Meguro UNESCO Lecture Series "Culture of Bulgaria"

Thu 26 January 2012 14:00? / Midorigaoka Bunka Kaikan
Lecturer: Mr Petar Nikolaev, Culture, Education and Press Attaché, Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
Attendees: about 140

At first, I was surprised to hear the fluent and polite Japanese by the young Mr Nikoraev.

I sensed not only his language skills, but also the high quality of the Japanese language education at the Sofia University in Bulgaria.

Summary: Bulgaria is located at the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a country with an old history, surrounded by the Black Sea in the east and Turkey, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia and Greece. Since ancient times, it has undergone a period of many hardships of ethnic invasion from the neighborhood, such as conquests by the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Turks' rule for 500 years during 14?19 century. Despite those hardships, Bulgaria held onto their own culture, and today, there are nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as Boyana Church, with its famous icon; Rila Monastery, built in the deep mountains to offer protection from invaders; and the Ancient City of Nessebar. Also it is a cultured nation, rich in nature, which holds 330 museums and 160 monasteries nationwide.

There are four seasons, the same as Japan, but with low humidity, cool summers and not too cold in winter. The Black Sea coast becomes crowded with summer holiday makers and the autumn leaves change colour to gold, in what is known as the "golden autumn".

When you hear 'Bulgaria', what sort of things come to mind: Yogurt? Roses? The sumo wrestler Kotooshu? Yogurt lactic acid is distinctive and can be made only in Bulgaria, which is sent to Japan by air and is processed in Japan.

Roses are small and are not suitable for ornamental purposes, but have a good smell. Rose essence is very valuable and said to be as valuable as gold, since 120 kg of petals makes only 30 ml of essence. Many tourists visit the annual rose festival.

Many questions were raised by the audience in the question time, and we learned a wide range of knowledge about Bulgaria; education, tourism, industry, climate, low birthrate, wine, etc. The talk dispelled the impression that Bulgaria was an agricultural country, to one which was not well known for its glamorous, famous tourist spots and industry. It was an occasion to make me wish to visit such a charming country.

-written by Yoshio Shimizu and translated by Hideko Sato Cochrane
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