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Indonesian Culture Festival “Malam Indonesia” Makes You Feel Like Home

Indonesian Culture Festival “Malam Indonesia” Makes You Feel Like Home

Hello, my Kyoto friends!

For international students, being away from their home country for a long time often causes home-sickness. For Indonesians, there are some aspects of life in Indonesia that probably cannot be replaced by any pleasure found in Japan. Many Indonesians in Kyoto, for example, often long for kinship and ambiences of particular national or religious events. For me, that life aspect most of the time is about Indonesian cuisine, which will always be my first reason of missing Indonesia.

My Attempt to Cure “Homesickness”

Kyoto City you know is indeed a city filled with distinctive traditional Japanese culture. However, Kyoto often hosts various international festivals to introduce and promote cultures from around the world, and one of them is Indonesian culture festival.

Last August 2023, I attended an Indonesian culture festival called “Malam Indonesia” in Kyoto International Community House (kokoka). My main mission attending this event were two: to find joy and to eat Indonesian culinary as much as possible!

For your information, “Malam Indonesia”, which is literally translated as “Indonesian Night”, is a cultural event organized by the Indonesian Student Association (PPI) Kyoto-Shiga once in two years to introduce Indonesian art and culture to the Japanese community and foreigners living in Kyoto. Moreover, you can also read more about the Indonesian Student Association (PPI) Kyoto-Shiga in the following article: What’s an International Student Group Like? An Indonesian Student’s Introduction to PPI Kyoto-Shiga!

Besides cultural performances, Indonesian festival always provides booths selling Indonesian food and beverage. So, it is a perfect place for me to cure my longing for Indonesian cuisine!

Enjoy All Delicious Offerings in Food Bazaar

The series of events for Malam Indonesia 2023 kicked off with the Indonesian products and food bazaar from 12:00 to 17:00. This bazaar offered a variety of foods, beverages, clothing, and unique Indonesian handicrafts.

Talking about personal experience, I participated as a committee member of Malam Indonesia festival back in 2013 and 2015. At that time, the food bazaar was held widely in the front yard of kokoka. There were various types of food and beverage sold in many booths.

In 2023 food bazaar, sadly there were only a few booths offering Indonesian food and beverage. The bazaar was also held inside a small room near the main hall.

Before the 2023 festival, the last Malam Indonesia was held in 2019. As a biennial event, Malam Indonesia was supposed to take place again in 2021. However, as we know, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, preventing the event from being held. This posed a challenge for the organizers of Malam Indonesia 2023, as many senior organizers from the previous event had returned to Indonesia and were unable to give assistance and advice for the execution of Malam Indonesia 2023. It can be said that all the organizers of Malam Indonesia 2023 had limited experience in organizing this event.

Therefore, I could say that due to the limited experience, the committee of Malam Indonesia festival 2023 seemed to be starting over the experience of organizing an international affair once again. Organizing an international event is not an easy matter, so step by step they started piling up their know-hows and expertise again. Perhaps because of that reason, not many vendors participated in the food bazaar as well.

However, there was one thing that made me happy when attending the bazaar. It was because my favorite Indonesian restaurant in Kyoto attended the bazaar and sold their dishes. The name of the restaurant is Bali Bali Indonesia.

(Indonesian food booth by Bali-bali Indonesia Restaurant, Kyoto)

I bought some Indonesian popular street food from their booth, such as “cilok” and “tahu gejrot”.

For your information, “cilok” is a ball-shaped snack made from tapioca starch/flour and served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. “Cilok” is an abbreviation of the Indonesian phrase “aci dicolok” meaning “tapioca balls skewered”. Meanwhile, “tahu gejrot” is a dish made from fried tofu served with cucumber and a hot and sweet chili sauce.”Gejrot” refers to the action of crushing or smashing the ingredients together. Pieces of crispy fried tofu are combined with fresh cucumber slices. Then everything is drenched with a spicy, sweet, garlicky sauce made from chili, palm sugar, and soy sauce.

Despite the chef of Bali Bali Indonesia is a native Japanese, the flavor authenticity of the Indonesian dishes she made were perfect, pretty much just like those in Indonesia!

Hopefully, much more Indonesian culinary sellers and vendors will be able to participate in the next Malam Indonesia and festive the event with many other authentic Indonesian culinary!

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