School celebrates Japan Day

Amelia Feiner, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Today, students will present plays with their Japanese classes and enjoy a schoolwide celebration of Japanese culture as part of the school’s annual Japan Day.

Japanese teacher Mami Fujisaki started Japan Day about 25 years ago when she first came to the school, she said. “I wanted [the students] to enjoy speaking Japanese and then using it,” she said.

The day begins with each Japanese class performing a Japanese play in the Recital Hall. These performances are open to the whole school to come watch and support their classmates, she said.

After Japanese students perform their plays from B through C periods, they will enjoy bento boxes and a yakisoba tasting, a traditional Japanese bon-dance, a tea ceremony, and origami, Japanese teacher Reiko Kawahara said.

Theater is a great way for students to study Japanese because they are able to incorporate so much of the vocabulary that they are studying in class into the plays, Fujisaki said. Even if a student is shy or not a theater person, they still have to be on stage, she said.

“It is really heartwarming to see some of my Japanese 1 students that came to class on the first day not knowing any Japanese now being able to write and speak Japanese. I cannot wait to see them perform,” Kawahara said.

As students mature in their study of Japanese, the plays become more sophisticated, Claire Yoo (12) said. “Everyone their freshman year does the 12 animals. You tell the story of how the zodiac animals came to be, and it’s a starting point for everyone. I think it’s really cool because everyone has the same base for their Japan Day experience,” she said.

“I have been a part of Japan Day plays since eighth grade and every year it just gets better. More and more kids take Japanese and the plays become popular,” Allen Park (12) said. “I love seeing other classes perform plays that we once performed and see their take on it.”

Kawahara has been working intensively with all of her classes to perform five plays, she said. “We have had many table readings in our classrooms to ensure that my students have a clear understanding of their characters and the story they are performing,” she said. “It is equally important to ensure that the students have clear pronunciations as well.”

Yoo, who has taken Japanese since her freshman year, believes that Japan Day has helped her to celebrate and appreciate Japanese language and culture, she said.

“In the beginning when you’re just starting to learn, it is hard to truly appreciate Japanese culture because you are just trying to learn a language,” Yoo said. “I think now as a senior, because I’ve had four years of experience and I’ve been through so many different classes and teachers, I definitely get to appreciate the culture a lot more.”

To celebrate their last Japan Day, the seniors will play taiko drums, a traditional form of Japanese percussion, Kawahara said.

“Because it is my last Japan Day I definitely appreciate the event and celebration a lot more than I did when I was a freshman,” Yoo said.

Park is also excited to have fun and act with his classmates for one last time, he said.

Meanwhile, freshmen are excited for the celebration as well. Ashley Chung (9) is looking forward to watching her friends perform in their various shows, she said. Valerie Zeitlin (9) cannot wait to try the bento and yakisoba and experience Japanese culture, she said.

Besides taiko, Japanese drums, Yoo is looking forward to the games, calligraphy and tea sampling ceremony after lunch, she said.

“Japan day is so important because it represents a culture that is often overlooked,” Park said. “It is a lot of fun to be immersed in the culture, even if it be for just four periods.”

“An event like this for students is incredible,” Kawahara said. “I’m really excited to present students with this very rare opportunity to truly experience and understand Japanese culture. I really hope that the students find Japan Day meaningful.”