Japanese culture is all the rage at Banzai

Taiko, a student Japanese ‘kumi-daiko’ drumming group, showed off their skills. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
Taiko, a student Japanese ‘kumi-daiko’ drumming group, showed off their skills. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

Students kicked back and enjoyed Japanese style on Nov. 6, enjoying free food, performances, crafts and video games at “Banzai,” an annual event held by the College’s Japanese Club.

Those in the packed Travers/Wolfe Link got on the long line for the tables of sushi and other traditional foods, while Taiko, a student Japanese “kumi-daiko” drumming group launched the night with a performance. The group members beat large drums while rotating and spinning in a choreographed routine from instrument to instrument. The piece they played was called “Matsuri” which appropriately translates to “festival.”

Other performances included a martial arts demonstration and haiku reading. On one end of the room, groups of students gathered around large screens playing Dance Dance Revolution and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. On the other end, students sat at tables folding origami and practicing calligraphy.

“Banzai is a celebration of Japanese culture,” said Esteban Martinez, junior interactive multimedia major and Japanese club president. He said both the event and the club have changed and developed since they first started.

“We just keep growing as a club,” said Jen Hurler, sophomore interactive multimedia major and historian of the Japanese club.

Taiko, a student Japanese ‘kumi-daiko’ drumming group, showed off their skills. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
Taiko, a student Japanese ‘kumi-daiko’ drumming group, showed off their skills. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

Hurler, who read haiku poems to the audience, said she has always been interested in Japan and has visited the country before.

According to Martinez, the event was started in 2004 with a budget of only $100 and a small location. This is the first year the Japanese club held the event in the Travers/Wolfe Link, which allowed for a larger capacity, unlike the Cromwell main lounge where it was held the past few years. The performances were also a new addition this year, Martinez said.

“(Banzai) was probably the event that solidified me coming to this club,” Hurler said.

Before, she said, she had been on the fence about joining the organization although she had been to several meetings.

Banzai was a part of Experience Asia Month at the College — a month filled with social and educational programs designed to expose the campus community to different Asian cultures.

“We try to reach out to those who would otherwise not be interested,” Martinez said.

According to Jennifer Louie, vice president of the Asian American Association at the College, Banzai was a good opportunity for relatively new student organizations to gain exposure and recognition. Taiko, for example, was formed in 2007 with only five members.

Information on upcoming Experience Asia Month events can be found on the Asian American association’s Web site, tcnjaaa.org.