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L Nihon MatsuriUUM ONLINE: Dress up in a yukata while holding a pink cherry blossom umbrella, eat sushi, and practise your origami, kirigami, and kendama skills. The sights, sounds, and smells of the authentic Japanese goods stalls, as well as the screening of Japanese films, will transport you to the land of the rising sun.

These are some of the first-hand experiences that visitors to the 'Nihon Matsuri' or Japanese Festival, can have at the Sultanah Bahiyah Library Foyer, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), from 14 to 16 January.

According to UUM Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dr Haim Hilman Abdullah, this cultural event is a collaboration between the Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL), the School of Economics, Finance and Banking (SEFB), the UUM Management Museum, the Culture and Art Centre, and the UUM Japanese Language and Cultural Club with the goal of providing UUM denizens and the surrounding community with an opportunity to learn about Japanese culture.

He stated that the Look East Policy, which was implemented to improve performance and work ethics in Malaysia, is still relevant today. It should continue to be the basis for plans and actions that move the country forward.

"The year 2022 marked the 40th anniversary of the Look East Policy, which was first introduced in 1982. We have accomplished a great deal in the economic and social spheres through various collaborations established between Malaysia and Japan.

"Through the Look East Policy, we have paved the way for opportunities for collaboration between Malaysia and Japan, including in the field of education. Students, academics, and government officials have been sent to Japan to learn and gain knowledge and experience that can be applied in Malaysia," he said in his welcoming speech.

He stated that ‘Nihon Matsuri’ is the beginning of an ongoing collaboration that will improve the good relationship between Japan and UUM in the future, as well as demonstrating UUM's commitment to further develop this relationship.

In the meantime, the Consul-General of Japan in Penang, Mr. Yoshiyasu Kawaguchi, stated that a programme such as this can expose UUM denizens to the culture, positive values, and ethics of Japanese society, which is the foundation of the Look East Policy.

He expressed his delight that the Nihon Matsuri received a positive response and attracted the interest of visitors, as part of the efforts to further strengthen the relationship between Japan and Malaysia.

"’Nihon Matsuri’ promotes cultural exchange between Japan and Malaysia as well as Japanese culture among Malaysians and people who live on campus," he said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Mustika Misnari, a visitor who is also a student of the Bachelor of Event Management programme, stated that cultural festivals like this will most likely receive a lively response and draw the attention of campus denizens and the local community, including students from schools and higher education institutions throughout the state of Kedah.

"'Nihon Matsuri' has been a lot of fun. I have learned a lot about Japanese culture and way of life from food, games, clothes, calligraphy, and language," she said.

While visiting the ‘Nihon Matsuri’ exhibition with friends, her attention was drawn to the traditional Japanese clothing stall, yukata, which is typically worn in the summer.

"It reminds me of a kimono. At first glance, it appears to be a kimono, but it is actually a yukata. I was very excited to see how Japanese people wear yukata, and even more excited when I got the chance to wear it. It is so beautiful and modest," she said.