Japanese culture celebrated with music and demonstrations

The Tomodachi Club organized a Matsuri in the Student Union Building on Friday, Nov. 8 to celebrate Japanese culture. Matsuri, Japanese for festival, occurs all over Japan, said Aki Suzuki, the club’s adviser.

“The purpose of Matsuri is the same as the purpose of the Tomodachi Club,” said Micaiah Ragins, Tomodachi Club vice president, “We want to promote friendship, develop a sense of community, and just raise awareness about Japanese culture.”

The event featured an Aikido demonstration by Aikido of Olympia. Aikido can be translated into “path to peace,” and springs from the ideas of bushido, said Chief Instructor James West. He said that though Aikido is a martial art, it does not have competitions because it is more focused on “self fulfillment and bringing harmony within ourselves.”

Aikido is rooted in the history of Japan, but also in cultural values like having respect for ourselves, each other, and nature, said Andrew Clawitter, an SPSCC alumni and three year Aikido participant.

The Okinawa Kenjin Kai (OKK) performed Taiko at the Matsuri. The OKK is the Okinawa Club of Washington that aims to preserve and teach the culture of Okinawa, said Dave Bartley, director of the southern branch of the OKK. “Okinawa is the island of dance and music…” said Bartley.

Aikido of Olympia demonstrated non-violent martial arts. Photo by James Egaran

Aikido of Olympia demonstrated non-violent martial arts.
Photo by James Egaran

The specific style of Taiko, performed by the OKK, is called Eisa, said Satoshi Shimoji, an OKK Taiko drummer. “Every village has an exclusive style and we grew up listening to this music, it is native to Okinawa,” said Shimoji.

A Taiko workshop was also held by the OKK. “It’s something that is different for me,” said George Camacho, a member of the Tomodachi Club, “In my memory, I’ve never seen a Taiko performance and now that I have, I am definitely interested in seeing more.”

In addition to performances, the event also presented a costume contest, games and prizes, free sushi, origami, and calligraphy. “We really just wanted to have an event where students could learn about Japanese culture in an entertaining and engaging way,” said Ian Desprars, Tomodachi Club president.