On December 7, 2020, a Bun-Raku Chigasaki Public Reading was held at Studio Berceau near Chigasaki Station by members of Shonan Sirene.  In this event, ”Ubajima Tankenki,” an adventure story set on the Eboshiiwa, a rock bank off Chigasaki, and two Macedonian folk tales “the Frog and the Mouse” and “the North Wind” were introduced as a Host Town activity for Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Ms. Kristina Stojchevska, the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the Republic of North Macedonia in Japan, was invited to the event, and we had a chance to speak with her after the event.

Five members of Shonan Sirene and four members of the IAC North Macedonian Group (tentative name) who prepared the Japanese version of the Macedonian folk tale “The Girl and the Twelve Months” participated and heard stories about North Macedonia from the Chargé d’Affaires.

She seemed impressed listening to Macedonian folktales in Japan.  She said although she did not understand Japanese very well, she knew these stories since she was a little girl, and the performance was excellent.
She said that her mother was a teacher and she used to tell these stories to children at home and at the school as well.  She also told us that her father was a professor of philosophy.  He used to visit many places in North Macedonia, talked to old people there, collected many folktales and fairytales, and transcribed to publish them.  Not all the Macedonian folktales and fairytales have happy endings but it helps teachers and parents to discuss good and evil, right and wrong, and so on, with children, and children can learn many lessons from these stories.  In North Macedonia, there is a movement to support publishing those good stories, and those books have a special mark on them.

Ms. Stojchevska also told us about pies as a pie appears in the story of “the North Wind.”  There are many kinds of delicious pies in North Macedonia, she said.  For meals, there are pies with cheese, meat, and vegetables like spinach, potatoes, pumpkins, and so on.  For desserts, they have pies with such fruits as apples and cherries.  The traditional pie she talked was a pie that looks like the sun with layers of thin crust filled with cheese, egg, and spinach.  The recipe is passed down from grandma to mother, and from mother to daughters.  She said it made her hungry just talking about the pie.

We also asked how the people in North Macedonia are celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day because the holiday season was just around the corner.  According to Ms. Stojchevska, there are Catholics and Muslims in North Macedonia, but most Macedonians belong to Orthodox Church, and for them, Christmas is not in December but on January 6.  She told us that Christmas in North Macedonia was just like in Japan.  People put lightings and trees everywhere, children find presents under their Christmas trees, and the whole town becomes very beautiful.  Unfortunately, we have a difficult time because of the pandemic but the beautiful light of Christmas helps people relax and feel at ease.  As for the New Year, they celebrate both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

This event will appear in Town News Chigasaki on December 18, so don’t miss it!