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Banaban Dance Group Tours Japan
by Japanese Representative Banaban Heritage Society Inc. - Manabu Kitaguchi
At first I would like to say, Thank you very, very much to the Banaban Dance Group and the Rabi Council of Leaders. The days the Banaban Dance Group spent in Japan were amazing times. Members of the Ethnic Concert Organising Committee and the Japanese audiences were surprised and moved from the bottom of their hearts. It was an unforgettable experience for the Banaban Group, who were making their debut in Japan and their first tour outside Fiji.
The Banabans performance was marvellous. They performed in Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Osaka to an audience of nearly 1,000. I arranged two workshops and two press conferences in each city. The Japanese press announced their Tour in Japan many times, incorporating the history between Banaba and Japan. Once the Japanese knew about the historical link between Banaba and Japan, the Japanese were more endeared to the Banabans. Some of the old Japanese Marines, who were based on Ocean Island spoke with me just after the Dance Group performed in Tokyo and said to me, We want to say sorry to the Banabans about our behaviour during World War 2.
Our young Japanese generation are now beginning to learn about their history and how terrible war is. These young Japanese people learnt a lot from the Banaban Dancers. It is important for young people to learn from history. The Banaban Dance Group were wonderful ambassadors for their people.
We held conferences in Tokyo and Osaka with the Okinawa people, the Ainu people (indigenous people in Japan) and the Burakumin people (all minority groups in Japan), and the Banabans. The Japanese minority groups and Banabans formed a strong relationship.
Many University Professors showed interest in the Banabans and were surprised at their Cultural Dances.
Many of the Japanese expressed interest in visiting Rabi Island to strengthen the bonds between the Japanese minority groups and the Banabans.
Organising this Tour took a lot of effort on my part, but fortunately the Organising Committee supplied about 1,000F$ for each performance. And a lot of gifts from the women’s grass roots movement groups in Japan.
The Fijian Ambassador invited us to lunch and we visited the Human Rights museum in Osaka. Noriko and I wore a traditional Banaban dancing costume.
Comments from the Organising Committee:
We have never seen such beautiful and marvellous people and their performance in our life before.
I wish that the Banabans keep in contact with the Japanese people that they met, especially those Japanese people they met at Osaka.
They are very powerful human rights activists and they have political and economical power. The Banabans are looking to further improve the existing, strong relationship.
I would like to ask all the Banaban Dancers:
How did you enjoy your stay in Japan?
Did you enjoy the taste of Japanese Beer?
What did you think of the trains in Japan?
How did you enjoy the company of the young people of Japan?
How ... How
I believe we will be inviting the Banaban Dance Group back to Japan.
See you soon.
Copyright Manabu Kitaguchi Dec, 1997
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