Movies, publications discover lives of Kurdish diaspora in Japan


A scene is proven from “Voices from the Homeland,” a 2021 documentary directed by Natsuki Nakajima, which gained Grand Prix within the brief movie class ultimately 12 months’s Tokyo Documentary Movie Competition. (Picture courtesy of Natsuki Nakajima/Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — In Might, members of a packed viewers at a small theater in Tokyo greeted a documentary on conventional Kurdish music with rapturous applause. Lots of them then went up on stage to hitch an invited Kurdish musician in a dance.

The occasion was a part of a highlight just lately turned on a number of movies and publications in regards to the on a regular basis lives and tradition of Kurds, some 2,000 of whom dwell in Japan. It represents a shift in focus from the problems surrounding political repression and refugees which can be normally related to them.

Making up sizable minorities in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, the Kurds are the world’s largest ethnic group and not using a state.

Natsuki Nakajima, 27, visited a Kurdish space in southeast Turkey to make “Voices from the Homeland,” which options singing storytellers often known as “dengbejs.” It gained the Grand Prix within the brief movie class ultimately 12 months’s Tokyo Documentary Movie Competition.

Nakajima, who’s a composer in addition to a documentary director, mentioned she was enthralled by the dengbejs’ music lyrics, which vary from love tales to the historical past of the persecution of the Kurds, and their distinctive singing voices.

In Turkey, Kurds have been topic to an assimilation coverage for greater than 100 years and confronted political repression till just lately, together with being banned from utilizing the Kurdish language. Dengbejs, nevertheless, continued to sing of their mom tongue, and are seen as an emblem of the Kurdish individuals’s overcoming of the hardships of the previous.

Elsewhere, screenings throughout Japan started in Might of the film drama “My Small Land,” which follows the struggles of a Kurdish highschool lady rising up in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

The lady’s father has been detained by immigration authorities after his asylum software is rejected, however she finds a strategy to transfer ahead as an attraction develops between her and a Japanese boy she meets at her part-time job.

The movie was directed by Emma Kawawada, 30, who was born to a British father and a Japanese mom. She mentioned she sees an overlap between the absence of a way of belonging among the many Kurdish diaspora who don’t have any mom nation and her personal bitter expertise of not being handled as Japanese due to her look.

However the film not solely highlights the difficulties Kurds encounter in every day life in Japan but additionally their wealthy tradition, together with their wedding ceremony ceremonies and meals. Kodansha Ltd., a number one publishing firm, has printed a novel of the film written by Kawawada.

In Kawaguchi, Saitama, mentioned to have the most important Kurdish neighborhood in Japan, Naomi Nakajima, 64, who gives cooking lessons, launched a Kurdish recipe booklet by means of Buna-no-Mori Co., a neighborhood writer, within the spring.

The booklet, known as “Kurdish Desk,” options colourful images taken from the kitchen of a Kurdish household she is acquainted with.

Kurdish delicacies is distinctive for its use of mutton and a fermented tomato paste known as “salca” and entices the urge for food with a spicy aroma. Just lately in Japan, elements for Kurdish dishes have turn into extra accessible by means of halal shops, which adjust to Islamic spiritual precepts, and different locations, Nakajima mentioned.

The booklet contains roundtable discussions between teenage Kurds who migrated to Japan as babies. “I hope readers perceive they (younger Kurds) are right here, and we’re residing collectively,” she mentioned.


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