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As part of its ongoing series of meetings with ambassadors of the world stationed in Japan, the Min-On Concert Association interviewed His Excellency Rubén Eduardo Miguel Tempone, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Argentine Republic to Japan. The ambassador shared his thoughts on some of the most representative aspects of Argentina’s rich and diverse culture.

Ambassador Tempone was first asked about the distinct folk music of Argentina and his country’s musical culture in general. In this respect, the ambassador replied that Argentine folk music is usually associated with the gauchos—similar to cowboys in the United States, who have become symbols of the country today—herding cattle across the Pampas plains. Across Argentina there are various festivals where the gaucho traditions are celebrated. For example, on the first week of November, the “Fiesta de la Tradición” is held in the city of San Antonio de Areco, located in the Buenos Aires province. This festival includes folk dance performances, Argentine “asado” (barbeque) and mate tea.

In reference to the asado, Ambassador Tempone said the local barbeque is unique in that the beef is not cooked directly over a flame and takes about one hour to prepare. He went on to say that Argentines consume on average 500 grams of meat every day, but with one caveat: that includes the weight of the bone. “Most people have asados every Sunday at big family gatherings . Argentina is one of the countries where beef consumption per person is amongst the highest in the world,” he shared.

The discussion naturally turned to the topic of the tango and what it represents for the people of Argentina. Ambassador Tempone explained that the tango symbolizes the very culture of his people. However, the tango seen on television or in a show “is difficult, so, taking formal lessons is essential to reach that level,” he explained. Contrary to popular belief, not all Argentinians can dance in such a sophisticated and artistic fashion. Instead, Ambassador said, the tango that the average Argentinian enjoys at a milonga is danced doing easy moves, but it is equally enjoyable and fasctinating. He said that because milongas are held everywhere at almost any time of the day, everyone can enjoy and experience the tango.

Incidentally, the ambassador also pointed out that milongas are also held in Tokyo. He said he takes pride in the fact that the tango has transcended national borders and that it serves as a bridge bringing Argentina and Japan closer together, despite the geographic distance between the two countries.

When the interviewer noted that 2023 marked the 125th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the Argentine Republic and Japan, Ambassador Tempone expressed gratitude to Min-On for its Tango Series initiative. Among the longest-running cultural exchange programs operated by Min-On, the series began in 1970 with Jose Basso—“one of the legends of the tango,” as the ambassador described the Buenos Aires-born composer—and his orchestra. Ever since, the ambassador said, his country and Min-On have maintained strong ties of friendship.

“What is most important is that we continue strengthening and expanding this relationship,” said Ambassador Tempone. Wrapping up the interview he expressed that he is very much looking forward to Min-On’s 25th Tango Series concert in 2024.

Note: This interview was conducted at the end of 2023.