The Japanese Cherry Blossom festival has opened in Khabarovsk (Russia's Far East).
"The project is aimed at strengthening mutual understanding and friendship between Russian and Japanese people," Vice-Consul of the Japanese General Consulate in Khabarovsk Takahiro Yamasaki told a RIA Novosti correspondent.
According to Takahiro Yamasaki, the Cherry Blossom festival is held as the first stage of a large Japanese festival in Russia, which will last till March 2004.
The Cherry Blossom festival was preceded by a contest for the best expert on Japan organised by the Japanese Consulate General in Khabarovsk jointly with the Russian-Japanese friendship society and the regional Tikhookeanskaya Zvezda newspaper.
During the festival actors from the Japanese prefectures of Okinawa and Aomori will give a big concert, Melodies of the North and the South, to be crowned by a recital of the two countries' actors.
The festive program also includes performances of Japanese conductor Nisimoti Tomomi and pianist Aoki Yeko with the Far Eastern philharmonic orchestra, a contest of reports and essays in Japanese made by Khabarovsk university students and an exhibition, Blooming Sakura.
There will also be concerts of Japanese national songs; an art exhibition, Japan through Children's Eyes; a contest for the best haiku poem about Khabarovsk and a karaoke contest.
This autumn and next spring are to see tea ceremonies, ikebana flower exhibitions and a calligraphy exhibition, a kimono show and Japanese ceramics expositions.