With increased globalization cultural exchanges between nations have grown rapidly. At the same time the importance of culture for national identity has increased. We can only appreciate our own culture if we have some knowledge about the culture of other countries.
It is therefore very welcome that the cultural relations between Iceland and Japan have been growing substantially for the past few years.
The most gratifying development has been the starting of language courses in the Icelandic and Japanese language and culture at university level at the University of Iceland and Waseda University. This addition to the academic curriculum in these universities has been extremely well received by students. Other universities in Japan have also engaged in academic cooperation with universities in Iceland in various fields.
Other cultural exchanges have also taken place through the visits of classical and popular musicians from Iceland. We are witnessing growing interest in popular music from Iceland, where artists like Björk and Sigur Rós are very well known here in Japan. The famous conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy , an Icelandic citizen, is serving as the music director of the NHK Symphonic Orchestra. Recently, more and more Icelandic films have also found their way to movie theaters in Japan.
This year we are particularily pleased to inform that two Icelandic children books are being published here in Japan, so the future exchange in the cultural field is indeed bright.