LIMA – The typical music and dances of Japan, the tea ceremony, fine cooking and “sake” toasts this past week – as every year – revived the Japanese heritage of this city, where more than 60,000 descendants of that community of immigrants live.
Peru was one of the first destinations in South America for the Japanese, a migration that began in 1899 with 790 fieldworkers who arrived on board the Sakura Maru from Okinawa, Nagano, Gifu and elsewhere, to work on local farms.
What was originally a temporary destination became the permanent home for hundreds of immigrants who over the course of time devoted themselves to business activities and other jobs until they transformed themselves into one of the country’s most numerous and influential communities.
The cultural heritage of the Japanese in Peru each November is celebrated during Japanese Cultural Week, organized by the Peruvian Japanese Association, or APJ, and this year it culminated on Saturday evening with a festival featuring singing, dancing, typical food and drink, along with other cultural attractions.
After the traditional toast with “sake” – Japanese rice wine – there was a “mikoshi” parade, along with a heavily attended gastronomic festival offered by the APJ several days ago with plates of fresh fish, seaweed and rice, as well as fruits and other delicacies.
APJ cultural director Miyuki Ikeho told EFE that Japanese cooking is considered one of the key heritages of humanity by Unesco.
As in many Japanese festivals and cultural undertakings, the main emphasis is placed on the harmony between man and nature. That holds true for the traditional tea ceremony and “ikebana,” or flower arranging, as well as bonsai, the cultivation of miniature trees.
“In Japan there’s a term they call ‘wa,’ which means ‘harmony,’ and they say that for there be harmony you have to have order, discipline, respect and equilibrium. If those four elements are not there, there’s no harmony,” Ikeho said.