Student group shares Japanese culture through food, decorations

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The aroma of traditional Japanese cuisine filled the halls of the International Student Center on Saturday night during this year’s Japanese Food Sales event.

The cultural night, hosted by the Japanese Student Union, presented more than 120 guests with the opportunity to dabble in a variety of traditional Japanese dishes. The dinner included foods like sukiyaki, consisting of thinly sliced meat slowly cooked with vegetables and noodles; nikujyaga, a simmered potato and meat dish with sweetened soy sauce; and mochi cake, a type of Japanese rice cake. Other dishes served were omrice, steamed rice, vegetable stir-fry, miso soup and green tea ice cream.

“This is a good opportunity to know Japanese culture and food,” said Kodai Yoshizawa, member of the Japanese Student Union and sophomore in psychology.

Yoshizawa said the event is a good way to raise awareness for the club, which has just 10 members at the moment. He also said the money from the event will help fund the Japanese Festival in April. The festival will feature a cultural exhibit, show, demonstration of aikido, a traditional Japanese dance and games.

While the food sale was a way to raise money for next semester’s events, those in charge of putting the dinner together were happy to have the opportunity to share the Japanese culture with other K-State students.

“Most people have bias,” Yoshizawa said. “The reason why they have bias is because of a lack of knowledge. This is a good opportunity to know our culture.”

For Holly Kier, senior in chemistry and chemical engineering, this was the second time she attended the event, and she said she really enjoyed it.

Kier said she became interested in the Japanese culture after her half-brother housed a Japanese exchange student and started taking her to different cultural events. Kier is now studying the Japanese language as part of her curriculum.

Decorations and poster boards worked to inform guests of the Japanese culture, and seasonal picture collages gave visitors the opportunity to see Japan throughout the year, but much of the culture could be found in the food itself.

“I think we can all learn culture through different things,” said Sarinya Sungkatavat, graduate student in hospitality management and dietetics. “You can learn from types of food, and how they make it.”

Sungkatavat said when one looks at how the Japanese prepare their meals, an element of balance is found. She said different food items are always balancing out others, and this balance in Japanese cooking can be translated into the culture.

“You can see their balance in their lifestyle, it reflects in their society, their mindset and culture,” she said.

Sungkatavat is a member of the Thai Student Union, and said the two groups work together on different events throughout the school year.

Sungkatavat said these kinds of events and joining diversity groups are steps toward learning about and accepting other cultures. She said in today’s shrinking world, it is necessary.

“Once you meet people you already start to learn about them. It doesn’t mean you have to be from that country, we help each other as a whole; we make it diverse,” she said. “Globalization and diversity, it’s already here.”

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