Despite only having three members on stage, Hiuchi Taiko had the sound of taiko drums echoing throughout Baker Center.

Ohio University’s Japanese Student Association celebrated its 12th annual Sakura Festival Sunday. The festival is a celebration of the blooming of the cherry blossom trees and featured various performances ranging from a demonstration from OU’s Kendo Club to a traditional Japanese fisherman dance called “Sōran Bushi.”

The Sakura Festival is also a celebration of OU’s partnership with Chubu University in Japan. The cherry blossom trees alongside Hocking River were gifts from Chubu University when the partnership was first established, Alison Smith, the International Week coordinator for JSA, said.

“This (event) is our celebration as thanks to them, so the Chubu students perform with us (during the event),” Smith, a fifth-year student studying music education and global studies-Asia, said.

Although the festival took place during Easter Weekend, roughly 300 tickets were sold. Attendees were served the options of either vegetarian or non-vegetarian Japanese Bento Boxes.

The festival began with a Taiko Performance by Hiuchi Taiko, a Japanese drum group based in Columbus. The performance, led by Eric “The Fish” Paton, quickly captured the audience’s attention with its deep, rumbling beats.

“It’s a lot more elegant than I thought it would be,” Molly Morrow, a sophomore studying psychology said. “My dad plays the drums but it doesn’t look anything like (Hiuchi Taiko) just did, so it’s cool to see the differences.”

Lindsay Lowy, a sophomore studying journalism, said she attended the event to support her friend who is part of the JSA committee and was pleasantly surprised to see a large turnout.

One of the J-pop performances by the members of JSA was a “Koi dance” from a popular Japanese drama series. The dancers caught Lowy’s attention.

“It was fun, there was a lot of energy,” Lowy said. “It’s really cool to see people dancing at the back with everyone else.”

JSA also performed a skit called “Saru Kani Gassen” (translated as “The Crab and the Monkey”), a tale from the Edo period in which vengeance was seen as a good virtue to hold.

Throughout the day, the emcees for Sakura Festival taught the audience about the culture in Japan. The emcees taught audience members how to play the Japanese version of Rock, Paper, Scissors, which is called Janken in Japan.

A choir consisting of Ohio University and Chubu University students perform at the Sakura Festival on April 16, 2017.

Smith said she hopes the festival allowed people to learn about cultural differences and different aspects of Japanese life through the various performances.

“Even if we live differently, we have to understand each other,” Smith said. “Differences aren’t bad, it’s just what makes us who we are.”


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