Japan Club celebrates Asian culture at Bunkasai event

Rachel Holtzman , Reporter


There’s more to Japan than meets the eye, says Northwestern University Japan Club president Yuki Zou, and students will be able to explore the country Sunday at Bunkasai 2015. The event features Japanese food, cultural activities and performances from NU dance group Afterparty and Tsukasa Taiko Group, a Chicago-based traditional Japanese drumming organization.

Bunkasai is an annual cultural holiday in Japan, typically celebrated in October and November. At NU, students usually serve food, play cultural games and create calligraphy, McCormick sophomore Jerry Li, the club’s vice president, said. The club is hosting the event in May for funding reasons.

“It’s really important for people to see what Japanese culture is and what the traditions are,” said Zou, a Weinberg junior. “(During Bunkasai), everyone has fun and learns that there is a very special culture here … We’d like to get more people intrigued by Japanese culture and Asian culture in general.”

The Japan Club adapted the holiday to turn it into an event that is both a celebration of and an introduction to Japanese culture, Li said, while trying to keep as many fun activities in the mix as possible. The club has successfully put on Bunkasai for more than 10 years, and starts planning it at the beginning of each school year.

“We also try to think of new booths and activities we can have,” Li said. “For example, last year we introduced karate into our Bunkasai, which was exciting and a success.”

Along with karate, students will have the chance to learn calligraphy and origami, play chopstick games, create silly captions for manga comics, and try on “yukata,” or traditional Japanese clothes.

Zou said that the photo booth is her favorite part of the event.

“You get to dress up in clothes that are distinctly Japanese in style and take pictures,” Zou said. “I think people really like this part of the event because it’s not that common a style, and it’s very cool and exciting.”

Japanese food, including potstickers, stir-fry noodles, Japanese curry and Japanese shaved ice, will be available. This huge assortment of food is definitely part of the draw to the event, SESP junior Sarah Weissman said.

“I would love to go if I had time,” she said. “I really love exploring foods and cultures that are different from my own … It’s really cool that we have so many student groups on campus centered around different cultures, and this is just another great example of that.”

Li said that to him, the point of the event is to engage with people on campus who don’t have much of a background or understanding of Japanese culture.

“We want people to enjoy the food,” he said. “But … if people get more interested in Japanese culture and get interested in the Japanese language, or even watch a Japanese movie afterwards, it’ll help raise awareness and appreciation on campus.”

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