It was nice to receive a telephone call from a prominent Japanese manufacturer in our locality requesting our assistance for an important event they due to hold in a few weeks’ time that then turned out to be slightly different to what we had expected.
Following an in depth briefing from the client a few days later we realised the event they had in mind, which was the official opening of their totally reconstructed UK Technical Centre at Kidderminster in Worcestershire, was going to require a lot of serious thinking and an immediate crash course on Japanese culture and etiquette.
The Japanese do not do half measures, there is only one way for handling special occasions and one way only, and that is, the Japanese way and it has to be correct in every detail otherwise they can easily be offended by our unintentional lack of respect.
We bought in the services of another Worcester based company who assisted us in planning and learning just how the Japanese go about celebrating such an event elsewhere in the world.
In the space of a week we learnt a lot about what to do and, more importantly, what not to do and it became evident that the timing of the many parts of the ceremony was to be critical.
The Japanese drink sake was to play an important part in the opening, but where do you get a genuine barrel of sake from? We were soon to find out.
The ceremony of breaking open a barrel of sake is called Kagami-Biraki and this can only be achieved authentically by using a wooden mallet to break open the top of the barrel and the sake must be drunk using traditional sake cups, no ordinary cups or glasses will do, as that shows disrespect.
Amada took our advice and asked for the event to recorded on HD video so we used our professional video production team to recorded the complete event and carry out all the post-production editing necessary to provide the client with a finished product. A short YouTube clip is available here.
None other than the President and CEO of the Amada Group Mr Mitsuo Okamoto flying in specially from Japan and Amada UK Managing Director Alan Parrott would be opening the new complex, together with a hundred or so dignitaries, therefore it was imperative that we got everything right, more than that, perfect.
We went to great lengths to produce a very detailed written programme of events for the team at Amada, that were working with us, to approve. Within two days we had the go ahead for the programme, despite the fact that every Email and written documents we sent Amada in the course of our involvement were automatically sent to Japan for their approval.
Our final programme included the services of a very experienced Master of Ceremonies in full regalia a talented harpist an amazing quick draw artist and a team of four authentic Taiko Drummers. Each had to fit into a very well-rehearsed programme, fortunately the weather was fine and the whole event went like clockwork to everyone’s’ relief.
As we mentioned earlier we had to acquire an authentic barrel of sake and the only place in the UK where this is available is from the Japanese Embassy itself, in the middle of London, by curtesy of a kind Mr Ito.