Cherry blossom festival gives students a peek inside Japanese culture

Alexandria Anderson, News Reporter

The WKU Japanese program hosted a cherry blossom festival on Wednesday, March 30 under the pink blooming trees outside of DSU. The event was to teach students the importance of cherry blossoms typical of Japanese culture, as well as give the chance to try traditional Japanese food prepared by four volunteers from Japan. 

Cherry blossom viewings and celebrations are a common tradition in Japan. Paul Collins, instructor of Japanese, explained why it is important that students in the Japanese program were given the opportunity to participate in this tradition.

“In Japan, when the cherry blossoms come into full bloom, they like to go out and enjoy the subtleties of nature,” Collins said. “The cherry blossoms here came into bloom earlier this week. It lets the students see what a real cherry blossom viewing experience is like, as well as have interactions with people from Japan.”

Events like this one allow students inside and outside language programs to experience traditions of a different culture. Kaitlyn Morgan, a junior anthropology major, spoke on why these cultural events benefit students.

“It helps broaden your worldview, and it also helps with the understanding of others,” Morgan said. “Communicating with others is so important and learning a language benefits that; it’s also a good way to boost your resume.”

Some students are learning Japanese because of its application on a business and economic level. There are a multitude of businesses across the country that are based in Japan, including some in Bowling Green. Stephen Howard, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, explained this application of Japanese.

“We’re going to need people to be translators, a lot came in for things like video games or anime or other media, but there’s a business and a skillset people might not know about here [in Japanese],” Howard said.

Yuki Aono is one of the volunteers that helped organize the event. She is originally from Nagoya, Japan and worked as an English teacher before coming to Bowling Green. She now volunteers with the refugee center in town, as well as hosting a variety of activities like this one, such as judo courses and anime drawing events.

“I think I can do something for Japanese learners here by hosting these events so they can feel out real Japanese culture and traditions,” Aono said. “I want to encourage students to visit Japan, to teach English in Japan. Economically, Japan is a very good country, and many Japanese businesses are in Bowling Green. I want [students] to learn Japanese very seriously.”

News Reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected].