Once a year in Tokyo’s Minato Ward (Minato City) where many embassies gather, an event called “Minato City World Festival” is held. One thing that makes this event special is that you can enter some of the embassies. Usually, most embassies aren’t open to the public. That changes and you get the chance to take a glimpse of different countries and cultures! “Minato City World Festival” (held until March 25, 2018)” is popular for its event “Minato City Stamp Rally of Embassies and Diplomatic Missions” (See last years article). In this event, you use a “passport” to collect stamps at embassies in Minato City. If you gather 5 or more stamps, you can participate in a lottery at the “Minato City World Carnival” festival scheduled to be held on March 25.
Passports are distributed at Minato-ku sightseeing information center and many Minato-ku hotels. Because good times and conditions to visit vary depending on the embassy, you should look at the English information on your passport!
This year, my friend Yena and I visited the Embassy of Afghanistan and the Embassy of Bahrain. The Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo is located at a hilltop close to Tokyo Tower. By the way, there is also a historic site of “Geodetic Datum Origin of Japan” (only for map enthusiasts though) right next to the embassy.
At the Embassy of Afghanistan
The Embassy of Afghanistan was a big, beautiful villa. As soon as we rang the bell at the gate, it was opened and we were invited to the villa.
Inside, they had a visitors’ book for everyone to write their name, a stamp corner (of course!), and an information corner (in English and Japanese) with info about the country.
The staff of the Afghan embassy was very friendly. They recommended us an Afghanistan restaurant in Tokyo, gave us a calendar and a ballpoint pen as a gift, and even allowed us to wear traditional dresses.
Currently, the situation in Afghanistan is still very severe, but I am glad that at the embassy, I could catch a glimpse of the true appearance of Afghanistan as it once was.
At the Embassy of Bahrain in Tokyo
The next embassy we visited was the Embassy of Bahrain. Located on one floor of an office building the embassy is very small. Therefore, you couldn’t actually go into the office, but they had set up an info corner in front of the embassy. There was general information on Bahrain, the flag of Bahrain, and an introduction movie.
The Embassy staff offered us sweets (dates with an almond filling) and a traditional hot drink. Since it was one of those rare snowy days in Tokyo, we were more than happy about this “warm” gesture.
Of course, I was able to collect a stamp for my passport, too. By the way, the “stamp rally” is still going on! I’m going to visit more embassies and collect some more stamps. Why don’t you (and your kids!) join us and learn about foreign cultures at “Minato City Stamp Rally of Embassies and Diplomatic Missions”, too?
World Festival Official HP (Japanese):
Minato City Stamp Rally of Embassies and Diplomatic Missions:
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 – Sunday, March 25, 2018
Minato City World Carnival:
Date: Sunday, March 25, 10 am – 6 pm
Venue: Tokyo Tower ( 4-2-8, Shiba Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo)