Cultural Relations

Japan has supported Estonia in the fields of culture and education on numerous occasions according to one-time agreements between governments. The Japanese Government has helped provide funding for the furnishing of the University of Tartu language laboratory (0.26 million EUR) and the Tallinn University Japanese language class (nearly 0.2 million EUR). It has also helped provide learning materials and technical equipment for the Institute of Humanities (almost 0.06 million EUR).Financing has also occurred for exhibition- and conservation materials for the Estonian Art Museum. The Estonian Music Academy was supported for the technical furnishings of the electronic music studio (0.36 million EUR). The Heino Eller Music School in Tartu was also supported for purchasing music instruments (0.37millionEUR). EU-Japan Fest Foundation, which was created in 1993 has the goal of developing cultural and economic ties between European countries and Japan through co-operation with the European Capitals of Culture, was also active in Tallinn’s programs in 2011.  

In Japan, the aspects of Estonian cultured that are highly valued are choral singing and animation. Tiia-Ester Loitme, is a highly appreciated conductor in Japan; in December 2008 she was given a state decoration by Japan. Neeme, Kristjan and Paavo Järvi have all conducted Japan’s leading orchestras.In Estonia, one can study Japanese language and culture at the Estonian Institute of Humanities, the Language Centre of the University of Tartu, Tallinn University, Tallinn Järveotsa Upper Secondary School, and in the Tallinn Language School.

The most recognised Japanophile in Estonia is Tallinn University professor Rein Raud, to whom Japan gave the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, for his contribution to heading Japanese studies and developing the study of Japanese in Estonia.

In May 2004, Estonian sumo wrestler Kaido Höövelson (aka Baruto) was the first Estonians – and among only a few Europeans – to become a member of the Japanese Professional Sumo Federation. On 31 March 2010 Kaido Höövelson was given the title of Ozeki, which is the second-highest rank in sumo. Baruto is the eighth foreigner to earn this title. Another notable fact is that the first Junior Sumo World Championships to be held outside of Japan took place in August 2006 in Rakvere, which is also where the adult amateur Sumo World Championships took place from 11-12 October 2008.

On 31 July 2011 a Japanese garden was opened in Kadriorg Park, which now contains the Hiroshima “Stone for Peace” presented to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves by the Stone for Peace Association of Hiroshima on 21 October 2011.

In fall of 2012, Mari Kalkun performed record release concerts in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara. They were organized by Sonihouse, Nature Bliss (the company that released Kalkun’s record), and Afterhouse (who releases Pastaca’s records). New contacts were created with concert locations, producers, and creative individuals. Invitations exist for a new tour. Sales of the records “Üü tulõk” and “Vihmakõnõ” are going well in Japan.

As of 2015, Paavo Järvi will be the head conductor of the Tokyo NHK Symphony Orchestra.

The Estonian Art Museum plans to hold an exhibition of Japanese art at Kumu and preparations took place during a visit by Japanese curators to Tallinn in July 2013. The Estonian Academy of Art is preparing a workshop on Japanese textile art. Estonian Record Productions is preparing a long-term collaboration project with Dutch and Japanese musicians.

Many collaborative projects occur through Estonia-Japan cooperation frameworks.