2017-03-02 / Front Page

JAPANESE CULTURE DAY

Bath community marks student exchange with events
BY NATHAN STROUT
Times Record Staff


TASHI ARMSTRONG, head instructor for the Maine Heki Ryu School of Japanese Archery and director of the Dzogchen Meditation Center, will demonstrate Kyudo archery at Bath Dance Works on Saturday. The event is part of Japanese Culture Day in Bath. 
PHOTO COURTESY OF DZOGCHEN MEDITATION CENTER TASHI ARMSTRONG, head instructor for the Maine Heki Ryu School of Japanese Archery and director of the Dzogchen Meditation Center, will demonstrate Kyudo archery at Bath Dance Works on Saturday. The event is part of Japanese Culture Day in Bath. PHOTO COURTESY OF DZOGCHEN MEDITATION CENTER BATH

This Saturday marks Japanese Culture Day in Bath, and local businesses and organizations are working with the Bath-Tsugaru Student Exchange to host a series of events to immerse Bath residents in Japanese culture.

“We do (Japanese Culture Day) every year as a way to honor and keep visible the sister-city partnership between Bath and Tsugaru,” said Anne Schlitt, president of the Bath-Tsugaru Student Exchange.

The Bath-Tsugaru sister-city relationship began in 1990, on the 100th anniversary of the fateful sinking of a Bath-built ship off the coast of Shariki village, now part of Tsugaru — a city of about 34,000 situated northwest on Japan’s largest island.

The people of Shariki were only able to save a few sailors, said Schlitt, but it marked the first time the village had taken in foreigners.

It was an important moment, and to this day the village marks the anniversary. More than 25 years ago, Tsugaru approached Bath and the two became sister cities.

The student exchange came naturally out of that relationship. Each summer, a handful of students make the journey to Japan for a homestay, and a number of students from Japan travel to Bath and are hosted by local families. The Bath-Tsugaru Student Exchange raises funds throughout the year to help offset the costs of the exchange for students.

“The Japanese students from the same town come over to Bath and do homestays and engage in all these typical Maine activities around the Midcoast,” said Schlitt. “Obviously, not everyone will be able to visit Tsugaru on the exchange or host a Japanese student, but we can still offer them a taste of Japanese culture by organizing the events.”

Events will be hosted across the Bath area so that anyone who wants to participate can experience Japanese culture, whether they are part of the student exchange or not. For example, Now You’re Cooking will have a sake tasting at their store on Front Street from 1-3 p.m.

“We will have five different sakes of all different styles, including sake from Blue Current Brewery — which is Maine’s sake brewery,” General Manager Mary Milam said. “There will also be some food that complements sake, including sushi.”

In West Bath, the Dzogchen Meditation Center will give a two-hour presentation on Zen meditation starting at 9 a.m.

“During that time, we’ll be giving people instruction on meditation from a Zen perspective, and later in the day we will be presenting several of the traditional Zen arts of Japan,” said director Tashi Armstrong. “We’ll be discussing how these arts developed and primarily what their purpose is and how it differs from the way we view art in the West.”

Later in the day, the center will move its events to Bath Dance Works, where it will hold session on kyudo, karate and brush calligraphy. Armstrong said that it was necessary to move to a larger space to accommodate the 8-foot bows used in kyudo archery.

At Patten Free Library, attendees can dress in Japanese garb and practice woodblock printing, origami and more. The library will feature an exhibit of prints from the Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society throughout March. Five Elements Mountain School of Martial Arts will be demonstrating martial arts in the afternoon.

For a full list of events and times, check the Bath- Tsugaru website.

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