Serving up a rich assortment of exciting cultural events, the 13th Japan-Cambodia Kizuna Festival at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center (CJCC) is being held from February 22-25, 2024.

With events covering traditional Japanese costumes, origami and calligraphy, Japanese and Khmer martial arts, language and literature, food, music, arts and crafts, and even cosplay, this year’s Kizuna Festival is crammed full with something for everyone.

The opening ceremony for one of the biggest Japan-Cambodia cultural festivals – organised by the Embassy of Japan in collaboration with the CJCC and the Japan Foundation, Phnom Penh Liaison Office – was held on Thursday, February 22, from 6pm to 7:30pm.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Memories for Our New Chapters”, which, organisers say, emphasises the activities to be celebrated together for now and those to be kept for the future.  

“Kizuna” – the Japanese word for “strong bond” – was chosen as the name of the first festival at the CJCC back in 2012 to symbolise the strong relationship between Japan and Cambodia, and their people, with it since being held annually.

Having performed at Thursday evening’s opening ceremony, Miyu Shimomura is set to again wow the Kizuna Festival with her “Cambodia-Japan Traditional Dance” Special Performance on Friday, February 23.

A Japanese performer of Nihon-buyo traditional dance and an Urushi lacquer artist, Miyu Shimomura also performed at an event in Tokyo to celebrate last year’s 70th anniversary of the friendship between Cambodia and Japan.

Mealai Khmer Arts Studio, who specialise in designing traditional Khmer diadems and bijouteries, have designed jewellery for many major national events.

And on Saturday, February 24, they will exhibit diadems, piastra and bijouteries featuring the great heroes and heroines of Cambodia’s famed Angkorian era.

Vanthan Ly is the multitalented Cambodian singer, songwriter, record producer and instrumentalist known professionally as Vanthan.

A true Cambodian musical virtuoso, the unique talent – who is able to play 28 instruments – is set to captivate with a special performance at the Cambodia-Japan Acoustic Concert on Sunday, February 25.

Vanthan began playing music in 2001, learning to master all of Cambodia’s classical instruments, before going to France in 2009 to continue his musical career by studying production, music theory and more.

Other highlights include the Cambodia-Japan Traditional Dance Special Performance on Friday, February 23, as well as the “Illustration on Old Khmer Scripts: Inscribing and Ink Rubbing” event, and a Senbazaru origami workshop.  

Saturday, February 24, sees the Worldship Orchestra join the Angkor Youth Orchestra Association, while Dr Sorn Vannak presents a seminar on “The Importance of Reading for Writing Literature Review”.

Sunday, February 25, offers the “Exploring Japanese Calligraphy: Mastering the Art of Using the Brush” class, while Sou Khmerin holds a seminar on “Appearances in Literature”. There will also be Japanese language and origami classes, “Let’s try Japanese and Khmer Martial Arts”, and “Let’s Cosplay Kizuna 2024.”

There are traditional Japanese costume events on every day of the of the Kizuna Festival 2024, while Sensei Ito holds the “Let’s Try Writing Japanese Calligraphy” workshop on the Friday and Saturday.

The Japan-Cambodia Kizuna Festival is an annual event organised since 2012 to present the cultures of Japan and Cambodia, and to promote further exchanges between the people of both countries.

Intended as a hub for people to meet and exchange ideas and information, the organisers hope that through these cultural events, participants can feel closer to Japan, and deepen their understanding of Japanese and Cambodian cultures.

And now in its 13th edition, and going from strength to strength in attracting more and more visitors and contributors every year, the Kizuna Festival continues to do just that.