The forest, the music and the word bring together two distant cultures - Estonia and Japan - and inspire visitors to enjoy a slower pace of life, closer to nature.

The Story

Aigu Om! (“There's time!” in Võro dialect) is a music and spoken word event that takes place in Rõuge municipality. At the heart of the event are values such as rich traditional culture, local people and stories, and the unique nature of Võru county.

The special year of the festival will focus on two distant yet similar cultures that have maintained a close connection with nature - Estonia and Japan. The Antsla and Võru parishes will bring together both cultures' top artists, whose work is linked to the forest. Visitors will be able to experience the cultural pearls of the two countries, ranging from forest bathing to smoke sauna. One of the highlights of the festival will be the premiere of a musical piece, composed as collaboration between Japan and Estonia.

The Experience

In July 2024, concerts, forest- and cultural walks, encounters, archaic dragnet fishing, outdoor cinema and workshops on folk medicine and food culture, all of which have the forest as a common denominator, await the visitors in different parishes of Võrumaa.


The three days of excursions and discussions will revolve around traditional and modern forest awareness. Reflections by Yutaka Miura, who popularises Japanese dendrology, and forest bathing specialists will be mediated by Estonian thinkers and artists. The sculptor Uku Sepsivart will present the latest trends in forest art. Visits will also be made to marked veteran trees known as “cross-trees”.


The concert-production "Mõts/Mori" is a collaboration between Estonian singer Mari Kalkun, Japanese producer Ryota Nozaki and Japanese musicians. In the week leading up to the festival, these artists will prepare a musical piece, which then reaches the audience in an exclusive concert evening in the Viitina Tavern barn. Children from the community will take part in the performance.

The Impact

"Aigu Om! 2024" brings together people who value the natural environment, traditional culture and nature conservation. We will show that it's possible to have much in common even with the most distant cultures, and that an environmentally sustainable lifestyle is important regardless of geographical location. Through a media partner in Japan, our cultural explosion filled with forest will also make it to the Japanese public.

Advocates: Mari Kalkun, Kou Koiwa, Marianne Pisukov, Taavi Tatsi (Pähni Visitor Centre), Marili Jõgi, Janne Funk, Maret Kesküla, Karlo Funk, Peep Kimmel, Janne Koppel, Jaanis Koppel, Ede Pähn, Anna Hashimoto and others.


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