When Japanese homemaker Tomoko Matsuda, a resident of Bangalore, performed mudras of Bharatanatyam to perfection in a packed auditorium at a college in Bangalore, the audience shouted for an encore.
And it did the same when Hiroshi Chiba, an engineer with Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd, sang yesteryears' popular Kannada film song "Santoshakke" (for the sake of happiness). Then, everyone in the auditorium Sunday night got up to jive to the encore.
The mood at the day-long Japan Habba (Japan Festival) 2009, an Indo-Japanese cultural exchange programme, was of bonhomie among Indians and Japanese settled in various parts of the country.
The event, first held in 2005, was a collaborative effort of the Consulate of Japan, Bangalore; The Japan Foundation, New Delhi; Bangalore University, Japanese associations like Bangalore Nihongo Kyooshi-kai, Koyo group, Japanese Association of Bangalore and Indo-Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Karnataka).
Around 1,000 Japanese from various parts of India came together to celebrate the strong ties between the two Asian giants.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Masayuki Tsuchikawa, head of the consulate in Bangalore, said: "We are happy to get ourselves associated with Japan Habba for the first time. It is a perfect platform for interaction between Japanese in India and people of Bangalore."
"The best way to build a strong bridge between two countries and its people is through art and culture," he added.
The high points of the culture fiesta included karaoke competition (Japanese/Indian and other songs), Kannada songs sung by Japanese, Japanese tea ceremony, demonstration of Japanese martial art Judo, how to wear the kimono, a display of Japanese paper art works like Kiri-e and Ori-gami; calligraphy and Ikebana - the Japanese art of flower arrangement.
Said Satoshi Hata, chairman of Japan Habba and guest faculty at the department of foreign studies, Bangalore University: "I am glad to be a part of the fifth edition of Japan Habba in Bangalore. I believe that the interest in Japan from Bangaloreans as well as that of India from the Japanese people residing here have been the motivating factors to have made Japan Habba possible for five years consecutively."
Although Bangalore has a small Japanese community of 400, mostly working in Toyota Kirloskar, over the years they have adopted Bangalore as their second home. Moreover, they have succeeded in attracting many a Bangalorean to know more about Japan and its culture.
The growing Japanese influence in the city could be well-gauged from 105 students of Bangalore learning Japanese at the department of foreign languages, Bangalore University.
"Out of 10 foreign languages taught in the University, the number of students learning Japanese is highest. There is lot of enthusiasm among the Bangaloreans to know more about Japan and its culture," said Hata.
The Oscar-winning Japanese movie "Samurai" directed by Hiroshi Inagaki was also screened at the festival.
"I have been in Bangalore for quite a long time. I love the city, its people and culture. So I learnt the language and as a musician, I love to sing Kannada songs. I am a big fan of Kannada music," said Chiba.
Chiba is quite popular among the music-loving crowd of Bangalore. He is known as the Japanese who sings in Kannada.
Said Tomoko, who is learning Bharatanatyam under guru Ramanath at Nrityarpana School here: "I fell in love with the dance form during my stay in Bangalore. I'm learning the nuances of the dance form and happy to perform here today."
Around 64 students, all local Kannada boys, studying in Toyota Technical Training Institute in Bangalore, performed a popular Japanese song "Zundoko Bushi...".
"I have been attending Japan Habba for the last three years. I find Japanese culture quite fascinating and they are a lovely bunch of people," said banker Shweta P.
Keizo Hara, a Japanese settled here, said: "Bangalore is a lovely place and is a home away from home for all the Japanese people in the city."