JP Network, put on its annual Japan Night last Saturday in the Atwood ballroom. The night’s theme was “folktales,” where a number of Japanese folktales were acted out by students.
Japanese students studying at SCSU at one time numbered around 300, but now there are only 16 international students from Japan, according to Hikaro Sako, president of JP Netowrk.
JP Network has 25 active members and nearly 40 members that simply help with events. The organization has been hosting Japan night for 6 years. Previously, it was overseen by an organization called Japan Club, according to Sako.
“More than half of our members are American students. The communication between them is very difficult. Both sides have a different cultural background,” Hikaru Sako, who has been president or vice president of JP Network for two-and-a-half years, explained. “The difference is really big.”
Aside from “folktales,” another recurring theme in the night was the recent tsunami in Japan that left over 12,000 people dead, with another 16,000 still missing. The earthquake that caused the tsunami was the highest magnitude earthquake Japan has experienced in recorded history.
“It made my heart sink. It was a horrible feeling when I first heard about the Tsunami,” senior communications studies student Asuka Onoguchi commented. Onoguchi is from Tokyo, Japan. All families of SCSU students are safe.
JP Network has raised over $1500 for the tsunami relief effort in the four weeks since the disaster. The money is donated to the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, a non-governmental organization that helps disaster victims.
Officers from JP Network presented representatives of Tzu Chi with a check for the amount of $1529.24. Aside from this, a silent auction for Japanese gifts and a stand selling artwork was also set up in the Ballroom, the profits of which were also donated to Tzu Chi.
The entertainment at Japan Night consisted of folktales recreated by actors. There would often be breaks in the storytelling for Japanese songs, dances, or performances by the SCSU Taiko group. Taiko is a form of Japanese drumming dating back to 300 C.E.
Japan Night also included a demonstration by the SCSU Judo group. Judo is known as “the gentle way” in Japan. Judo martial artists are taught to yield their position when fighting so as to throw their opponent using the force of their own strike. It is also a way of life strongly tied to Japanese, Buddhist, and Shinto culture.
After the storytelling, attendees were served Japanese food.
“In a certain way, the food is really authentic. We’re going to cook Japanese curry, a really home-style food … but curry is not from Japan, it’s from India… but it’s really popular in Japan. A lot of people eat it,” Sako said.
Aside from Japanese curry, the menu also included nikujaga, which is a kind of stew containing meat, potatoes, carrots, and soy sauce for the entrée. For dessert, the attendees were served dango, which is made from rice flower covered in a sweet sauce.
After the food was served, former SCSU president Roy Saigo and vice president of student life and development Wanda Overland gave awards recognizing president Hikaro Sako and vice-president Jim Cusick for their 9 years combined service to JP Network.
The night ended with all the members of JP Network singing a folksong in Japanese.