Masami Sakamoto / Bucharest Office, Marubeni Corporation
How much do you know about Romania?
If things like: former Communist bloc country, home of the Dracula legend, homeland of Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci, gold medalist at the Moscow Olympics (and who Japanese might have come to know for her "White Fairy" performance at the Montreal Olympics) readily come to mind, then you may be considered a Romania expert—that is how faint awareness of Romania is in general for most Japanese. A Member State of the EU, Romania has a population of about 21 million, its national territory is roughly the same size as the mainland of Japan, its latitude is the same as the northern part of Hokkaido and Sakhalin, and it faces the Black Sea.
Blessed with sublime nature, spring in Romania is filled with lush greenery and blooming flowers. In summer, as the sunny days stretch out, people linger in roadside cafes until late at night, savoring every moment. Soon, the golden autumn approaches apace and is gone before you know it, followed by the harsh Romanian winter.
With its numerous neoclassical buildings and fashionable Parisian style parks, the capital city of Bucharest was once known as the Paris of the Balkans. To this day, many buildings and structures which were built during this heyday—such as an arc made in the image of the Arc de Triomphe and a large central avenue modeled after the Champs-Élysées—and a walking tour is certain to offer fresh discoveries.
Further, with its pristine nature and traditional lifestyle and customs preserved, as well as numerous World Heritage sites including the Danube Delta, monasteries with wooden churches and fresco paintings, Romania is now regarded as a narrow road to inner Eastern Europe, which becomes more popular year after year.
Nearly all Romanians are devout Romanian Orthodox Christians, and it is common to see people making the sign of the cross as they pass by churches throughout the city. Romania came under Roman rule during the Roman Empire—a vestige of which remains to this day in its name, Romania—and it is unique among the neighboring countries in having people of Latin culture. With both religious piety and Latin cheer, church and dancing are inseparable parts of Romanian life. With both joy and grief, they pray, dance and celebrate—it is their tradition to do away with their troubles. The style of dance is akin to folk dancing, forming circles to dance, and for wedding celebrations, they will dance the night away and keep going until dawn. Even demonstrations end up with people dancing, before they disperse.
This is an introduction to the charming country of Romania, which is packed with myriad elements—old and new, harsh and moderate.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.62 (March, 2011)