Yuka Sato (left) and Kanako Zaitsu prepare sauteed ginger polk for the Japanese Student Association's third annual dinner, Saturday.
photo by Stephanie Platt
The Japanese Student Association held their third annual dinner at the South Campus Residence Hall on Saturday, March 6.
While the guests arrived, members of the Japanese Student Association continued to make last minute preparations for the dinner. Japanese music played softly as the guests walked into the entrance of the room, mesmerized by the Japanese masks, pictures, and posters that decorated the walls.
Megumi Narita, a junior in communication theory, welcomed guests when they entered the back room filled with items from Japan. Narita proceeded to hand each guest a coin with a ribbon tied through it.
"This is a five-yen coin from Japan," Narita said.
There was a sign posted saying that "goen" means "5 yen" in Japanese.
Tomoko Sukegawa, a senior in communication theory, explained the other meaning of "goen."
"It means good luck to meeting good people," Sukegawa said.
Japanese students also wore traditional gowns for this festive event. Mariko Noguchi, a senior in communication theory, describes the kimono (a traditional dress) and the yukata (a summer version of the kimono), which she was wearing.
"[The] kimono is the traditional dress, and is made of silk," Noguchi said. "It is very expensive. It is like buying a car. [The] yukata is made of cotton."
These gowns are worn for graduation, adult days (when a person reaches the age of 20), weddings, funerals, and regional festivals. In the past, more than twelve layers were worn under the gowns; now only two layers are worn.
Yoshiko Shimizu, a senior in anthropology, is the president of the Japanese Student Association. Shimizu welcomed the guests, introduced the officers, and directed the guests to the buffet table.
The Japanese cuisine represented at the buffet was yakisoba (fried noodles), yasai-itame (fried vegetables), buta-no-syouga-yaki (pork with ginger and soy sauce), soba (buckwheat noodles), sushi, and potato salad. Later, during the Jodo and Shotokan Karate presentation, guests were introduced to green tea ice cream for dessert. Dave Lowry, current president of St. Louis/SUWA Executive Planning Board for the Japanese Festival demonstrated "Jodo," an older Japanese art form (different from "Judo") with his student, Bill Lough.
"It's a form that not many people in Japan see," Lowry said. "We don't have competitions. Maybe 200 people in Japan practice it, and 100 people outside of Japan." David Campbell and Girish Chandranmenon, members of the Washington University Shotokan Karate Club, and Tabitha Miller, a member of the University of Missouri-St. Louis Shotokan Karate Club demonstrated the techniques while Robert Miller, also a member of the UM-St. Louis Shotokan Karate Club, describes the purpose of the movements.
"In the beginning stage, the students learn a series of turns," Miller said. "We're trying to get the student to move from their body center."
After the dinner and the presentations, the guests returned to the back room to learn how to do origami, an artwork using paper and folding techniques to make a frog or the popular crane. Also, guests had their names written in Japanese by calligraphy. For those who missed this festive event, don't miss it the next time. Contact Yoshiko Shimizu for more information about the Japanese dinner or the Japanese Student Association at 516-7045.