The Japanese Consulate hosted it annual celebration of the birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito with a bash at the Grandvrio Resort Saipan Tuesday night.
Hosted by Japanese Consul Toshio Matsumura and his wife, the celebration of the emperor’s 83rd birthday brought together local dignitaries led by acting governor Victor B. Hocog and the expatriate Japanese community on Saipan.
After opening remarks from Matsumura and Hocog, selected members from the assembled crowd gathered to the front for the kagami-biraki ceremony.
The kagami-biraki is a ceremony performed at celebratory events in which the lid of the sake barrel is broken open by a wooden mallet and the sake, a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, is served to everyone present. Everyone in attendance were served a glassful of sake.
Palanga Taimanao, 2016 Miss Teen Marianas, said, “Everyone is communicating with one another and just developing good relationships with each other. The Consul for the Office of Japan even gave me a toy tonight.”
Hocog reiterated the cultural and historical ties between Japan and the CNMI during his opening remarks. The Northern Marianas is a former colony of Japan and many community members trace their ancestry to the East Asian nation.
“For almost 70 years, the Northern Marianas is privileged to have enjoyed a lifelong period of goodwill, peace, and cultural exchange between our people and the good people of Japan. Our people share a unique history with deep ties and respect that has grown to become unshakable and has shaped our continuing relationship, primarily culturally and economically,” he said.
Due to the absence of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who was off-island, Hocog stepped in to fill in on his behalf for the event.
“No matter the changes of the global economy and the social issues that we all face from our respective societies, the ties between Japan and the Northern Marianas continue to strengthen. Our respect continues to be strong and our relationship continues to build in a new era of economic recovery and cultural diversity,” Hocog said.
Matsumura thanked everyone in attendance for accepting the consulate’s invitation to grace the emperor’s birthday.
“Every country in the world designates a certain day to be of utmost importance. For us, we choose to make our emperor’s birthday a national holiday because it means that much to us,” he said.
Traditional Japanese cuisine was served during the event as well as an open bar for all guests.
Philippine honorary consul to the CNMI Glicerio Arago marveled at the auspicious event honoring Akihito. “The event tonight is fabulous! I think the food is good and the guests are all great,” he said.