KUMANO, Japan -- Twenty-two Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents traveled to the Kumano Brush Festival in Kumano, Japan, Sept. 22, 2016.
During the visit to Kumano with the Cultural Adaptation Program, the residents experienced calligraphy, tradition, and visited the Fudenosato Kobo Museum.
“I was very happy with such a good turn out,” said Mikie Watanabe, Cultural Adaptation Program specialist. “This trip only comes up once a year, and it’s something I hope as many people as possible get to experience.”
To start the day, residents competed in a calligraphy competition where they sat amongst Japanese locals and painted Kanji symbols of their choice.
“It was a great experience,” said Julita Bryant, an air station resident. “I’ve always wanted to go to the brush festival because I’m an artist and it interests me. Getting to paint the calligraphy with the locals was something I won’t forget.”
Once the calligraphy competition was complete, the residents moved to a separate portion of the festival where they took part in a tradition of burning brushes.
Brushes are burnt at the festival each year symbolizing everything an artist has done with that brush being in the past. New brushes are meant to bring artists good luck in the future to come.
“It was hard for me to throw a calligraphy brush into the fire,” said Bryant. “I love art and to dispose of the brush felt wrong, but it’s a tradition here and means much more than just burning a brush.”
After burning the brushes, the next stop in Kumano was the Fudenosato Kobo Museum. There, air station residents were able to learn about history and see how everything used for calligraphy is made.
“Seeing everyone learn the history and enjoy participating made me happy,” said Watanabe. “It gives a deeper sense of appreciation for the things you experience when there’s history involved.”
During the visit to the museum, residents were able to see how the calligraphy paper, brushes and paint pods are made.
“Everyone who came got an opportunity to do something they enjoyed,” said Bryant. “From interacting with the respectful Japanese to seeing the history and production of calligraphy equipment, everyone experienced something new and exciting.”
The trip to Kumano ended with the air station residents getting a chance to purchase souvenirs as reminders of their experience.
“It’s important to me that everyone gets a chance to come to events like this,” said Watanabe. “It’s a chance to see part of the original Japanese culture and see how everything is crafted and put to use. Next year, I hope to give everyone who wants to come the opportunity.”