New Delhi: Japanese nationals attending the parade on Sunday felt that India`s invitation to Premier Shinzo Abe to the 65th Republic Day will "strengthen the bonds" of friendship between the two countries and boost bilateral ties.
Abe today attended the celebrations at the majestic Rajpath boulevard, becoming the first premier from Japan to grace the occasion that has seen many international dignitaries over the years.
Hironori Hara, an official with the Ministry of External Affairs in Tokyo, travelling with Abe to India, and who attended the parade said, "India is truly incredible."
On Abe`s visit, Hironori said, "the visit will only serve to strengthen the bonds of friendship between India and Japan and boost bilateral ties."
The Japanese Prime Minister arrived here yesterday on a three-day official visit. He has already held extensive talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during which both leaders decided to enhance security, defence and economic cooperation between the two countries.
The two countries have also inked as many as eight agreements, including those to promote tourism, enhance energy efficiency in telecom towers and power generation in India.
The Japanese thanked India for inviting Japan on the august occasion.
"I loved the whole thing, especially the bands, since I myself am a musician. And, having lived earlier in Mumbai for two years, my love for India has grown. Bahut achha laga (I really liked it). And, so today I thank India for having invited us to this beautiful Republic Day," Hironori told.
India`s rich cultural heritage, its varied achievements and military prowess were on majestic display at the magnificent Rajpath as part of the celebrations.
Yamakoshi Toshihiro, an official at the Japanese Embassy here was enthralled by the camel contingent of the Border Security Force on display in full glory.
"I loved the air show, especially the vertical manoeuvre in the end, the motorbike stunts, the colourful uniforms. It was a beautiful experience being here," Toshihiro said.
Toshihiro said he was earlier posted in Mumbai at the Japanese Consulate between 2009 and 2011, during which he picked up a few lesson on Hindi.
"Initially when I came here I had a vague idea of India. I suffered a lot of frustrations too, whether it was traffic or hygiene but eventually I understood the true greatness of India, which is that it accepts everything," he said.
Talking about Indian hospitality Hironori said, that India is country that has accepted religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Zorastrianism and even Christianity, amomg others, and that is the "beauty of India".
"When I arrived in India, I had a card that said on the back `Incredible India` and I think after having spent two years in the country, it truly is `Incredible India`. And, this occasion only heightens that image," he said.
Both agreed that they liked masala dosa, among other spicy Indian food.
"We are Japanese, we taste and enjoy the material that we eat, whether it is sushi or sashimi. We even can taste and tell which water is from which region. And, so we enjoyed eating dosa too. It is good," Hironori said.
Earlier, Japan`s Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko had come to India on a six-day visit over a month back. The visit was the first to any South Asian country by the Emperor after he was enthroned in 1990.
Bruce Nordstrom, a professor of sociology at St Olaf College in the US, who attended the event along with a group of 20 American students from the college, was "happy to be here".
"Oh! I just loved it, the whole programme, especially the bedecked camels on parade. It was wonderful," Nordstrom said.