Festivals should be interactive and engage their communities in their planning, ambassador to Vietnam, Mitsuo Sakaba, told Thanh Nien Weekly as he spoke about the festivities being held to mark the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long on October 10.
Thanh Nien Weekly: Vietnam will celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi in October. How should Hanoi organize the event?
Mitsuo Sakaba: A street march with the participation of 1,000 people in the costumes of the Ly Dynasty, 1,000 years ago, would be a good idea. The march led by a famous actor and actress portraying King Ly Thai To and his queen may be interesting.
To lure many visitors, the event must be big.
The organization board should coordinate with travel agents to promote the event. It is scheduled to start in October, but the detailed agenda has not yet been announced. Vietnam should announce the schedule soon, so that there is time to promote the event abroad.
To attract the participation of local youth, the event should have a history contest. Students from all high schools nationwide could participate in the Thang Long history contest. The two best teams will compete in the final round of the contest on the anniversary day. The contest will make high school students more interested in the event and the history of Thang Long. Vietnamese youths are now not so interested in Vietnam's history.
The organizing board must coordinate with media agencies to promote the event
What's the difference between festivals in Vietnam and Japan?
In Vietnam, people's committees of localities often preside over festivals. Meanwhile, in Japan, people's organizations, with the assistance of the government, hold festivals. In Japan, festival expenditures are funded only partially by local people's committees while they are also financed by firms and individuals.
In Vietnam, if people's committees of localities are in charge of holding festivals, people don't have to care about expenses, about sponsors. But there are problems that could arise in holding Japanese-style festivals, and people have to solve many issues.
If people do not volunteer to plan, organize and participate in the festival, it will be difficult to hold it.
In Vietnam, residents often watch festivals, they do not directly partake in them. What should Hanoi do so that people can participate in the upcoming 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long in an active manner?
Vietnam should hold festival programs that residents can participate in. In Japan, groups of local people, not the government, hold festivals. The events are organized around participatory activities. Local residents can register to participate in the programs. Festivals in Japan often have street marches, in which people can perform traditional dances, or martial arts.
Festivals in Japan are cheerful, but they are time-consuming and difficult to prepare. It is simpler to organize festivals in the Vietnamese style, and the preparation time is also shorter.
In Vietnam, historical events are often re-enacted by actors and actresses on the stage. Is the situation in Japan the same?
Japan has two kinds of festivals, annual festivals and great festivals. There are three great festivals which lure 1-2 million of visitors each. One great festival will be held this year to celebrate the 1,300th anniversary of Nara, the ancient capital of Japan.
During some festivals in Japan, residents wear costumes of the historical period, and stage recreations of famous events in history. There is almost no usage of stages, actors and actresses, and stage directors in doing this.
This spring, I visited a festival in Bac Ninh (of Vietnam), in which more than 3,000 young people staged creations of historical events. The participation of volunteers have made the festival is very cheerful and interesting.
However, it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for a festival with the participation of many people. In Japan, volunteers prepare for their festivals for six months. So, the problem is finding enough volunteers to prepare events for such long periods of time.
Many local and foreign visitors will rush to Hanoi during the upcoming festival of the city. So, what should Hanoi do to deal with environmental and transport issues?
When Japan holds street marches during festivals, we have to take measures to limit traffic in streets, such as banning cars and some other vehicles, so that people can comfortably partake in the events. After festivals, a lot of waste needs to be cleaned up. In Japan, the streets are cleaned up after festivals by groups of volunteers.
If Vietnam had such groups, you could deal with the environmental issue. In addition, it is necessary to improve the awareness of local people about environmental hygiene, as many people just litter all the time.
What are Japan's contributions to the event of Vietnam?
We issued a publication of "Hanoi-Japan, towards a new vision", and will hold a series of cultural and art events, such as a film festival, music performance and exhibitions of pictures and photos, to welcome the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long.