Japanese Club thrives despite officer inexperience

January 28, 2019 — by Alex Wang and Jeffrey Xu

“Konnichiwa!” Japanese Culture Club president junior Ashley Jeong said during a recent meeting as around 15 members of her club walked into the lunch meeting, ready for another episode of anime and discussion about Japanese Pop.

Students meet every Friday in science teacher Kathryn Nakamatsu’s room to celebrate Japanese culture and practice speaking Japanese in the newly formed Japanese Culture Club.

Jeong said she had been learning Japanese for a couple of years and wanted to start a club to educate students about Japan and its language as well as expose them to Japanese culture.

During club meetings, the officers — Jeong, vice president sophomore Cindy Hsu, treasurer senior Christopher Lee and secretary freshman Miwa Okumura — try to teach some Japanese by infusing it with culture and anime that appeals to club members, Jeong said. Some of the most popular topics include Japanese food and music.

The officers usually plan the meetings over Messenger, Okumura said. They get their ideas from Japanese traditions and cultural events like the Japanese New Year. The club also focuses on teaching the basics of the Japanese language, since Jeong believes that understanding the language is integral to learning the culture. For example, during their second meeting, the officers showed how the Japanese letter system works.

“I think the meetings are an interesting way to show the difference between the culture here and the culture in Japan,” Okumura said.

For Jeong, learning Japanese stemmed from her interest in anime and Japanese food, but she also thought it would be fun to learn another Asian language — she already knew Korean and was learning Chinese at school. Starting her freshman year, she learns Japanese for an hour a week with a tutor.

Okumura was invited to be an officer of the club by Lee. They were in the Military History Club together and he thought she would be a good addition because of her fluency in Japanese.

Jeong admits that since none of the officers have run any other clubs in the past before, they are relatively inexperienced in running clubs. However, she does emphasize that the club is still a success and serves its purpose.

“We don’t know exactly how to run it, but we’re just having fun with our members,” Jeong said.