All Fun and Games Until Someone gets a Kendama in the Eye

Upon entering the Quiet Dining Room, students were greeted by international students donning Japanese yukatas, or light cotton kimonos. Beside the doors, students wrote down their dreams, desires and goals for the future and hung them on a small tree where other SCC dreamers tied the knots.

SCC students had the opportunity to attend one of the first cultural festivals of the fall semester with the Japanese Culture Festival. Students from Trajal Hospitality College, an educational homestay program branching from the hospitality and tourism college in Tokyo and Osaka, hosted the event. The volunteer event was held in the PUB’s Quiet Dining Room, and the festival filled the room.

Japanese cultural festivals generally take place between October and November and, in Japan, entire communities take part in festivals where individuals’ talents are displayed regardless of age. Much like an open house in American schools, the objective of these small events is to attract curious bystanders and get them to take an interest in the students’ contributions and culture, though Japanese festivals are often much larger and specifically aimed at prospective students.

Each booth at the SCC event was staffed by numerous Trajal members and hosted a variety of activities: Kanji games, where students could play a matching game with one word written in Japanese and a corresponding image alongside it; the chopstick challenge, where players could test their skills at picking small to mid-sized objects with only chopsticks; and the yukata section, where students could dress up in the classic Japanese attire.

Several students including first-years Fuka Kuwajima and Mizuho Kumagai aided those interested in trying on the traditional clothing. And many groups of the colorfully dressed students took selfies in their outfits, holding up signs and making hand gestures.

In the center of the crowd, a popular Japanese game known as kendama, or ball-in-cup, took place as students competed alongside friends to see who could land the ball in the spiked, hand-held cup.

Further along the wall, Japanese calligraphy attracted curious bystanders, and first-year student Rika Yukawa even demonstrated her hand in the practice of ink, brush and paper. Calligraphy takes a dedicated, precise hand with delicate and simple brush strokes, said Yukawa. “It takes an average of 10 years, from elementary to high school, to practice,” she said. Students interested in the row of calligraphy were offered the chance to give their name and then receive a courtesy piece with their names inscribed.

The final booth had a long stretch of students bent over origami, an art form dedicated to intricate paper folding. At this booth, students were able to receive a prize if they created a certain origami successfully. Trajal, the event’s sponsor, is a Japanese two- to three- year college program that trains candidates for the hospitality industry, according to the Travel Journal Educational Foundation website. Trajal students study English reading, writing and listening, and are given opportunities like volunteer activities and internships.

The goal of the Trajal Hospitality College program is for individuals to practice the art of hospitality, improving their professional communication so they’ll be able to spread the essence of hospitality. And because SCC is a mixing pot much like America itself with numerous diversities, cultures, and ideologies simmering in one location, it might just be the perfect place for the Trajal students to practice their skills.

Azia Lualhati