Japan Comes to Berlin

A market celebrating Japanese culture gave attendees the chance to experience Japan’s rich society

August 12th, 2019
Frankie Fraser, News from Berlin
20190812_Japan Comes to Berlin.jpg

On Sunday, the 12th of August, the well known Birgit & Bier, was transformed into a market celebrating Japanese culture. For the day this patch of south-east Berlin became a slice of Japan, bringing a wide array of Japanese products and artefacts of society.

The varied, colourful and creative market bought a host of Japanese goods to enjoy. Artists from across Berlin bought handmade treasures, such as kimonos, jewellery and works of original origami. There was also trade opportunities, with Atelier Nuno providing Japanese fabrics featuring classic motifs and striking prints. There was also anime and manga stand selling memorabilia, comics and cards. Equally, Japan’s rich food history was also honoured, with a huge array of classical Japanese food on sale, such as ramen and takoyaki octopus balls. However, Japan’s food culture never stands still, with the first-ever korroke stand in Europe present at the market. A korroke is distantly related to the croquette, popular across Europe, but with a distinctly Japanese twist. Of course, it couldn’t be a festival of Japanese culture without sake, with the fabled Japanese rice wine in plentiful supply.

Along with the host of Japanese products to enjoy, there was also workshops and events promoting japan’s culture. There was a shodo workshop, a form of Japanese calligraphy, ubiquitous to Japanese culture. It translates to ‘way of writing’, and involves using a brush, inkstick (which are often between 50-100 years of age), mulberry paper and an inkstone, collectively referred to as the ‘four treasures of the study’. It has its routes in Chinese calligraphy styles, which exhibits that although political relations between these two states have often been fraught, they share numerous aspects of each others culture. A sake x umami workshop also took place, with attendees learning the history, method of production, its taste variety and sampling the iconic beverage. Furthermore, there were performances of traditional Japanese geisha dance, featuring the classical kimono and Oshiro makeup. Often misunderstood in western becoming synonymous with prostitution, which is profoundly false. Due to this, it was an opportunity for many to learn the true origins of this style of makeup and dance, challenging the preconceived ideas many held in the process. Finally, there were several origami workshops, the well-known art of paper folding. Participants learnt the fascinating ability to transform simply pieces of card into sculptures using nothing but paper. 

Overall the event was a fantastic opportunity to experience the taste, smells and culture of Japan without the cost of a plane ticket. It was enjoyed by all in attendance, if you are interested in attending the Japan Market they are held every few months and can be found on Facebook.


News from Berlin