A Cardiff schoolgirl’s immersion in centuries-old Oriental culture will be featured in a popular TV show next week.
On a family visit to Japan seven-year-old Momoko Miyata was taught how to put on a traditional kimono, a skill which is fast disappearing.
Momoko was shown how by her grandmother, who lives in Tarumi, a few miles from Osaka, and it was the highlight of her latest visit.
The excitement of the occasion is captured in the S4C children’s programme Y Diwrnod Mawr (“The Big Day”) to be shown on September 1.
The groundbreaking programme which was first screened in 2010 was the first documentary of its type aimed at pre-school children and it was nominated for a Rose d’Or award and the Celtic Media Festival Prize.
Each episode focuses on a child aged 4 – 7, highlighting a special event or occasion in his or her life.
Momoko’s mother Miki is Japanese but has lived in Cardiff since 1993 and Momoko attends Ysgol Gymraeg Pwll Coch in Canton.
Miki said she felt it important for Momoko and her older brother Michael to learn about their Welsh and Japanese backgrounds which would help to build their identity.
“Japanese culture comes naturally to Momoko and I think she will learn to value it even more when she realizes how lucky she is,” she said.
The kimono which Momoko learned how to put on was bought about 40 years ago for her mother and aunt and is less complicated than some which have to be put on by experienced dressers.
“It is an important but rare skill in Japan now,” said Miki. “If you can put on a kimono you are accepted as a sophisticated woman. In that respect it is like Ka do, the art of flower arranging, or Sa do, the traditional tea ceremony.”
Miki has given a presentation about Japan to children in both Momoko and Michael’s classes at Ysgol Pwll Coch and has also donated a kimono to the school’s reception class.
“The children were absolutely fascinated to learn about Japan,” she said.
Though Momoko is interested in the traditional skills, customs and culture of the country she is even more keen on aspects of modern day life such as technology and food and even at her young age would like to have work experience with a Japanese company developing computer games.
Michael shares his sister’s interest in both Welsh and Japanese culture, especially Matcha – green tea – and food, and Japanese cartoons.
With little opportunity to wear a kimono in Cardiff Momoko did not bring it back home to Cardiff with her.
“However when she is 20,” said Miki, “she will be dressed in a Furisode, the most formal type of kimono which has long sleeves and which celebrates the beginning of adulthood.”
Nia Ceidiog, who produces and directs the programme, said it was again a delight working with youngsters like Momoko.
The crew spent three days in Japan filming Momoko and her family and Nia said it was a delightful experience
In each of the programmes the children are the stars, with their jokes, stories and unique experiences.
“But what is so amazing is how confident most of them are in front of a camera and when being interviewed, possibly because so many of them are familiar with mobile phones and social media these days,” said Nia.
Future episodes in the series feature children from across Wales. Their “Big Days” range from attending a rock concert to taking part in a parade of vintage cars and making sheepskin rugs.