Giessen, Germany—Japanese poetry and culture were the topic of discussion at an International Café held at the offices of UPF in the town of Giessen.
Christine Sato, a native of Austria who is married to a Japanese and is a great fan of Japan, introduced the audience to the traditional Japanese poetry known as haiku.
The International Café, the second of the year to be held in Giessen, took place on April 29, 2017. The event was meant to foster peace by encouraging international understanding.
Haiku are short poems, consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines consisting of five syllables, seven syllables and five syllables. The main topics are the seasons of the year, but sometimes personal situations are used, which can be very amusing, Mrs. Sato said.
Dressed in a kimono, Mrs. Sato read aloud various haiku that captured nature’s different moods. She compared them to life in Japan and added simple observations of daily life using fitting photos from her trips to Japan.
Her words, spoken between the lines of poetry, gave an excellent picture of Japanese culture and the qualities of that country. However, she said, "Only someone with a vivid imagination, or who has really experienced it, can understand the feeling of exuberance generated by seeing the mounds of cherry trees in blossom."
Supported by her husband, Mrs. Sato has organized several Japanese tea ceremonies and has given many presentations about Japan at the Giessen center for intercultural events.
Benedikta Becker of UPF then gave a short introduction to the goals of UPF, the five Principles of Peace, and the significance of international understanding.
Ms. Becker encouraged the audience to continue their efforts to achieve international understanding, and she announced some upcoming events.
At the end of the program, the guests could sample sushi and other Japanese delicacies, served on tables decorated with cranes made by origami (the Japanese art of folding paper). The more traditional German coffee and cake were also served. As the guests enjoyed these refreshments, there were lively conversations and new friendships were forged.