtered now to about 40 individuals.
“If you speak English or the local language while interacting, then you have to leave the room,” laughs Kitagawa. However, there is no restraint to what can be explored while you are in the room. From stand-up comedies to extempore, everything will happen exclusively in Japanese. A joke in Indian setting can be cracked in Japanese language.
There were two major waves of influence of Indian culture in Japanese culture, says Kitagawa. First was Before Christ, when Indians traded pearls with the Romans, especially from South India. When the pearls got exhausted, they headed to the Pacific and discovered that the coasts of Japan were bountiful with pearls. Many traders settled in Japan. They carried with them their culture and introduced it in the new country. “Almost 500 words in Japan is said to have its origin in Tamil language,” says Kitagawa.
Similar to Yakshagana, the traditional theatre dance, Kagura is also a theatrical dance with masks and costumes practised in northern Japanese city of Hanamaki.
The second wave spread when Buddhism was introduced in the 6th century in Japan from northern India. Along with the religion came the musical instrument Veena, which is called Biwa in Japanese, which sounds phonetically similar. The musical instrument was played for the then royal families of Bengaluru.
Worshipping the linga
Do not be surprised if Japanese pray to Hindu gods such as Indra and Ganesha. In fact it is said that about twenty Hindu deities are worshipped in Japan. The Ganesh temple is called Shoden-ji temple in Kyoto.
Just like how Hindus pray to the “linga” for fertility and prosperity, phallus is worshiped in Toyota’s hometown of Nagoya for the same purpose. “Indians worshiped the linga and it was adapted by the natives. It is the only town in Japan to do so,” adds Kitagawa.
We associate the art of Bonsai tree to Japan but there is talk that the art originated in India. “About 3,500 years ago, when India was in the Vedic age, a man went to the Himalayas for exotic herb. For the convenience of carrying the herb and travelling to China, the Indian medicine man developed the art of dwarfing the trees in pots and introduced it. On reaching Japan, it was shaped into an ornamental art,” narrates Kitagawa.
The Japanese speaking night will be organised by the consul-general of Japan in Bengaluru with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry at The Chancery Hotel on June 28, 6.30 pm.