IN PHOTOS: Highlights from Cool Japan Festival 2015
MANILA, Philippines – Fan chants, together with the upbeat sounds of Japanese pop music, resonated in the atmosphere, inviting every mall-goer towards the Trinoma Activity Center. And for the first time, Japan’s most anticipated female idol group, AKB48, filled the Philippine stage with kawaii-ness or cuteness as they performed their hit song "Koi Suru Fortune Cookie" at the Cool Japan Festival held last November 7 and 8. (IN PHOTOS: AKB48, Alodia Gosiengfiao at Cool Japan Festival 2015)
The event, being an effort to empower the cultural and economic friendship between the two countries, was an exchange of the coolest Japanese traditions and trends, and the warmest Filipino values.
All photos by Sheen Irerick Seeckts/Rappler
The coolest idols
Twelve members of AKB48’s subgroup, Team 8, came to Manila for the said event. This subgroup had been originally composed of many ladies, each representing a prefecture in Japan. Member Shimizu Maria invited Filipinos to the hot springs of the Gunma prefecture. Another member, Tani Yuri, encouraged fans to try the momiji manju, a famous Japanese maple leaf-shaped sweet cake from the Hiroshima prefecture. (WATCH: Team 8 of AKB48 performs in the Philippines)
Being their first time in the Philippines, the group visited the historical churches and the Jose Rizal Shrine at the walled-city of Intramuros on November 8. The group also said that they would love to visit Boracay’s white sand beaches and Bohol’s Chocolate Hills.
Aside from the girls of AKB48, the Filipino cosplay queen, Alodia Gosiengfiao, also performed on-stage, showcasing her costumes as Hatsune Miku from the video game, Project Diva. Being an avid fan of the game Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), she also discussed discrimination among female gamers in a media interview during the first day of the event.
Singing the song “Kawaii Girl” with her was another budding Japanese idol group, in the name of Akishibu Project. Also first-timers in the country, the group tried the Filipino dish, sinigang and enjoyed it so much. The group ended the two-day festival with an autograph-signing.
Both idol groups were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic welcome of Filipino fans and said that they would love to come back some other time.
A Filipino girl group, Kawaii 5, also shared the stage with them, promoting the popular Japanese drama, Amachan, which was currently airing on TV5.
But the cuteness did not end here as popular Japanese character, Hello Kitty made everybody smile. Anime Ambassador Doraemon, together with his friends, also produced laughter from the crowd.
The coolest masters
Aside from pop culture, the festival also introduced a glimpse of culture from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Event participants savored an authentic sushi-making experience with one-on-one demonstrations from Japanese Master chefs. Guests then enjoyed the sushi they made themselves.
There was a performance from the master drumming group, Tokoro Taiko. Together with a moody play of stage lights, the performance was a magnificent cultural ensemble of Japanese drums.
There were also food stalls offering other Japanese delicacies like the takoyaki or the ball-shaped Japanese snack, and the okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake.
The coolest items and technology
The Japanese retail store, Cool Japan Shop, which would open stores in the Philippines soon, also offered visitors a variety of authentic and creative Japanese products: from the most kawaii tissue holders, to the most trendy accessories and beauty products, to the most innovative chairs and stools.
Filipinos also experienced the latest in Japanese digital installation from the Drawing Aquarium of Team Lab. Using the hologram technology, could see their sea creature drawings swim in the pseudo-aquarium.
Visitors also enjoyed a creative photo booth with motion-detection features. Pictures were uploaded on Cool Japan Festival's Facebook page.
The coolest partnerships
The event, brought to us by the multi-national company, Hallohallo Inc, had also witnessed the jumpstart of several projects in partnership with different Philippine institutions.
Together with the Philippine Department of Tourism, Lani Lani magazine, the first ever Japanese-English quarterly travel guide was launched during the festival. The bilingual publication would be offering different Philippine destinations to the Japanese people and would be providing features as well for Filipinos who wanted to explore Japan.
In cooperation with the Department of Labor and Employment, the project "Street Children Back to School Program" had also been introduced. On January 2016, the project will sponsor a number of school classes for street children by providing computers, Internet connections, learning materials and even nutritious meals, all for free.
As the second day of the festival came to an end, the Trinoma mall atmosphere was filled with the words thank you, salamat and arigatou gozaimasu. – Rappler.com
Sheen Irerick Seeckts is an avid fan of the Japanese culture and the rock band, ONE OK ROCK. She is also a freelance writer who is currently exploring the media industry and the world.