Most of the foreign cultural centers around Yangon are in villas or large houses, with security guards and guests to greet visitors. The House of Japanese Culture, which opened to the public on August 31, is located in a small house in Bahan Township, decorated with traditional Japanese tatami mats where guests can take a nap, lie down, read or watch a number of Japanese animations available.
The Japan Culture House opened to promote cultural exchange between Japan and Myanmar and is sponsored by the Japan Foundation Asia Center and the Japan Myanmar Alumni Association (MAJA).
âWe have opened the Culture House not only to people studying the Japanese language, but anyone interested in visiting,â said Chinatsu Hyodo, program manager of the Japanese Culture House. Ms. Hyodo, who is fluent in the Burmese language, is also called Aye Thidar. She studied Myanmar Language and Literature at Yangon Foreign Language University in 1996 and Myanmar Art and Music at National University of Arts and Culture in 2004.
âI heard from my friends that they were afraid to visit other foreign institutes like the French Institute for example because they are Asian. I don’t want people to feel like this when they come here, âMs. Hyodo said, striving to cultivate a comfortable environment. “That’s why I brought the tatami mat, to make people feel at home here.”
The Culture House has an extensive library of business, art and culture books in Japanese, English and Burmese. The library is also home to a number of Japanese cartoons, manga series, animated films, otaku magazines – very popular among Myanmar youth – as well as a selection of magazines, newspapers and journals.
In addition, the house offers Japanese TV channels such as NHK and an internationally renowned Studio Ghibli animation collection. For children and seniors alike, the house offers Kendama and Igo (also known as Go!), Traditional Japanese toys and games for all to enjoy.
âVisitors can get together and play with our monthly programs such as the Japanese quiz or karaoke,â she said. “And soon we are planning to bring together a famous Burmese star and a Japanese star to meet, exchange cultures and produce something new.”
Ms Hyodo is also a star herself, playing a role on a TV show every Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on MWD TV.
The Maison de la Culture du Japon is open to everyone with free admission every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Tuesdays and Gazette holidays and weekends from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Discover the House of Japanese Culture Facebook page to stay up to date on all of their public programs, or to suggest books, movies, or programs you would like to see.
The Japan Culture House is located at R-322B, Second Floor, Building-C, Pearl Condo, Kabar Aye Pagoda Road in Bahan Township.