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Japan Vietnam Festival cheers up Ho Chi Minh City park

Japan Vietnam Festival cheers up Ho Chi Minh City park

Sunday, March 10, 2024, 09:00 GMT+7
Japan Vietnam Festival cheers up Ho Chi Minh City park
Japanese Saki Kanetaka (right) and Kanon Sato pose for a photo while attending the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Miikka Mäkitalo from Finland was instantly drawn to the bustling atmosphere at the 23/9 Park in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City while wandering around the neighborhood waiting for his girlfriend to get her hair done at a local salon on Saturday morning.

Amidst crowds adorned in Japan's traditional yukata and cosplay costumes, the lively music, vibrant booths, and enticing aroma of various cuisines beckoned him to step inside.

It was only then that he discovered he had stumbled upon the Japan Vietnam Festival -- a captivating event for both Vietnamese and Japanese residents in Ho Chi Minh City.

Cosplayers are seen at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Cosplayers are seen at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Sabine from Germany and her friends were also among the festival-goers on Saturday. 

She was in Ho Chi Minh City a few days ahead of her working trip in the city, and was drawn to the festival while strolling the area nearby her hotel, thanks to the event's festive atmosphere. 

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thi Thuy Vy, 24, traveled from Binh Chanh District to the venue early in the morning as she was excited to join the fest.

Clad in her beloved cosplay ensemble, Vy became a focal point, garnering admiration and many photo requests from fellow event-goers.

“I'm so happy,” Vy said. “This is my third time participating in this festival, as I love Japan and have always wanted to learn more about the country, its people, and culture.”

A cosplayer buys maki sushi rolls from a booth at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A cosplayer buys maki sushi rolls from a booth at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Hold hands together -- From now on

Now in its ninth year, the Japan Vietnam Festival offers a diverse array of activities.

These include music performances, culinary booths showcasing both Vietnamese and Japanese delicacies, sports areas, exhibitions, sales booths, and informational kiosks about tourism, among other engaging attractions.

A kid plays at the snow area at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A kid plays in the snow area of the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

The two-day event is held by both Japanese and Vietnamese sides under the theme of 'Cùng nắm chặt tay nhau - Từ giờ về sau" (Hold Hands Tightly - From Now On).

The opening ceremony on Saturday morning saw the participation of former State President Truong Tan Sang, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Phan Van Mai, special advisor to the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentary Alliance and former secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party Tsutomu Takebe, and other distinguished guests.

Distinguished guests shake hand at the opening ceremony of the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9, 2024. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Distinguished guests shake hands at the opening ceremony of the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, March 9, 2024. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

At the beginning of the ceremony, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent his wishes through a recorded video that the ninth Vietnam-Japan Festival would help promote deeper exchanges between the people of Japan and Vietnam.

During his address, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang conveyed his confidence that this year's Japan Vietnam Festival will draw significant participation from the citizens of both nations.

He said that the festival provides diverse experiences related to the countries, including their people, art, cuisine, and traditional cultural treasures.

The event, he added, will persist in acting as a bridge of friendship, fostering genuine connections and trust between the people of both countries.

Moreover, it will actively facilitate multifaceted cooperation and exchanges between Vietnam and Japan, thereby contributing to the enhancement of their comprehensive strategic partnership.

Coaches instruct a visitor to play baseball at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9, 2024. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Coaches instruct a visitor to play baseball at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre

Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Phan Van Mai underscored the city's earnest desire to uphold its role and commitment as a forefront contributor to Vietnam-Japan relations.

He also expressed the city's aspiration to be a prominent and trusted partner for Japanese localities.

Tsutomu Takebe, honorary head of the festival's organizing board, affirmed that the Japan Vietnam Festival's primary purpose is to deepen mutual understanding between the two peoples regarding their respective traditional cultures.

This is achieved through diverse activities such as product and brand showcases, the promotion of tourism and technology, and fostering sports, cultural, and artistic exchanges.

They contribute to further tightening the friendly relationship and promoting development cooperation between Vietnam and Japan, he said.

"We hope that from now on, the Japan Vietnam Festival will evolve into a cherished historical and traditional event collaboratively shaped by both Vietnamese and Japanese communities, with a promising trajectory of continuous growth and development," he stated. 

A chef instructs visitors to make Japanese compressed rice onigiri at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A chef instructs visitors to make onigiri, a Japanese food made of compressed rice, at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A staff instructs a vistor to play Japanese chess shogi at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A staff member instructs a vistor to play Japanese chess shogi at the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, March 9, 2024. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

The first Vietnam - Japan Festival was organized in Ho Chi Minh City in 2013 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The seventh edition, originally scheduled for earlier dates, was repeatedly postponed until it finally took place in April 2021, as a result of the challenges posed by COVID-19 then.

In its eighth edition last year, the event was a significant celebration, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan.

It drew in an impressive attendance of 485,000 festival-goers.

The two-day festival unfolded at 23/9 Park, featuring approximately 150 booths showcasing the diverse offerings of both countries, including tourism, local specialties, cuisine, culture, education, music, sports, and technology.

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Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

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