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The Festival of India in Japan was inaugurated by the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism, Shripad Naik and Tourism Minister of Japan Akihiro Ohta in Tokyo yesterday. The year-long festival is being conducted by the Embassy of India, Tokyo in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

In his opening remarks, Naik said that the Festival of India in Japan represents India’s major cultural foray into Japan on a large scale for the first time since 1988, almost 26 years ago. The Prime Minister of India in his joint statement with the Prime Minister of Japan had stated that a Festival of India in Japan would be conducted, he said.

Covering 20 cities, the 2014 Festival of India in Japan represents one of the largest events India has conducted in Japan. Naik said that the Festival of India in Japan is being conducted in two phases – the October phase-I comprises of a series of dance productions being presented in Japan, till date, the Kalakshetra Foundation, the Manipur Dance Academy and the Kuttiyattam Kendra have presented performances in Japan. The February 2015, phase-II will comprise of the Buddhist Art exhibition which will be presented in the Tokyo National Museum. The other events include, a Buddhist conference being conducted by the International Buddhist Council of India and Buddhist exhibitions by the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara. Plans are afoot to conduct the Film Festival and Food Festival during the Festival of India in Japan.

In his opening remarks, Akihiro Ohta hoped that the Buddhist Exhibition and the Buddhist circuits being developed in India will result in larger Japanese tourist flows to India and enhanced Japanese interest in Indian historical monuments. He also complimented Naik for conducting such a large festival comprising of a number of cultural events in Japan covering 20 cities which will lay the platform for enhanced people to people contacts between the two countries.

In her welcome address, the Ambassador of India to Japan Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa said that the year-long Festival would include dance festival, literary festival, food festival, film festival, an exhibition on Indian Buddhist Art, Buddhist Conferences, a Buddha Mahotsava comprising of Buddhist chanting and lama dances. The major institutions of Ministry of Culture namely the Kalakshetra Foundation Chennai, the Sangeet Natak Akademy New Delhi, the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipuri Dance Akademy Shillong, the Kuttiyattam Kendra Thiruvanthapuram, the Sahitya Akademy New Delhi, the Indian Museum Kolkata, the Ministry of Toursim, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; and the International Buddhist Confederation New Delhi would be participating in the year-long events. Smt. Wadhwa also said that the dance festival would be conducted in 20 cities from October 4-31, 2014 and the Indian Museum Exhibition on Buddhist Art would be conducted at the prestigious National Museum, Tokyo from March-May 2015.

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