On the Japan Airlines flight over from Singapore, I caught a television programme made by Tokyo TV called 'Why did you come to Japan?'; Clearly launched on the back of the inbound boom to Japan, it basically catches visitors at Narita airport unawares, asks them their reason for coming to the country and if they find interesting stories, the crew will follow them on their trips.
I found it highly entertaining, educational and strangely moving in parts and it made me realise what an important role Japanese culture has all over the world and the influence it has on young children.
In one segment they found a young Canadian girl who had always dreamt of visiting Japan ever since she won a gold award at The International Children’s Art Exhibition (ICAE), run by Pentel, when she was six years old.
When asked if she’d ever seen the painting again, she said no and the crew asked if she’d like to see it again if they found it. A couple of weeks into her trip, she gets a call saying they’d tracked her painting to a Pentel factory somewhere in Japan, and she meets the crew there.
The moment when she is shown her painting, drawn 17 years ago, by the staff at Pentel is precious. She can’t help crying and laughing at the same time. This is the painting, she said, that changed her life. The prize gave her confidence in her talent and she pursued art as a career, and Japan remained in her dreams as the place that made that happen.
Read the full story here.