March 11, is a significant day in the Diary of Japan. It is the anniversary of the devastating earthquake and deadly tsunami that hit north-eastern Japan last year. The day also marks 60 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and New Zealand and founding of the Japanese Society of Canterbury.
I set off to the first Canterbury Japan Day wondering if many would turn up, it being a busy weekend of events including the Ellerslie Flower Show, and a doubtful weather forecast. The Riccarton Park Function Centre was packed. Obviously Christchurch people were keen to enjoy a day of Japanese culture, including takumi drums, ikebana, calligraphy, rice cake pounding and abundant food stalls. I also spotted a display of poignant photographs from the Japan disaster. One woman surrounded by rubble expressed a wish to once again laugh out loud. I enjoyed seeing details of colourful Japanese traditional dress including clunky wooden sandals. Seems disaster in Japan and New Zealand is bringing our countries closer. I recall how much I enjoyed Japanese people on our Christchurch Trams. Some things about the future look very appealing indeed.