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Wednesday, January 27, 2021
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A tale of two sister cities

Forged from the desire for closer and more meaningful relationships between Japan and Australia after World War II, Canberra’s bond with sister city Nara is celebrated annually with an event that encapsulates the spirit of the partnership.

This year’s Canberra Nara Candle Festival, on Saturday 27 October, offers Canberrans an authentic Japanese cultural experience.

Celebrating 25 years of the partnership, visitors to this year’s festival will delight in the spellbinding atmosphere created by the sounds of Japanese music working in tandem with enchanting lighting that will highlight the features of the gorgeous Canberra Nara Peace Park in Yarralumla.

The festival brings together Japanese and Australian cultures with a variety of arts and crafts such as calligraphy, lantern making, origami and ikebana. There will also be Japanese martial arts displays, Australian and Japanese choirs singing in Japanese, traditional Japanese drumming, archery, and sake tasting.

One of the key components of Canberra’s agreement with Nara is that there should be “an interchange of arts and culture and an exchange of citizens”.

The links between Canberra and Nara schools, artists, musicians, governments and political leaders have given both cities what is widely considered a successful bond.

An ACT Government spokesperson told Canberra Weekly that the focus of events like this is to connect the people of both cities.

“The Candle Festival is one example of how this takes place, with visiting delegations of Nara citizens, students, musicians and Rotarians all in attendance.

“The large numbers of Canberra citizens that make their way each year to the Candle Festival is the strongest example of Canberrans embracing Japanese culture.”

And the connection forged extends beyond the festival; for example, the people of Nara donated $150,000 to the Bushfire Recovery Appeal after the 2003 Canberra Bushfires.

In addition, over the past 25 years, Nara citizens have raised over $100,000 for the development of the Canberra Nara Peace Park.

The Canberra Nara Candle Festival is on Saturday 27 October 4pm-9pm at Canberra Nara Peace Park, Lennox Gardens.

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts