Japanese calligraphy, swordsmanship, tea ceremony, and other arts and crafts were on display Friday, May 3rd in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall as 40 citizens from the City of Inuyama set up in the plaza to share Japanese art and culture with the citizens of Brooklyn. They were here as part of the B. Bridges exchange program run by Anthony Bianchi, a native of Brooklyn who now lives in Japan and is a member of the Inuyama City Council. The Borough Hall exchange event ran from 11:00AM to 3:00PM, kicking off with words of welcome from Mr. Fumio Iwai, Deputy Consul General with the Consulate General of Japan in New York, Mr. Takaaki Ogata, Executive Director of Japan Local Government Center, and Mr. Bianchi. Marty Markowitz, the inimitable Brooklyn Borough President, also gave a rousing speech to welcome everyone to the plaza and the day’s festivities.
There were demonstrations of the calligraphy, swordsmanship, and tea ceremony listed above as well as the chance to actually enjoy a cup of macha green tea, prepared as it would be in the tea ceremony (and you could keep the cup as a souvenir), to do origami paper folding, and to try Japanese calligraphy using a brush and ink. Items for sale included dolls dressed in traditional style with kimono and elaborate hairdo, Inuyama’s special hard candy made with brown sugar, kirie paper cut art, footwear, and many beautiful Japanese accessories.
The crowd was also treated to an extended performance by the Xaverian Jazz Band, led by Joseph Loposky, whose players took advantage of their time off-stage to visit the various activities and visit with their friends from Inuyama. And members of the New York chapter of the JET Alumni Association were on hand to help facilitate communications between the Japanese and English speakers and to assist in the demonstrations and events.
B. Bridges generally brings a group from Inuyama to Brooklyn once every other year to engage in various homestay and exchange activities in New York, and then has a group travel to Japan from Xaverian High School, in Bay Ridge, in the intervening years, for homestays and activities around Inuyama. This year marks the tenth year of the program and the eighth exchange, and plans are already afoot for Xaverian’s visit to Japan next year.