Cultural Brief Cultural Brief

Cultural Brief

Exchange between Japan and India is said to have begun in the sixth century A.D., when Buddhism was introduced to Japan via the Korean Peninsula. Subsequently, Buddhist priests from India went to Japan, where they spread the Buddhist teachings. Indian culture, filtered through Buddhism, has had a great impact on Japanese culture and thought, and this is the source of the Japanese people's sense of closeness with India. Earliest recorded exchanges through Buddhism are exemplified by the monk Bodhisena (704-760), who was also the first documented instance of an Indian arriving in Japan; and the Amida statue at Zenkoji temple in Nagano which originated in India and is believed to have been brought into Japan circa 552, also making it the oldest Buddhist statue in existence in Japan.

2.  Direct exchange, however, began only in the Meiji era (1868-1912), when Japan embarked on the process of modernization. From then on, bilateral relations developed around Japanese purchases of cotton. During World War II the Indian nationalist Subhash Chandra Bose, who advocated armed struggle to end the United Kingdom's colonial rule, joined forces with Japan to further Indian independence. Taking over leadership of the Indian National Army in 1943, he and the INA participated in the Imphal Campaign in 1944.

3.  In 1949 Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru of India donated an Indian elephant to the Ueno Zoo, in Tokyo. This brought a ray of light into the lives of the Japanese, who still had not recovered from Japan's World War II defeat. The elephant, named Indira after Nehru's daughter, died of old age in August Her death was widely covered in the Japanese press and was mourned by many.

4.  Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations on 28th April, This treaty was one of the first peace treaties Japan signed after World War II.

5.  In the 1950s Japan still restricted overseas travel, but because of India's friendship toward Japan and keen interest in exchange, there was cultural interaction centered on intellectuals and officials from both countries. Among nongovernmental organizations, the International House of Japan (IHJ) played a leading role in cultural and intellectual exchange, inviting a number of prominent Indians to lecture at the IHJ, including Vice-President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (well known as the author of Indian Philosophy and other works) in 1956 and Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1958. The IHJ also supported the activities of the Japan-based Indian Studies Group, which was engaged in research on modern India. Scholarly exchange took place between this group and the Calcutta-based Indian Statistical Institute, headed by the distinguished statistician Chandra Mahalanobis well known for drawing up India's first 5-year plan.

6.  The Cultural Agreement Between Japan and India was signed in 1956 and took effect the following The Japan-India Mixed Cultural Commission, an intergovernmental forum for wide- ranging exchanges of views on cultural exchange, was also established around that time, and has met every few years since then.

7.  On the governmental level, in 1951 India established a scholarship system for overseas This system to this day provides an opportunity for young Japanese scholars who today are in the forefront of Indian studies to study in India.

8.  In the 1960s the Japanese economy rapidly recovered, and relations with India came to focus chiefly on economic and technical cooperation provided by Japan. As a result, interest in India waned When Satyajit Ray's ‘’Pather Panchali’’ was shown in Japan, however, it made a deep impression, and other Indian films shown since then have also generated an enthusiastic response.

9.  When the Government of Japan lifted travel restrictions in the 1970s, the number of Japanese going overseas grew dramatically. Although travel to India saw only modest growth, non- specialists enjoyed increased opportunities to experience India firsthand; the number of young Japanese wandering through India grew, as did the number of people visiting India's ancient Buddhist sites. In addition, a variety of individuals and groups began taking part in exchange activities.

10.  In regard to cultural cooperation, since 1978 Japan has been extending cultural grant aid to research institutes, universities, and cultural faculties to encourage their activities. In addition, through the UNESCO/Japan Trust Fund for Preservation of the World Cultural Heritage, Japan is helping with the preservation and restoration of the Buddhist monuments of Sanchi and Satdhara by sending experts and in other ways.

11.  Cultural exchange picked up in the 1980s, with Japanese local governments becoming involved in exchange activities with their Indian counterparts and traditional Indian performing arts being shown in At their meeting in November 1985 Japan's Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and India's Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi agreed to hold a ‘’Japan Month’’ in four major Indian cities and a ‘’Festival of India’’ in major Japanese cities. The array of events planned was the largest-scale cultural-exchange venture ever undertaken by the two countries with the cooperation of both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. The ‘’Japan Month’’ was held from October to November 1987. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi attended the April 1988 opening ceremony of the Festival of India, which continued for about half a year. Events in locales around Japan included performances of Indian classical dance and folk music, an exhibition of modern Indian art, a film festival, an exhibition of Indian architecture, and an exhibition on Rabindranath Tagore. In addition, the play Mahabharata, based on the ancient Indian epic of that name and directed by Peter Brook, was performed by an international cast to acclaim.

12.  A number of special events were held in the two countries in 1992 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic In Japan, these included performances by an Indian dance troupe and an exhibition of Indian folk painting. In India, they included a Japanese film festival and performances of Noh drama.

