J-FEST Summer, Russia’s largest festival of Japanese culture, will complete the Year of Japan in Russia launched in 2018. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, J-FEST was initiated in 2009, and has been held in Gorky Park since 2017, in partnership with Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Last year the festival’s unique atmosphere and program attracted over 100,000 visitors.
Events prepared for the two-day holiday will happen both at open air venues and at Garage Screen summer cinema where, for all Japan lovers, the Museum will be screening two iconic anime films: Rintaro’s Metropolis, based on the famous Osamu Tezuka manga of the same title, and Tokyo Godfathers—a moving family drama from the prematurely passed away classic of Japanese animation Satoshi Kon.
Marking the jubilee edition of the festival, Garage has on offer a special program for audiences of any ages. Visitors are invited to engage in traditional Japanese amusements such as the fukuwarai table game, or hanetsuki—a game with wooden paddles and a shuttlecock, among many other attractions. Kids and adults are also welcome to be introduced to Japan’s unique visual art medium—the classic mokuhanga printmaking.
The 2019 overall program has been revised and expanded, with the costumed Cosplay Parade—an extravagant festive procession involving both professional performers and guests—due to take place for the first time at J-FEST Summer this year. Visitors will also have the chance to participate in exciting workshops, sample some popular Japanese cuisine, and purchase memorable souvenirs, designer’s accessories from Japan, and other goods. Both countries’ best connoisseurs will teach the nuances of the tea ceremony and calligraphy, ikebana and bonsai, national crafts and martial arts, while the Japanese style decor, with paper lanterns and textiles, will create the atmosphere of a traditional summer fest. A performance by specially invited Japanese drummers is set to become an unforgettable climax of the day.
Modelled on the popular Natsu Matsuri festivals in Japan, J-FEST Summer was initially held to honor the memory of ancestors, worship the gods and thank them for the harvest. A favorite holiday of children and adults in modern-day Japan, regardless of the region, Natsu Matsuri always features three basic elements: the ancient dance bon odori, a foods and crafts fair, and the special atmosphere of a traditional Japanese holiday.
Bon odori is a crucial part of summer festivities in various areas of contemporary Japan, with the history of this national custom spanning over 600 years. Deriving from a Buddhist ritual, whereby, as it was believed, the souls of dead ancestors returned to the earth, nowadays it has become a symbol of all summer festivals in Japan. Any visitor can join in the dance by moving around a wooden stage and repeating simple and easy to remember actions in the process.
J-FEST is an annual event initiated by Russian and Japanese companies with the support of the Embassy of Japan in Russia. This unique event addresses the widest audience interested in learning more about Japanese culture.