You know when you’re just wandering around Hoi An minding your own business having a lovely time, and you find yourself backstage at the Vietnam-Japan Cultural Exchange Festival? Well that happened to me. Thousands of people were sat round the front while me and my boyfriend just strolled up to the best seats in the house and plonked ourselves down on a perfectly situated wall.

Vietnam and Japan Festival in Hoi An

From there we had the perfect view of the Vietnam-Japan Festival goings on. We hadn’t planned to be there, or even to see the festival, but that’s often how the best memories start out.

We’d seen signs up in the day and just found ourselves naturally walking towards the noise. As you can see in the pic above they had famous singers (who I’d never heard of), a Vietnam-Japan notorious compere (who I’d never seen before) and an incredible samurai sword and Kung Fu show by some of the cast of Kill Bill (heard of that one!).

Vietnam and Japan Festival in Hoi An

We stayed in our seats until it got dark and we got hungry. I’ve never been a famous musician so it was fun to see the audience from their perspective, and to see them screaming for the next tune.

There was one particular girl, possibly a teenager, who was dressed up like a Harajuku girl and the crowd were going crazy for her.

Vietnam and Japan Festival in Hoi An

The Vietnam-Japan Cultural Exchange Festival has taken place every year for the past 40 in UNESCO World Heritage accredited Hoi An. Every weekend at the end of August Vietnamese and Japanese street performers show off their talents from mad origami skills to making traditional crafts and selling their local foods along the river.

Vietnam and Japan Festival in Hoi An

The centre of the action takes place on the Japanese Covered Bridge where the crowd gathers at the end of the day to see the final show, where we were backstage. Along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street and every street leading into it the celebrations are everywhere.

Vietnam and Japan Festival in Hoi An

There are around 120,000 inhabitants in Hoi An, but the numbers increase who knows fold for the festival.

From seminars, to royal dances, to photo exhibitions, the event is organised by the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Hoi An People’s Committee. It’s an awesome opportunity for artists and residents to exchange and celebrate their individual characteristics.

Vietnam and Japan Festival in Hoi An

At the end of a hot day of sightseeing, and once you’ve given up your awesome spot backstage, one of the best spots to watch all the action of the Vietnam-Japan Cultural Exchange Festival is from across the water, away from the crowds and with a few local beers in hand.

Me and Kill Bill choreographer

Oh and find out where the stars are going next. Here’s me over excited with the choreographer and one of the stars of Kill Bill, what a guy!

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