The 7th Gujo Dance Workshop
The Center for Japanese Language and Culture held the 7th Gujo Dance Workshop at the Yanagido Kaikan building, Gifu University on May 23, 2018. The Gujo Bon Dance is one of the traditional local performing arts and is designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset in Japan. Around 40 people including international and Japanese students, teaching and administrative staff attended the workshop. This workshop is held as part of exchange promotion activities between Gifu University and Gujo City, Gifu Prefecture. Gifu University and Gujo City signed the agreement for the promotion of academia-government cooperation in March 19, 2012, and this workshop has been conducted as part of exchange promotion activities with Gujo City which has a long history of "Summer School Gujo Program." Many Gifu University international students enjoyed staying at local residence and had a wonderful time joining a variety of social activities taking place in the city even before the signing of the agreement.
Before the opening of the workshop, members of an international exchange support group, "Sepia Kai" (Mino City, Gifu) helped the international students get dressed in summer kimonos they chose. There was a large number of participants so that the wooden clogs readied for them were not available for everyone. Students from Australia, China, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Myanmar, Peru, South Korea, Thailand, Tonga, the United States, Viet Nam and Japan looked very excited in choosing their kimonos even before the workshop began.
Mr. Mitsuo Endo and Ms. Rie Kumazawa from Gujo Hachiman Town, home to Gujo Dance were invited to visit Gifu University to teach students how to dance. At the beginning of the workshop, the two instructors briefly explained about Gujo City and Gujo Dance, then the participants practiced two dances called, "Kawasaki" and "Harukoma" both of which are the most popular dances in Gujo Dance.
Some students looked nervous and their movement seemed a little clumsy at first, but the words from the instructors, "It is not the matter of good or bad. Enjoy dancing in big smiles is what this workshop is all about" made the participants feel relaxed and they started to move well to music. In the competition to determine the outstanding dancers, three international students were chosen by the instructors as the "best performers" and the instructors presented them with small gifts.
The 7th Gujo Dance Workshop gave international students another invaluable opportunity to feel Japan and Gifu firsthand.
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