Japanese Cultural Treats for Olympic Coverers

In the absence of an overseas audience, Olympic volunteers and flower stylists brought a slice of Japanese culture to the foreign press crew working at the media center.

Twice a week, Naohiro Kasuya comes to the media center with boxes of fresh cut flowers shipped from Tohoku, an area in northern Japan that was hit by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Translator at the Olympic Press Center for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Friday, July 30, 2021. (AP)

Translator at the Olympic Press Center for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Friday, July 30, 2021. (AP)

Each flower is then carefully arranged, with carefully calculated positions, in the traditional Japanese flower arrangement style, Ikebana.

But in this media center, there is a modern twist to the flower arrangement. The checkerboard pattern on the wall is filled with blue, purple and orange-red flowers, resembling the design of the Olympic and Paralympic logos.

Nearby, a flower arrangement is placed in a more traditional style using bamboo, lilies and hydrangeas.

Atmosphere at a booth at the Media Press Centre, ahead of the official opening of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in Tokyo, Japan July 21, 2021. (AP)

Atmosphere at a booth at the Media Press Centre, ahead of the official opening of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in Tokyo, Japan July 21, 2021. (AP)

Naohiro Kasuya, representative of the Japan Ikebana Arts Association, said, “I think we need nature here to feel peaceful. So I think this is a good opportunity to introduce our culture and we also want to give a feeling of peace as our welcoming hospitality, called omotenashi.”

Other volunteers also participated.

Masako Yokoyama’s main job is to provide assistance to media facilities. But as soon as the media arrived after the Olympics opened, he began to spend time working on the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, origami. He made paper cranes from the flags of participating countries in the Olympics this time.

A shopper waits at the gift shop at the Olympic Pres Center for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, July 22, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A shopper waits at the gift shop at the Olympic Pres Center for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, July 22, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Yokoyama said, “The crane is one of the very popular origami models that we learned to make since childhood. Anyone can make it. And I think this culture, traditional Japanese culture and the art of paper folding, by making it out of the national flag for people from around the world is a good idea for us to remember this Games in Tokyo.” [uh/ab]

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