Jakarta. The 11th Indonesia-Japan Cultural Exchange kicked off at Galeri 678 in Kemang, South Jakarta, on Thursday (12/10), showcasing a series of artworks by artists from the two countries as part of moves to strengthen people-to-people relations.
"Art and culture are doors to learn about each other's culture [...] it's a medium to strengthen relations between Indonesia and Japan," said Norihisa Tsukamoto, director general of the Jakarta branch of the Japan Foundation, an independent administrative institution under the jurisdiction of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tsukamoto added that the exhibit demonstrates the extent of Indonesia-Japan cultural relations, which are as strong as the diplomatic and political ties between the two countries.
The exhibit, which will conclude on Oct. 22, showcases artworks by Indonesian and Japanese artists who are members of the Society for the Study of Indonesian Arts (SSIA). Among them are Lalita Rachmania, Kartika Affandi and Rukmini Yusuf Affandi.
Although the SSIA was established in 1977, regular exchanges between artists only began in 2007. Since then, artists from the one country will visit the other and showcase their artworks in a collaboration. Next year, the exhibit will take place in Tokyo.
SSIA Indonesia chairman Rudy Harjo said the exchanges also involve learning from the other country's artistic methods. For example, this year Japanese artists will attend a batik workshop that uses natural dyes.
"It's been going very well. The artists from Japan have shown an interest to learn from our arts and culture, and in return we have shown the same interest toward Japanese culture," Rudy added.
During the occasion, Tsukamoto said there is strong interest in Japan in the wide variety of Indonesian arts.
Indonesia and Japan will celebrate 60 years of formal diplomatic relations next year.
Efforts to enhance people-to-people relations have been channeled through cultural exchanges in art and cultural performances, as well as through exchange programs distinctly focused on citizens.
Earlier this month, the leaders of Islamic boarding schools and representatives from Indonesia's two largest Muslim organizations – Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah – visited Japan as part of efforts to deepen understanding among Indonesians of Japanese culture and traditions, and also to expose Japanese people to various aspects of Indonesian culture and Islam.