Five years on, Brighton is again gearing up to play host to the vibrant feast that is the Japanese Festival (From The Argus)
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Five years on, Brighton is again gearing up to play host to the vibrant feast that is the Japanese Festival
10:00am Saturday 14th September 2013 in News
Tens of thousands of visitors descended on the city for last year’s Brighton Japan Festival.
Nowhot on the heels of Brighton Digital Festival, Brighton Japan Festival is ready to blow previous years out of the water with its eclectic programme of events.
Nicholas Rohl, director of Brighton Japan Festival, said: “We have created the largest Japanese festival in Europe.
“The big change this year is that we have moved to take over the entire Old Steine gardens and we have turned the gardens into Japan for ten days. Consequently we have a much bigger playground to play with.”
Anime and gaming are to play a huge role in the festival with an entire tent dedicated to celebrating the past, present and future of video games.
Among its many events is Monday’s High Culture Night which Mr Rohl promises will be one of this year’s festival highlights.
Complete with the supper club evening, the night aims to provide the best of Japanese high culture.
Mr Rohl said: “We will have a fantastic piano recital from Aisa Ijiri and her mother is bringing over some rare blossom tea for the event from Kyoto.
“It is going to be quite special – nothing quite like it has ever been seen before in Brighton, or indeed the country.”
However, it’s not just the cultural experience that the organisers are keen to offer visitors.
Mr Rohl and his co-founder Karl Jones, are keen to hone in on potential business prospects which are sure to put Brighton on the map.
“What sets Brighton Japan apart from lots of other festivals is that it’s not just a cultural event,” Mr Rohl added.
“What we are trying to do is attract businesses to take part in the festival.”
Tuesday will host the Digital Playground in conjunction with Brighton Digital Festival giving a live-pitch Dragons’ Den opportunity to games and tech developers.
“The idea is to create a digital playground, to get really big important people down to Brighton to invest in local businesses and to provide entertainment at the same time,” said Mr Rohl.
“Companies will have that opportunity to have readily available place to go for entertainment.
“Billionaire Bill Liao (corr) will be on the panel where people can pitch their ideas for investment and so will Ian Livingstone who invested in games such as Lara Croft.”
The other obvious perk of having Europe’s largest Japanese festival on the doorstep is the tourism it will bring.
Mr Rohl believes the event will help businesses grow over time so that bigger Japanese companies like Sony, Panasonic, Toyota will come down to Brighton to possibly hold their conferences.
Japan is the second largest cultural export after America and this festival is a chance to introduce the culture to those who perhaps have not experienced it before.
r Rohl explained: “The Japanese culture has such a huge influence and continues to have such a huge impact in the world “As the co-owner of Moshimo it’s important for me that it’s not just food we are offering people.
“I never thought it would get as big as it has done – it’s completely insane.
“It’s just going to be the biggest party of the year.
“If people come, which I hope they do, they will see things they have never seen before and it’s going to be pretty extravagant.”
Study The University of Brighton also has a growing Japanese community, currently boasting 37 Japanese students and 102 active alumni.
Its ability to offer a range subjects which are of key interest to students from Japan is just one of the reasons so many students choose Brighton to study their degrees.
Sarah Herbert, project co-ordinator for international students at the University of Brighton, said having so many students from Japan choose to study in Brighton created opportunities mutual link to learn about one another’s cultures and history.
But also being host to Europe’s largest annual Japanese festival all adds to the city’s attraction.
“The city and the university already have strong ties with Japan – the university has for many years established formal links and agreements with major institutions in countries all over the world including Waseda University in Japan,” she added.
“The world is getting smaller and by welcoming overseas students, the city and the UK can learn and understand different cultures and in doing so we can build bridges across the cultural divide.
“Young people today travel extensively throughout the world and by welcoming overseas students we are enriching the learning experience for students, wherever they are from.”
With Japan at the forefront of digital developments, Mr Rohl is already thinking about ways to get students from Japan more involved in next year’s festival.
He is particularly keen to get young people involved with the digital projects, providing an opportunity for Brighton to learn from Japan’s digital development and expand as a digital hub “It’s through doing things like Brighton Digital Festival and Brighton Japan Festival being much more inventive about how people meet and exchange ideas,” he explained.
“I think hopefully what we can show with the digital playground and putting on events like this is it gives a name for Brighton for people to work in and to meet investors and to work in an environment that’s fun and creative.”
For more information on Brighton Japan Festival visit www.brightonjapan.com.
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