Japanese community to share culture


Japan Week features events that highlight Japanese culture.

By Kate Daniel

staff writer
[email protected]

Japan Week Poster
Japan Week features events that highlight Japanese culture.

The 21st annual Japan Week will take place in Spokane, April 19 to 28.

The event, coordinated by volunteers including EWU alumna Marga Snipes, is an opportunity for members of the Japanese community to share their culture through education and entertainment.

Japan Week 2013 will include over 20 different events such as Kendo demonstrations, Japanese dinners, KuraNekoCon Cosplay fashion show and dance and many more. The event will kick off on April 19 at 6 p.m. with a Japanese dinner and cultural night catered by The Wave. The opening ceremony, which will feature dancing, singing, taiko (Japanese drumming) and aikido (martial arts), will take place April 20 at noon in Riverpark Square.

Billy Kuster, coordinator of student services for the Asia University America Program at EWU, said Japan Week offers community members a chance to experience a culture with which they may not be familiar. It also gives Japanese students the chance to share their culture.

“It gives [the exchange students] a chance to go out into the community and share something that they’re experts on,” Kuster said.

Kuster said he will be taking part in the Kendo demonstration. He said he is enthused about the new event, hosted by Magic Lantern, in which the theater will screen a variety of Japanese movies.

“They have a really good selection, because [they have] some older samurai movies,” Kuster said. “They have Japanese cartoons, if that’s what you’re into. They had, I think, two documentaries and some older Japanese movies, so there’s a good smattering of things to choose from,” Kuster said.

Yoshiko Murahata, director of the Japanese Cultural Center at Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute, said Japan Week events mean something different to each person, both those participating and those attending.

“Each person can get some information about Japan or Japanese culture. It’s very important for Japan to be understood,” Murahata said.

“This year, as usual, we participate in the opening ceremony. An ensemble will sing, usually national anthems from the two countries, and then after that three dance groups [perform different routines],” Murahata said. “This year we will do organized cultural traditional dance and also one of the groups will dance hip-hop to show that Japan is more westernized than you might think.”

Candie Coker, administrative assistant at the Japanese Cultural Center at Mukogawa, said she suggests people interested in attending should try everything as there are events suited for a variety of interests.

Marino Kitahara and Misato Kasamatsu, students at Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute who arrived in the United States in February, said they are excited to be dancing at the opening ceremony. They will be dancing Soran and Yosakoi, forms of traditional Japanese dance.

Yuka Chiaki, a faculty member of the English Language Institute at EWU, said she too will be attending this year’s Japan Week.

“When I watch people appreciate my Japanese culture, it makes me proud, and I like being there to share it with everyone,” Chiaki said. “Faculty and students who are native speakers can be extra educational resources there.”

“I do think that Japan Week helps others learn more about Japanese culture and the food, dances, exhibit and art helps share the beauty that is available in Japan,” Chiaki said. “When I watch people appreciate that beauty, it makes me proud, too.”

The full schedule for Japan Week can be found HERE