The Japanese Club and the International Student Council orchestrated the ninth annual Japanese Culture Night March 31.
Like Chinese New Year, Japanese Culture Night was a local celebration of a traditional Japanese festival called Natsu Matsuri. This festival is traditionally held during the summer months, typically in August, and is colloquially known as the summer festival.
“This festival is like our Chinese New Year. [It’s] where people play games, enjoy [themselves], have fun, and usually gather family together to enjoy a special day,” said Yundong Zhang, vice president of the International Student Council.
Aside from a firework show, UVU’s Culture Night held all the traditional events you would typically see at Natsu Matsuri in Japan. Many of the men and women involved in the performances wore Yakutas, which are traditional summer garments the Japanese sometimes wear during the festival.
Additionally, the presence of game booths and snacks such as Ramune — a bottle of soda known for it’s odd shape and the use of a marble to keep it sealed — are all typical sights and attractions seen at the summer festival.
One of the event hosts, Yumina Yamaguchi, said she was satisfied with the accuracy of the event.
“I like that I can feel a Japanese spirit [here]. This is literally like Japanese festival in Japan. Throughout this event, I hope people can feel the Japanese spirit and experience what the Japanese [summer] festival is. I wish people will want to go to Japan [and experience] this festival,” Yamaguchi said.
Most notable of the Japanese traditions were the performances and their traditionally Japanese instruments such as the Koto, a long string instrument that looks like the inside of a piano with strings strung tightly down and plucked by they performer, and the Taiko drums.
The effect these traditional instruments had on the audience was inescapable because two different professional groups performed with Taiko drums. To help imagine the power and deep vibrations the Taiko drums inflict on their listeners, imagine the loud drums and intense crescendos found in Hans Zimmer composed movies such as The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises,The Last Samurai, etc.
Overall, the festival was a huge hit and many people arrived early and left late due to enjoying the different performances and activities that were offered. Japanese Club President Ryuma Tokuzawa had his concerns about the number of attendees, but was pleasantly surprised with the results.
“I knew today was the [LDS] General Conference, so I didn’t expect so many people to come. So that made our performers worried about if people would come or not, but it seems like everything is really good and so many people [came]; so I’m really happy,” he said.