[Interview]Matsuura Koichiro, former UNESCO director, about Japanese culture in the world
Indeed, Japanese gastronomy has now earned its own place within UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. I am hopeful that its recognition will serve as an effective gateway for conveying Japanese culture and spirit.
- Category: #Interview #Awaji #International Relations #Culture
- Interview date: Oct 9th, 2018
- Writer: David Kpondehou
① Given the current popularity of Japanese culture around the world, how do you think it could be promoted more effectively to convey a truer essence of the Japanese spirit?
Having been the former General Director of UNESCO for many years now, I have spent much time travelling to other countries. I had the chance and privilege of visiting 192 of the 193 countries which belonged to UNESCO during that time, and I was happy to discover that Japanese culture seems to be very much appreciated outside of Japan. I found that nearly everybody had a high level of admiration for Japanese culture even if the degree of knowledge about Japanese culture differed from country to country. In fact, during the nineteenth century many Europeans with higher education (particularly in France) expressed their admiration for Japanese culture through different domains such as visual arts, post-impressionism, fashion, and even gastronomy. However, from Japan’s side, it would be better if we made more serious efforts to transmit the essential spirit of Japan.The Japanese government recently decided that it would devote eight months (from July this year until next February) to the organization of 17 major events along with numerous others, under the collective name “Japonismes 2018.” It will be established in France in the hopes that it will also impact the interest of other surrounding European countries.
②UNESCO has already recognized many of Japan’s assets in its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Are there others which you would like to see recognized in the future?
Japanese gastronomy is becoming very popular in the world. Currently, over one hundred thousand Japanese-style restaurants operate in the world with around 70% of them being in Asia. Many surveys have shown that over 70% of tourists indicate gastronomy as the most attractive point of Japan as its cuisine is known to be delicious, healthy, reasonably-priced, and have a deep connection with Japanese culture. Indeed, Japanese gastronomy has now earned its own place within UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. I am hopeful that its recognition will serve as an effective gateway for conveying Japanese culture and spirit.