Japan Knight gives traditions modern twist

Saturday night, Geneseo's Japanese Culture Club transformed the College Union Ballroom into a wonderland of traditional and modern Japanese culture for their fifth annual Japan Knight.

The space was filled with tables covered in white cloths accompanied by red napkins folded elegantly at each seat. As a mass of eager students lingered around the entrance to the ballroom, the excited chatter of students already inside could be heard throughout the Union lobby.

Upon entering the transformed ballroom, guests passed under a beautiful red and black archway, which resembled traditional Japanese gate called a "torii." Dinner was served before the show, offering guests a taste of traditional Japanese cuisine.

Sophomore and co-president of the JCC, Kye Shibata, said that the dinner included, "steamed pumpkin [Kabocha Nimono], teriyaki chicken, a beef and potato dish [Nikujaga], [white] rice and a green tea ice cream." A few of the other options available were carrot Kinpira, miso soup and Mitarashi Dango, a sweet dessert made from rice flour.

After the dinner, guests were treated to a show based on the traditional Japanese folktale about a boy named Momotaro, a boy born from a peach. Junior and co-President of JCC Aishah Zainol explained the story behind the folktale. "Momotaro was born out of a peach, he grew up and went on a journey to find and battle demons [known as the Oni]," she said.

Freshman Evan Palmer said he was most excited about the dances in the show, of which he was one of the members. "The dances will vary a lot between traditional and modern Japanese dances," he said prior to the performance. "I will be in a Yosakoi dance and also in the finale, which is a dance to Kanjani."

Zainol, said that the goal of Japan Knight was "to give Geneseo students a sneak preview of Japanese culture that goes beyond the normal stereotypes about Japan."

"There will be a lot of educational skits about Japanese culture," Zainol explained before the event. These skits included a demonstration of Kendo, a form of Japanese sword fighting using swords made from bamboo, traditional dances, modern dances to Japanese pop music and the aforementioned skits inspired by the story of Momotaro.

The JCC brought a true representation of traditional and modern Japanese culture to Geneseo and allowed students to experience the rich, unique arts and customs that shaped Japan. Campus Auxiliary Services and Student Association, as well as the many cultural groups on campus sponsored the event.