Japan ambassador hosts Egyptian-Japanese traditional music evening at his residence

Reham El-Adawi , Monday 8 Jul 2024

The embassy of Japan in Cairo, together with the Egyptian Centre for Culture and Arts - Makan, held a cultural evening on 4 July at the residence of the Japanese ambassador to Egypt Oka Hiroshi in Garden City.

Japanese player
Egyptian musician Amin Shaheen, drummer Said El-Sharqawi, and the Japanese player perform classical Japanese songs


Under the title "Musical Dialogue between Egypt and Japan," traditional Egyptian-Japanese music was played in a wonderful mélange that reflects the two countries' artistic originality.

The Egyptian Centre for Culture and Arts - Makan - is dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Egyptian music and renewing the tradition in this manner.

Ahmed El-Maghraby, the founder and Director of Makan, has supported the event through supervision, giving advice, and holding rehearsals at the organization’s headquarters.

The event witnessed the attendance of a diverse audience, including university students, professional musicians from the Cairo Opera House, journalists, and many Japanese culture and art lovers.

Well-known actor Ahmed Amin was keen to attend.

At the beginning of the concert, Japanese musician Suzuki Nobuyuki (a.k.a. Shinko) presented a group of Japanese classical pieces and contemporary popular songs, using the Japanese flute known as “shinobue.”

With the tunes of the traditional Egyptian arghul and kawala instruments, the Egyptian musician Amin Shaheen and the Egyptian drummer Said El-Sharqawy have joined the Japanese player in performing some Japanese classical songs, in a beautiful harmony between the Egyptian instruments and the Japanese shinobue.


Japanese ambassador to Egypt Oka Hiroshi welcomes Japanese musician Suzuki Nobuyuki. Photo courtesy of the Japanese embassy.


On the other hand, the Japanese player participated with the Egyptian musicians in a joint performance of some Arabic classic songs, where the attendees reacted enthusiastically to Sayed Darwish’s masterpiece Al Helwa Di Amet Tea'gain Fel Fagreya (this sweet girl started kneading at dawn).

Nobuyuki is a shinobue player, having participated in cultural exchange activities through shinobue performances in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and India while pursuing his Indian studies at Leiden University.

The Japanese shinobue is one of the famous traditional side-blown musical wind instruments. It is a bamboo tube with seven holes to change the tone according to the musical note. It is often played with the famous Japanese taiko drums at Japanese festivals. It is also popular as a solo-playing instrument.

As for the Egyptian arghul and kawala instruments, their use dates back to the Pharaonic era. Samples of them are found in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir.

The arghul consists of two bamboo tubes, one with a continuous sound and the other with a variable sound, and it has six holes that are controlled to release the desired tone according to the musical note. As for the kawala, it consists of a single bamboo tube that also has 6 holes to change the tone.

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