Culture club

Japanese culture club goes online – The Clipper

Authentic cuisine, traditional tales, classic film and much more. All Japanese, of course.

This is what the Japanese Culture Club seeks to offer the students, faculty and community of EvCC. As with all things, this mission has become more difficult due to quarantine, but their community remains strong.

The Japanese Culture Club seeks to be a “bridge between East and West,” says Heather Uhl, JCC advisor and EvCC faculty librarian. The group seeks to bring people interested in Japanese culture together and educate them along the way. By sharing Japanese culture with media, food and tradition; club members learn the historical and cultural significance of what they experience. “We seek to learn, share and foster cultural appreciation. No ownership,” Uhl said.

The Japanese Culture Club is holding a booth at Sakuracon 2019. (Courtesy of the Japanese Culture Club.)

Prior to the closure of EvCC and subsequent extracurricular activities due to Covid-19, the Japanese Culture Club had a very strong presence both on and off campus. The club regularly hosted 30-40 members and held the Japanese Anime and Manga Arts Festival on campus for 5 years, serving 300 people for 2 days every year. Beyond School Boundaries Club Held Booth at Seattle Anime’s Sakura-Con convention, to get people interested in Japanese culture to both join their club and register for EvCC. Additionally, the club made presentations at high schools to use the interest in Japanese culture to bring people to EvCC who might not otherwise have attended college.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting quarantine, the functions of the club have had to change a lot. Physical meetings, tea ceremonies, conventions and festivals all became unavailable very suddenly. “Discord [an online chat service] was our saving grace,” Heather Uhl said. Through the use of Discord, as well as Zoom for those who weren’t as comfortable with Discord, the club was able to maintain its weekly meetings.

Although it was difficult at first, the club found ways to continue to organize some of its activities and events. The club continues to host its Japanese storytelling sessions, now easier for club members as the digital space has allowed them to pre-record their performances. Additionally, the club advisor was able to work with Tsubaki Shrine, the only such ordained Shinto shrine in the area, to take club members on a digital tour of the premises.

Oliver Jeremiah Fernandez, former club president, even recreated the Japanese Cultural Resource Center in the Gather online service, with the help of other members. The digital JCRC allowed club members to walk around a digital version of their physical meeting space to help simulate the feeling of all being together. “It meant a lot to all of us,” Heather Uhl said.

Japanese Cultural Resource Center recreated in Gather. (Screenshot by Ethan Saur.)

The club even found ways to organize events like before. Through the use of Zoom meetings, the club is bringing back its community storytelling. Coming soon is the “Kaidan: Strange Stories from Japan” club, which will be hosted on zoom on May 21 for all members of the EvCC community.

Although the transition to a digital medium has been difficult for the club, like many of us, the club remains strong in its practices and teachings and encourages anyone interested to join.

For more information on club activities and membership, please contact Heather Uhl at [email protected].

More information about Kaidan can be found here