13.  In January 1993 the Government of Japan sent a cultural mission led by Seizaburo Sato, then a professor at Keio University, to India and four other Southwest Asian countries. After exchanging views with officials of concerned cultural authorities and intellectuals and visiting historical monuments and cultural institutions that could become targets of Japanese cooperation, the mission advised the Government of Japan on the importance of continued cultural exchange and cooperation as well as methods of promoting The mission comprised members of the Southwest Asia Forum, a group of intellectuals and opinion leaders set up after Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu's 1990 tour of Southwest Asia to explore ways of building closer relations with the region's countries.

14.  In January 1994 the Japan Foundation opened an office in New Delhi that is actively engaged in cultural exchange. The Japan Foundation Asia Center is also involved in introducing Indian culture to the Japanese in various ways, such as showing films directed by G. Aravindan of the South Indian state of Kerala. On the governmental level, in January 1996 the Japan-India Mixed Cultural Commission met in New Delhi. Representatives of the two countries engaged in a lively exchange of views on exchange policies in various fields and agreed to promote intellectual exchange in order to foster mutual understanding.

Present Status

15.  The Indian Cultural Centre opened in Embassy of India in September 2009, was later named as Vivekananda Cultural Centre in 2014 by PM Narendra The Centre offeres classes on Yoga, Tabla, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Indian Movie dances. More than 40 familiarization visits are held every year of this Cultural Centre by different Japanese institutions including schools, Universities, media agencies and NPOs and its activities are widely covered in the local print, electronic and social media. More than 700 Japanese students register in its two semesters held from Jan. to June and July to December and a significant conclusion ceremony is held at the end of every semester, in which all the students showcase their talent on the stage. Furthermore, the centre’s Teacher of Indian Culture (TIC) conducts workshops on Indian culture including Yog, Ayurved, Indian cuisines etc. on a semi-regular basis for members of the public.

16.  In pursuance of the MoU signed in 2015 between Yoga Organization of Japan and the Quality Council of India for the promotion of Scheme for Voluntary Certification of Yoga, the first QCI examination outside India, was held in Japan at the Vivekananda Cultural Centre on 23 April, The first ever Parliamentary League for the Promotion of Yoga was launched in Japan in April 2017. The two Prime Ministers declared 2017 as the Year of Friendly Exchanges. A series of events were organized to commemorate the year.

17.  Minoru Kasai, Emeritus Professor, International Christian University, Tokyo was awarded by prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Award for promoting Gandhian Values outside India in the year 2015. Professor Hiroshi Marui, University of Tokyo was awarded by 3rd ICCR Distinguished Indologist Award by the President of India in 2017. Prof. Tomio Mizokami, renowned Hindi scholar and Emeritus Professor, Osaka University of Foreign Studies was conferred the Padma Shri in 2018.

18.  During the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan in November 2016, the two Prime Ministers declared the year 2017 the ‘’Year of Japan-India Friendly Exchanges’’ to further enhance people-to-people exchanges between Japan and The year 2017 also marked the 60th anniversary since the Cultural Agreement came into force in 1957. Various commemorating events took place in both countries. In June, 2018, as a significant gesture, the 4th International Day of Yoga was celebrated at the Japanese Diet with a commemorative Yoga session for the Japanese Parliamentarians, which is being held every year there with presence of several parliamentarians. Additionally, International Day of Yoga is being organized at more than hundred places of Japan, including iconic and historic places like Tokyo Sky tree, Kamakura and Nara.

19.  Every year several India Festivals like Namaste India Tokyo, Fukuoka Namaste India, Uchisaiwaicho India Festival etc. are held in Japan. Namaste India Tokyo held in September every year is the largest International Festival of Japan organized to illustrate any country of the world with participation of approximately 2 Lakh visitors in 2 days. Uchisaiwaicho India Festival is organized in association with Chiyoda City Government of Tokyo. Largest museum of Mithila paintings in the world is established in Niigata prefecture of Japan established by a Japanese collector Mr. Tokio Hasegawa. Every year, ICCR sends at least two dance troupes, to participate in these India festivals.

20.  More than 50 Indian associations and representing all the geographical and linguistic strands of India are active in Japan, with their efforts to bring various dimensions of Indian culture in Japan by engaging their Japanese friends and Approximately 10 prominent Japanese associations like Japan-India Association, Discover India Club, Bharat-Japan Sarvodaya Mitrata Sangha led by Japanese people etc. are contributing to the promotion of India-Japan bilateral relations. Several Indian Cricket clubs are trying to make Cricket popular in Japan inviting Japanese players to play with them. Traditional Indian sports like Kabbadi, Malkhamb etc are also gaining popularity. More than 100 Japanese artists of Indian Classical and contemporary music and dance are regularly performing in the different parts of Japan and Vivekananda Cultural Centre provides them ample opportunities and support to perform.

21.  Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre has increasingly focused on offering a variety of online content and activities to offer members of the public an opportunity to enjoy and learn about Indian culture from the comfort of their own homes. These include the Digital Concert Series, Digital Dance Series, Digital Yoga Series, and a variety of real-time online conferences/seminars.

22.  The year 2022 marks the 75th year of India’s independence, #AzadikaAmritMahotsav, and 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Japan. In this regard, various high profile cultural events are being planned, both in Japan and India to further promote cultural ties and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

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January 2022