In a special interview for PLOVEDIV, Takako Saeko, program manager at EU Japan Fest, shares her thoughts about the relationship between Japan and Plovdiv in the context of the European Capital of Culture. She is in our city in relation to the 2019 Forum.
Cultures in Japan and Bulgaria are substantially different when it comes to tradition. What symbiosis are we to expect?
Our tradition has changed its form receiving a lot of influence by other culture. It does not stay the same because people adopted it in line with the times, and they created new movement at each stage. At the same time we also shaped our own identity though this process. It is happening even right now like a chemical reaction in this globalization. Beyond tradition and culture, we are so similar in humanity. We believe European Capital of Culture plays the leading role for creating new wave, involving all over the world.
What types of projects are you looking for – those that rely on the traditional aspect or those that offer a contemporary view?
We are not looking for any specific type of project. It does not matter whether it is traditional or contemporary. Our role is to support what locals and Plovdiv 2019 want to achieve on the occasion of European Capital of Culture. Even for us, there are many things we do not know about Japanese culture. We often meet people who loves Japanese culture even more and we learn about it from them. Working with ECoC brings us many encounters with nice surprise, and that is our pleasure. Any people who participates ECoC learn so much through ECoC projects.
Do you look for connectivity among the past, present and future European capitals of culture or do you prefer to boost the cultural life in the capital of culture in the given year?
European Capital of Culture is not just one year project, but a long term project. You dedicate many years for preparation, boost it the given year, and it will be a legacy as a result. It requires a huge amount of passion and energy. We think this whole energy affects all of us, connecting the past, present and future ECoC and the rest of the world.
Bulgaria takes part for the first time and all eyes are on Plovdiv. What comes after the establishment of the friendship between your organization and Plovdiv 2019? What about after 2019?
We have been in contact with Plovdiv2019 since the city won the title, yet there is no shortcut to build a strong partnership. We might face problems or obstacles along the way until 2019, but we can overcome them as long as we share the common ideal and goal. ECoC is not bilateral partnership. Even if it’s small scale, you can let various people involved in. We believe Plovdiv has enough potential to take this opportunity. It is true that all eyes are on Plovdiv and such a expectation kindle your enthusiasm to move forward. You will gain the fruit after long preparation and deep engagement for it. Our role is to pour a little water into the soil where native seeds are already existing, hoping it helps them to sprout, become trees with deep roots, and grow into forests someday. Our hope is making ECoC successful, and we support it from behind the stage. We try to collect the voices of artists and connect them. We believe the success of ECoC brings fruits for our common future. Nobody knows what comes after 2019 now but let’s work for it together to make it successful and sustainable. We look forward to it.