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The Antelope

Festival brings Japanese food, art to Kearney

Taiki Hayashi performs an anime skit for students and community members in the Ponderosa Room.

Japanese Association at Kearney hosts annual Japanese Festival


Following the Chinese Festival earlier this semester, Japanese students on UNK’s campus came together on Saturday to celebrate and share their culture.

Sijoon Bae, a student from South Korea with an English Literature major and Journalism minor, volunteered at the Japanese Festival. Bae contributed to costume making, making the food, cleaning up after the event and being involved in the cosplay section of the event. 

“It’s nice to have other countries’ presence on campus and these events share knowledge of how other cultures work,” Bae said. “Being a volunteer and participant of this event is an honor for me. I’ve traveled to Japan so it’s welcome to see how the students here coordinate with costumes and food supplies for the event. It’s really awesome to see people come together that way.”

Jayne Heimer is the advisor of the Japanese Association at Kearney and said that the students have been planning and practicing since Aug. 2018. 

“It’s been awesome to see their leadership and skills come together through different departments and backgrounds,” Heimer said. “The students wanted to incorporate non-Japanese students in a major way this year to make sure there is diversity and share their cultures.” 

Throughout the evening there was an assortment of foods being served to the spectators of the event, all free of charge. Two dishes that stood out were Katsudon, a bowl of rice with fried pork, egg and onions in a soy sauce broth, and Gyudon, a bowl of rice topped with beef and onions.

“Going to a Japanese restaurant for this kind of food compared to it being authentically made by international students is night and day in terms of quality,” said Charles Boone, an attendee of the event. “Coming to see the acts, listen to the music and tasting the incredible food is what makes the UNK campus so special.” 

“It’s hard for us to experience these kinds of things in Nebraska,” Heimer said. “The students put in so much work to make this happen to show how their cultures live and how they experience their daily lives.” 

Heimer also related that the students are from all different departments on campus, promoting even further diversity. 

“We have Journalism majors, Math, English, History and more,” Heimer said. “It’s awesome to see such academic adversity.”

Seeing these events happen in Nebraska is also a blessing in disguise for the international students on campus. Sharing their cultures with the community is something even the performers really enjoy doing.

“I can see what American culture is like through media like movies and TV, but nothing compares to actually living in Kearney and seeing how nice everyone is here,” Bae said. “Through the different cultural festivals that the university puts on, Nebraska citizens can experience cultures that would cost so much money and time, right here on the UNK campus. It’s super special in that way.”

A more compact and user-friendly campus at UNK allows for these kinds of events to happen through the ease of student access and convenience to resources. 

“The Market and campus staff have let the students’ dreams of sharing their cultures become a reality,” Bae said. “Having the cafeteria be right next to the Ponderosa Room means that food and prep can be made without worrying about traveling across campus and weather concerns. Along with the students themselves being so open to having us here and sharing what makes our cultures so special, it’s really nice having staff that support us as well.”

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