Students immerse themselves in Japanese culture

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Nicole Montero/Staff Writer

The Japanese Language Program, the Department of Modern Languages, Asian Studies and the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami have come together in a two-part educational and cultural outreach event at the University.

Starting with ¡Viva Japón!: Taiko & Etc., a cultural presentation by the Association of Florida Teachers of Japanese, the event will feature different performances alongside Taiko, a Japanese barrel-shaped drum.

After the performance, the 13th annual Japan Immersion Day will begin. The event will include different workshops for students to familiarize themselves with the Japanese programs at FIU.

“The university motto is Worlds Ahead and this is an international school, so I think it’s important that all students know about the different cultures and opportunities of other countries,” said Asuka Mashav, Japanese program coordinator and assistant director of the Asian Studies program. “That’s why I really encourage students to come and learn about the Japanese culture.”

Performances will feature Taiko drumming alongside different pieces: Koto, a stringed musical instrument similar to a harp, Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangements, Karate, and the Ohara-Bushi Dance.

As part of Immersion Day, 12 different workshops will follow the presentation. These include sushi-making, animation, cosplay—where people wear their own costumes and dress up— flower arrangements, Japanese calligraphy and Japanese Aikido — a type of martial arts.

“The programs are shrinking, so we thought it would be better to make it more interesting by adding this cultural performances. I wanted to throw a twist to it and connect different people to different things,” said Mashav.

“Ten years ago we didn’t have any programs. We only had ten students who were interested in animation,” said Mashav. “Every year, it gets bigger.”

Over 250 students are expected to participate in Japan Immersion Day at the University.

“I love anime and I am very much interested in the Japanese culture in and of itself. Any chance that I get to learn about their culture is an opportunity I cannot miss,” said Evelyn Hernandez, a sophomore majoring in special education.

The event hopes to introduce Japanese culture and the University’s different programs to students.

“I’m new to the whole ‘Japanese-loving’ population. I just started getting an interest in the Japanese culture this year and I am excited to see the culture in action with their performances at the event,” said Romina Angelelli, a sophomore digital media major who plans to attend.

The December 16 event will start at the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center WPAC concert hall at 9 a.m.  The workshops will follow at noon through 2 p.m. at the Graham Center pit. Events are free and open to the public.

“We would like to focus on more cultural themes of Japan. We want to sell Japanese—traditional and also pop culture—to be able to stand out and attract students to take Japanese here at FIU and also to connect the Japanese community with FIU,” said Mashav.