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Japanese Summer Festival: Students usher in lively traditions with dances, songs, dishes

Japanese Association at Kearney spent weeks preparing for the festival including the Soran-Bushi dance, which is a very dramatic and physical dance. Photo by Kolton Maturey / Antelope Staff

UNK hosts multiple cultural events every year to bring the community closer together and to learn more about the international students who attend here. One such celebration is the Japanese Festival. This year, the Japanese Association at Kearney decided to have this celebration themed after a traditional summer festival. 

At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, participants flooded the Ponderosa room. When 6 p.m. rolled around, the line to the event reached all the way down the stairs of the student union and back towards Chick-fil-A. Once inside, people were greeted at the entrance and there was a photo booth where they could have their picture taken with a traditional Japanese face mask. From there, patrons of the event could choose a few paths to follow.

The main path took patrons along the back wall where they would walk past different booths offering a range of traditional foods, origami crafts and games. 

While people were making their way through the booths, the sound of people’s conversations was suddenly cut short by the loud beating of a taiko drum. The festival’s entertainment began with an Aikido demonstration, which is a Japanese martial art. 

Following the demonstration were four dance groups. 

The first was the dance group Snow Man, who are famous for their acrobatic dance moves. 

The second was Naruko Dance. This dance uses a traditional instrument commonly found at festivals today, but historically was used to scare animals away from farmers’ crops. 

The third dance was Soran-Bushi. This song is a traditional work song associated with fishing boats.

The fourth and final dance group was Dance -XG-, a self proclaimed up and coming, all-Japanese K-pop group. They performed a very upbeat routine to the song “Mascara.”

The last group to perform was a band put together by some members of the Japanese Association at Kearney. With a keyboard, guitar, bass and drums they played three songs from popular movies and animated shows. 

The finale for the festival was a projection of traditional summer festival fireworks which are fired in a beautiful display at the end of the night for all the participants to see.

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KOLTON MATUREY, Managing Editor
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