Emiratis in Japan: New Perspectives, New Creations


Festival Intern Amal Almidfa is given new perspective into her home country, the UAE, by Emirati and Japanese writers

Emiratis in Japan

During the times when your mind wanders, have you ever found yourself wondering how much you know about another country’s literature and culture? This year, the Festival gave us a glimpse into Japan, in collaboration with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation who, through the Writer’s Exchange Programme with Japan Arts & Culture Foundation, brought writers from Japan and the UAE together.

Three authors participating in the programme, Kika Hotta, Al Hanouf Mohammad and Muhsin Suliman, spoke at the Festival about their experiences in each other’s countries. They discussed how exploring the differences and similarities of their cultures and literature gave them greater insight into the UAE and Japan.

They spoke about how this journey into different nations made an impression on their own writing, and how a simple trip changed their point of view.

Al Hanouf Mohammad and Muhsin Suliman have written books about their experiences in Japan, which include a look at the history, poetry and theatre of the land of the Rising Sun. In Al Hanouf Mohammad’s The Road to Japan, she writes about the similarities and contrasts between the UAE and Japan, while Muhsin Suliman has taken on the theatrical arts of Japan, as he is a playwright himself. He explains in his book, Noh and the Kabuki, and the Drama of the Masks, how the two kinds of plays, Noh and Kabuki, represent Japanese theatre in its unique fashion and rituals.

Kika Hotta, a Japanese poet and translator, presented his haiku poetry on the month he spent in the UAE. He created a further 99 poems from his experience. Haiku is a simple, yet ambiguous, form of poetry – the poems contain one line and a few syllables. The haiku’s true essence is felt by the audience, as it creates various images in their minds. I would personally like to thank Kika Hotta for seeing the true beauty of our country and our people and to give us the chance to interpret, from his poems, the limitless and everlasting impression the UAE makes on others.