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ISLAMABAD: An art exhibition showcasing the history of martial arts and weapons opened at the National Art Gallery on Monday.

The event also included live Judo, Karate and Ninjutsu performances by Pakistani masters.

Japanese Ambassador Takashi Kurai inaugurated the travelling exhibition titled The Spirit of Budo: the history of Japan’s martial arts. The exhibition has been to many countries and is in Pakistan for the second time.

He spoke about the philosophy of martial arts, its evolution over 1,000 years — from battlefield combat techniques to popular sports or physical exercise — and how its spirit is still inherent in the daily lives of the Japanese.

Ambassador Kurai told Dawn that the exhibit aims at highlighting the spiritual aspect of the Budo through the development of body and soul.

“The martial arts attach more importance to the spiritual aspect than to combat,” he said.

With their techniques and armoury, Budo arts have been so immensely popular in the world that they are often seen as representative images of Japan, the envoy said.

“I am very glad to see the popularity of the Japanese martial arts among the Pakistani people, particularly the interest shown by youngsters in the art,” Mr Kurai said.

The two-week exhibit features paintings of 17th Century battles, photographs of Japanese sumo wrestling, reproductions of various shapes of bamboo bows, arrows, helmets and gunpowder cases, helmet breakers, armours and swords traditionally used in Budo or martial arts, representing a fascinating history of Japanese martial arts and their place in modern, global and popular culture.

Due to the many years of conflict in Japan the earliest people of the island developed an interest in the study of violence, weaponry and combat.

It was however,consolidated and formalised in the 12th Century with the rise of the professional warrior class.

Budo-martial ways- encompasses both physical and spiritual dimensions and serves as a path to self-perfection.

F.S Ninja Academy’s chief instructor Irfan Bhatti and his assistant Naveed Anwer Bhatti, who are providing martial arts training in 60 schools of the twin cities and 10 institutes, and their students performed the Ninjutsu style of judo, karate and sword amid applause from the audience.

Pak-Japan Friendship Forum president Khalid Malik said that the aim of the show is to popularise Japanese martial arts and strengthen cultural ties between the two countries.

Moeeni, a visitor, said the secret of the development and survival of a country lies in the preservation of cultural heritage and learning from the past experiences and mistakes.

“Pakistan being the cradle of ancient civilisations was once the popular destination of religious tourism. Tourists from Japan would visit the country in large numbers before the 80s. This can be revived by promoting the cultural diversity of the country”, he said.

The exhibition was organized by Japanese embassy in collaboration with Pakistan National Council of the Arts and the Japan Foundation.

The exhibition will remain open till January 21 from 9am to 5pm daily except on Mondays.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019