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Welcome to Min-On’s Music Journey! Today, the Min-On Concert Association and the Embassy of the State of Eritrea in Japan welcome you to Eritrea, located in the northeast of the African continent. Located in the northeast of mainland Africa, Eritrea is a country in the Horn of Africa.

Facing the Red Sea connecting Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Eritrea has played an important role as a hub for shipping traffic since ancient times.

Travel guide for Eritrea:

・Take a walk through the streets of Asmara, a capital with a rich and ancient history
・Relax on the beautiful beaches of the port town of Massawa
・Come see Timkat, a religious festival with a beautiful procession

Eritrea as a “crossroads of civilizations”

Eritrea, also known as a crossroads of civilizations, is as diverse as the peoples that populate the earth. The country has a rich history and many different attractions condensed into a land area of 124,000 square kilometers.

All the charms of Africa in one location

With its diverse topography and climate, Eritrea is said to embody the whole of the African continent in one microcosm, a land where visitors can experience three seasons in just two hours. From the highlands of the capital city, the semi-arid regions, the desert areas, the lush forests and oceanside areas with pristine ecosystems, Eritrea features vastly different terrain and climate within its borders.

A generous and devoted people

Sir Edward Denison Ross (1871–1940), an English orientalist and linguist, left the following words regarding Eritrea:

“One does not need a guidebook in a country like Eritrea. The amazing hospitality of the people obviates the need for such a formal tome.”

Eritrea has a long history of interacting with people from different backgrounds and has developed notable flexibility toward different cultures, incorporating the strengths of each. One of the joys of traveling in Eritrea is the opportunity to interact with the generous and unassuming local people.

Asmara, the multicultural capital

Located at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level, the beautiful city of Asmara is also known as an “island above the clouds.” Developed as a “Second Rome” when Italy expanded into the African continent in the late 19th century, many buildings remain here in the Italian Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s.

Asmara is home to many coffee enthusiasts, who cherish the custom of asmarino, a casual stroll punctuated with café stops. As in Italy, when people speak of coffee in Asmara, they are speaking of espresso.

Another notable feature of the city is the coexistence of religious institutions including mosques, synagogues and Catholic cathedrals. Asmara’s blend of Italian and African influences, along with its tolerance and understanding of multiple religions, have led to the city being registered as a World Heritage Site, “Asmara: A Modernist African City”

Port of Massawa, gateway to the sea

Located on the Red Sea, Massawa is one of the oldest cities in Eritrea. While the city has a history of strife as a military stronghold, in recent years its beautiful beaches and ecosystems have come back into prominence, and today Massawa is crowded with visitors from all over the world.

In particular, northern Massawa and the nearby Dahlak Archipelago are known as one of the finest scuba diving locations in the world, attracting divers from around the world with dazzling white beaches and crystal-clear waters. Catching a glimpse of the camels that strut leisurely on the sand is another reason to visit the beaches around Massawa.

For the people of Eritrea, the camel is so important, it has become a national emblem. Camels are indispensable partners in their daily lives, carrying luggage and transporting people in place of taxis.

Eritrean culture

Eritrea is home to a uniquely balanced culture. Here, we introduce you to Eritrea’s festival and music culture.

Timkat: The Tewahedo Christian festival

Tewahedo is the Christian religion of Eritrea, and the festival of Timkat celebrates the baptism of Jesus for practitioners of this religion. Each church has a Tabot that has been handed down from generation to generation, a model of the Tablets of Law onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. This artifact is taken outside churches on Timkat only, and paraded through the streets alongside the clergy and congregation.

The procession of the faithful, dressed in solemn robes and accompanied by the sounds of drums and flutes, is a sight to behold and attracts large numbers of reporters and overseas visitors annually.

Eritrea’s musical culture

Visitors to Eritrea will be treated to a wide range of music, from traditional to contemporary styles. Each of the nine ethnic groups living in Eritrea has a unique traditional music and dance, all of which are performed together at festivals.

Eritrea shares many of its traditional instruments with those of its neighboring countries including the krar (resembling a lyre), the large kebero drum, the abangala (a banjo-like instrument) and the wata (similar to a violin).

Music Journey Editorial Team Choice Artist: Helen Meles

Our journey features the song “Meaza” by Eritrean diva Helen Meles. Meles began her career at the age of eight and has appeared in many Eritrean films as an actor and singer. Please enjoy her rich, expressive voice and the unique melodies of Eritrean music.


Musicians recommended by the Embassy of the State of Eritrea in Japan

In closing, we would like to introduce musicians recommended by the Embassy of the State of Eritrea in Japan.

  1. I don’t want to die because of your love TEKLE TESFAZGHI  

  1. Vibrations of Asmara YEMANE BARYA


  1. Advice in life TSEHAYTU BERAKI


  1. Ebay Nay Asmara VITTORIO BOSSI


What did you think of your music journey to Eritrea? There are still many more places to go! Please look forward to our next destination.

(Produced in collaboration with the Embassy of the State of Eritrea in Japan, who also provided photos.)

Min-On Concert Association
-Music Binds Our Hearts-