Japan Week highlights food, sword play, dances

Japanese students dressed in kimonos to enjoy the fun of Japanese Culture Week. Tyler Yonce/TNJN

The International House celebrated the best of Japanese culture this week with movies, tea, a cooking demonstration and performances.

The movie shown Monday was Tokyo Sonata, a film about the lives of a family during the years following the Japanese recession of the early 1990s and the struggles they endured because of it. Snacks and tea were provided for the attendees to enjoy while they watched the film.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the film,” said Ian Windham, a sophomore at UT. “I am a huge fan of Asian cinema. I am big into movies, especially niche ones like that.”

On Tuesday, a cooking demonstration was held with Okonomiyaki as the signature dish, and attendees were even given the opportunity to prepare it themselves. The pancake-like traditional Japanese dish translates from a combination of okonomi and yaki, meaning “what you want” and “grilled” from, respectively. The name is appropriate given that the dish is highly customizable, giving one the opportunity to add any sort of meat or vegetable they like.

“It was nice to see how they did it,” Windham said. “I liked that it wasn’t hard at all, and it tasted delicious.”

In addition to the cooking demonstration, a lesson on how to properly use chopsticks was given.

Japanese Culture Night, arguably the main event, finished out the celebrations. Food such as yakisoba and entertainment involving traditional Japanese dance and song were special parts of the culture night.

A kendo demonstration was given and those that attended got an up close and personal look at the art of Japanese swordplay. Alex Arthey, a student studying Japanese at UT, sang a traditional Japanese song at the I-House with other volunteer students.

“I think this event is amazing,” Arthey said. “The culture is just amazing, and I didn’t know half this stuff before tonight. I especially enjoyed learning about the earthquake in Japan because I did not know all that much about it until now. That’s what makes events like this great.”

Japanese Culture Week concluded Thursday with speeches and singing presented by students studying Japanese at UT. Popular Japanese pop songs such as “PonPonPon” by artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu were sung at the event followed by students presenting speeches on subjects based on their class’ particular level of Japanese.

A demonstration about how to properly prepare a kimono and a raffle for prizes were other fun activities at the event.

“This event is an extremely valuable asset for this school because students need to be exposed to this culture,” Arthey said.

The International House will continue to host special weeks dedicated to other cultures. Find a full schedule here.

 

Edited by Jennifer Brake