Japanese Culture Festival (文化祭 Bunkasai)

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Mitchell Brown and Joseph Yang display their Bunkasai project on Yabusame  (Japanese horse archery) at the Huntsman Library Wednesday, March 16. Photo by Ileana Brown

Mitchell Brown and Joseph Yang display their Bunkasai project on Yabusame (Japanese horse archery) at the Huntsman Library. Photo by Ileana Brown

Snow College displayed their very own authentic Japanese Bunkasai in the Huntsman Library Wednesday, March 16. Students in both the Japanese Club and class each chose a cultural topic, demonstrating  a variety of Japanese culture.

A Bunkasai is one of the most famous festivals held annually around fall in Japan. It’s a school festival consisting of secondary schools to universities who participate and work together in groups or by homeroom and pick an activity to show. Many of the displays consist of martial arts, tea ceremonies, plays, band performances, cosplay contests, food booths, and culture. A Bunkasai is held all day Friday and Saturday throughout a school. Classes are cancelled, making this an enjoyment after all the studying. Friday is for the students and Saturday is opened to the public with free entrance. Students from other schools are welcomed to attend and tour the school. Many food booths are displayed outside for the public to enjoy. A Bunkasai sells festival food just like any other festival in Japan including: curry rice, rice balls, Yakitori, Takoyaki, Watame (cotton candy), Yakisoba, Choco Banana, and Taiyaki. Snow College Foreign Exchange Student Hiromi Kurita from Osaka, Japan said, “My class in Japan performed the American play, Hairspray. Instead of talking, we danced. The whole class participated and everyone had a good time.” Kurita’s example is one of the many activities sponsored by Japanese students, giving them a chance to express and teach others what they have learned.

Japanese Professor Jeff Lamb began the tradition at Snow for the students about five years ago when his class was watching an Anime series that showed a Bunkasai. Professor Lamb said “I thought it would be a great way for the students to learn more about Japan and teach other Snow College students what they have learned.”

Snow College Students Kylie Peterson and Gustavo Huerta participated in the Bunkasai. They researched “Tanabata,” a story about two star-crossed lovers represented by the stars Vega and Altair who are allowed to meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, which is July 7. On Tanabata, the Star Festival, people write wishes on small pieces of colored paper and tie them to a bamboo tree. Each color of paper represents a meaning: red- family/thankfulness, white-wishes for the future, pink-education, yellow-money, and blue-personality improvement.  These wishes are then floated on a river or ocean and burned as an offering. Bunkasai is a way to teach others, learn, and express oneself in a cultural artform.

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