An event to promote Japanese culture has begun in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
More than 300 people took part in the opening ceremony of the "Japan Festival" on Saturday. It is the first time the event has been held in Turkey.
Japanese comics and animation have helped cultivate an interest in learning the Japanese language in the country, especially among the young. The number of people who have taken an exam to gauge their proficiency in Japanese has increased by more than 50 percent this fiscal year, compared to a year earlier.
Japanese minister for "Cool Japan" Strategy, Masaji Matsuyama, said he hopes participants in the festival will serve as bridges between Japan and Turkey.
Turkish culture and tourism minister Numan Kurtulmus noted that the number of Japanese tourists is increasing after a decline due to concerns over the security situation. He expressed his hope for further cultural exchanges between the countries.
Visitors enjoyed music played on a Japanese "koto" harp and a traditional Turkish flute called a "ney," as well as a dance performance by Turkish students.
A 27-year-old student who is learning Japanese at university said the event will help deepen interest in Japan among people in Turkey.
The festival will run until March 18th.