JCC schools students on Japan

The Japanese Culture Club's annual "Japan Knight," held on Nov. 9, featured entertainment and delicious food, all in accordance with the event's theme: school in Japan.

Japan Knight began at 6 p.m. when a full house of attendees made its way to serving tables where tempura vegetables, "yasai tempura," Japanese fried chicken, "kara-age," Japanese pancakes with red bean paste, "Dora-yaki," green tea ice cream, "matcha ice cream," among other Japanese foods .

Secretary of JCC, sophomore Emily Alvo, said that although Jonna Anne, Campus Auxiliary Services executive chef, supervised food preparation, club members directed and cooked all the food themselves. Some items had to be ordered from Lee's Oriental Food Grocery in Rochester.

"We were trying to accommodate as many people as possible and kept in mind as many dietary needs as we could," said Alvo.

According to Alvo, the group hoped to relate the food served with the theme. "We tried to base it on what average high school students in Japan would eat. You usually see extravagant meals at cultural dinners, and we wanted to show what an everyday meal was like."

Junior Kai Davies, treasurer of JCC, explained how the group decided on their theme. "We did a lot of brainstorming and tried to find what kind of lesson we can give," she said. "The night is fun, but educational … [We decided] to show what its like in a Japanese high school. It's a way to look at it educationally while addressing stereotypes and Japanese culture."

The night's performances got the message across while remaining comical. Junior Dima Azarov, who provided a narrative of being an exchange student experiencing culture shock in Japan as well as goofy emcees sophomore Abbi Marion and freshman Kye Shibata, who provided background information and commentary, tied all of the acts together.

The skits portraying Azarov's encounters included dancing, singing, acting and even a demonstration of Kendo, a Japanese form of fencing, in which an audience volunteer had the opportunity to participate. Most of the acts dispelled stereotypes about Japan, its culture and its people.

A spirited and upbeat performance by "the music club" or band RADWIMPS was a crowd favorite, as was a well-choreographed cheerleading skit performed by several women and a few skirt-clad men in the club.

The night had its more traditional components, too. Several JCC members performed "Yosakoi," a style of dance that featured chants and a live drummer set to recorded music. This skit incorporated modern elements into a conventional art.

Despite some technical difficulties and procedural mishaps, enthusiastic members compelled the night to success.

Member freshman Sara Ditsuri said that she enjoyed being part of the occasion.

"It has been really fun meeting new people," she said.

According to Davies, Japan Knight was a huge commitment. "If I didn't love it, I wouldn't do it," she said.

"It was good. It went pretty well, although we had a few technical difficulties," said junior and JCC president Yosuke Kusada, who emphasized how grateful he was to everyone involved.