Japan Day

Vishatherie Keetha, Contributing Writer

Students taking Japanese gathered in the Recital Hall last Friday to immerse themselves in Japanese culture. After watching their peers’ various performances, attendees went upstairs to the Fisher Hall Rotunda, where they participated in further activities.
This year’s festivities marked the fifteenth Japan Day, but the events this year differed slightly from those of past years, Japanese teacher Nobuko Weiler said. Ari Salsberg (11), co-president of the Japan Day committee, said that in previous years, every class put on a play as their performance, while this year, each class did something unique.
Classes’ performances varied this year because it is Weiler’s first year teaching at the school. “I didn’t know anything about the plays and didn’t know if I had access to the scripts, practically speaking. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to put everything together,” she said.
Weiler let her students decide what to perform, she said. “I was inspired by what Japanese schoolchildren do in Japan. A lot of schools there do a festival every year, and they typically sing, dance, and do plays, sometimes. I wanted to emulate that,” she said. “As a teacher, I hoped that this would give my students a chance to learn more about Japanese festivals.” Drumming was the most popular option, but a variety of activities were chosen, she said.
Sofia Sepulveda (9), a student in Japanese II, said her class focused on judo. “We had two practices where we learned the basics and safety moves,” she explained. “Some of us also wrote up background information, so the audience could have context as to what was happening and the history behind the practice.”
The idea for a judo demonstration came from a run-in with Robert Aviles, a member of the Public Safety department, Weiler said. She learned that he had a black belt in judo and his own studio. “I was just starting to look for a martial artist, so it was perfect.”
A taiko drum performance was put on by the Japanese III Honors, IV, IV Honors, V Honors, and AP classes. The drummers had two practices with a professional instructor, Weiler said. This performance was Sepulveda’s favorite part of Japan Day, she said. “It’s just really interesting to watch because if you look at their movements, it’s very time-specific.”
After the performances, students partook in activities in the Fisher Hall Rotunda, such as making origami and sampling mochi. According to Weiler, these festivities were open to everyone, though not many students participated. “We had a lot of food left over,” she said. “I hope that next time, more people will come.”
Megumi Iwai-Louie (9) introduced the post-performance festivities. Japan Day reminded her why she takes Japanese, she said. “Japan Day showed us Japanese culture and how Japanese culture applied to us,” she said. “And watching people speak so fluently in Japanese when they performed was inspirational.”
Iwai-Louie is half-Japanese and grew up in a Japanese-oriented household, she said. “It was nice seeing everyone being exposed to Japanese culture, a culture that is not as widespread as others. It was definitely an experience that was close to home.”