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KARACHI: Japan does not interfere in the political happenings in other countries, and will continue to economically and culturally invest in Pakistan, said Consul General of Japan, Toshikazu Isomura, here on Saturday.

“Pakistan and Japan do have very different cultural backgrounds but the friendship between the two countries is very strong. This has persisted despite the security situation in the country worsening over years,” he said while speaking at an event held to mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Japan.

Speaking of parallels between Pakistani and Japanese societies, he said that both were very different and possessed great cultural significance. However, one quality that Pakistanis did not have was valuing time, which they should work on.

65 years of diplomatic relations celebrated

To celebrate the milestone, a variety of Japanese activities — from different types of Japanese martial arts to the aesthetically appealing Ikebana and bonsai — were organised at the Japan Information and Cultural Centre. Several Japanese and Pakistani families were present and took part in the activities, allowing a cultural exchange between the two diverse and varied cultures.

At the event performers from Japan demonstrated jujutsu, a Japanese martial art for close combat.

Kendo, Japanese fencing, was also much appreciated by the audience. The intensity and passion with which the performers exhibited their swordsmanship was the highlight of the event. The audience was also taught about the prescribed forms and the basic elements of swordsmanship coupled with the appropriate demonstration. These prescribed forms are referred to as katas.

One of the purposes of kata is to preserve effective techniques and pass them down to the next generation. There are 10 prescribed forms in Kendo kata in which there are two roles — the teacher and the student. The teacher allows the student to attack and tries to teach when and how to attack.

The Ikebana demonstration showcased the Japanese art of floral arrangements, which requires patience and an aesthetic sense.

A masterclass was also held of bonsai, the Japanese art of growing trees in containers. Taking up a local tree plant and trimming it, as well as applying the other techniques to it, was Khalid Sohail, vice president of the Pakistan Bonsai Society. His interactive session with the audience involved outlining how to identify which kind of plant is best suited for a bonsai and how to then trim, cut and transfer it accordingly.

“The art of bonsai in Japan is very different from that practised in China because the Japanese version has been properly adopted and follows certain prescribed techniques which make it easier to shape,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2017