The Japanese Cultural Society, created by Mt. A students from Japan and Bhutan, looks to share Japanese culture, traditions, and language with all students at Mt. A.
Ayaka Fujiwara, an international relations student from Osaka, Japan is the club’s president. Fujiwara and others decided to create the Japanese Cultural Society after they noticed their friends showing interest in Japanese culture and language. “A lot of students want to know about Japan,” says Fujiwara. She also wanted to see Japanese representation at Mt. A, as “other global regions have their own society, but Japan did not, and there are a lot of Japanese students here.” The Mt. A campus has Mount Allison Semester Studies in English (MASSIE) students and exchange students here as well, so it is “better to have a community [that can] share our culture with [others].”
Fujiwara explained further what the society does to share Japanese culture on campus. Each month holds a theme inspired by a Japanese tradition, and the theme is accompanied by related events. October was centered around the Japanese tradition of tea ceremonies. An important aspect of the culture, the tea ceremony is a centuries-old way for a host and guest to bond while the host performs the detailed and proficient process of making tea. The ceremony is considered to be meditational such that the founder of it, Sen no Rikyu said, “tranquility [is] one of the major elements of the tea ceremony.” This month’s only event also included a Yukata dress-up (a light and casual robe with patterns) and calligraphy exploration.
During each event, you can engage in discussions with others and share your experiences. Further events created by the society will be based around trivia, food, clothing, art, and the environment.
As a brand new club, the Japanese Cultural Society is focusing this year on spreading the word about what they do and their future events. “We just started, so we are trying to let everyone know [who we are],” says Fujiwara. They would like to broaden the attendees of their events to more of the school’s population. There have been some challenges for the new club like getting familiar with communication and funding, however, Fujiwara says it is designed for everyone to have fun at a monthly event.
Vice-President of the Club, Wakana Kobayashi is a third-year religious studies student from Chiba, Japan. Kobayashi says, “the easiest way for people to understand and learn our culture is by experiencing it themselves.” This experience in sharing Japanese culture; it “enables students to interact more easily,” says Kabayashi. However, given that there are many other students around the world at Mt. A, Kobayashi touched on the importance of learning about different cultures so that everyone can “cultivate appreciation and respect for other people and traditions.”
This new club is showing just how important diversity and inclusivity are at Mt. A. With the large number of international students, societies that share cultural experiences from one country to another allow students to be reminded of home while giving the opportunity for everybody to grow their understanding.
Be sure to follow their instagram (@mta_jcs) to stay in the loop of all upcoming events. As a new club promoting inclusion within the Mt. A community, the society is also open to event ideas from everyone.