Learn traditional Japanese arts at Playtrail workshop

The Northwest Japanese Cultural Group will host an event teaching the traditional arts of Japan.

The workshop will take place at the Playtrail on the Racecourse road in Pennyburn on September 25. Admission is free and all ages are welcome to attend. The event will take place inside the amphitheatre from 11am-1pm.

Here people will have the chance to learn all about ancient Japanese arts such as Bonsai.

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Bonsai is the art of producing small trees that mimic the shape of real life trees. This practise has been in existence for centuries and reflects the culture of Japan.

Junko Okura is the director of the NWJCG and is passionate about the arts. She is married to a Derry man and moved to Ireland with her husband and three children 15 years ago.

Junko established the NWJCG in 2014 and has seen a great interest in Japanese culture in the local communities.

“You have to take care of Bonsai trees as if you take care of your own body and mind,” she said.

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“If you really care about them, they could live for more than a hundred years. Bonsai dating to the 17th century has survived to the present day. One of the oldest-known living Bonsai trees is considered one of Japan’s National Treasures.

“Bonsai was taken as ‘an old man’s hobby’ for many years in Japan, but it has become very popular overseas.

“I’m very surprised to find young people here refer to Bonsai as ‘cool’.

“The Japanese art of Bonsai originated in China during the 6th century. A close relationship between Japan’s Zen Buddhism and the potted trees began to shape Bonsai reputation and aesthetics. Bonsai cultivation reached a high level of expertise in this period.”

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The workshop is part of Good Relations week 2021 which is a showcase of cross-community and multicultural arts.

At the event this Saturday the NWJCG will organise an in-person workshop for introducing Bonsai. If you’re between 10-25 years old and register early enough, you will have the chance to receive a young tree to begin Bonsai yourself. (limited to the first ten people).

Barry Williamson is a Bonsai expert with 50 years experience. Junko says that we should have “an open mind” to other cultures around us.

“Apart from crafts, the NWJCG also emphasises on storytelling activities.” she said.

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“You’ll be surprised to find that there are a lot of similarities between Japanese folktales and Irish ghost stories. We’d like to deliver those activities to the wider communities in the Northwest. Of course there is wonderful Irish/Northern Irish culture here. But now people with various different backgrounds live in Derry & Strabane and they have their own brilliant traditions.

“Cherish stuff around you, the same as you cherish yourself. The broken part can be cured and you can be proud of the trace in the healing process as your own journey.”

*Registration for this event is essential. Please visit the following website to complete a form: www.tinyurl.com/wkacazfx. You can also follow the NWJCG on Facebook or Instagram.

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