Visiting TOKIYA JAPAN

By Asa Marshall

On Saturday, September 28th, 2019, I visited TOKIYA JAPAN. It is a little shop next door to Hana Market, which is a small Japanese market. TOKIYA JAPAN is a kimono shop located at 2002 17th St NW, Washington DC. I visited a couple times before, because it is a very quaint shop and it’s very cozy and welcoming. This shop actually is a place where you can buy pottery and jewelry made with traditional Japanese methods and designs, as well as trying on and buying kimono. I often visit this little shop every time I go to Hana Market, because it’s really interesting and everything is so beautiful. This time however, I noticed that all around the shop there are pieces of historic information about the pieces, and also how to properly wear yukata (kimono worn in summer).

I was really captivated by all the trinkets and art pieces in the shop and I think it would make a nice trip for the class, because we did recently discuss an article about the foreigners wearing a kimono incorrectly. I’m sure it would make a cool learning experience and it might be very fun because I’m sure many in the class would want to try on kimono!

 

Asa’s Final Reflection

By Asa Marshall

My point of view on the ways you treat people made me more mindful. Learning and understanding the different ways people function in society in Japan compared to the US is quite different. I noticed the ways Japanese value respect on almost another level, and they seldom confront or try to purposefully antagonize others. This is also possibly due to their society being so homogeneous compared to ours. In their society I think a big factor in the ways they treat others and think is due to everyone having the same or similar points of view, and there being one constant role of tradition between most of the people, which establishes the way people act and approach life and others for many generations.

In the US, our country is very vibrant and loud, and there are people from all around the world who don’t always share similar ideas or views of life. I feel that compared to Japan, people are less considerate of people and at times this can be an issue, though both societies can have flaws just alike. I learned that it is important and also good character to always prefer peace and take into consideration the feelings of the other person in any situation.

In my life, this class highly influenced me, and I had a changed mindset about how I treat others and the ways I approach others. It helped me make new friends and build stronger bonds with others.  Manners and the way you treat others plays a significant role in Japanese society and is valued more than in America at times. There are patterns I observe within our own country that reflect the individualistic mindset of Americans which sometimes makes it difficult to be mindful of your conduct and how others should be treated and appreciated. Respect should be valued and should be shown to all people respectively. Learning about the ways Japanese people interact and the mindset they value, such as embracing imperfections, which is known as wabi sabi, and working together for a common goal, has influenced me greatly in the aspects of how I approach others and myself. I learned to value people and the flaws of life and learn to work with them to become better.

Reflections of the Sakura Matsuri

By Asa Marshall

On Saturday, April 13th, I woke up super early anticipating the events of the day. It was the long awaited Cherry Blossom Street Festival in Washington D.C. I rushed over with Katie to 7th Street on this hot and hazy day. The festival didn’t start yet and after alerting the others to our arrival, we decided to explore and find our way around before it got crowded.

I was amazed at how big the festival would be and it was my first time after years of wanting to go. I was excited to eat and buy cool stuff, but I was also excited to help out at our booth we had at the festival. I worked two double shifts and it felt like they would never end, but it was shocking to see the crowds pour in. So many different faces, people from all around the world. The rush of trying to get people over to our booth was almost overwhelming, but after a few tries I was more motivated and confident to go up to people and tell them about our program. Also, seeing the many people that volunteered to participate in our video and quilt project made me really happy to see what passions others had for Japan.

It was an amazing day and I am already super pumped to go again. Hopefully the next time I go, I will be a lot more prepared for facing the crowds! I learned a lot about my own self confidence and the motivations of others and I wouldn’t ever regret that experience.

Cherry Blossom Opening Festival – Mochi

By Asa Marshall

On the 23rd of March, some of my classmates and I attended the National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony. It was held at the Warner Theater at 513 13th St NW, Washington DC. My favorite part was Yusaku Mochizuki or “Mochi.” He is a professional Japanese diabolo juggler and he previously competed on “America’s Got Talent.” His act was very exciting as he told the story, history and transition of the jugglers and the acts with Japanese roots. He utilized fantastic visual arts and graphics which made the performance almost hypnotic. I remember watching his act on TV and I loved and applauded his skill. Seeing his performance in person was an exciting experience and it was beautiful. Before the show I was very excited when I heard he would be performing live. The intricate designs and the music were thrilling. I was breathtaken as he threw the diabolo in the air and caught it with the ease of breathing. He also incorporated tap dance and he had multiple outfit changes as he showed the progression of his skill through the years.

I had so much fun at the event and I could hardly sleep afterwards. The entire program was beautiful and I was grateful for the opportunity to attend for free and I appreciated the sponsorship from the Japanese Embassy to allow us to attend because it was a very exciting cultural experience that I would have even paid to attend.

