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Tuesday, 1st July 2008
In Japan Entertainment News,

Foreigners 'flourishing' at Japanese arts

Foreigners are flourishing when it comes to practising ancient Japanese arts, it has been reported.

According to the Japan Times, many visitors to the country are following in the footsteps of the renowned Greek-Irishman Lafcadio Hearn (1850 - 1904) who married the daughter of a samurai and immersed himself in Japanese culture.

A recent report by Japan Foundation, a body affiliated to the country's foreign ministry, claimed almost three million people in 133 countries were studying Japan in 2006 - 23 times more than 25 years ago.

Prominent examples of Japanophiles noted by the newspaper include an Australian geisha, an Irishman who has mastered the ancient lute known as a biwa and Jero, the first African-American performer of enka, melodramatic ballads that became popular in Japan after the Second World War.

Historic Japanohiles include Carl Peter Thunberg and Philipp Franz von Siedbold. The socialist campaigner Beatrice Webb also described Japan as a "rising star of human self-control and enlightenment."