In the 17th century, it was one of Japan’s and the world’s most important trading centers, a key port on the ancient silk route trading ceramics, textiles, fragrant woods, copper coins and ironware.
Today, Hoi An has lost its importance as a crossroads for trade, but instead has become a World Heritage site, attracting thousands of visitors annually to marvel at its preserved wooden buildings and French colonial homes and because of its ancient links with Japan, it has become an important symbol of the current close ties between the two countries.
Each year, the town celebrates those links with a two-day festival. This year it included not events such as stage shows, a noodle eating contest, a Japanese tea ceremony and a kimono parade, but also seminars on the town’s cultural heritage, how to best preserve it and also fight modern scourges such as rising pollution and environmental threats.
The accompanying photographs highlight Hoi An’s heritage, its beauty and some of the festivities.
Photos courtesy of Raymond Wilkinson / JICA, Shinichi Kuno / JICA
Text by Raymond Wilkinson / JICA