Matsuyama Ballet, longtime ambassador of friendship between China and Japan

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/13 18:03:40

The topic about Matsuyama, Japanese ballet troupe singing the Chinese national anthem in Chinese has reached close to 200 million views and over 10,000 posts on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. The video has been widely circulated online, with a single post has reached 4.8 million views by Thursday. 

The video's beginning was featured with a subtitle which read, "Matsuyama Ballet would like to extend our deepest greetings to the Chinese people." At the end of it, after singing the Chinese national anthem, the ballet troupe's members shout in Chinese, "We love China! Stay strong, Wuhan! Stay strong, China! Stay strong, human!"

Many Chinese netizens were surprised and warmed by such a kind gesture from the famous ballet troupe in Japan showing support to China amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, and the stories between Matsuyama Ballet and China goes way back beyond the video. 

The Matsuyama Ballet Company performs ballet White-Haired Girl at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday. Photo: Courtesy of the China International Culture and Arts Company


Founded in 1948 by Masao Shimizu and his wife Mikiko Matsuyama, as one of the most famed ballet troupe in Japan, Matsuyama Ballet is known internationally for their rendition of the classics such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker

But to Chinese audiences, they are best known for their performance of The White-Haired Girl, which was adapted from a Chinese film of the same name. It was first brought to China in 1958, which was rather significant given that the two countries did not have official diplomatic relations back then. 

"We have been treated poorly in our own country during the past 35 years of [the troupe's] cultural exchanges with China," wrote Masao Shimizu in his 1983 book Matsuyama Ballet: White-Haired Girl, looking back on  the challenges the troupe faced before the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations in 1972. But the troupe managed to put on shows in cities such as Xi'an in Northwest China, Changsha in Central China in addition to Beijing.  

The performance gained huge popularity across the country and was followed by over a dozen times of performances in China over the past decades. The troupe has been carrying on their commitment to promoting cultural exchanges and friendly relations between the two countries till today.   

"The generation of my parents experienced war. My father Masao Shimizu once kept his beard and said he wouldn't shave it till he saw the bilateral relations between China and Japan to be normalized. In 2008, the Wenchuan earthquake occurred when my father was 87 years old and walking with a cane. He led the troupe of more than 70 members to Chinese Embassy in Japan to pay tribute to people who died in the disaster and made donations to Wenchuan," said Tetsutaro Shimizu, head of the troupe, during an interview with media last year.  

After the video featuring the troupe singing the Chinese national anthem went viral online, the Matsuyama Ballet told the Global Times on Wednesday they respect and admire the Chinese people, especially medical staff, for their unremitting efforts and hard work in the battle against the novel coronavirus pneumonia, and they hope China can overcome the epidemic and continue to contribute to world peace and stability in Asia.

"[China and Japan] are deeply connected neighbors. If either of them is faced with difficulty, the other one would not be an onlooker. During the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, China offered a lot of help to Japan. And this time, when China was caught by the virus outbreak, Japan didn't hesitate to give their assistance and support. Hope such friendship can last forever!" commented a netizen below a post of the video. 

Global Times

Posted in: DANCE

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