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The Antelope

JAK presents virtual cultural experience

KENTA YAMAMOTO The group poses during its dance to “Fukyowaon” by Nogizaka 46 for the 20th annual Japanese Festival.

COVID-19 didn’t stop the Japanese Association of Kearney from holding their yearly festival.  The 20th edition of this cultural experience was accessible via livestream on the organization’s Facebook page.

 “In a normal year, the Japanese Festival draws over 500 people from campus and the Kearney area, so the students were disappointed that they were not allowed to invite many guests this year,” said Jayne Heimer, faculty advisor for JAK. 

Due to the pandemic, careful measures had to be applied to team practices and the festival itself.  

With health and safety regulations in place, UNK allowed 66 people to be in the Ponderosa Room, including all 30 participating members of JAK.  Since capacity was limited, the group reserved seats for family and invited other campus group members and professors. The serving and sampling of Japanese food was also prohibited.  

Once UNK approved the event, the group knew they wanted to share their festival with more people and set up a  livestream.

Even though the event was simplified, the night didn’t go off without a hitch. While the introduction video played, technical difficulties with the live feed were addressed.  Compatibility issues between the camera and laptop caused complications with the screen’s orientation. The group corrected  the issue the best they could, and the event continued.  

The festival kept to their tradition of audience engagement as all attendees entered a raffle to win free JAK t-shirts. The night  featured interesting facts and video presentations of the Japanese culture, followed by a trivia game.  

The live entertainment started off with a J-pop/rock musical performance and was followed by a choreographed Yosakoi dance.  Yosakoi combines traditional and modern-day dance moves and is typically performed by large teams where dancers hold small wooden clappers.  Up next, was a karate demonstration performed to modern Japanese music. The night was topped off with two, high-energy, J-pop dance routines.   

For the last 20 years the Japanese Festival  brought several campus groups and cultures together to provide a fun and welcoming experience to the Kearney community.  

“The students are very proud of the legacy from students who came before and were happy to continue the tradition of the Japanese Festival,” Heimer said. 

Apart from the 30 audience members allowed to attend, the 20th anniversary of the Japanese festival drew in approximately 38 people for the virtual experience. despite the obstacles.  

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