A little bit of Japanese culture was introduced to UT students, faculty and community members Wednesday night at the International House.
Guests were treated to a night of delicious Japanese food, traditional dancing, a martial arts performance and a musical show.
With just three world showcase weeks per semester, the I-House's three graduate assistants are given the task to choose which cultures they want to feature.
Leigh Ackerman, one of the three graduate assistants, spearheaded the quest to hold the Japanese Culture Night this semester.
"I reached out to the Japanese faculty and they contacted Japanese students since there is no Japanese student organization," Ackerman said. "We wanted to see who would come out and help with this event. We also had a ton of volunteers that are students who are enrolled in Japanese classes come and help out this week."
The night started with some traditional Japanese food for dinner. The guests were served Oyakodon, which is a spiced mixture of chicken, egg and rice. Yakisoba—a fried noodle and vegetable dish—was also served. Yakisoba was originally a common snack food but has more recently been made into a popular family dish. It can now also be bought as a prepackaged meal.
Guests also were treated to Miso soup. There are three different forms of this soup and the type one chooses to eat depends on the region in which they are located and their own personal preference.
Next on the list of events for the night was traditional Japanese dancing that was performed by six UT students. They performed Soran Bushi, a popular dance that originates from Hokkaido in the northern part of Japan. The dance represents the art of catching fish.
Hitomi Sakiyama, an exchange student from Japan studying International relations and peace studies, led the dance and says that this dance usually has more people in it and is much longer.
"This dance is very famous," Sakiyama said. "Even I learned this dance as a child, and I am from the very bottom part of Japan. It is extremely well-known throughout all parts of Japan and is danced often."
After the dance was finished, the crowd learned about the history of martial arts and was shown a performance. This specific type of martial arts is known as Kendo which means, "the way of the sword."
In Kendo, fighters use a bamboo sword and are taught discipline, manner and respect through physical and mental practice.
Kendo originated as a practice for the samurai to prepare for sword fighting. It prepared them to kill who they were fighting against. In today's society, it is practiced worldwide by both men and women.
The crowd was then treated to a music performance that was put on by UT students enrolled in a Japanese class this semester. Sakiyama interpreted the song for the audience and then the students sang the song twice through.
The sell-out crowd was entertained all evening by the fascinating traditions that were provided by the I-House's Japanese Culture Night. Events such as these usually draw many people from all over the community.
"I think it's a fun way for people to learn about another culture," Ackerman said. "In a college environment, you see all the study abroad information and you want to learn about other cultures, and this is a really great way to see them."
Check out the I-House website for news on other upcoming cultural nights.