Wa-Shokuiku

By Asa Marshall

During our time in class we were invited to partner with Wa-Shokuiku, which was an online program under the organization, Table for Two, which is a non-profit organization that works to tackle world food imbalances and world hunger. The Wa-Shokuiku program was being tested for usage on teaching students about Japanese food and food culture. The program’s goal is to educate students about Japanese cuisine, healthy eating, and Japanese food practices.

This program was really fun to be a part of, and we even had an onigiri (rice ball) workshop in class! We participated in this for about a few months at the beginning of the year. When we were told about the Wa-Shokuiku program, I was most ecstatic about it. I love food and I am very fond of the Japanese cuisine and I was a consistent user of the program. At times it was used for homework, but in my free time, I loved watching the videos and doing the different activities. I actually learned that I had a more extensive knowledge of Japanese cuisine than I knew, and I felt smart and well engaged in the program.

When time came for the testing program to end, I was quick to volunteer to participate in the video conference with Jazmin, Alexx, and Eshita sensei, along with the program’s project leader, Sheri Lupoli, to discuss how we felt about the program.  We were asked a series of questions about the program and how efficient and enjoyable it was, and ways they could improve it or implement it into the curriculum. For the most part, we all took turns discussing the various questions and giving our opinions, but out of all of us, I talked the most and I even surprised myself at the level of passion I had for the program and about everything I had learned or implemented into my life.

For example, I elaborated on the ways I used what I learned at home, and I was even more passionate about cooking and Japanese food etiquette. I often spoke on how the program would be very beneficial for furthering cultural teaching in class, and supplemented the curriculum very well. When questions were asked, I was quick to give an answer, even though when I first volunteered to participate, I was quite nervous. That experience was one of many that made me more self-confident and enhanced my speaking skills.

Many in my class knew I had a passion about food and anyone who knows me can say the same, and I enjoyed that program more than anything. I really hope we all gave good feedback in order to make it better! When the time comes, I will be ready to be a part of the program again!

If you want to learn more about their program you can check out these links!

https://www.wa-shokuiku.org/

http://usa.tablefor2.org/home

A New, New Year’s

By Asa Marshall

Anticipation had the best of me the whole week before this glorious event of sounds, tastes, smells, and sights all combined into this congregation of culture. The coldest winter air couldn’t stop me from attending, as if this moment alone would change everything forever. In a way it did. It opened my eyes and ears to a new world unfamiliar to mines that was special and intriguing. The food caught my eye right away through the crowds of people, many of whom I’ve never seen before, all together as a single heartbeat. A mass array of faces that showed pride in who they were. The beats the taiko drummers molded echoed through my body as crashing waves on a rock in the sea. It was all so beautiful. If I ever get the chance I would go again, forever wanting to be a part of something new, appreciating everything I learn.

This year the Japanese New Year’s Celebration in Washington hosted by the Japan Commerce Association of Washington D.C was held at the Marriott at Woodley Park on the 27th of January. It was a joy filled all day event from 11am to 3pm, and I enjoyed every bit of it. It is held in DC every year, but this was my first time attending. There was a lot to do and I was grateful for the tickets purchased for us by Japanese Plus. I brought my cousin along because he also wanted to experience Japanese culture. There were many stands full of snacks and toys and novelties to buy the moment you stepped in. It was also considerably cheap and well managed.

I’ve never seen so many Japanese people in the D.C area, and it was such a welcoming atmosphere. There were sections for activities, some of which you had to buy tickets for, and it was so fun to do calligraphy and play with kendamas. There was one part I would never forget and that was seeing the Shinto shrine set up to offer prayers for a good year to come. Though it wasn’t big, it was very beautiful, and recently learning about how to pray at the shrines in class was very exciting for me, knowing that I know how to do it properly.

My favorite part of the whole event was of course the food and it was so packed, and the lines were so long it made me anticipate the food even more. I had gyudon, which is a rice bowl with beef; taiyaki, a red bean paste filled fish shaped treat; takoyaki, a ball filled with octopus; nikuman, which was a pork bun; and a refreshing bottle of ramune to top it off. It was such a feast and I wanted to keep going back for more, but my wallet said no. It is such an amazing event and I hope to go again next year!

Adorning Hope

Photo: @zackowicz, courtesy National Cherry Blossom Festival

By Asa Marshall

Comforting assurance and pride
The freedoms promised to all
Men were created equal
Not dependent on race, religion, or status
Radiant are the pinks and stone whites as the sun crowns them
Hope and faith
Struggles of the past are reminders of why we should be grateful everyday
Symbols of peace
Anticipating the blessings the future brings