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Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012
Financial officials get taste of Japan
By MAMI MARUKO
"Furoshiki" wrapping cloths, origami, "purikura" photo stickers, and even a robot modeled after a young woman are being exhibited at Tokyo International Forum for people attending the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.
Participants from around the world have been taking time out of their busy schedule to experience a taste of Japanese culture — both old and new — in the "Garden of Wa Lounge and Gallery" arranged by the government. The exhibition runs through Sunday.
The visitors are being welcomed by student volunteers who explain how to experience the exhibition.
Devices, technologies and systems inspired by "wa," meaning "coexistence, integration and harmony," are on display.
A humanoid robot that looks like a young Japanese woman is one of the displays of "Cool Japan," a government project introducing Japan's cutting edge technology and unique modern culture to the international community. The robot walks and moves like a human and interacts with people using speech recognition. It was created by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and made its debut in Japan in 2009.
In one of the corners of the gallery, Marco Granadino, head of programming logistics of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru, was given instructions by a volunteer on how to fold a paper crane.
"I've folded origami before in my home country, but it wasn't as complicated as this one," Granadino said with a pink origami paper in his hand. He said he will take back the crane home as a souvenir for his 4-year-old daughter.
He then went on to take purikura in a photo booth, where his photos were enhanced to make him look like a kabuki samurai and then printed on stickers.
Marcel de Boer, editor of the Dutch Financial Daily in Amsterdam, said he thought furoshiki would be useful if it is tied up and used as a carry bag or even as a baby sling.
The furoshiki on display in different colors and patterns are from the Musubi shop in Shibuya. The company's headquarters are in Kyoto. The shop offers different ways of tying and using furoshiki, including as a scarf and rain hood.
De Boer said this is his first visit to Japan and he likes its cleanliness and the friendliness of the people.
Betty Sotelo, an economist from Peru, said she wanted to visit Kyoto during her five-day visit but can't due to her tight schedule.
Azusa Yuki, a student from Keio University who was one of the 300 English-speaking volunteers at the site, said she signed up so she could use her English ability.
"I'm happy that I can help foreign participants in this way, because I'm interested in international cooperation," she said with a smile.