A second "Japan Autumn Festival" began Tuesday in Hong Kong to promote Japanese entertainment, arts and food culture through dozens of events to be held in the city through December.
"Hong Kong is the most important partner of Japan in many aspects such as tourism, food export and domestic investment," Japanese Ambassador and Consul General Kuninori Matsuda said at the opening ceremony.
"We are also very proud that the Japanese community in Hong Kong is an integral and vital part of Hong Kong," he said, adding that the festival will become an annual event.
This year's festival, formally called "Japan Autumn Festival in Hong Kong -- Rediscovering Nippon," features Japanese movies, musical concerts, art exhibitions, sports events, food and beverage fairs, tourism and trade promotions, and a carnival.
Organizers expect an enthusiastic turnout, considering the "great success" of last year's festival that drew some 180,000 people.
Some events started before Tuesday's official opening.
"While we have a lot of tourists in Hong Kong from Japan, not all people in Hong Kong could travel to Japan to appreciate what this country has to offer," Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who according to Matsuda had raised the idea for hosting the event two years ago, said at the ceremony.
"For most of us, the Japan festival never really ends, Japanese culture and lifestyle are embraced year round here," she said.
Japan was Hong Kong's fourth largest trading partner last year, while Hong Kong was Japan's eighth, according to Lam.
The number of visits to Japan by Hong Kong tourists grew some 21 percent from 2015 to 1.84 million last year, and about 2.3 million visits are expected for 2017, Matsuda said.