Visiting DC’s Japanese New Year Festival

By Penelope Morris

Last Saturday, Japanese Plus students went to the Japanese New Year celebration at the Metro Center Marriott to celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. At first, I was a little nervous about the festival because I knew there would be lots of people speaking Japanese and my language abilities aren’t yet at the level where I can make conversation easily. However, once we arrived at the venue, the festive spirit dispelled my anxiety and I began to explore the activities: there were lots of different things to do, like calligraphy, Japanese card games, and mochi-making.

One aspect of the festival that stood out to me was the food. Attendees had access to a wide variety of delicious Japanese food, like takoyaki (spheres of octopus), Ramune (a Japanese soda), yaki udon (noodles), and onigiri (filled balls of rice). My personal favorite was dango, which are rice flour dumplings served on a skewer and coated in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar. They were a perfect snack as we explored the festival and immersed ourselves in Japanese culture. The celebration was a great opportunity to learn more about how Japanese people celebrate New Year, and to practice the Japanese we’ve been learning in class!

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